Well, it’s that time of year again; time where I utilize my hyperactive chronicling and rating tendencies to list out all the things I liked the most this year. This year I have a list for Video Games, Movies, Music, and Books… however, I’m only touching stuff that I’ve completed myself, regardless of what year it was made (the exception here is music, where I was able to confidently pick out my 5 favorite albums of 2019). In order for you to see everything I’ve completed this year, I’ll be linking my relevant chronicling profile for each of the subjects listed as a hyperlink for that subject. Anyway, let’s get into it.
(Quick note on this one: I only actually completed 7 games this year, so the quality is gonna vary a lot between the choices)
- Far Cry 3
As much as there were parts that infuriated me about Far Cry 3, I found that there was a lot to it that kept me going as well. The skills you build up in this game allow for some really fun moments, such as wiping out an entire room of pirates in less than a second, or causing explosive with cars, or smoking out an entire squad by utilizing the game’s fire mechanic. It may not be as nice of a chaos simulator as say Just Cause 2, but it gets the job done.
My opinion goes back and forth on Skyrim a lot, but after finally beating it this year I can say that it is certainly among the best of the “progression RPGs”; RPGs that don’t focus on story but rather killing guys, looting guys, leveling up to kill more guys, etc etc. The world is engaging, the areas reasonably designed, and the progression probably some of the best in the entire Elder Scrolls franchise.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
My favorite game… of 2011 (sorry Skyrim). The story here really falls off in the second half, but the gameplay is always engaging. I think it does a good job of respecting Deus Ex’s legacy. I don’t like how constricting the latter parts of the game are, but when the game is still open world it really has some of the best open-world segments I’ve ever seen.
- The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds, AKA the only game on this list that actually came out in 2019, also had some really nice open-world segments; in addition to a story where it felt like choices matter, and that I really had a part in shaping the world (vital for an RPG for me). Obsidian, of course, is no stranger to crafting RPGs with this much merit, but I appreciate the work put into this game; while I didn’t particularly enjoy the humor, I did appreciate the more subtle bits of story as well as the excellent pacing/length of the game.
- Civilization V
Civilization IV is one of my favorite games of all time, so I’m happy to say that I think Civ V lives up to expectations. Is it as good as Civ IV? I wouldn’t say so, but I didn’t need it to be as good as Civ IV. I needed it to keep me engaged to the extent that it kept me engaged in the previous installment, and it definitely did its work well.
- Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
Starting off the movie list strong with the first and only movie I saw in theaters in 2019. Listen, I don’t like Spiderman. I don’t like western animation. And, despite these things, this movie was a really fun romp. Didn’t really appreciate the characters outside of the core three, but they didn’t detract too much from what was going on. Art and music were on point with this movie.
- Suspiria (2018)
I really appreciate the new approach to psychological horror that movies have been taking on, with films like The Witch and Hereditary. I thought that already seeing two of these movies with the exact same setup and process would leave me bored watching Suspiria, but it really didn’t. I think it’s both a sign of the quality of the process as well as the quality of direction. Note: I didn’t watch the original Suspiria, and I am aware that this movie takes extensive liberties with its plot. I hope to see the original sometime in 2020!
- The 400 Blows
A classic movie I’ve been wanting to see but has been a bitch to find (until I realized my University streams it for free). I think it describes the development of a troubled adolescent really damn well. I was afraid the movie was gonna be some weird arthouse French shit, but it really wasn’t; the plot was extremely straightforward and therefore I think anyone could really enjoy this movie.
- Millennium Actress
Those who know me already know that a) I’m a massive fan of Satoshi Kon’s work, and b) I’ve been wanting to see Millennium Actress for a while now, so perhaps the only surprise here is that it isn’t at spot #1. Millennium Actress delivered on pretty much all the expectations I had for it: an expertly crafted love story with some weird (but not too weird!) twist and turns. And wonderful plot closure. And really wonderful music. Go watch it!
- 12 Angry Men
Yup, I just now saw this. I just now saw it mostly because I expected the worst from the movie; thinking it was going to be some boring court drama that gains its praise via cheap twists a la The Usual Suspects or Shawshank Redemption. Boy, was I wrong. This is not a court drama, this is a movie about characters. Sure there’s plenty of discussion on the legal system, and some fun little twists and turns here and there — but that is by no means the foundation of this movie. This movie is about character development, which is a much, much more interesting subject. My only real complaint is that I feel two of the jurors weren’t as developed enough and their decisions didn’t make much sense, but speaking that there are 12 main characters to this movie that’s not really a big complaint. There’s a reason this was my only 10/10 movie of the year!
- Mark Ronson, Late Night Feelings
We start off the only fully 2019 list on this post with Mark Ronson’s latest. I’ve been following Mark Ronson since Record Collection and thoroughly enjoyed Uptown Special, but I’ve got to say that Late Night Feelings is easily his best to date. The album matches catchy pop hits with unique production. Hey, what can I say; I’m a sucker for well-crafted pop music.
- Polkadot Stingray, 有頂天
Polkadot Stringray’s newest album 有頂天 (I’m… not even going to bother translating it this time) adds on from their last album, which made my favorites list back in 2017. I would say this album is a welcome improvement, providing even more bangers and catchy guitar tunes. Pretty much every person I’ve shown Polkadot Stingray to has enjoyed it, and as their albums keep getting better and better I will happily remain their western advocate.
- Little Simz, Grey Area
I’ll admit that I’ve never actually listened to Little Simz before, but this album certainly piqued my interest. Some of the best hip hop production of the year, amplified by Little Simz rapping. Check it out if you like hip hop!
- Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising
An early of the year favorite of mine, and had stayed at #1 for a real long time until a certain someone dropped their album. I don’t even like Fleetwood Mac sound, but there’s something that’s just so fruitful and perfectly executed about this album that I just have to bow down to it. A gift that kept giving all year.
- JPEGMAFIA, All My Heroes Are Cornballs
I enjoyed Veteran decently enough, but holy hell, I was not expecting this. On this album Peggy beautifully matches his traditional glitch style with a more toned down, moody and existential style. The samples on here are so well chosen that you can really just feel the narrative unfolding without even paying attention all that much. Pretty much every song on this album is a hard, straight banger. My only 10/10 of albums released in 2019. Also, I’m pretty sure he coughed on every fucking song.
- Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!
This is the first Richard Feynman book I’ve read, and I’m already liking the guy. While the stories can sometimes get dull, the amount of vibrant and interesting one more than well makes up for it.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow
I’ve read a lot about mental biases this year, but Kahneman’s book is probably the best well-rounded explanation of all of them. If you read this one, you really don’t have to read any of the others.
I’m going to copy and paste my review of this from the Reading List, cause I still think it sums up this book the best: “This book probably has the most revelations per minute of any book I’ve ever read.”.
- Shoe Dog
I’m still not sure if this was ghostwritten, but if it wasn’t… holy shit. Some of the best storytelling of the books I’ve read this year. That last chapter still sticks out in my mind as one of the best endings to a book I’ve ever read.
Okay, so it’s a little bit too edgy for its own good. So what? This is easily the best narrative I’ve ever seen in a comic and one of the best I’ve ever seen in any book. This almost runs like a movie, and a really good one at that. Just like 12 Angry Men, I would say this is definitely about characters. Read it!
Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting throughout the biweek. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do higher quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.