I’ve run my ‘Top xx’ of the year here since 2004. It’s been an interesting look back at the year of film and music for me and something I like checking previous years out to remind me of possibly forgotten gems.
This year I’m sadly abandoning the Top 15 route and reducing it down to a Top 10. This is, unfortunately, down to the simple fact that I’ve not been to as many gigs or the cinema this year as usual due to writing and business commitments so have a vastly reduced pool to play with.
Saying that though, I’ve still had some great nights out over the last twelve months and seen some great films. I have noticed that my DVD intake has shot up this year though.
Anyway, enough rambling on = following on from my tradition of the last few years here is my Top 10's of 2008!
Top 10 Films of 2008
10. Babylon A.D.
9. The Incredible Hulk
8. Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
7. Tropic Thunder
6. Quantum of Solace
3. The Dark Knight
2. Iron Man
1. The Mist
2008 saw my cinema excursions drop to a lowly 21 trips. This is down from the last few years (30 in 2007, 25 in 2006, 34 in 2005 and 35 in 2004). I think this also reflects less actual films that I *wanted* to see in 2008. It was hardly a year that set the silver screen alight with a mass pouring out of quality and interesting productions that caught my attention. There are already more films announced in 2009 that have my mouth watering than the entirety of 2008’s offerings and I suspect my trips to the cinema will be shooting up quite rapidly again in 2009.
Of this years crop though I think I have probably just surprised everybody by placing The Dark Knight as my Number 3.
Yes, it was a great film. Yes, Heath Ledger did make a brilliant Joker. Yes, I did love it (that’s why it’s in my top 3). But it was not *my* favourite film of 2008 and this is *my* Top Ten list... if you don’t agree go and post your own list! :p
The reason why The Dark Knight is not higher is quite simple. I largely knew what to expect from the film. Yes, it was as good as I was expecting. But I was still expecting it. When Batman Begins came out a few years ago it blew me away. I was not expecting the film to be so dark, so brilliantly executed. The success of Batman Begins gave The Dark Knight a very high bar to reach and, whilst I agree it was reached on the whole, it was always going to be disadvantaged in my mind because the first film was so great and expectations were very high. Whereas Iron Man (my number 2) completely blew me away as I wasn’t sure what I’d be getting and, having never been a big fan of the Iron Man comics or character, was very impressed by the film and The Mist (which claimed top spot this year) was completely unexpected.
The Mist wasn’t on my radar at all. I’m not a big *horror* film fan, I dislike Stephen King’s novels with a passion and the only things that made me see the film was the Dave and Becky were going (to a midnight performance which is something else I usually avoid) and I was bored and completely awake and that the film was directed by the same guy as The Green Mile (which is a fantastic film and a King adaptation) so I figured it’d be worth a shot. I’m so glad I did as the film is fantastic – very, very bleak and dark – and certainly not for everyone, but I loved it.
Memory is a fickle thing. When I was gathering my info for this list I was surprised to see the AVP 2: Requiem was residing at the foot of the ‘Films Seen in 2008’ table. This surprised me because I remember the film having some good bits in which is why I’d just purchased the DVD in a sale a couple of days ago... guess I’m just a sucker for punishment. Anyway the worst films of 2008 are below – on hindsight I’d be very tempted to drop the godawful Indiana Jones film down to the Worst Film slot but obviously at the time I felt that both Wanted and AVP: Requiem were worse films. Saying that I *brought* the AVP: Requiem DVD – I wouldn’t want to touch the Indy Crystal Skull one!!!
Worst films of 2008 in descending order have to be:
3. Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
1. AVP: Requiem
I saw 21 films at the cinema this year (9 down from 2007!). Out of these trips I actually saw Iron Man and The Dark Knight twice each. 2009 is already looking like a much better year for film so fingers crossed! The above list is only taken from films I actually saw on the 'Big Screen'.
Top 10 Live Bands of 2008
10. Star Industry
8. Ipso Facto
7. Van Gough
6. This Tawdry Affair
3. Sisters of Murphy
1. The Mission
2008 saw a big fall my live music intake – both in number of gigs and number of bands seen. Last years low of 34 live acts (which in turn was down from the 88 live acts in 2006!) was beaten down even further this year with my total a resounding failure of only 26 live acts seen in 2008! Compounding this further was the fact that I saw The Mission four times (their farewell nights at Shepherds Bush Empire where they played each of their first four albums in their entirety – one per night – plus assorted greatest hits; a fantastic experience) and Dragons twice.
The band that impressed me most this year was probably Sisters of Murphy (a Sisters of Mercy Covers band) who supported The Mission on their first night. Having been a long time fan and following of the real Sisters of Mercy (to the extent I even travelled to the States to see them a few years ago) I’ve been dismayed at their tumbling quality live – I can honestly say that The Sisters of Murphy are fantastic and far, far better than the real things these days. If both bands played on the same night I’d be off to see the Murphy’s version.
As for my worst bands this year... Well, despite a number of bands being fairly disappointing (such as one of my faves The Fields of the Nephilim who were just not on form the night I saw them – to the extent left the gig early) there were three which beat everything else hands down in their performance and music that meant no others could get a look in on this category.
Worst bands of 2008 in descending order have to be:
3. Balaam & The Angel
2. Skeletal Family
1. Christian Death
Top 10 Books of 2008
10. Torg 3: The Nightmare Dream by Jonathan Ariadne Caspian
9. Torg 2: The Dark Realm by Douglas Kaufman
8. Marvel Zombies by R Kirkman
7. Stray Toasters by Bill Sienkiewicz
6. Torg 1: Storm Knights by B Slavicsek & C J Tramontana
5. V by A C Crispin
4. Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny
3. Watchmen by Alan Moore
2. Dresden Files: Small Favour by Jim Butcher
1. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
Well, I beat 2007’s total of books read – which is atleast one area of things which improved this year (along with the dvd section coming up). I found myself rereading quite a few books I originally read 15+ years ago this year. The Torg series of novels, some of the graphic novels (of which Watchmen was still the best), the Zelazny books (although admittedly I always try and (re)read a few Zelazny books each year as he’s a fantastic author and certainly one of my all time favourites) and ‘V’ – A C Crispins adaptation of the classic 1980’s TV Mini-Series which I also rewatched on DVD earlier this year.
Next year will see some new titles get thrown into my reading mix as I have stacks of books I need to got through.
Top 10 DVDs of 2008
10. Rambo V
7. 10,000 BC
3. Eastern Promise
1. Knocked Up
(Any film that I had previously seen on DVD or at the cinema was not eligible for the Top 10)
DVDs was one area I did really well at in 2008. I reckon I ended up seeing more dvds this year than I possibly have in any previous year! What the above list doesn’t represent are all the films I’d previously seen on dvd or at the cinema before – which I disqualify from the list. The Top 6 films on this list would certainly hold their own and fight for top ten entries but I have a feeling that the others would end up slipping out of the top 20 if I opened the floodgates. I still enjoyed them all though.