The Siskoid Awards 2018

Category: Awards
Last article published: 5 March 2018
This is the 28th post under this label

I'm doing these alphabetically, so it's a nice coincidence!

It's time to hand out Golden Typewriter Monkeys - only the bragging rights are real - 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 (but I haven't been revisiting things much this year, pursuing new content as much as I can). For television episodes, no more than one per show can be put up for nomination. Other limits may apply. The rules aren't changing after 12 years of doing it the same way. In any case, write-in votes/dissent go in the comments section.

Best Book of 2018 - The runners up are...
5. Sally the Sleuth (Adolphe Barreaux)
4. Telling Lies for Fun & Profit (Lawrence Block)
3. Bit Rot (Douglas Coupland)
2. The Last Days of New Paris (China Miéville)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Moonglow (Michael Chabon) - "Michael Chabon's Moonglow presents itself as a "memoir", the death bed confessions of Chabon's grandfather novelized with the author's usual stylish prose. It's hard to know how much of it is true and how much fiction, and that's part of the point. How do our memories betray us, how much of our history have we (or others) fictionalized, told as a story, found patterns and themes, etc.? By taking second-hand truth and giving it the novel's interiority, Chabon challenges what a memoir is "meant to be" and offers a textured family portrait that moves us from his grandfather's childhood, to WWII, to a chaotic marriage to a haunted woman, to a latter-day romance, and finally to the death bed and beyond, loose from chronology, much like memory. An interview at the end of the book almost ruins it for me (so I'm sorry to mention it, you might want to look away, I don't know), but there Chabon and his wife reveal Moonglow is far more fiction than fact, and that the grandfather and grandmother are, in many ways, them. So the truth is there, just hidden under an extra layer. After this trip, the characters live and breathe in my imagination so well that I prefer to think they lived just as described. But then, Chabon's convinced me of that without resorting to genre trickery in the past. "

Best Film of 2018 (in theaters) - The runners up are...
5. A Quiet Place
4. Searching|
3. Game Night
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
...and the Siskoid goes to: Isle of Dogs - "Wes Anderson's stop-motion homage to influential Japanese film-makers (so influential, you'll sometimes think he's referencing spaghetti westerns), Isle of Dogs (cute pun), is indeed a feast for the eyes. I'm not surprised that such a meticulous director who create something so rich in detail, a diorama come alive, with a great voice cast, juggling tragedy and comedy with a deft touch. I WAS surprised, however, that the film was so political, evoking the horrors of the past, present and hopefully not future in its use of propaganda, concentration camps, and genocide. I like the canine cast a lot - it delivers laughs, pathos and variety - while the humans have their own fun/tragic dramas going on. Isle of Dogs is clever and fun to look at, possibly touching, but most of all, it's charming as all get-out. Give your pet a cuddle when you come out of this one."

Best Film of 2018 (at home) - The runners up are...
5. Lady for a Day
4. Z
3. M
2. Secrets and Lies
...and the Siskoid goes to: Cactus Flower - "Cactus Flower was based on a hit play and it shows. The dialog is cracking and had me laughing out loud consistently, something I'll admit I don't often do. Walter Matthau's dentist's problem is that he's told his 21-year-old girlfriend, played by Goldie Hawn, that he's married so he could avoid commitment. When things become more serious, he can only marry her by pretending to divorce his wife, which she insists on meeting, and so he ropes his matronly nurse (Ingmar Bergman), loyal to a fault, into his web of lies. And then there's the writer next door, Rick Lenz looking like a young James Stewart so much it's surprising he didn't have more of a screen career, who might just be a spoiler. It's classic farce, laced with barb-wire wit, and while it won Hawn her only Oscar, it's Bergman who is our everything. She's not known for comedy, but shows she can do it very well, and though her punch lines are perfectly pitched, she also does what she's always done best: Make you feel for her. She's funny AND touching. The men in this story may be plot engines, but it's the ladies who are its moral center, and the characters that stay with you. A complete delight." A watched it more than once.

Best TV Series of 2018
- The runners up are...
5. Lost in Space Season 1
4. Travelers Seasons 2-3
3. The Good Place Seasons 1-2
2. Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth
And the Siskoid goes to: Dear White People's first two seasons - "Using both comedy and drama, this examination of race relations on an Ivy League campus follows a large cast of (brilliant) characters, each getting their time as a point of view character. The series doesn't mind doubling back on itself, showing events from different perspectives, as "understand the other" is really what it's about. It is actively political, but no more so than sitting in front of Twitter for half an hour, and indeed, the series takes some of its cues from social media where alt-trolls reign and privilege tries to drown out diversity voices. Season 1 (or Volume 1, as it calls itself) presents the characters and mostly centers around a blackface party held at a frat house, and with Volume 2, we start to get into the history of the college, as an avenue into systemic racism. However, it wouldn't work without great and witty characters to invest in, and DWP certainly offers that. What it DOESN'T offer is easy answers. Whether black or white or something else, it will ask you to examine your own behavior and perspective, even as you enjoy the laughs, the tears and the soap."

Best TV Episode of 2018 - The runners up are...
5. The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (MST3K: The Return)
4. Demons of the Punjab (Doctor Who S11)
3. Hang the DJ (Black Mirror S4)
2. The Box (Brooklyn 99 S5)
...and the Siskoid goes to: The Open Ended Nature of Unwitnessed Deaths (The Last Man on Earth S3) - One this list, I put something that made me laugh a lot, the best of Doctor Who's last season, the stand-out from the this year's Black Mirror stories, and a nice example of how Brooklyn 99 delivers crime drama AND laughs, but in the final equation, I gave the prize to Last Man on Earth's most emotional episode yet. And to think, it starts with some obnoxious behavior that pushes the limits of what we can stand from this comedy show. But I think it's a well-conceived contrast to what's to come. That title alone is great, and it speaks to the hope in a hopeless situation, something that's driven the series' incidents since it started. Watching it again to confirm its status, I was once again gut-punched by Tandy's final action. People don't talk about this show enough.

Best CD of 2018 - No runners-up, cutting straight to the winner.
The Siskoid goes to: La vraie vie (Big Flo & Oli) - While I know the Argentine-Arab brothers from Toulouse, France dropped a new rap album just last month, it's really their second record that I fell in love with, La vraie vie (Real Life). I know most of my readers aren't French speakers (or listeners), so this will be an odd recommendation, I know. Especially since what's so strong about Big Flo & Oli is there lyrics. Truthful, emotionally complex, filled with dramatic irony and self-deprecation, while nonetheless featuring rap music's usual braggadocio, often clever and funny, but this album also has a real sadness to it. Tracks like Dommage (A Shame, but in the sense of Too Bad) which explores regret and remorse; "Alors Alors" (So So) in which they try to find an old friend they've lost sight of; Papa, featuring their own dad; and the disk's title track La vraie vie, which restates with some heartache the duo's non-gangsta aesthetic, are all on my regular rotation, both on audio and video. There's a sincerity to their music we don't hear enough of in most any genre. Can't wait to properly discover their newest work.

Stupidest Move in the Geekaverse 2018 - The runners up are...
5. The Muggles who Believed they actually killed Spider-Man et al. in Infinity War
4. Batman's dick (first they show it for no reason, then they censor it from digital versions; gotta love it when someone admits they were idiots)
3. Bill Maher versus comic books (it was all fun and games until he attacked MY religion)
2. Whoever dumped money into a Kickstarter remake of The Last Jedi
...and the Siskoid goes to: Disney for jumping the gun on James Gunn and firing him from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise - a case of a conservative asshole using the Left's outrage to manipulate the Mouse into overreacting about an old tweet Gunn had since apologized for and which was not necessarily representative of his character today. This was a big year for conservative assholes and Gaters of all stripes, and they love to feign what they perceive as "liberal outrage", point the finger at their targets, while hypocritically behaving so much worse daily. Context is always their enemy, and their arguments are empty of sense and balance. We shouldn't give in to them, not one inch, which is why Disney takes home the prize. Not that they'll care given the money they're making off the Marvel Cinematic (among other revenue streams).

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!


Scott Tacktill said...

It's just a personal opinion, but I have always found Goldie Hawn to be much more attractive than Ingmar Bergman. (I know it's just a typo, but that would have been some interesting casting.)

Siskoid said...

I make that mistake (corrected) a lot more often than I want to admit.

Toby'c said...

In books, as usual I mostly just bought a few new books (mostly Lynda LaPlante) and never got around to reading them because I was doing something else.

Favourite films in the cinema: Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2, Searching and First Man, all 10/10 for me.
Favourite films on DVD (again, all 10/10): Joyeux Noël, The Shootist, The Boys in the Band, On Golden Pond, They Shoot Horses, Don't They, Perfect Strangers, The Enemy Below, The Trial, Wonder, Remains of The Day, Barefoot Gen and The Red Violin.
As usual, I also added a bunch of rewatches to my 10/10s, including Double Indemnity, End of Evangelion, Dial M For Murder, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and Evil Angels.

TV highlights: the long-awaited return of Russell Coight's All Aussie Adventures (basically a parody of travel adventure shows like The Crocodile Hunter, presented by an accident-prone idiot - highly recommended); catching up on Stranger Things and Black Mirror; finally finishing The Wire, finally making some progress on Babylon 5, and checking out Sonic Boom (never been a fan of the games, but the series is pretty funny).

Gaming highlights: finishing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (kicking off an ongoing Legend of Zelda phase on several consoles), finishing the first Mass Effect (and getting stuck on the second), finishing my backlog of Telltale games (my favourite being Tales From the Borderlands, another franchise I had pretty much no previous interest in), finally finishing Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice (one of my favourites in the series overall, yet strangely it didn't have me as hooked as some of the earlier games), and burning through Grim Fandango, Spec Ops: The Line and Life is Strange.

Siskoid said...

Thanks for those Toby'c Awards!

I will have some gaming highlights of my own tomorrow in the Technical Awards ceremony, but I just don't game enough to warrant a Top 5 in this format.


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