Categories
Roundup

Inputs 2021

This year I’ve been keeping track of the books, films, and television I’ve been consuming. There’s a surprising amount!

My goal for next year is to have a lot more output – so starting in January I’ll start tallying, somehow, the creative work I put out into the world, in addition to the art I’m inspired by.

I use a ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 star rating system – you could think of it as a “recommendation” rating system:

⭐️

⭐️⭐️

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t recommend this.

It’s good. I might recommend it.

It’s great! You should definitely see this.

Best of the Year

My personal award for best new film and TV show for 2021 are:

🏆 Best Television: Only Murders in the Building

Quirky, funny, mysterious, and unique. Steve Martin and Martin Short make a great duo, but the real brilliance happens when you team them up with Selena Gomez! Put this down on your list as a much watch, especially if you’re a podcast lover like me.

🥈Television Runner Up: Calls

A strange, suspenseful, and sometimes scary sci-fi. The thing that makes Calls unique is that visually, each episode looks like a music visualiser. The visuals match the story, but the story is told primarily with audio. The short episodes make it easily bingable in a night or two. Calls pairs very nicely with the Spatial Audio feature on your AirPods.

🏆 Best Film: Pig

Nicholas Cage at his best. This film has been compared to John Wick, but Pig is in another league. It’s a gritty, unnerving, and heartfelt love story, not a cookie-cutter action flick. Definitely worth a watch – this movie stays with you.

🥈Film Runner Up: Don’t Look Up

The very last movie I saw this year was fantastic – at least I thought so. Apparently it’s doing very poorly with critics. Maybe I’m particularly partial to political satire and meta narratives. The film has a unique visual style, interjecting stock footage into the story in a way that, surprisingly, really works!

Television

There’s been a lot of TV this year – not just my personal viewing, but a whole lot of quality television shows released. It’s impossible to keep up with prime viewing. We’re certainly in a golden age of television, and peak “streaming wars”. It’s easy to predict a rise in content piracy as more and more streaming services continue to release amazing content.

Despite this, I’ve pledged a television diet in 2022:

  • Finish the shows I’m still mid-way through
    • Morning Wars (Season 2)
    • See (Season 2)
    • Dickinson (Season 3)
  • Watch any new MCU television
  • Watch any new Star Trek television

That’s it. Nothing else. I’ll miss out on The Expanse, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and other favourites – but that’s a sacrifice I’ll happily make to make time for creative output.

But that’s all in the year ahead. Let’s take a look back at the television I watched in 2021.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Mythic Quest (Season 2)Wandavision (Season 1)The Office (Season 1—9)
Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Season 1)The Expanse (Season 5)
Loki (Season 1)Morning Wars (Season 1)
Black Space (Season 1)Calls (Season 1)
Mr. Corman (Season 1)For All Mankind (Season 2)
Ted Lasso (Season 2)Mare of Easttown (Season 1)
Star Trek: Lower Decks (Season 2)Marvel’s What If… (Season 1)
Dickinson (Season 1—2)Only Murders in the Building (Season 1)
The Premise (Season 1)
Invasion (Season 1)
Foundation (Season 1)
Dr. Brain (Season 1)
  • 33 total seasons of television
  • 387 total episodes
  • That’s slightly more than one episode for every day of the year!
  • If you allow for an average 40 minute episode, that’s 258 hours of television.
  • Most of that was binging The Office (the American version)

Film

I discovered a love for cinemas last year. “Me time”, for me, looks like sneaking out to a movie during the day, when the theatre is mostly empty, and seeing something on the big screen by myself.

Unlike television, the amount of film I’ve seen this year really feels like time well spent. It fills me up, somehow, and gives me ideas. TV feels more braindead, more couch-stoned.

One thing I did this year was to revisited the MCU (for the second time), but this time with my kids and Talia! They’ve loved it – it’s nice to have that shared context of a whole complicated fictional universe.

That said, there’s a lot of rubbish film in the MCU. I expect that my list of films for 2022 will contain a lot less in the one star column.

Talia and I also watched through all the Daniel Craig Bond films in the lead up to No Time to Die. I hope that, whoever the next Bond is, the “series” is imagined as a longer story from the beginning – it’s that shared world building that I love the best.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Incredible Hulk (2008)The Courier (2020)Mortal Kombat (2021)
Captain America The First Avenger (2011)Godzilla vs Kong (2021)Soul (2020)
Thor (2011)Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)Promising Young Woman (2020)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)Cherry (2021)The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)
Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)Synchronic (2019)Nobody (2021)
Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)Wrath of Man (2021)The Father (2020)
Eternals (2021)A Quiet Place (2018)The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)
Undergods (2021)Iron Man (2008)Luca (2021)
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)Moxie (2021)Black Widow (2021)
Iron Man 2 (2010)Pig (2021)
A Quiet Place Part II (2020)Death of a Ladies’ Man (2020)
Cruella (2021)The Suicide Squad (2021)
The Avengers (2012)Annette (2021)
Escape Room (2019)Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Iron Man 3 (2013)Black Panther (2018)
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)CODA (2021)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)Army of the Dead (2021)
F9 (2021)The Green Knight (2021)
Captain America: Civil War (2006)Free Guy (2021)
Cleaner (2007)Army of Thieves (2021)
Doctor Strange (2016) Venom (2018)
In the Heights (2021)Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)Finch (2021)
Slither (2006)Skyfall (2012)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Spectre (2015)
Casino Royale (2006)Home Alone (1990)
Quantum of Solace (2008)Dune (2021)
Captain Marvel (2019)Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
The Harder They Fall (2021)The Matrix: Resurrections (2021)
Red Notice (2021)Don’t Look Up (2021)
No Time to Die (2021)
  • 76 total films
  • That’s around 1.5 movies each week
  • If you allow for an average 120 minute movie, that’s 152 hours
  • One-third of the films I saw this year were set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • 37 of the movies I saw (about half) were released this year (2021)

Books

I didn’t award any book of the year, since I didn’t actually read any books that were released this year. So, instead, I’ll give an award to the best book I read this year.

🏅Book of the Year: The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson)

The first of the excellent Mistborn series, by Brandon Sanderson. Whether the first or the third in the series is the better title could be referred to the DRS. Sanderson is a master of the fantasy genre, and his Mistborn series is masterclass on how to write, and evolve, magic systems. Most fantasy readers will have already read this, I imagine, but if you’re a fantasy fan and you haven’t – this absolutely belongs on your list.

Speaking of Sanderson, the start of 2021 was spent finishing the reading list I started in 2020: all the books that take place in his “Cosmere” universe.

I was a bit fantasied out after that – so I switched to my preferred genre of Science Fiction. Of course, no science fiction fan can truly call themselves that without having read the godfather of the genre – Asimov. So I put down the second Dune novel (it was a struggle anyway), and picked up everything in Asimov’s Robot, Foundation, and Empire series. I’m not quite through yet (only a couple of Foundation novels left), but I expect to finish with Asimov in early 2022.

Asimov has been great to read. Truly an all-time literary master. He can spin together sentences that drop your jaw with their simple complexity, and has created a “future history” that spans literally millions of years. Unfortunately, almost all his work is sullied by a distasteful misogyny that makes Asimov hard to recommend to a modern audience.

I must be a sucker for this shared universe business – between the MCU, Sanderson, and Asimov that’s the vast majority of my input this year.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Elantris (Sanderson)The Well of Ascension (Sanderson)The Final Empire (Sanderson)
White Sand Volumes 1—3 (Sanderson)Warbreaker (Sanderson)The Hero of Ages (Sanderson)
The Complete Robot (Asimov)The Alloy of Law (Sanderson)Prelude to Foundation (Asimov)
The Stars, Like Dust (Asimov)Shadows of Self (Sanderson)Forward the Foundation (Asimov)
The Bands of Mourning (Sanderson)The Midnight Library (Haig)
The Way Back (Shavit)
Nine Tomorrows (Asimov)
Caves of Steel (Asimov)
Dawnshard (Sanderson)
The Naked Sun (Asimov)
Foundation (Asimov)
I, Robot (Asimov)
Pebble in the Sky (Asimov)
The Currents of Space (Asimov)
Foundation and Empire (Asimov)
  • 24 total books
  • That 2 per month!
  • 20 were audiobooks
  • If you allow for an average 15 hour read / listen per book, that’s 360 hours

Total Titles
Total Stars
Total Hours

I’ve been asked how I possibly have time for such a long list. The answer is simple: I don’t have any social media habits. No Twitter, no Reddit, and definitely no Facebook or Instagram.

Looking forward, I’d like 2022 to include less TV, about the same amount of Film, and more Books (with a higher percentage of reading vs listening). I’d also like to use some of the extra time I’ve saved by cutting out a lot of television to do more creative work.

Categories
Roundup

2018 Film & TV Roundup

This year I saw 73 movies (down from 111 in 2017), and 25 full seasons of television (up from 18 in 2017).

Interestingly, the quality of the movies I watched was nearly identical between years. My average review score increased from 73% to 75%.

Top 5 Films of 2018

These are movies I watched, but weren’t necessarily released, in 2018.

5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

I went into this movie without having seen any trailers, and not knowing that it was the first of two parts. Besides the stunning visual effects, I left the theatre shocked at how it ended! It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realised there would be a “resolution” to follow-up in 2019.

4. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

A touching film about an Italian Jewish family, and a coming-of-age romance. This was the first full film I experienced in a virtual theatre, through Bigscreen.

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

I’ve avoided Spider-Man movies, because they’re generally poorly reviewed, and I know that if I watch one, I’ll have to watch them all. It took a while for my eyes to become accustomed to the 12 FPS animation style, but once they did, this film was sensational. I can’t wait for Talia to see it, because I think she’d just love the art-style.

2. Francs Ha (2012)

Talia and I watched all of Noah Baumbach’s films this year (in chronological order), and Frances Ha is my favourite of the lot. Greta Gerwig will always be Frances to me. If you haven’t seen it yet, please add this one to your much watch list (great for a date night!).

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2018 was the 50th year anniversary of the Stanley Kubrick’s pièce de résistance. This is the greatest film ever made, by the greatest filmmaker to have ever lived. I saw this movie twice this year: once on an old 70mm reel full of dust and scratches, and once on Christopher Nolan’s remastered 70mm film.

I also got to meet Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood (the astronauts Dr. Dave Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole) in person, and got their autograph on a limited edition 2001 art print.

Top 5 Television Seasons of 2018

5. Legion (Season 1)

You wouldn’t know that this mind-bending sci-fi / thriller / horror series is set in the X-Men universe. It is bizarre, hilarious, and sometimes even scary. The best part is Jemaine Clement as Oliver Bird (Jemaine usually is the best part, isn’t he?), who brings a little levity to an otherwise serious endeavour.

4. Black Mirror (Season 4)

Who could forget the USS Callister – my favourite episode of any TV series I saw this year. This season was consistently dystopian and harrowing, which is what I love about Black Mirror. The bonus Black Museum episode was a nice touch, too.

3. The Expanse (Season 3)

The best sci-fi on TV right now. I’m a huge fan of James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse book series, and delighted to see such a great adaption for the screen. Shockingly, Syfy announced it would not renew The Expanse for a fourth season! Fans (including me) petitioned on-demand services, and in the end, Amazon picked the series up for additional seasons.

2. Star-Trek Discovery (Season 1)

Whether you’re a Trekkie (like me) or not (like Talia), Discovery is a great, modern take on Star Trek, which stays true to the original vision of progressive positivity. I couldn’t have hoped for a better start to a contemporary refresh (visual style, not story) on Trek.

1. The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel (Season 2)

Is this the only non-sci-fi title in my top 5? I guess so! If you haven’t seen it yet, this Amy Sherman-Palladino series is just hilarious, though it’s not that same brand of slapstick comedy as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or The Office. Think Gilmore Girls, but Rory is Jewish and grows up to be a comedienne.