End of Year 2019: Favorite Watching

Favorite Watching

While we are a community focused on games and how they intersect with our lives, we’ve never shied away from exploring and discussing other media critically and enthusiastically. It only seems appropriate, then, that our End of Year event offer up a space for us to share our own “Waypoints” from 2019.

This topic is dedicated to anything that you watched. As pretty much the whole realm of moving image, that can mean a lot of things! A big blockbuster, a small indie film, a prestige drama, a great anime, or even a YouTube video! Whatever it is, feel free to tell us all about it!


Discussion Thread

This thread is all about discussing your favorites! The end of the year is always a great opportunity to look back and reflect on what we loved, but it’s also a great time to remind ourselves of what we missed and want to come back to next year. So give a recommendation, get a recommendation, and above all please be respectful and have a good time!

Be sure to check the Q&A section below if you have questions, otherwise feel free to reach out to one of us! We hope you enjoy this event and we’re excited to see what sorts of discussion each category inspires!

Please Note: We’re planning to write-up a summary thread at the end of the event and include various members’ quotes from the discussion threads, just like last year. The quotes that we select will be attributed to their authors and only posted on this forum (forum.waypoint.vice.com). If you would prefer to not be quoted in the summary thread, please indicate this in your posts.


Q&A

Q: End of Year? What's that?

A: I’m glad you asked! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the event here.

Q: What can I discuss in this thread?

A: Anything that you think fits the topic! Feel free to share your favorite experiences of 2019, whether they occurred in media that released in 2019 or media from a previous year.

Q: Where are the nominations?

A: This year we’re structuring things a little differently: we’ll be posting discussion threads over the second half of December, and nominations won’t begin until January. This will give you a few more weeks to play more games before you’ll need to lock in your votes. We also hope that by focusing on open discussion threads, the event will be more inclusive of folks who haven’t been able to play many games from this year.

Credits

The Irishman is a masterpiece, yeah? A triumph even by Martin Scorcese’s standards, a guy whose last couple films have all been home runs in my opinion. If it turns out to be his last, I can’t think of a stronger note to go out on.

I know the prospect of watching a three and a half hour gangster film where shitty dudes act shitty isn’t immediately appealing to some, but this thing is a vicious takedown of the macho bullshit that so many have (wrongly) interpreted Scorcese’s movies as being. Being a mobster in Irishman isn’t cool, it’s alienating, petty, and crushingly sad. That final shot is going to stay in my mind for a long while.

And the way Pacino says “motherfucker” is beautiful

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I finally got on the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen train.

It’s truly the “What if nice people were nice to each other?” TV show that I feel like we all want after spending too much time on Twitter and/or reading news headlines. I’m still working out what about it I like so much, but for now I’m content to watch Our Lady Of The Test Kitchen Claire Saffitz do her thing without asking too many questions.

Also Watchmen, but there’s a thread for that.

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The Marvelous Mrs Maisel remains fantastically good in its third season, released earlier this month. It’s drawn so many interesting and lovable characters and developed them so beautifully throughout. The snippets we get of Midge’s act continue to be a joy, and I think Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein are absolutely killing it in every scene. Such a wonderfully joyful show in a dark world.

Parasite is one of the most poignant and powerful critiques of capitalism in recent history, and still manages to be heartwarming and hilarious in places despite its grim depiction of the modern conditions of life, particularly in regard to those barely scraping by (as so, so many of us are these days). Definitely the most important film of the year in my mind…maybe even of the decade.

I got like a whole Top 15 to write next month since I’ll end up seeing over 80 movies by the time I’m ready to tell you what my Movie of the Year is. But so far the winner right now is The Farewell, a movie that will make you very sad if you’ve ever had a Grandma that you’ve loved. It’s a strong exploration of Chinese expatriates at conflict with their family still in Asia, and also how all those cultural differences don’t matter when you had an adorable little grandma who is just full of love… Only movie that made me cry this year.

Various runners up would be Parasite, Promare, Midsommar, and of course, Climax.

Television of the year has to go to Chernobyl for being some of the most terrifying shit I’ve ever seen. I still have nightmares about that Reactor Core.

And Youtube of the year goes to Binging with Babish for helping me discover how much I actually love cooking and making my life legitimately better.

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I could watch hours of Chris Morocco recreate blind taste test meals.

I really like Russian Doll. Snappy, funny, and tightly paced. Almost certainly the best TV show i’ve watched this year.

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If you haven’t watched I Think You Should Leave yet, YOU’LL NEVER BE PART OF THE TURBO TEAM

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I didn’t get to see many new films in theaters this year but Trigger/Hiroyuki Imaishi’s Promare and Zhang Yimou’s wuxia film Shadow were both incredible for maybe opposite reasons. Promare is exuberant and hot-blooded and colorful and gay and just an absolute blast all the way through. Shadow on the other had is a restrained, semi-black and white film that is mostly beautifully moody, theatrically melodramatic court intrigue full of tragic love and betrayals and duplicitous plotting, until it explodes into wild wuxia action with like, razorblade umbrellas and brutal rainy fights to the death. Both films are beautiful and completely whip ass but they could not be more different and that makes me very happy that I got to see both in theaters.

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I don’t think I’ve seen a better horror movie this decade, let alone this year, than The Lighthouse. Two stellar performances in an intensely atmospheric film. Also, I adore that they were committed enough to the aesthetic to leave the wires in whenever there was a shot of seagulls flying.

The TV stand-out, for me, was the South Korean period zombie horror show, Kingdom. I like the characters, the sets, the writing… but - a rarity for zombie fiction - the real star of the show was the zombies. There are shots that capture what that Sony zombie video game was going for, I’ve honestly forgotten the name (Days…?), with zombies piling up on their prey, great cinematography. There is interesting lore, another zombie rarity, and the rules that dictate how and when they move build a lot of tension. It’s great, definitely recommend if you’ve burned out on zombie burnout.

Online Runner-Ups

I wholeheartedly second the recommendation for Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel. I like their recipe videos more than any of their series (though Chris Morocco’s blind recreations are excellent), and I would watch Rick Martinez throw together a hamburger helper, honestly. I got very into Ska Tune Network this year, a ska cover channel. hbomb’s Donkey Kong stream was fun, probably the best LIVE event of the year. Curio’s videos about Fallout: New Vegas rocked. honker3d has a great series about architecture, city planning, etc., donoteat1 was on an episode. Huntress x Thompson’s videos on Paradox games and Dwarf Fortress are close runner-ups for my fave videos of the year.

My favourite YouTube videos this year were from Jack Saint. I have nothing interesting to say about them, I just think his vids on cop movies were very funny and good.

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I liked the part in Symphogear where the gay idols fought several secret societies and then punched several gods, all while singing.

I also liked the part in Chihayafuru where they played the game about listening to poetry and flinging the poem across the room for points.

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Some animation stuff I want to shout out:

Tuca & Bertie is easily one of the best adult animated shows ever made. It’s created by Lisa Hanawalt, who was designer on Bojack Horseman. And while it’s generally more focused on gags (especially visual gags), all of which are great, it still tackles serious subjects pretty well much like Bojack does. And Netflix cancelled it after just the first season, right after its studio unionized. Fuck off Netflix.

Klaus is a fun Christmas movie that mixes fantastic 2D animation with CG visual effects incredibly well. It’s basically Emperor’s New Groove again in its style but still, it’s fun and since movies with hand drawn animation are a rarity these days it’s definitely worth watching

Mob Psycho 100’s second season continues to have everything that made its first season great and more. The characters are still as lovable as they were before, and on top of that they manage to top the animation quality of the first season. And the first season itself already had some of the best animation a TV show has had.

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I finally got around to seeing Your Name. and it was exactly as incredible as people had made it out to be. Very glad a friend finally forced me to sit down and watch it.

As for stuff that actually came out this year, I really loved GRANBELM. It’s a dark magical girl show that is interested in emotional and existential darkness and not just being violent or gory. It actually cares about the characters and wants to them to overcome things and isn’t just wallowing in their despair. It’s real good y’all.

I also wanted to shoutout The Magnificent Kotobuki because it’s just a fun thing. What if: a western movie but everyone flew old WW2-era fighter planes? It’s cute and silly and fun and by the end it goes some unexpected places. I really liked that the show is clearly made by some people who really love planes because it isn’t just being used as an aesthetic because there’s a great attention to detail in how things look and move and sound.

I fell down the This Old Tony rabbit hole and I cannot get over how pitch perfect this How It’s Made parody he does at the beginning is. The cheesy royalty free music, the shallow depth of field, the Dutch angles, the line delivery, the puns, everything is flawless (and I have watched a lot of How It’s Made over the years)

I’m here just to echo the sentiments of Bon Appetit and Promare being some real standouts this year.

Bon Appetit has just been a joy to watch all year. Everything from Gourmet Makes to It’s Alive to Making Perfect to most of their other series are all so fun. Each chef shines on camera and they all have such great chemistry together. I’d say the standout Bon Appetit video(s) of the year is either their Sourdough Donuts or their Noodling videos. Both are fantastic while being in such stark contrast with each other.

Promare is a great god damn time. Studio Trigger are the only ones who could have made this movie because the entire thing is just Trigger supremely on it’s bullshit. The entire movie reads like a checklist of what everyone wants out of a Trigger animation.
-Is it hotblooded? Yes!
-Is the main character a blue-haired himbo? Yes!
-Are there giant robots? Yes!
-Is there a drill? For a moment yeah!
-Is there a completely nonsense exposition dump in the middle where they reveal the twist to be aliens, but you love it not in spite of it’s nonsense but because of it? Absolutely!
-Is it gay? Not as gay as you’ve heard honestly but yes and it’s nice.

This doesn’t come off at all as pandering to their audience, all of this reads as Trigger being self-aware and just having fun with their tropes. Promare isn’t carried just on it’s tropes either. It’s color palette and animation are wonderful to look at and watch, the sound track is great, and the cast of characters is fun, and it’s pretty damn funny. Also, and this is something no one tells you going into the movie, it’s surprisingly a good movie about ecofascism.

I loved Promare from start to end and I can’t wait for it to get a Blu-Ray release so I watch it again.

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She-Ra and the Princesses of Power aired it’s 2nd 3rd and 4th season this year (netflix is weird) and god is that one of the best shows out there right now. I love these characters they’re more than just fun designs and have a lot of depth to them. I also appreciate how much the crew is willing to let conflicts hang or continue over multiple seasons. Most kids shows , heck ever shows for adults , will solve conflicts by the end of an episode or season. But this show doesn’t provide easy solutions for these characters and it can hurt to watch them mess up but it only makes me more invested in seeing them succeed.

Tuca and Bertie
This is the funniest show i watched all year. It’s full of heart , it’s one of the few adult animated comedies that actually uses it medium of animation to further enhance it’s visuals and jokes. It’s also just deeply human and deals with some real tough things. Yes it was cancelled after season 1 (fuck you netflix) but please , please do yourself a favor and watch Tuca and Bertie. I love these birds.

Infinity Train was a rad sci-fi adventure anthology series that premiered this year on Cartoon Network. Excited for Book Two next year. Amphibia is a delightful fantastical comedy set in a frog swamp world that’s incredibly funny. Ducktales continues to be amazing. OK K.O. saw the end of it’s 2nd season and all it’s 3rd and final season. a criminally overlooked and cancelled too soon. If you love animation and goofy funtimes you should seriously give this show a shot. Steven Universe continues to be my favorite cartoon ever this year with the finale of it’s main series , a tv movie and the start of it’s epilogue series Steven Universe Future really being good. I’m gonna miss this show a lot when it’s over.

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While it won’t get an official release overseas until early 2020, I’d like to give a big shout out to Beastars. Beyond its unique bop of an opening, it’s a show that operates on striking direction, three dimensional character development, foreboding atmosphere and just some sweet sweet lovable boys.
I’ll admit some bias, while it handles its characters with a great amount of depth and realism, it’s also just filled with snacks and, whether inherently or not, portrays relationships between them with a certain degree of kink.
It’s also created by a woman, is super funny, and has probably the best 3d anime visuals and animation I’ve ever seen, it’s gorgeous. It’s just about to finish its first season and I hope we get more.

On a somewhat similar note Bojack Horseman released the first half of its sixth season recently, and while I think the show’s strengths often come out in the latter half this still had some moving episodes in it and set up for future stakes. I don’t know if I want to say too much declaratively about it with its release schedule in mind, either way it can’t be easily following up from masterpiece episodes of previous seasons. also let Penny rest please…

I play more games than I watch produced entertainment tbh so I either don’t catch a lot, or forget a lot of it.
So I wanna mention some good stuff I did watch, like Unraveled - Polyon produced, Brian David Gilbert led, comedic deep dives into everything from producing a new Zelda timeline including every Zelda game and media, to transforming the concept of a pokérap into a gesamtkunstwerk that’s actually great.

Like much of the internet I also got into the story of Kingdom Hearts this year, and while Lore Reasons were fun listens as the crew was figuring out things along the way, A Good Enough Summary of Kingdom Hearts was my intro.
There are probably more comprehensive and more useful recaps of the overarching Kingdom Hearts story, but hardly a more entertaining one. At a relatively brief 30 mins Barry Kramer sums of the plot points, lays out the mechanics of the universe, and connects the games and characters in a readable fashion, the majority of it drawn and edited by himself. It’s the perfect primer before diving into the deeper analyses on the internet.

I also watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood this year which was fantastic, and EVA late last year which was a ride I’ll never forget, but idk if those have much precedent to be on here, just wanted to mention them since my list is slim.

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I was struggling to think of something for this then realised I was being silly. The answer is obvious. It’s Good Omens.

https://cdn.collider.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/good-omens-david-tennant-michael-sheen.png

I love Terry Pratchett books and Good Omens is one of his finest (with Gaiman of course) and talk of an adaptation has been floating about for years without anything coming of it. Then supposedly Pratchett on his deathbed asked Gaiman to make it happen and Gaiman damn near killed himself making it. And it’s perfect. The show sticks close to the book but diverging where it makes sense, expanding where it makes sense, developing characters more where it has space to do so. It’s hilarious it looks great and damn I’m just so happy that it exists.

Also Tennant and Sheen as Crowley and Azriphale is just perfect casting.

I watched Fleabag with my mom this year, and thought it was great. I wasn’t so hot on the second season, but still quite enjoyed it. The first season, for me, was this wonderful, heartbreaking exploration of the main character, her relationships, and her relationship to her interiority.

I also very much enjoyed the second season of Barry. I still really like the first season as a self encapsulated story, but still thought it was just phenomenal. Still as dark, witty, and surprising as ever.

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See, I think I preferred the second season, because it’s not quite as focused just on Fleabag, and it feels like Waller-Bridge’s greater experience from the first series (and Killing Eve), and the need to move further out from “just adapting her stage play”, means she does more interesting things.

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I’ve only seen two movies from this year so far, Midsommar and Parasite.

Of the two, Parasite takes the cake easily. I’m sure you’ve encountered tons of praise for this movie already, so I won’t add more onto the heap. But yeah, it’s a smart, uncomfortable story about classism and elitism that… really goes places.

I watched other movies this year, of course, but I dont wanna take too much screen space up talking about them. But you can enjoy the list below! I’ve bolded movies I think are truly something special.

Older Movies That I Recommend!
  • Uptight (1968) (Drama of Black Revolutionaries’ Dilemmas)
  • Millenium Actress (2001) (Beautiful Nostalgic Anime)
  • Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953) (Utterly Delightful French Comedy)
  • My Brother’s Wedding (1983) (Neo-realism & Struggles of Friendship)
  • The Sunset Limited (2011) (Tense Dialogue on Faith & Death)
  • Stalker (1979) (Russian Sci-Fi Mysticism)
  • Kwaidan (1964) (Japanese Ghost Story Anthology)
  • Brick (2004) (High School Noire)
  • Blindspotting (2018) (Comedy-Drama about Racism &Gentrification)
  • Lady Snowblood (1973) (Stylish Japanese Revenge Tale)
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