Thursday, 22 January 2015
Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2015 Hot List. We hope you enjoyed our first entry in this year's Hot List covering the essential new films in 2015. This week we will be turning our attention to the year's line-up of television shows, in particular the brand new series starting in the next 12 months.
It's being increasingly accepted that today it is television, not film, that provides the best medium for storytelling. After all when you have a dozen hours in which to tell a story it allows for far greater depth and complexity than when you have just two. In 2014 this trend continue, with some of the best groundbreaking drama appearing on the small screen. Old favourite Breaking Bad might be gone, but it's place we had two newcomers in Fargo and True Detective, both of which have been met with critical acclaim. More and more we are seeing A-list actors and directors switching to TV and this trend will only increase in the year ahead, with several shows featuring all star, often Oscar winning casts, something that a few years ago would have been almost unthinkable.
Additionally the Netflix model of online streaming appears to be catching on with the traditional television networks, and plenty other companies besides. HBO, ABC, CBS are all pouring money into their own streaming equivalents, as are other more leftfield companies like Amazon and err... Tesco. Everyone and his dog seems to want their own Netflix now. More options can only be a good thing right? Wrong. If every network runs it's own distinct subscription service with it's own account that's a major administrative inconvenience on the consumer, not to mention the exclusive shows on each service that one will miss unless they sign up for each and every one of them. Costs could easily spiral out of control.
Both these game-changing factors will be key to what lies ahead in 2015, but whatever happens it seems reasonable to say that we are entering one of the most exciting eras in TV history. So without further ado here are the essential television shows, both new and returning, that will hit the airwaves in 2015:
10. Telemark - FX (New TV Show)
A leftover from our list of last year, Telemark did not ultimately release in 2014, but was pushed back to the coming year. Telemark is a dramatized telling of the true story of the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II and their attempts to sabotage the Nazi production of nuclear weapons.
This is of course the new TV project of Danny Boyle, the famed British director of Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. He will be joined by his frequent screenwriter collaborator Simon Beaufoy. With such talent attached to the project this is going to be one to keep an eye on.
Now that Danny Boyle has officially put pen to paper, this 10 part miniseries does look like it will finally hit the screen in 2015.
Release Date: TBA 2015
9. Parks and Recreation - NBC
Parks and Recreation keeps going from strength to strength as it enters it's final season. From it's unassuming beginnings it has now become one of television's most beloved comedies of recent years, with a cast that is now reaching the upper echelons of Hollywood.
Chris Pratt appears to be the man of the moment, while Amy Poehler is becoming a national institution. Parks and Recreation is certainly one of the smarter comedies on TV right now, brimming with light political humour and some of the most genuinely hilarious characters since The Office.
The final season will make for essential watching in 2015. It will be sad to see them go, but at the same there's wisdom in going out before it starts to get stale.
Release Date: January 2015
8. Westworld - HBO (New TV Show)
Now this one is interesting. Westworld is a remake of the old 1973 sci-fi western film written and directed by legendary author Michael Crichton.
This new adaptation will be scripted by Jonathan Nolan, quite the hot property in Hollywood now after writing the scripts for most of his brother Chris' films, as well as his own hit TV show Person of Interest. It's being developed by HBO, a network renowned for its high quality, with another big name JJ Abrams attached as producer. Meanwhile the impressive cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton, and a number of other recognisable faces.
There's a lot of talent attached and a lot of buzz hyping this as one of the big television events of 2015. The Ephemeric reckons campy material like this is very difficult to pull off in a way that appeals to everyone. We'll see when the show launches later in 2015.
Release Date: Fall 2015
7. Archer - FX
One of the funniest shows on TV unsurprisingly returns for a sixth season, but with big changes this time around. Archer is that rare TV show that's big on belly laughs and chock full of references and subtext for more sophisticated humour.
After last year's bizarre reboot as Archer Vice, which saw the team transition from spy agency to drug cartel, things will be getting back to normal in the new year, which most will agree is probably a good thing. Interestingly the showrunners have decided to ditch the spy agency name "ISIS" for obvious reasons, word is they'll take the high road and not reference this on the show. Probably for the best.
Regardless of the setting, the show's trademark wit and satirical humour remain. The new season starts in January.
Release Date: January 2015
6. American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson - FX (New TV Show)
Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy are on a roll. First they created the high school TV show of a generation in Glee, then they redefined the mainstream horror genre with the wildly successful American Horror Story. Their newest creation American Crime Story is intended as a companion piece to the latter.
The charm of American Horror Story lies in each anthology's treatment of classic American horror folklore, breathing fresh life into old tropes. American Crime Story follows the same design but with regards to true crime stories. It is fitting then the show will start with the crime story that to this day is arguably the most embedded in the national psyche, the trial of OJ Simpson.
Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr takes the star role, and is supported by an all star cast that intriguingly includes John Travolta, David Schwimmer, and Sarah Paulson. The show is set to debut in late 2015.
Release Date: Late 2015
5. Wolf Hall - BBC (New TV Show)
Wolf Hall is an adaptation of the best selling Hilary Mantel novels covering the rise to power of Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War.
This BBC miniseries will be told in six episodes, presumably leaving an ending open for a second season, considering the series of novels is not yet complete.
Old Etonian Damian Lewis of Homeland fame takes the role of King Henry the VIII while Mark Rylance will play Cromwell himself. The solid cast additionally includes Jonathan Pryce and Anton Lesser.
Early buzz is very positive. British TV has a penchant for high quality drama, and the source material doesn't come any better than Mantel's Wolf Hall. The show is set to start in the UK in January.
Release Date: January 2015
4. House of Cards - Netflix
It's still one of the best shows on TV (or Netflix anyway), and the best political TV show since the West Wing. Now House of Cards is back for a third and possibly final season.
Kevin Spacey et al return, fresh from the latest round of awards and accolades. There had been much speculation as to whether this season would even happen, but House of Cards has become a flagship of sorts, not only for this new wave of high quality, A-list drama, but for television streaming as a whole. It speaks volumes that the talent on this project are so keen to keep working on the show, they realise that they're involved in something special.
Once again all thirteen episodes will be released simultaneously in February.
Release Date: February 2015
3. Late Show with Stephen Colbert - CBS (New TV Show)
Arguably the biggest television event of 2015. After more than 30 years in late night TV, David Letterman is retiring from the Late Show. His replacement will be none other than Stephen Colbert, a comedian who has in recent years become one of the most venerated personalities in the media.
During his time at The Colbert Report, Colbert has created some of the most significant satire of this generation, building a reputation not only for great comedy, but for producing truly poignant and revelatory coverage of politics and current events.
Colbert clearly has big shoes to fill when he takes over the Late Show starting in September, but of all the personalities currently on TV it's hard to think of one more qualified than he.
Release Date: September 2015
2. 3001 - Syfy (New TV Show)
2015 will see a wave of new original programming from the awfully rebranded Syfy network. It's hard to say how good any of these shows will be given the lack of a proven track record, but one that has us pretty excited is the adaption of Arthur Clarke's novel 3001.
Stanley Kubrick's 2001, made concurrently with Arthur Clarke's novel, is widely regarded as a landmark film, but few are familiar with the sequel books that Clarke went on to write, including 2010, which was ultimately adapted into a less successful film, and the latter two 2061 and 3001. 3001 is the final chapter in the saga, and while many attempts have been made to adapt it and 2061, until now it hasn't managed to come together.
Few details have been revealed so far, but Ridley Scott is attached as producer. Such an ambitious and high profile project can be seen as a real statement of intent from Syfy. We'll be keeping a close eye on it.
Release Date: TBA 2014
1. Fargo - FX
One could be forgiven for being skeptical when FX announced their decision to take the classic, award-laden Coen Brothers film Fargo and turn it into a mini-series. But they proved everyone wrong. Far from a mere remake, Fargo goes in its own direction and is the better for it, while remaining as subversive and cuttingly witty as the film
Unsurprisingly after the show's glowing critical reception and multiple award wins, a second season is on the way. Season 2 looks set to be a 1970s-set prequel, with an entirely new cast including Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson, Kirsten Dunst, Nick Offerman, and Jesse Plemons.
It has yet to be seen just how this prequel miniseries will fit into the larger picture and relate to its debut season, but if it's half as good then there's reason for us all to be very excited.
Release Date: Fall 2015
So there you have it folks: 2015 in television. Tune in next week for the essential new music of the year!
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
Happy New Year everyone and welcome back to The Ephemeric. Over the next few weeks we will be rolling out The Hot List, the essential guide to your year ahead. This week we begin with a look at the most exciting new movies set to hit the big screen in 2015 from March onwards, after this year's Oscars.
2014 was a very fine year for cinema, one of the best in recent times. The big hitters riding into awards season range from more classically styled prestige pictures to some truly original creations, brought to you by a mix of veteran directors and some of the best young blood in the business. There are a good 15 or so films this year that could make a legitimate case for a best picture nomination, and it's not often that one can say that.
2015 has the potential to be another especially exciting year. A healthy mix of blockbusters and artistic movies, adaptations of award winning novels and biographies of historic figures; the films set to hit the big screen in 2015 seem to tick every box. There is such potential here that narrowing our list down to even 15 from a long list of almost 30 was a tough job.
So behold, the key films to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:
In Hollywood it's never too soon to milk a prominent story. Icon tells the story of journalist David Walsh and his mission to bring down drug cheat Lance Armstrong, which of course resulted in the former sporting legend's spectacular fall from grace.
Brought to the big screen by two time Academy Award nominee Stephen Frears, who is best known for films such as High Fidelity, The Queen, and Philomena. The cast includes a potentially breakthrough role for young actor Ben Foster as Armstrong himself, while British comedian Chris O'Dowd takes the role of Walsh. Meanwhile Dustin Hoffman and Lee Pace have so far joined onto the cast in minor roles.
Part sporting drama and part legal thriller, the scandal should make for a riveting film. With a highly respected director and promising young cast to boot this will definitely be one to keep an eye on. Icon is only one of a few Lance Armstrong movies currently in development, but it's getting the most buzz right now, and is definitely due for release this fall.
Release Date: August 2015
Switching things up a bit we have Chappie, the new film from director Neill Blomkamp. A deceptively ambitious concept that regards an experimental intelligent robot, raising important and increasingly topical questions about artificial intelligence, consciousness, and human rights.
Blomkamp was briefly one of the world's hottest young directors after his debut with District 9, but after the disappointing follow up that was Elysium he now finds himself at an important juncture in his career. No doubt Chappie will feature more of his trademark realistic low-fi special fx and impressive visual work.
The cast, as always, includes Sharlto Copley, who is joined by Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, and Sigourney Weaver. A talented cast for sure, but that wasn't enough to save Elysium. Much this time will depend on the quality of the writing. It is therefore reassuring to see the return of Teri Tatchell, who wrote District 9.
The addition of a Hans Zimmer score can only help. This is one to watch this Spring when it is released.
Release Date: March 6th 2015
Suffragette is one you'll probably be hearing about at the Oscars in March 2016. Meryl Streep plays historic women's rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst, supported by a cast that includes Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson. Streep already holds the record for most Oscar nominations of any actor, can any force in the universe stop Streep from adding to her tally further?
The talent is of extremely high quality, and the screenwriter Abi Morgan comes with similar award winning pedigree having scribed Oscar nominated films like The Iron Lady, and Shame. The only question mark comes from the relatively unknown director Sarah Gavron, who's cv so far contains little of note. A potentially career defining moment for her then.
Either way there is no doubt that this is a film that people will be talking about for the next year, and expect to see it talked about among the award nominees once it releases towards the end of 2015.
Release Date: September 11th 2015
12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Well there's no avoiding it, probably the blockbuster of 2015. The long awaited return of the Star Wars franchise, now under the stewardship of Disney following the flop prequel trilogy, is being tipped to smash all the box office records.
Even as someone who has never been too interested in Star Wars, one can't help but admire the direction they're taking the series. The Force Awakens sees the reigns handed to acclaimed director J.J. Abrams, and a cast that is chock full of award winning talent like Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, and other actors with real critical pedigree like John Boyega of Indie darling Attack the Block. Add to this the cast of the original Star Wars trilogy and the return of John Williams and things are looking very promising indeed.
Most intriguing though is the suggestion that Disney intends to do for Star Wars what they did for the Marvel Comics IP, which means lots of additional TV tie-ins and, most interesting, stand-alone films in offsetting years throughout the main trilogy, the first of which is set to be directed by up-and-coming director Gareth Edwards and is due for release as soon as 2016. The Force Awakens though will be here this year, and currently has a date set for just before Christmas.
Release Date: December 18th 2015
And now for one that's more of a guilty pleasure. Entourage was one of the best shows on TV for many years. A classic HBO dramedy about the Hollywood lifestyle, complete with all the sex, drugs and vulgarity one would expect.
The series finale left things open for a movie, and now that day has finally come. It seems oddly topical now with the recent Sony email leaks; if you couldn't get enough of Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin smack-talking each other you will love this movie.
The same core cast returns of Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, and Jeremy Piven, plus the usual glut of celeb guest stars which is set to include Mark Wahlberg, Ryan Gosling, Calvin Harris, Liam Neeson, Piers Morgan, and Thierry Henry to name just a few. The film hits the big screen this June, if you're a fan of the show check it out, even if you're not it's going to be good fun.
Release Date: June 5th 2015
This is an interesting one, and something of a risky pick. Trumbo is the real life story of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a successful writer in the 1940s who was ultimately blacklisted from Hollywood for his political beliefs.
Interesting because this presents the opportunity for a breakout Hollywood starring role for Bryan Cranston, an acclaimed actor who nonetheless is still mostly known for his TV roles. The rest of the cast is not exactly lacking for talent either with Helen Mirren, John Goodman and Alan Tudyk on board.
Director Jay Roach is another interesting choice. Mostly known for his ridiculous comedies, which includes the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents series, he has more recently been moving into more serious fare with highly competent political movies done for TV including Recount and Game Change. Trumbo marks a huge opportunity for him as well to make the transition to serious film on the big screen.
The Academy loves films about Hollywood, but does this portray them in a negative way? Can Jay Roach really make the jump to big-screen drama? There is much to be seen when this film nears release in the latter half of 2015.
Release Date: Fall 2015
Joy is the rags-to-riches story based on the life of Joy Mangano, a Long Island single mother of three who sold her Miracle Mop invention and made millions.
It is directed by Academy favourite David O'Russell, and stars another Academy favourite Jennifer Lawrence. The subject matter, a Christmas release, and two of the Academy's favourite people; Oscar-bait? You bet, this will definitely be one on people's lips towards March 2016.
It's also worth noting that despite five nomination, O'Russell has actually never won the Oscar for best director, and in fact none of his films have won best picture. This could be his year.
Release Date: Christmas 2015
James Bond is back, this time with Spectre, a plotline which dates back the original books as Bond battles against Blofeld and his criminal organisation Spectre.
Sam Mendes directs again, and of course Daniel Craig is still Bond. The question is how do you follow up a film that was as wildly successful as Skyfall? Apparently by going bigger. Spectre promises to be the culmination of the Craig Bond series, and according to the leaked Sony emails is set to cost a whopping $300 million. No word yet on whether two time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz is set to play Blofeld himself or another bad guy.
Bond is on a bit of a roll at the moment. Casino Royale and Skyfall were both excellent movies, heres hoping that Spectre will be more like these and less Quantum of Solace. Whatever happens this film is going to be huge, possibly the most hyped Bond film ever. It releases in November this year.
Release Date: November 6th 2015
There is not one detail about Silence which doesn't suggest that it's going to be a very big deal. An adaptation of the acclaimed 1966 Japanese novel of the same name, a historical drama dealing with religious persecution in 17th Century Japan, screenplay by two time Academy Award nominee Jay Cocks, and directed by one of the greatest of all time, Martin Scorsese.
Originally the film had been mooted for one Daniel Day Lewis and Benicio del Toro when it first surfaced in 2009, but following a recent script rewrite the cast now includes two highly regarded young up and comers in Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, as well as veteran Liam Neeson.
It all sounds great so far, so it's just as well that the film is lined up for a November release, right around when the awards season really gets going. Put this one on your list, it's going to be big.
Release Date: November 2015
6. Ex Machina
Next a potential hidden gem of 2015. Ex Machina is not a film you're likely hear much about or see plastered on buses, but there's a significant and growing buzz about it anyway, here's why.
Ex Machina is the directorial debut of Alex Garland, a novelist acclaimed for his work which includes The Beach, and The Tesseract, and a prominent screenwriter whose screenplays include 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go, as well as the script for the infamous Halo adaptation that was never produced. His directorial debut, for which he also penned the screenplay, is the latest film to deal with the increasingly trendy topic of artificial intelligence, and word is that it might be the best on the subject matter.
It's impressive that for his debut film Garland has managed to secure a cast including some up and coming actors, including Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, while producer Scott Rudin is one of the biggest names in the business.
Ex Machina is a big moment for Garland, it will be intriguing to see how this new direction in his career pans out when the film releases this Spring.
Release Date: April 10th 2015
5. The Hateful Eight
Welcome back Quentin Tarantino. His new film The Hateful Eight looked like it wasn't going to get made after it leaked all over the internet, and the famously tetchy writer/director threw a fit, but it has finally seen the light of day.
It's a shame to see no Christoph Waltz involvement with this project considering their successful recent collaborations, but we can content ourselves with a typically allstar cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, and Channing Tatum.
The plot seems to be a road movie mixed with a classic spaghetti western, but this being Tarantino we can safely expect violence, witty writing, and his trademark eccentric style. The Weinstein Company is taking up distribution, and will be hoping that Tarantino continues his recent success when it comes to awards season. The Hateful Eight is set for release in November.
Release Date: November 13th 2015
4. Knight of Cups
The one remnant of our 2014 list still not yet to make release. Knight of Cups is the newest film from reclusive director Terrence Malick, a man as known for his unapologetically obtuse artistic vision as he is for his long breaks between projects (he famously took a 20 year absence between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line). Strangely in recent years he seems to be becoming more and more prolific as he enters his 8th decade, filming Knight of Cups back to back with another film Project V, which appears likely to slip to 2016.
The rather cryptic proverb on IMDB does little to shed light on what Knight of Cups will be about, but word is this is going to be a modern Hollywood fable, all about celebrity, excess and corruption. Malick films tend to be pretty divisive, with his last film Tree of Life being met both with boos and applause on its debut, before promptly winning the Palm D'Or at Cannes. Early buzz around this newest project seems to be that it is a more accessible and crowd pleasing beast, and perhaps fits a more traditional style of filmmaking.
As usual Malick attracks a top cast, including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman, who have four Oscars between them, among others. Emmanuel Lubezki, arguably the best cinematographer in the business and long time Malick collaborator, is on board too.
Knight of Cups will release initially at the Berlin Film Festival in February, with a wider release presumably to follow later in the year.
Release Date: February 2015
3. The Revenant
Next we head out west for The Revenant. A full-blooded American western, The Revenant is based on a novel of the same name by Michael Punke, and brought to the big screen by writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Iñárritu is of course one of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now. With two Academy Award nominations under his belt for Babel and Biutiful, Iñárritu has well and truly hit the big time now with Birdman, which has arguably been the sleeper hit of the current awards season.
He's got a top quality cast to work with as well, with Leonardo DiCaprio the main man, and Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson in support. This is very much a DiCaprio film though, think 127 Hours where it's essentially just the one actor on the screen for the entire film. Might this finally be Leo's year for Academy success?
As a film with high ambitions, it's no surprise to see it set for release on Christmas day this year.
Release Date: December 25th 2015
2. The Martian
One of the highest profile upcoming releases in 2015 is The Martian.
This is an adaptation of the best selling novel by Andy Weir, to be directed by Sir Ridley Scott. Now first off let's be honest, for all the films Ridley has made over the decades, there hasn't really been a great one since 2000's Gladiator. In fact from the past decade, his films have flopped more often than not, with only American Gangster in recent years (and that was 7 years ago) receiving positive reception. Ridley Scott badly needs a win in order to prove that he's not completely past it.
Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, and Jeff Daniels make for a fine core cast, and will be bolstered by the supporting roles for fine actors like Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Kate Mara.
Certainly of his recent work, The Martian looks the most likely to return Ridley Scott to the Hollywood elite. It's still early days yet, the film itself is not set for release until the end of November.
Release Date: November 25th 2015
1. St. James Place
And for the number one entry on the 2015 Hot List, St. James Place. The details of this film have only recently started to come together, but already it's looking like a winning combination.
Steven Spielberg is at the helm for the first time since Lincoln, which is good news for anyone underwhelmed that the long gestating remake of The BFG had been the only project on his calendar up til now. The script by The Coen Brothers covers the true story of James Donovan, a lawyer during the Cold War tasked with negotiating the release of a pilot shot down in the Soviet Union. It stars Tom Hanks, theatre actor Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda.
So one of the all time greatest directors, with one of the all time greatest screenwriting duos, one of the all time greatest actors, a fine supporting cast, and a juicy historic drama. The Ephemeric bets good money that this is going to be one of the biggest releases of 2015, and is the most exciting project currently set for release this year.
Release Date: October 16th 2015
So there you have it folks: 2015 in movies. Tune in next week for the essential new television shows on the air in 2015!
Friday, 26 December 2014
Welcome once again to this most glamorous and esteemed of events. It's the definitive epilogue to a year gone by, considered by some to be greater than tofu, turkey, and tofurkey combined. It is of course The Ephemeric's famous annual tradition. It's The Debbie Awards: the year ends when we say it does.
So without further ado, let the curtain fall upon 2014 as we begin our definitive review of the past 12 months:
2014 Debbie Awards
Cinema & TV
1. The Debbie for TV Show of the Year
Runners Up: House of Cards, True Detective
One could be forgiven for being skeptical when FX announced their decision to take the classic, award-laden Coen Brothers film Fargo and turn it into a mini-series. But they proved everyone wrong. Far from a mere remake, Fargo goes in its own direction and is the better for it, while remaining as subversive and cuttingly witty as the film. The all-star cast includes Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, and Colin Hanks. Thornton in particular is a revelation, and almost certain to sweep the awards for his performance.
Runner up is the second season of House of Cards. Every bit as good as the first season, brimming with strong performances and some of the best dialogue this side of Aaron Sorkin. House of Cards continues to be the flagship of Netflix's push into original programming, and one only hopes that Kevin Spacey can be persuaded to stay on for at least a few more seasons.
Lastly we give honourable mention to another new show, True Detective. The latest in a long line of quality HBO dramas, True Detective is a slow burner for sure, but has rightly been met with critical acclaim and accolades. The duo of in-form Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson turned out to be a masterstroke in casting, and with a totally new cast and story set for season 2 it will be very interesting to see where things go from here.
2. The Debbie for New TV Show of the Year
Unsurprising that the best TV show of the year would also win best new show of the year. Fargo really is that good. Season 2 duly approaches in 2015, and you would do well to ensure it's top of your list.
3. The Debbie for Film of the Year
Runner Up: Boyhood, Theory of Everything
First a disclaimer, The Ephemeric is in the awkward position of not having seen Birdman or the Imitation Game, either or both of which seem likely to be the best film of the year. Hollywood have only themselves to blame for missing out on these end of year awards with their ridiculous release schedules.
Nevertheless for our winner we have a very worthy film. Chef is nowhere near pretentious enough to rank up there with the other Oscar favourites, and indeed this is one of its charms. Chef is the pet project of Jon Favreau, who wrote, directed, and stars in this film about, you guessed it, a chef. Chef is a wonderful movie to watch, the kind of earnest and tasteful comedy that one rarely ever sees anymore, delightfully fresh when surrounded by the mindless schlock in most of the comedy genre. Just don't watch it hungry.
The first of our runner ups, Boyhood, is the talk of the town at the moment, and likely to win big at the awards this year. The concept behind the film is hugely original, telling the story of a young boy and his family over a period of 12 years, using the same actors and filmed over a full 12 year period. For this all to have come together into a coherent film is a staggering achievement in itself from director Richard Linklater, but does it add enough to the quality of the film itself? The greater sense of reality that comes from this continuity really gives the audience a stronger attachment to the characters and the actors, but once the novelty wears off it's hard to avoid the fact that the script and story itself really does nothing new in artistic terms. A perfectly lovely film, but take away the novelty and it doesn't deserve the top spot.
The Theory of Everything rounds out our top three. This avoided our hot list at the beginning of the year only due to being expected for release in 2015, but as it turns out reaction to early test screenings were so strong that they bumped up the release in time for the awards season. Great subject matter, focusing on the life of one of the world's most interesting people. Director James Marsh, known so far only for indies and documentaries, albeit Academy Award winning ones, tells this story with the reverence of a biopic, and also the tenderness of a love story, ultimately crafting a rewarding experience. But what really stands out is the performance of Eddie Redmayne, who finds himself pretty much nailed on for an Academy Award nomination, and a real contender for the prize itself.
4. The Debbie for Hollywood Scandal of the Year
Winner: Sony Leaks
It's been all over the news in recent weeks, but the ramifications will continue into 2015. It's difficult to believe that someone could hack and steal 100TBs without anyone in charge of the Sony network noticing all that data being transferred, but that is exactly what happened.
This hack has included scripts, unreleased films, and personal information. But the real meat of the story is the leak of vast amounts of internal emails, which have shed light on the seldom seen inner-workings of Hollywood, complete with racist remarks, corruption, and most titillatingly, what Hollywood insiders really think of one another.
Bared for the entire world to see is the story of how Aaron Sorkin's Steve Jobs biopic hit production limbo, the insane overproduction of the next James Bond film, and the disdain held for certain celebrities. These incredible exchanges read exactly like a script from television series Entourage, and sheds a very revealing light on why Hollywood films often turn out terrible. The crime is a terrible invasion of privacy, but at the same time it makes you question how these people are in charge of a whole movie studio. Ironically these leaks are the most entertaining thing to come out of Sony in years.
5. The Debbie for Up-and-Coming Star of the Year
Winner: Chris Pratt
Every year has that one star, the one who all of a sudden goes from nothing to being in absolutely everything. Last year was Benedict Cumberbatch, before that Ryan Gosling. Now it's Chris Pratt's turn.
You may previously have known him as the chubby joker in Parks and Recreation, but recent years have seen a huge transformation into genuine leading man, including small roles in Moneyball, Her, and Zero Dark Thirty. In 2014 his progress really came to a head with Pratt landing starring roles in major films such as The Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie. In 2015 Pratt is set to star in one of the year's biggest blockbusters Jurassic World, it seems Pratt's unlikely reinvention is set to continue.
Music & Theatre
6. The Debbie for Best Theatrical Production of the Year
The Donmar Warehouse returns to the top of the London theatre scene with Shakespeare's brutal tragedy Coriolanus. The famously Epic play of war and politics may seem a strange choice for the Donmar's intimate setting, but it turns out to be a perfect fit for this production, which focuses intensely on the complexity of the Coriolanus character. Tom Hiddleston's portrayal straddles the line between monster and tragic hero, and proves that he is more than just a comicbook actor. Meanwhile new artistic director Josie Rourke produces one of her typically detailed productions, ultimately giving us a very fresh rendition that puts the full brutality and immediacy of the story right on the audience's lap.
7. The Debbie for Album of the Year
Winner: Strangers - RAC
Runner Up: Innerworld - Electric Youth
In a mixed year for new music, the two standout albums came from all new debut artists. RAC's long-awaited solo debut Strangers takes the top prize. The prolific remix artist-cum-rockstar producer exceeds lofty expectations with one of the more polished and impressive first efforts from a new artist that we have seen in recent years, featuring an array of talented collaborators. Strangers succeeds through simplicity of style. The songs on offer here are light, intensely danceable, and fun, but most importantly, very consistent high quality.
Elsewhere we have another debut artist Electric Youth taking the runner up prize. Many of you will know them as the band that wrote A Real Hero for the movie Drive, but as their debut album Innerworld shows they are clearly far from a one hit wonder. Innerworld is on the surface a warm and nostalgic 1980s revival, but on closer evaluation proves itself to be much more. This should be the album for your winter holidays.
8. The Debbie for Debut Album of the Year
Winner: Strangers - RAC
A double-win for RAC's debut. Strangers is a debut album that would stack up well against any other in recent years, full of effortless charm and a mature, disciplined quality of production that belies the artist's lack of solo experience.
9. The Debbie for Song of the Year
Winner: A Sky Full of Stars - Coldplay
Runners Up: 405 - RAC, You and Me - Damon Albarn
A bit of a throwback here as Coldplay grace our end of year awards for the first time in years. And it's not without good cause as Sky Full of Stars is an exceptional song, the first in a long time that the band has produced that lives up to their classics. This joyful and energetic number made for compulsive listening when first released, which turned out to be quite misleading as it differed so considerably from the rest of the album which followed. It's safe to say that if Ghost Stories as a whole had been as good as this track, it would have been up on our albums of the year list, but as it turns out Sky Full of Stars stands alone as a modern Coldplay gem.
The first runner up comes from that record which sweeped the album Debbies this year. RAC's 405, featuring collaborator YACHT, is the highlight of a very good album. Purportedly an ode to driving in Los Angeles, 405's lush and moonlit sound is the ultimate showcase for RAC's impressively versatile musical talents. Certainly one of the hits of the year.
And finally we have You and Me, the Brian Eno produced centrepiece from the debut solo album of one of the most legendary songwriters today, Damon Albarn. Ultimately it was an album that turned out to be nothing like we expected, far more intimate and introspective than any of Albarn's work with Blur or Gorillaz, but was an impressive piece of work in its own right. Still You and Me stands out as the key track on this album, a raw piece that dances between heaven and hell and pulls of something truly remarkable.
Videogames & Technology
10. The Debbie for Greatest Technological Innovation of the Year
Runner up: SolarCity
Space exploration is an area of research that is said to be largely in the doldrums of recent years. From seemingly on the precipice of Solar System dominance fifty years ago we now find ourselves once again largely confined to this rock, and indeed no human has gone beyond lower Earth orbit in years. 2014 has seen a revival in interest somewhat of the field, with space exploration movies achieving great award-winning prominence, and the private space industry finally starting to make headlines. But the key event, the one that most made people stop and stare at their livefeeds has been the ESA's hugely audacious landing of space probe Rosetta/Philae onto moving comet 67P. This is a tiny piece of rock about 300 million miles away moving at about 135,000 km/h, and we somehow managed to launch a spacecraft on a 10 year voyage and land on it Incredible in itself really, to say nothing of the scientific potential of this mission.
But this year we have a runner up. That would be SolarCity, the brainchild of one Elon Musk. Not content with revolutionizing online transactions, electric cars, and private spaceflight, Musk now wants to set his sights on our energy future. Runaway climate change is arguably the greatest threat to Humanity's continued existence on Earth, and even if it wasn't, fossil fuels are running out. Solar energy has long been seen as the answer to a great many of our problems, and SolarCity finally looks set to bring the technology into the mainstream. Doubters remain, but Musk proved them all wrong on electric cars and turned Tesla into one of the hottest companies in the world, watch him do the same with SolarCity.
11. The Debbie for Greatest Scientific Discovery of the Year
Winner: Gravitational Waves from Big Bang Detected
One of the universe's great mysteries is what happened at the beginning of it all. In March of this year the scientists working at the South Pole's BICEP2 array detected the primordial gravitational waves caused by the hitherto-now hypothetical cosmic inflation that occurred in the seconds following creation, our first definitive proof in the Big Bang model. This all sounds like techno mumbo jumbo to most people, but its significance can't be overstated; this is the first time humanity has been able to get a clear picture of the conditions of the universe shortly after creation. With further study this could be the defining step that allows us to finally start solving the mysteries behind the nature of how everything we see around us came to be. Exciting time to be alive.
12. The Debbie for Videogame of the Year
Winner: Mario Kart 8
Runner Up: Xenonauts
It has undeniably been a weak year for gaming. Many of the biggest releases disappointed, and the most promising indie releases ended up being pushed into 2015. One company who hasn't been slacking in 2014 is Nintendo. Games with big numbers at the end of them tend to be bad, and the bigger the number the worse it is. Mario Kart 8 is an example of a game that bucks this trend. It's hard to describe why this game is as good as it is, suffice it to say it's probably the best Mario Kart game ever, and certainly the best since the definitive Mario Kart 64. Nintendo have refined the gameplay to perfection, spruced it up with a gorgeous HD makeover, and created some of the best racing tracks ever seen in gaming. Even the zero-gravity feature that seemed like such a gimmick is used to good effect. Most interesting of all, however, is the addition for the first time of non-Mario Nintendo characters, starting with The Legend of Zelda's Link. Nintendo seems to be testing the waters for turning Mario Kart into a Smash Bros style all-star series, and that's pretty damn cool.
Our runner up is one of the several very impressive indie efforts of 2014. One of a number of games successfully seeking funding through Kickstarter, Xenonauts is essentially a remake of the original X-Com game. For those not in the know, X-Com is a series of strategy games that sees you in charge of a secret organisation tasked with defending the Earth from aliens. Those in the know might ask, but didn't they release an X-Com game just a few years ago? Indeed they did, but a very streamlined and commercial (albeit very good) re-imagining of the series. Xenonauts brings back the much deeper tactics and gameplay from the original series, and with it the nightmarish difficulty. It makes for a much more rewarding experience, but one that may not appeal to everybody.
13. The Debbie for Videogame Console of the Year
Winner: Nintendo Wii U
As stated elsewhere, 2014 was very much a year of success for Nintendo, and particularly the Wii U. Until now The Ephemeric has made no secret of its disdain for how Nintendo have been handling the console, and the launch will go down as one of the most botched in history. But despite the console's obvious flaws and the company's asinine strategy, 2014 reminded us that they still make games better than anyone else. Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, and Bayonetta 2 are just three of the games that have been met with widespread critical acclaim in recent months, and with an all new Zelda coming up next year, plus the continued money making machine that is Skylanders, Disney Infinity and the new Nintendo's own Amiibo, things are starting to look a bit better for Nintendo. But is it too late to resurrect the Wii U? We shall see.
14. The Debbie for Company of the Year
Runner Up: Tesla
It's been a volatile year for many businesses, but one company that can look back on 2014 with pride is Netflix. From humble origins as a DVD rental service, nowadays Netflix is promising to do for film and television what iTunes did for music. The final touch was the company's move into original programming, which on the first time of trying has yielded critical acclaim and accolades. Certainly it's not to say that Netflix are infallible, but has fast become one of the most essential internet services and a genuine threat to the established television industry. For the time being they can do no wrong.
Tesla is a close runner up. In the past 12 months the Elon Musk-helmed company has pulled off an impossible feat, turning an electric car into the most desired vehicle in the world. Tesla has shown everyone that not only can an electric car match up to their bigger fossil-fuelled brethren in terms of performance, but do so with enviable style. Tesla is the first true electric luxury car, and from this point on it looks set to change the world.
15. The Debbie for Small Company of the Year
Runner Up: Stratasys
Sometimes all it takes is a simple idea. Airbnb is a great example of a simple idea done very well, and it has made them a household name despite their relative immaturity as a company. Simple to use, impressively wide range of service, and surprisingly good quality, Airbnb puts its faith in the wisdom of its users and manages to work a charm. A public offering surely beckons in the near future, and 2015 could turn out to be an even bigger year for the company.
A slightly more outside the box option for our runner up prize. Stratasys is a company with a hugely ambitious concept behind it. Many companies are starting to get into the 3D printing craze, but at the moment Stratasys is the obvious leader. While basic industrial 3D printing is nothing new, technology with the small size and multifunctionality to work as a consumer product is just starting to appear. Of all the budding contenders, Stratasys appears best placed to take advantage of this growing market with the acquisition of the popular Makerbot line of printers, and just recently revealed the first ever consumer-sized multi-material 3D printer. Truly one to watch in the future.
16. The Debbie for Gadget of the Year
Winner: Nest Thermostat
Runner Up: Jawbone Up 24
Plenty of contenders for gadgets in 2014, but our top prize goes to the poster child for the burgeoning Internet of Things, the Nest Thermostat. The Nest Thermostat comes equipped with wi-fi, is programmable and self-learning, so not only is it controllable from your phone or computer, but within the first week of use it will actually learn your routine and temperature preferences, and begin to automatically adjust your settings to suit your needs. The thermostat will turn down your temperature when you leave for work in the morning, and then back up to your preferred level when you return. Even more impressively, it will learn about your existing heating infrastructure and how long it takes for your home to heat up, adjusting its schedule accordingly. This is all not only hugely convenient, but will save consumers a good deal of money on bills, and make homes more environmentally friendly. This is an astoundingly smart thermostat, and as far as the Internet of Things goes, this is only the beginning.
The other major consumer gadget trend this year has been wearable devices. So far this concept has most prominently been realized in the form of various fitness trackers. Nike were first out the gates with the now simplistic Fuel Band, while Fitbit has a massive following now. But our pick of the bunch is Jawbone's Up 24. Jawbone has an impressive track record when it comes to making products that are both incredibly stylish, but still retain great utility. The Jambox is a marvel, and the Up brings the same dedication to excellent design, making it the best of show when it comes to fitness trackers, at least until next year.
17. The Debbie for Subreddit of the Year
Reddit at it's best can be a place of real insight, performing great service to the goal of free exchange of information, whilst offering the pinnacle of crowdsourced wisdom, and crucially featuring highly specified subreddits to cater to every interest or hobby. If ever there was one single website that could handle every need on the internet, it's Reddit.
This year for our all new subreddit of the year Debbie we're looking to the other side of Reddit, the users' penchant for the silly and surreal. In the past year the best of these has been /r/ExplainLikeImCalvin, a humorous take on the popular "Explain like I'm 5" sub in which users break down complex issues into simple explanations. Explain Like I'm Calvin riffs on the Calvin and Hobbes comic books by breaking down questions into the witty childlike messages that were typical of the series. Case and point.
18. The Debbie for Footballer of the Year
Winner: Luis Suarez - Barcelona
A controversial decision here that will no doubt have many readers up in arms, let's face facts. Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been excellent, but not to the imperious one-man-army level that they had shown in previous seasons. Cristiano Ronaldo was completely anonymous at this year's World Cup, and while his goalscoring record since then has been incredible, he is still just one man in a great team. It's fair to say with both Messi and Ronaldo that whereas previously they carried their teams fortunes upon their shoulders, now you could take them out and probably the team would do fine.
Luis Suarez is not a player about whom you could say that this year. Suarez has completely carried his teams Liverpool and Uruguay to an extent rarely if ever seen before in a season. His goalscoring record for both sides speaks for itself, but more telling has been the contrast in fortunes between when he is available to play and when he is not. Liverpool went in one season from midtable to title challengers thanks to him, and now back to midtable following his departure. Uruguay, equally, went from looking like genuine World Cup challengers with him in the side, to being almost completely ineffective without him. They would not have qualified from group stage without him, and most probably they would not have won any games without him.
The fact is that Luis Suarez has, this season, been the most influential player in football, a literal one-man-army that no other player can claim to have been. Luis Suarez understandably gets a bum rap for his biting and other unsporting shenanigans, but no one can deny he's one of the very best footballers out there.
19. The Debbie for Under-21 Footballer of the Year
Winner: Thibaut Courtois - Chelsea
The award for best young player this year is probably not so controversial. Very few players at the age of 20 and 21 can claim to be key players in major European sides, much less at goalkeeper, a position which ordinarily biases towards players with experience, peaking in their 30s. Fewer still can accomplish this, and boast La Liga winners and Champions League runner up medals to their name. Thibaut Courtois is one such player who can say these things from his three years on loan with Atletico Madrid.
Now 22 he has already cemented his position as number one between the sticks for parent club Chelsea, another of Europe's top sides, and has made himself key to what has arguably been Europe's form team so far this season. Very few then would deny that Courtois is the best young goalkeeper in the world, and indeed one of the top in his position at any age group. In fact few players in any position have accomplished what he has at his age, and certainly in our books that merits the 2014 Debbie for best young player award.
20. The Debbie for Football Manager of the Year
Winner: Carlo Ancelotti - Real Madrid
Carlo Ancelotti has a managerial cv that few in history can match. Hugely successful at AC Milan, he continued his success during his brief stint at Chelsea, becoming the first and only manager to win the Premier League and FA Cup in his first season in English football. A league title at PSG followed, and at Real Madrid he has etched his name into local folklore by finally bring the club la decima, that elusive tenth Champions League title. Success has followed wherever he has gone, without fail, and now he finds himself commanding arguably the best team in Europe. Really at this level only Jose Mourinho compares in terms of managerial ability, but on his record this season there can be no doubt that Carlo is the man for this award.
21. The Debbie for Politician of the Year
Winner: Cory Booker
Many politicians talk the talk, but New Jersey's esteemed junior senator Cory Booker is one of the few who can live by his actions. His tenure as mayor of Newark is filled with political success, from bolstered funding for public schools, to investment in the formerly crime-ridden downtown, but that's not why we love him. Cory Booker goes around shovelling snow out of people's driveways, Cory Booker votes to reduce his own salary. Most incredibly though, Cory Booker runs into burning buildings to save lives just because he happened to be in the neighbourhood, suffering inhalation injuries and second degree burns in the process. You can attach whatever label you want to Booker, Senator, Democrat, Liberal, but the one that fits best is that he is a good man.
22. The Debbie for Political Scandal of the Year
Winner: Chris Christie's Bridgegate
On the other end of the politician spectrum is former Presidential hopeful Chris Christie, amusingly also of New Jersey. Christie was formerly one of the more likeable politicians, but then came the Bridgegate scandal this year. It's so ridiculous that one can scarcely believe it really happened. This is the scandal where staff and political appointees of Chris Christie conspired to shut down roads and create traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey as an act of revenge against Mayor Mark Sokolich who had refused to endorse Christie's gubernatorial campaign. It seriously beggars belief that an elected official could inflict such difficulties upon his own constituents, over such petty personal matters, to say nothing of the deaths associated with the road closures. After an initial furore, these events seem strangely to have been swept under the rug, but as far as abuses of power go, this is one of the more brazen and shocking we've seen.
23. The Debbie for Cause of the Year
Winner: Net Neutrality
The Ephemeric's cause of the year, and one which finally appears to be gaining some public traction is that of Net Neutrality. The concept of net neutrality is simple, but often misunderstood. Net neutrality is what we have now, a non-discriminatory internet where all traffic is considered equal, regardless of whether you're a multinational corporation, or some tiny start up with an idea and no money. It's this equal footing that makes the internet such a revolutionary medium for unbiased information, and it's also the reason that a company like Google or Facebook can come out of nothing and change the world.
The reason this is a major issue today is that many of the less scrupulous internet providers are attempting to change this in the pursuit of more money. The envisage an internet where only certain "core" websites or services come free, and any extras require additional subscription or bolt-ons, or will be throttled to lower speeds. It doesn't take a genius to see how this would work, the wealthiest and biggest companies, or those preferred by the ISP for personal or political reasons, come free, and tiny start ups, or those which are politically inconvenient, are only accessible by a small minority of the hardcore internet users, never to be seen by the majority. In a world like this Facebook and Google would never have been able to get of the ground, basically forcing progress to come from the existing, established majors, and slowing us down by years, to say nothing of the potential threat to free speech or the high risk of propagandising. Net neutrality is vital if the internet is to realise its potential as one of mankind's most revolutionary tools for progress.
24. The Debbie for Person of the Year
Winner: Elon Musk
Humanity is driven forwards by dreamers. Those who have the vision to think big and pursue their ambitions with every resource they have, irrespective of risk or material expense. After revolutionising consumer finance with Paypal, Elon Musk could easily have passed for just another on the long list of dotcom billionaires, but this was not a man content to sit on his laurels. His endeavours since then have seen him revolutionise the automobile industry, create the next big thing in renewable energy, and finally give the private space industry the breakthrough it's been waiting for.
This year has not only seen Tesla explode into one of the hottest companies in the world, but his SpaceX has become the first private company to successfully dock a spacecraft with the International Space Station. All this is hugely impressive for any one man, and he's not done yet. SolarCity is still up and coming, Elon Musk's recently developed concept of the Hyperloop is gaining some traction, and Musk foresees his SpaceX company having no less a lofty goal than to put man on Mars within the next few decades. Elon Musk's vision is as far as any man alive, and so far he has delivered every single time.
Social & Lifestyle
25. The Debbie for Restaurant of the Year
Winner: O Ya
Runner Up: Stierereck
You just can't keep a good restaurant down. 2014 sees previous Debbie winner O Ya retake it's crown as the best restaurant in the world and rightly so. A sushi restaurant so good that you can't really call it a sushi restaurant, every dish crafted with the excellence and attention to detail to which few kitchens adhere. The very height of creative brilliance both in presentation and recipes, combining ingredients that one would never expect to go together into something somehow far greater than the sum of its parts. O Ya is the best reason we can think of to go to Boston. From the food to the setting to the service, truly world class in every department.
A newcomer this year for our runner up prize. Nestled in the middle of Vienna's Stadtpark, Stierereck is consistently ranked among the very best restaurants in the world and it's easy to see why. A dinner at Stierereck is an experience, from the serene setting to the bonus appetisers, to small things like the incredible wide range of creative breads and butters on offer. Dishes range from the inspired, like fried alpenlachs with coconut mayo, to the downright bizarre, fish cooked in molten beeswax. Then to top it off your meal ends with not just a visit from the cheese trolley, but a tea trolley, where one picks from an array of fresh tea plants, from which leaves are harvested fresh and brewed in front of you. Stierereck is an enchanting experience.
26. The Debbie for New Restaurant of the Year
Winner: Kurobata Chelsea
Runner up: The Chiltern Firehouse
Originally intended as a temporary pop-up on Kings Road supplement to their main address in Marble Arch, the Chelsea Kurobata has proven so popular that it now appears to be becoming a permanent fixture in Chelsea. Kuorbata is Japanese food like you've never seen it, with a BBQ twist. You can get your yellowtail maki here with spicy mayo if you like, but then there's the sweet potato and soba-ko fries with kim-chi mayo, the wagyu beef sliders, and most impressive of all the BBQ pork belly buns with spicy peanut soy. Add to this a trendy pop-up atmosphere and superb cocktail menu and you have yourself the finest new restaurant in London for 2014.
Close behind is The Chiltern Firehouse, the new American fusion place by celebrated michelin starred chef Nuno Mendes of Viajante fame. Chances are you will have heard of this place as it has become something of a trend hotspot in London. Rarely will you find a night without paparazzi and celeb sightings, and it has become a favourite of the Made in Chelsea crowd. The Ephemeric was fortunate enough to be seated on the opening weekend before all this craziness caught on, and can therefore say with clear head that this is indeed a restaurant that justifies the hype. The setting in a converted firehouse is fun, sure, but the food does not disappoint, from the crab doughnuts to firehouse caesar salad, maple-bourbon sweet potato and many other instant classics with an American twist. Wait until the hype dies down and then book yourself a table, because it is yummy.
27. The Debbie for Nightclub/Bar of the Year
The trendy thing of the moment seems to be these speakeasy styled bars, harkening back to the prohibition era where all alcohol had to be drunk in secret, with codewords and secret entrances and the like. While there are many such options in London these days, our special mention has to go to Barts. Hidden somewhere in Chelsea with only the vaguest of directions on the website (more detailed instructions can be found without much difficulty online however), Barts is hidden the nondescript plain black doors of an apartment building, through which one must open a thin slit to deliver the entry password. Once inside drinks are served in tea cups, with a menu hidden inside a hollowed out book. It's classic speakeasy style. The drinks themselves are great, but the pinnacle is undoubtedly the sharer cocktails, which include teacup shots, drinks served inside a gramophone, a top hat, and of course, the megalithic "teacup of champions". Guaranteed a good night out.
28. The Debbie for Mixologist of the Year
Winner: Alessandro Palazzi
Another Debbie being taken by the same party for consecutive years, but few would argue that it is deserved. The Duke's Bar owner Alessandro is famous across London for making Ian Fleming's drinks, and in particular his flair for unique martinis turn heads. Whether he's making his signature Fleming 89 or whipping up some original creation on the spot, there's no finer cocktail around. This year's special creations include the coffee flavoured Blue Mountain martini.
29. The Debbie for Destination of the Year
Winner: Vienna, Austria
This year's destination of choice is Vienna, Austria. A hugely underrated city with plenty to see. More palaces than you can count on both hands, and a whole range of historical sites to remind you that Austria was once a world superpower, but the real draw comes from the romance and culture. Beautiful architecture, cosy cafes, and wonderful food. Vienna is a top notch city to visit any time of year.
30. The Debbie for Wine of the Year
Winner: Cerviolo 2001
With stocks now officially dwindling down to zero for one of their finest vintages, we bestow for the second year running the best wine Debbie to the little-known vineyard of San Fabiano Calcinaia. This year's number 1 bottle is increasingly hard to come by, the 2001 Cerviolo. 2001 is known as one of the better years for wine in the region. A delicious, fruity red, deeply warming.
31. The Debbie for Champagne of the Year
Winner: Billecart-Salmon Sous Bois
Of course Billecart-Salmon is one of the most celebrated champagne houses. Their basic brut and rosé should form a backbone in anyone's supply, while the vintage blanc de blancs and Elizabeth cuvée still standout for those truly special occasions. This year however we find ourselves particularly taken with one of their newer and less commonly seen bruts, the Sous Bois. This literally means "under the oak", the wine is entirely vinified in oak barrels as was traditionally done, but is nowadays quite unusual. This gives the wine a nutty taste with an almost brioche overtone. Best served extremely chilled and in generous quantity.
Well there you have it, another great year, and here's to the next one being even better!