Awards time! WHOO-HOO! As always, these are about my personal preferences and just for fun.
The Television Episode That Kicked the Ass of Anything in Movies Award:
“This Extraordinary Being” – Watchmen
When this year began I was POSITIVE that Game of Thrones would easily walk off with this category. As we all know, the final season was a massive fail. As the year progressed, I kept coming up with several other strong contenders (which will be mentioned in one fashion or another in the rest of this post).
I was absolutely positive with the premiere of The Mandalorian that it would walk off with the prize.
And then…I found Watchmen.
Having never read the original comic, I was not even planning to watch it. Buzz on social media convinced me to give it a try, and I was blown away by it.
Frankly, I could have picked any of the final four episodes of this series for this prize—yes, they are all THAT good. But “This Extraordinary Being” uses the superhero genre to explore themes that are rarely touched on in popular culture, including systemic racism, generational trauma, and cultural appropriation, with honesty and fearlessness. Shot in black and white, the episode tracks Angela Abar (Regina King) as she relives her grandfather Will Reeves’ (Jovan Adepo/Lou Gossett, Jr.) experiences as he tried to fight for justice as a cop in a society that hated him because he is a Black man.
The writing, direction, and acting are beyond what you would expect for a television series. It’s one of the most extraordinary hours of television ever made, and I’m not being hyperbolic.
If you haven’t seen the series yet, do yourself a favor and put it on your must do list.
The Firefly Award for Best Space Western:
This show took maybe two or three episodes to become a genuine pop culture phenomenon almost separated from the fact that it is a Star Wars property. Taking some elements already part of the Star Wars DNA—Westerns and Samurai movies—and really running with them, the series shows how much there is left to mine from the Star Wars universe that has little to do with Jedis, Siths, or Skywalkers.
A riff on the Western bounty hunter with a strong personal code of ethics, this kind of thing is my JAM. Add to that the alternately adorable and troublesome child only known to us so far as Baby Yoda, tons of Star Wars Easter eggs, a stellar cast headed by Pedro Pascal, heart-stopping action sequences, and you’ve got the best reason ever to stay home on a Friday night.
The Biggest Self-Own of The Decade Award:
Benioff and Weiss admit they were the totally wrong people to helm Game of Thrones
At a writers panel, Game of Thrones show runners Benioff and Weiss basically admitted that they were completely unqualified for the job (calling their experience on the show a “ten year film school”), that they didn’t think much about the themes of the books, and that other professionals involved in the production had to step in and correct many of their worst mistakes after they shot the first disastrous version of the pilot episode.
So, yeah, not surprising that the minute they ran out of book material, the show began a significant downturn that ended in a complete mess of a final season.
The Most Touching Romance Between a Human and Non-Human Award:
Claire and Isaac, The Orville
The Orville had a superb second season, and the heart of it was the unusual pairing of Isaac, an artificial lifeform known as a Kaylon, and Claire (Penny Johnson Jerald), the ship’s medic. We even got a glimpse of the actor who voices Isaac, Mark Jackson, during a love scene.
The show is meant as a parody of the Star Trek franchise, but they handle the romantic pairings with real emotion, and this was my favorite. The pairing centered the strongest story arc of the season, with the Kaylons planning to take over the galaxy by using Isaac’s position on the Orville. This culminated in a breathtaking space battle scene that could go up against anything in the movies.
Great show moving to Hulu for its next season. Check it out!
The Shame on You, JJ Abrams Award:
Cutting down Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) to a cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I mostly loved The Rise of Skywalker (will be posting a spoilerific review in the near future) but this is the worst thing about it. Actress Kelly Marie Tran was hounded off of social media by toxic fans of the franchise. Abrams and co-screenwriter Chris Terrio, in a clear attempt to appease them, moved her character Rose to the sidelines in the last movie. The irony is, these same yahoos are still hating on The Rise of Skywalker.
(For the record: It’s O.K. if you didn’t like the character. I’m not talking about you. I’m talking specifically about the people who harassed the actress.)
The I Am Here for the Don Johnson Renaissance Award:
Everyone who cast Don Johnson in something this year!
Don Johnson—hey, remember him? Super-popular 1980s icon from Miami Vice? He who popularized men only sort of shaving their chins?
Well, he’s back, baby, and it is SO GREAT.
With a small but pivotal role in Watchmen and a small but memorable role in the film Knives Out, he shows he has the potential to become one of our best characters actors.
More, we want MORE DON JOHNSON!!!
The Best Time I Ever Had Not Watching A Movie Award:
The Live Tweeting of Cats
We all know Twitter can be mighty savage, but oh my goodness, the live tweets from people watching the movie version of Cats will go down in history for the cuts and burns they administered to the ill-advised project. I’m still howling from some of the reactions.
The THIS is How You Wrap Up a Great Series, MOFOS! Award:
The Deadwood Movie
After teasing fans for something like FOURTEEN YEARS, the promised Deadwood movie came out this year, and it was about as perfect as anyone could want it to be.
Reuniting most of the original cast (sans a couple of actors who have since passed away and Titus Welliver, sadly), the show seemed to barely miss a beat as it picked up the fortunes of the citizens of Deadwood years after the final episode. The town of disparate citizens, including Sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) and saloon owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), come together and find a way to get at least a little bit of justice for the foul deeds of robber baron George Hearst (Gerald McRaney).
My favorite part was the wedding of Trixie (Paul Malcomson) and Sol Star (John Hawkes), who did the best they could to replicate a Jewish ceremony. Seriously made me teary-eyed.
The Isn’t the Dystopian We’re Living in Bad Enough? Award:
Years and Years
The British miniseries Years and Years gives us a stunning glimpse into both what’s happening now and what can likely happen in our near future.
Through the eyes of the British Lyons family, we witness the rise to power of a demagogic leader named Vivienne Rook (Emma Thompson) over a fifteen-year period. The story shows how easily even good people can fall for, tolerate, or ignore the rise of evil.
Alternately terrifying, funny, and hopeful, it’s a window into our own failings as a society and how we might save ourselves from ourselves.
The Best Meta Moment Award:
Keanu Reeves plays himself in the movie Always Be My Maybe
Written by Ali Wong and starring Wong and Randall Park, the charming Netflix film Always Be My Maybe has a fun, if familiar, romcom plot. But the best part, by far, is when Keanu Reeves shows up playing Wong’s character’s new boyfriend. As is often the case in these kinds of roles, Reeves plays himself as a total and utter a-hole, which makes it so much funnier because he is currently one of our most beloved movie stars.
Bravo for having no problem with making fun of yourself, Keanu!
Happy New Year, everyone! Please enjoy this year’s Movie Trailer Mash-Up by Sleepy Skunk: