2009: A Year of Stuff

As I do every year, here's a list of what I found and liked in the past year. This list is entirely subjective - not just in the sense of reflecting my own tastes, but also in terms of reflecting which things I first encountered in 2009.

---Of the movies I saw:

Waltz with Bashir
An evocative and moving animated documentary, exploring the lingering mental scars of warfare.

Henry Selick brought us this beautifully realised and sinister fantasy film, proving that American animation can be more than just talking animals when it wants to be.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird
A good old-fashioned action-adventure, with explosions, chases and gun fights galore. Proof that director Kim Ji-woon can turn his hand to anything and succeed.

---Of the books I read:

The Modern World - Steph Swainston
My favourite fantasy author continues to explore the giddy heights of imagination and the gritty depths of her unromanticised, not-quite-medieval world.

The Host - Stephenie Meyer
By turns devastating and uplifting, this story of unexpected love between humans and body-snatchers is a great piece of science fiction drama.

The Stone Gods - Jeannette Winterston
Bad science fiction, certainly, but a fantastic piece of surreal literature. Affecting and difficult.

---Comics and manga:

Solanin - Inio Asano
A well realised slice-of-life comic with nicely drawn characters (in more ways than one).

The Umbrella Academy - Gerard Way, Gabriel Ba
A cut above the usual superhero comic, this blends a wildly imaginative menagerie of ideas into a cohesive and memorable whole.

---Of the TV shows I watched:

The Wire
More like a novel in terms of scope, but presented in a way only possible on television, this is a huge, believable cross-section of Baltimore life made by people who should know what they're talking about.

Ugly Betty
Once again, one of the few shows I watched live. Fantastic characters and a nice mixture of comedy and melodrama make for a very enjoyable hour of entertainment.

The Shield
The final season saw this show - with some of the best plotting and direction you'll see on the small screen - let loose to deliver a stonking great conclusion for all its simmering tensions.

---Of the games I played:

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
A combination of intricate plotting, compelling characterisation and delightful artwork make this probably the most memorable and engrossing game I played this year.

Resident Evil Archives
There were three Resi games that I played for the first time this year, and I liked all of them, but this is the one I've picked for my top three games. The remake of the first instalment in the series is quite unlike any of its sequels - with less bullets, more strategy and some quite subtle plot branching.

Batman: Arkham Asylum
In contrast to the usual license cash-in, this game has been made by people passionate for the Batman comics, with demanding fans in mind. Atmospheric environments, fluid gameplay and Paul Dini's writing combine to make this an unexpected classic.

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