So here we go, the start of my movie marathon for 1980 — my plan right now is to watch 10-15 movies. I’ve been watching a lot of Friday the 13th movies over the last couple of years (all of the ones released between 1985 and 1989), and so I figured it was about time to watch the one that started it all. I honestly can’t remember if I ever watched it — it’s possible I did at some point, but I had no real memory of it. As I was watching it, I kept thinking, man, it’s amazing that this is what marked the start of such an iconic franchise, since for the most part it’s a pretty bad movie. But then that final sequence happens (the one in the middle of the lake), and that’s when the magic — and the birth of a franchise — happens. But yeah, for the most part, it’s not a very enjoyable film to watch (even with Kevin Bacon in the mix), and although it gets more exciting once Mrs. Voorhees shows up, her performance unfortunately drags it down (or is just too laughable). But hey, it does make me curious to watch the second one, and I guess that’s what all good franchises do, make you look forward to the next one.
This marks my tenth year doing this annual reflection on my favorite media of the year, which means you can also easily see what my favorite media through the decade was (see 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018). As always, this is a look at the media released in 2019 that I was able to consume this year that I enjoyed the most — it’s not a “best” list, and of course it doesn’t include all of the things that were released this year that I haven’t yet had a chance to check out, and that might have made the list if I did. Instead, take it as a big ol’ recommendation list of stuff that came out this past year that I liked, and so you might like it too. Each category kicks off with an alphabetical top 5, and then I include a few honorable mentions if there are other things I would like to highlight.
I feel like I don’t have as many games in this category as in past years, but I think this is also a reflection of me spending more time playing fewer games. That’s especially the case with Destiny 2 — I could have listed the Shadowkeep expansion to indicate a 2019 release, but instead, I’ve decided to include a “live” game for the first time in my year-end list, since that’s how I’m consuming it (playing through the seasons, etc.) Sayonara Wild Hearts is included here and not in mobile because the best experience of this game for me was through Apple TV with a controller. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for me was such a revelation because it was the first time I played a Mario game completely in co-op (with two colleagues at work), and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a Mario game.
- Destiny 2 (Stadia)
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)
- New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch)
- Sayonara Wild Hearts (Apple TV)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
Honorable Mentions: Death Stranding (PS4), Far Cry New Dawn (PS4), Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch), Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch), Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (PS4)
Favorite Mobile Games
This is a category that comes and goes, as some years I see myself barely playing anything on mobile (and the stuff that I do play is usually on iPad, although my new iPhone XR has me enjoying playing games on a phone again). This year of course marked the introduction of Apple Arcade, and that got me back into playing mobile games in a big way. Below are my favorites so far, but there are still loads of games I haven’t had a chance to properly play yet.
- Assemble with Care
- LEGO Builder’s Journey
- What the Golf?
Honorable Mentions: Card of Darkness, Guildlings, Rayman Mini, Sky: Children of the Light, Steven Universe: Unleash the Light, Tangle Tower, Yaga the Roleplaying Folktale
Favorite Board Games
I introduced this category last year — following my re-entry into having a board game collection (after the purge I did when I left Japan) — and again, I include games from 2018 (that I didn’t include last year) and 2019, since I feel like board game releases are a bit of a slower thing, especially with the way Kickstarter is used.
- Architects of the West Kingdom
- Detective: LA Crimes
- Gorus Maximus
- Magic: The Gathering
Honorable Mentions: Hokkaido, Raids, Tower of Madness
Since I spend so much time watching older movies, I do tend to have more trouble coming up with movies that are new releases — and even for this list, six of the titles included I ended up watching over the past week, as I tried to play catch up with 2019 releases. As a bonus, I include my top 5 of movies released in 1989.
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
- The Art of Self-Defence
- The Irishman
Honorable Mentions: Alita: Battle Angel, Avengers: Endgame, John Wick 3: Parabellum, Joker, Klaus, Midsommar, Missing Link, Ready or Not, Us
Favorite Movies of 1989
- Dead Poets Society
- Do the Right Thing
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Mystery Train
- Patlabor: The Movie
No big surprise, but this year was again a fantastic one for TV. And yes, for the time I’m including a wrestling show — this year marked my return to wrestling fandom in a big way, thanks to the new AEW league, which is absolutely my favorite thing to watch on a weekly basis (and the only one of these shows I watch live).
- AEW Dynamite
- Formula 1: Drive to Survive
- The Mandalorian
- What We Do in the Shadows
Honorable Mentions: Black Mirror, GameCenter-CX, Game of Thrones, Fleabag, Jack Ryan, John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch, Killing Eve, Love Death + Robots, Patriot Act, Russian Doll, Saturday Night Live, Shameless, Star Trek Discovery, Stranger Things 3, The Boys, The Twilight Zone, The Umbrella Academy, The Witcher, Watchmen
Favorite Web Series
This is another category I introduced in recent years, and this year I feel like my consumption of web shows/content really did explode. And yes, wrestling content takes up a lot of space, with both the AEW and NWA weekly web shows in my top 5, as well as the Being the Elite series, that I binged to completion this year as I played catch up, and then a couple of more channels I follow regularly included in the honorable mentions.
Honorable Mentions: Abby Dearest, Archipel (channel), Chris Van Vliet (channel), Formula 1 (channel), Hundred Rabbits, Noclip, The Inside Line, WhatCulture Wrestling (channel), Yoiko no Maru Maru de Maru Maru Seikatsu
This is a really weird year in music for me. I did listen to a lot of new stuff, but I didn’t really spend a lot of time with most of those records, and so didn’t develop a lot of “loves.” I think it’s telling that according to Apple Music, my top 20 of most played tracks was entirely composed of hard bop — it’s definitely what I listened to the most this past year, and I continue to do so. And in the lead-up to my trip to Japan in November, I spent a month or two pretty much listening exclusively to my old Shibuya-kei favorites (Pizzicato Five, Cornelius, etc.) One of my new year resolutions is definitely to spend more time taking in new music.
- Flamagra (Flying Lotus)
- Hyperspace (Beck)
- I Know You Like It (Shinichiro Yokota)
- Reward (Cate Le Bon)
- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Billie Eilish)
Honorable Mentions: Beat Tape 09 (Eevee), Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police (Juliana Hatfield), Ladytron (Ladytron), Outer Peace (Toro y Moi)
For the first time, I don’t include any honorable mentions in my comics list, and that’s telling. My interest in BDs (bandes-dessinées, or French comics) continues to eclipse my interest in comics, and I’ve seen my weekly reading list go down and down throughout the year. The absolute highpoint is Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X series, my favorite comics in years (at least since Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four and Avengers). Dawn of X refers to all of the separate Hickman-curated titles that have launched in its wake (X-Men, New Mutants, X-Force, Excalibur, Fallen Angels, Marauders), which I’m not as enthusiastic about, but still find them to be quite enjoyable (most of them).
- Dawn of X
- House of X/Powers of X
- Peter Cannon Thunderbolt
- Silver Surfer: Black
- Superman/Action Comics
My rekindled love of BDs (as of last year, when I started going to my local library) continues, and has grown, with this year being easier to include a lot of 2019 releases — although there are still some late-year releases that I’m sure would be included here (like the new Thorgal and XIII) but that I haven’t read yet. I do spend more time reading older releases (reading through a series) than new ones though.
- Amazonie – Épisode 4
- La Jeunesse de Thorgal – La dent bleue (7)
- Renaissance – Interzone (2)
- Retour sur Aldébaran – Épisode 2
- Stern – L’Ouest, le vrai (3)
Honorable Mentions: Alix Senator – Les Spectres de Rome (9), Carthago – Le Pacte du centenaire (9), Katanga – Dispersion (3), Lefranc – Lune Rouge (30), Soleil Froid – L’armée verte (3)
My rekindled love of wrestling is also evident here (what can I say, I’m hooked), as is my rekindled interest (since the Ayrton Senna era in the 80s) for Formula 1 — ignited by the excellent Netflix series Formula 1: Drive to Survive (which got me excited about watching races again).
- 8-4 Play
- Pop Culture Happy Hour
- The Chris Van Vliet Show
- WhatCulture Wrestling
Honorable Mentions: All Songs Considered, Monocle 24: The Stack, On Margins
It took a while to complete it — and I blame Star Trek V for that — but I’m now done with my latest year-based movie marathon (following 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988) with the below list of 21 movies released in 1989. Why 21? I do usually like to keep it to a round number (10 or 20), and had planned to stop at 20, but then the day I was going to write this post I read a feature in Empire magazine about the madness that was the making of Tango and Cash, and felt like I needed to watch it — it’s also fitting that it came out at the tail end of 1989 (end of December), and so is considered to be the last 80s blockbuster. Below is the full list of the movies I watched, with links to each mini-review I wrote — you can also find them all through the “1989” category. What’s next? Next year I will be hitting 1990, but before that I plan on revisiting 1980 — this whole movie marathon endeavor started with 1985, so I still have the first half of the 80s to revisit.
- Back to the Future Part II
- Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
- Black Rain
- Christmas Vacation
- Dead Poets Society
- Do the Right Thing
- Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Lethal Weapon 2
- License to Kill
- Major League
- Mystery Train
- Patlabor: The Movie
- Police Academy 6: City Under Siege
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
- Tango and Cash
- The Abyss
- The Killer
- The Wizard
I was supposed to be done with my 1989 movie marathon at 20 films (finishing up with Dead Poets Society), but then this morning I read a feature in the latest issue of Empire magazine about the fiasco that was the making of Tango & Cash, and so I just had to watch it. It’s also a movie that came out at the very end of 1989, and so is considered the last blockbuster movie of the 1980s. Was it worth it? Hmmm… Not really, it’s not really good, and that’s the reason I hadn’t included it in my initial selection of movies to watch for that year. But I don’t regret watching it, as it was still fun to see what was described in the article actually happen in the movie — basically, the entire third act, which was pretty much written on the fly.
This was a bad movie then, and it’s still a bad movie. I’d say it’s the worst Star Trek film ever made. I remember seeing this in the theater at the time, and hating it the whole way through. Optimist that I am (or try to be), I was hoping to find a bit more to like this time around, but nope, it was an incredible chore to get through it, and it’s the main reason my 1989 movie marathon went on hiatus for months — I stopped watching midway, and it took that long to gather the courage to finish it, and continue watching more movies of that era. I don’t ever want to watch this movie again.
I remember loving this movie so damn much, thinking that Japan looked so incredibly cool as a place and setting (and this was years before I had any thought of moving there). I was quite worried that it wouldn’t have aged well, but I was pleased to see that it’s still quite enjoyable as a film, and you definitely can tell that it was shot there and that there was a desire to be as genuine as possible with the portrayal of Japan (something that Hollywood, especially then, didn’t really care much about). Including a Japanese cast — especially Ken Takakura — certainly helped with that.
This is my favorite Jim Jarmusch film (and I love his movies in general) and I was very pleased at how much I still enjoyed it — I don’t think I had seen it since its original release. Yes, the two Japanese actors absolutely steal the show, and I’d say I probably appreciate them even more now, having lived in Japan for so long (after I originally saw the film). It all feels so genuine, and I’m really impressed that Jarmusch was able to capture that, even though I doubt he speaks or understands any Japanese. Still a must-watch film.
The best thing about re-watching this was that it was as funny and enjoyable as I remembered it being. I mean, what is there to say other than it’s so fun and goofy, and I still can’t believe we’re getting a new movie in the series next year. I seem to remember that the sequel, Bogus Journey, was a bit of a letdown, but I’m sure I’ll revisit it as well when my marathons hit the year it was released.
As I mentioned in my post for Halloween 5, I do prefer the Halloween movies over the Friday the 13th ones, but hey, there’s still fun to be had here. And as silly as this sequel is — and boy is it silly — you gotta (well, you don’t need to, but you want to) give them some credit for trying to do something different by taking Jason out of his homebase and in this crazy setting. Of course, this will get topped with Part X.
What to say about Major League — it is what it is, a fun and goofy (and in the end, feel good) comedy from the tail end of 80s. It does have a great cast — with Charlie Sheen’s best role? — and I guess it does end up being one of the best sports-related films of the era (comedy or otherwise).