These are my top ten shows of 2018. There are detailed breakdowns of my broader thoughts on these at the Always Be Watching site.
10 - Love
09 - Press
08 - Bumping Mics / Norm Macdonald Has a Show
07 - Forever
06 - Babylon Berlin
05 - Counterpart
04 - Succession
03 - Homecoming
02 - The Good Fight
01 - The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
Honourable mentions: Howards End, Little Drummer Girl, Fighting Season, Jack Ryan, Bojack Horseman, and The Handmaid’s Tale.
US viewers can see the first episode of the new Don Cheadle Showtime series Black Monday for free via YouTube. The series debuts in late January.
Australian film critic Luke Buckmaster is always up for a film-related challenge and this year set out to watch and review every Netflix original movie put out in 2018. That’s 74 movies, for each he has a short capsule review.
For the record, I have seen just 10 of the 74, which is, admittedly, about 5 more than I realised I had watched. And no, I haven’t seen Roma yet. But hopefully by the end of today that is rectified.
For the last year or two, I’ve been despairing about the state of cinema attendance. If you go to movies on a Weekend in the evening, or are getting along to weekend kids films, you probably haven’t noticed a difference. But I tend to go to films at odd hours and have noticed a real drop in the number of people at the cinema. It’s now not uncommon for me to be the only person sitting in a massive threatre.
But also… I rarely ever see regular people on social media talking about new movies. Endless ‘Is Die Hard a Christmas movie, certainly’, but it’s pretty rare to see conversation about what is supposed to be a mainstream form of entertainment.
The people I do see talking about movies regularly are film critics, which you would expect. But their conversations are always about the movies they have just seen, ahead of the actual release date. By the time normies can join that conversation, the critics have moved on to other films.
What films are people talking about? Well, my Twitter timeline has a lot of chatter about Bandersnatch and Netflix original Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock.
What’s different about the release of Bird Box and other movies? All the conversation about Bird Box has happened among critics and viewers at the same time it dropped on Netflix. There are memes galore and people actually engaging with the (not very good) film.
Meanwhile Film Twitter are still talking about Roma. I haven’t seen the normies talking about it at all. But Film Twitter is busy telling them all that the only real way to watch the film is to not do it at home, but on the big screen at the cinema.
There’s a huge disconnect between the experience of movie critics and audiences (and I’m not just talking about the fact critics get free drinks and popcorn at screenings). Something is broken in the broader distribution/marketing system that is making that chasm even wider.
Movie profits are up. But the actual number of tickets sold is dropping.
Watching movies via streaming services isn’t just more convenient - it’s where the fun and conversation is at now.
The big TV event of December has turned out to be Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix’s experiment in interactive storytelling. Ultimately, I found it to be an interesting and worthwhile experiment that is worth having a play with, but it is a little hollow and doesn’t reach the heights that a Black Mirror episode can (though, it’s certainly not the worst episode either).
Over at Always Be Watching, I wrote an article about better ways that Netflix could be using its interactive technology, using Love, Gilmore Girls, Degrassi, and The Fix as examples of what is possible. You can take a read here.
Something I had forgotten about, but was reminded of yesterday after I’d published the article was Steven Soderbergh’s interactive storytelling effort Mosiac. It was a 6-episode series produced for HBO which also had a companion app that allowed viewers to watch the series and explore the mystery from different characters perspectives.
Something cool I didn’t know about Bandersnatch - that moment where you have to select which album to buy, Tangerine Dream or Tomita, actually impacts on the sort of music you hear for the rest of the episode. Thanks to ABW reader Chris Yates for letting me know about that one.
Concerned you haven’t made good Bandersnatch decisions? Here is your must-read flowchart that shows how to play your way through it:
See you in 2019.