As 2016 draws to a close (finally) we Moose wanted to share some media that brought us joy this year. You can find our selections from cinema and television here and below are our very-official-and-important awards for the Print and Random categories! Enjoy!
So I’m going to have to call it a tie with this one. I did not get to read as much as I would have liked in 2016 but there were, without a doubt, two books that absolutely positively blew me right out of the water and those were The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin and Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.
If we had done the Moosies last year The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin would have easily been by pick for the Print section. It’s narrative structure is fantastic and Jemisin writes with such beauty and impact. I was both excited and nervous about the sequel. Sequels are difficult, espeically when the first entry is as powerful and brutal as The Fifth Season.
But damn does Jemisin deliver a stunner of a sequel with The Obelisk Gate. She continues to expand her world, deepening the reader’s understanding of the culture and characters and magic, with an excellent pace and her signature, gorgeous, writing style.
I thought The Obelisk Gate easily indisputable for this section when we first started planning the Moosies but then I picked up Monstress. And the dilemma that lead to this tie was born.
Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda have created together something masterful. Montress is a comic book and Vol. 1: Awakening collects the first six issues. The world is lush and original. Liu’s writing is skillful and a testament to her many years in the comic book industry. Monstress reads fast but with all the weight and depth of a novel.
And the art by Takeda is nothing short of breathtaking. Monstress, in addition to being well-written, paced, with a fascinating, well-crafted world is one of the most visually beautiful objects I have ever held in my two hands. The level of detail is truly astounding. This is a collaboration that has produced something utterly singular and definitive. I cannot wait for more!
I’m about to be a terrible writer and confess that I did not read much in the way of new books this year (at least ones that I finished.) I’m totally behind like that. Most of what I read in 2016 was not actually released this year; or if it was released this year, I did not read it cover to cover. I read many short stories, most of them very good; however, I can’t honestly say that any of them latched onto my mind or set deep in my heart in a hardcore way. (If you read Moosies Part 1, you’ll note this has been a theme with most of my media consumption this year.)
One of the pieces of writing that has stuck with me, however, is this excellent “review” on Star Trek Beyond by Tim Phipps, appearing in Issue #29 of Strange Horizons. Speaking as someone who has been watching the incarnations of Star Trek since childhood… and speaking as a Trek nerd particularly in love with Deep Space Nine… Phipp’s words hit home pretty hard. And despite the fact that I enjoyed Star Trek Beyond well enough, the piece echoed some of what unsettled me — the fact that the new movies still aren’t quite right.
Sticking the landing on a series is bloody hard. And while it’s no surprise that Daniel Abraham did, it’s still worth saying that it’s hard. I’ve been reading The Dagger and Coin Series as they came out and it was an emotional investment that paid off. Easily the best evolution of a “villain” I’ve recently read from start to finish.
One person totally deserving of celebration this year is Scott Snyder for his work on Batman. Not only did he finish the first half of the year with the end of his fifty issue run on Batman, afterward he turned around and started All Star Batman which has the potential to become one of the best Batman stories of all time. Over his years working with the character Snyder has continually challenged expectations about Batman, mainly that it needs to be hyper realistic and gritty. Snyder’s Batman fights secret societies that dress like owls; gangs of middle managers run by a proto-Joker; and a man in a flower mask selling pills that give you superpowers until they turn you into a plant monster. This year he started a story in All Star Batman that will give Two-Face a place as Batman’s greatest enemy next to the joker, and he still manages to have fun with it. Though what earns Snyder the Moosie is his take on a Batman sidekick. Duke Thomas not only became Robin on his own without a Batman asking him, but when Bruce Wayne returns and asks him to work for him, it’s not as a sidekick, or even a partner, but an apprentice. Watching Batman let Duke decide what kind of hero he wants to be, and seeing the Dark Knight learn from his past mistakes is something you don’t see often in comics.
Overcooked. My random Moosie goes to Overcooked. This is a cooperative video game by Ghost Town games. You play as two chefs frantically making meals in ludicrously poorly designed kitchens. I played this obsessively with my husband (three stars for all the main campaign levels). You can play it as a single player, but it’s really built for playing as a team and the satisfaction of working out the trick to a level and then collectively crushing it is excellent.
Runners up include: the board game J’Accuse (Smirk and Dagger Games) a game where everyone-dun-it and it’s a matter of pinning the evidence on your fellow players and Nextwave1 the comic by Warren Ellis.
Screw it — my honorable mention Moosie is a cheat. I’m throwing a quick shout-out to Lin-Manuel Miranda / Hamilton / the Hamilton cast. Hamilton debuted on Broadway in 2015 technically, but I don’t care — it got all of its Tony noms and wins in 2016 / 2016 is when I listened to it.
After that, I think I’d probably have to split my random Moosie and give it to two actors — Tom Holland and Mahershala Ali. Mahershala Ali almost qualifies for my unofficial Domhnall Gleeson Award — for being an underappreciated supporting star in multiple great things. He was part of Netflix’s Luke Cage that I actually liked… He’s getting awards attention for his supporting performance in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight… And he’s making an appearance in Hidden Figures. And then Tom Holland is The #1 Thing For Which I Wanted To Rewatch An Entire Movie I Did Not Super Love (i.e. Spiderman in Captain America: Civil War). He’s so adorable as Spiderling that it kind of hurts when I squee so hard during his scenes. In a movie so often frustrating and caught up in unnecessary drama, he brought youth and joy to being a superhero — and for that he earns a Moosie.
So I did not see Moana in time for the first Moosie post on Monday where we talked about film and television. If I had seen Moana it would have totally been at least an honorable mention in my film category. HOWEVER! I have seen it now so I’m going to give my Random Moosie to the Moana soundtrack. Because so much of the beauty of this film and so much of the emotional impact of specific moments is not only thanks to the gorgeous visuals, good writing and excellent voice acting, but also very much wrapped up in the music. The songs stick in your head (and not in a bad way). Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i do an amazing job of creating energetic, moving and memorable songs. I saw the film on Wednesday. I’ve listening to absolutely nothing else since I bought the soundtrack the moment I arrived home from the cinema.
There is also one honorable mention that I have to talk about for a moment and that is Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was obviously not released in 2016 but I did not play it until this year. Normally, I do not play a whole lot of video games but this is a game I have been utterly incapable of leaving behind. The world and the story and the characters have grabbed onto me with frightening strength. And what’s more, Inquisition also allowed me, for the first time, to create and play a character as gay and have the story support that with dialogue and a romance specifically written for that orientation. It will always have my love for that.
Considering how many podcasts I spend my time listening to, I can’t go without giving out a Best Podcast award. Night Vale Presents has had a fantastic year, and while they’ve rebranded their company and put out three new podcasts in the last six months, one of them really stands out from the crowd.
Alice Isn’t Dead is as a good a piece of drama as any of the films or tv shows we nominated this year. As full as I keep my podcatcher and with the sheer amount of content I listen to, I have not been so engrossed in an audio drama…well ever. Jasika Nicole is a joy to listen to and she narrates Joseph Fink’s fantastic script so well you can think the episodes were made just for you. From the moment the first episode begins the fantastic, horrific story sends chills down the spine and gives you an insatiable hunger for more. With the unsettling descriptions Fink provides you are stuffed into this story, and you’ll find you don’t want to escape. I’ve sung it’s praises before as an example of the best horror out there, and it deserves a Moosie for being the best podcast available to the ear part of your head.