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The Best of 2023

Fantasy (specifically Dungeons and Dragons) comes out on top for once.

An elven bard encounters a questionable 'ally' in the Astral Plane in Baldur's Gate 3
 

MOVIES

- I judge how good a movie is not just by how much I would want to re-watch it, but how much I'd enjoy re-watching it, which is why my favourite movie of 2023 was Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves.


- The other two movies I was choosing between, Barbie and Oppenheimer, are both great too and arguably have higher highs than Honour Among Thieves, but I enjoyed the connective tissue between the big moments in that movie more than the first two.


- Just to be clear, I'm not saying those parts of Barbie or Oppenheimer are bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I think they both just struggle a little to maintain the momentum between those 'big' moments.


- Once Honour Among Thieves gets started, it doesn't have any real dips and so feels like a slightly more cohesive whole than two movies which, while excellent, did make me itch for the key scenes to arrive rather than those 'lesser' sections proving equally captivating on a re-watch.


GAMES

- Does the image at the top give it away? In case you need telling, Baldur's Gate 3 is easily my favourite game of this year and challenging Disco Elysium and the Mass Effect trilogy for the titles of favourite game and favourite gaming experience.


- Like Disco Elysium (or Alpha Protocol as another example), how reactive the game is to player actions is quite simply astonishing, especially considering just how much bigger Baldur's Gate 3 is than the other titles mentioned.


- I'm always baffled at how gaming media tends to forget that the key attribute games has over other forms of media is interactivity and tends to dish out ludicrously high praise to linear stories (The Last of Us and, this year, Alan Wake 2) rather than those which gave the player agency to change how things unfold.


- This isn't a criticism of the stories in the other two games mentioned, but I personally value stories that let me choose how things happen far more than those that simply play out the same way every time you play them.


- And that's not even taking into account the ludicrous number of different race, class and sub-class combinations you can put together, different party compositions and doing different activities in entirely different orders on each play through.


- When it comes to being an example for the medium, Baldur's Gate 3 towers above the competition and has set new standards of interactivity in gaming that I can't see being challenged for a long, long time.


TV

- Okay, so this part's going to be a little different because I only really started getting through various seasons of shows towards the end of the year.


- So to break it down, the best 2023 season of a show I watched this year was the second season of Foundation, narrowly pipping the second season of The Bear.


- I don't want to go into too much depth for my reasons why just yet, but it's similar to how I made my choice for the movies above, in that I enjoyed more of Foundation's second season and would enjoy re-watching it more than The Bear's second season.


- However, the best single episode of a 2023 show that I saw does come from The Bear's second season in the form of "Forks", which was actually one of the single best episodes of television I've seen in a while, even if it does highlight a weakness with The Bear as a show when watched in the proper context.


- I know this TV section might seem a little undercooked in terms of details compared to the other two, but that's what happens when you're a dummy who crams in watching multiple seasons of multiple shows into the last couple of months of the year.


- Both shows will be getting more detailed reactions soon though, so hopefully those impressions will be enough to explain why I made the decisions in this section.

 

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