2019 has come and gone within the blink of an eye. We were spoilt for choice in entertainment last year with more streaming services being developed, quality films being produced, and a slew of compelling books to add to our tbr’s. It’s hard to keep track of them all, but here are some of my favourites that I read/watched in 2019.
As many of you know, 2019 was not the best reading year. However, instead of focusing on the number of books read, I’m choosing to look at the quality of the books. Two books, in particular, stood out for their creativity, characters, and intricate world-building.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor has a way with words that will leave you feeling enchanted. Strange the Dreamer, while slow to begin with, is an example of just how vivid and creative Taylor’s writing is. Strange the Dreamer is a lot of things, but at the heart of the book, you have a tale of a community shadowed by their history. Weep is a character in itself as the city is overshadowed by the constant reminder of their desperation and the destruction that followed. Both humans and monsters alike were victims of such brutality. Yet, hope remains as Lazlo Strange comes to understand the consequences of the atrocities committed in Weep, and his compassion could be that bridge that unites the occupants of Weep. This is a book that will sweep you off your feet.
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is a master of fantasy, displayed even in his debut novel, Elantris. This book is an intricately crafted tale of lost magic, political schemings, and complex characters. Our titular characters, Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen, offers an insight into the varying perspective that will shape our understanding of the rise and fall of the once beautiful city of Elantris. It is a complex world, one that requires a lot of time and patience to understand, but the richness of Elantris makes it a must-read for fans of fantasy.
It’s safe to say I watched more TV shows than I did movies and we were spoilt for choice of shows to binge this year. A lot of the shows I watched came from the backlist of all the shows I’d been meaning to watch. However, these three shows clearly left their mark on the screen.
The Umbrella Academy
The Umbrella Academy was Netflix’s chance to prove to the world that they didn’t need Marvel to create compelling superhero drama. The Umbrella Academy was a fresh take on the superhero genre. Based on the comic by My Chemical Romance frontman, Gerard Way, The Umbrella Academy spotlight the dysfunctional Hargreeves family. Adopted from birth, the Hargreeves children all retain a certain ability, with each of them getting the chance of demonstrating their skill. However, the true beauty of this show lies in the family dynamics as the estranged siblings are brought back together following the death of their adoptive father. This family has a lot of issues. They are eccentric, destructive, and always one step closer to killing each other. However, despite the chaos, they are also at their strongest when they are together. The first season did a brilliant job at exploring these relationships, and the chemistry between the cast does a phenomenal job at establishing the characters as individuals and as a family. It’ll be interesting to see which direction the second season follows.
The Boys takes everything we know about the superhero genre and flips it on its head. It’s a world where superheroes are egotistical and manipulative, carefully crafting their public persona to build their commercial brand. Led by Homelander, the superhero team, The Seven, are the public’s beacons of hope. Behind the scenes, we get to see how narcissistic and unhinged these superheroes are. The Boys are a group of individuals that have felt the consequences of these heroes diabolical acts, and with a desire for revenge, The Boys set out to take down The Seven. Some viewers may find the violence off-putting, but what The Boys do so well is highlight the dangers of worshipping false heroes, shattering every perception we’ve previously had of superheroes.
A last-minute addition to the list, but The Witcher successfully lived up to fan expectations and delivered a show-stopping fantasy adventure that introduces viewers to a world of compelling characters, a fascinating magic system, and a conflict that sets to shakes the very foundation of their world. The show is not without its faults, but where it succeeds is in establishing brilliant character dynamics and the potential to unravel the secrets of this universe through compelling storylines and conflict.
Honourable Mentions: Russian Doll | Swamp Thing | Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency | Carnival Row
Once again, this year was focused on ticking off those backlisted films that have been on the watch-list for ages. However, that does not mean that 2019 was lacking in quality movies. Here some of the best films I watched in 2019.
The cinematic event we’ve all been waiting for, Endgame felt like a love letter to its fans while serving as a swan song for our original Avengers. Endgame puts the spotlight back on the six heroes who started it all. It was an intimate focus on the devastating consequences of Thanos’s snap and the sacrifices needed to make things right. The final battle spotlighted the development of this cinematic universe and set the scene for the next phase of the Marvel film. However, Endgame is not without its faults, but there is no denying the triumph of this film, delivering show-stopping action sequences, intimate character moments, and an emotional finale that solidifies its place in cinematic history.
Set It Up
Released in 2018, Set It Up has long been on my list of films to watch. Quality romantic comedy films have slowly been making a comeback, with films like Always be My Maybe taking the world by storm in 2019. However, Set It Up has got to be one of the most relatable films I’ve ever seen, one that has a surprising amount of depth and character development.
I’ve been talking about this film quite a bit recently, but it really is a breathtaking animated film that provides a unique take on Santa Clause’s origin story. The focus on the postal delivery service was a clever inclusion and introduces us to a highly entertaining odd-couple dynamic in the reluctant postman, Jesper, and toymaker, Klaus. The ripple effect of a small act of kindness is highlighted throughout the film, but the heart of the film lies in Klaus’s moving story.
Honourable Mentions: Snowpiercer | The King
What were your favourite books/TV Shows/Films of 2019?