The Siskoid Awards 2015

Do not try to collect your prize, they don't exist except virtually, but some of you have definitely won Golden Typewriter Monkeys this year. These mark excellence in what I've read, seen or heard in 2015, regardless of when it was originally released. As usual, only newly experienced material will be up for consideration. For television episodes, no more than one per show can be put up for nomination. Other limits may apply. Write-in votes/dissent in the comments section.

Best Book of 2015 - The runners up are...
5. Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell)
4. The Good, the Bad, and the Furry (Tom Cox)
3. The Cows (Lydia Davis)
2. House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielwski)
...and the Siskoid goes to: The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen) - From my review: "The most engrossing novel I've read in a long time. It's a vicious comedy about a family whose matriarch wants them to come home for one last Christmas together, a comedy of anxiety and melancholy that I associate somehow more with British humor than American, though Franzen sets the book mostly in the American Midwest and Philadelphia. The book's structure is extremely fluid, the author able to shift his narrative through time and between characters smoothly and yet violently, the way memory itself works, without ever losing the reader. Quite the opposite, his rich tapestry of niggling thoughts and misapprehensions keeps informing what is to come. The dialog is funny, the characters superbly drawn, no paragraph ends before it's had a chance to create clever imagery, and the 'corrective' theme carries through the whole of the book. It even ends on a touching grace note or two. Definitely one I was sorry to have to put down."

Best Comic of 2015 - The runners up are...
5. Deadly Class (Remender & Craig)
4. The Fade Out (Brubaker & Phillips)
3. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (North & Henderson)
2. Secret Wars: Master of Kung Fu (Blackman & Talajic)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Convergence: Shazam! (Parker & Shaner) - I'm as surprised as you are that a Convergence project not only made the cut, but came out on top, but the team that brought you the pretty wonderful Flash Gordon series last year has outdone itself with these two issues. It's not just a case of beautiful art and writing that shows it understands the appeal of the Marvel Family and its world, but that THIS ought to be how DC does it every time instead of the angsty deconstructionist "nah, nobody wants heroes to be heroic" cynical take on the Shazam property of the last decade-plus. Multiversity also gave us a good Shazam book this year, but Parker's Convergence book was even better, better even than Jeff Smith's Monster Society of Evil. The new Marvel Family standard.

Best Film of 2015 - The runners up are...
5. The Peanuts Movie (Steve Martino)
4. Locke (Steven Knight)
3. Inside Out (Docter & Del Carmen)
2. The Big Short (Adam McKay)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Submarine (Richard Ayoade) - I really was angling for something I saw in theaters to win this, and made a point of not including anything too old on the list (I did, after all, see Rear Window and Full Metal Jacket this year), but 2010's Submarine is what resonates most with me. From my review: "Richard Ayoade's first feature film, Submarine, is an exception that proves my rule against liking narrated movies. That's because what protagonist Oliver Tate - a disaffected youth in 1980s Wales - has to say is clever, and Ayoade knows how to render that cleverness in the direction, sound and editing. The thrust of the plot is that of a darkly comic coming of age story in which Oliver falls for an equally unpopular girl played by the Sarah Jane Adventures' Yasmin Paige (about as far away as sugary sweet Maria Jackson as can be), but might throw it all away when he becomes obsessed with keeping his mother from committing adultery. And so the disaffected finds things to be affected by. Quirky, interesting characters, situations and thoughts abound in what I want to call one of the best films I've seen this year. Between this and The Double, I want Ayoade to make loads more, and hope he does." Not just "one of the" but THE best, it seems.

Best TV Series of 2015 - The runners up are...
5. Justified Season 6
4. Doctor Who Series 9
3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine Seasons 1-2
2. Orange Is the New Black Seasons 1-2
...and the Siskoid goes to: Fargo Season 1 - From my review: "I can imagine the natural reaction to hearing that they turned the Cohen Bros.' Fargo into a television show is to ask 'why?' and dismiss it as a redundancy that can only undermine the power of the original film. And I had that reaction. But then people started talking about it on Twitter, and I decided to check it out for myself. I'm so glad I did. Fargo is not a stretched-out 10-episode reprise of the movie. It's an entirely different story also set in the Cohen Bros.' version of Minnesota. There is one overt connection to the film, but otherwise, it is a remix of every Cohens film you've ever seen, paying homage to the body of work, but offering its own off-beat characters, stupid criminals, and beautifully shot suspense. Molly is a small town policewoman, but she isn't Marge. Martin Freeman's Lester is a loser salesman who gets in over his head, but he isn't Jerry. And though you could say Billy Bob Thornton's brilliant hitman/social engineer Malvo is akin to No Country for Old Men's Chigurh, he's his own breed of nasty. I heard some people bristled at the fact the similarly-structured True Detective lost the Golden Globe to Fargo, but I have to say I also prefer it, and recommend it to anyone who's ever been a fan of the Cohens."

Best TV Episode of 2015 - The runners up are...
5. The Gang Saves the Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia S9)
4. The Boy with the African Heart (No1 Ladies' Detective Agency)
3. The Wedding (Outlander S1)
2. The Zygon Inversion (Doctor Who S9)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Human for a Day (Supergirl S1) - Too early to slide Supergirl into the Best TV Series category because there hasn't been a full season yet (and don't despair Flash fans, I just got the Season 1 DVD so he could turn up next year!), but I'm a big fan, and a total sucker for Human for a Day, which features a great speech from Kara as she stops a man from looting a store with her words, not her powers, and doubles down with an incredible Jimmy Olsen moment as he recounts his "secret origin". The stuff at the DEO with some pretty big guest stars was cool and all, but upstaged by the emotional core of the episode. Before this aired, I thought I might put Livewire episode in this list - though it might have lost to Doctor Who's brilliant end speech - but that's really more of a Cat Grant stand-out.

In the past, the next category was Best CD, one ruled by Big Finish audios. It's not that BF has stopped putting out good product, it's just that my listening habits in 2015 tended more towards podcasts, and so I don't really have more than 5 audios to recommend, which makes the category unviable. No problem, it seems that this year I've played a large number of new board games! This is probably not a permanent change, but this year, Board Games are thus in the main awards ceremony, and CDs are relegated to Technical Achievements.

Best Board Game of 2015 - The runners up are...
5. Takenoko
4. Concept
3. Betrayal at House of the Hill
2. Castle Panic
...and the Siskoid goes to: Tokaido - All the games in this list (save Takenoko which we JUST started playing) have become quick favorites in the household, but for its elegance and reverse-thinking, Tokaido wins handily. You are on the road between Tokyo and Kypto in Feudal Japan and it's not race. Rather, it's about enjoying the trip. You score points by taking your time, relaxing, painting the scenery, shopping the markets, praying, meeting interesting people, and eating good food. The game looks just beautiful, and we even break out the expansion from time to time to give players even more options. Once you learn what all the icons on the board mean, the game becomes as relaxing for the players as it is for the game pieces. I'm working on a version where we have to play other Japan-themed side-games at each Inn (Takenoko, Tsuro, etc.)... Make a festival of it! Anyone have a Lone Wolf & Cub dueling house rule I can use?

Stupidest Move in the Geekaverse 2015 - The runners up are...
5. Blue-Black White-Gold Dress: Geek wars for non-geeks and the stupidest thing to infect social media all year (but not the most OFFENSIVE thing, see our winner).
4. Pixels (special mention to our friend Dave who tells the story of Pixels in such a way as to last twice as long as Pixels)
3. DC Comics keeps making the list, year after year, this time with several Supergirl-related flubs (like not having a series out, duh!), polybag incidents destroying costly variant covers, sexual harassment by senior editors, half-page ads, the whole "meat and potatoes" argument and abandoning DCYou minutes after it started, fighting Rhianna for the trademark of her real name (Robyn)... only sliding down the list because I've practically stopped reading their (new) comics.
2. Hasbro for putting the "bro" in their toys and refusing to include Black Widow or Rey in with male action figure packs. And in connected stupidity...
...the Siskoid goes to: Mad Max Misandry, and all the misandry that followed it. This was a good year for female characters in normally male roles in movies, from Charlize Theron's surprising action turn as Furiosa in Mad Max Fury Road right down to Amy Schumer as a love-em-and-leave-em sex addict. It was also a good year (by which I mean a bad year) for strident "menenists" screaming about genre pieces having been perverted by Hollywood's feminist agenda (as if that were a bad thing even if the Conspiracy were real). Mad Max castrated! Rey is an overpowered Mary Sue! They gave Thor a sex change! On and on and on, and all absolutely ridiculous. I single out Male Privilege for the award, but make no mistake, it was not alone. This is the year when Dumbass Majorities figured out how social media works and started blasting away at minorities who were apparently stealing their hard-earned jobs and TV shows. Stormtroopers can't be black! Ms. Marvel can't be a Muslim (I'm surprised they let her be a girl)!  And that's quite beyond the trash I've had to hear as a French-speaking minority in New Brunswick. So to return to the point, if your way of life is threatened because a girl Jedi has amazing powers just like boy Jedis do, CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING THIS AWARD!

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


Paul C said...

Great choices. I keep meaning to check out Convergence: Shazam, I love Shaner's art. Even though Convergence was overall a messy, poorly written, confusing, convoluted & expensive way of announcing "Yeah, all the different Earths still exist" there were still a few gems. Jurgens' Superman issues were a favourite of mine and I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed the Bedard Aquaman issues.

Toby'c said...

My favourite films of 2015 were Inside Out, The Martian, the Force Awakens, The Good Dinosaur and Bridge of Spies. Haven't seen the rest of yours. My favourites on DVD were True Romance and Little Miss Sunshine.

My TV highlights include:
Face The Raven
Most of The Flash season 1.
Daredevil season 1, though part of me still prefers the movie. Looking forward to checking out Jessica Jones.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's 100th episode, plus a couple of others from the same season.
Neighbours' 30th anniversary celebrations, especially Nina's (Delta Goodrem) return after over a decade. Episode #7202 was amazing as well.

As for previous years, I've enjoyed Fargo and Outlander as well.

I've gotten a lot more into comics this year, buying most of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern run as I can find, as well as the contemporary Green Lantern Corps books. Favourite story from those so far is Emerald Eclipse. I've also enjoyed reading Superman: Last Son, Scott Snyder's Batman, and Gail Simone's Batgirl.

Brendoon said...

I'm pleased you pointed out convergence because I'd missed it, I've always been a fan of the Marvels since my first colouring book around age 5(a tabloid sized one with a great big cutout of Cap on the back. Incaptrinated from then on!).

Googling the series I'm intrigued at how EUROPEAN the artwork looks. It has hints of Herge and Jean Giraud in the styling. Sumptuous. I've already over hedonised these holidays and now you present me with THIS???

LiamKav said...

Ooh, you didn't pick "Heaven's Sent" for your Doctor Who season nine episode? I'm really curious now for you to get to that review, because that episode was, in my opinion, one of the best in a long time.

This is also my yearly suggestion for you to go and read "More than Meets the Eye". Go on. You know you want to.

Siskoid said...

Yes it was good and will probably get a High rating, but Zygon Inversion had that one speech I plays over and over and has become THE Doc12 speech other Doctors have been asked to read at conventions. And it's here entirely on that basis.


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