Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I love this movie so damn much — after my first viewing I came out feeling like this was my new favorite Star Wars film in the series, and after a second viewing, I loved it even more (noticing and appreciating more the dialogue that pointed to where we were heading). I truly enjoy it from start to finish, and both times I watched it I never felt any lulls or scenes that felt boring. It’s a joy to take in, from the fun tone, to the explosive and visually stunning action, and the insanely iconic sequences (Rey/Kylo in the throne room, Luke’s showdown). I’m just saddened that it won’t be Rian Johnson directing the next one (J.J. is back for episode 9), but I am that much more excited for the new trilogy he’s been announced to make.

Wet Woman in the Wind

I caught this recently when it was on Mubi (no longer available), an entry in Nikkatsu’s rebooted “Roman Porno” series, in which they’ve gotten interesting directors to make soft core films, given lots of freedom as long as they stay on a relatively tight budget. I quite enjoyed this, as it’s a sort of surreal black comedy featuring characters that, well, want to have sex in odd circumstances. I see that Mubi also has another film in this “Roman Porno” series, Sion Sono’s Antiporno, that I want to watch as well.

The Toys That Made Us

This is a very enjoyable 4-part documentary series on Netflix about the toys from my youth — G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and He-Man (and although I didn’t play with Barbie dolls, I did find that episode interesting to watch). My favorite toy when I was a kid (not counting LEGO) was G.I. Joe, and so that’s the episode that I had the most fun watching, and loved that they included Larry Hama as part of the interviews — I loved his G.I. Joe comic, as well as the animated series (which he wasn’t involved in). Great fun if you’re around my age and these were the toys you played with back in the day.

Blade Runner 2049

After finally watching it last night, my biggest regret is that I didn’t go see it when it was in theaters (I only watched two movies in theaters this past year, Thor: Ragnarok and The Last Jedi, twice for the latter). I’ve said many times that Denis Villeneuve is currently my favorite director, and this is just another example of what makes him so great. Not only is it a fantastic film on its own, but it really does feel like a direct sequel to the original, and I mean that on every level, like story, pacing, visuals, style, etc. Yet, it manages to feel current, with smart updates to the world that was presented back in the early 80s. I just wish we got more intelligent and mature sci-fi films like this.

Favorite Media of 2017

Just like I’ve done for the past 7 years (201020112012201320142015, and 2016), I like to end the year with a gigantic list of my favorite media that I consumed throughout the year. As I warn each year, this is not a “best of” list, but rather a highly subjective list of the stuff I really liked this year — I like the exercise of it all, because it gives me a chance to look back at what I took in during that year, and hopefully it can act as a list of recommendations for others. I stick to stuff that was released this year, and so there’s always stuff that falls through the crack (for example, all the 2016 releases that I only watched this year). For each category, I offer up an alphabetical top 5, and then include a few honorable mentions.

Favorite Games
Not only did we get an awesome new console from Nintendo this year, but three of my favorite games of the year were released on it — yeah, Mario Kart is pretty much the same game we got on Wii U, but it doesn’t change that I played it again just as much, and I still play it regularly. I’d say the two games that just missed my top 5 were Untold Stories and Uncharted: Lost Legacy (my favorite entry in the Uncharted series). I don’t include For Honor because I was too close to it, I include Destiny 2 for the campaign (I haven’t really played much post-campaign), and I do have a copy of Yakuza Kiwami but I haven’t played it yet.

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins (PS4)
  • Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
  • Yakuza 0 (PS4)

Honorable Mentions: Arms (Switch), Bound (PS4), Destiny 2 (PS4), Fast RMX (Switch), Ghost Recon Wildlands (PS4), Graceful Explosion Machine (Switch), Mario + Rabbits Battle Kingdom (Switch), Nier: Automata (PS4), Skyrim (Switch), Subsurface Circular (PC), The Fidelio Incident (PC), Uncharted: Lost Legacy (PS4), Untold Stories (PC)

Favorite Mobile Games
Let me start by saying that all these are played on iPad — I very rarely play games on my iPhone. I also include games like Super Mario Run that weren’t released this year, but still released new content this year (I love the “Remix 10” mode, which I still play). I included the Animal Crossing game because I played a lot of it when it was released, and was quite enjoying it at first, but I eventually tired of it.

  • Fire Emblem Heroes
  • Gorogoa
  • Monument Valley 2
  • Reigns: Her Majesty
  • Super Mario Run

Honorable Mentions: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Card Thief, Old Man’s JourneyPhoenix II, The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Favorite Movies
I spent most of the year watching older movies, and so still have a lot of catching up to do with this year’s releases, but here’s what I liked from what I watched. And yes, Valerian is a deeply flawed movie mostly ruined by the casting of the leads, but I was wowed throughout by the visuals.

  • Atomic Blonde
  • Baby Driver
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • The Last Jedi
  • Thor: Ragnarok

Honorable Mentions: Alien: Covenant, DunkirkGet Out, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, LoganNapping Princess, T2 Trainspotting, The Incredible Jessica James, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Wonder Woman

Favorite Movies of the 1980s
To anyone who follows my media consumption, you’ll be aware that this year saw me invest the majority of my movie-watching time looking back at films (one hundred in fact) from the 80s, specifically for the years 1985, 1986, and 1987 (I also dipped into 1967 and 1977). Since that was such a big part of what I watched this year, I thought it would be fun to list my fave 5 of the 80s for each year that I revisited.

1985

  • Back to the Future
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  • Ran
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Weird Science

1986

  • Aliens
  • Blue Velvet
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Stand By Me

1987

  • Evil Dead II
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Good Morning, Vietnam
  • The Last Emperor
  • The Lost Boys

Favorite TV
Even though I list a lot of series below, this year saw me enjoying movies more than I have in years, which meant watching a lot less TV shows — or maybe it’s more a case that I ended up only watching stuff I really enjoyed. My absolute favorite TV series of the year was Twin Peaks — during the 16 weeks it aired, there was nothing I looked forward to more than Sunday nights for new episodes.

  • Game of Thrones
  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Samurai Jack
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series

Honorable Mentions: Abstract: The Art of Design, Better Call Saul, Big Mouth, GameCenter-CX, GLOW, Master of None, Mindhunter, Million Yen Women, Mr. Robot, Samurai Gourmet, Santa Clarita Diet, She’s Gotta Have It, Stranger Things 2, The Get Down, The Good Place, The Toys That Made Us, Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later

Favorite Web Series
This is a new category, as I’ve noticed that I now watch and enjoy quite a bit of video content that’s produced directly for the web. For Jeremy Parish, it covers all of the amazing videos that he produces, from the various “Works” series to his enjoyable gin-soaked “let’s plays.”

Honorable Mentions: Jeremy Parish, New Territories, Screenland, The Manga Concierge

Favorite Music
Again this year, I only list my favorite albums, as I didn’t really pay much attention to singles. I will say that I feel like I didn’t spend a lot of time discovering new music this year, spending more time listening to older records, thanks to the “For You” section of Apple Music — and I did this happily, because I’ve always found that I spend too much time listening exclusively to new stuff, quickly forgetting older albums that I’ve enjoyed a lot.

  • Colors (Beck)
  • Drunk (Thundercat)
  • Django (Chip Tanaka)
  • Masseduction (St. Vincent)
  • Onism (Photay)

Honorable Mentions: Ash (Ibeyi), Halo (Juana Molina), I See You (The XX), New Energy (Four Tet), Rest (Charlotte Gainsbourg)

Favorite Comics
As with each year, my list tends to focus more on series, which is what I tend to read the most throughout the year, and then at the end of the year I check out the “best of” lists and catch up on all the great graphic novels that came out (which I’ll do again this year). I’ll also say that my American comics reading took a bit of a dive this year once I discovered my local library, and started binging on French-Belgian comics (bandes-dessinées, or BD) again.

  • Aliens: Dead Orbit
  • Batman
  • Mister Miracle
  • Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign?
  • The Black Monday Murders

Honorable Mentions: Britannia: We Who Are About to Die, Dark Nights: Metal (and various one-shots), Doomsday Clock, Extremity, Generation Gone, Groo (various mini-series), James Bond (various mini-series), Loose Ends, Magnus, Moonshine, Motro, Royal City, Savage, Secret Weapons, Southern Bastards, The Dying and the Dead, The Goddamned, The Wild Storm

Favorite BDs
What has excited me the most in the world of sequential art this year is that after an incredibly long hiatus (of practically two decades) I’ve gotten back intro reading French-Belgian comics since discovering my local library (or rather the one near the studio where I work, as well as access to the entire Montreal library network). I’ve been reading tons of books since the summer, but the majority has been older stuff, as I’ve been catching up on series I used to enjoy, and new ones that I’m discovering. But below are some highlights of what I’ve read that came out this year — I think that by next year I should be more up-to-date on my reading. Series title is followed by book title.

  • Carthago AdventuresZana
  • I.R.$.Kate’s Hell
  • KatangaDiamants
  • Soleil FroidL.N.
  • UndertakerL’ogre de Sutter Camp

Honorable Mentions: Lady S.Crimes de guerreLe Lucky Luke deJolly Jumper ne répond plusLe Spirou deLe Maître des hosties noires, Tebori (Tome 3)

Favorite Podcasts
For this category, the most captivating podcast for me this year was S-Town, and I couldn’t wait to listen to each new episode of A Twin Peaks Podcast (by editors at Entertainment Weekly) while the series was airing.

  • 8-4 Play
  • A Twin Peaks Podcast
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • S-Town
  • Waypoint Radio

Honorable Mentions: All Songs Considered, Designer Notes, Kotaku Splitscreen, The AIAS Game Maker’s Note Book, The Stack

Skyrim (Switch)

I’ve never been able to get into the Elder Scrolls series. My first try was with Oblivion, which I played for a while but far from completion. I then tried playing Skyrim when that originally came out on PS3, mostly caught up in the hype, and after about 7-8 hours I called it quits. On top of just not really being attracted to this drab world, I also very much disliked the combat. And so now it comes out on Switch, and I’m again hearing how good it is to play, and so I decided to give it another go (renting it from our studio’s game library). I play most of my Switch games on the TV — I don’t really bring out my Switch much — but for this, I decided to try playing it exclusively in handheld mode (figuring it wouldn’t really look great on the TV anyway), and I’m finding that I enjoy the intimacy it offers when played that way. I’ve only played about 2-3 hours, and I still think it’s a drab world to be in, and I’m still not crazy about the combat, but I’ve found myself enjoying the time I’ve spent with it so far. For the next week I’m going to be visiting my parents in my hometown, and I think this is going to be a fun thing to play on my Switch while I’m there.

Once Upon a Time in the West

I recently had the chance to check out the current show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts that focuses on the history of westerns, a genre I have always loved, and it of course put me in the mood to re-watch a bunch. My favorite westerns are Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” (or “Dollars”) trilogy, but I decided to start by watching his Once Upon a Time in the West, which I (embarrassingly) think I’d never seen. It’s a fantastic film, and I’m just so in love with all of the close-ups he does of the characters. I don’t think anyone does epic quite like Leone, and this movie is just another fantastic example of how he creates mood and iconic setups like it’s nothing. And the Ennio Morricone music, oh my. Also, to my great surprise, in the credits it shows that the film was written by Leone AND Dario Argento AND Bernardo Bertolucci. Wow. I also think Charles Bronson has the best western face ever.

City on Fire

Of all the Chow Yun Fat movies from the 80s, this one got mentioned a lot because Tarentino said it was inspiration for Reservoir Dogs — and it’s kinda funny that Reservoir Dogs is basically a sequence that happens for 5-10 minutes towards the end, but blown up into an entire movie. But City on Fire isn’t that great, until the last 20 minutes or so. I much preferred all the Woo stuff from that era. I didn’t mind re-watching it — especially since I didn’t remember what most of the movie was about — but I can’t say I really liked it that much.

Reigns: Her Majesty

This has quickly turned into one of my favorite mobile games of the year. I enjoyed the first one, but I feel like this sequel is really superior, with a mix of terrific writing and a few little extra gameplay elements that get added to the choose-your-own-adventure base. Well worth getting.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Yeah, I know, it’s about time I get to this. I’d always been wanting to play it, but just didn’t get around to it when it came out, and then the continuous release of other things I wanted to play kept pushing it back. But I finally got around to playing it this week — better late than never — and yes, I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far. I’m only about 3-4 hours in I think, which yes, is a drop in the bucket for a game like this, but I think it’s given me a good taste of the overall experience, and I quite like it. I think having watched the Noclip documentary episodes on the game have even helped me better appreciate what I’m seeing and experiencing — I wasn’t really worried about spoilers, since I’ve already forgotten anything story-related that was said in those episodes. With all the games I still want to play, I can’t really say if I’ll be able to finish it, but I am looking forward to playing it a bunch over the coming weeks.