Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Devlin's Domain - Immanentize The Eschaton: Best Of 2016

There's only a few more days left in 2016, and while a lot of you are dwelling on the worst, Optimist Prime here is going to break down the best. Well, my personal best that is. Everyone here at Needless Things is doing it so be sure to check out the other "Best Of"' lists being posted this week. I know 2016 has killed a lot of famous entertainers, but as they say, life goes on. For all the crappiness that 2016 may have brought you, it brought me one of the nerdiest years ever. It was so nerdy in fact, that compiling a list of absolute best has been extremely difficult. To remedy this I've added more categories than I originally intended to, just so I can spread the love a bit more. So here we go, The Best of 2016:


Best Event Comic: DC Rebirth

So this time a year ago DC was in a slump after their failed Convergence event, while Marvel was killing it with their Secret Wars event. This year DC did a massive turnaround with DC Rebirth. The purpose was to get rid of the things fans hated about New 52 and give them back things they liked from pre-New 52. I didn't have my hopes up for it, but once I read that Giant-Sized issue I was sold. In one issue they replaced New 52 Superman with Classic Superman, Brought back the original Wally West, and made the fucking Watchmen canon. This shit is so meta you'd think Grant Morrison wrote it. I haven't read a lot of comics this year, but thanks to this event, I mostly read DC.

Best DC Comics Title: Superman

It really pains me not to have Batman in this spot, but I'm just not feeling the new run. I even liked Commissioner Gordon's RoboBat arc that Scott Snyder did last year. Peter J. Tomasi is delivering the goods on Superman this year and it helps that we have Classic Supes back now. The new Superman title has it's conflict and villains, but the main subject is Superman's son and how he copes with his powers at a young age. The book also shows some character progression for Superman as he raises a child while still dealing with supernatural enemies. I'm not even that big of a Superman fan, but it's good stuff.

Best Marvel Comics Title: Moon Knight

I stuck around for a few titles that Marvel put out post-Secret Wars, and there were some good ones. I found myself leaning toward a book that didn't require a bunch of tie-in issues leading to mini events and all that. Jeff Lemire took the wheel on the new Moon Knight run and it was badass. Aside from Warren Ellis' episodic run on the character, I hadn't really read Moon Knight. I'm glad I gave Lemire a chance though, because this book is nuts, the character is nuts, and it begins in a nuthouse. That's probably where I belong, so I can really relate to this book.

Best Non-Hero Title: Unfollow

Like I said earlier, I haven't read many comics this year so a lot of good Indy/non-hero books went past me. From the few that I did read Unfollow by DC's Vertigo imprint stood out. It's about a social media creator who is dying and leaves his fortune to 140 allegedly random people. The catch is that if any of them die the money will be split into larger increments between living. Of course you can imagine how this starts to go. The book explores our dependence on social media and makes it all very troubling. Definitely recommend it if you haven't read it yet.

Best Writer: Alan Moore

Alan Moore is a mad wizard. He had taken a break from writing comics for a while, but it looks like he's on his final run. Providence looks to be his last piece of graphic literature unless he's pulling a false finish. I have yet to finish the series yet, but from what I've read he's just as thorough as he's always been. It's a great nod to one of his literary heroes, H.P. Lovecraft. I hope the comic medium one day gets another writer the caliber of Alan Moore, but we'll always have the magick that he did while he was here.

Best Artist: Jacen Burrows

Not a lot of people are familiar with Jacen Burrows as he works mainly for independent press. He's had to create some of the worst possible images when doing art for the likes of Garth Ennis, David Lapham, and Alan Moore. He definitely does his own thing and makes the most grisly and violent images reflect some kind of sickening beauty. This year he has focused mainly on Providence with Alan Moore and continues to do the art for Crossed aka The Walking Dead on angel dust.


Best Manager: Maryse

No other performer has benefited from a manager more this year than The Miz. It may just be a coincidence that The Miz started doing the best work of his career as soon as Maryse came on the scene, but I'm betting she had something to do with it. She really adds a critical compliment to his character that he desperately needed. Managers are lacking nowadays so it wasn't really a tough decision. With the arrival of Bob Backlund and Paul Ellering, perhaps the days of the old male manager are on the verge of a comeback soon. I didn't forget Paul Heyman either. Heyman is fantastic, but I'm not going to count part timers.

Best Tag Team: The Broken Hardys

This a controversial pick, because when looking at merchandise sales and length of their title run, New Day should have this spot. This is my list though and I get to pick so just settle down. I like the in ring work that the New Day delivers, I just find their gimmick to be annoying and growing stale. Another top pick would have been The Revival, who are like the second coming of the Brainbusters and are reviving old school tag wrestling. Problem with them is that they don't have much of a character and I'm not convinced they have drawing power. Now the Hardys are doing something off the walls, batshit crazy over in TNA. You may not like it and think it's stupid and killing the business, but it's working. People are tuning in to what should be a dead show by now to see what kind of whacky shit the Hardys are going to pull off. They may be single-handedly keeping that company afloat and that's more than any other tag team can say right now.

Best Female Wrestler: Charlotte Flair

I'm sure there are better female wrestlers out there, but Charlotte is the only one that's been setting records all year, although Sasha Banks isn't far behind her. Charlotte was off to an average start when she debuted on the main roster last year, but now that she's found her footing as a heel, she is the woman to beat. She won the first WWE Women's Championship at WrestleMania as it transitioned from Divas Championship. She main evented Raw with Sasha Banks, and they were also the first women's Hell in a Cell match while simultaneously being the first women's pay-per-view main event. She's definitely got the best character and promos of all the other females on the roster. I've been digging Alexa Bliss' ring and mic work so maybe she'll be on this list one day.

Best Male Wrestler: AJ Styles

Duh, of course it's AJ Styles, he's only the face that runs the place. I was fortunate enough to be there for his ROH curtain call the night before he debuted at the Royal Rumble. Everyone was so excited when he mad his appearance, which was expected and unexpected at the same time. Some thought he may be shipped down to NXT first, but nope, right to the main roster on a pay-per-view main event. He didn't have the best booking to start with, but he still delivered solid matches. I was mostly worried how he would do on promos since he had always had problems in that area, but he has improved dramatically since turning heel. He's had spectacular matches all year, and has won the WWE championship and still holds it as of this writing. Since the brand split I feel like Smackdown has been the better show of the two and I think AJ being the top guy there has a lot to do with it. Cena is turning into a part timer and aside from having "dream matches" with new talent, he doesn't really offer much else. AJ Styles really is the champ that runs the camp on that show, unfortunately he has a serious lack of competition in the main event scene. I'm hoping next year will give us Samoa Joe and/or Shinsuke Nakamura as competitor's for his title.

Best Pay-Per-View/Network Special: Survivor Series

There were some pretty good shows this year, but WrestleMania wasn't one of them. I haven't got to watch a lot of indy or Japanese shows or some of them may be on the list. Sticking to what I know, Survivor Series actually had high-caliber, traditional, Survivor Series matches this year. Raw and Smackdown showcased the best they had to offer in 3 different matches, one for women, one for male tags, and one for male singles. What could've been a potential clusterfuck ended up being three pretty solid matches. The male singles Survivor Series match was particularly awesome and went on for nearly an hour. It was perfectly constructed and allowed every competitor to shine and kept all of their individual storylines alive even when having to work together under the circumstances. It was definitely match of the night. Survivor Series also had Miz vs Sami Zayn for the IC Title and Brian Kendrick vs Kalisto for the Cruiserweight Title, which were both pretty good matches. Every match on the show was good except...the main event: Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar. This was the match that sold the pay-per-view and it ended in less than 2 minutes. This was actually the best possible scenario though. Goldberg is 50 and hasn't wrestled in 12 years, and the last match they had together got booed out of the building. The squash finish on this dropped everyone's jaws and had everyone talking like they haven't since Undertaker's streak was broken. It may be bullshit but it was effective. My runner-ups would be Battleground (which had the amazing Owens vs Zayn blowoff match) and Money in the Bank (which had all three members of the Shield hold the title in one night).

Best Match: John Cena vs AJ Styles (SummerSlam)

There were so many great matches this year that I'm sure on a different day I would have chosen something else. In the first part of the year I would have chosen Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn from NXT: Takeover Houston or AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura in NJPW. The year kept going though and great matches kept happening: Samoa Joe vs. Nakamura, Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles, DIY vs Revival, Dean Ambrose vs Triple H, Charlotte vs Sasha Banks, Team Smackdown vs Team Raw, Miz vs Dolph Ziggler, Revival vs American Alpha, Cesaro vs Sheamus, Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn. Then the Cruiserweight Classic happened and took things to a different level with: Kota Ibushi vs Cedric Alexander, TJ Perkins vs Rich Swann, Gran Metallik vs Akira Tozawa,  Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa, Zack Sabre Jr vs Gran Metallik. New Japan Pro Wrestling had two five star matches during their G1 Climax tournament with Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito and Tomohiro Ishii vs Kazuchika Okada. Not to mention the match from NJPW that got the internet going for a while between Ricochet vs Will Ospreay at the Best of Super Jr.s Tournament.  PWG's BOLA event had Will Ospreay, Matt Sydal, and Ricochet vs Young Bucks and Adam Cole and ROH's All Star Extravaganza had a Ladder War with Young Bucks vs Addiction vs Motor City Machine Guns. Right now at this moment I'm going to say that AJ Styles vs John Cena from SummerSlam was the best match with most buildup and most long term impact. The expectation has always been that Cena wins the final match of a feud and essentially buries the new talent. This time it didn't happen and AJ pinned Cena clean without any outside interference or shenanigans. Cena left his stupid wristband in the ring and signified the passing of the torch to AJ as the man on Smackdown..


Best New Series: Westworld

I really wanted to have Preacher in this spot, but as good as the show is it's still lacking enough to keep it from the top spot. HBO has always made superior quality television so it's no surprise WestWorld is the best new show this year. If only HBO would have signed on for Preacher, but alas, it was not to be. WestWorld is even more amazing than I expected it to be, but I can't help but wonder how different the show will be after this season. This season told a contained story that I'm not sure they can top with the follow up. From what I've heard we won't find out until 2018, which is unfortunate. In the meantime we'll still have new Marvel Netflix series next year. They produced a runner up for top new show with Luke Cage. Another runner up by Netflix was the totally 80s inspired Stranger Things.

Best Mini-Series: 11.22.63

To be honest I haven't seen many mini-series this year so I had a very limited list to choose from. I quite enjoyed this collaboration between JJ Abrams and Stephen King though. People always make the dumbest choices when time traveling, I swear. James Franco was actually serious in this one and did a believable job. The show was produced exclusively for Hulu so that likely limited it's audience until it gets a DVD release. If you ever find 8 hours to kill check  it out.

Best Ongoing Series: Game of Thrones

Daredevil and Walking Dead were dragging behind and didn't quite make it to the top. Daredevil is great, but the story isn't quite as compelling as GoT. Walking Dead produced one of the biggest cliffhangers in television history and, before the year was over, delivered the most brutal and heartbreaking season premiere. Both instances seem to have lost them some fans for different reasons. If that didn't run  them off then it was the uneventful, slow burn storytelling that followed. I haven't had a problem with the way they're handling business, but it hasn't been at the consistent quality as GoT. Game of Thrones has delivered the goods in every season so far and everything is starting to line up for shit to hit the fan in the final two seasons. I'll be sad to see it go, but it's been a hell of a ride. It's produced more shocking moments than anything I've ever seen on television. I'm trusting they have a couple more years worth.


Best Actor: John Goodman

2016 started off with a bang when 10 Cloverfield Lane was released. It was a film nobody knew anything about and didn't see it coming. Upon it's release it got great reviews and became an unexpected hit. I dare say most of that was because of John Goodman's performance. Throughout the whole film he walked the line between comforting, creepy, and menacing. The film itself didn't top my list, but out of the films I've seen this year I don't think any actor played their part as well as John Goodman. Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals was a close one, but I'm convinced he's not actually acting, that's just how he is. Same thing goes for Ryan Reynolds, who nailed the Deadpool role early this year, but it wasn't much of a stretch for him. If you want to see Ryan Reynolds really act watch Buried. Jared Leto's Joker could've possibly been up here, but I didn't get to see enough of him to make that call and some people seem to have seen enough not to.

Best Actress: Amy Adams

Amy Adams has managed to be in three of my favorite films this year. She didn't have a whole lot to do in Batman v. Superman or Nocturnal Animals, but she did it well. Her best role this year was as the prophetic linguist, Louise, in Arrival. Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner played second fiddle to Amy Adams and let her shine through the whole movie. There were some strong female performances this year and I'm sure I missed some, but Amy Adams caught my attention above all of them in this go round. Jennifer Lawrence dropped the ball in what should have been a tragic performance in Passengers, or you could blame the director. Gal Gadot lit up the screen and stole the show as Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman, but again the limited screen time was a handicap. My closest runner up would be Kate Dickie and Anya Taylor-Joy from The VVitch.

Best Horror Movie: The VVitch

I love the horror genre, but it has gotten a bad reputation over the years. It's become the slum genre where shit tier talent make their money with blood and tits, and nowadays there are less tits. Now there's nothing wrong with crappy horror movies, I can enjoy them for what they are. But I know what potential the genre has and I've been waiting to see it manifest. Along comes The VVitch, which I expected to be all gimmick once I heard about the endorsement by the Church of Satan. Boy was I wrong and I'm so happy I was. I was the only one in the theater smiling as the credits rolled, while others were mumbling and groaning in disappointment. The average audience has acclimated to fast paced action and jump scares and thought they were coming to watch a horror movie, but what they got was a goddamn work of art. This film along with Baskin, The Green Room, and The Eyes of My Mother have brought some credibility back to the genre this year. I've heard the director will be going on to direct a remake of Nosferatu and also heard about a film inspired by Rasputin. I'm excited for both of those and will watch anything this guy puts out.

Best Sci-fi Movie: Arrival

Luckily I was able to catch this film at the last minute before starting this review. I'm very glad I did, because it deserves this spot. As mentioned before, Amy Adams puts on a great performance as an average person having to deal directly with otherworldly life forms. It's a very bizarre and original take on an alien invasion. It's not a shoot'em up alien movie like I'm sure some people expected. It wasn't advertised that way, but almost every alien movie that comes out has that theme. Ironically that's sorta what the film is about, how humanity responds with violence instead of communication. It's a very important message, but I also caught wind of a globalist agenda slipped in there. I'm on the fence with that one, because I can see pros and cons for both sides. The main theme is what's important, and I think they got it across clearly. I saw Passengers right before Arrival and really liked the story, but thought it was underacted and hated the ending. I really liked Star Trek Beyond but Star Trek has become less science and more action, which is a little troubling. 10 Cloverfield Lane was a solid runner up, but not quite as good as Arrival.

Best Drama Movie: Nocturnal Animals

Here's that other Amy Adams film I was talking about. I spent most of my time in 2016 watching SciFi/Horror films but I caught a few Dramas as well. I watched this one recently too, so maybe my opinion is skewed because it's fresh on my mind. I thought this was a great film and it's hard to believe it was made by a fashion designer. Aside from Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon put out excellent performances. It's a layered story, but not too hard to follow, and has a cryptic message behind it. It may not be for everyone, but it was definitely for me. I've heard Hacksaw Ridge was a great film, and it may be here instead had I seen it. Other good ones I did see this year are The Accountant, Swiss Army Man, and The Lobster. Not sure all of those count as Drama but that's what I'm calling them.

Best Comic Book Movie: Captain America Civil War

2016 marks the first year where us nerds get at least 5 comic book movies a year. At least 5 means probably more, and that's awesome...I think. Hopefully it won't get to the point where we get burnt out on them. Suicide Squad is the worst comic film to come out this year. It's a chaotic mess of a movie that has some great scenes and great characters, but seems to be the victim of studio meddling as they attempt to cater to their vocal fans. I wanted to see the movie that was advertised in the very first teaser. Marvel has the "fun movie" market cornered so it would be nice for DC to offer the serious alternative. They delivered good serious films with Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, but seem to be rerouting after negative feedback. Batman v. Superman's reputation improved upon the release of the extended edition. I really liked the film either way and find the complaints about it to be mostly trivial. You can find similar errors in Marvel films that everyone defends. It really comes down to whether you liked it or not and I did. Fox put out a huge hit with Deadpool that shocked everyone with it's success. I thought Deadpool was fantastic and it had me laughing through the whole thing. Problem is it relied a lot on jokes and jokes, for me, lose their humor after a few times hearing them. So what's left when that happens? I guess I'll find out in a couple years. Fox didn't have as much success with X-Men Apocalypse. I thought it was okay, but enough people hated it for whatever reasons. It was flawed, but still entertaining to me. Now we have Marvel debuting Doctor Strange in all his psychedelic glory. It was visually stunning and trippy as hell, but seemed a bit rushed. It was cool seeing Dormammu, but disappointing that he was defeated so easily. made for a cool sequence though and I really enjoyed it overall. The best comic movie though was Civil War. Captain America still remains the best of the solo Marvel films, whether he's the most popular character or not. For whatever reason that character has made fro the best stories and this one was pretty much an Avengers story. The new characters that were introduced were brought in seamlessly and were positioned in the right place. The returning characters didn't need to waste time with backstory so they were able to progress the main story. My only complaints are that the villain's plan was ridiculously stupid and relied on a lot of coincidences and that the characters shouldn't be cracking jokes under serious circumstances. That's what Marvel does though and I know what kind of movie I'm getting and it's usually a damn good fun movie.

Best Overall Movie: Rogue One A Star Wars Story

I bet you thought I forgot about Star Wars. Hell no I didn't forget, Star Wars wins all the awards. I knew this was going to be good, but I wasn't expecting it to be the best damn Star Wars movie since the original trilogy. It may be better than some of those movies, but I dare not state that opinion. To me, this is what Star Wars would've looked like if the technology was available back in the 70s-80s. The Force Awakens was awesome and all that but seemed like it was still shaking off some of that crappy prequel style. Rogue One felt dark and even though I knew how things were going to end, I still held hope that I was wrong and they'd throw a curveball. I'm glad they followed through with it though and gave a real ending instead of something more uplifting. Whether it's better than the originals or not, what it does is make the originals better. It answers some questions about the opening sequence of A New Hope as well as a few other things. If this is any indication of what to expect from future Star Wars movies set in the expanded universe, I cannot wait. What a great thing to look forward to every December. The VVitch was also on my shortlist for best overall film. It's such a different type of movie and I had to narrow it down to what is going to have more replay value and more cultural impact. Obviously I loved all the comic films too, even the worst one, but to me Star Wars beat them all down this year. It's one of the best SciFi movies I've ever seen and one of the best war movies I've ever seen. Maybe the thrill will wear off eventually, but that's where I'm at right now and that's what I'm going with.


So that about wraps up my Best of 2016 list. I'm sure you have a totally different list so feel free to state your opinions. This was really a great year to be a nerd and next year looks to be even better. Just from what we know right now we're gonna get a new Alien movie, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Logan, Skull Island, The Mummy, Thor Ragnarok, War for Planet of the Apes, Ghost in the Shell, Dunkirk, The Dark Tower, Blade Runner, Star Wars, and so much more. This is going to be my last post for 2016 so I'll see you guys next year in Devlin's Domain.

About Me: I have a couple of different aliases, but for this column I will use my middle name. I am Devlin and I currently reside in Atlanta, GA. 33 years of age and still feeling immortal. Former Rockstar, current Pro Wrestler and hell, I'm still a Rockstar at heart. I got my first taste of obscure cinema when I was about 8 years old. My Dad would take us to the video store every weekend to stock up on classic horror films to watch on his projector. They were mostly harmless, PG-rated horror films like the great Universal monster movies. Then one night he rented a movie for himself to watch after we had gone to bed. I was so intrigued by this film that I wasn't allowed to see. I begged and begged and he eventually caved. That night I was exposed to a film unlike anything I had seen before. Ever since that night I wanted to find more films that gave me that same sensation. I wanted to feel shock and disgust. I found my place in the Horror aisle. The film I watched was Faces of Death. Thanks

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