I know the title of this post is “Best of 2012” but all of the things listed here are really my favourite things of the year, the things I really enjoyed, no matter how good (or bad) they really were. These are the things I can see myself reading or watching over and over again in the years to come. It annoys me that I have to preface this gigantic post with this reasonably sizable paragraph but I just know some asshole on Twitter will complain about something being included here instead of something else (I’m just joking, all of my Twitter followers are lovely (except you, you asshole)). The lists will be presented in alphabetical order because I don’t know how to rank these things otherwise, though the entry in bold is my #1. Without further ado, my Best (Favourites) of 2012:
The Further Adventures of An Idiot Abroad – Karl Pilkington
The Revolution Was Televised – Alan Sepinwall
I only read two new books this year (that were released this year, that is: I don’t just reread the same books over and over again, you fool) but they were both by two of my favourite people (the third I’m currently reading (Back Story) is also by one of my favourite people (David Mitchell). Karl Pilkington is possibly my absolute favourite person of the planet. He is a treasure, and while the latest and last series of An Idiot Abroad was sort of a disappointment, his fourth book was his best yet, detailing the events of the second (and some of the third) series. The Revolution Was Televised was a book about my favourite TV critic talking to the creators of my favourite TV shows and writing about how they contributed to the great TV revolution that has occurred in the last 15 years. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the shows discussed but Sepinwall managed to teach me a thing or two, and the Lost chapter in particular was astonishing in how much it revealed about the writing process. If you enjoy idiots travelling the world or reading about television (pretty much my two favourite things), then I highly recommend both of these books.
B.P.R.D. (Dark Horse, Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and various artists)
There have been a bunch of B.P.R.D. series this year and they’ve all been great. Mike Mignola and co. are doing things with their universe that no other comic company can: fucking destroying it.
Batman (DC, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo)
Batman appears to have become DC’s new flagship title this year (replacing the boring/terrible Justice League) with two big event stories: The Court of Owls and Death of the Family. Snyder and Capullo are delivering a consistently great superhero comic each and every month and the back-ups by my pal James Tynion IV aren’t too bad either.
Daredevil (Marvel, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee)
Mark Waid is the greatest. Chris Samnee is the greatest. Daredevil is the greatest once again. I hope these two stay on this comic forever.
Fury MAX (Marvel, Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov)
Holy shit, this is a good comic. Ennis basically created the definitive Punisher (for me, at least) singlehandedly and now it looks like he’s doing the same with Nick Fury. Plus: Barracuda’s going to be in it.
Hawkeye (Marvel, Matt Fraction and David Aja)
Hawkeye would still be on this list even if #6 was the only issue that had came out this year. It is the best single issue I’ve read all year. Fraction and Aja are working wonders here.
Invincible Iron Man (Marvel, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca)
Much like how Garth Ennis has created the definitive Punisher, I feel like Fraction has created the definitive Iron Man run. While the art wasn’t always up to snuff, the constant innovation of Tony Stark and the scale of the final story more than made up for it.
The Manhattan Projects (Image, Jonathan Hickman and Nick Piterra)
A couple of years ago people were raving about Hickman and I didn’t get it. But after Fantastic Four and this, I understand now: Hickman is bringing the goods. My second favourite comic of 2012.
Saga (Image, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples)
And this is my favourite comic of 2012. BKV is pretty much the reason I’m still reading comics – I originally only read the Ultimate Universe but started to drift away after the titles reduced in quality but I found myself reading the first volume of Y the Last Man. It was one of my first exposures to original comics and I was hooked by the end of the first issue. That’s what BKV does: he hooks you in the very first issue and then you’re in for the long run. There were a couple of dark years without any BKV comics but now Saga is here and I hope it has a very long run indeed. And I can’t forget Staples’ art: every page is like a painting. Saga is a gorgeous, funny, and exciting sci-fi/fantasy comic, with characters and a world I’m already in love with.
Uncanny X-Force (Marvel, Rick Remender and Phil Noto)
Remender and his collection of fantastic artists completed an epic this year and I can only remember one part I didn’t really like (the Captain Britain stuff). They took a bunch of characters I didn’t care about, put them together and sent them on an impossible journey and created one of the best X-Men comics I’ve ever read. I hope Uncanny Avengers gets to be this good.
Wolverine and the X-Men (Marvel, Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw)
Jason Aaron. I could have put Scalped on this list. I could have put Punisher MAX (I think that ended this year). I could have put Thor: God of Thunder, which just started but is already great. But I have put Wolverine and the X-Men on this list because it is the title that surprises me the most each and every month. One word: Doop. That is all.
Honorable mentions: Animal Man (DC, Jeff Lemire and Steve Pugh), The Boys (Dynamite, Garth Ennis and Russ Braun), Fantastic Four/FF (Marvel, Jonathan Hickman and various artists), Swamp Thing (DC, Scott Snyder and Marco Rudy), The Walking Dead (Image, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard).
There are also a bunch of Marvel Now comics I really like but I think it’s too soon to put them on the list. I must also admit that I am behind on The Massive and Prophet but if I were caught up they would probably have made it on the list (but I don’t know what they would have replaced). 2012 was definitely the year of Image and Marvel and I’m excited to see how they top it in 2013.
Mass Effect 3
Max Payne 3
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
I didn’t play many new games this year but I really liked the few I did. Mass Effect 3 was my most anticipated game of the year and unlike with other people, it didn’t disappoint. The ending might not have been perfect but I thought it was satisfying and it certainly didn’t ruin the hours and hours of fantastic gameplay that came before. I only played Max Payne 3 in the last week of the year and while it did get a bit repetitive, it was immensely enjoyable reenacting Man On Fire (rest in peace, Tony Scott) and gunning down dozens of baddies while Max rambled about his problems. I’m not sure if the MGS HD Collection really counts as a new release but I got it at the start of the year and this was the first time I played these games. I’ve still got Peace Walker (and 4) left to finish but 2 and 3 were fantastic and two of the best games I’ve ever played. Hideo Kojima is a genius.
21 Jump Street (Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
I’ve talked about this over and over before: future comedy classic, Channing Tatum is a revelation, everything Ice Cube says is amazing, blah blah blah. 21 Jump Street is rules.
Argo (Ben Affleck)
Ben Affleck, you guys. He’s three for three now. And I think he might be getting better with each movie, which scares me.
The Avengers (Joss Whedon)
Joss Whedon pulled it off. I don’t know how he did it but he did it, putting together five movies of set-up and years and years of anticipation and creating the superhero blockbuster we always wanted. And he wants to do it all over again. I can’t wait.
The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan)
Some people really hate this movie, which I find strange when there’s so much weird shit to love about it. Anne Hathaway proving everyone wrong just like Heath Ledger before her. Tom Hardy’s ridiculous Bane voice. Old man Wayne. Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing all the Robins in one. Michael “tangerine” Caine crying. I’m not sure how well it works as a standalone movie but as the conclusion to Nolan’s epic trilogy, I was very satisfied.
The Grey (Joe Carnahan)
Joe Carnahan sends Liam Neeson and a bunch of guys from TV against a bunch of wolves in the arctic and has them confront their own masculinity and the concept of death. A movie made by men for men. Approximately 900 times better than it probably should have been, it’s been my favourite movie of 2012 since I saw it way back at the beginning of the year. I think it might be a masterpiece.
Killer Joe (William Friedkin)
Holy shit, Matthew McConaughey. This is definitely his year to show that he’s not to be fucked with. Killer Joe is the darkest, most fucked up movie I watched all year and I hope it’s somewhat of a comeback for William Friedkin, who seems to almost be forgotten about these days. It’s also got a bunch of great supporting performances by Juno Temple and Thomas Haden Church and Emile Hirsch and Gina Gershon.
Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
I saw this one relatively late but I liked it enough to knock Moonrise Kingdom off the list (sorry, Wes Anderson!). I haven’t read the book so I didn’t really know what to expect but I was blown away by the powerful story and the amazing special effects. Easily the best movie with a character named Richard Parker in it (take that, Amazing Spider-Man!).
Looper (Rian Johnson)
I have no idea if this movie actually makes any sense or if it will even stand up when I watch it again but I was so impressed with Looper while I was watching it because it was so fucking neat. Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a young Bruce Willis and hunting the old Bruce Willis who is hunting Tetsuo from Akira. And somehow Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano are also involved. My favourite Rian Johnson movie so far.
The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
The only movie that came close to topping The Grey this year (and maybe it will once I’ve watched it a few more times). I feel like I’ve been waiting years for this and it did not disappoint. Joaquin Phoenix delivers the best performance of 2012 and he probably won’t even be nominated for an Oscar. Pigfuck.
Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
Sam Mendes. Roger Deakins. Daniel Craig. Javier Bardem. Judi Dench. This.
Honorable mentions: The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard), John Carter (Andrew Stanton), Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh), Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson), The Raid (Gareth Evans).
Man, 2012 was pretty great for movies. There are still a bunch of movies I really want to see but haven’t yet, like Amour, Cloud Atlas, Django Unchained, Holy Motors and Zero Dark Thirty, and if they’re as good as people say they are then they probably will be ending up on this list sometime in the future. Also I already regret putting Moonrise Kingdom as an honorable mention but I don’t know what else to move. Maybe Skyfall, despite that amazing scene? I don’t know. Lists are hard. I’m getting tired now.
I’m really tired of writing now and I don’t even know how to write about music so this section is going to be a disaster (but hopefully a fun disaster).
Attack on Memory (Cloud Nothings)
I think almost all of my favourite albums are short albums. I really like short albums: it’s quicker to listen to them and it’s easier to listen to them over and over. I listened to Attack on Memory three times in a row and it still felt like only half an hour had gone by. I was hooked almost instantly and I’ve since lost count of the number of times I’ve listened to it (and I still haven’t even bothered with the previous Cloud Nothings albums). My second favourite album of the year.
Blunderbuss (Jack White)
I guess Jack White doesn’t need his sisterwife in order to make good music.
Channel Orange (Frank Ocean)
I know this is everyone’s #1 album of 2012 but maybe we’re all on to something. Frank Ocean seems to have taken the world by storm and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more talented guy. Channel Orange is an incredible album by a musician who’s just getting started and is probably going to put out something even better in a year or two.
Cruel Summer (G.O.O.D. Music)
I know half the songs on this album are kinda rubbish but the other half are so good I’m putting this on the list anyway. At least once a week a random song from this album will get stuck in my head even though I haven’t been listening to it. The power of Kanye West.
good Kid, m.A.A.d City (Kendrick Lamar)
Good album, b.A.d title. I bet I’m the first person to make that joke. I am amazing.
The Master (Jonny Greenwood)
Jonny Greenwood is the best musician on the planet and this is further proof he might actually be a wizard.
Shields (Grizzly Bear)
All the Grizzly Bear albums sort of sound the same to me but fortunately I like whatever that sound is and Shields has a lot of it. Good stuff.
I was initially disappointed in this album because Fantasies is one of my favourites but after a while I warmed to it and now I really like it. I also have a crush on Emily Haines.
I think this album’s been ignored by most, which makes me sad because it’s so damn catchy. I think of it as the appetizer to the main course that is the Atoms For Peace album coming soon.
Words I would use to describe Grimes: strange, beautiful, time-travelling electro baby. Words I would use to describe this album: fucking exceptional. I really didn’t think I would like it but I ended up loving it and it’s probably my third favourite album of the year. I can’t stop listening to it.
Honorable mentions: An Omen (How to Destroy Angels), Bloom (Beach House), Celebration Rock (Japandroids), Coexist (The xx), Port of Morrow (The Shins). I still have another 90 albums from 2012 to listen to so just like the movies list, this one is pretty incomplete, but I guess you’ll just have to take it or leave it. Please just take it.
30 Rock S6/7 (NBC)
I’ve always liked but not loved 30 Rock and I often think of it as the weakest of the NBC 4 (at least before The Office turned to shit) but it looks like Tina Fey has saved the best for last. I don’t think there’s been a bad episode yet. In fact, I think they might have all been amazing.
Boardwalk Empire S3 (HBO)
That’s right; Boardwalk Empire is my favourite show of the year. I liked the first season, really liked the second and loved the third. I think it finally figured out what it was about this year and delivered a season that proves the show deserves to follow in The Sopranos’s footsteps. Holy shit, Gyp Rosetti. Holy shit, Al Capone. Holy shit, Richard Harrow. Holy shit, pretty much everyone.
Breaking Bad S5.1 (AMC)
Breaking Bad is usually my favourite show of the year but I felt iffy making a show that only aired eight episodes (even though they were all great) my #1 when we still have to wait six months to see how the season ends. If the second half of the season is as good as the first then I imagine it will be my #1 at the end of this year anyway. I’m going to miss this show so much.
Fresh Meat S2 (C4)
I think I’m the only person who watches this show but it’s one of my favourite British comedic dramas/dramatic comedies. The cast is really great (especially Jack Whitehall; I never really liked him before Fresh Meat but he’s amazing in this), the writing manages to be hilarious and increasingly traumatic often in the same scene, and so far it’s a pretty realistic take on the life of a university student. The first season was good; the second season was great.
Game of Thrones S2 (HBO)
Justified S3 (FX)
You know that trick Raylan pulled with the tablecloth and the gun in the very first episode? I’m still thinking about that. It’s so simple but so clever, much like the show itself. Best dialogue on TV.
Louie S3 (FX)
“Dad.” Oh, and David Lynch. Amazing.
Mad Men S5 (AMC)
I’m not sure if I liked the first or last episodes of this season but every other episode was great. There was a lot of fantastic black comedy this year too, particularly revolving Lane Pryce, with one scene in particular reminding me about how funny and dark The Sopranos could be. Plus, Roger on LSD and Don trying to listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Good stuff.
Parenthood S3/S4 (NBC)
The fourth season has mostly been about Kristina Braverman and her battle with cancer. I have cried almost every week. I think this show has transcended being a guilty pleasure that’s better than it deserves to be and has actually become a great show.
Parks and Recreation S4/5 (NBC)
What everyone else said.
Honorable mentions: American Horror Story: Asylum (FX), Ben and Kate S1 (FOX), Homeland S2 (SHO), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia S8 (FX), Sherlock S2 (BBC).
I like TV.
That took a lot longer than I thought it would. I started writing this in the last week of 2012 and here I am, at the end of the first week of 2013, finally finishing it (but only because I had to finish it before I had forgotten what I had already written). 2012 was a strange year. It was the first time since I was 4 where I wasn’t at school the whole time; I graduated university in February and embarked on the Tolkien-esque epic that is job searching, a task which I’m still trying to achieve 10 months later. I lost count of the number of jobs I applied for and the lack of response and the lack of progress got me down a couple of times and I just wanted to thank my friends, especially the numerous people I’ve talked to on Twitter and stuff this year, for keeping me positive and/or distracted with discussions about movies and shit. 2012 wasn’t all bad though; I saw my favourite band play live for the very first time and it was an incredible experience. I also watched a ridiculous amount of movies and remembered why I love this stupid art form so much.
In 2013 I will be returning to school to study a second, more practical degree (IT), which will hopefully help with the job searching; travelling to the Americas once again and hopefully meeting up with a bunch of people I’ve been talking to online for almost 10 years now; and writing, hopefully, something substantial and more useful than just another list. Because fuck lists, and their restrictive grasp on my simple, obsessive-compulsive mind.
3,400 words. I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN. Don’t you dare make me. I will fight you. To the death. And I will win.
Thanks for reading.