james debate
james debate

Saturday 31 December 2011

debbies 2011
Here we are again for the traditional end of year awards, where our esteemed panel of judges (ie me) lay down the ultimate verdict on the year gone by for everything, and we do mean "everything". 20 categories, 20 hard fought and well earned trophies.

It's been a year of much excitement and transition, of folk-rock revival and Ryan Gosling, and whether you find yourself overwhelmed by it all, or simply haven't been paying attention, you can't miss our final and definitive look back at all things 2011.

So happy holidays you magnificent bastards, and without further ado here are the:

2011 Debbie Awards

Cinema & TV

1. The Debbie for TV Show of the Year 
Winner: Curb Your Enthusiasm 
Runner Up: Dexter

curb your enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm , the brainchild of comedy legend Larry David, is quite simply the funniest thing on TV right now, and this latest season might just contain some of its finest moments. It's all the more impressive when you consider that between this and Seinfeld, David has been writing at the forefront of comedy for more than 20 years, his is a rare kind of genius.

Dexter comes in second, with the series still defying all expectations in keeping the premise improbably watchable as the seasons advance. The series may have peaked, there may be only a year or two left waiting in the wings, but for now this still remains one of the best shows currently on TV.

2. The Debbie for New TV Show of the Year 
Winner: American Horror Story
Runner Up: Falling Skies

american horror story

It's safe to say that many eyebrows were raised when the creators of mega-sensation Glee said they wanted to move into horror for their new TV series American Horror Story, especially for people like myself  who hate Glee. The result however is far better than anyone could have expected, proving that some people simply have a knack for making compelling television regardless of genre or style.

Also worthy of note is new Spielberg produced alien invasion series Falling Skies, the spearhead of TNT's new lineup, which got off to a very promising start this fall.

3. The Debbie for Film of the Year 
Winner: Moneyball 
Runner Up: Source Code


While it may be a premature statement with so many of the films tipped for next year's Oscars still to be released, the Brad Pitt starring Moneyball goes down as the best of 2011 in my books. For the second year running, an Aaron Sorkin scripted film takes the prize, this time adapting the best selling true story of a manager who turns a tiny baseball team into record setters through the magic of statistics.

Duncan Jones (who no longer has to be known as Zowie Bowie now that he has escaped his father's shadow) follows up his critically acclaimed debut Moon with the bigger budget Source Code . The result speaks for itself and provides another hint of things to come from one of the most promising directors in cinema.

Music & Theatre

4. The Debbie for Theatrical Production of the Year 
Winner: Frankenstein 
Runner Up: Anna Christie

frankenstein danny boyle national

For the second year running, we snub the Donmar for the coveted Theatre Debbie. Michael Grandage must be phoning it in with his final year in charge. That being said, the winning production is something quite spectacular indeed: Danny Boyle's stunning interpretation of the classic Frankenstein starring a superb cast of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, and the music of Underworld. Truly it was the kind of theatrical blockbuster that comes along only so rarely, and one that will live long in the memory.

The Donmar's Anna Christie takes the silver medal with Jude Law proving his stage acting chops with a role cast completely against type, and all the better for it.

5. The Debbie for Album of the Year 
Winner: Hurry Up We're Dreaming - M83 
Runner Up: Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes

hurry up we're dreaming m83

Some Debbies are easy to award, but in this case there has been much deliberation and disagreement over which of two great 2011 albums should take home the gold. Ultimately we went with the more creatively adventurous effort from M83 and its rich, ambitious soundscape. Dreamy, nostalgic and quite remarkable, Hurry Up We're Dreaming is a worthy winner.

Fleet Foxes take the runner up price, but make no mistake they would have been a worthy winner in another year. Helplessness Blues improves upon their successful debut in every way, refining the wistful folk-revival sound and adding a lyrical narrative richness that was often previously lacking.

6. The Debbie for Debut Album of the Year 
Winner: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

noel gallagher's high flying birds

It's not been an especially groundbreaking year for debut acts, but there are a couple which come to mind when considering this most coveted of Debbies. This year the winner is Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, the latter and greater of this year's two post-Oasis solo albums. Noel is on song here on his own for the first time, staking his claim as a standalone artist in his own right.

7. The Debbie for Song of the Year 
Winner: Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes 
Runner Up: Wait - M83

helplessness blues fleet foxes

In a reversal of fortunes from the best album Debbie, it is Fleet Foxes who take the top prize for song of the year with their lead single Helplessness Blues. Building on the smooth harmony-laden melody of a White Winter Hymnal, Helplessness Blues forms the crux of the new album with its driven angst and impetus.

Meanwhile the sumptuous Wait from M83's album takes second place with its beautiful, yet understated melancholy.

Videogames & Technology

8. The Debbie for Greatest Technological Innovation of the Year 
Winner: Kepler Spacecraft


While technically speaking Kepler launched in 2009, 2011 was a big big year for the project, and a year of many firsts for space exploration. 2011 saw the first Earth-size extra-solar planets discovered as well as the first extra-solar planets discovered within the so-called "goldilocks zone"; there has been much talk of the death of the space program, but in many ways now more so than ever before is an exciting time in this field.

9. The Debbie for Lamest Technological Innovation of the Year 
Winner: Kinect


At some point the Microsoft bigwigs gathered in a smoke-filled and i'd like to think poorly lit room and decided that the best way to copy Nintendo's motion control idea was Kinect, a device which involves controlling games by flapping about like an idiot with absolutely zero physical feedback. Needless to say it has not exactly taken off, nor has Microsoft's grand vision of a house controlled entirely by waving your hands at Kinect.

10. The Debbie for Videogame of the Year 
Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 
Runners up: Portal 2, LA Noire

zelda skyward sword

The winner of this year's Debbie for best video game may raise some eyebrows for its lack of review on this website, but then I'm a busy man, so deal with it. The fact that it's winning game of the year against some pretty formidable competition should say all that needs to be said; Skyward Sword sees the most radical shift in gameplay arguably in the series' history while managing to stay faithful to the elements which make Zelda one of the world's most critically acclaimed franchises.

In a year full of tough competitors for the top prize, the choice of runners up was equally difficult, but ultimately second place is being shared by Portal 2, the more ambitious sequel to one of the greatest games of the past 10 years, and LA Noire, Rockstar's technologically innovative homage to the 1940s.


11. The Debbie for Footballer of the Year 
Winner: Lionel Messi

leo messi

Lionel Messi, retains his trophy, being that he is frankly not in the same category as the rest of us mere mortals when it comes to footballing ability. For this reason I have decided that picking a runner up would bely the gulf in class between him and the rest. Also I didn't even bother changing this blurb or picture from last year's awards.  

12. The Debbie for Sports App of the Year 
Winner: iFooty


It's been a big year for iFooty with the launch of video content and other new features, one which has seen the app attract even greater media attention, including a write up in prestigious football magazine FourFourTwo.


13. The Debbie for Party of the Year 
Winner: Halloween Pub Crawl

halloween pub crawl

Maybe I'm just a sucker for Halloween, but year after year they tend to produce the best nights. This year's pub crawl through the seedy depths of Camden Town set the scene perfectly.

14. The Debbie for Restaurant of the Year 
Winner: The Oxo Tower 
Runner Up: O Ya

oxo tower london

This year belongs to the Harvey Nichols brasserie in the Oxo Tower, consistently one of the best restaurants in London with its superb changing menu and newly redone bar. With unrivalled panoramic views across the Thames this is truly a restaurant for special occasions.

Content to hold the runner up position again is O Ya of Boston, one of the best restaurants in the world, so good as to make reference to it as a "sushi place" seem almost ludicrous.

15. The Debbie for Nightclub of the Year 
Winner: Piccadilly institute

ephemeric piccadilly institute

If there's one thing I am a sucker for it's creative drinks and themes. Piccadilly has this going for it in spades with several uniquely themed rooms and drinks to match including a science room containing the steaming foamy beakers pictured above, and a Moulin Rouge styled room where drinks are served in a top hat with sparklers.

16. The Debbie for Best Brother 
Winner: Jeremy Debate

You're welcome bro.

17. The Debbie for Douchebag of the Year 
Winner: 99.9% of all London bike riders

london boris bikes

Bikes, the scourge of London drivers and pedestrians, and with the new influx of "Boris bikes" (actually a brilliant idea, though we stole it from the French) there are a whole lot more of them all of a sudden. Don't get me wrong, bikes are a great thing, the trouble is 99.9% of people in London ride them like an idiot. So to those of you in the 0.1% I raise a glass in gratitude, to the rest, a middle finger.

Travel & Literature

18. The Debbie for Book of the Year 
Winner: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

girl with dragon tattoo

Not exactly a new book, but read for the first time this year and unique to say the least. Don't just catch the films, make sure you read the books as well.

19. The Debbie for Wine of the Year 
Winner: Castello di Fonterutoli 2004 
Runners Up: Cerviolo 2001

castello di ama 2006

Castello di Fonterutoli 2004 is, for my money, the best vintage of the best wine from one of the best vineyards. Fonterutoli has become one of the biggest names in wine, but if you want to do it right, try to find one of these bottles, which are understandably becoming scarce.

Going for something a bit on the heavier side, Cerviolo 2001, takes the silver medal this year having tracked down the last remaining bottle at the San Fabiano vineyard. Quite the wine.

20. The Debbie for Champagne of the Year 
Winner: Champagne Mailly L'Air Blanc

champagne mailly l'air

Champagne Mailly's latest Grand Cru continues the "four elements" theme, this year bringing air to the table, and it might just be their best yet. This delicious 2005 vintage is rich, fruity and irresistibly smooth.

Well there you have it, another great year, and here's to the next one being even better!

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