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Favorite Media of 2019

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 2010201120122013201420152016, 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.

Favorite Games
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
  • Grindstone
  • LEGO Builder’s Journey
  • Pilgrims
  • 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
  • Root

Honorable Mentions: Hokkaido, Raids, Tower of Madness

Favorite Movies
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.

  • Booksmart
  • 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

Favorite TV
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
  • Primal
  • 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

Favorite Music
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)

Favorite Comics
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

Favorite BDs
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 ThorgalLa dent bleue (7)
  • RenaissanceInterzone (2)
  • Retour sur Aldébaran – Épisode 2
  • SternL’Ouest, le vrai (3)

Honorable Mentions: Alix SenatorLes Spectres de Rome (9), CarthagoLe Pacte du centenaire (9), KatangaDispersion (3), LefrancLune Rouge (30), Soleil FroidL’armée verte (3)

Favorite Podcasts
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
  • Shift+F1
  • The Chris Van Vliet Show
  • WhatCulture Wrestling

Honorable Mentions: All Songs Considered, Monocle 24: The Stack, On Margins

Categories
Film TV

Thrillin’ and Chillin’ in October 2019

As I did last year, I decided to do another horror marathon during the month of October, to put me in a proper Halloween mood. This year’s list of what I watched (see below) is a bit shorter than last year (20 vs. 27), but I think this year I ended up watching more TV series, which took up more time — and I ended up watching the second half (all made up of movies) during the final week of October. (I’m also watching more pro wrestling these days, so I imagine that affected things too.) So here then is the list of TV shows and movies I watched for this year’s marathon, and I can’t wait to do the next one — you’ll also find all my write-ups under the “October 2019” category.

  1. American Horror Story: 1984
  2. Annabelle
  3. Annabelle Comes Home
  4. Annabelle: Creation
  5. Ash vs Evil Dead (Season 3)
  6. Assassination Nation
  7. Costume Quest
  8. Creepshow (2019)
  9. In the Tall Grass
  10. Les affamés (Ravenous)
  11. Marianne
  12. Midsommar
  13. One Cut of the Dead
  14. Overlord
  15. Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead 2
  16. The Conjuring
  17. The Conjuring 2
  18. The Dead Zone
  19. The Purge (Season 2)
  20. Twilight Zone (2019)
Categories
Debaser TV

Creepshow (2019)

This is a new series that’s currently airing on Shudder, and it really does feel like a proper follow-up to the original movies. It really embraces the comic book aesthetic as well — all framing sequences are done in that style, including some bits during episodes — and it just feels fun to watch. Sure, it’s a bit on the low budget side — something you mostly notice when it comes to creature effects — but I think it suits the campy vibe of the series. I’ve watched the first two episodes (which are themselves divided in 2 half-hour episodes), and liked pretty much all of them — the one with the dollhouse was especially great. Well worth taking in of you were a fan of the original movies, or enjoy fun campy horror.

Categories
Debaser TV

Ash vs Evil Dead (Season 3)

Last year for my Halloween marathon I watched season 2, and this year I’m watching season 3 (which is sadly its final season). I’ve just watched the first few episodes, but so far so good, pretty much what I want and enjoy from the series. I’m sure I’ll be a bit sad when I’m done watching the season, but here’s hoping the character lives on in some other form (one more movie, please).

Categories
Debaser TV

Marianne

This is a French horror series that was added to Netflix a few weeks ago, and my wife and I have both been enjoying it immensely. I still have the last two episodes to watch, but the series so far has been incredibly creepy, offering a neat storyline, with some really nice filmmaking (great shots of the town where most of the action takes place, etc.) Highly recommended.

Categories
Debaser TV

The Purge (Season 2)

As I’ve written in the past (last year’s Halloween marathon included quite a bit of Purge releases), I quite like this series, and so I was excited at the prospect of a second season of the TV show. Only one episode has aired so far, but I already like the premise, which proposes that we spend the season looking at the year leading up to the next Purge (and the fallout from a Purge that has just ended). At least that’s what it looks like we’re going to get.

Categories
Debaser TV

Costume Quest

I really loved Double Fine’s two Costume Quest games, and when an animated series based on those games was announced, I was pretty excited to check it out. When the first season did come out, I remember checking on Prime Video here in Canada and not finding it, and then forgot to check again later. With the recent release of a second season, that prompted me to check again, and I found that both were now available. I’ve only watched the first episode, but it feels just like what I’d want from a Costume Quest animated series: fun characters, a great cartoony aesthetic, and nods to the game. During my Halloween marathon, it makes for a nice comedic break from all of the horror I’m watching.

Categories
Debaser TV

Twilight Zone (2019)

I started watching the Jordan Peele-produced reboot of the series when it was airing earlier this year, but hadn’t gotten around to watching the last three episodes, which I finally did now — a good time to watch them, as part of my Halloween marathon. I quite liked this series, and I’m hoping they do more (it sounds like it was indeed renewed). As with any anthology series, I can’t say that I enjoyed every episode evenly, but overall I had a really good time watching it, and felt like there were way more hits than misses. I also enjoyed the super meta final episode of the season (even though the middle part dragged on a bit). So far, when it comes to horror and suspense, Jordan Peele can do no wrong for me.

Categories
Debaser TV

American Horror Story: 1984

As I did last year — see my round-up post — I’ve decide to devote a good part of my media viewings in October to horror (or horror-tinged thrillers), since I had so much fun last time. So yesterday, on October 1, I kicked things off with the current season of American Horror Story, this year subtitled 1984. I haven’t watched the series since the second season, but it was the 80s setting and theme that made me want to come back. I’ve only watched the first episode, but so far, it’s deliciously horrific in that fun cheesy 80s way that I’ve become so familiar with due to all my 80s movie marathons I’ve been doing in recent years (I’m currently in the middle of a 1989 marathon). I’m definitely looking forward to watching more episodes of this.

Categories
TV

Recent TV (April 2019)

I’m not quite sure what my love of Killing Eve‘s Villanelle says about me.

In recent years, the majority of my TV watching has been of the streaming variety, mostly binged from Netflix. I did notice that I’m watching a few series on a weekly basis this month, and here they are.

Doom Patrol. I thought the Titans series was pretty good, and my favorite episode from its first season was the one that starred the Doom Patrol. Because of that, I was incredibly hyped for this series, and so it’s a bit unfortunate that it just didn’t land for me. I still have the last 2-3 episodes of the 10-episode season to watch, and I will watch them, but I don’t think I’m in for a second season if they do end up making one. I don’t like that they went less funny and more just plain weird with their stories, and I thought the addition of Cyborg was incredibly lame — or maybe it’s just that I really don’t like his portrayal in this series.

Game of Thrones. Certainly one of my favorite series of all time (like everyone else), and following this week’s episode (the battle of Winterfell), I’m now even more excited to see how things are going to fall out over the final three episodes. Let’s see who wins this goddamn game of thrones.

Killing Eve. I loved the first season to bits, and I’m enjoying the second season (so far) just as much. Never mind Eve though, for me it’s all about Villanelle, I just can’t get enough of her. I’m definitely happy that they’ve already announced that they’ll do a third season.

Twilight Zone. Before watching the first episode, I was a bit bummed by the headlines I’d seen that suggested this new take on the classic franchise was a bust (at least based on the first four episodes, that had been made available to reviewers). Maybe it’s because I went in with lowered expectations then (after my initial excitement at the thought of Jordan Peele taking on the series), but I’ve enjoyed all of the episodes so far (the first four). Sure, they’re not all amazing, and some could have been cut in half, but I’ve enjoyed them none the less, as well as the weird Twilight Zonian twists we get in all of them. It’s maybe not for everyone, but it’s working for me.

Warrior. Produced by Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shanon, this is based on an idea Lee had in the 70s for a series that he never got to make, but that later inspired David Carradine’s Kung Fu. I’ve only watched the first episode, but I dig the setting (late 19th century San Francisco, focusing on the Chinese communities), and the fights are fun. I’m in for at least a few more episodes.

What We Do in the Shadows. The movie this is based on is one of my all-time favorite comedies, and so I was incredibly excited at the thought of getting a series based on it, and from the same creators. Five episodes in, I’ll say that I like it, but I’m not overly in love with it. It has its moments — some brilliant — but for the most part it’s so-so, making me think that the insanely fun premise of the movie isn’t really enough to sustain a series. I’ll keep watching it though, for the amazing cast at least.