It’s not showing any signs of stopping yet. And there will be much linking.
10. The Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
No, really. Hear me out on this one. I will admit, this is sort of my wild card in-joke gift of the year, but for some reason, man. That strange animated swirling glowing spectral star system is something my people and I absolutely cannot stop making jokes about. (We realized that True Blood‘s Iraqi smoke monster is another of the Ghost Galaxy’s cousins, too.) It wasn’t like it was creepy, but it was just so random that we can’t stop talking about it.
9. A Minor Bird by Sucré
Due to the way the days of this year panned out, I’m still putting my Top 10 albums of the year up tomorrow, but three of them go into this category, none of which should be surprising. (Not that any of this list should be an overall surprise, but hey.) Anyway, though. Stacy has always been my favorite DuPree sister (I mean, I love them all very much, but Stacy plays keyboards, and that endeared her to me from the get-go) and her solo project, or solo-ish project at least, is just a legitimately good album in and of itself. It’s become one of my favorite I Am Getting Ready To Go Somewhere Fancy albums (it’s got that certain je ne sais quoi about it) and also one of my favorite I Am Doing Creative Things Alone albums, and certain of the songs I just love to turn up at full blast and listen to as I take in the world around me.
As I just said on Friday. I’m sure I’m not the only one who could say “but I don’t think I can actually explain how much this movie means to me,” and that actually makes me very happy. This is one of the few movies I’ve actually gotten into heated almost-arguments about; “but I heard it was really feminist,” I once heard someone say, sounding sniffy about the premise. “Yes, so?” was my immediate retort, and I proceeded to summarily dismiss just about every argument I had ever read a critic making against the movie (there are plenty of dude role models, why can’t a little boy have a girl role model because little girls are expected to have boy role models, Merida is not a lesbian just because she doesn’t want to get married and likes archery BUT EVEN IF SHE WAS why is that a big deal but I’m pretty sure her sexual orientation is the opposite of the point, etcetera). I mention to you guys every time I go off on these giant rants, which might make you think I do it a lot, but not so. There are plenty of rants I’ve wanted to rant that I’ve refrained from, but Brave is one of those rants I will rant forever.
7. Mad Men season 5
As I alluded to on Tuesday, I’m still not sure what to make of the situation with my Joanie (Christina Hendricks). Because Mad Men has so much going on, I’ve noticed they have a habit of spending an episode dealing intensely with one character’s emotions, then just alluding to it for the next few episodes, and the situation with Joan was close enough to the season’s end that they didn’t circle back around to another Joan Feelings Episode. We did, however, get Meaningful Looks between her and Don (Jon Hamm) and her being a Super Total Badass both at the meeting and in their new office space, so that’s something. I was happy for Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) deciding to do what felt right for her and go elsewhere, but I really do miss her around Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. I do. I, as mentioned, mourn Lane (Jared Harris); I am intensely curious about many of the other characters and the paths they’re taking, particularly Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) and Megan (Jessica Paré). This was largely a gift just because of how long we had to wait for it, I admit, but it’s also one of those cases where my ambivalence about many of the situations they explored is actually a compliment. I’m intrigued, I’m just torn.
6. Game of Thrones season 2
I never actually did a season 2 wrap-up post about Game of Thrones, largely because of the fact that the schedule I watched it on would have made it too late. So I’m just going to link to my Game of Thrones tag, because gods know there’s plenty of meta scattered through the thousands of posts in there (and also because everything else gets a link, so consistency demands it). Season 2 differs from A Clash of Kings more than season 1 differed from A Game of Thrones, and some of those differences were strange, yes. (Having recently finished A Storm of Swords, finally, I’m looking forward to how they deal with the obvious changes Talisa [Oona Chaplin] is going to cause in the next seasons.) But some of the changes, I actually… don’t entirely mind? I don’t know exactly why Ros (Esmé Bianco), but a lot of the functions she serves are ones that other characters directly served and they’re just condensing it into one beautiful redhead, so that’s okay I suppose, and I’m fond of her for silly personal reasons. For example. And though I’ve gone off about this on my tumblr just a tiny bit, I guess this is the best time to really address the matter of Dany (Emilia Clarke) and her dragon drama (well, beyond the Doreah [Roxanne McKee] side of it, which I’ve already analyzed to pieces) here: anyone who says that Dany spent the entire season “just running around screaming about her dragons” is wrong and silly. You know how long Dany actually spent “just running around screaming about her dragons”? The equivalent of about one episode. It was really “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?” (a reasonable question) then “OH you have my dragons” then she wasn’t in an episode then “OKAY I’M GOING TO GET MY DRAGONS NOW.” I’m copypasting from a tumblr meme rant I did now, because this is also important: “Oh, and I actually really liked the changes to the scene in the House of the Undying, mostly because in the book, it came off sort of SUDDEN MAGICKS WHAT IS GOING ON OH NO HERE COME JORAH AND BLOODRIDERS TO HELP ME MAKE IT STOP and in the show, it was more HERE IS A LOT OF TEMPTATION, OKAY, BUT I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO DO EVEN IF IT HURTS, AND GUESS WHAT? HERE I AM COMMANDING MY DRAGONS AND SAVING MYSELF.” Also, it’s not like everyone else doesn’t “run around screaming about” one or two things, either. So.
5. Halcyon by Ellie Goulding
As I alluded to last Monday and will discuss more tomorrow, this album is my jam. I like that it’s a little darker than Lights (though don’t get me wrong, I love Lights too) and I feel a little more personally connected to a lot of the songs. Also, I love that Ellie Goulding actually gets played on the “normal” radio sometimes (not enough to make my people grumble, like they do about Adele [which sucks, because she's still really talented, but], but enough) because it means that I know a song on the radio. (“Only You” came on at a bar the other night; the friends I was with had been singing along to all of the Katy Perry, One Direction, and other insanity that played while I sat on top of the pool table and wrinkled my nose in confusion, but once there was Ellie, I could sit there whisper-singing to myself and smiling because finally I knew what was going on.) This album is good for driving, for introspection; a lot of the tracks are good for exercising; it’s super morbid in places, even in the chipper-sounding songs (because really, “Anything Can Happen” sounds super-happy but isn’t, and I love that). Also, she’s British. This is a failing of mine forever.
4. The Avengers
Were there things this movie could have done even better? Of course. Perfection doesn’t exist, and once I heard that Joss had wanted to write in Janet Van Dyne to be played by Morena Baccarin, a hollow space of longing opened up in my heart (both because there should always be more lady superheroes and because there should always be more Morena Baccarin). But did this movie do a lot of things really, really right? Oh, yes. The dynamics between the characters, the platonicness of every relationship (and I was thinking about this; it’s not rare to have a bunch of platonic dude relationships, but if there’s a woman, especially if there’s only one main woman, she’s almost always tied to one of the guys, but that is not the case here, thank goodness), the characterizations, the dialogue (of all of the characters, I actually think Nick Fury [Samuel L. Jackson] has the Whedoniest lines), the Whedonverse in-jokes (actors, references, anything in between) – it’s just overall warm fuzzies.
3. Synthetica by Metric
While Halcyon and A Minor Bird were sort of slow-burn favorites for me (there were tracks I loved intensely from the get-go, but the whole of the albums took a few listens to fall as deeply in love with), Synthetica was sort of instant. I’ve been into Metric since junior year of high school, when one of the other editors on my school newspaper, who was graduating that year, gave me a whole stack of music to continue her Good Music During Newspaper Layout Parties legacy; I don’t think I’ve ever said thank you to her, because we haven’t actually seen each other… probably since then, actually, but I would very much want to. Metric is a beautiful group, and Synthetica, while not perfect because that isn’t real, is almost a perfect album.
2. The Cabin in the Woods
For so many reasons. I’ve refrained from writing too too much Cabin meta, but this is mostly because I’ve read some really intriguing pieces of it by other authors. (I tend to talk more about things I hear/see fewer people talking about, I think.) I really do love this movie, though. I love it for all of its meta, I love it for its simultaneous genre critique and genre overhaul; I haven’t seen a lot of the allegedly big famous horror franchises, but I have been known to enjoy a terrible straight-to-video horror film or ten, so I’m comfortably aware of the conventions, enough to enjoy seeing them ripped to shreds. I love it for its social critique: as some of the meta I’ve seen has said, the pigeonholing of characters is uniquely American. The athlete/scholar/fool/whore/virgin thing is a different version of the ever-referenced Breakfast Club: characters have to be reduced to one thing by others in order to make them understandable to said others. Clearly, there’s much more to them, but that would be too complicated. Men are defined by what they do (sports, academia, humor) but women are defined by who they do (or don’t do). What this movie does, though, is both acknowledge that this is the way that we (and in this case, “we” ends up being a global evil corporation based in ancient rituals and monsters, which is oddly apt) often view things and acknowledge that viewing things in such a way can only lead to danger. Reducing people to one dimension and then sacrificing them so that we may continue to go on our merry only leads to badness.
1. True Blood season 5
I’m linking here to my talking about the season premiere, then my talking about the season finale, then just my True Blood tag, given the exceptional amounts of discussion that goes on within it. (Aside from day topic tags, the only tags I have that are more populated than the True Blood tag are the Buffy tag and the Dollhouse tag. I’m sure this is mostly season 5′s fault.) I was going back and forth about whether I should put Cabin or this at number one on this list, but I realized that honestly, it had to be this. It couldn’t not be. I have several friends who watch True Blood, and the reactions to season 5 have been varied; “I liked it,” one said, “I just didn’t understand all of it.” And that’s totally valid. It’s very different from the books by this point, but I’m, as I have mentioned 1000 times, more than comfortable with that. There are bunches of reasons that this is at number one, almost all of which I talk about way too often: Nora Gainesborough (Lucy Griffiths), obviously, by herself and also plus Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and plus Salome (Valentina Cervi), the joy of Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) like I mentioned on Tuesday. Pam and Tara as individual characters, Eric and Salome as individual characters, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) as an individual character, Luna (Janina Gavankar) and Sam (Sam Trammell) by themselves and together, the utter adorable that is Emma (Chloe Noelle), the awesome that was dearly departed Molly (Tina Majorino), the twist of fate that is evil Bill (Stephen Moyer), the fact that Sookie (Anna Paquin) got to develop outside of the context of any romantic entanglements at all, the joy that is assertive Alcide (Joe Manganiello), the fun evil of Russell (Denis O’Hare) and his cuteness with Steve (Michael McMillan), the sassiness and wonder that is Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis). The fact that the book is fun, but the show is just getting dark and going into serious things like hate crimes and religious fanaticism, but cloaking it in this seemingly absurd world of supernatural whatever. The fact that here is this show that people routinely brush off, as I’ve said, as being SEXY VAMPIRE SEX OHMAHGAH, but it is actually dealing with these more serious topics. The fact that yes, sure, horrible things happen to female characters sometimes, but horrible things also happen to male characters; power on this show is divided fairly evenly between female characters and male characters; Lilith may be evil, but it’s fascinating that vampire God is a woman; when characters try to coddle women, they get called out on it (like with Sam and Luna); femininity is not regarded as an inherent weakness, but not every character “does” their femaleness in the same way: this is actually, at least in my read, a pretty lady-positive show. The fact that this show is open to and seems to encourage non-vanilla/heterosexual sexualities and, provided that they are consensual and not rooted in evil, treats them just the same; the fact that this show is intensely bisexuality-positive. The fact that sure, there’s SEXY VAMPIRE SEX OHMAHGAH, it’s about vampires and shifters and werewolves and fairies and goodness knows what else, but the whole of it is actually very well-written and the characters are realistic. (Maybe sometimes a little too: having just been down South, I can [re-]vouch for the fact that folks like the townspeople extras in True Blood do definitely exist, particularly though not solely in that geographical region.) Clearly, I could go on about this for ages.
–your fangirl heroine.