#MondayMusings – 2017 Review

Monday Musings

It’s that time of the new year where everyone is doing their round-up of the best and worst of the previous year. Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! I’ve been able to consume a lot of media this year, so I thought now would be a good time to start an annual tradition where I let you know what movies, TV shows, plays, musical, books and people made an impression on me, for better or worse. So, without further ado, it’s time to announce the winners of the 1st Annual Lauries!

Best Film of 2017
Paddington 2

What a wonderful antidote this was to a year full of nastiness in the news. We could all use a reminder that essentially, everyone is decent. Paddington brings out the best in us, and this sequel was even more funny, inventive and touching than the first. I’ll be going into more detail about the character Of Paddington himself further down.

It was so refreshing to see a simple, stripped-down film that was gentle-humoured and charming. It wasn’t trying to be a spectacle, and the stakes were low. The whole film revolves around a pop-up book that Paddington wants to buy for his Aunt Lucy.

This gives us time to just enjoy the wonderful characters, especially Hugh Grant as a washed-up flamboyant actor, and the ludicrous scenarios, like Paddington being falsely imprisoned only to turn the jail into a victorian-style tearoom. No matter your age, it’s hard to think of someone who wouldn’t love Paddington 2, both as an exercise in good writing and just an all-round enjoyable film.

Worst Film of 2017
Detroit

I have real issues with Katheryn Bigelow’s Detroit, especially after her brilliant work on films like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Whilst Bigelow focused more on atmosphere than story, which is not necessarily a bad thing but one I’m not personally keen on doing, everything about the film is exaggerated. Every character is a caricature.

The antagonists are violent and racist but we never really understand their point of view. The protagonists are seen as helpless victims and nothing more. It never earns its shocks, its violence or its tension because we never care about what is going on or who it is happening to.

Detroit could have been something special. Instead, its troubling for all the wrong reasons.

TV show of 2017
Mindhunter

The latest Netflix drama directed by David Fincher is a real slow-burner, and has tested the patience of many a viewer. I, however, loved it. It features a winning combination of Power of Truth and Power of Reason characters, as the series depicts the formation of the FBI’s behavioral science unit.

Whizzkid Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) interviews some of America’ most notorious serial killers under the weary gaze of gruff older agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and academic Wendy Carr (Anna Torv). These are truth-seekers and mystery-solvers attempted to unravel the twisted logic of those who believe that their victims deserved to die, and that the world should bend to their set of rules. As a tale of Power of Truth vs Power of Reason, it made for the most engrossing TV of the year.

Power of Ambition Character of 2017

Boris Johnson

Power of Ambition characters will do whatever they have to in order to gain power and influence. They will change face at a moment’s notice, and stab others in the back in order to command respect and admiration.

This year, no one has undermined his own leader, and his own cabinet, like Boris Johnson. Rumour has it that his own colleagues are sick of him attempting to usurp Prime Minister Theresa May and take over as Prime Minister himself, an ambition he has held for years but will likely never achieve. What could once have been seen as strategic and calculating has now become embarrassing.

The one thing he has been consistent in is behaving like a Power of Ambition character should.

Power of Conscience Character of 2017
Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) in The Punisher

I will be publishing a much more in-depth article about Netflix’s Power of Conscience show The Punisher soon, but its titular character is a brilliant demonstration of how far a Power of Conscience character can fall to the dark side. Driven to extreme vengeance following the brutal murder of his family, “The Punisher” doles out his own brutal judgment upon everyone he believes has done wrong. Few are left alive or without lasting injuries.

Frank Castle is a tragic character, bolstered by Bernthal’s heartbreaking performance, and it’s refreshing to see the darkest side of Power of Conscience. This Character Type can be more dangerous than even Power of Will when they are pushed too far, and truly believe their law is above everyone else’s. He is surrounded by other Power of Conscience characters, but he is at the furthest end of a spectrum. He is a great anti-hero, and a good way to judge how far you think a Power of Conscience character could go when you’re writing them.

Power of excitement character
Dev (Aziz Ansari) in Master of None

Dev is not a hero or a swashbuckler, but he displays his rakish charm like the great Power of Excitement characters. The lead of Netflix’s Master of None is a womanizer and a charmer, living it up in Italy before returning to New York and maintaining his fun-loving, carefree ways.

Dev is not necessarily a reckless agent of chaos, but he is always thinking about how he can enjoy himself the most, whether by himself or with his friends and lovers.

It is the way his Power of Excitement ways are challenged that make him this year’s best Power of Excitement character. He is forced to be more caring and more considerate- less selfish- when he truly falls in love after experiencing a broken heart in the last season. He experiences something that makes him want to be distinctly selfless. He veers towards his worst fun-loving traits when faced with rejection, and he attempts to return to his former self. If you want to see a Power of Excitement’s personality tested when faced with change, Master of None is the show for you.

Power of Idealism Character
Alexander Hamilton (Jamael Westman) in Hamilton

The hit American musical Hamilton, a hip-hop retelling of the life of Founding Father and Secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton,  recently arrived in London, with Jamael Westman playing the titular lead character.

Hamilton is all about the creation of a nation, and the sacrifices one must make for legacy and achieving a destiny, often at the cost of family, friends and morals. Alexander Hamilton, as he is depicted in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, is a brilliant example of a Power of Idealism character as their best and their worst. His striving for the best helping shape The United States of America as we know it, but also brough him unspeakable tragedy and eventually led to his own death.

Hamilton is Power of Idealism in its extreme. Even listening to the soundtrack by itself will demonstrate how far this Character Type will go for that next high, or to embrace that exaggerated drama that they crave in their life, or to acheive their grand destiny. Nobody believes in grand destiny like Alexander Hamilton, who constantly reminds us that he is “not throwing away [his] shot”.

Power of Imagination character
Paddington Brown (Ben Whishaw) in Paddington 2

Power of Imagination are commonly young naïfs who have adventure unwittingly thrust upon them and have to rise to the occasion. Paddington, star of my favourite film of the year, is a great example of this Character Type.

Another trait of Power of Imagination characters is that they often bring people together for a common good. Paddington 2 goes to great lengths to show us how much his neighbours rely on Paddington to help their street to run smoothly. When he is falsely imprisoned, his charm and good manners win over an entire jail full of hardened criminals. His adoptive family, The Browns, aren’t quite the same without him. He is the glue that holds everyone together, and they will do anything for him in the same way that The Fellowship of the Ring would do anything for Frodo Baggins, or The Rebellion would do for Luke Skywalker.

Paddington works as a character because he takes the extraordinary situations he gets involved in, and tackles them head on in the only way he knows how, no matter how out of his deapth that he feels. We could all learn something for Paddington, perhaps more than any other Power of Imagination character.

Power of Love Character of 2017
Mija (Seo hyun-Ahn) in Okja

Okja is another Netflix production, but this time a feature film. It is a great Power of Love story that may at times seem like a Power of Truth story, once it veers into a group of environmental activists trying to uncover the wicked acts of a global corporation, but at its heart, it is a love story between Mija and her bizarre giant friend, Okja.

Mija, in theory, ruins a lot of lives and breaks a lot of hearts in her pursuit of her kidnapped animal companion. She is relentless in her mission to regain Okja, whether or not Okja’s return to the city is the best thing for her or not. For a selfish journey that is ultimately selfless, Mija is this year’s best example of a Power of Love character because of her unwavering belief that Okja belongs to her, and her love is the best thing no matter who gets in her way.

Power of Reason character of 2017
Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller is a classic “G-Man” for the FBI, a conservative with traditional values who is loyal to the Bureau and has always upheld its core beliefs. He is not Power of Truth, despite his detective-like behavior uncovering inciting documents and damning evidence during the Russia investigation.

Mueller is meticulous, as he was trained to be, and his approach to the investigation has been typically Power of Reason. He is only interested in the facts, as well as cold, hard statistics. He is cool, calm and collected. This year he has proved to be someone totally neutral and only interested in finding out the truth. He is not paranoid, or unsure of himself- he has more conviction than any Power of Truth character could.

Power of Truth Character of 2017
Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) in American Vandal

My favorite Power of Truth story this year was the Netflix spoof American Vandal, who parodied true-crime documentaries like Making A Murderer and Serial so perfectly that it became every bit as good as them. At the heart of the story was its narrator, student filmmaker Peter Maldonado, who is making this “documentary” to uncover the truth behind “Who Drew The Dicks?”.

Peter displays all the flaws of a classic Power of Truth character. He doesn’t trust anyone and loses friends because of how far he is willing to go to uncover a conspiracy and solve a mystery that may not even be there. It’s surprising how a show that makes fun of the tropes from detective stories and crime investigations would provide such a great example of a typical Power of Truth character.

Power of Will Character of 2017
Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) in Peaky Blinders

Gangsters are typically Power of Will characters, and Tommy Shelby is no exception. He might just be the greatest Small Screen Gangster since Tony Soprano. For non-British viewers, Peaky Blinders is essentially The Godfather set in early 20th-century Birmingham, UK. War veteran Tommy is the patriarch of his crime family, keeping everyone in check, from his reckless brothers to the Prime Minister and King of England themselves.

Tommy is ruthless and violent but in an intelligent way. Gangsters all have different styles of management, and Tommy uses violence only sparingly, preferring to use intimidation, and controlling people through legitimate business and official channels. His methods work, and as the show has progressed Tommy has become increasingly powerful. He is an incredible success Power of Will character, and for that, he is my favorite example of this Character type from last year.

Moment of the year

#MeToo

It’s hard to choose one specific moment, because there’s been so many notable events this year. What has been happening in the real world in 2017 has been so volatile that it’s far more dramatic than something any TV Show or Film could have mustered up.

So this year, which has been so relentlessly bleak, I’m awarding Moment of the Year to something hopeful. The #MeToo movement, which was also Time’s Person of the Year. Brave women (and men) came forward and exposed an abusive culture that is long overdue to be eradicated. It’s only the start, but it’s a start nonetheless.

So to those of us who have been harassed or assaulted, the rise of #MeToo was a Moment that will define this year more than any Film, TV show or politician.

I’ll be continuing Power of Conscience month with an examination of Whistle Blowers this Thursday, much like the instigators of #MeToo who spoke out because it was the right thing to do. A great example of Power of Conscience behavior working for the better.

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