The end is nigh for 2015 – it’s been 365 days of thrills, spills, and just about everything in between. It’s the year we finally went Back to the Future, and in true time-travelling style we could delve into the biggest new stories gone by or make predictions for the year ahead… but let’s be honest, all we really want is to be entertained! 2015 has hardly been what I’d consider a vintage year for the entertainment world, somewhat lacking in substance compared to its predecessors in recent memory – however, that’s not to discredit some of the quality output we have received over the last 12 months, because when entertainment in 2015 was good, it was really good. Rather, it’s been a steady drip-feed of smaller, less groundbreaking media that’s mildly satisfying but left you craving just that little more, with the real big hitters fewer and further apart.
Just what was the cream of the crop though? Which stellar examples of entertainment really set my heart alight and left me with a ridiculously stupid grin right across my face? Well, you’re about to find out, as we crown the winners that will stand the test of time and make 2015 an exciting year to look back on…
Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Honourable Mentions: Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron
As if it was going to be anything else!
Marvel did its best to liven up the summer with the bombastic Avengers: Age of Ultron and the innovative Ant-Man, but in an otherwise fairly dull year for cinema, it took a journey back to a galaxy far, far away to really ignite my passion for film… it’s just too bad it took almost the entire year to fly onto the big screen! There’s plenty to love about the new Star Wars, albeit with a few niggles too – check out my full thoughts in my spoiler-free and spoiler-filled reviews – but it’s hard to deny the sheer impact that The Force Awakens has had on the world. Breaking box office records seemingly by the second and garnering four-to-five star reviews from most critical outlets is no mean feat, and it’s justly deserved. With two more exciting entries in the trilogy yet to come, the future is looking bright again at last in the Star Wars universe.
BEST TELEVISION PROGRAMME
Doctor Who – Series 9
Honourable Mentions: Peep Show – Series 9, Broadchurch – Series 2
Alright, alright, maybe I’m a little biased on this one. But in its tenth year since returning to television, Doctor Who has completed what is quite possibly its most consistently high quality run in a decade. Series 9 boasted some truly great episodes – three of which made it into my Top Ten episodes of New Who, with a few others not far behind – all of which successfully showcased the acting talents of Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, a perfect pairing that will be difficult to replace now that Clara has flown off in a TARDIS diner all of her own. From the lore-busting opening The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar to the epic finale Heaven Sent/Hell Bent, not forgetting the extraordinary The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion halfway through, it was a non-stop ride of great acting and excellent storytelling (although maybe we won’t mention Sleep No More too much, eh?)
Not even the farewell to the El Dude Brothers in Peep Show or an eagerly anticipated return to Broadchurch could top this fantastic series of science-fiction goodness.
BEST WII U GAME
Honourable Mentions: Super Mario Maker, Splatoon
It’s not really been a great year for Nintendo, has it? A sub-par E3 offering and a slew of middle-of-the-road releases has left the Big N floundering throughout 2015. Of course, they were always going to struggle to live up to the heights they set themselves in 2014 – how do you top a year that gave us both a new Mario Kart and a new Super Smash Bros.? Simple: you don’t.
It’s not been without its highlights though. Super Mario Bros. celebrated its 30th anniversary with the creative Super Mario Maker, and against all the odds we finally got a brand new Nintendo IP in the form of Splatoon, an ink-credible new shooter that has taken the gaming world by storm. But as fun as they are, they fail to hold quite the same appeal as a game which I never, ever thought I’d buy into: LEGO Dimensions. A new contender in the ever-growing toys-to-life market and not a cheap one at that, it’s a veritable toy box where your favourite franchises collide to live out what once could only exist in your imagination. The Doctor driving the DeLorean? Totally feasible. Batman piloting the TARDIS? Gandalf on a hoverboard? Homer Simpson in the Batmobile? All are possible, and much much more.
It’s not a game that’s healthy for your bank balance, but when it offers endless opportunities for fun – and some nostalgic crossovers that until now have been merely the stuff of dreams – LEGO Dimensions deserves all the accolades it can get.
BEST 3DS GAME
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
Honourable Mentions: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros., Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
Somehow managing to fare even worse than the Wii U in 2015 was the 3DS. Despite a brand new iteration launching in January, Nintendo’s handheld failed to capitalise on new potential with a release schedule even sparser than its big console brother. While there were a few unexpected gems such as Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros. – the crossover between Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi that we never knew we needed until it was announced! – and a technically impressive port of Xenoblade Chronicles from the Wii to the New 3DS, a lot of the year was a barren wasteland filled with tumble weed.
Funnily enough then, it’s a game from fifteen years ago that takes the coveted 3DS crown. Following the success of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, fans clamoured for a remake of its direct sequel, Majora’s Mask – and fortunately, their cries were heard. Managing to turn one of the most obtuse and inaccessible Zelda titles into a digestible adventure that’s easy to pick up and play, Nintendo really knocked it out of the park and gave a new generation that chance to savour what is quite possibly the best 3D Zelda game of all. There’s no excuse not to take it for a whirl now, so don’t hesitate… or you might meet with a terrible fate…!
BEST MUSIC: Kyle Gass Band – Debut Album
Honourable Mentions: Foo Fighters – Saint Cecilia EP, Crush 40 – 2 Nights 2 Remember
In a year when Adele smashed worldwide chart records and The X Factor finally lost its grip on the Christmas number one, I’ve decided to give this award to a fat guy with a guitar and his band of merry men. And if you want to be really picky, this album actually came out in 2013, but it only officially arrived on European shores earlier this year. It’s my list – what I say goes!
Kyle Gass, perhaps better known as the more musically talented half of Tenacious D, went alone without Jack Black once more with an act built from the ashes of the fallen Trainwreck, his former solo band. With not one but two comedy rock bands already under his belt to compare with, how does Rage Kage’s latest effort stack up? Very, very well – perhaps better than ever. Forgoing the acoustic charm of Tenacious D for a more all-encompassing rock sound, KG hits every beat from the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin opening track “Manchild” to the mysterious journey of “Gypsy Scroll”, stopping along the way for the irresistibly catchy “Our Job To Rock” and the tremendous… well, “Tremendous”. It’s a fantastic debut album and a sure sign that Kyle’s latest project has a lot to offer – (rock and) roll on the second record, dudes!