And now, the end is near and so we face 2018's final curtain. Thank gawd for that, eh ... I mean, really. What a Tuesday afternoon of a year it's been. Mostly tiring and tedious and ticking past slowly.

But let's not be miserablist about things! Not today. Not when we're so close to the finish line. Instead, let's indulge in one final nostalgic look back at the best entertainment of 2018.

Well, I say 'best'. The best 'Best' was already covered pretty comprehensively in the Herald's entertainment mag TimeOut. So instead consider this The Best of the Rest of 2018, aka the stuff I really dug that you might too.

Best Album of 2018: It was one of the best years for local music in recent memory. Remarkable albums from newcomers, journeymen and icons alike dropped with stunning regularity. At one point I genuinely believed TimeOut's 20 Best Albums of 2018 would be entirely Kiwi. It could have been, maybe it should've been, if it had've been it would've been entirely justified.

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But that's not how these things work. And I'm afraid it's not gonna work here either because my Best Album of the Year Award goes to the mustachioed Australian lothario and 80s throwback Donny Benét and his brilliant, synth-driven album The Don. Sounding like its been imported direct from Miami circa 1985 The Don blends catchy synth riffs, Italo-disco beats, synth-funk bass lines, glorious wailing sax solos and Benét's bedroom-minded vocals into one feel good 80s trip.



Honourable mentions: So, uh yeah, as I was saying ... what a top year for Kiwi music! Connan Mockasin's loose, jammy Jassbusters grew on me tremendously. Unknown Mortal Orchestra's blazing Sex & Food got all the glory but the foreign street jazz of IC-01 Hanoi, their strange instrumental record which followed several months later, was far more intriguing. The self-titled debut from hip-hop collective High Beams mixed contemporary message with old school beats while the dark takes on classic pop from Princess Chelsea and Jonathan Bree on their respective albums The Loneliest Girl and Sleepwalking were both unsettling delights.



Biggest disappointment: Smashing Pumpkins. Yeah, yeah I know ... I'm an idiot for thinking that the (mostly) reunited Pumpkins would come floating back triumphant with their new record Shiny and Oh So Bright. Nope. It was dull and oh so boring. A zero. It caused me nothing but infinite sadness.

Best Movie of 2018: It's terrible and no doubt a harbinger of the end times but I watched the best movie of the year on my telly. Not by choice. I would've loved to have seen The Ballad of Buster Scruggs on the big screen but it was a Netflix flick and the only place to see it was on the couch at home.

The Coen Brothers delivered a typically idiosyncratic, violent black comedy about life (and a lot of death) in America's Old West. A dark anthology of brutal and fatalistic stories that mused on the bleakness of existence and how crumby humans are. Recommended, obviously.



Honourable mentions: Of the movies I saw at the, er, movies the ones I enjoyed most can only be described as, "not good". But they were fun. I laughed way too hard at the absurd premise and slapstick comedy of Tag - a film I reviewed with the bold claim, "it's not going to trouble critics Best of the Year lists". Wrong! Here it is.
And the sheer amount of WTF in Tom Hardy's super-villain movie Venom made it one of the most fun movie experiences going. I still can't believe how lousy it was or how much I enjoyed it.

Biggest disappointment: Predator. Yeah, yeah I know ... I'm an idiot for thinking a new Predator would be good. That it's set on Halloween but doesn't have a scene where a kindly old lady compliments the Predator's costume before giving him some candy illustrates just how badly they screwed this up. And don't even get me started on the Predator dogs ...

Best TV Show of 2018: The funniest thing on TV this year was James Acaster: Repertoire on Netflix. Here, the Brit comedian spun four hour-long, cleverly absurd, comedy specials about disparate things like, say, joining witness protection or banana shopping, that gradually congealed into one fully realised story. Masterful stuff and bloody funny.



Honourable mentions: I better include Better Call Saul, still the most artful and brilliant show on telly. Wellington Paranormal was hilarious, Ozark was intense and David Farrier's travel show Dark Tourist took me places I never want to go. Admittedly I never wanna go anywhere but still ... the point stands.

Biggest disappointment: Maniac. Zzzzzz. What a snorefest! I sat through eight episodes waiting for something - anything - to happen. Nothing happened.


And there we have it, friends. That's it for 2018. Thanks for reading. Be safe. Be kind. Be well.