Delicious and Excellent Concept Awards
The very best in media, rated by yours truly
The 2016 Delicious and Excellent Concept Awards
Four years ago I used the Chiller font to signify the year where the world was supposed to end. This year, I'm using it to signify the year when so many great, talented people lost their lives. It is with particular sadness that I say goodbye to George Michael, one of my all-time favourites, Mohammed Ali, arguably the greatest sportsman to have ever lived, and of course David Bowie - dying two days after his final release, bringing a brutal and horrifying end to The Bowie Effect.
For me personally 2016 was a good year - a new job, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland and my upcoming wedding and the planning for that have kept me both busy and happy. So busy, in fact, that I had relatively little time to soak in the year's relative media. That being said, I have made some decisions about the most Delicious and Excellent Concepts of 2016.
Album of the Year, 2016
One of the major positives of the year was the significant amount of good music that was released. There were not one, not two, not three, but FOUR stunning albums that I shortlisted, which is pretty much unprecedented The first is Battles by In Flames, which you can read more on over that way. The second- which I did not write about - is Ellipsis by Biffy Clyro. Biffy are a band that have a very specific sound and they've stuck to it and done it well - it's not the most inventive rock music you've ever heard, but it's still great, and the latest album is probably their best yet.
It was very difficult for me to decide on the winner from my top two, and I've flitted back and forth with it a few times now. I spoke at great lengths a couple of weeks ago about Not The Actual Events and how much of a return to classic, great NIN it is. It was so close to being number one. But, the actual award is going to Bastille - Wild World. I was initially unsure on the album and although there are a couple of weaker songs on it than their first album, with a few re-listens - and a live performance probably helped too - I've come to the conclusion that the overall quality is actually significantly better than that of Bad Blood. A well-deserved victor aongst tough competition.
Game of the Year, 2016
Unlike music, gaming was a sector that was riddled with little but disappointment and shit. It was honestly quite dire - very little in terms of innovation at all, and those that tried to innovate (I'm looking at you No Man's Sky) failed to live up to the hype. The winner of the 2015 DEC Award for Most Looking Forward To, Yooka-Laylee, got delayed until next year. I would have been OK with this, but I can't begin to express my disappointment and frustration that it will no longer be coming to Wii U. I (and many other kickstarter backers) would have wanted to play this game on a Nintendo console and even if it comes to the Switch, that's not really the point. But what irks me even more is that people who pre-order the game get access to the Toybox demo - and yet, those who backed received nothing at all. It's a slight double standard, don't ya think?
Anyway, on to the awards. I do have some excellent looking games on my backlog to catch up on - most notably, Overwatch, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Dark Souls III (and also maybe Watch Dogs 2, but that's certainly at the bottom of said pile). But outside of that and the following, there's shit all else I'm even remotely interested in. Firstly, let's look at Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.. Naughty Dog have excelled themselves again in terms of spectacle, but didn't massively innvoate in terms of actual gameplay. However, it was a fitting end to the series and it should now realistically be put to bed. Similarly, XCOM 2 does what XCOM: Enemy Unknown did very well with updated graphics and some minor new features, but nothing that really blows my mind. And to be honest, that's also true of the winner - but the winner already had a winning formula that just needed optimising, tweaking and minor expansions. It is, of course, Civilization IV. It annoyingly suffers from similar issues to V (dumb AI being the primary concern) but it took V two expansions and 6 years to get to a point of comparable quality. It's just as addictive as ever... just... one... more... turn...
Film of the Year, 2016
I almost felt like suspending the award for this year as it's almost shameful how few movies I have actually watched - and it's not for a lack of good films, simply a lack of time. It's basically been just Marvel movies, plus Bad Moms, The Jungle Book and The Secret Life Of Pets. I really enjoyed all three of them, but none of them are Delicious or Excellent enough Concepts to win our most prestigious award. To be honest, neither are Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War or Doctor Strange, but I mean, that's all I'm left with.
Out of necessity to give an award, it goes to Captain America: Civil War, but don't be surprised to see this change in the coming months.
TV Series of the Year, 2016
I tell you something, it's been a hell of a good year for TV. New series are popping up left and right, much of it spectacular, and the excellent continuation and improvement of existing series.
To start off I'm going to talk about a few BBC series. Early in the year we were treated to Thirteen the tone and content of which was strongly reminiscent of The Missing from a few year back, except without the terrible non-ending. And then, later in the year, The Missing itself returned. For the first few episodes it followed an almost identical structure and plot to Thirteen before eventually diverging and - unlike the first series - actually tied up its loose ends in a satisfying way, rather than writing themselves into a corner where they could not possibly have a good resolution.
Additionally the BBC brought us Planet Earth II, which, like the original and Frozen Planet before it, pushed the boundaries of filmmaking and also included one of the most dramatic and brutal nature scenes ever in the lizard and the snakes - genuine real-life drama that is better than anything written.
Both Game of Thrones and House of Cards improved massively on their lacklustre seasons of last year, Thrones in particular. The pace has picked up dramatically and The Door is one of the best pieces of television I've ever witnessed.
It speaks real volumes, then, that it has not won the DEC Award for television this year. No, that honour goes to the absolutely incredible Stranger Things, which manages to come up with some brilliant original storytelling by borrowing and mashing together some already great genres like 80's coming-of-age dramas and Lovecraftian Horror with almost Tarantino-esque characters. And what's more, it worked as a self-contained season and didn't impose itself on you with needing to watch the second to get all the answers. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for another season, but I always prefer it when another season isn't necessary.
Looking forward to in 2017...
Insert joke about The Winds of Winter here.
Despite my previous moaning, I am still looking forward to Yooka-Laylee. I supported it because I wanted a game in that fashion and during its development there's not been anything to scratch that itch. I will probably end up getting it on PS4, because another excitement candidate, the Nintendo Switch, is not confirmed and with only two (seriously, TWO) games at launch I'm not convinced on dropping money on it immediately.
That being said, one of the games is only fucking Breath of the Wild which looks like the best god damn thing I have ever seen and I need it last Thursday.
2017 is going to be a massive year for me personally. I'm getting married in the summer to the love of my life, have a large number of new projects on the way, and then a dream honeymoon to South Africa in the twilight of the year. I do have plans to update the website with content, design and technology updates, but do forgive me if I don't quite get around to it - life's rather busy, I'm afraid!