2018 Favourites

I read and watched and played and listened to some things in 2018. Here's some of the stuff I liked the most.

Books

Akira

Katsuhiro Otomo

I think Akira is a better book series than it is a movie. It's longer, and that gives it more time to develop things and for you to appreciate the beautiful art. Akira is good throughout but relly get's going around volume four.

Read this next year so you aren't completely confused by the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A Night in Lonesome October

Roger Zelazny

This is the most fun I had reading a book all year. Each chapter in the book is one day in October, so you can read along at that pace and have a goofy Halloween-themed book to enjoy all month.

Hainish Novels & Stories

Ursula Le Guin

I'm making up for shortening my book list by including a 'book' that is 10 novels published across 37 years.

If I'm being honest, the two I had already read (Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed) are the strongest in this set, but there isn't a novel in this set I didn't enjoy. Le Guin is just so good at coming up with interesting world's and concepts to explore.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

Italo Calvino

Books are great. Books about books are great. And as it turns out, books about you reading this, a book about you reading books is great.

I don't think If on a Winter's Night a Traveler completely nails the landing, but there's a lot to enjoy in it and it holds together a lot better than I would expect a second-person meta-narrative to.

Women Talking

Miriam Toews

I'm a big fan of Miriam Toews, and I enjoyed this book but it's an uncomforatable read. It's a fictionalized account of the aftermath of a series of sexual assaults that occurred in an isolated Mennonite community, as the women of the community decide whether to leave, stay and fight, or do nothing when the men return.

Games

Tetris Effect

They made a really good tetris. They made a tetris so good that even people who didn't realize that tetris is really good realized it was really good.

I haven't actually played a ton of this game this year (in part because it's too easy to start playing and then realize it's 5 hours later), but its beautiful, sounds great, and they didn't screw up the tetris part of it.

This might be the best tetris ever made even though it doesn't even have the subtitle terror instinct.

Celeste

I hadn't played a good hard platformer in a while, but Celeste seems to be the full package. It controls well. It has interesting mechanics that vary and are built upon across the game. It has an amazing soundtrack. It even has a story that is good (and since the last one I got into was Super Meat Boy, not actively embarrassing is already such an improvement)?

I stopped playing before quite finishing all the b-sides but I had a lot of fun with this.

Into the Breach

This game makes me feel really smart when I'm doing well and like an absolute idiot any time I screw up. I'm only on my third team (on normal mode), but I'm amazed how different each team plays and how deep this game is.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

I missed this game when it first came out because I never owned a DS. Turns out, it's good. I like the new mechanics they added, and having played them back-to-back-to-back, I think this one has some better scenarios than the previous games. They should make an Advance Wars for the Switch.

Yoku's Island Express

It's a metroidvania that is also a pinball game. And you play as a tiny beetle that is a postal carrier. I thought this game was really unique and a lot of fun

Movies

Mandy (2018)

The first time I watch Cosmatos's debut movie (Beyond the Black Rainbow), I thought it was incredibly stylish, but there wasn't enough to it. Throughout the following year, its visuals continued to stick with me. I ended up really enjoying it when I watched itโ€”it felt like the striking minimalist horror movie I've always wanted Suspiria to be.

I was excited about this movie, but also concerned that I wouldn't immediately enjoy it (especially since I went into with as little foreknowledge as possible). It turns out there was no need for concern.

Everything that is good about Beyond the Black Rainbow is at least as good in Mandy: striking use of colour, beautiful cinematography, unsettling mood. But Mandy is much more approachable. There's more to the story, Nicolas Cage gives one of his better performances, and there are hellraisers.

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

I'm still shocked that a great movie about labour organization came out in 2018. It did, and it's funny and sincere and absurd. It's hard to talk too much about this movie, but it delivered everything it promised and a significant amount more.

Clue (1985)

I slept on Clue for far too long. I had repeatedly heard it was great, and I knew it had a strong cast. It was a failure of imagination on my part that I didn't understan a movie based on a board game would be this enjoyable. Tim Curry was so good in this.

Speed Racer (2008)

Speaking of movies I ignored for far too long, I didn't watch this movie until a few years ago. I rewatched this for the first time this year (and showed it to a bunch of people who had never seen it), and I still can't quite believe this movie exists.

It shouldn't be possible for a live-action adaptation of an anime to be more anime than its source material. This movie is a sensory overload and it's rude that the academy refused to award this movie with an Oscar for its film editing or cinematography.

Hellraiser (1987)

I didn't watch Hellraiser this year. I didn't especially enjoy it when I watched it a few years ago. But thanks in part to Mandy, I ended up thinking about this movie a lot more than most of the others I watched this year.

Regardless of whether I'll actually enjoy this movie next time I rewatch it, it's conceptually really good. Cenobites are good. The Lament Configuration is good. Every horror director should be forced to make a movie that is conceptually a Hellraiser movie.

P.S. I reserve the right to retroactively decide the new Suspiria deserves this spot if I end up changing my mind about it.

Music

Celeste/Celeste B-Sides

Lena Raine (+ others)

I played a bunch of good games this year, and this music played a large role in ensuring Celeste made it onto the list this year. Celeste is a challenging game, and the music helped keep it fun even when it was frustrating.

While I can't separate my enjoyment of this music from my fondness for the game, I think these soundtracks hold up even divorced from it.

Tell Me I Can Fix This on My Own

Deerful

What's everyone's favourite Deerful release this year? Mine's this one. It helped convince me I should listen to more synth pop. According to iTunes, it's also the 2018 album I listened to the most this year.

My favourite track is N1C, but Sunset Drive is a close second.

Recovery Mission

MIDI Myers

Speaking of synth pop, this album is funnier and way more of a jam than a breakup album has any right to be.

My favourite track is either Never Write a Song or Bad Feeling.

Mechanics of Dominion

Esmerine

I somehow missed this album coming out last year even though Esmerine might actually be my favourite artist on Constellation Records right now (I'm glad Godspeed's back and I like their new stuff, but not as much as their pre-haitus releases).

Esmerine puts out an album every two years and every time I say "wow, I think this might be their best release yet". I think this might be their best release yet.

Story of Adidon

Pusha T

"You are hiding a child."