30 December, 2012

TOP 5 Top 5 of 2012

Here are my top 5 top 5 lists of 2012.

NOTE: Some of these things were NOT released in 2012. I just discovered them in 2012 (books and video games specifically). So, forgive me if I violate your personal rule. This is my blog. I make my own rules.

Top 5 Albums
This year had some fantastic albums (though I think 2011 was even better). These are the ones that moved me most. Though, as I often say, any list I make can change at any time depending on how I am feeling that day.

1. The Sword - Apocryphon: The more I listen, the more I love this album. Stoner metal at its best.
2. Fiona AppleThe Idler Wheel Is Wiser...: Why doesn't she make more music?!
3. Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE: So highly ambitious it could have crashed and burned. Instead, it works on many levels. It is great that we finally have a modern-day hip-hop artist (if we want to pigeonhole him into a genre) who deals with real social issues without resorting to cliches. And yes, he's also a hero to the LGBT community.
4. Napalm Death - Utilitarian: What I need more in my life is death metal songs that aren't any longer than four minutes. This has a bunch of them! Welcome back into my life, old friend.
5. Soundgarden - King Animal: I wasn't crazy about the first few songs and so I almost dismissed this album. Then it kicked into gear and I couldn't stop listening. Welcome back into my life, dear old friend from way back when.

Top 5 Movies
Any of these movies could have been #1. Also, the movies that didn't make the list could easily make the list on another day (like "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", "Killing Them Softly", "Cloud Atlas", "Lincoln", "Safety Not Guaranteed", "Skyfall", "The Hunger Games" and so on).

1. LOOPER: One of the best time-travel action movies in a very long time. So good I can ignore the paradox it created (as most time-travel movies do).
2. THE AVENGERS: Joss Whedon finally received the mass audience his crazed loyal fan base assured he'd someday reach. And comic-book fans finally got an awesome Hulk! Plus everything else was nearly perfect.
3. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY: What? Critics had a problem with it? That's okay because sane fans loved it. Especially that brilliant "Riddles in the Dark" scene. Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis were brilliant in that sequence. Freeman was a standout in the entire movie.
4. QUEEN OF VERSAILLES: A documentary that sums up the problem with the economy and the American dream from the perspective of the (not-for-long?) 1%.
5. MOONRISE KINGDOM: Two outcast kids fall in love and decide to run away together. And the rest is pure genius. An instant classic.

Top 5 TV Shows
Television has become the most creative outlet for brilliant people and so this list is made difficult purely because there is so much great stuff out there right now. However, this list was the easiest to make because of the passion I feel for the following shows.

1. COMMUNITY: Under the maddening helm of the brilliant Dan Harmon, the third season was arguably one of the best half-hour single-cams in television history! So crazy good that it drove Sony to fire Harmon from the show he created. You know it is too good if TV executives can't figure it out.
2. GAME OF THRONES: Not as great as season 1 but even the worst episode of this show is better than the best episode of most.
3. COVERT AFFAIRS: I was going to put HOMELAND here but then had to be honest with myself. Both shows had problem episodes. This one had less of them and ended up as my favorite spy drama in 2012.
4. PARKS AND RECREATION: A nearly perfect show. Still way under-appreciated.
5. COPPER: This BBC America show is the Brit drama the media isn't going crazy over and tossing ridiculous praise at. It is THE WIRE of period police dramas. Minus one misstep in story telling, it is flawless. So obviously it will not be fully appreciated until it is gone.

Top 5 Books
I read a lot of books this year. Five of those from a little series called A Song of Ice and Fire. I also tossed in a new book that is out in 2013 that I got the opportunity to read ahead of release. So not a single book on this list was released in 2012. Perfect!

1. A Storm of Swords (book 3) by George R.R. Martin: Best fantasy book I have ever read. Arguably one of the best works of fiction ever written. It built me up. It broke me down. It made me cry. It made me cheer. It left me feeling as if someone had punched me in the stomach, and then it helped me make a proper fist and punch right back. Wow. Your move HBO version. Your move.
2. A Game of Thrones (book 1) by George R.R. Martin: Hey! Season 1 on HBO was a lot like this! It is the most faithful book to series translations ever. Still, the book is obviously better.
3. A Dance with Dragons (book 5) by George R.R. Martin: Not nearly as full of life as the first book, and not nearly as devastating as the third. It works as a big tease for what happens next. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!
4. A Clash of Kings (book 2) by George R.R. Martin: Hey! Season 2 on HBO was somewhat like this book! Minus lots of characters.
5. The Aylesford Skull by James P. Blaylock: Sure, it won't be released until 2013 but I read it in 2012 and truly enjoyed it. So much so that I have to put it ahead of a GRRM book (shocker!). Easiest book review ever.

Top 5 Video Games
Much like the books list, most of these were NOT released in 2012. But then this is a list of the top 5 things I loved in 2012.

1. Armed Assault 2 (including all DLC): I had skipped this one until the Steam summer sale and I have been playing it like a madman since. Sure, lots of people bought it for the zombie apocalypse survival mod DayZ, but I got it for the military gaming stuff. And I'm addicted. Here is the proof.
2. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare: I love medieval combat games (as you can see with my #4 pick) and there just haven't been many choices until recently. Out of the ones I played or tested this year, this one is by far the most fun. Even when getting my head chopped off left and right (this is a bloody, dismembering game) I am always having a blast.
3. Dishonored: Thief meets super powers. Ummm, yes please!
4. Mount & Blade: Warband (with Napoleonic Wars): I play Chivalry for the quick combat. I play Mount & Blade for the massive battles, castle/fortress assaults, and all those wonderful mods. Another game I picked up for dirt cheap on the Steam summer sale.
5. Battlefield 3 (Premium): I was a Call of Duty guy for years. Then I played BF3 and quit COD forever. I see no reason to go back to an ancient, boring, unimaginative way of playing FPS games. Sorry COD fanboys, you can keep flocking to crap. I'm with DICE now... as you can see here.

So, what would your top 5 top 5 list look like? Comment below.


  1. I don't normally watch your video game videos but caught a little short bit of the video that was titled with the word Czech in it. Is that Battlefield? I was really struck by the realistic look.

    1. You should really watch every video I post...

      But no, it is Armed Assault 2.

  2. Thanks for being the champion of the under-appreciated.

    I think there is so much "groupthink" going on with the major critics that once a show like Copper gets dismissed by a few it gets dismissed by all.


      Yep. The web critic cabal decides something is shit and the rest follow. Because they are buddies. And buddies pretend everything the other says is brilliant.

    2. ...and that's why their top ten lists all look the same.

      Twitter made it worse. Once upon a time, TV critics worked for their local papers and had little knowledge of what the other critics were saying until they got their copy of the "out of town" papers after the fact...if they even bothered to read them.

      Plus, TV shows only got reviewed once a year, if that.

    3. That's why old reviews of movies that are now considered epic classics are fun to read. You know, where one critic (these were all masters at their craft, unlike these days when there are 2,000 fucktards like me with a blog) trashes the movie as a colossal failure while another proclaims it a masterpiece. These days that rarely happens because they all read each other and are influenced by whichever review went up first.

  3. I hear ya about the critics being buddies. They disagree sometimes but mostly it looks like they pat each other's backs on twitter at least. Only a couple of time did I see some critics have twitter dust-ups and they are fun. The worst is when you see them buddy up with publicists on twitter. It would be great to have a site that is all reviews but doesn't go on junkets, do interviews, go to TCA parties, talk to producers, etc. Its all interesting to me as a fan and I enjoy their access but would like one person to just watch episodes only. And on interviews when producers explain things in their episodes....I think your episode should stand by yourself.

    Sorry, just ranting.

    1. One of the things I've always said about my approach to this blog was that I would not become entrenched in the entertainment world. I won't go to their parties. I won't hang out with their groups. Because I know all too well what it means to be entrenched and it makes it so you CANNOT be honest unless you want to burn friendships.

      And if you are buddies with someone's publicist, they will BURN YOU if you shit on their clients. Unless of course you are very powerful like Nikki Finke. And even Nikki Finke has buddies she won't be honest about in her writing.

    2. So are you the asshole who leaks screeners onto fan sites? Just checking.

    3. Is your mother a cunt-faced whore?

      The answer to that is the answer to your question.

  4. Yeah, after finishing Homeland this season, I was even more glad that you got me into Covert Affairs a few months ago. I know part of this is expectation level, because obviously CA is not going for the uber serious (relative) realism of Homeland. But still, Covert Affairs was entertaining as hell this season, and in the end, I found myself being WAY more satisfied with CA S3 than w/Homeland S2. I had mentioned to you on Twitter than I had issues with the last 5 eps of CA S3, and I still do have those issues, but all of them are pretty easily recoverable. My issues were mainly just about too many story threads being left open and wanting more character focus, which they could easily pick up (I hope) when season 4 starts. My issues with Homeland, however, are much more severe. When I as a viewer end the season simultaneously wanting pummel and also feeling completely disinterested in both the main characters, that is a major problem. At this point, I want Homeland S3 to star only Saul and Quinn!

    CA was so much more satisfying because:

    a) The show itself took such a huge leap in quality and maturity from season 2 to 3; it's great to see a show improve so much with each season. For 95% of shows out there, the quality trajectory is exactly the opposite.
    b) We got to watch Annie's character grow as a spy and become way more interesting and compelling at the same time. Meanwhile over at HL, we got to watch Carrie do the exact opposite, at least in the life decision-making skills department. I can't say it any better than Saul did to Carrie herself: "You are the smartest and the dumbest fucking person I've ever known." Also as Sepinwall pointed out, the "Carrie and Brody Show" is interesting when they DON'T trust each other. When they are in full trusting and "let's run off into the sunset" mode ... zzzz.

    Anyway thanks again for the recommendation and if you want anyone to do CA reviews on here in season 4 like Eli does for Castle, I would totally do them, LOL. But you may not bother because maybe you and I are the only 2 ppl who care hahaha. Just sayin' though.

  5. even though Chuck ended in January but I can't believe you didn't have Chuck in you top 5 TV shows

    1. You thought season 5 of CHUCK should be ahead of even 10 other shows? That wouldn't have been an honest assessment from me.

      I loved the show (as anyone who followed me to this site knows), but season 5 was messy. Sure, it had a few great episodes but overall it just didn't feel like it lived up to the first three seasons.

  6. Season 5 was kind of rough, Canadian Greg. I love Chuck more than anything, but it was too rough. Personally, Morgan getting too much time being a jerk + the team being so stupid to blow through so, so, so much money makes it hard to love, and that's before even considering the storyline of Sarah losing her memory.

  7. A storyline that they did in Homeland this season was almost the same as Chuck from early season 2.

    I gotta say the resolution to that storyline was better done on Chuck than on Homeland.

    I still really liked Homeland this season and will watch next year.

    If Covert Affairs season 3 was better than Homeland i got to check it out.

    I liked Edward Norton's portrayal and the Hulk movie he played in but i admit that Mark Ruffalo was good.

    Speaking of Joss Whedon i wonder if his SHIELD t.v. series will break through to the masses like The Avengers did.

    1. COVERT AFFAIRS and HOMELAND are similar in some ways but CA is lighter. Though, in season 3 they really took things more seriously. I love HOMELAND. I just loved COVERT AFFAIRS more this season.

      If I made a top 10 list, they would have both made it. Plus BREAKING BAD, ARCHER etc.

  8. Cool list. I haven't really checked a lot of these things out, but i may give 'em a go now. Lets see if 2013 brings as many good things.

  9. YES to "Moonrise Kingdom"! Which is another one that I felt some critics had unnecessary gripes with, even though it was fantastic. Sadly I missed "Queen of Versailles" at the AFI doc fest this summer, but it has been on my "must watch soon" list, so will bump it up based on your recommendation. I'd also give some support to "Safety Not Guaranteed" which I thought was pretty good too.

    1. "Safety" would have been in my top 5 if not for that ending.... which was one of the worst shot/edited endings in a movie I loved, this year.

  10. Oh whoops I was also gonna say - good to see Fiona on here; I've loved her since Tidal. I wish she'd put out albums more often, but I guess she has entertained me with 4 great albums for the past 16-ish years, so who am I to complain.

    In the movie department I also loved Looper and I've seen Queen of Versailles on a couple "best of" lists now, so I'll check that out. Moonrise Kingdom was good too; I just, for some reason ... these days my appetite for Wes Anderson movies is not quite what it used to be. This was definitely my favorite from him since Royal Tenenbaums though.

    1. Talking shit about Wes? BANNED5LIFE!

    2. HAHA I'm not saying I never loved him. And I don't even NOT love him now, but just ... not quite AS much as I used to. ;-) Rushmore is still one of the best movies ever. And Bottle Rocket. And Tenenbaums. He's just kind of like a really rich dessert for me, you can eat a goodly amount and be in heaven, but then after a while you kinda O.D. on it a little. I really honestly did enjoy Moonrise Kingdom though.

    3. Is goodly a word? If so, I need to use it.

    4. You know what's funny, when I wrote that, I thought, "My step-mother-in-law uses this freaking word all the time" and she is kind of an obnoxious person hahaha. So I almost changed it, but I was too lazy to think of a different word heheh. I'm sure it's not a real word.

      So will I ever get to hear any details of your thoughts on the second half of Homeland season 2? I'm still curious. It sounds like you liked it, but just not as much you expected to. And maybe you were less frustrated with it than I was. ? I know we briefly talked about doing a podcast at some point during the HL season and I guess that kinda fizzled; but you and I might be the only two on your site who even care about HL anyway hahaha. Plus it was talked and podcasted to DEATH by every damn TV critic out there. Still kinda curious to get your take though. ;-)

    5. I thought HOMELAND season 2 paid off in the end but it felt tired after that great episode where you know who is arrested. It took them a bit of time to really get to the point... and when they did I was satisfied.

    6. Ah ok so it sounds like you didn't have the Carrie and Brody issues that I had? That was my main frustration by far, although I also thought some of the plot stuff in the last few eps was funky and a little hokey to the point where I almost felt like I was watching a Castle ep a couple times hahahah. Ok ok not THAT bad by a long shot, but still a tad too close for comfort, lmao. But in the end I can forgive the plot stuff if I feel satisfied with the character arcs ... and I just ... didn't. The Carrie/Brody lovestory is just NOT something I want to watch, and the fact that they didn't have the balls to kill Brody off at the end felt a little too reminiscent of Dexter's lack of balls to do anything different for basically 6 full seasons. Plus I just could NOT fully understand either character's decision to jump into a full-on relationship with each other, but maybe that's just me, I dunno.

      Anyway again, my quality expectations for HL are higher than any other show on TV by far, except for probably Breaking Bad, which comes pretty close. So when they kinda fell into a couple traps that most other tv shows fall into regularly, I was way more disappointed than I would've been otherwise. We'll see how season 3 is, I'm just feeling extremely exasperated with Carrie and Brody right now. At least season 2 gave us Quinn. :-P

    7. Btw whoops sorry I dunno if I should've put a spoiler warning on that comment ... hopefully people know that reading the comments on a thread like this is risky for spoilers haha.

    8. You're not sorry! You did it on purpose!

    9. Mmmmuuwwahahaha and I woulda gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling kids.

  11. Is Safety Guaranteed really that good of a movie because from what i can tell it's been praised from critics but the reviews i've read online have been negative.

    Would you recommend the film Magnus?

    1. I loved it... except that ending.

      It is a cheap, indy, fun, cool, cute little time travel movie.

    2. I loved Safety Not Guaranteed too and I didn't hate the ending, but I can definitely how it could have been done better. It's really hard to end a movie like that without being disappointing in one respect or the other haha.

    3. SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      DO NOT READ BELOW THIS IF YOU WANT TO SEE "Safety Not Guaranteed".

      Okay... clear?

      The way to end it is to NOT show the time-travel moment. Just show some flashes and shit as the others look on. Also, the whole waving goodbye shit was so cheesy. Oh my.. like an idiot took over in those final few minutes.

    4. Bwahahaha now I wanna watch it again just to take note of the cheesy stuff. But thinking back on it, yes I think I can picture a ...

      SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      cheesy hand-wave happening hahah. Damn now I gotta watch again.

      (I followed your lead and went with the giant *CAN'T MISS IT* spoiler warning this time) heheh.

    5. Spoiler warnings are important. :)

      Granted, lots of people can't stop themselves from reading spoilers even when it would be better that they don't... and they know it.

      That's why I like to be vague whenever possible, even when posting spoilers.

  12. Have you ever read Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series? If you like'd LOTR I highly recommend it. And the final book (#14) is getting released very soon, to wrap this story up. It probably will be made into a movie someday I hope. nevrbluffs

    1. Don't freak out ..Only 10 more to go, Jordan to me started to exploit this story abit. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this story immensely, but..) Book 4 5 6 got a tad verbose and started introducing a shitload more characters. I just hope to God that Rand doesn't have memory loss and forget the first 13 novels and one of his harem have to sit him down on a beach somewhere to tell him how to defeat the dark side of the force... nevrbluffs

    2. I like the books but after mainlining A Song of Ice and Fire, Wheel of Time doesn't blow me away. Especially the massive similarities to Tolkien, especially early on.

      But I dig some of the characters and there are original uses of concepts so I will finish the series. Though, obviously it is not being finished by the creator... and that is something I worry about for GRRM. I just want him to finish A Song of Ice and Fire. I don't want some fan to finish it in 10 years.

  13. A final Chuck question that has nothing to do with the finale. After reading a few interviews TPTB did with Sepinwall and others they mentioned that they always were made to take back or walk back a lot of stuff they did in season finales like blowing up the Buymore at the end of season 3.

    My question is this... was there any character arcs or stories they inteneded to do but were made by the studio or network not to?

    For example did they want to give Sarah or Casey more character information than just the odd flashback? I ask this because it sounded like they knew Sarah and Casey (especially Sarah) were very popular characters and they said that their hands were forced a lot of the time...is this true or bullshit?


    Happy New Year

    Shawn Mahone

    1. Beckman and Casey's deaths were nixed by someone. I don't know who but someone decided that wasn't the way to go. Also, I remember reading the outline for season 3 that was pitched to NBC (before season 2 ended) and it was very different. Part of the change happened because they couldn't have Bryce (so Shaw took his place).

      Season 4 had a few changes along the way. Originally they had planned for things to happen earlier with Chuck and Sarah but things changed (I think the show runners talked about this as their idea).

      They season 5 concept outline was pretty much exactly what they ended up doing.

      But as far as them wanting to do more with Casey and Sarah... I don't know anything other than the death stuff and Sarah pursuing Chuck in season 3. It is possible they were having those conversations outside of the earshot of my sources.

  14. The question is do you think what was talked about or planned was better than what ultimately made it on to the screen.

    TVguide voted Chuck versus the Goodbye as #15 on their list of greatest t.v. episodes of 2012.

    So even in the fifth season Chuck gets some love from someone.

    I would have voted for Chuck versus Sarah.

    1. I thought Chuck Vs. the Santa Suit was the best episode of season 5 but that was in 2011. So... Chuck Vs. Sarah was the best 2012 episode.

    2. "The question is do you think what was talked about or planned was better than what ultimately made it on to the screen."

      It is easy to say what was talked about was better since they never shot it and never got to screw it up.

      But I liked the Bryce version of the Shaw storyline a lot more.

  15. Chris Fedak mentioned three stories about Sarah that he wanted to tell that he didn't have time for during an interview before the series finale.

    He said he wanted to tell a backstory about Sarah's beginnings at the CIA.

    He said he wanted to explain why Sarah lived with her dad instead of her mom. ( I rolled my eyes when i read this because he had the opportunity to but gave us Chuck versus the baby instead)

    He said he wanted to do a story where Sarah has to work undercover at the Buymore and has to get Jeff and Lester a sexual harrasment seminar.

    Adam Baldwin said in an interview that it was his suggestion to kill his character off but it was rejected.

    probably because they decided they just didn't want to go in that direction and kill off any characters in the finale.

    Chris Fedak never mentioned any plans for Casey that he didn't get around to.

    perhaps someone could ask him that if he ever grants another interview.

    1. He tried to tell that backstory a bit in the horrific Chuck Vs. the Baby. So thank the gods he never got the chance to do more.

      You just answered his second thing.

      The third is something I wanted.

      And I still have no idea why they didn't kill Casey like they had wanted for a while. They wrote it in at some point. I imagine someone at the studio or network said no.

  16. I think it's a good thing they didn't kill of Casey.

    If we ever get a Chuck movie i wouldn't want to see it without Adam Baldwin.

    He was my favorite character on the show.

  17. My favorite films of 2012.

    The Avengers
    Hunger games
    The Grey

    I haven't seen films like Lincoln or Argo or any of the supposed best picture frontrunners yet.

    My favorite shows of 2012.

    1.Breaking bad
    2. Game of thrones
    3. Homeland
    4. Once upon a time
    5. Mad men

  18. Hey Magnus! When do you think you'll be releasing that podcast you did with Bailey? Just curious.

    Also, i would like to announce that Chuck is now going to be available on Netflix. Along with Fringe and some other WB shows. Although, i think by now most people know about that. But i just thought i would share. :)