As a purveyor of all things Film, Videogame and Television, I present the first annual WTF OF THE YEAR AWARDS, selecting what I believe was the best that 2011 had to offer. To be eligible it had to be a film, game or TV show released or screened for the first time in 2011 and which I experienced in that year also.
BEST TELEVISION SERIES OF THE YEAR
- American Horror Story (FX)
- Game of Thrones (HBO)
- This is England 88 (Channel 4)
- True Blood (HBO)
- The Walking Dead (FX)
And the winner is...
GAME OF THRONES - FX
A confident, brilliantly-executed foray into fantasy drama that manages to delicately balance personal and political drama and intrigue with dashes of the otherworldly and fantastical. Thrones’ Westeros is a bleak, ominous yet perfectly realised world with a cast of characters whose depth, diversity and dynamism boldly defy conventional fantasy norm. With an impressive ensemble cast helping to lend gravitas and credibility, searing production values and art direction and a bold, intuitive adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s classic novel, the 12 episodes presented in the first groundbreaking series of Game of Thrones are as gripping, unpredictable and rewarding as television drama got in 2011.
BEST VIDEOGAME OF THE YEAR
- Batman: Arkham City
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
- Portal 2
- Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
And the winner is...
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: SKYWARD SWORD
Despite the ambition and scale of 2006’s The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, it suffered from a crisis of identity and being a hybrid of both Wii and Gamecube design. It has taken until last year’s Skyward Sword to not only fully realise the promise that Zelda had on the Wii, but in fact the console and it’s unique controllers' potential as a whole. A glorious merging of the old and the new, this is undoubtedly the finest entry in the Zelda franchise to date. It has all of the majesty and scope of Ocarina of Time, the visual flair and vibrancy of Wind Waker, only with far greater gameplay invention, a genuinely innovative control scheme and a deeper, more resonant story to boot. Some traditions are kept, but generally this is an evolution of the series which puts greater control and decision into the hands of the player - no longer is the template strategy of ‘new dungeon - new item - use to advance and kill boss’ linearly applied. It may not have been the flashiest or most technically advanced title released in 2011, but it was certainly the most rounded, enjoyable and complete.
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
- The Artist
- The Help
- Winter’s Bone+
A refreshingly low-key demonstration of how threat and implication can be far more effective and engaging than the all-out Hollywood norm of violence, action and demonstration. A pitch-perfect adaptation of Daniel Woodrell’s novel, Winter’s Bone tells the story of Ree Dolly (in a star-making turn by the excellent Jennifer Lawrence) who attempts to uncover the truth behind her fathers disappearance, threatening the wrath of the Ozark mountain family clans in the process. Director Debra Granik helps capture a perfect sense of place with the bleak Ozark landscape, and the ominous tone and threat of what may come to pass is palpable throughout. This is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller nor is it gripping through shock or overt tension - it is a much more measured drama that is not afraid to take its time and manages to captivate through the strength of its performances and the conviction of its characters and plot. Though no doubt not suited to everyone’s tastes, Winter’s Bone is nonetheless a haunting, atmospheric and unforgettable modern masterpiece.
+ Winter’s Bone had a limited theatrical run in 2010 in the UK but was not available for nationwide viewing until it’s DVD/Blu-ray release last year when I viewed it.