Look, I’m not going to lie, I like end of year lists, alright? I don’t find them to be a cheap bandwagon worth jumping on just because everybody else is doing it, as I’ve seen many a journalist pompously exclaim before launching into their own end-of-year lists. Instead, I find them to be an interesting means of consolidating a person’s cultural experiences of the year, and maybe even tying those into more personal experiences. I see in them an attempt at placing the year into a time capsule, an attempt at understanding not only what was revered and celebrated in that year, but also what those things meant to the people who were celebrating them.
Which is all well and good, if you went out of your way to bother having a variety of cultural experiences that year, which I… uh… I gotta say, I didn’t in 2015. I was busy making snarky comments about things on the internet, and forgot that I should immerse myself in some cultural shit, or something like that. I played a lot of video games, though! I can do that one easily. We’ll start with that!
Best Game of the Year
Okay, problem with having played a lot of video games this year, was that it ended up being incredibly tough to decide which game was the be-HAH. No, just kidding. There were three particularly standout games this year, and my initial design was to give this award to either Life is Strange or Tales From the Borderlands. TFTB took the usual Telltale approach to interactive storytelling, but produced a game with a lot more charm and life to it than most of their catalogue. LiS on the other hand, utilised this approach to tell an engagingly emotive story, that struck a chord with my inner hipster (my inner hipster is also my outer hipster by the way). But, at the very last minute, literally a couple of days before writing this very article, I got my hands on The Beginner’s Guide. Now, as emotional as Life is Strange was, nothing spoke quite as personally to me as The Beginner’s Guide. While I’m sure that talking about the personal impact of this game, is to miss the point entirely, it definitely meant a lot to me, granting myself a new means of looking at my own content, looking at my own self, and looking at the content of others, particularly people I know. I’m sure placing personal value on something isn’t exactly going to sell it, but I can also attest to the fact that it has a remarkable meta-narrative, utilises the ‘walking simulator’ in a marvellous way that I never even thought possible, and despite it’s weird, abstract format, manages to tell an incredibly relatable story, especially to content creators, and doubly so for content creators who have ever felt that their work has become misappropriated. This is not just my best game of the year, this is the best game of the year. Bite me, Undertale fans.
Okay! That was easy! What’s next? Oh god, okay… TV.
Best TV Show of the Year
It was a toss-up between this and The Man in the High Castle, but while High Castle told an excellent story about life after an Axis victory, it never took full advantage of its explorative concept. So, this goes to season two of Rick and Morty, which not only manged to be funnier than it’s previous season, but broke completely new ground in what was already a very high-concept TV show. It was weird, wacky and hilarious, while not being afraid to sometimes dig deep and become very philosophical. Despite having the veneer of a comedy, this show can pack an emotionally devastating punch when it needs to, while experimenting with old science fiction tropes, and also introducing completely new and fresh ideas. Hiveminds, memory parasites and an entire universe created just to fuel somebody’s car, this show breaks incredible ground, and as it doesn’t rely too heavily on a continuity between episodes (not that there isn’t one), so a person can feel free to dip into any episode they choose. It’s funny, it’s clever and its groundbreaking, Rick and Morty’s second season was by far the best season of television this year. Honourable mention goes to Gravity Falls, which can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a show from 2014, 2015 or 2016, so loses a potential spot in this list, since I’m not making its damn mind up for it.
Alright… I didn’t watch much new TV this year. So that was a bit more difficult. Should do alright on the next one though! Which is… Oh, fuck. Film.
Best Film of the Year
Mad Max: Fury Road. The end, thank you, bye.
So, I’m going to move onto my ‘Worst of’ list right now. I was initially tempted to make this list solely a ‘worst of’ list, but I kind of didn’t see the point. There was already a surprising amount of cynicism in the media, in politics, and in culture this year, so I felt it was kind of important to open this column by celebrating the things that made 2015 special. Picking things that you don’t like, is too easy, the difficulty is in celebrating the good parts.
That said, I have a bunch of fish collected in this large barrel over here. Want to help me shoot some?
Worst Game of the Year
Man, I didn’t have to think long about this one. While a lot of people would have assumed Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate would have received this prestigious title, I feel I may have overstated my disappointment with that game. There was still plenty of fun to be had with it, and it’s still a game built on a good foundation. No, this reward goes to Star Wars Battlefront and I am so, so sorry, but season passes that cost the full retail price of the game? Miniscule maps, especially in comparison with it’s predecessors? Power-ups that don’t feel integrated, but feel (forgive the pun) somewhat forced? Despite the Battlefront series having some fantastic entries in the past, Star Wars Battlefront stripped far too much away, leaving a fairly generic online multiplayer shooter, with nothing to really discern it as a Star Wars game. Maybe this game wouldn’t have placed so low down for me if it wasn’t for the hype surrounding it. It was marketed as a game that was going to be more than just a companion to the film this year, but unfortunately that is all we received, that and prequel-erasure (Polis Massa was, like, one of the best maps in Battlefront II). Let’s hope EA learn from this, and provide us with something a bit more fleshed out next time.
Worst TV Show of the Year
Don’t kill me. I know some of you are brandishing sharp knives already, after all that hate for Battlefront, but just hear me out on this one, okay? Aziz Ansari is a funny guy. His stand-up is pretty good (not fantastic, but I’ve enjoyed it), and he was bang-on hilarious in Parks and Recreations, but… Master of None is not very good. And I really, honestly, truly wish it was, because Aziz Ansari deserved a hit with this. He totally did! But what was advertised to me as a relatable show about the struggles of being a Millennial in 2015, ended up coming across like… well, like when your aunt posts a meme from 2008 onto Facebook, with some message about how children don’t respect their elders, or how we’re too addicted to our phones, or don’t understand Christmas. Believe me, despite the presence of Tim Heidecker, it doesn’t do as ironically or cleverly as you’d think. Instead, we got lazily written jokes about Sherlock that would have seemed out-of-date in 2010 (are we still pretending that Benedict Cumberbatch is a relevant figure? Alright then…) I never finished the show, maybe it turns around halfway through, it winks at the camera and goes ‘Gotcha!’ before suddenly increasing in quality. I’d be happy if it did! There were a few moments where the show actually did start speaking as a voice of this generation. When Aziz finds himself on a date with somebody who does loud and awkward impersonations of Cartman, it was not only funny, but relatable. If the show gets commissioned for a second season, I might be tempted to catch up with it, since it has potential. It just didn’t make the most of it, and for that I actually do consider it the worst show of the year, just for sheer disappointment value.
Worst Film of the Year
Well, obviously this one goes to Star Wars: The Force Awakens a film so absolutely terrible tha—PFFHAHAHAHA no. No, sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face. No, this goes to the video game adaptation Hitman: Agent 47. I don’t think I need to explain this entry.