Monday, 24 December 2012

That was the year . . .

Got those sprouts on a low boil yet? Relatives driving you to distraction? Christmas tree looking balder than Harry Hill? 'Tis the season to be manic. As well as the festival of over-eating and binge-drinking though, this is also the time of year when we take stock. What's that phrase again? Oh yes, stock-taking.

Like the contents of some moribund round robin letter, it's time to foist opinions and comments about the past twelve months on anyone who will listen. Not that I'm going to drone on about home improvements, little jaunts out to the country and myriad health issues. No. This is simply me rounding up and spouting on about some of the things I've enjoyed in 2012.

Film of the Year for me was Argo, the Ben Affleck directed the true story of six US diplomats holed up in the Canadian embassy in Tehran in 1980. Affleck also starred as CIA specialist Tony Mendez who is charged with rescuing the diplomats. The frantic nature of the film had me gripping the seat edge for over two hours. I have never watched the Oscars but feel a certain confidence that this film will feature heavily on the big night. Which of course means that we will never hear if it again. Also worthy of a mention is Skyfall, possibly the best outing for James Bond ever.

My Book of the Year is John Lanchester's Capital. This si the tale of one, relatively affluent London street and its inhabitants. There are wealthy, upwardly mobile young professionals, newly arrived immigrants and also the last of a generation, bewildered by much of what is going on. Their lives cross - sometimes only briefly - but by the end of the novel, those lives are changed forever.

Theatre Experience of the Year (!) was Michael Frayn's 1982 farce, Noises Off. This is basically a play about a dreadful play and the hapless theatre company attempting to put it on. Starring the wonderful Celia Imrie and Robert Glenister, this Old Vic production had me weeping with laughter.

Most Played i-Tunes Song of the Year goes to Eurovision winner Euphoria performed by Loreen. Having seen this triumph in the Swedish national heats (a chilly weekend in Stockholm), the song then thrashed all opposition in Baku at the Euro finals. It's success was a  bit of a surprise given that it sounds like some leftover from a 1990s Ibiza foam party. Still, in comparison with the UK's entry from Engelbert Humperdinck, Euphoria was Grammy-winning stuff.

There were losts of contenders for Telly Programme of the Year but my eventual winner was Borgen, the Danish tale of government folk. It sounds like a nightmare but the story of the charismatic PM, Birgitte Nyborg, was compelling. Sidse Babett Knudsen had the line of the year when she referred to Queen Margarethe as "that old bitch". Special mention this year go to another Scando-noir effort, The Bridge and its loopy lead character, Saga Norén, a policewoman with a difference.

The BBC produced a few fine comedies this year including the relentlessly bleak hospital offering Getting On. BBC3's Him & Her managed to be both cringe worthy and sentimental but in a good way thanks to the thoughtful performances of Russel Tovey and Sarah Solemani. Thick of It came to an end and possibly did so at just the right time. Jewish family life also provided two winners in the shape of Grandma's House and Friday Night Dinner - outstanding performances from Rebecca Front, Linda Basset and Tamsin Greig.

Person of the Year has to be Claire Balding for her sheer enthusiasm for all things sport and for jollying the rest of us along during the Olympics. There are too many outstanding sportsmen and women to mention but they all brought joy to a spectacular summer.

Place of the Year for me was definitely Lucca in Italy. Bus-loads of British harridans aside, this was a spectacular town and a much more palatable alternative to the manic pleasures of Rome and the dreariness of Pisa.

A snapshot then of what I enjoyed in 2012. As for the dislikes? Oh - let's forget them! Here's to more enjoyment in 2013!