Die Hard

I couldn’t care less if this should be considered a Christmas movie or not — I watched it because it came out in 1988 — but I found the timing nice since the setting does make it a good movie to watch close to the holidays (along with Scrooged, which I watched the following night). I’ve watched this movie countless times, so I didn’t get the same kind of nostalgia that I do with a lot of the 80s movies I re-watch as part of these marathons. I will say that the best memory I have of this movie is seeing it at the theater in 70mm.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

This past year saw me re-watching a lot of Halloween movies, including the original (released in 1978) and the third one (and also the new one that came out this year, which I enjoyed immensely). Jumping into the 4th is a bit strange since this follows the events of the second one (the 3rd was a spinoff of sorts), and so it refers to things that we didn’t actually learn in the first one (like the family links with Michael, that have been erased with the new film). It was still a fun ride though, and as much as the third one is sorta neat in how weird it is, it’s good to be back in the world of Michael Myers.

Favorite Media of 2018

Yes, it’s finally that time of the year (see 201020112012201320142015, 2016, and 2017) when I take a look back at my favorite media from the past 12 months. As always, this is not a “best” list, but instead a survey of some of my favorite media that released in 2018 that I consumed over the past year. I don’t take in everything, so there’s absolutely tons of things that I haven’t gotten to experience yet that I might like even more than what I have listed here (and I might even make some updates over the coming weeks). The purpose in me doing this is to take some time to look back at the year, and remember all the great games, shows, movies, etc. that I really enjoyed. Each category is made up of an alphabetical top 5 (a “favorite 5” if you will), followed by a few honorable mentions.

Favorite Games
I think more than any other year, I had a bit more trouble putting this list together — and it has nothing to with the quality of releases this year. It’s in part because I didn’t play that many 2018 releases, which is partly explained by the fact that I got a PlayStation VR in the summer, and so spent a while playing a lot of older VR games on that platform. It also doesn’t help that Nintendo didn’t release much that I was particularly excited about this year. And of course, as always, there’s still loads I need to play. And where’s God of War? I really enjoyed it when I started playing it, but never got around to finishing it (got to about 10 hours), and I haven’t felt the urge to return and finish it — I think it’s a good game, but it just didn’t excite me as much as it did others. Also, I’m sure that if I would have played Yakuza Kiwami 2 it would be included, but after already playing Yakuza 0, Kiwami, and 6 this year, I wanted to take a break (but as you can tell, I love that series so much). Super Smash Brothers Ultimate makes my top 5 because I have so much fun bringing my Switch to work every day to play a few rounds with colleagues at the end of the day (I don’t particularly want to play it alone at home).

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4)
  • Dragon Quest XI (PS4)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate (Switch)
  • Yakuza 6 (PS4)

Honorable Mentions: A Way Out (PS4), Far Cry 5 (PS4), Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition (Switch), Hollow Knight (Switch), Into the Breach (Switch), Lightfingers (Switch), Magic: The Gathering Arena (PC), Onrush (PS4), Quarantine Circular (PC), Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4), Spider-Man (PS4), Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Switch), The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (PS4), Yoku’s Island Express (Switch)

Favorite Mobile Games
I don’t play a lot of mobile games these days, and it all happens on my iPad (except for Pocket-Run Pool, which I did play a lot on my phone), but I still had a lot of fun with these games. To be honest, my top game would be Gorogoa, but it officially released in mid-December of last year, so I don’t include it. For Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, I only played the first few chapters on mobile, but ended up buying it on Switch and continuing there.

  • Alto’s Odyssey
  • Donut County
  • Florence
  • Hidden My Game by Mom 3
  • Pocket-Run Pool

Honorable Mentions: Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, Reigns: GoT

Favorite Board Games
This is a new category, and the only one where I’ve decided to cheat a bit in terms of time of release. After getting rid of my entire card/board game collection when I left Japan, this is the year that I finally got back into playing regularly and building up a new collection. I feel like I didn’t buy enough games that were released in 2018 proper to just share that, so I’m sharing favorites that were released in 2017 as well. There’s tons more I’d like to play from this year though, and I expect them to hit my table in the coming months.

  • Breaking Bad: The Board Game
  • Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
  • Gloomhaven
  • The Quest for El Dorado
  • Ultimate Werewolf Legacy

Honorable Mentions: Deadwood 1876, Founders of Gloomhaven, Keyforge: Call of the Archons, Kingdomino: Age of Giants (expansion), Magic: The Gathering, The Legend of the Cherry Tree That Blossoms Every Ten Years

Favorite Movies
As with last year, with all of the old movie marathons I do, I tend not to spend that much time watching new movies, and so my list isn’t as fleshed out or exhaustive as it could be — going through what came out this year, I already have an incredibly long list of things I want to watch (and I expect I’m going to love Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse when I see it). But in terms of what I did watch that came out this year, here are my faves.

  • Mandy
  • Mary and the Witch’s Flower
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl

Honorable Mentions: Apostle, Annihilation, A Quiet Place, Batman NinjaBird Box, Black PantherDeadpool 2, Flavors of Youth, HalloweenHereditary, Incredibles 2Ready Player One, Sicario: Day of the SoldadoSolo: A Star Wars Story, Summer of 84, Teen Titans Go! to the MoviesWon’t You Be My Neighbor

Favorite Movies of the 1980s
Last year I watched a crazy amount of movies from the 80s (from 1985 to 1987), and so thought it would be fun to list top 5s for each of those years. This year, I only recently started marathoning films from 1988, but here are my 5 faves for the year.

  • Akira
  • Coming to America
  • Die Hard
  • Heathers
  • They Live

Favorite TV
I think my biggest discovery and love this year was the treasure trove of international crime dramas on Netflix (like The Break, The Chalet, The Forest, and Trapped, among others). Although not included in my top 5, they made up a lot of my favorite viewing this year, but I still enjoyed a lot of other things.

  • Cobra Kai
  • Everything Sucks
  • Jack Ryan
  • Killing Eve
  • The Terror

Honorable Mentions: Altered Carbon, Better Call Saul, Black Mirror: BandersnatchBodyguard, Castle Rock, GameCenter-CXGLOWHannah Gadsby: Nanette, Lost in Space, Norm Macdonald Has a ShowSaturday Night Live, Star Trek Discovery, The Break, The Chalet, The ForestThe End of the Fucking World, The Good Place, TrappedUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Westworld

Favorite Anime Series
I definitely watched less anime this year than last year, and it was pretty easy to come up with a top 5 — but these really are all series that I highly enjoyed.

  • Devilman Crybaby
  • High Score Girl
  • Ito Junji: Collection
  • Lupin III: Part V
  • The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These

Favorite Web Series
Not much changed since last year, I still enjoy the same series, although I’m now including the Nintendo-produced “Let’s Play” series featuring comedy duo Yoiko (GameCenter-CX‘s Arino and his partner, Hamaguchi).

Honorable Mentions: People Make GamesShut Up & Sit Down

Favorite Music
As the years go by, so does the reduction in new music that I end up spending a lot of time listening to, to a point where I have more trouble filling up this category. There is a lot that comes out that I enjoy, but I just listen to the albums a few times, and then never end up revisiting them, which makes it hard to say that they’re favorites. I do listen to music constantly (“no music, no life”), but it’s very eclectic, spans decades, and I’d say this year I’ve developed more of an obsession for classic jazz (hard bop). But here are albums that came out this year that I did really like.

  • Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (John Coltrane)
  • DJ-Kicks (Mount Kimbie)
  • Strangers in Dub (Burt Kaempfert Meets De-Phazz) (De-Phazz)
  • The Beatles (White Album) [Super Deluxe] (The Beatles)
  • The Pool (Instrumentals & Remixes) (Jazzanova)

Honorable Mentions: All Nerve (The Breeders), Do the Get Along (Holly Golightly), MassEducation (St. Vincent), Sparkle Hard (Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks), The Pool (Jazzanova), The Sunshine Beat, Vol. 1 (Tahiti 80), Time ‘n’ Place (Kero Kero Bonito), Woman Worldwide (Justice)

Favorite Comics
Each year I feel bad that I’m not reading more independents when it comes to English-language comics, but yeah, what I read regularly is the super-hero stuff. And this year again, the majority of my sequential art reading happened more on the French-language side, as I continue my weekly (sometimes more) visits to the library to pick up books new and old.

  • Action Comics/Superman
  • Batman
  • Doomsday Clock
  • Mister Miracle
  • The Green Lantern

Honorable Mentions: Dark Nights: MetalG.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, HawkmanHeroes in Crisis, Justice League (as well as Justice League Dark and Justice League Odyssey), The Punisher

Favorite BDs
As mentioned above, my comics love these days continues to be on the French side (bandes-dessinées), as I continue to catch up on releases, reading through series. So because of that, I’m not reading as many new releases as I normally would, but these are still all books that came out this year that I really enjoyed. (The series name is followed by the book’s title or number.)

  • CentaurusTerre d’angoisse
  • Il faut flinguer Ramirez – Acte 1
  • La jeunesse de ThorgaleLe drakkar des glaces
  • Retour sur Aldébaran – Épisode 1
  • Tyler CrossMiami

Honorable Mentions: Alix SenatorLa Puissance et l’Éternité, Amazonie – Épisode 3, CarthagoLéviathan, Journal d’Italie – Hong Kong 2 OsakaI.R.$Les seigneurs financiersMutations – Épisode 1

Favorite Podcasts
My list of podcasts has changed a bit this year, with my top 5 now including two new gaming-related shows I started listening to this year (Kinda Funny Games Daily and Kotaku Splitscreen). After skipping the second season of Serial, I quite enjoyed this year’s 3rd one. For Retronauts and What a Cartoon, these I don’t listen to regularly, but instead check for episodes with a topic I’m interested in. And I really do wish Noclip would release more episodes of its excellent podcast (just as good as its video documentaries).

  • 8-4 Play
  • All Songs Considered
  • Kinda Funny Games Daily
  • Kotaku Splitscreen
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour

Honorable Mentions: Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Monocle 24: The Stack, Noclip, On Margins, Retronauts, Serial, The AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook, What a Cartoon

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

I’ve watched a lot of Friday the 13th movies since I’ve started doing my 80s movie marathons (4, 5, 6, and 7), and I think this is my favorite one. If you think back on the series, this is close to being the most archetypical (at least of the ones I’ve re-watched). Sure, the mind powers of the girl are a bit silly, but you have a well executed zombie-like Jason, teens at Crystal Lake (doing silly teens things), and all sorts of gruesome kills — although what I’ve discovered re-watching these is that they’re not all that gory, you tend to not really see when the blade or weapon connects. When it comes to the series, I think this is a pretty great entry.

Monkey Shines

I won’t say it’s a bad movie, but I feel like the movie just takes way too long to turn into the “horror” film it’s billed as. The first hour is a bit of a slog to get through — as the main character deals with his accident and the aftermath. Things get a bit more interesting when the monkey starts doing its thing, but it felt more like a “science gone wrong” film than horror — and the way he defeats the monkey (and the way it’s shot) is hilariously silly. I also tend to stay away from movies based around animals because I can’t stand seeing animals put in difficult (horrific or sad) situations, so that probably also explains why I didn’t like it much.

Coming to America

The biggest surprise for me was how much I enjoyed watching this, and still found it to be so incredibly funny. Sure, I have fond memories of it, but I wasn’t expecting it to have aged well. But yeah, this is still so oh-so funny, and it was a delight to see Murphy and Hall disguised while playing all those wacky characters (I had completely forgotten about this). Still well worth watching, and possibly Murphy’s best comedy film? (I still have a certain fondness for Trading Places though, and the Trading Places Easter egg in Coming to America was fantastic, and again, came as a surprise to me.)

Johnny Be Good

I was mostly interested in watching this because of the cast, and not really because I remember it being a good movie or anything. Seeing Anthony Michael Hall play a jock still feels weird, and oh my, Uma Thurman was so amazingly cute (in her debut film, as the “Introducing” in front of her name during the opening credits announces). As is often the case with films of this era, it’s incredibly sexist, and silly as hell, but I tried to just place myself in “time machine” mode, and sorta enjoyed it for what it is: a dumb 80s teen comedy. I also like the Judas Priest rendition of the title song during the end credits — which weirdly plays over a long sequence of Hall playing the drums in his bedroom.

Heathers

Definitely one of the biggest cult movies from those years, I was curious to see how it had aged. I’ll say that I still enjoyed watching it — in the way that I enjoy watching all of these 80s movies, as a nostalgic trip back to the era — but it does feel a lot cheesier than I remembered, with ridiculous dialogue (even for teenagers), and brooding Christian Slater coming off as a joke more than cool or threatening. But this is pretty much “ultimate” Winona Ryder (who I loved so much), and there’s a lot to like here, as a funny parody of high-school life, taken to extremes.

The Naked Gun

OK, yes, this is still a ridiculously dumb movie, but oh-so-fun. I must have watched it countless times back in the day, because so many lines and situations felt so familiar, even though I haven’t re-watched it since back in the day. I loved all the Zucker-Zucker-Abrahams comedies from the 80s (Airplane, Top Secret), and this was just what I was expecting and hoping to watch. Mindless fun.

Frantic

I tend to have a very bad memory when it comes to the plots of old movies, which means that I can go in and revisit these movies and still discover the story again, and enjoy the suspense. Such is the case for this — I remembered liking it, but couldn’t really remember much outside of the basic “this is Harrison Ford in trouble in Paris.” It’s still an enjoyable thriller with a Hitchcock feel, with good performances all around. Well worth a revisit.