(Sorry I’m a little late with these. Lots of upheaval in my life the last couple of months.)
Happy New Year! It’s time for me to take a look over the past year in pop culture!
As always, these are about my personal preferences and just for fun.
The Television Episode That Kicked the Ass of Anything in Movies Award:
Pretty much every minute of Killing Eve.
Truth is, this was a pretty terrific movie year, and I say that as someone who only got to see a fraction of the good stuff out there (much of which will be mentioned in this post). While previously I mostly picked action-oriented episodes for this category, action was well represented in the movies this year. There was also some exceptional horror, drama, and animation.
The one category television is kicking major butt compared to movies is the crime thriller. Killing Eve was the best of the best in 2018, an extraordinary show that not only gender-flips the “anti-hero obsessed with chasing down a criminal” subset of the detective genre, it is refreshingly witty and unpredictable in many ways. Sandra Oh plays an MI5 officer with a desk job who wants more exciting work in the field. The opportunity arises when she begins following the exploits of a female assassin known as Villanelle (Jodie Comer).
From Oh’s first scene where she is waking up and screaming, only to be doing so because her arms are asleep and not because she is haunted by nightmares, I knew this series was going to blast other clichés out of the water. I couldn’t narrow down to one specific episode or scene for the award. That’s how good it is. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and put it on your Hulu watch list. You won’t be sorry.
The For God’s Sake Someone Take Paul Hollywood on a Tour of American Pie Shops Award:
I still adore The Great British Bake Off (Baking Show here in the states) and am thrilled that Netflix now co-produces it. This means if you have Netflix, you don’t have to wait a year for the new season.
Consequently, we got two new seasons this year. The episode I’m talking about originally aired in Great Britain in 2017, but we only got to see it this year, and it caused quite a stir on American social media. It was the Pie Week episode and American Pie challenge. Paul Hollywood almost reignited the Revolutionary War when he declared “To make a good American pie, you almost have to make it British.”
First of all, British pies are only good when someone makes them French or German, and secondly, any culture that puts Spaghettios on toast (or, for that matter, puts kidneys in a frickin’ pie) has no right to put down any other culture’s cuisine, OKAY, PAUL?
Unsurprisingly, Hollywood’s attitude was pervasive throughout the contestants, as one pie after another resembled American pies as much as they resembled a luxury sedan. The one the judges liked the best was a ginger key lime pie.
AARGH. I live in South Florida and ginger does not belong anywhere near a key lime pie!
The 80% Loved, 20% Enraged by Award
Solo: A Star Wars Story
I was mostly pleasantly surprised by the Star Wars prequel about young Han Solo. 80% of it was a joy to watch.
But, man, that other 20%. (SPOILERS FOLLOW)
How wasteful and idiotic to FINALLY introduce a Black woman as a character into the SW universe only to blow her up a third of the way through the movie. Then they introduce an amazing female-identified bot and blow HER up.
On the other hand, the movie introduces Enfys Nest, an amazing biracial female character and I desperately want to see a movie about her.
Just don’t blow her up!
The Coolest Star Wars Casting News Since Donald Glover as Young Lando Award
Werner Herzog, eccentric German filmmaker extraordinaire, has been cast in The Mandalorian, a new live action Star Wars TV series.
IN STAR WARS.
My nerd meter blew up hearing that news.
Also in the cast is Pedro Pascal, who I have wanted in the SW universe since his Game of Thrones gig, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, Omid Abtahi . . .
One hopes the show will live up to this stupendous cast.
The Best Happily Ever After Ending Award:
The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
You know, I’ll admit, I can be pretty cynical. When Prince Charles and Diana Spencer got married, I rolled my eyes at all the people calling it a fairy tale wedding. I knew it was BS.
Watching the obviously madly in love Prince Harry and Meghan Markle marry was like watching the ending of a lovely romantic movie.
I cried, people. I cried a lot.
Who knows if it will last, but in that moment, I was a believer.
The OMG, People Magazine Finally Got it Right Award:
Idris Elba named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.
My Favorite Current Horror Movie Trend Award:
A Quiet Place and Bird Box
Was 2018 the year for post-apocalyptic horror movies, or what? Both A Quiet Place and Bird Box are about parents trying to protect their children in a post-apocalyptic landscape and both are so darn good, I almost couldn’t believe it while watching them. (I would throw my preference to A Quiet Place over Bird Box, but they’re both great).
This month begins (finally) the TV adaptation of Justin Cronin’s The Passage, again with a somewhat similar theme.
I guess it’s not so odd that this theme is turning up in a lot of projects at this particular moment in history, but dang, they are making for some good (and terrifying) watching.
The Dumbest Idea for A Movie Award Award:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences briefly creates the Most Popular category.
The Oscars has become an awfully snobby award show the past couple of decades. More often than not, obscure independent films sweep the nominations and awards, leading to lower viewership because most people aren’t invested in who wins or loses.
The Academy tried to rectify this a few years ago when they expanded the Best Picture category to up to 10 nominations.
Then someone got the bright idea to create a “Most Popular” category.
It was shot down pretty fast, thank goodness. The problem with this kind of thing is it makes the Oscars even MORE snobby by saying without hesitation that big films can’t be great films.
That’s just horse pucky. The original Star Wars was nominated for best film, so was Jaws, so were many, many box office smashes.
I adore many of the small, independent films that get Oscar love, but I also love the big films that get ignored. In my opinion, a Best Picture Oscar nomination list that included A Quiet Place, The Favourite, and Black Panther would be perfectly appropriate.
Sure, they’re all really different—but they’re also all really great. That’s the only criteria that should matter.