Monthly Archives: January 2020

My Top 10 Films of the Decade

Here we go… my picks for the top 10 films of the last decade.

All films on this list, barring 10th place, got a solid 5/5 from me. 10th gets a 4.5/5, but was pretty borderline – had it’s first hour been as good as its second, it would have got full marks.

10: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Of the five Star Wars films released in the last decade, Rogue is the only one universally liked by critics and fans. Darker and more intelligent than Force Awakens, more action-packed than Last Jedi, less of a garbled mess than Rise of Skywalker and with more compelling characters and plot than Solo, this is a proper Star Wars film that has a story to tell and gets on with telling it. With lashings of humor throughout to alleviate its darker tone, Rogue One finds the balance between Light and Dark. The action scenes look amazing, particularly the combined space and ground battle on Scarif at the climax. But ultimately, its the characters that make this work so well. Jyn Erso is arguably the best female character the Star Wars franchise has ever given us, thanks to her key role in events and Felicity Jones’ wonderful acting. The supporting characters, such as K2S0, Cassian, Saw Gerrera and Krennic are all memorable – to the extent that you will care when they die (and its not a big spoiler to say most of them do) – this film does what few action films do – portrays a suicide mission realistically – the rebels know that they probably aren’t making it out, but risk their lives anyway. The villains are also a cut above, with Krennic a much more interesting character than say, General Hux or Captain Phasma, while Darth Vader gets two brilliant scenes which reaffirm why the character is such an iconic villain. Ultimately, this should be in everyone’s top 5 Star Wars movies – and i’ll wouldn’t blame you if it was your favourite.

Highlight: With major character deaths, space battles, AT-AT attacks and THAT Vader scene, The Battle of Scarif is thrilling from start to finish.

9: Avengers: Endgame: It was inevitable… that this made my list. While I still wish Thanos got more screen time in this one, the finale to the first 11 years of the MCU was everything fans could have wished for, with an epic storyline, great performances from Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth and some awesome action scenes. Throw in fan-pleasing moments like Tony spending time with his father in the past, Cap lifting Thor’s hammer and Thor finally getting to say a proper goodbye to his deceased mother, and you have a classic. The humour is dialed down but still present (fat Thor threatening a video gamer was hilarious), the script finds a way of giving all its characters something to work with and the special effects are awesome from start to finish – great job Marvel – this was a hell of a send off for some of your most loved characters – we can only hope phases 4, 5 and 6 can live up to it.

Highlight: The Portals scene. Had to be. Seeing every single hero onscreen at once… epic. Hard to see Marvel ever outdoing it. The final battle which follows is the icing on the cake.

8: Logan: The best film from the X-Men universe (narrowly eclipsing First Class) and Hugh Jackman’s last performance in the role of Wolverine had to be on this list. A dark glimpse into a future where mutants have been all but eradicated, Logan has a distinct western vibe of ‘old gunslinger taking up arms for one last battle’. Hugh Jackman puts in one of his best performances as a world-weary, bitter, more vulnerable version of Wolverine. Patrick Stewart and Stephen Merchant are good value as Xavier and Caliban, two of the only other surviving mutants, but the real plaudits must go to Dafne Keen as Laura, a young mutant who forms a bond with Xavier and Logan and brings them back into action. With some truly brutal yet epic fights scenes, this is the Wolverine film we always deserved – and probably the darkest one we’ll ever get now X-Men has gone over to Marvel.

Highlight: The final scene between Logan and Laura is utterly heartbreaking and features a great pair of performances from Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen. If you don’t cry at this, your heart is made of stone.

7: Skyfall: After the disappointment of Quantum of Solace and a 4 year break from screen, the next Bond needed to be good. Craig, the writers and director Sam Mendes duly delivered with this back to basics approach. Introducing new versions of Q and Moneypenny was done seamlessly, and both are perfectly cast. After the forgettable Bond girls in Quantum, this film puts Judi Dench’s M front and centre of its female characters, and is far better for it. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva makes for one of the most memorable villains in Craig’s run (so far anyway – come on Rami Malek). Skyfall also takes its time whether other Bond’s might have rushed from action scene to action scene – it feels like a more realistic, plausible spy film than most Bonds – probably as an apology for what seemed like a bunch of action scenes that had been randomly plastered together with the first plot that came to hand in Quantum. It was also refreshing to have Bond have an adventure mostly set in the UK, which is extremely rare in Bond films. There are a few plot holes, but overall, this still stands as the best of Craig’s 4 films – and boy, what an opening number from ADELE!!!

Highlight: The climatic attack by Silva’s men on the Skyfall estate. Given the overblown finales Bond films can sometimes get drawn into, this is refreshingly smaller scale, with real tension. The effects are pretty good too (now that is how you do a helicopter crash Suicide Squad!).

6: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Catching Fire is the best of the Hunger Games films, with a more engaging plot than Mockingjay’s two parts and better direction and set design than the first film. The core cast of Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are all settled into their roles, while newcomers like Sam Claflin and Jena Malone add a lot to proceedings. The special effects, music and direction are all solid, and overall this is an extremely enjoyable adaptation which actually outdoes the book its based on, which is very impressive. Overall, its one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen this decade, and one I’m more likely to re-watch than the previous 3 on the list, hence its position.

Highlight: The Victory Tour scene in district 11. From Katniss’ tribute to Rue to the show of solidarity by the citizens (and the guards ruthlessness execution of a dissident), this scene is heartwarming, emotional and brutal all in one go, and gives Jennifer Lawrence some great stuff to work with.

5: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: Once I remembered this came out in this decade, I knew it had to make this list. With all the weaker parts of JK Rowling’s book out the way in Deathly Hallows Part 1, Part 2 is free to give us a spellbinding depiction of the best two bits of the novel: i.e. the raid on Gringotts Bank and the Battle of Hogwarts. Both are vividly brought to life and the cast and crew all give their best at making this a memorable send-off. Alexandre Desplat provides a great soundtrack that’s up there with the best efforts of Williams and Hooper, while the special effects, particularly for the scenes in the Room of Requirement, are superb. Few film franchises have ended on the best film in the series, but this is perhaps a rare exception to the rule.

Highlight: While the action scenes may be more memorable, my favourite scene is still Harry and McGonagall confronting Snape in the great hall and forcing him to flee Hogwarts. Daniel Radcliffe in particular is at his absolute best during this scene.

I couldn’t split the next three films no matter how hard I tried, so they are all coming in joint second. All three are DC movies I rate extremely highly, but all offer something different in their approaches, styles and themes.

2= Man of Steel: The only film on this list that wasn’t critically renowned, but I make no apologies – I bloody love it. Henry Cavill makes a great Clark Kent and superman, and the supporting cast is excellent, particularly Amy Adams as Lois Lane an Michael Shannon as General Zod. A shade darker than most superman films but still light in tone compared to Batman, this equals Batman Begins as an origin story and features some epic action scenes, particularly Superman’s clashes with the Kryptonian warriors. As for the controversial choices the film makes in its final third – this is an origin story – Superman is going to make mistakes – it makes narrative sense to show something that instills his disdain for killing, even as a last resort, and his desire to save people above all else – and the destruction of much of metropolis and Zod’s fate set that up perfectly.

Highlight: There’s a lot of good scenes here, but Jonathan Kent’s death is one of the most dramatic and heartbreaking, backed up perfectly by ‘Tornado’ one of Hans Zimmer’s most emotionally wrenching tracks. Also features Cavill’s strongest acting in the whole movie – I really don’t get why he comes in for so much criticism.

2= The Dark Knight Rises: Nolan makes it three out of three with this epic conclusion to the Dark Knight Trilogy. Tom Hardy’s Bane does the near impossible job of following Heath Ledger’s Joker as a main villain, while Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard make the most of their roles as Catwoman and Talia. The action scenes are probably the best in the whole trilogy, particularly Batman’s two bouts with Bane and the final chase sequence. Hans Zimmer’s bombastic soundtrack really adds to the intensity, while the story neatly ties all three films together in a way few trilogies manage. Its spirit is closer to Batman Begins than the Dark Knight, but that’s no bad thing in my book. All are five star films, and this one was a fine send-off.

Highlight: The scene where Bruce finally climbs out of the pit. Backed by one of Hans Zimmer’s best tracks (that’s saying something!) and the catchy as hell Deshi Basara chant its a epic scene that kicks off the films final act on a real high.

2= Joker: Todd Philips broke all the rules of comic book movies with this intense, character focused tale where there are no heroes, just villains and victims, and cinema is all the better for it. Joaquin Phoenix gives an Oscar worthy turn as the man who becomes the Joker, and interprets the role in a way even Hamill and Ledger would be proud of – and one that hopefully relegates Jared Leto’s version to the scrapheap. With superb supporting actors like Robert de Niro and Zazie Beetz backing up Phoenix, there isn’t a weak link in this whole film. While it may not be to everyone’s taste, its a remarkable achievement which doesn’t shy away from important themes, brutal violence and stark messages about mental health. It’s one of the most intense films you’re ever likely to see, but I’d encourage everyone to do so.

Highlight: Arthur’s climatic interview with Murray. A masterclass in scripting, creating tension and acting from Phoenix and de Niro, who help the scene build to a brutal kick in the teeth for the audience. Amazing stuff.

1: Rush: The story of James Hunt’s (Chris Hemsworth) battle with Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) for the 1976 F1 World Championship is my film of the decade. As biopics go it takes a few liberties, but crafts a very compelling story of rivalry, tragedy and triumph as the arrogant but passionate playboy (which Hemsworth excels at playing) clashes with the methodical, socially awkward Lauda. If it wasn’t for Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, I’d have given my best actor award to Daniel Bruhl, who owns this film as Lauda and increasingly wins your support as the film goes on. The racing scenes are vividly recreated, backed up by some of Hans Zimmer’s best work from the past decade, but the character stories and recreation of the 70’s atmosphere is where this film’s heart truly is, and it couldn’t be any better – its the only one on this list which I can watch and not highlight a single thing, however small, that I’d change. The best film Ron Howard has ever directed, and not one only F1 fans or car nuts can enjoy. Puts other racers like Ford vs. Ferrari to shame.

Highlight: The horrifying depiction of Lauda’s Nürburgring crash and its aftermath has to be the films strongest segment – you will definitely flinch at both the accident and the treatment Lauda has to go through afterwards.

My Film Awards 2010-2019:

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Best Actress: Felicity Jones (Rogue One)

Best Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin (Avengers Infinity War)

Best Supporting Actress: Judi Dench (Skyfall)

Best Young Actress: Dafne Keen (Logan)

Best Director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk)

Best Composer: Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Interstellar)

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3

Best Comedy: Kingsman: The Secret Service

And on the other side of things…

Worst Film: The Last Airbender

Worst Actor: Miles Teller (Reed Richards – Fantastic Four)

Worst Actress: Julianne Moore (Poppy – Kingsman: The Golden Circle)

Worst Supporting Actor: Mickey Rourke (Whiplash – Iron Man 2)

Worst Supporting Actress: Leslie Jones (Patty – Ghostbusters)

Worst Young Actor: Noah Ringer (Aang – The Last Airbender)

Worst Director: David Ayer (Suicide Squad)

Worst Script: Suicide Squad

Worst Composer: Alan Silvestri

Worst Soundtrack: The Rise of Skywalker (John Williams)

Worst Reboot: Fantastic Four/Ghostbusters

Worst Sequel: The Rise of Skywalker

Worst TV Adaptation: The Last Airbender

That’s it, the last of my ‘best of the decade’ articles done. Hope you found them interesting, and hope this decade’s highlights will be even better!

I’ll take a break from blogging for a while now – I’m still mired in a job search now into its fourth month – but i’ll be back later in the year with reviews of the new Bond and Wonder Woman films, along with any other films, TV or games that catch my eye – see you all then.

My Top 20 Video Games of the Decade

Rules are simple – any game released between 2010 and 2019 is eligible. Remasters are allowed – but only if they added something substantial to the original game/games or required a lot of work to update.

The majority of games are from PS4/PS3 or are available on all platforms, because PlayStation is what I mainly play on, but let’s face it, there aren’t that many good Xbox exclusives from the past decade anyway, so its not exactly a problem. If you’re a PC gamer I’m sure you’ll have some picks I missed, but as always, this is based on my opinion, not a definitive list, so feel free to comment your own.

20: F1 2019: The Formula One sim by Codemasters has come on leaps and bounds over the past decade. Since F1 2016, the series has found its sweet spot, with each new release focusing on refining experiences rather than radically changing them. F1 2019’s changes add a Formula 2 mode, a mid-season driver swap system and a new starting rivalry mechanic to make things feel more immersive than ever. Easily one of the best sport sims out there.

Highlight: Austria, Canada, Bahrain, Italy, Brazil and Russia are great tracks with excellent overtaking opportunities.

19: Alpha Protocol: From Obsidian (makers of Fallout New Vegas), this is a spy game with a great story, with plenty of freedom in what kind of agent you make main character Michael Thornton. Stealth expert, gadget master, gunslinger or hand-to-hand brawler are all viable playstyles, as is a mix of all. Your conversation options are a mix of Jason Bourne’s professionalism, James Bond’s suave and Jack Bauer’s aggression, and there are multiple endings available. A globetrotting adventure which travels to the Middle East, Italy, Russia and beyond, this is as good a spy game as you’re ever likely to play.

Highlight: The boss fight with Russian playboy/mobster Konstantin Brayko, who is high off his ass and wielding a knife, while ‘turn up the radio’ plays on a speaker system in his mansion, is perhaps the most memorable bit of the game.

18: Dragon Age Inquisition: Bioware’s third dragon age game is a revelation in places. It’s more ambitious with locations than its predecessors with some beautiful graphics which make every area to explore feel really distinct. Whether the foreboding bog of the Fallow Mire, the serene desert forming the Western Approach or the snowbound dragon lairs in Emprise de Lion, you’ll remember this game’s settings. Interesting companions, a plethora of romance options and plenty of replay value make this classic Bioware.

Highlight: The Battle of Haven is one of the most awesome sequences in gaming. Occuring around the 1/3 mark of the game, it introduces the main villain and sees the Inquisitor desperately fighting to save their home base from a massive army and a corrupted dragon…

17: Warhammer II: Total War: The only PC exclusive on this, Warhammer II is without doubt the best Total War game this decade. Its exploration of the Age of Sigmar’s New World will have you fighting through lush jungles, vast deserts and tropical islands as four new races including the High Elves, Dark Elves, Lizardmen and rat-like Skaven. DLC adds the Tomb Kings and Vampire Coast factions, who have some really fun unique mechanics. The sheer variety of units, including wizards, monsters and undead make for some epic battles, while the Mortal Empires mode (if you own both Warhammer 1+2) allows you to pit the New World factions against the Old in the largest campaign map in total war history.

Highlight: The Tomb Kings unique mechanic of not requiring upkeep costs drastically changes your playstyle. Armies of skeletons, chariots, Giant Serpents and statues make them a very cool faction to play as.

16: Hitman 2: Hitman 2 may have a forgettable story, but is a game sandbox assassin sim. You just have so many ways of dispatching targets, be they at a race in Miami, hiding in a drug lord’s estate in the Colombian jungle, in the Mumbai criminal underworld or a hostess at a castle on an isolated island. You have complete freedom to approach missions how you see fit, though stealth is the main point, you can and will have to go loud if things go sideways. With disguises galore and a host of improvised weapons, there is a ton of replay value here.

Highlight: The mission in Mumbai is a great one. Some of your options include maneuvering your targets into position so another assassin takes them out for you, sabotaging an industrial fan to blow a creepy film mogul off his own tower block or disguising yourself as a tailor or barber to catch your targets off guard.

15: Spyro: Reignited Trilogy: One of the best remasters of the last decade, the Reignited Trilogy features loving recreations of the first three Spyro games, all of which look and feel amazing and are perfectly brought into the modern game. With a host of minigames to play, collectibles to find and enemies to defeat, you’ll have a whale of a time here, with some great level design which has really stood the test of time.

Highlight: The flying challenges are sometimes frustrating, but they are the best minigames this trilogy has to offer, and your effort will be rewarded by the sheer elation you feel when you finally master them.

14: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Origins may have been the first AC game to start fully embracing RPG type mechanics (particularly with quest selection) but Odyssey is the game that truly made the jump to being an RPG-lite hit. You can chose your skills, gender, romances, gear and get multiple endings. The quests are mostly engaging, and the sheer wealth of islands, forests, mountains and tombs to explore leaves you with a game you can easily put 100+ hours into. The best in the series so far.

Highlight: Navigating the Labyrinth before taking down the f*cking minotaur itself… as epic side quests go, you can’t get any better.

13: Mass Effect 3: It’s ending may have needed some dlc to fully work, but Mass Effect 3 still is a high note for the trilogy and gaming in general. Your decisions in the previous 2 games will have a major impact here, with the fates of characters, planets and entire races up in the air. Romance options are far better implemented, there’s a better variety of weapons and abilities, and the game still looks great now for something designed for the 360 and PS3.

Highlight: The Battle of Rannoch. Not only do you get an epic one-on-one boss fight with a Reaper destroyer, but the Geth – Quarian conflict provides one of the biggest (and best) dilemmas in the game…

12: Batman Arkham City: The sequel to Arkham Knight builds on its predecessors strong foundations in every way, with more enemy types, more gadgets and combat moves for Batman, a larger area to explore, side quests featuring major and minor villains, and of course, even more Riddler trophies to collect. With a huge selection of challenge maps for combat and predator modes, a New Game Plus mode and Catwoman focused content, this is an amazing game even 8 years later.

Highlight: The final confrontation between Batman, Joker, Talia al Ghul and Clayface is easily the best final level of any game in the Arkham Series, featuring sterling voice work from Mark Hamill (Joker) and Kevin Conroy (Batman) in particular.

11: Detroit Become Human:  The latest Quantic Dream game is perhaps its best, featuring three intertwined narratives of Androids in Detroit, where humans treat androids little better than slaves and a rebellion is brewing. Its hardly the most original concept, but its so well done and builds up to a great finale. Character deaths and complete failure are entirely possible, and there’s enough branching pathways to encourage up to half a dozen playthroughs here. As narrative focused games go, this is a great one.

Highlight: Markus’ raid on a local Newsroom at the top of a skyscraper, which sees him hijack the broadcast to give a speech to humanity condemning their treatment of androids, is a great level, and one which can have major consequences moving forward depending on the decision you make.

10: Fallout New Vegas: New Vegas took everything good about Fallout 3 and asked… what if everything was a little bit wackier and a lot crazier? A hugely increased variety of weapons? Check. 4 distinct main factions to pick from? Check. Side quests with cross-dressing super mutants, cannibal cults in casinos and a Quarry overrun by deathclaws? Check. This game was epic from start to finish. Its too buggy and prone to freezing on consoles, but when its working, god its good.

Highlight: Old World Blues DLC. Giving you a crater full of rogue scientific experiments to explore, run by scientists who are now just brains in robotic platforms, this dlc embraces Fallout’s wackier side and never let’s go. Heck, you have a talking stealth suit and a boss fight with a giant Robotic Scorpion. Enough said!

9: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: A masterpiece of storytelling, Uncharted delivers one of Nathan Drake’s best adventures as he and his long lost brother search for the lost pirate city of Libertalia. With vehicular set pieces, sprawling environments to explore and a kick-ass pirate storyline underpinning everything, this is a great Uncharted game and the best one to release this decade.

Highlight: Drake and Elena’s levels late in the story are exceptionally well designed, particularly their gunfights in the pirate HQ of New Devon. Great soundtrack too.

8: Ratchet and Clank (2016): This reboot makes Ratchet and Clank fun again after a few mindless spin-offs and the mixed Nexus game brought the series to a relative low point. Tying into the animated movie (which isn’t half as good as the game), this reworks elements from the original game and reintroduces key characters like Dr. Nefarious and Captain Qwark. The difficulty is a cakewalk, but its so damn fun you won’t care. With R+C’s signature mix of ridiculous guns, gadgets and minigames, this is just a smashing good time, if not anything particularly revolutionary.

Highlight: A side mission where you have to jet around a fiery landscape collecting brains for a Blarg scientist is both fun as hell and downright hilarious, and absolutely classic Ratchet and Clank.

7: Horizon Zero Dawn: One of the most imaginative games of the past decade, Horizon Zero Dawn blew me away the first time I played it with its beautiful game world, film worthy main story and compelling main character. A post-apocalyptic game like no other, I won’t say too much in case you haven’t played it yet, but its a must have, and I can’t wait for a future sequel.

Highlight: Aloy’s discovery of just what Project Zero Dawn entails is a game changing revelation that sees several pieces of the puzzle finally slide into place – as gaming eureka moments go, its one of the best.

6: Shadow of Mordor: What do you get if you cross assassin’s creed climbing and platforming with Arkham style combat mechanics and Lord of the Rings lore and enemies? One of the best damn games of the decade! Seeing your character take on entire hordes of Orcs with stealth, archery and close combat, this game has an excellent combat system and a revolutionary nemesis mechanic – fail to dispatch an Orc Boss or get wounded by one? They’ll not only remember, they’ll get stronger for it!

Highlight: The first major boss fight with an enemy called the Hammer is epic, with him and the player character Talion pretty evenly matched in a straight fight – just make sure your timing is on point…

5: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit: Easily the best Need for Speed game, even if its lack of split screen is a major oversight. The Seacrest county map lets you race through exotic beaches, snow covered mountain passes, thick forests and over a rain drenched dam, just to name a few highlights. With a wide variety of modes for both racers and cops, I’m yet to find any racing game half as fun as this one was on PS3.

Highlight: Hot Pursuit mode is a blast whether you play as a racer or a cop – the takedowns are extremely fun and satisfying to pull off.

4: God of War (2018): The God of War series moves into a more open-world, story focused territory with a fantastic combat system and new abilities for Kratos and his son, Atreus. The story and world-design is amazing and the enemies provide a real challenge even on normal (particularly the optional Valkyrie bosses, who are REALLY tough to take down). With collectables to find, side quests to complete and numerous areas to explore, there’s a lot to keep you interested here, while the games use of Norse mythology is a great innovation and makes it a must have for anything into that kind of thing. The best God of War game, bar none. Hopefully, any future follow ups maintain this level of quality.

Highlight: The combat challenges in the fire realm of Muspelheim are a great way to hone your skills and are some of the most difficult combat encounters in the game. The realm of fire looks bloody epic too.

3: The Last of Us Remastered: One of the most renowned games of the decade, The Last of Us is a masterclass in storytelling, world design and emotional moments. Joel and Ellie are two of the best characters I’ve played as in game, and you’ll care about their journey as they make their way through deserted towns, evade zombie-esque enemies and fight humans who are so depraved they’re easily the real monsters of the game. Some elements of the gameplay could be improved, which is why it misses out on the top two spots, but overall, its one of the best games I’ve ever played. The sequel is only a few months away too…

Highlight: The final mission is dramatic, tense and heartbreaking all into one as Joel attempts to rescue Ellie from the Fireflies. Games can rarely make you cry – but this is just one moment of many The Last of Us is capable of inducing just that.

2: Skyrim Special Edition: Skyrim had to up here. I’ve probably put more hours into this fantasy RPG than any other game this decade. The sheer volume of quests, playstyles and possibilities will keep you going back for more, with the DLC providing even more locations to explore and abilities to learn. With Combat, Magic and Stealth all viable, you’ll have plenty of fun deciding what you want your character to be – an Orc Berserker playing mercenary in Skyrim’s civil war? Check. A Breton Mage burning enemies to ash and resurrecting the dead? Check. A stealthy Khajiit assassin working for the Dark Brotherhood? Check. There’s so many different things you can do here. The game had a few flaws on release, but the special edition has fixed the vast majority of annoyances and got me back into the game just as my interest began to wane. Hopefully Bethesda can overcome their recent failures and make a sequel to this that wins the fanbase back to their side. Even if they do, Skyrim will still be a game we’ll all go back to at some point.

Highlight: Hard to call, but I’ve always been a big fan of the Dawnguard questline, particularly the excursion in the Soul Cairn, one of the most distinct environments in the game. Serana has to be the best companion in the game as well, which greatly adds to proceedings.

1: Mass Effect 2: This released in 2010, yet still topped my list. Despite almost every game that came after it having better graphics, more powerful hardware to work with etc. Yeah, its just that brilliant. It expands on everything the original did well, and while the side quests aren’t as memorable, the DLC, companion stories and main quests are amazing. A great soundtrack, good visuals for its time, excellent voice acting and fun gameplay make this something I’ll keep coming back to again and again. Its final mission is legendarily good, and that alone made it worthy of topping this list. But everything that builds up to that final mission? There’s very, very little I’d change, which speaks volumes for how well designed this was.

Highlight: The Suicide Mission. Unparalleled in gaming, its easily the best finale to a game ever. Rushed through things? Good luck getting your squad out alive. Everyone can die here if you mess things up. Commander Shepard’s assault on the Collector Base remains the standout sequence of the trilogy – and the last decade in gaming.

There you go – my full list of games I’d recommend to anyone and everyone who’s into gaming. Hope you enjoyed it (BTW, if you’re wondering where The Witcher 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2 are, I still haven’t played them so couldn’t place them anywhere – blame my ridiculous gaming backlog – we’ve all got one). As a bonus, I’ve also included some awards I’d give to particular games, characters, actors and companies.

Gaming Awards 2010-2019:

Best Character (Male): Connor (Detroit Become Human)

Best Character (Female): Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)

Best Console: Playstation 4 (No contest – PS4’s vast amount of exclusives has swept Xbox aside this generation – hopefully Sony can make the PS5 a similar success story).

Best Racer: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Best Shooter: Star Wars Battlefront

Best Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered

Best Strategy Game: Total War Warhammer 2

Best Looking Game: Horizon Zero Dawn

Best Combat: God of War (2018)

Best Soundtrack: Mass Effect 2

Best Writing: The Last of Us Remastered

Best Remaster: Spyro Reignited Trilogy

The final one of my best of the decade series should be up tonight, as I examine the best of what cinema has had to over the past 10 years.

My Top 10 TV Shows of the Decade

No major spoilers – so don’t worry if you haven’t seen these shows yet.

Rules: I set myself two rules when making this list: that only shows with at least 3 seasons would be counted (2 excellent seasons, while notable, can’t really make something a standout from the whole decade) so don’t expect to see stuff which only started in 2019 like The Witcher or limited miniseries like The Bodyguard. Secondly, nothing from before 2010 counts – so while Merlin ran until 2012, a lot of its best episodes come from 2008 or 2009, so it won’t make this list (not that it necessarily would have anyway – it’s just a nice example to use).

Also, obviously, this is my personal list, so feel free to comment your own – I haven’t watched a lot of shows like Breaking Bad or Daredevil so other people’s lists may be entirely different. Anyway, without further preamble, here’s my picks from the past decade:

10: iZombie: iZombie at its best is hilarious, heartfelt and a good detective story, often all within the same episode. Boasting an excellent cast headed by Rose McIver as Liv, the show is further boosted by writing that is pretty consistent and villains who remain compelling throughout the shows run. While there’s been the occasional cringeworthy episode, the majority have been good and a significant proportion great (particularly in seasons 1 and 2). Its neat main concept (Zombies gain memories and personalities temporarily from the brains they eat) allows the Zombie cast to play around with a wide variety of personas, often to great comedic effect (Liv can be on the brains of a D&D player one episode, a shameless gossiper the next and a wannabe superhero the one after). The shows wider plot, examining how Zombies would try and survive undetected, a black market for brains, and how human characters react when they discover zombie’s exist, is all done in a very interesting way, and with more intelligence than is common for this genre. If you’re interested, it’s all on Netflix.

9: Homeland: Homeland was essential viewing at the start of the decade. Billed as ‘the thinking man’s 24’ and a favourite of none other than president Obama, Homeland stars the wonderful Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a gifted CIA analyst who struggles with bipolar disorder and frequently crosses ethical and personal lines trying to foil terrorist plots. Initially focused on the USA, the series has had seasons set in Pakistan and Germany, and featured some great actors in its supporting cast, mostly notably Damien Lewis, who was a key feature in the early seasons as an American POW who Carrie was investigating, in fear of the possibility he’d been ‘turned’ during captivity. While Homeland isn’t quite as good now as it used to be, its still been something I’ve followed thorough the decade, and the strength of seasons 1, 2, 4 and 6, as well as a fair few standout episodes from the other seasons, still leaves it as one of the best spy thrillers around.

8: Jessica Jones: I’ve watched a lot of Superhero TV shows over the past decade, and it was perhaps inevitable that one would get on this list. Deciding which one was hard: after all, many had strong starts (The Flash, Arrow, Black Lightning) only to fall apart later on. Others have been very good recently, but had difficult starts (Supergirl, Luke Cage). In the end, only three of the ones I’ve seen have been good the whole way through: Jessica Jones, Legends of Tomorrow and Gotham. Legends probably would have won that contest two years ago, but its last two seasons, while hilarious, have got a bit too silly and lost their edge. Gotham has had some real bright spots, but lacked Jessica Jones’ focus – its need to have 22 episode seasons meant there was often too much filler or strung out subplots. Jessica Jones may have felt padded in places, but overall did the best job of any Marvel Netflix series in terms of justifying its runtime. Krysten Ritter has been one of my favourite actresses since I tuned into JJ, and like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, its hard to ever see someone else playing the role now that she’s absolutely nailed the character. If that wasn’t enough, David Tennant’s Kilgrave remains one of the creepiest supervillains any show has given us, and one no one will forget anytime soon.

7: Stranger Things: Just when Doctor Who started to falter, Netflix stepped up to the plate with this great sci-fi series. Acting as a homage to numerous 80’s films, including classics like Aliens and The Terminator, it still remained very much its own thing. It has one of the best young casts you’re ever likely to see, including Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown, backed up by established veterans such as Winona Ryder and David Harbour. The special effects look brilliant and the direction is consistently strong, while an excellent soundtrack coupled with classic 80’s hits adds to the atmosphere in a way that Guardians of the Galaxy would be proud of. The three seasons so far have provided a entertaining mix of sci-fi, horror, coming of age stories and comedy, and I for one can’t wait for season 4 – particularly after all the cliffhangers season 3 ended on… don’t make us wait too long eh Netflix?

6: Orange is the New Black: One of Netflix’s most consistent shows, OITNB’s mix of drama and comedy has been a winning combination since the get go. With a superb cast, most of whom get their own episodes to shine in as we get frequent flashbacks to prisoners and guards pasts, this has been one of my go to series for a while. Which season you’ll think best is hard to judge, some take a lighter tone, some darker, some are more political than others etc. The good thing is that there’s no season in the run of 7 I’d give a bad score too. Given how often the cast and plotlines get shaken up, its consistency is remarkable. It touches upon big issues frequently, and isn’t always an easy watch, but it makes you care about the characters, whether ones you love, sympathise with, or the antagonists you just plain out hate. If you haven’t checked it out already, i’d always recommend trying it – it won’t necessarily be to everyone’s tastes, but its one of Netflix’s most successful shows for a reason.

5: Doctor Who: This would have been much higher up the list had I made it in 2015, but Matt Smith’s excellent run, the 50th anniversary special and Capaldi’s stellar first two series mean it still makes it despite a lacklustre series 10 and Chibnall’s catastrophe of series 11. We’ve had some great series arcs during the decade, including The Cracks in Time and Missy, renowned writer like Neil Gaiman contributing scripts for the first time, and fantastic episodes like The Pandorica Opens, The Doctor’s Wife, Listen, Heaven Sent and The Day of the Doctor. Its made household names of Karen Gillan, Jenna Coleman and Arthur Darvill, as well as making Capaldi and Smith two of the most sought after actors in the business. Steven Moffat’s tenure as showrunner, while divisive, is still in my opinion one of the best in the shows history. The only pity is that it may be the last one I watch… hopefully the 2020’s will see it recover from its current nadir.

4: The Crown: Netflix’s series on the royal family is one of the most lavish, beautifully shot productions you’re ever likely to see. The direction, set design and production values are second to none. The show dramatically brings events from the Queen’s reign to life, including several, such as the Aberfan tragedy, that my generation would not otherwise have heard of. The show also touches heavily on political history, with the various prime ministers of the Queen’s reign depicted in detail (particularly Churcill and Wilson, with Thatcher set to be a key part of season 4). If you have any interest in recent history, British politics or the Royal family, this is definitely a show worth checking out. The fact its cast was completely reshuffled between season 2 and 3 and there was no discernible drop in quality (if anything its arguably got better), speaks volumes about its appeal. With such superb actors as Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Olivia Coleman, Helena Bonham Carter, Charles Dance, Jon Lithgow and Derek Jacobi all appearing in the first three seasons, its one of the finest ensembles on Netflix, which is usually a sign of a great show.

3: Black Mirror: Starting on channel 4 then taken over by Netflix, Black Mirror is the brain child of Charlie Brooker and has provided some of the best hours of television in the past decade, earning it a spot in my top three, a big achievement for something that has only had 22 episodes and one movie length special. Episodes can vary between highly tense drama and pure sci-fi horror at ease, sometimes within one episode! While the show has the occasional misfire (The Waldo Moment, Bandersnatch), it has a very high strike rate. Its nature (an anthology of stories with similar themes but no overt connection to each other) gives it the freedom to experiment and tell any story it wants. It has starred some huge acting talents over the past decade, including Andrew Scott, Antony Mackie, Maxine Peake and Lindsay Duncan, not to mention plenty of lesser known actors who its helped bring to the fore. While everyone will have different favourite episodes, I would say the highlights include Series 2’s Be Right Back, 3’s San Junipero and Hated in the Nation, 4’s USS Callister and Black Museum and Series 5’s Smithereens. If you don’t like the first episode you watch, keep going – because they vary so heavily, there’s bound to be one that’s to your taste!

2: Game of Thrones: When season 4 finished, this would have come first on this list, without a doubt. But while I did enjoy large parts of Seasons 5-8, its reduced complexity and lack of input from George R. R. Martin did cause some significant issues with pacing, character arcs and the overall direction of the series. I still liked the final product for the sheer spectacle it provided and the wealth of talent the show maintained in its actors, directors and effects department. We may never see a TV show with quite the worldwide impact of this one again. But, to those who have cursed its ending, ask yourselves, how many shows maintain their quality for 8 seasons? Virtually none. Think about Lost or the Walking Dead: Game of Thrones may have stumbled in its last few seasons, but it didn’t fall off a cliff the way those other blockbuster TV shows have. Overall, Game of Thrones is still an immense achievement for all involved, and one of the best fantasy TV shows of all time. We may never see its like again…

1: The Americans: My show of the decade – and I’ll be surprised if even a third of my viewers have heard of this, much less watched it, as it hasn’t aired on free UK TV since season 2, and is only available on Amazon Prime now. The Americans follows Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two Russian spies embedded in 1980’s America at the height of the cold war – to the extent that they have American jobs, American friends and American children of their own. Elizabeth is a stone cold loyalist who rarely flinches from what is asked of her – Philip a more open minded type – equally driven, but more questioning of what they do and more open to American ideas – it creates an underlying tension between the pair which rears its head frequently, despite their love for each other. Homeland may be a more popular spy drama, Game of Thrones may be far more entertaining, The Crown may have more famous actors, but none have held a candle to this in terms of either quality or consistency. I’d give 3 episodes out of 75 a score of 3.5/5. Everything else is a 4 or above – at least half would garner a 4.5/5 or above. Not even Thrones has that kind of strike rate. The two leads, the writing, the music and direction has never wavered. Of its 6 seasons, five were excellent, one merely good. Its a real slow burner of a spy drama – you need patience and intelligence to properly appreciate it – I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone – its like Joker, brilliant but not to everyone’s taste. Subplots and character arcs can take 20 episodes to fully play out, while earth shattering moments are usually the result of discussions or confrontations instead of action scenes, not that the show shies away from those when it needs them. It has the occasional flaw – most in season 5, which lacks a main plot as compelling as the others, but these flaws are few and far between. Even if Thrones’ final season had blown everyone away, I’d probably still have put this in first – its final season, by comparison, was faultless and the best of its run. I’m going to miss it – spy dramas this clever are very, very rare.

My TV Awards 2010-2019

Best Actor: Matthew Rhys (The Americans)

Runners Up: Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Peter Capaldi (Thick of It, Doctor Who)

Best Actress: Keri Russell (The Americans)

Runners Up: Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Claire Foy (The Crown)

Best Supporting Actor: Andrew Scott (Fleabag, Sherlock)

Runners Up: David Tennant (Jessica Jones), Tom Cavanagh (The Flash)

Best Supporting Actress: Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)

Runners Up: Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black), Winona Ryder (Stranger Things)

Best Young Actor: David Mazouz (Gotham)

Runners Up: Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things)

Best Young Actress: Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)

Runners up: Sadie Sink (Stranger Things), Dafne Keen (His Dark Materials), Camren Bicondova (Gotham)

Best Director: Miguel Saponchik (Game of Thrones)

Runners Up: Rachel Talalay (Doctor Who), Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones)

Best Showrunner: Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Killing Eve S1)

Runners Up: The Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things), Steven Moffat (Doctor Who)

Best Writer: Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock)

Runners Up: Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror),  Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)

Best Season Finale: Victory (Spartacus Season 3)

Runners Up: The Winds of Winter (Game of Thrones Season 6), START (The Americans Season 6)

Best Episode: The Rains of Castamere (Game of Thrones – i.e. The Red Wedding)

Runners Up: Be Right Back (Black Mirror), Heaven Sent (Doctor Who)

Best Composer: Ramin Dwajadi (Game of Thrones)

Runners Up: Blake Neely (Arrowverse shows), Murray Gold (Doctor Who)

Best Theme Tune: Game of Thrones

Runners Up: The Defenders, Stranger Things, His Dark Materials

And now some of the disappointments… (I’ll keep these brief – prefer to keep this article positive!)

Worst TV Show: Britannia

Worst Episode: Finish Line (The Flash Season 3 Finale)

Worst Actor: Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Divis/Weird Driud Guy – Britannia)

Worst Actress: Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor – Doctor Who)

Worst Supporting Actress: Candace Patton (Iris West – The Flash)

Worst Showrunner: Chris Chibnall

Worst Writer: Chris Chibnall

I’ll try and get my Top Games and Films of the Decade finished sometime tomorrow. Hope you all tune in then!