It’s just about 2019, which means it’s time for all those year-end lists. Usually I just cobble together a list of my favorite flicks – but I thought this year it would be more fun to make a list of my Top Ten Favorite Geeky Things from this past year that runs the gamut of everything and anything geek.
So without further ado:
10. Tony Stark’s Dialogue in Avengers: Infinity War
I love everything about Infinity War, one of my favorites of 2018. But a couple of Tony’s lines early on really stuck with me. When Thanos’ Black Order baddies arrive in NYC with the giant spinny-donut ship, and Tony and Dr. Strange head out to confront them, Tony gives the formidable aliens the same verbal lashing he’d give anyone else. I have no idea if Robert Downey Jr. was ad-libbing or what, but the lines “Earth is closed today!” and “That means get lost Squidward!” should go down in history as some of the best lines ever recorded. I’m serious. It’s just hilarious and brilliant – and oh-so Tony.
My taste in movies and TV almost always leans toward the geeky genre stuff rather than the more highbrow, for-your-consideration bait. I think that’s mostly due to being a child of the 70’s and 80’s, when geeky genre stuff was all over the tube and it was awesome (like totally, fer shure). Manifest is a throwback to all those wonderfully goofy shows I grew up with – plus it has a solid cast and decent writing that elevates it beyond just dumb fun. And it isn’t so transparent or derivative in its storytelling that I can already tell how it’s going to end. I’m invested in finding out how everything’s going to play out for the passengers of Montego Air flight 828. That’s just good TV.
8. Solar Eclipse Stamps
These super-cool stamps were actually made to commemorate the August 2017 eclipse, but I used them during this entire year. They may look kind of ugly and boring at first, but all you have to do is move a fingertip across them to see their awesomeness. The thermochromic ink (the first stamps to ever use this kind of ink) works with the heat of your skin to reveal the moon underneath the shadow. They’re totally the kind of stamps you’d buy for someone else as a gift but then decide to keep for yourself because they’re too much fun to play with.
7. Her Universe Clothing
It wasn’t that long ago that us Geek Girls had practically no options for showing off our fan love – because the only cool geekwear out there was made for guys. So we ladies were limited to boxy men’s t-shirts until Ashley Eckstein – the voice of Star Wars: The Clone Wars beloved Ahsoka Tano – founded Her Universe, a site dedicated almost exclusively to geekwear for women of all sizes. It’s been wonderful to see the site grow and thrive since it started in 2010. And I’m proud to say that I own quite a few things from the site – and this year was especially awesome with the addition of exclusive collections paying tribute to Solo: A Star Wars Story, Doctor Who’s 13th incarnation, Jodie Whitaker, and most recently for Mary Poppins Returns. If you haven’t already, click that link and get yourself some gorgeous geek gear!
6. Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween
Halloween was one of those franchises that I really, really thought should just stay dead. None of its sequels (or whatever you wanna call Season of the Witch) were as scary and they just got worse as they went. So when this new sequel was first announced, I just groaned, thinking they might as well just take that $10 million budget and flush it down the toilet. But then I saw the trailer and was blown away by Jamie Lee Curtis – she sold me on it. And after seeing the finished film, I can absolutely say that without her, it would have been just another failed sequel. Curtis’ older, wiser, strong and sorrowful Laurie Strode provided the story’s bright center and the tether that held everything together – a brilliant performance that, if it were up to me, I’d put up for the best actor Oscar.
5. DC’S Legends of Tomorrow
Speaking of series that hearken back to the 70’s and 80’s, there’s no better example of that spirit than DC’s Legends. I had only been an occasional viewer until this season, when they had the wisdom to make Matt Ryan’s John Constantine a regular. And while I’m not entirely thrilled with how his character’s been handled (he still needs his own series) – at the same time, I get that he has to fit in with the show’s vibe. Light and unapologetically goofy, Legends uses everything from musical numbers to puppets to pixie-dusty fairy godmothers to bring the fun – and the loving-but-dysfunctional family dynamic among the cast adds the heart. Everyone should take a break from the dark-and-gritty dramas once in a while to take a trip back in time to the 60’s, dress up like a hippie and superhero-kick the a** of an evil, glitter-spewing unicorn. It’s good for you.
4. Bucket of Doom
Every year for Thanksgiving, my husband, daughter and I meet up with our best friend from college and just hang out in our hotel room stuffing our faces and playing games. And this year we tried out Bucket of Doom and were not disappointed. The basic idea of the card-based game is to find a way out of ridiculously deadly situations with the world’s most useless things. For example: someone reads out a situation card that says, “You’re a skydiver with Alzheimer’s and you’ve forgotten your chute.” You then choose from your hand of useless objects: things like a cheese grater, an angry beaver, a set of bagpipes and Kim Jong-Un’s phone number. Then you have to use your own imagination and creativity to come up with an escape story using one or more of them. Basically, whoever comes up with the best story wins – and if our game was any indication, it was a hilarious way to spend a couple of hours.
It felt like we had to wait hundred years for the new season of Daredevil, didn’t it? While it was great to have the other Marvel series to fill the gap, they couldn’t fully replace it. And when I finally got to watch season three, I remembered why. The brilliant writing, epic approach to the story and the excellent performances of the cast elevate the series to a level that’s rare to see and hard to compete with – which makes the show’s unceremonious cancellation (along with the other Marvel series) that much more depressing.
2. Great Twitter Feeds for Writers
I found myself finally joining Twitter this year – and for the most part, I wasn’t impressed. Seems to me that the majority of it is a massive junkyard. But as I spent more time scrolling through, I found a few feeds that were not only fun to read (like Leslie Jones – she’s the best) but also informative and engaging – especially for writers like myself.
Whether you’re a screenwriter, author, journalist or blogger, I highly recommend following writer/directors Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange, Sinister), Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Fallout), Leigh Whannell (Insidious, Upgrade) and C. Robert Cargill (Doctor Strange, Sinister). You’ll find a kindred spirit and a fellow fan in all of them – and they all seem to enjoy engaging with us lowly peasant types, as long as you’re as big a geek as they are – and you’re nice. Always be nice.
OK aspiring writers, this thread is better than a screenwriting book and it’s free. When someone else writes down exactly how I feel about screenwriting, word for word, I’m not going to rip it off or put it in my own words, I’m just going to say READ THIS NOW Study it. Then write https://t.co/lsFJYUDv6i
— Leigh Whannell (@LWhannell) November 19, 2018
1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout Brawl
Fallout was by far my favorite flick of this year. Christopher McQuarrie’s impeccable writing and direction has really pushed the franchise into a new level of awesomeness – and no scene embodies that awesomeness as well as the bathroom brawl early on in the flick. Not only is it flawlessly choreographed and executed, but it also manages to propel the story forward and add character development along the way.
Liang Yang’s Lark provides a formidable opponent for both Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and Henry Cavill’s Agent Walker. Actually, formidable isn’t a strong enough word – the dude wipes the floor with both of them, and seeing the expressions of surprise and fatigue from both Hunt and Walker is fantastic. Hunt even stops the fight for a moment and seems to seriously consider calling it quits with the ‘I’m gettin’ too old for this sh*t’ expression on his face, which provides some welcome (and hilarious) depth to the character.
And of course, we get to see one of the best shots ever filmed when Cavill takes off his jacket and does the ‘arm reload.’ Doesn’t get much better than that.