Friday, January 1, 2016

Top Ten of 2015

1. Fleetwood Mac, Sydney – simply one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, and this was made all the more better as I really didn’t think it would be that good!
2. Neil Gaiman at Angel Place – finally me and my main man in the same building. He was everything I imagined and more, I was in heaven.
3. David Bowie Is, ACMI – I had the tickets for a year, the reason I went to Melbourne when I did. I was entranced and raptured...I cried and sang and danced!
4. The Lion King, Melbourne – I may be the last person on earth to see this extravaganza, there is nothing like those first fifteen minutes ever...electric and spine tingling.
5. Maria Abramovic is present, Sydney – I still cannnot articulate my experience at this exhibition, it was frightening, warm, divine, and utterly unique.
6. Go Elsewhere Festival with my gals at Nobbys Lighthouse – on a balmy evening, looking over Newcastle, with the lighthouse looking over us, music and my friends.
7. Chuck Close at MCA – I was blown away by Chuck’s art, more than I was prepared for, I still think about it. He is magnificent.
8. Newcastle Writers Festival, esp Helen Garner – Writer’s festivals are my thing, the one in my hometown is the best, the star this year was my hero, Helen Garner.
9. Steve Smyth at The Cambridge – Love this guy and so pleased I show him to my friends, we saw him three times this year, but this performance was by far the best.
10. Frank Gehry addition to the UTS Sydney – I adore Frank and his quirky buildings, to see one up close and personal so close to home was perfection as is “the paperbag”
Top 15* Books of 2015

1. Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello - Lyrical prose, heartfelt stories, history and music, escapades with Dylan, Van, and Cash. Sheer Perfection.
2. M Train by Patti Smith – mystical, serene, meditative, intriguing, fascinating, funny, melancholy, surprising. Everything you want in a book plus it’s Patti!!!
3. Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth  by Chris Hadfield – highly intelligent and scientific, yet written for everyman. For the space geek in all of us.
4. Reckoning by Magda Szubanski – eloquent prose, enlightened storytelling, utterly unique turn of phrase, bittersweet melancholy, dry humour, and shocking tales.
5. Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover – heartbreaking family memoir told with good grace and humour. If you ever thought your family this!!!
6. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon – beautifully written, rock and roll, a story of failed love, a story of strength and conviction, feminism at it’s best.
7. Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo – stunning stories and interviews with all the best songwriters in the world and why they do what they do.
8. The Art of the Novel by Milan Kundera – 20 years old, but spot on. Musings on the state of the novel, writing, and reading. Philosophical and deep, timeless writing.
9. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay – stunning book of essays on feminism, life, love, and everything in between. Funny, warm, sad, and heroic.
10. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer – part self help, part memoir, part love story. At times frustrating, but mostly rewarding.
11. Acute Misfortune: the Life and Death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jenson – devastating, anger inducing, yet utterly compelling page-turning. There is more to this story than meets the eye.
12. When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett – the first of 2 fiction titles on my list. Set in Tasmania and Antarctica, this dreamy, poetic book will hypnotise and lure you in.
13. Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris Proof reader and copy editor for The New Yorker, Mary writes small essay like stories about her life in this fascinating job.
14. Foreign Soil – Maxine Beneba Clarke – Australian short stories about women of colour throughout the world and their issues. It’s heartbreaking, awful, uplifting, and hopeful.
15. Men who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson – Totally bizarre, utterly compelling, sucks you in. About paranormal activities in the military. Jaw droppingly good!
Honorary Mention: Gerald Durrell, I think I consumed every book of his on talking book, and they were delightful.
Special mention: Here’s the thing by Alec Baldwin, not a book but a superb fortnightly podcast, my favourite!
* Yeah, there are fifteen, I read a LOT of great books this year, these were only some of them.
Top Ten TV Shows of 2015

1. Fargo S2 - a slow build to sheer perfection, on the edge of your seat thrilling, funny, and a stunning cast.
2. Please like me S3 – this Australian show continues to unravel layer upon layer of delightfully flawed characters, with such heart and warmth and a quirky sensibility.
3. Glitch – Another Australian thriller/fantasy that was in a league of it’s own, with stunning and uniquely Australian storytelling and a great cast.
4. Mad Men – final Season – I loved this show, it’s been my favourite show for many years, and whilst the ending was great, it just didn’t cut it enough to keep it’s No. 2 spot!
5. Orphan Black S1-3 – my new favourite sci-fi show about clones, dramatic, funny, a wild ride with the best female lead since Buffy, Tatiana Maslany.
6. Masters of Sex S1/2 – I finally got around to watching this and I love it so much. Great storylines, stunning attention to detail design, wonderful acting.
7. The Fall S1/2 – oh my. Gillian Anderson is brilliant, on form and stunning in this serial killer thriller. You are hooked from the get go, this is great storytelling
8. Better Call Saul S1 – Loved this newbie, great cast, dramatic and very funny, and a lot of heart. It’s not Breaking Bad, but it’s still very worthy!
9. Brooklyn 99 S1/2 – love this fun comedy, with a great ensemble cast and loads of laughs.
10. The Blacklist S1 – Intriguing plot with the uber-sexy James Spader as the lead...say no more!
Special mention: Olive Kitteridge, essentially a mini-series, this was a perfect adaption of one of my favourite books, with an outstanding cast of Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, and Bill Murray.
Honourable mentions: Veep, Parks and Recreations, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black.
Top Ten DVDs of 2015

1. Rust and Bone – stunning performance by Marion Cotillard as a woman finding her place in the world after a horrific accident
2. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec – a wonderful French Steam Punk fantasy set in Paris in the 20s. Dinosaurs, exploration, Mummies, high fashion, and love.
3. Predestination – time travel with a twist, it’ll keep you guessing until the very end. Ethan Hawke is marvellous but it was the extraordinary performance by Sarah Snook that had me gobsmacked.
4. What we do in the shadows – hilarious NZ vampire film. Cultish and dry. I laughed so much in this.
5. Eye of the storm – classic Australian drama with Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, and Charlotte Rampling. Fred Schepsi directing from Patrick White’s novel with stunning cinematography.
6. Locke – this one person thriller seemed wrong on paper, but sitting in the car with Tom Hardy during one night, filmed in real time, had me on the edge of my seat.
7. Nymophomaniac Pts 1/2 – this superb two-parter starring Charlotte Gainsburg was very confronting, but stunning. A Lars Von Trier film, with an exceptional cast but it’s all about Charlotte!
8. Tracks – great Australian adventure about Robyn Davidson who tracked across WA deserts with her camel and dogs.
9. Babadook- I don’t like horror, but this was beautifully done, although it scared the bejesus out of me!
10. Spy – funny, feisty females not being made ridiculous. Never laughed so much!e
Special mention: Hail, Hail Rock and Roll, a fabulous doco/concert from the late 1980s remastered and featuring greats such as Keith Richards, and Eric Clapton playing tribute to the Chuck Berry.
Honourable mentions: Snowpiercer, The immigrant, Lucy, Two days and one night.   
Top Ten Movies of 2015

1. The Dressmaker and Star Wars – both very different but exceptional, faultless movies with great stories, cinematography, and acting!
2. Love and Mercy – stunning biopic on the life of Brian Wilson with stunning performances from John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti. And that superb music.
3. Finding Vivien Maier – astonishing documentary about the life of an unknown photography and the layers behind the facade. Part thriller, part memoir, part history, part art. Absolutely brilliant.
4. Whiplash – great performances, and tight music, fast paced and edge of your seat drama.
5. Amy – documentary about Amy Winehouse, beautiful, genius, and heartbreaking – both describes the artist and the film.
6. Far From the Madding Crowd – period drama based on the classic novel by Thomas Hardy, beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted. Lush and sensuous.
7. When we were young – Great modern drama/comedy, with an all star cast and edgy ideas.
8. A second chance – high drama with this twist of fate Danish film, looking at what a man will do to save his family. Highly disturbing but stunningly filmed.
9. Wild – based on the book, this is a tour de force from Reese Witherspoon, about a woman determined to change her life around.
10. Samba – great French film about refugees starring the superb Omar Sy and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Top 10 Albums of 2015

1. Stay Gold by First Aid Kit – the third album by the Swedish sisters was sublime and heavenly.
2. Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance by Belle and Sebastian – another melancholy/dancey album from my Scottish faves
3. Vulnicura by Bjork – an absolute masterpiece with her status as musical genius sealed, dancey and beautiful and full of so much heart you almost feel yours breaking.
4. 25 by Adele – stunning and powerful, loud and proud, I don’t usually do top ten fodder, but Adele is in a league of her own, this album is a testament to that.
5. Album deux by Baby et Lulu – sublime and sexy, french duets by two Australian talents, I could listen to them all day.
6. Songs in the dark by Wainwright Sisters – Martha and Lucy together for the first time, their harmonies are sweet and soulful, the talent endless.
7. Transmutant by Katie Noonan – that operatic voice on an edgy album of pop, soul, and ballads. Beautiful.
8. No Cities to love by Sleater-Kinney – grunge rock at it’s best, their first album in 10 years and they haven’t lost their edge. Kick A!!!!
9. Beautiful You by The Waifs – always lovely and laid back to listen to, comforting blues and interesting lyrics.
10. 24 Karat Gold by Stevie Nicks – an album of reworked songs that were never used on albums, close listening will help you work out what era they were originally written in, fabulous!
Special Mention:  If I can dream by Elvis Presley and the Philharmonic Orchestra – classic live performances with the Philharmonic added in, a gimmick for sure but a bloody good one, the sounds are terrific!
Honourable Mentions: Shadows in the night by Bob Dylan, Talk by Daniel Johns, The Endless River by Pink Floyd.
Top 8* gigs of 2015

1. Fleetwood Mac – absolute (and unexpected) perfection
2. Steve Smyth at The Cambridge – the man simply sizzles on stage, a mix of Jeff Buckley and Tom Waits, his energy is mystical and sensual.
3. Go Elsewhere Festival - a balmy evening, looking over Newcastle, with the lighthouse looking over us, music and my friends.
4. Daniel Johns – New funky style possibly borrowing from Prince, electric performance. An adult Johns has arrived.
5. Glenn Shorack at the Apra concert – he might be old, and his songs (to some) a little daggy, but he was the consummate performer and sounded brilliant.
6. Mental as Anything – not the proper band, and for every good song, there were two ordinary ones, but the good ones were worth price of admission!
7. Doubleclicks – indie duo from Portland (natch!) singing about geeky things such a Science, Dinosaurs, Wonder Woman, and being an introvert. Perfection and funny.
8. Fish Fry/ Pow Wow – Jazz/Swing and Jazz/Funk – joyous music with fabulous brass, how can you not dance!?!

* this is shameful, I need to see more live music next year

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