Woof. Wooooof! This one was a grind!
Woof. Wooooof! This one was a grind!
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.
I took my wife & kids to Kansas City for a fun weekend and, lo and behold, there just so happened to be a MagicFest going on at the convention center attached to our hotel… WHAT A COINCIDENCE.
Regular draft sign-ups were over by the time I arrived on Friday evening, but there was a Modern side event firing soon so I gave that a shot. Two of my favorite artists were in attendance so I got some cards in my trusty Ponza deck signed just before we started: Arbor Elf and Tireless Tracker by R.K. Post and Eric Deschamps, respectively.
I went 0-4 in Modern, it was embarrassing. I got locked by the new Karn, the Great Creator + Mycosynth Lattice combo twice, and also lost to UR Phoenix and Cheerios Storm (of all things). Look, I’m a huge fan of Modern – an apologist, even – but the format is a garbage fire right now, and I think the newly-implemented London Mulligan is going to make it worse. On the other hand, we have Modern Horizons entering the fray so maybe that will shake things up. I’ll hope for the best but I see some bannings in our future. I could go on, but that’s a rant for another day.
Come sunrise and with the bad beats out of my system, I set out upon a draft binge. I drafted from 9am until 9pm, skipping meals and not drinking enough water. I lost track of how many drafts I did. It was glorious. I started the day with a P1P1 Chandra, Fire Artisan.
This deck needed some Bloom Hulks to be truly nuts but whatever: I drew Chandra and Nissa over and over. I could probably add 20 other cards and take this pile to Standard Showdown at my LGS. After this I had a few middling drafts where I died in round one or two but there was always a bright side. Maybe my deck was bad but at least I pulled a Karn. Or maybe I died but my opponent was a nice kid soaking in his first event of this size and I was truly happy that he was having such fun. Of course, fun is fun but winning is nice, too, so I was pretty stoked to end the day on a bit of a heater.
I signed up for a Chaos Draft. Some people can’t turn it off long enough to spew on something like this but I like the screw-around nature of it. Everyone got one “premium” pack – mine was Masters 25 – and it was funny that we all chose to open that pack first. Nobody wanted to slow-roll their expensive pack until the end!
Whether it’s at your friendly neighborhood LGS with folks you know personally, or it’s at a huge MagicFest with total strangers, when you sit down at a draft table you’re naturally gonna look across at the player you’ll face in round one and try to size them up. At this table, my dude was a real Chatty Cathy who seemed to know what he was doing. Had plenty of comments about what the guys next to him might be doing wrong, how he had things figured out, etc. I won’t draw this guy up as a cartoon villain or whatever – he’s just a dude – but I will say that I didn’t wanna lose to him.
My packs were Masters 25, Fate Reforged and Ravnica Allegiance. I first-picked an Elvish Piper out of my Masters 25 pack – no Jace?! Rip-off! After that I settled into kind of a blue-red spells deck with 2x Jhessian Thief (one foil, holla) and a Metallurgic Summonings. Maybe the Shiv’s Embrace was loose but I think it’s okay to build some “Bogle Equity” into your deck when the aura’s good enough. This Shiv’s Embrace was foil, too, so that counts for something, right?
The one thing I feel like I did wrong in the draft portion was in pack 3, my Ravnica Allegiance pack. My rare was Angel of Grace but there was also a Rubblebelt Recluse that my deck really wanted. I was never going to play the Angel but the dopey little kid in me thought “sweet, mythic Angel!” so I took it. It’s worth like a crummy dollar, what was I doing?! Of course, I wheeled the Rubblebelt Recluse and learned nothing. Aside from the admittedly dorky vanilla Gilded Cerodon, I think this deck came together nicely.
Round one versus Guy Who Knows What He’s Doing: Opponent was also on blue-red spells, featuring triple-Guttersnipe. His deck might have been sick; alas, the world will never know. Game one he misses on lands and does nothing. Game two he does manage to go Guttersnipe + Guttersnipe and maybe he’s finna go off but then my turn four (after playing guys on 2 & 3) is sideboard Blue Elemental Blast on one Guttersnipe and Heat Ray on the other. Homeboy’s life is ruined at that point. Stomp.
Round two versus BW Gain-Drain: The match whose winner I’d be playing took FOREVER in round one so I got a good look at their decks while watching them play after I’d finished my own match. Please note I wasn’t nefariously scouting here, I was innocently wasting away as these durdles ate up time like a couple of Langoliers (I owe my friends Mat & Steve a nickel for using that joke). Anyway, one guy seemed to have really gotten there with a BW lifegain/drain deck. He had some payoffs like Epicure of Blood and, especially, Sanguine Bond along with a cadre of cards that either incidentally gain some life or have a repeatable effect. Frankly, I’m impressed.
So, BW guy wins his round one and then we play. I dunno what I was sweating for; I easily go under him while he’s farting around, casting Sanguine Bond as his only nonland permanent while I’ve already got him on the clock. He gives me enough time to go off with Metallurgic Summonings and X spells, so I appreciated having that opportunity.
Round three versus Guy Who Didn’t Know What Time It Was: “Do you wanna just split? No, you wanna play? Okay.”
Friends, one of the simplest, purest thrills in Magic is laying a ranch on the galaxy brain who no-sir’s the split. I don’t mean to portray this guy negatively, he was very pleasant to play with and I think he may have been a little green and didn’t quite know what was up. I think the best thing I saw out of him was a Crocodile of the Crossing, which I agree is a sweet card. Not much to say, I put my boot on this guy’s neck. Sweetest play was manifesting Rubblebelt Recluse with Write into Being and unmorphing it in combat. Almost as good as flipping up a Woolly Loxodon! (KTK was a goat-tier limited format, btw)
Coincidentally, my wife came into the convention hall and found me right as we were finishing up and snapped a photo. GG’s my dude, I’m gonna leave with my pretty wife and collect my 300 skeeball tickets now.
At a certain point in the evening they start running “Turbo Drafts” instead of the typical 3-round affairs. You draft a normal 8-person table with the normal cross-table pairings, but you only play one round and the 4 winners get appropriately scaled-up skeeball tix. My first turbo draft deck wasn’t anything special, I had hella Bloom Hulks but wasn’t really “going off” with them (zero Kronch Wranglers).
We went to game 3 in this match and it was a sweet one. Opponent was super cool and I appreciated him; shout-outs, wherever you are. We got into a wide board stall but after several turns of draw-go I topdecked Chandra’s Pyrohelix. I told the guy, “okay, I think I have this; I attack with everything” – but he did have a couple cards and some untapped mana. I didn’t believe there was anything in the format that could get him out of exactsies – but I’m gonna die if I don’t go for it sooner rather than later. So, I made the attack and let him block and then cast the Chandra’s Pyrohelix, somewhat apologetically saying “I’m not trying to slowroll you” and he was totally cool about it, he said it was the best match he’d had all day. Respek.
It’s getting late at this point, so I’m like “okay just ONE more…” I first-pick a Jaya’s Greeting but then get a pack with Spark Harvest, foil Spark Harvest and Command the Dreadhorde. I take the foil Spark Harvest but I’m thinking somebody’s gotta be going black after this. I settle into red-white after a few picks and end up with this sicko – I think all the rares were passed to me.
There were a couple of Lincoln acquaintances in this draft pod with me, a husband-wife duo; I was glad not to be paired against either of them. As I glanced over I saw one of them with an anemic board while their opponent, a small child, had both God-Eternal Oketra and Storrev, Devkarin Lich in play off of only the appropriate basic lands… so just ponder that. Woof. Anyway, my opponent never had a prayer.
After that it was last call, somewhere after 9pm, and while I could have probably squeezed in one more Turbo Draft, it felt like an appropriate time to call it quits. I cashed in my skeeball tix for some merch and enough assorted packs to host my own Chaos Draft sometime soon.
All in all, a great day of durdling. Many thanks to my lovely family for letting me abandon them all day. For what it’s worth, I invited the kids to come along but they just do not care about Magic at all. Fair enough!