The Siskoid Awards 2011

Welcome to the new year! That's right, it's time for our annual Geek Gala! Come in from the cold and the smelly red carpet (that's not its original color, guys) and have a seat!

Once again, I'm rewarding excellence in stuff I've seen, heard or read this year (regardless of when it was originally released). As usual, only newly experienced material will be up for consideration (or else I'd just watch BSG once a year and be done with it - then cause myself grievous harm, probably). For television episodes, no more than one per show can be put up for nomination. Other limits may apply. No money or prizes will actually be awarded. Thanks for not trying to collect.

Best Book of 2011 - The runners up are...
5. Chicks Dig Time Lords (Mad Norwegian)
4. Supergods (Grant Morrison)
3. Write More Good (Bureau Chiefs)
2. Manhood for Amateurs (Michael Chabon)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Arthur & George (Julian Barnes) - We're starting the new year with a Sherlock Holmes movie in theaters and a new series of Steven Moffat's Sherlock on tv, so it seems somehow appropriate to have Barnes' 2005 novel about Arthur Conan Doyle hit the top of the chart. Here's what I said about it last summer: "A wonderful novel, I think of interest to Sherlock Holmes fans. The novel is told from the points of view of both Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji, the half-Indian solicitor who was wrongfully convicted of the 'Great Wyrley Outrages', a series of animal mutilations in a rural area. The lives of both men are contrasted, Barnes using a different style for each (Doyle's is literary, while the simpler George is all present tense) and they in fact do not meet until late in the book. Awesomely researched, lightly comic and a real page turner when you get to the trial and Doyle's later investigations, Barnes produces here two superb character studies based on available sources. I haven't enjoyed one of his novels this much since, oh, my very first touch of Barnes (and I've nearly read them all), A History of the World in 10½ Chapters."

Best Comic of 2011 - The runners up are...
5. The Guild specials (Felicia Day and various artists and co-writers)
4. Infinite Vacation (Spencer and Ward)
3. Daredevil (Waid and Rivera)
2. Incredible Change-Bots Two (Jeffrey Brown)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Infinite Kung Fu (Kagan McLeod) - I was stoked to see it on other year's best lists on the Internet, and you should hear more about it from me and others in January if podcast plans work out like they should, but here's what I said in my capsule review: "Infinite Kung Fu is a 450-page trade collection of Kagan McLeod's incredibly entertaining martial arts comics series. McLeod re-imagines the "martial world" of his favorite kung fu movies as an amalgamated place where Shaolin monks are able to meet blaxploitation stars, a timeless place of action and zen Buddhism. It's also a magical world, where spirits return to dead bodies causing a zombie infestation of epic proportions, which the Eight Immortals have tasked the few students who haven't turned to the dark side (poison kung fu - an obvious wink to the Five Deadly Venoms) to stop. Wonderfully imaginative, McLeod's fluid, black&white, watercolor&ink art excels at showing the action both in large panoramas and in intimate play-by-play sequences between the good and evil masters. And throughout, winks and nods to great martial arts films from both sides of the world, there for those who can appreciate them. Get it direct from Top Shelf if you can't find it elsewhere!"

Best Film of 2011 - The runners up are...
5. The King's Speech (Tom Hooper)
4. The Social Network (David Fincher)
3. Hard Core Logo (Bruce McDonald)
2. JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski) - I (re)discovered Kieslowski's work this year and it's really wonderful. I knew one of his films was taking the prize, but it was difficult to choose which one. Ultimately, it's Red I was most impressed with, as it feels like a culmination of what he was doing in the early 90s, regrettably at the end of his life: "Rouge reunites Kieślowski with Irène Jacob, with whom he worked with on The Double Life of Veronique (the film that made her a star), and takes place in her native Geneva. She plays a storm-tossed, kind-hearted model who, through chance (and chance is a huge theme in Red), meets a bitter retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who spies on his neighbors and has a strange prescience. Through their stories we discover a thick web of coincidence and mirror images that makes this last part of the Three Colors trilogy the most mysterious and intriguing. If Blue was a subverted tragedy, and White a dark, dry comedy, Red is less easy to classify. To me, it is a fable, one of pure movie making, that uses images in a way that would, to most readers of this blog, be reminiscent of the way Moore and Gibbon do in Watchmen. The ironic intricacies of the film make it my favorite of the three. Irène Jacob simply breaks my heart in every frame."

Best TV Series of 2011 - The runners up are...
5. Doctor Who Series 6
4. How I Met Your Mother Season 1-6
3. Community Seasons 1-2
2. Coupling Series 1-4
...and the Siskoid goes to: Sarah Jane Adventures Season 4 - I'm as surprised as you are! It came in at the very end of the year and scooped a lot of excellent television (and I watched a LOT this year). Oh, I'll admit to still being a little weepy about it, but freshness aside, it did make me laugh, cry and miss Elisabeth Sladen terribly. Sarah was always the draw, but I think this is the season where the kids come into their own and become just as much a reason to keep watching. I don't think anything else I've seen this year deserves to be called a "perfect season".

Best TV Episode of 2011 - The runners up are...
5. Pilot (Alias Season 1)
4. Chuck vs. the Marriage Proposal (Chuck Season 4)
3. Split (Coupling Series 3)
2. The Girl Who Waited (Doctor Who Series 6)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Community Season 2) - Another one that's very hard to call, but Siskoid's Blog of Geekery wouldn't be living up to its name if it didn't acknowledge the geekiest thing ever broadcast on network tv. It's a bottle show that doesn't attempt to represent the characters' imaginations in any way, but stays true to the spirit of tabletop role-playing (if not the letter of the rules... at least, I've never played it like that even if I consider myself a narrativist), pokes fun at it, but doesn't condescend to it, and at its heart, is about saving a person's life. Bonus points for using 1st edition AD&D books. It somehow makes people sitting around a table talking EPIC. And isn't that a true RPG experience? Bonus bonus points for taking Pierce down the darkest of paths. Anybody want to save this series from extinction yet?

Best CD of 2011 - The runners up are...
5. Year of the Pig (Big Finish's Matthew Sweet)
4. Son of the Dragon (Big Finish's Steve Lyons)
3. The Girl Who Never Was (Big Finish's Alan Barnes)
2. Doctor Who Series 5 soundtrack (Murray Gold)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Roses are Red, Violets are Blue (Trocadero) - I never imagined an album of music inspired (and used) by a web series based on a video game would become my most listened-to album of the year, but there it is. Trocadero did all the music for Red vs. Blue, the comedy web series based in the Halo universe, and their Tex-Blues sound is perfect for the dusty isolated melancholy of Blood Gulch, but the music isn't a slave to the RvB story. Though Blood Gulch Blues and A Girl Named Tex have obvious links to it, all the songs stand on their own and aren't "jokey" despite having a certain wry humor. Great driving music too. Get into my Warthog and let's go!

Stupidest Move in the Geekaverse 2011 - The runners up are...
5. Dalek Car for toddlers! (Zappies)
4. Rob Liefeld slags off Stan Lee (Rob)
3. Bookstores yanking DC trades off the shelves because of a Kindle deal (Barnes & Nobles)
2. Wonder Woman is Ally McBeal (David E. Kelley)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Flushpoint! - Has there ever been a more ill-conceived and mismanaged move by a comic book company than the New52 "don't call it a reboot" reboot? Don't misunderstand me, there are some excellent books in the New 52, but almost all of them would have worked in the original universe. Last September, DC threw out the baby with the bathwater in the hopes of getting into an untapped reader pool that I doubt has materialized by using the same old writers and artists, and even regressing to some kind of 90s Image/Marvel mentality of splashy art, less story, antiheroes and terrible designs. (Putting Liefeld on a monthly book ALONE would rate a spot on this list.) Too early to tell if they got new readers out of it, but I know they lost some with their "jumping on/off point". Fan outrage over the loss of Oracle, overt sexism in Red Hood, Catwoman and Voodoo, and the renumbering of flagship titles like Action and Detective (when I got into comics, these were in the late 400s and didn't scare me away) have generated a lot of bad publicity, and DC's hope that readers could try so many titles in a single month (much less support them monthly) when they're offering fewer pages for the same money and same-price digital will likely cause an implosion like that of the 70s. That's sure to piss off fans of the books not pulling their weight, not because they're bad, but because they were thrown into too big a pond killer brand recognition sharks. The decision to reboot continues to be unjustifiable, seeing as DC's last event books (Brightest Day and Gen Lost) had made promises that could never be made good on, and the recent release of some Batman Inc. issues as a non-continuity special shows how little planning went into it. And then there's the whole communication snafu, which I've promised to write a proper article about (for once, commenting on something that is actually my field), but which includes creators/editors making censurable comments (like DiDio's public reaction to people criticizing the lack of female creators on the new books) and the appearance of corruption in the way Johns and Lee have profited from the change, as opposed to other creators. But I've gone on too long. No matter what good comes from the New 52 initiative - and there will always be some good comics at DC - it will always stand out as one of the worst handled moves in comic book history.

What would YOUR picks look like? Tomorrow: The Technical Achievement Awards as given in a ceremony prior to this one!


idiotbrigade said...

I kept reading his name as Kang McLeod, and I couldn't help but imagine what that truly meant for the Marvelverse if lil'Franklin Richards were a Highlander.

Also Hooray for JCVD! And Community!

Martin Gray said...

Fascinating list. You remind me that I've still a few SJA's to catch up on - I've always thought the kids brought a lot to the show (well, bar the annoying Luke).

Don't make me think about how much was lost with the DC Reboot - the only way I can deal is by focussing on the good stuff in the new!

I expect you'll get it any day now, but we got the first of the new Sherlocks last night and it was stellar, far better than A Game of (Unintelligible) Shadows.

Siskoid said...

I'm about to sit down to watch it during lunch!

SallyP said...

Wait a minute...that Dalek thingie for toddlers is...Brilliant!

I agree with you about Flashpoint however. Completely.

Siskoid said...

We don't need a genocidal generation, Sal! ;)


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