Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has been a unique experience. The physical prerelease, of course, was cancelled (along with society at large) due to
communist bioweapon Covid-19, so we’ve all been interacting with the set digitally. Definitely a bummer, as prereleases at my LGS are some of my favorite events throughout the year.
For me, the most exciting thing about Ikoria’s digital release had nothing to do with the set itself. For the first time, we got human draft tables on Magic Arena, which is huge. I did so many of these I lost count. The first couple weeks of the format were a blast, some of my multicolor piles reminded me of the halcyon days of Khans of Tarkir draft. Eventually people figured out the RW Cycling deck, though, so I’m kind of over it.
And that’s the thing: I’m over it. Like no other set I remember, I feel I have thoroughly explored Ikoria, especially in draft, and I already want to move on. I know that in every draft run I’m going to play against the Cycling deck (or I’ll be piloting it myself) and I’m just not interested. I don’t necessarily blame Ikoria itself. The circumstances of this whole Corona thing gave me the time on my hands to chew through the content way faster than I typically would have.
Moving on to Constructed: holy shit Companion sucks. It’s just awful. I don’t understand how anyone thought this was a good idea. They’ve already banned Lurrus in Legacy & Vintage and I have no idea why they didn’t include Modern & Pioneer – or, yes, even Standard. I think they should just go back in time and smother the entire mechanic in its crib. Working from home, I’ve been able to put on Twitch streams off to the side for background noise and Companions are everywhere. It’s simply incorrect not to play one if you’re trying to win. I’m seeing Modern Humans and Mono Green Tron decks play a Jegantha, the Wellspring just as a free something to do if circumstances line up. A guy won a MTGO Modern PTQ with a Blue-White Miracles deck that mise’d a Kaheera, the Orphanguard in an otherwise creatureless control deck. That’s stupid – and those are the inoffensive cases. Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Yorion, Sky Nomad are utterly toxic. WOTC needs to nut up and erase the whole sordid affair, somehow.
Last year’s list was so well-received, I just had to run it back. Here are my picks for the Dopest Movies of 2019.
When it comes to movies, I often say “The weirder, the better.” Well, In Fabric is hella weird. I love everything about it. If I was only picking one, In Fabric would be my favorite of 2019.
I find it absolutely hilarious that dorkus malorkus spastics were writing listicles about “All The Ways Rian Johnson Was Dissed in Star Wars 9” – meanwhile Rian Johnson just went out and made a great, original new movie. Oh, and by the way? The most interesting things that happened in the new Star Wars trilogy were in Rian Johnson’s Last Jedi script.
I don’t want to overstate it, but it’s like S. Craig Zahler was sent here from above to save us from wack movies. Thank you, S. Craig, I celebrate your entire catalog.
I seldom watch non-fiction stuff, it’s just not my deal, but Free Solo is a must-see. It has to be one of the greatest feats of human achievement ever filmed.
A gig working out in the ocean air, lobster for dinner and all the kerosene you can drink? Them wickies got the life.
Hereditary was at the top of my 2018 list and Ari Aster’s follow-up, Midsommar, does not disappoint. He makes broad daylight scary, dude is a master.
This one zigs and zags, always escalating. My friend Mat described the ending as “something out of Takashi Miike” which is spot-on, and a great compliment.
Liam Neeson has sort of become a genre unto himself and Cold Pursuit is a prime cut. It’s a remake of a Norwegian film, In Order of Disappearance, which was directed by the same guy and features Stellan Skarsgard in the lead role. Both versions are great.
I usually turn my nose up at killer animal stuff, but Crawl was made by Alexandre Aja, who I’ve always enjoyed. It’s a super solid flick, and I saw it St. Joseph, MO during Crypticon with my Dead Lantern bros, which made it even more fun.
This is some insane French nonsense about people drinking a bowl full of spiked punch. Lots of long, unbroken takes and technically amazing camerawork. Thumbs up.
I love the “Surprise! You’re Being Hunted for Sport!” subgenre and Ready or Not is a superior entry. Avoid spoilers, it’s a hoot!
Speaking of which, The Furies would make for a pretty good double-feature with Ready or Not. To be frank, this one is borderline. It’s not that great but as I said, I’m a sucker for this subgenre and a gory horror iteration is always gonna work for me.
It’s true that the John Wick series has gotten silly at this point – e.g. it seems like there are more people in the assassin society than not, like the fry cook at McDonald’s is probably an assassin – but who cares?! So cool, so much fun. I just hope they can continue to deliver.
I was trying to come up with something pithy, like “Sicario meets The Goonies,” but that’s a little too tryhard.
I can’t keep up with the varying opinions on this one. I thought it was very good. Who do you suppose is crazier, the Joker or Joaquin Phoenix? 🤔
Rambo’s back and ready to kill everybody all over again. Hey, it works. In fact, it’s kinda wild how these old guys are still better at doing this than the younger guys. See also Ahnold in Terminator: Dark Fate, which did not make my list but is still markedly better than, say, Hobbes & Shaw Sniff Their Own Farts.
Okay, look: I’m sorry. This movie does not belong on a “best of” list. I’m just a sucker for the work of Mr. Robert Zombie, ever since House of 1000 Corpses. I enjoy his shtick and this is more of it. RIP Sid Haig.
Wholesome and fun, Shazam! is a perfect movie to share with kids. I mean kids as in actual children, not the full-grown manchildren who typically go to comic book movies these days.
Sandler’s great, sure, but my favorite part of Uncut Gems is Kevin Garnett. I love the stuff with him and the opal. Make a sequel of KG having some kind of adventure with the opal, I’ll buy a ticket.
Everything QT makes is great. Next.
A mean little film that punches the clock and puts in an honest day’s work. Add it to your Halloween playlist this year.
Bong Joon-ho is tremendous. Look up his older stuff, too, like The Host. You’ll dig it.
Man, I love my kids but I don’t know if I could handle being alone with them in the vacuum of space unto eternity.
I never dared to dream we’d get an FP sequel. It’s a triumph!
2018 Catch-up: Suspiria
Let me look back for a second to include a movie I missed last year. While we all appreciate the original Argento version, I think this remake is an all-around better film. Also, I’m generally confident that I could win a fistfight with the sort of person who might take umbrage at this hot take so let’s go, nerds, I’m right here.
Thanks for reading! See you back here next year.