The 2019 List: December

My total for 2019 is… (drumroll! trumpets! tah-dah!)  156… that’s some kind of record for me.

Breaking it down a little, its 111 movies and 45 television series, and if I give those series a conservative estimate of 6 episodes each (the norm is 8 or 10 episodes of course, and a few were sit-com seasons of the usual full 22 half-hour episodes) that means a low estimate of 270 individual episodes overall, although its possibly closer to 400 in reality. I’ve certainly watched a lot more television programming than movies this year.

And this is my post number 252 for this year. That’s a lot of posting-  writing by me and reading by readers like you. That’s if you’ve read most of them (and if so, thank you, and thank you even more if you’ve taken the time and trouble to write comments), but yeah its me who’s written them all. Its something of a discipline, maintaining a blog, and its dropped off a little recently due to real-world issues, and it has been a pretty rotten year really, with funerals and deaths and all sorts of stuff then can send anyone scurrying to a tv boxset or movie to escape.

Usually of course, nobody actually records how much they watch in any given year, and I’m pretty certain there’s all kinds of specials I haven’t recorded and naturally there were series I have not gotten past the first few episodes of (regards television shows I’ve only counted those which I’ve watched complete seasons of, and nor have I counted those few films I’ve started and given up on).

Its pretty sobering really. I should go get myself a normal life. Or maybe this is indeed a normal life in the 21st Century, when you think about it that’s even more of a sobering thought. Certainly its little wonder I seem to struggle finding time to read books. So anyway, that’s December done and all of 2019.

Happy New Year, everyone.

I wonder what lies ahead in 2020? There’s a certain film I’m really looking forward to…

TV Shows:

146) The Crown: Season Three

149) The Expanse: Season Four

150) Watchmen

156) War of the Worlds

Films:

147) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

148) Taste of Fear

151) Jacobs Ladder (2019)

152) Anna and the Apocalypse

153) Borg vs McEnroe

154) Harry Price: Ghost Hunter

155) Mary Queen of Scots

 

End of Year Report, 2019.

Didn’t get my Replicant Pleasure-Model in the mail, nor did my new car launch vertically into the air for a commute to work in the sky-lanes… and neither was I able to book my holiday Off-World, so thanks for ‘nowt, Ridley…

But 2019 did come with some great television shows and movies. That said though, there were plenty of clunkers and disappointments.  I think what I shall remember most of 2019 is that it was clearly a year when television content surpassed movies in quality by a pretty wide margin.

In my previous post I mentioned that I watched three seasons of The Expanse this year, which was pretty amazing and certainly one of my favourite shows of the year, but there was plenty of other quality shows. Some clunkers too, mind- February brought the first (and thankfully last) season of Nightflyers, a truly abominable creation that so soon after having enjoyed the brilliant The Expanse brought my sci-fi viewing crashing back down to Earth. At the time I was confident it would be the worst piece of television I would see all year, but I was innocently ignorant of Another Life coming later in April. The fact that Another Life has been granted a second season is just mind-boggling and very, very scary.

Certainly the good outweighed the bad, though, if only because you can afford to be judicious with so much content available across Netflix and Amazon Prime. By March I’d also see season two of The Crown, the first outing for The Umbrella Academy, season one of Stranger Things and Love, Death & Robots, a ridiculously entertaining anthology show that was a Fantasia for sci-fi geeks like me, and totally beautiful.

Regards movies though, I had really struggled to see anything really memorable until April, when I saw both Bad Times at the El Royale and Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse. El Royale really impressed me on a rental, so much so that a few months later I bought the 4K disc. Then in May John Wick Chapter Three: Parabellum blew my mind on a rare trip to the cinema, an absolutely dizzying action-fest that instantly put itself as prime contender for my Film of the Year. In an era of politically-correct naval-gazing and various worthy agendas being shoved in my face all the time, Wick was refreshingly old-school, unfashionably simple action-movie nirvana. May also brought Avengers Endgame, another rare cinema outing that this time proved hugely disappointing. I’m really curious to see if a rewatch will revise my opinion of the film, but even though I bought the 4K disc of the film when it came out a few months back, I still haven’t actually watched the disc. I keep thinking I should watch Avengers Infinity War first, maybe the two films in a double-bill over a weekend, but the length of the darn things proves rather daunting. All those Marvel geeks who watch all these movies often and know them inside-out are made of sterner stuff than I. Watching Captain Marvel just once, when the 4K disc came out in July , left me pretty burned-out on all things Marvel- the thought of the ultra-fans watching and re-watching that one is just plain scary.

Away from movies, April brought us the big television disappointment of the year, with season eight of Game of Thrones. In hindsight, it could only ever disappoint, it had hyped up the conclusion and all the show’s mysteries and intrigues over several seasons to such a degree, it was inevitable that it would all just implode. Didn’t think the crash would be quite so spectacular though. Having bought all the Blu-rays already, I bought the 4K disc set of season eight anyway, and am hoping that when I get the courage to watch it again after all these months the pain will be less, I can make my peace with some of the wilder crazier twists and maybe manage to see something in all the episode three murk now its in 4K UHD. We’ll see.

Much better television followed in June: and no, I’m not talking about season two of Star Trek Discovery, but rather it was the month when I caught up with Chernobyl, a breath-taking and harrowing series that was pretty much perfect. Discovery was far, far from perfect- it ably demonstrated that while much television can be great, it can also out-dumb and out-stupid anything Hollywood movie studios can do.

In August, I caught up with both Aquaman (a film that proved DC could still make worse movies than Captain Marvel) and Shazam! (a film that proved DC could actually make great, fun superhero movies). Aquaman would be another of those terribly busy movies that tried to fit three films into one, like some kind of Readers Digest edition of an actual film trilogy. It doesn’t work, it just gives me an headache. I watched the 2017 remake of Flatliners, and although I thought that was diabolically appalling, I had no idea I’d also see the Jacobs Ladder remake later in the year, a film which would make the Flatliners remake seem a classic and put me in a total dark funk for a weekend.

Returning to television shows, August also sprung a major surprise with the quite excellent The Boys over on Amazon. The quality television continued into September with the long-awaited (by me, anyway) disc release of the third season of True Detective, which I really enjoyed (I love all three seasons of that show- yes, that includes the maligned second season) and Carnival Row, another Amazon show that was much better than I’d expected, even if it did leave me pining for the superior (and sadly missed) Penny Dreadful.

Sheesh, all these seasons of television shows and all their complicated multi-layered narratives. I suppose I should be glad most movies turned out to be rather less demanding, more simplistic and comfortingly predictable. A prime example would be September’s Ad Astra, which I was expecting to be a high-concept sci-fi take on Apocalypse Now. Well, it was certainly a sci-fi take on Apocalypse Now, almost literally so, but with lunar space pirates and a mad Space Baboon, it was rather more Event Horizon than 2001: A Space Odyssey. A disappointment then, and another example of the lack of confidence of movie studios to challenge and provoke audiences as much as HBO etc do on television. I would imagine that had HBO made Ad Astra as a ten-episode serial, it would have proven far more enticing and thought-provoking.It would probably look just as good too- the gap between television and cinema in regards of visual effects is obviously still there, but its much narrower than it used to be, and television more than makes up for any deficit there by better script writing. November’s The Lion King would prove to be a startling reminder of what visual majesty only cinema budgets can presently afford, but the same months Spider Man: Far From Home ably demonstrated that cinema could just get dumber and dumber even as it got prettier.

November also presented us with The Irishman, a Martin Scorsese gangster ballad that incredibly came to us via Netflix (I prefer ‘ballad’ to ‘epic’ just because its more, well, thoughtful and mature than the joyously questionable glorification of Goodfellas). The idea that a $150 million Scorsese flick could just drop onto Netflix on a Friday night still feels dizzying and possibly game-changing. I really enjoyed the film (its certainly more Once Upon A Time in America than Godfather or Goodfellas).

The Irishman did show, though, just how much has changed during 2019. Streaming services are all the rage now, and really will prove more of a Big Deal in 2020. The prevailing move by studios towards streaming and away from physical media, and indeed away from traditional vendors like cable and satellite television providers, is just a gathering storm that gets windier by the month. For someone like me who likes to own my favourite films and television shows and enjoys special features and commentaries, its pretty worrying. I can see a future not far away where streaming and pay per view is everything. Its clearly inevitable, but its a future where The Irishman can’t be purchased on DVD or Blu-ray, a future where you’ll probably need to subscribe to Disney+ in order to watch future Star Wars and Marvel movies in the comfort of your own home (and I’m pretty certain that premium content on Disney+ will eventually require additional purchases in-app to watch; it may start as a subscription service but it’ll inevitably evolve into a pay-per-view service when alternative avenues like physical media are gone). Hopefully that’s more 2029 or 2039 though, and I’ll be past caring as long as I have a Blu-ray player working.

 

 

The 2019 List: November

Well, things don’t seem to be working the way they should- one would expect more viewing (and posts) in Autumn than in the Summer, if only because dark, long nights are more conducive to sitting in-front of the telly than the distractions of warm weather/long days (or whatever approximates such here in dear old Blighty). Instead though these last two months have bucked that, with November my worst month of the entire year for both watching stuff and posting about it.

Real-life crises and other seemingly endless hitches have conspired against me. Shit happens I guess. I didn’t even manage to watch my beloved Blade Runner in November, 2019- I tried a few nights ago, but at close to the mid-way point of the film a phone-call had me racing out of the house. Seems it was not to be, and a curious turn of fate that is indeed, after all those years thinking actually watching the film in November 2019 was such a no-brainer… well, you just couldn’t make this up.

Hopefully December will see an improvement, and to those of you whose blogs I should be reading/posting comments on, I promise I’ll try catch-up. All this nonsense can’t carry on for a third month, surely?

TV Shows:

138) Better Call Saul Season Two

141) Better Call Saul: Season Three

Films:

139) The King

140) Apollo 11

142) Spider Man: Far From Home

143) The Mule

144) The Lion King (2019)

145) The Irishman

The 2019 List: October

A quieter month, this past October. Haven’t watched very much at all, at least regards anything ‘new’ which would add to my 2019 list (but hey, as we’re keeping count- up to #137!) Other distractions, such as reading, took some toll, as did a turn towards re-watching older stuff like The Shining and Angel Heart. A respite perhaps before the lure of all the new programming on Netflix and Amazon Prime (and yes, a few disc releases) with all-new distractions. In all honesty, its been nice to return to older material, though- time is like a prism, it always offers a new perspective, and while some films etc can suffer from it (its always a shame when old faves suddenly aren’t that great anymore) some do just get better with age. The idea that all those discs on the shelves behind me might seem better or worse simply from the passing of years is a tantalising prospect.

Is it simply the time, all those years, and the comparison to films and tv shows released during them, or really just me having changed? Older, wiser, dumber? That sounds like the title of a whole new blog.

TV shows

133) Better Call Saul Season One

134) Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season Five

Movies

128) Avengement

129) The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot

130) Lady Bird

131) El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

132) Godzilla: King of the Monsters

135) In The Tall Grass

136) Special Correspondents

137) 47 Metres Down

The 2019 List: September

Three television series and ten films later, September closes with my 2019 total now hitting 127. And what do you know, another month, another season of The Big Bang Theory. I’m getting too predictable- maybe I should shake things up and finally start watching Friends (only kidding).

Worse thing I watched this month is a close call between Peterloo and The Snowman (I’m still pretending I didn’t see that Between Two Ferns thing), but I think The Snowman takes this particular booby-prize simply because it felt so broken and wasted so much talent. It should have been so much better.

Best thing I watched this month? Well, I’m really quite torn. I think I’ll go for Ad Astra with a nod to Stan & Ollie, but Ad Astra really is a flawed movie itself, so I do so with some reluctance really, if only because I love those space movies and they are so rare these days. Especially the ones that correctly maintain there are no sound effects in the void of space; its a creative decision that should always be applauded, so that’s why Ad Astra sneaks it. Which is a patently ridiculous argument.

TV Shows

116) True Detective Season Three

120) The Big Bang Theory Season Six

122) Carnival Row

Films

115) Peterloo

117) The Vanishing

118) Stan & Ollie

119) Green Book

121) Shanghai Fortress

123) The Snowman

124) Ad Astra

125) Between Two Ferns: The Movie

126) Hotel Mumbai

127) In the Shadow of the Moon

The 2019 List: August

glow3Hey, August- a month of holidays and sun and.. well, no holiday for me and not really that much sun. How else to explain somehow getting through this lot when I should have been out having a good time getting on the beach etc?

TV Shows

99) The Big Bang Theory Season Three

100) Another Life

105) The Big Bang Theory Season Four

109) The Big Bang Theory Season Five

111) Glow Season Three

114) The Boys Season One

Films

101) Johnny English Strikes Again

102) Hotel Artemis

103) Flatliners (2017)

104) Shazam!

106) Final Score

107) Fahrenheit 11/9

108) mother!

110) Hunter Killer

112) Aquaman

113) Overlord

 

The 2019 List: July

Wow. I came this close. I came this close to reaching 100 by the end of July. No mean feat, especially considering that this month includes five television series, entailing over fifty episodes (albeit the majority were for a sitcom show of about 20 mins apiece). Curiously, the best and worst viewing of the month are in that television section: worst of the month was Star Trek: Discovery (alas for STD, I haven’t yet finished Another Life, which frankly would be the worst of any month) and the best was Chernobyl, which I only finished yesterday and haven’t had time to review it yet.

So anyway, it was a bit of a strange month, adding 15 titles to the 2019 total was unexpected, considering this was a Wimbledon month which monopolised the television for the best part of two weeks. I really thought this monthly review would be a pretty threadbare post, but there’s an awful lot here. I really enjoyed the Quatermass show, which dates way back to 1958 and was really refreshing in being something full of ideas and hidden depths rather than eye-candy, and I’m absolutely loving the lazy ease of watching The Big Bang Theory, which is such an undemanding watch it’s almost addictive.

The films I watched this month are what proved most disappointing. I’ve had a bit of a run of Dwayne Johnson films, and it’s been all downhill from the (surprisingly good) Jumanji film he starred in, but Rampage was really pretty bad. I think the best film of the month was In Bruges, with honorable mention going to A Star is Born.

Which is ignoring rewatch stuff- as both Prisoner of Second Avenue and Field of Dreams, both old faves recently restored, are better than anything else I watched this month, period. I continue to find myself resisting just ignoring ‘new’ stuff and going back to old stuff I’ve seen before- maybe that’ll happen one day (it somes invitable, at some point) and this blog will just be some old dude waxing lyrical about old movies and tv shows.

 TV Shows

85) Quatermass and the Pit (1958-59)

87) The Big Bang Theory Season One

89) Star Trek: Discovery Season Two

94) The Big Bang Theory Season Two

98) Chernobyl

Films

84) Rampage

86) In Bruges

88) Captain Marvel

90) Armstrong (Doc.)

91) A Star is Born (2018)

92) Kingsman: The Golden Circle

93) For the Love of Spock (Doc.)

95) The Dark Tower

96) Bushwick

97) Unsane

The 2019 List: June

Another month of just one television show (Killing Eve Season Two, which was brilliant, but has not yet gotten a review), and this time ten movies, in which the best one (to my utter astonishment, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) also hasn’t yet gotten a review.  The worst one, Skyscraper, absolutely did get a review, and I don’t know what that means- except maybe it’s easier to write a post about a bad movie (because, lets face it, I get a hell of a lot of practice at it) compared to writing a positive review about a good one.

But hey, we’re six months into the year and I’ve hit the big 83 already.

TV Shows

75) Killing Eve Season Two

Films

73) Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom

74) The Meg

76) The Perfection

77) A Quiet Place

78) Blood Father

79) Skyscraper

80) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

81) The Doors

82) Shaft (2019)

83) Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

 

 

 

The 2019 List: February

Another month, another summary-

TV Shows

17) The Crown Season Two

18)  Nightflyers Season One

20) Two Doors Down Season Four

21) The Expanse Season Three

25) Les Miserables

28) Inside No.9 Season One

Films

15) Dumplin’ (2018)

16) Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

19) Assassins Creed (2017)

22) Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

23) Sully (2016)

24) Hereditary (2018)

26) Upgrade (2018)

27) The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

29) I Think We’re Alone Now (2018)

Wowza. Thats me up to 29 already by the end of February. Must be some kind of record (for me, but I’m not going to check so savour the suspense). TV show of the month was the frankly amazing season three of The Expanse (which I haven’t yet reviewed because it’s embarrassing gushing all that praise on a show so few seem to be watching, but I may get around to it). Film of the month is a tricky one, none of them really grabbed me. I think I’ll be controversial and go with Alita, if only to highlight how meh most of the others were, (while I did enjoy Sully, it was fairly pedestrian I suppose). I think a film that even in 2019 feels the need to evoke Blade Runner‘s future city so much, well, it’s almost poetic in this year of all years, isn’t it, so yeah, let’s go with Alita (I’m going to hate myself at years end, but yet another Blade Runner reference forgives anything).

As for the worst thing I’ve seen this month, well, someone dig a big deep hole for Nightflyers please, and let’s all hope we don’t see a season two.