2019 Culture Review: the best TV, Books and Music
Hi there! Long time, no new post, but here I am spouting my opinions for anyone who’s prepared to listen. So, I bring you my succinct cultural review of 2019. I have yet again completely failed you regarding film this year. I blame it on the fact that I have moved further away from my local cinema plus it’s just so bloody expensive to go to the cinema these days. So, again, it just wouldn’t be fair to say which I think are the best films from this year. Onwards with music, books and TV though. I’ve been fully engaged with all of those as per. There’s a longer playlist at the end of the best singles and album tracks from the year for y’all.
Best Books I’ve Read This Year
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
(Now one of my all time books)
Lady Sing the Blues by Billie Holiday
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Reasons To Stay Alive/Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
(Couldn’t decide between the two of these, so I cheated and put both. Also, everyone should be made to read them both as law)
Best TV Programmes
10. This Way Up
Very enjoyable look at a woman recovering from a breakdown. Served with humour, sensitivity and great on screen chemistry between Aisling Bea and Tobias Menzies.
9. Dead to Me
I loved this show that was focussed on grief with a twist (or two). Christina Applegate was absolutely fantastic in this and if she doesn’t win all the awards, then -well- award shows will be dead to me. Ahem.
One of several shows that leave the viewer shaking their heads and reeling with anger from the lack of justice. The two detectives played by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever are fantastic as is Kaitlyn Denver who plays the main victim Marie. Unbelievable, but very watchable.
7. Queer Eye
If ever there was a penultimate feel-good TV programme, this is it. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and I promise that’s not purely down to the thirst factor that Antoni brings. Can the Fab 5 be my new best friends, please?
6. RuPaul’s Drag Race UK
Controversial opinion: I think this UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race is better than the American one. And I LOVE the American one. It was so very British, from it’s carry on humour to it’s fashion to it’s guest judges and cultural references. I also loved how the British version was slightly less bitchy and the queens seemed so much more supportive of each other. And for the record, I was #teamBagaChipz
5. The Virtue
Well, this just compounded my opinion that Stephen Graham is one of the best British actors around at the moment. This is a heartbreaking programme about child abuse and its affects on adulthood (yep, it’s not for the faint hearted) with phenomenal acting and writing.
4. Fleabag 2
Bye bye Fleabag, one of the most innovative, emotive and funny TV programmes for years by the stupidly talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The last scene was perfection. Two confessions: I think Olivia Coleman is better in this than in The Crown and I fancy Andrew Scott.
3. When They See Us
Never has a TV programme made me so angry. The acting is outstanding by all involved, but especially Jharrel Jerome. I’m so glad it got the recognition it deserved.
What an achievement Chernobyl was. Again, memorable performances from everyone especially Jarred Harris (another wonderful British actor) and excellent storytelling.
1. Stranger Things 3
Bit of a welcome relief from some of the hard-going TV programmes on my list. For me, this has been the best season of Stranger Things yet. They’ve ramped up the 80s-ness, the humour was very much intact and it kept you at the edge of your seat throughout. Nothing made me as happy as when Dustin sang The NeverEnding Story theme tune with his girlfriend over the phone. The whole season was a complete and utter joy.
Singular Episodes That Deserve Recognition
- Broad City: Final episode– a beautiful and moving tribute to female friendship.
- Game of Thrones: The Long Night– I don’t think I took a breath for the whole episode. Everyone involved should be commended. Stunning soundtrack too. It’s just a shame that Game of Thrones didn’t end with this episode.
- The Crown: Aberfan– utterly heartbreaking episode. Jason Watkins who played Harold Wilson was particularly fantastic in this episode.
- Seven Worlds, One Planet: Europe– mainly for the hamsters.
- Derry Girls: Across the Barricade– when they find out that they finally do have something in common with the Protestant kids and The Cranberries start playing in the background. Nice touch.
- Glastonbury: various coverage– I used to go every year when I was younger, but a bad back and finances means that my days of going to Glastonbury are well and truly over. However, I have the best time on my sofa with a G&T in hand watching my favourite acts on the telly. This is mainly due to the exceptional coverage that the BBC provide. One of the many reasons, I’m more than happy to pay my TV license. My favourite acts that I watched from the comfort of my living room were Stormzy, Kylie, Lizzo, The Cure, Janelle Monáe, Dave, Miley and Christine & the Queens. I even enjoyed the bizarreness of The Good, The Bad and The Queen.
- Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey: Okay, so actually both episodes were excellent, so I’m cheating here by adding another programme. This was fascinating both on a historical level and with regards to DNA research, but it was also both very moving and very funny. Great stuff.
5. Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka
4. On The Line by Jenny Lewis
3. Office Politics by the Divine Comedy
2. Cuz I love You by Lizzo
1. Ghosteen by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Top Ten Tunes
10. Cellophane by FKA Twigs
9. Will We Talk by Sam Fender
8. If You Need Me by Julia Michaels
7. Bad Guy by Billie Eilish
6. Norman and Norma by The Divine Comedy
5. All Mirrors by Angel Olsen
4. Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have- But I Have It by Lana Del Rey
3. Juice by Lizzo
2. Seventeen by Sharon Van Etten
1. Sight of You by Sigrid
Honorary mention for best video: Vossi Bop by Stormzy
So, you know the score. Which song, album and/or TV programme are your favourites from this year? And please, please let me know which have been your favourite films that you’ve seen this year. I have a lot of catching up to do.
Extended 2019 playlist: