Gadget – Xbox 360
Microsoft was the first company to launch a next-generation (now current generation) console, and the Xbox 360’s incredible graphics power, excellent online service and super ergonomic controller made it an almost instant must-buy, despite a lacklustre range of launch titles. Six years on and it’s still the best console around, in our humble opinion – red rings of death or not.
Film – Walk The Line
2005 wasn’t a vintage year for movies, but this Johnny Cash biopic was one of the few films that shone. It owes its swag to compelling performances from Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and an adorable Reese Witherspoon as June Carter, plus a classic rags-to-riches-to-depression story and a bunch of great songs.
Game – God of War
The PS2’s latter years were lit up by games like this, which used every bit of the console’s ageing hardware to deliver superb visuals and stable action. God of War is old school in many ways – there’s lots of button-mashing combos to master as you take blade-wielding baldy Kratos through a kill-em-all tour of ancient Greek mythology.
Music – Illinois, Sufjan Stevens
Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ concept album about the US state (his second, after 2003’s Michigan) is long, winding and clearly a work of genius. The epic Chicago may be the obvious highlight, but it’s his subtle, dextrous exploration of people – the bedside friend of a dying cancer patient in Casimir Pulaski Day and the notorious serial killer in John Wayne Gacy, Jr – as a way to paint a picture of a place that linger longest in the memory.
Book – Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
1984, Children of Men... grim futures always seem grimmer when they’re set in England’s green and pleasant land, and this literary science fiction novel is no different. While Ishiguro’s alternative Britain is no fascist dystopia, the fate of the principal characters – destined from birth and slowly unfolded to the reader in all its horrendous detail – is as unsettling and saddening as anything else you could read that year. Ignore the Keira Knightly movie adaptation – read this instead.
TV – The Office (US)
The announcement of a Yank remake of The Office may have plastered sneers all over the faces of television purists, but this show defied history to be one of the few transatlantic “reimaginings” worth watching. It may have gone on a bit too long (it’s currently gearing up for an eighth season) and have become more like a regular sitcom than Ricky Gervais’ painful-to-watch mockumentary, but it’s funny – and that’s what really matters, isn’t it?
2005 saw the first flight of the Airbus A380, the largest commercial passenger plane in the world. Cork in Ireland was designated the European Capital of Culture. And Arthur Miller, Anne Bancroft, Ted Heath, Ronnie Barker, Richard Pryor and George Best all shuffled off this mortal coil.