As we approach the end of 2018 (seriously, where did the year go?) I thought I would share some of my personal favourite movies, tv, music etc. If you haven’t yet seen or heard these I can thoroughly recommend them.
Best music of 2018
Best live performance
I was fortunate to continue my bucket-list of seeing my favourite musicians. This year I managed Eric Clapton, Santana, Jeff Lynne and ELO, and an array of stars at the Austin City Limits festival, including Paul McCartney.
Paul McCartney’s live concert from Grand Central Station in NYC warrants 2 hours of anyone’s time, it was captivating. Nonetheless, I have to give the best live performance of the year to ‘the Revolution’. They were Prince’s band, and they continue to tour. I saw them at ACL and they took the roof off. One hour of back-to-back Prince hits. Brilliant.
They’ve been around for over ten years, but Houndmouth really caught my attention this year. Great new album to add to a catalogue of great music. If you haven’t heard any of their music, start with ‘Sedona’ and go from there.
Best movie song
So much choice from the movies this year. I loved Lady Gaga’s ‘Always Remember’ but for me, it has to be Bradley Cooper’s ‘maybe it’s time’. Simple, raw, acoustic. Excellent.
I have to cop-out and go for two.
The Struts are the spiritual successors to Queen. ‘Young and Dangerous’ is a fantastic album full of energy, with some stand-out tracks including ‘Primadonna like me’. Love it.
And speaking of spiritual successors, who said Rock was dead?
Like Led Zep? Then you’ll love Greta van Fleet. ‘From the Fires’ has echoes of all the major metal bands. Start with the ‘Highway Song’. You’ll be hooked.
Some terrific stuff this year, but sticking with the throwback theme, think of the Beatles and some of the fun they used to have. Bob Dylan thought the chorus to ‘I wanna hold your hand’ was ‘I get high’. Pure coincidence according to the Beatles. ‘A day in the life’ with ‘I’d love to turn you on’ resulted in bans on some US radio stations.
Fast forward to 2018 and a 76-year-old rock star gets another song banned on some US radio stations. Paul McCartney is adamant that in the intro to the chorus of ‘Fuh you’ he sings ‘I just wan it fuh you’, not something else…
Draw your own conclusions, but lyric-debate aside it’s also a terrific song from his album ‘Egypt Station’.
Best TV of 2018
There were a lot of quite superb shows this year. The continued development of content from the online and paid-cable providers has given the TV industry a huge boost and leap forward in the quality of shows. These were my favourites:
Line of Duty
This BBC police drama just gets better and better. This time around the protagonist was played by Thandie Newton, and wow did she make us hate her! Brilliant series, unmissable.
Casa de Papel (money heist)
Technically not a 2018 series, but Netflix have been promoting it of late and so this was the first time I came across it. Spanish series about a fictional robbery of the Royal Mint. This series is a classic ‘binge’ series. Once you watch the first episode you simply can’t stop. Brilliant.
This Netflix documentary isn’t quite what you might expect from the title. Yes, dogs play a key role in each standalone episode (there are 6), but it is far away from the standard ‘man’s best friend’ approach that is usually taken.
Rather it focuses on the role of dogs in some societies, as well as some individual stories which are astonishingly thought-provoking. For example, one story covers a Syrian refugee in Germany, who had to leave his dog behind. He resolves to bring his dog to his new home in Berlin. An astonishing story set in the backdrop of the modern-day horror story that is the Syrian civil war.
Absolutely unmissable whether you’re a dog person or not.
No surprise to anyone who knows me and my love of music by Queen. The much delayed ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was finally released, telling the story of Freddie Mercury. Brilliant movie, but not the best of the year…
Best Christmas movie
I’m surprised to be including a Christmas movie on the list, but we have a new Christmas classic on our hands. The Christmas Chronicles stars Kurt Russell as Santa Claus, and he absolutely nails it! Terrific fun, lots of laughs and one of the best jailhouse music scenes since the Blues Brothers. Look out for the cameo Mrs. Claus at the end… if you only see one movie this Xmas make it this one.
Best movie of 2018
When I first heard this movie was being made I was deeply sceptical. I mean, we had a remake in the 1960’s with James Mason and Liza Minnelli. It was a good film, but the most remarkable aspect was the on-screen role reversal of the stars since in real life James Mason was the rising star.
Then we had a 1970’s remake with Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand. Streisand’s performance of ‘Evergreen’ was and is one of the greatest individual popular singing performances of all time, but that aside the film was pretty mediocre.
So step up Bradley Cooper to direct and star in yet another remake of ‘A Star is Born’. Not much director pedigree and limited acting pedigree from his co-star, Lady Gaga. ‘Another cynical Hollywood money maker’ was my take.
How wrong can you be. This wasn’t just the best film of 2018, it belongs in the top 100 ‘best of all time’. The direction, the screenplay, the performances, wow. Bradley Cooper put in the performance of his life as the waning star. Understated and superb. It was matched by his direction of the movie, which was flawless.
All of this would be good enough to get people raving about it. But then you have Lady Gaga. She simply owns the movie. Great music as you would expect, but the vulnerability and presence she brings to ‘Ally’ was perfect. An astonishing performance. If this movie sweeps the Oscars it will be well deserved.
If you have any favourites from the year that I haven’t listed above let me know! Always looking out for recommendations!