The Siskoid Awards 2017

Every year, I pretend to hand out Golden Typewriter Monkeys, but the bragging rights are real (have yet to see anyone brag though), for excellence in what I've read, seen or heard during the year (regardless of when it was originally released). As usual, only newly experienced material will be up for consideration (sorry, Classic Doctor Who!). For television episodes, no more than one per show can be put up for nomination. Other limits may apply. My blog, my rules. The big difference from past editions is that I've finally split movies seen in the theater and those seen at home. Volume was the issue as I saw nearly 60 new movies at the cinema this year, and more than 260 at home (maybe I have a problem). In any case, write-in votes/dissent go in the comments section.

Best Book of 2017- The runners up are...
5. Moving Target: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow (Richard Gray)
4. The Crying of Lot 49 (Thomas Pynchon)
3. Running Through Corridors vol.2 (Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke)
2. Outside In Makes It So (Robert Smith?, ed.)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Perdido Street Station (China Miéville) - "The story of a scientist who studies flight to restore it to a maimed bird man, and inadvertently releases something monstrous on the fantasy/steampunk city of New Crobuzon, with lots of wild and interesting characters and elements besides, including his insectoid artist girlfriend, a mechanical intelligence, and a poetic interdimensional spider. Ultimately, the book is about intersections and transitions, about the point where things meet, merge, become other and/or are forced to evolve. Miéville, in his breakout novel, has a firm grasp of theme to go with his immense imagination, altogether with a brazen audacity to dump it all into his world-building without feeling he needs to explain everything. It makes for exciting writing and memorable characters. It's no wonder he revisited this world a couple more times - there's so much teased and left unexplored even after 710 pages."

Best Comic of 2017- The runners up are...
5. Shade the Changing Girl vol.1: Earth Girl Made Easy (Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone)
4. Pàng the Wandering Shàolin Monk Vol.1 Refuge of the Heart (Ben Costa)
3. The Only Living Boy (David Gallaher and Steve Ellis)
2. Cat Diary: Yon & Mu (Junji)
...and the Siskoid goes to: The Death-Ray (Daniel Clowes) - "The Death-Ray has Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) attempt the superhero genre in his own inimitable way, by juxtaposing kitsch Sunday comic strip aesthetics (even if it's one big story, each page may open out on a different stand-alone lay-out) and the grotesque (a teenager gains powers from smoking cigarettes and inherits a raygun from his father who died from cancer), and yet keeping everything grounded in the pathetic world of his protagonist. Though the story mostly takes place in his teens, where power fantasies are meaningful, it is told by his middle-aged self, a man who's lived an unremarkable life. It begs the question as to whether the fantastical parts happened, or if they're imagination replacing memories, but then, for powerless teenagers, such waking dreams may well have more staying power than more mundane events."

Best Film of 2017 (in theaters) - The runners up are...
5. Get Out
4. Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2
3. Baby Driver
2. Lady Bird
...and the Siskoid goes to: The Lego Batman Movie: "Lego Batman is a visual feast that had me laughing before even the first studio logo, and crying by the end with a message I personally responded to and that I found the perfect commentary to the dark vision of Batman we've been getting in live action. It's got something for everyone and pays tribute to every version of Batman. If you liked Batman '66, you'll like this movie. If you liked Christopher Nolan, you'll like this movie. If you liked Batman '89, you'll like this movie. If you like Batman comics (any era), you'll like this movie. If you liked the Super-Friends, you'll like this movie. If you liked the original Lego Movie, you'll like this movie. If you like the Lego video games, you'll like this movie. If you have a heart, you'll like this movie. No, strike that, you'll LOVE this movie. And it's got some great rewatch value - I know *I* certainly didn't catch every joke and reference! So yeah, my favorite Batman movie of all time." I tried really hard to give it to a more "serious" film, but look at that enthusiasm. Couldn't let it go.

Best Film of 2017 (at home) - The runners up are...
5. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
4. The Love Witch
3. Swiss Army Man
2. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
...and the Siskoid goes to: Raise the Red Lantern: "Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern is as good as the hype would have it, the story of a young woman forced, after the death of her father at the turn of the 20th Century, to get married to a rich lord and become his fourth wife. Cue masterful 'court' intrigue as the four women vie for his attentions and the coveted red lanterns, which come to with his sexual favors and a host of other perks, according to oppressive and eccentric family traditions. Interestingly, we never quite see his face, and he is never given a close-up, which might lend credence to the theory that the film works as an allegory for Communist China - each woman representing a facet of society and he the 'faceless state' - but I don't know enough about the Chinese socio-political landscape of China (in 1991) to make that call. All I can say is that Raise the Red Lantern is gorgeous, emotional, powerful, and perfectly posed, somehow a visual feast despite its restricted location."

Best TV Series of 2017
- The runners up are...
5. Into the Badlands Season 1
4. Gotham Season 1-3
3. American Vandal
2. Black Mirror
...and the Siskoid goes to: Nine: Nine Time Travels: "A Korean time travel melodrama I found absolutely addictive. This 'television novel' told in 20 episodes may sometimes look and sound cheesy (as per KTV, apparently), but its plot is full of surprises, and just when you think it's run out of juice and should end, it finds a way to resurrect itself. Basically, it's the story of a news anchor with a tragic family past (and a cute and equally tragic romance in the offing) who finds nine sticks of incense that have the power to send him back in time 20 years, but can he cheat fate? Once the past starts having ideas of its own, his plans could go out the window. Over time, the show creates an entire world out of its characters and their history, one that can be mined again and again, and you have no idea what's coming next. Not without its flaws (the video look, the probably replaced music, the blurred posters because Netflix distribution doesn't have the rights presumably, and a few broad comedy performances), but it feels like a breath of fresh air to watch a long story you absolutely don't have a road map for."

Best TV Episode of 2017 - The runners up are...
5. The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (Gotham S3)
4. Resist (Supergirl S2)
3. The Thief (Master of None S2)
2. Twice Upon a Time (Doctor Who)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Fifteen Million Merits (Black Mirror S1) - The hardest thing was CHOOSING an episode of Black Mirror out of the great satirical futurism the show did over three seasons (which I'm only now coming to - Season 4 is next in my cue). In the end, I went with the one that sold me the hardest on the show and made me binge the whole thing, and that's the second episode "Fifteen Million Merits", which is one of the most science-fictiony, exploring a society based on Idol-type programs and being forced to watch YouTube ads. It's clever, it's poignant, it's funny, and it's horrific. I realize an anthology series has an edge in this category, because each episode is essentially a movie (they're even feature length), but given that the average episode of Black Mirror is better than a lot of stand-alone sci-fi films with comparable budgets is a marvel unto itself.

Best CD of 2017 - The runners up are...
5. The Black Hole by Simon Guerrier
4. Logan Lucky Soundtrack
3. Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 Soundtrack
2. Atomic Blonde Soundtrack
...and the Siskoid goes to: Baby Driver Soundtrack - I almost changed the category's name to Best Soundtrack Delivery System, as my tops list reads like another movie award. Well, this year had some pretty great soundtracks, and I don't know if that's also your experience, but when you get home from a movie with a lot of good songs, you turn the YouTube on and you listen to the soundtrack on loop. Baby Driver was a sort of backdoor musical, with the music informing the story and editing, often in clever ways, and unlike some of the others (Atomic Blonde for sure, Guardians and Logan Lucky to a point), my enjoyment traded less on nostalgia and made me discover some offbeat tracks.

Stupidest Move in the Geekaverse 2017 - The runners up are...
5. Marvel hiring an editor-in-chief who posed as an Asian writer for years
4. Pewdiepie n-wording his way off YouTube hit list
3. Superman defends immigrants meltdown (remember this?)
2. Complaints about the Alamo Draft House female-only Wonder Woman screening
...and the Siskoid goes to:  Marvel makes Captain America a Nazi - There's a big difference between a stupid move and a hateful one, but this year proved that hate is the ultimate in stupid. Most of my picks are driven by moronic, anti-diversity, misogynistic, racist hate rather than thoughtlessness, but it's Hydra-Cap that really seems to combine the two, especially once the political stuff about writer Nick Spencer started to come out. But Spencer really has to share this award with the Marvel machine, who doubled down on a story line everyone seems to agree wasn't justified by its unsatisfactory ending. Marvel and their writer arguing with fans about this created a lot of ill will towards the publishing arm of Marvel, and the tone deafness of the story made Captain America an alt-right icon when he stands against everything that ugly movement stands for.

Let us know what YOUR picks would have been. Wednesday: The Technical Awards as given in a ceremony prior to this one, just like with the Oscars!


Toby'c said...

As usual,

Toby'c said...

I didn't read a lot of books that weren't tie-ins to something else, but I did finish the first two Star of Deltora books, both great.

I bought a few of the DC Rebirth trades, and especially enjoyed Superman and Wonder Woman.

Favourite films at the cinema were The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, Dunkirk, Coco, Wonder Woman and Battle of the Sexes. Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 and The Lego Batman Movie weren't far behind. Also Lion, which got here late.

Favourite new home viewings were Sleuth (1972), A Night at the Opera, Arrival, Spotlight, Au revoir les enfants, United 93, Your Name and Paper Moon. I also added a bunch of rewatches to my 10/10 favourites list, but I won't go into them.

My recent TV highlights were mainly Doctor Who (especially Twice Upon a Time), Westworld, Game of Thrones, Jessica Jones, Arrow, The Flash, Rick and Morty and the long-awaited Miraculous Ladybug season 2.

As for older TV, I finally got around to finishing the live-action Star Trek series (after starting in 2004, I think) (I don't have access to Discovery). I also completed Six Feet Under, House, Community and The Secret Life of Us (all great, though that last one was a lot better in earlier seasons).

The one show I've spent the most time on the last few months, though, is a long-running (1984-2010) UK cop show called The Bill. I was into it about a decade ago, but I only recently started going back to watch older episodes, mainly late-90s and early-2000s.

Siskoid said...

Movies... I saw Your Name in the theater this year and it ALMOST made the list. Call it #6. Loved Paper Moon too, which I watched this month.

TV... I've heard of The Bill. I guess it's the modern era's Z-Cars.

Josée Robichaud said...

My anime lover heart is beyond ecstatic that Your Name came so close to making the list!!! But so sad it missed it by one spot (bittersweet)!!! Was definitely my favriote at home movie in 2016. And my favorite theater movie in 2017! Truly an amazing film!

Josie Ribbons and Bowes

David Gallaher said...

Thank you :-)


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