Hope everyone is enjoying this slightly different rundown on the best things from this year. I’m trying to make it as wide ranging a list as possible, to show an appreciation for all kinds of writing. So onwards with the top five. This list is in no particular order.
5. Andrew Kaulder in Monsters by Gareth Edwards
Sometimes good writing sneaks up on you. Not because you weren’t expecting it, which certainly wasn’t the case with Monsters, but because the parts of it that impress you aren’t the parts you thought would. Take any sci-fi film, any at all. Chances are, whilst they might be well written, by and large the character’s are not the highlight. No-one talks about the depth of the marines in Aliens, right? Even films like District 9, brilliant though it is, has a fairly simple linear arc for the lead role. This is where Monsters surprised me. Photojournalist Andrew Kaulder is not a straightforward character. When we first see him, he’s approaching a hospital to check in on his boss’ daughter who was injured in a building collapse, when he finds her, he simply asks if she’s ok and when he gets an answer, he leaves immediately. No quips, no moral high ground, he just leaves. He does what he has to get by, and that’s all. There’s something to be said for a film about an alien invasion when you come out remembering more about the main character than the actual aliens. It says something that the two main characters are a real life couple, and Andrew’s feelings towards Sam do inform a large portion of the narrative. This is not to say that this is as simple as, a tough no-nonsense journalist falls in love with a woman and goes with her on a life or death journey, because he’s not a tough no-nonsense journalist and he doesn’t really fall in love with her. In Monsters, there are much more complex things going on.
4. This speech from The Pandorica Opens by Stephen Moffat
Really, if anything this years series of Doctor Who just proved how much we’ve been missing good writing talent at the head of the writing team. Stephen Moffat crafted an excellent storyline in which every race faces a tough choice. The highlight of the series was the two part finale in which the theme of self-preservation extends all the villains the Doctor has faced in his lifetime. When they show up to claim the ‘ultimate evil’ contained underneath Stonehenge, and thousands of starships litter the sky, the Doctor stands atop the monument and delivers this speech:
“No plans, no backup, no weapons worth a damn. Oh, and something else I don’t have: anything to lose. So, if you’re sitting up there with your silly little spaceships and your silly little guns and you’ve any plans on taking the Pandorica tonight; just remember who’s standing in your way. Remember every black day I ever stopped you and then, and then, do the smart thing. Let somebody else try first.”
The final three will be along soon!