2018 arts year in review: How was it for you?

What were the three best events you were at during the year?

- Julia Holter, Button Factory Dublin: Touring her fifth album, the Los Angeles-based singer delivered an astonishing set, one that swung from elegiac to cathartic and all the way back again.

- Jon Hopkins at Vicar Street: His backing visuals packed in halfway through but that had the curious effect of amplifying the music and making an already intense performance unforgettable.

- Arcade Fire, 3Arena: Their records can be up and down and their latest missed more often than it landed. However, the conceit of performing inside a boxing ring paid off and the evening was just strip-lit with joy.

Best interview you did:

Meeting Sigrid before her Dublin Olympia show. Pop stars can be disinterested or self-regarding off stage — the Norwegian singer was, by contrast, thoughtful, polite and engaging... even though she was finishing her lunch.

Sigrid

Best book:

Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History, by Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, Michael Witwer and Sam Witwer.

Dungeons and Dragons has shaped the look of modern fantasy — from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies to Game of Thrones and everything between. This new book tracks the evolution of the D&D “look”, from the amateur line-drawings of the 1970s to the golden age of Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway Larry Elmore etc.

Best film:

Avengers: Infinity War — the first blockbuster since Empire Strikes Back to follow the courage of its convictions and end on a down-note. It raises expectations for 2019’s Avengers: End Game… so fingers crossed it isn’t a latter-day Return of the Jedi.

Best TV:

Succession — gleeful satire of a New York media mogul family and their vicious infighting and backstabbing.

Any other highlights?

Spirit Island — riveting area control board-game that doubled as commentary on the evils of colonialism. And getting back into Dungeons and Dragons through the online portal, Roll 20. Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor Who was a delight too.

One that got away:

Not seeing Solo in the cinema in protest at the awfulness of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Solo marked a relative return to form and deserved better than the reception is received. Then Disney was reaping what it had sewn with Last Jedi — a Star Wars movie that actively hated its own fanbase.

Lowlight:

Tabletop games on Kickstarter not delivering on time — or sometimes not delivering at all. And no Game of Thrones in 2018.


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