For my second best of 2019 list, I've decided to broaden things a bit. Instead of just sharing the new movies and TV shows I enjoyed most this year, I'm going to share all sorts of different content from this year (besides YA novels) that I recommend! Please enjoy, and have a happy Christmas if you celebrate!
1) Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia. This five-star MG fantasy novel takes the Rick Riordan formula and adapts it using a combination of West African mythology and black American folklore to astonishing effect. I've never read anything that better depicts the incredible power of stories or the harrowing echoes of history. This is one of those books where I, as a writer, cannot understand how a human mind formed it, and I think everyone should read it.
2) Captain Marvel (PG-13). Going into this, I was thrilled to have a female-led film from Marvel at last but also worried that Carol Danvers would prove to be too much of a tough, stereotypical Strong Female Character for me. Luckily, that was not the case! Though Carol is physically strong, a part of the Armed Forces, and a tomboy type, she also has a lot of personality--plenty of sass and wit to hook me in. Though Wanda Maximoff will probably always be my top Marvel girl, Carol Danvers has a solid place in the lineup. This movie also expresses an important and relevant political message, and there's a cat! Every movie should have a cat.
3) Spider-Man: Far From Home (PG-13). This movie raises some questions about Tony Stark's wisdom (or lack thereof), but it's also such a delightful story for the YA crowd that I can't leave it off this list. It captures that high school/teen spirit perfectly and provides some fun twists, as well as Marvel's usual top-notch characterization. The villain has the most fantastic flamboyant vibe, there's a stunning CGI sequence in the middle, and the Spideychelle ship sets sail in adorable fashion. All in all, this is a great movie to push the MCU past the Infinity Saga and into a new phase.
4) The Umbrella Academy (TV-14). I've never read the graphic novel series this show is based off of, but the story does have a creative wildness to it that's quite worthy of its writer, My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way. I found the mishmash of genres and tropes to be quite engaging, and I love how all the different siblings with their different conflicts come together to face the trauma of the past--before the cliffhanger apocalyptic ending hits. This show started in February on Netflix, and I recommend it to any speculative fiction fan!
5) When They See Us (TV-MA). This miniseries, released on Netflix in May, tells the true story of the false accusation, conviction, and imprisonment of the Central Park Five, five young men of color, for rape and assault in 1989. It's a brutal examination of racism, brutality, and injustice in the American justice system, and for those who can handle the content, it provides a sobering and important perspective that we all can learn from.
6) The Mandalorian (TV-PG). I went into this November-debut Disney+ show reluctantly. Despite my love of Star Wars, I wasn't a fan of the rough-and-tumble space western concept portrayed in the trailers. Imagine my surprise when I (and the rest of the Internet) discovered baby yoda! Now I'm 1000% obsessed. Though I've never been into westerns, this show is story a for a new generation that features a truly honorable and respectful hero fighting to protect the most adorable baby I've ever seen. I, too, would fight, kill, and die for baby yoda, in all his sassy Force-wielding glory. (The perspective the show adds to the Star Wars universe is also appreciated.) Ultimately, I think we've learned this year that, if it has a cat or a baby who survives the story unscathed, I will be into it.
6) Lover by Taylor Swift. It may be cliche, but for me, this was the album of the year. Taylor Swift made a great comeback with this selection of well-written pop tracks about love, loss, and personal struggle. My favorites are the high school-style "Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince," with all its political metaphors, and the "The Archer," with its steady beat and open honesty, but there are a lot of good songs to listen to.
What are your other 2019 recommendations? Share them in the comments, and I'll be back on Saturday with my top to-reads for Winter 2020.
Images via IMDB.
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