2018 was a pretty terrible year by many measures, but it was a damn good year for movies. While big budget sequels of varying quality continued to dominate the box office, there was still room in theaters for new and original stories to stand out while streaming options give them a shot at reaching the wider audiences they deserve—including me, in a couple of cases. My top 10 favorites (plus 4 honorable mentions) were unexpectedly tough to sort out, but they represent a more varied list than I would have initially guessed at the beginning of the year.
Between The World and Me, is one of the most important books to be published this decade, surely, possibly even this young century. In context of the long list of tragic events of the past few years (from Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, to Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston), it is timely, but that's the easy part. It's the combination of Coates' framing (a letter to his son) and his raw, unapologetic tone (no white gaze-y appeasement here) that makes it stand out as a singular work that has drawn deserved comparisons to James Baldwin.
When it comes to technology, I'm generally an early tester, late adopter, especially when it comes to gaming. We got a Wii about 1.5 years after it had launched, and didn't buy an Xbox 360 until last December, but something about the Xbox One grabbed my attention from the moment it was announced. More importantly, though, it grabbed my non-gaming wife's attention, who then shocked me by pre-ordering it from Amazon the first day they opened pre-orders!
In an alternate dimension, where we're a less cynical culture and hollow crap like Avatar and The Lorax tank at the box office, John Carter would be lauded for what it is: an unapologetic, old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure for all ages.
Unlike movies, I rarely read books when they're first released, especially hardcover fiction, so my favorite reads in any given year are usually a mix of backlist and "new" trade paperbacks. I also like to mix things up throughout the year, so I rarely read as deeply in any one genre as I might like to, and my to-read pile grows ever higher as I discover new-to-me writers with deep backlists that I'll never have enough time to fully explore. Here are my five favorites (plus one honorable mention), in order of combined awesomeness and emotional impact, in what has arguably been one of the best years of reading in a long time, not just in quantity, but quality, too.
It will be interesting to see what other publisher can successfully go the Marvel route; with a $2B+ worldwide box office already in for the Avengers' on-screen storyworld (one that still bizarrely lives in total isolation from the comics), I'm guessing several will make the attempt within the next 2-3 years. Two gaming franchises I think have some serious transmedia potential are Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls and Activision's Skylanders, though you might be surprised by which one I think has the most potential.
The Influencing Machine is an insightful graphic manifesto that offers a broad, contextual overview of the history of media, recounted with a healthy sense of humor, and a refreshing undertone of optimism.
One of Godin's running themes throughout Poke is to be an initiator, and that risking failure is the best road to achieving success, and by making Poke the Box the first offering from The Domino Project, he's practicing what he preaches. He initiated, he shipped, and he pretty much failed to deliver a good book.
The Art of Immersion is a much-needed bridge to/from Henry Jenkins' seminal Convergence Culture, as Frank Rose crafts an engaging, insightful overview of how storytelling has evolved in the digital age that's accessible to all, whether enthusiast or skeptic.
I'm not a big bestseller, hardcover or literary fiction reader, though, and have only started to embrace ebooks recently, so most of what I read is unlikely to appear on any mainstream "Best of 2010" lists.