As I did last year — read it here — this is my list of favorite media for the year, which is basically me telling you what I obsessed over the most in 2011 (as far as I can remember, since it’s usually the case that some terrific things get forgotten by the end of the year). It’s not a “best of” list, I did not sample everything that came out this year, this is just something that I put together to remember what it was that I liked in a year, and I figure it can also act as a guide for some people who are looking for recommendations in various categories. I choose five items for each medium, which I list alphabetically (it’s rare that I can really choose one thing over the other), and then include a few honorable mentions.
Again, I don’t include books since I unfortunately don’t read enough of them (the vast majority of my reading time goes to the web, magazines, and comics).
This category is definitely one where I can choose an absolute favorite, and that would be Forza 4. Not only is it the game that I’ve spent the most time playing, I’ve become obsessed with it, and it turned me into a huge fan of the Top Gear TV series (see below). For the platform, I only list the one that I played the game on.
- Forza 4 (Xbox 360)
- Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony (Mac)
- L.A. Noire (PS3)
- Portal 2 (Xbox 360)
- Sideway: New York (PSN)
- Honorable Mentions: Back to the Future: The Game (Mac), Cave Story+ (Mac), Dead Space 2 (PS3), Dragon Age II (PS3), Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (PSN), Pinball FX 2 (the Marvel tables, XBLA), Saint’s Row: The Third (Xbox 360), Uncharted 3 (PS3)
Favorite Games (iOS)
As with last year, I’ve separated the iOS games, because as much as I do enjoy playing games on my iPhone and iPad, I’m afraid that for the most part they still would not fare well against my console selections.
- Assassin’s Creed Recollection
- Elder Sign
- Kard Combat
- Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
- Honorable Mentions: Aquaria, Bug Princess, Jetpack Joyride, Neuroshima Hex, Shadow Era
Favorite Magazine Apps
Last year I didn’t include a magazine category because I felt like it would have been too difficult to narrow it down to five — and you can always follow my other site, The Magaziner, to see what I like in terms of magazines — but this year I do feel like these are the ones that I look forward to reading the most (and yes, it’s all digital, I don’t read much print these days). I should also add that these are not necessarily what I feel are the best magazines apps in terms of innovation and execution, but rather the ones I like because of content. I included the Izneo app, a digital platform mostly for French comics, because through I buy the weekly Le journal de Spirou.
- Bloomberg Businessweek
- Letter to Jane
- SPIN Play
- The New Yorker
- Honorable Mentions: GQ, Wired
Favorite TV Shows
Again this year, it’s the category I have a tough time keeping short, since there are quite a few series I really do enjoy. The most conspicuous addition, and to be honest, the series I enjoy watching the most these days, is Top Gear, and from the newest season I’ve been going back through seasons to watch more. I’ve never considered myself a car guy, or been particularly obsessed with cars, but there’s something about the way the show is filmed, and the humor found throughout, that has completely sucked me in — here’s a post I wrote a few months ago about all of this. You’ll also notice Glee, which I only started watching this fall — I found myself immediately addicted, rushing through the first 2 seasons and eventually getting caught up. What can I say, it makes me happy watching it.
- Breaking Bad
- Game of Thrones
- Top Gear
- Honorable Mentions: Boardwalk Empire, Bored to Death, Community, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How to Make it in America, Justified, Luther, New Girl, Parks & Recreation, Sons of Anarchy
Since there are many films that haven’t reached digital/video yet, there’s still a lot I haven’t seen (like all the big December releases). I think I cheat a bit with some of the picks as well, as some of the honorable mentions may have been released in 2010. Most telling though is that my top 5 was composed of 4 documentaries before I saw the Tintin film today (and there are more in my honorable mentions).
- Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
- Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
- The Adventures of Tintin
- Honorable Mentions: Bill Cunningham New York, Bridesmaids, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Lemmy, Moneyball, Source Code
I had a really tough time here narrowing it down to five, and so many of the honorable mentions are probably all to be considered a “6.” Also, I will admit that the album that I really have enjoyed the most this year is Q-Tip’s The Renaissance, which came out in 2008 (but that I got into after watching the Tribe Called Quest documentary). I will do special episodes of the Codex and play all of this music (in this category, and the next).
- Days (Real Estate)
- James Blake (James Blake)
- Strange Mercy (St. Vincent)
- The Year of Hibernation (Youth Lagoon)
- Undun (The Roots)
- Honorable Mentions: David Comes to Life (Fucked Up), Let England Shake (PJ Harvey), Mirror Traffic (Stephen Malkmus), Shangri-La (YACHT), Torches (Foster the People), Underneath the Pine (Toro Y Moi), Wild Flag (Wild Flag)
It wasn’t as easy to come up with this list as last year, since I’m a 100% Spotify user these days — last year I mostly looked at the play count in iTunes. But to help narrow it down I looked through the playlists of all of my Codex episodes, and came up with the following.
- “England” (PJ Harvey)
- “Our Hearts Are Wrong” (Jessica Lea Mayfield)
- “Ravan” (Brasstronaut)
- “Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)” (The Roots)
- “Video Games” (Lana Del Ray)
- Honorable Mentions: ”Audio, Video, Disco” (Justice), “Civilization” (Justice), ”Please Ask for Help” (Telekinesis), ”Tada no Tomodachi” (Salyu x Salyu), ”The Noose of Jah City” (King Krule)
I always find it difficult to really remember my fave reads of the year, but here are a few that I quite enjoyed. Also, I will say that my most enjoyable comics-related reading this year was going through the entire Tintin series, something I hadn’t done in years (probably in 2 decades).
- Batman, Inc.
- FF/Fantastic Four
- Mister Wonderful: A Love Story
- Honorable Mentions: The Walking Dead, Punisher Max