It’s been a pretty fantastic year for TV in general, so it’s been fairly challenging whittling down ten shows, never mind five, and I haven’t nearly watched everything that has struck a chord with people in 2018.
The following, in my opinion, have nonetheless been some of the strongest TV of this year. Some new, some older, some just taking off. All still with a lot of led left in their pencil.
Here we go with #5 to #1…
You’ve already heard my best film experiences of 2018, but I intentionally left new releases off that list in order to have some clear blue water, aware that I’d be presented a 2018 only list.
Now, in all honesty, I’ve seen just over 150 movies this year, and less than 30 of them are 2018 releases. There are many omissions from this ten. This list will, in the fullness of time, absolutely change as I see films many others already have on their lists. This is what I saw, however, so this is all I can, right now, go by.
#10 to #6 then. Let’s do this…
There is every possibility we may look back upon Bandersnatch, the latest episode of Black Mirror, and be amazed at just what a pioneer it was.
Black Mirror has seeped into popular culture in a remarkable way since Charlie Brooker moved from being one of TV’s most entertaining cult comedians, when it comes to analysing popular media, and into the realm of writing and producing what could be the most innovative and format breaking television show of the modern age. Black Mirror has come a long way since its first Channel Four episode, telling the disturbing story of a David Cameron-parody being blackmailed into having sex with a pig live on television.
What began as a darkly comic examination of our evolving relationship with new media, akin to Brooker’s earlier scripted series Dead Set (zombies meets Big Brother), has grown into a 21st century Twilight Zone; a dark, indeed black mirror for our own fears, anxieties and cautionary tales about the technology we are allowing to dominate and consume our lives. While Brooker’s show, on being snapped up in a savvy move by Netflix and getting a hefty budget increase in the bargain, has benefited from A-list movie stars and directors wanting to be involved, the modern day Rod Serling has always had one eye on the past as he puts one foot in the future.
Bandersnatch feels like the ultimate realisation of Brooker’s fascination with retro 1980’s and 1990’s culture, particularly gaming culture. Fionn Whitehead’s troubled protagonist Stefan Butler could be Brooker in another, alternate life.
It would be easy to present a list of the top 10 film scores of the year but that doesn’t always feel hugely representative – sometimes a particular track may leap out of an otherwise decent but not great album and stick with you.
Therefore, I’m going to present my top 10 tracks from film scores across 2018. Many of these albums are worth listening to in their entirety, but these are the pieces that really stood out from the crowd.
To start with, here is my first five, from #10 down to #6…
Time to move on with appreciating the new stuff, as I break down the first of ten TV shows which I consider to be some of the best content released in 2018.
No negativity planned for examining this year’s TV or movies. I may throw in a disappointment down the line but let’s concentrate on the shows which worked, rather than those left best forgotten.
So! Here’s 10 down to 6 of TV you really should check out if you haven’t already…
I threw out my Worst experiences of 2018 first, saving the Best until last, but here then, continuing from the #10 to #6 list of my Best experiences of 2018, of films that were not released in 2018, are the top 5 films I watched for the first time across this year.
Practically perfect in every way. If there was a telling quote to sum up the nostalgic glow that radiates from Mary Poppins Returns, that would be it.
Who would even have imagined we would be here? Mary Poppins is without doubt the most popular and beloved live action Disney production of the 20th century, and its significance as a piece of family friendly culture that transcends America to the UK and beyond is unparalleled. It helped make a star of Dame Julie Andrews and netted her an Academy Award in 1965. It saw Dick van Dyke sport an English accent he has been both mocked and adored for over half a century. It featured songs, such as ‘Step In Time’ and ‘Supercalifragolisticexpialidotious’ which have been immortalised by several generations of school children and adults. Mary Poppins, for millions, represents the magic of childhood, and a childhood exposure to cinema.
The fact Robert Stevenson’s original film even exists is a curiosity of fate itself, given the author of the Mary Poppins source material, P. L. Travers, struggled with the ‘Disneyfication’ of her subject matter. If you want the story of how Walt Disney came to convince Travers of the magic in the film he wanted to produce, watch John Lee Hancock’s delightful Saving Mr. Banks, but it was a significant challenge. Disney is a problematic figure to history now in many ways, despite the pillar of joy he built his empire on, but he was right about the film Stevenson ended up making. Mary Poppins may not have been immortalised as Travers imagined her, but she became, and remained, one of the strangest and beloved female characters in the history of motion pictures.
Mary Poppins Returns, then, is a challenge on multiple fronts. How do you replicate a film so resolutely of its time while equally outside of it? How do you replace Andrews or Van Dyke? How do you beat the quirkiness of a picture which blended live action with animation, musical show stoppers, and a thematic reach balancing childhood, social mobility and capitalism (not to mention the looming spectre of war)? Mary Poppins Returns has the answer, and it’s really quite simple.