Part of me is somewhat ashamed of how I’ve let my writing fall onto the backburner for most of this year, but in my defense 2018 has just been an utterly unforgiving year. The year-end lists are going to be especially depressing this time around, since we’re going to collectively say “wait, that was from this year?” again and again. While I would say 2018 is only the slightest bit less brutal than 2017 was, 2017 at least had a ton of good movies, games, shows, etc to momentarily drown our sorrows in as things went more and more to shit. That said though, for the third year in a row I’m doing my “Best of What I Missed” list, in preparation for my proper Top 5 of 2018 lists, and this time this list was kind of hard to do, since I did a good job of staying up to date with stuff I liked. There isn’t even an anime section this time around, since the best thing I found that I missed was Napping Princess, and... yeah, I could leave that one off, honestly. In lieu of that, I’m putting in a comic series that I missed the first time around, and without further ado...
Best Missed Music: 4:44, by Jay-Z
Okay, scratch the whole “I’m good at keeping up with things,” at when it comes to music. I’d like to think that I have good taste in music, but I’m absolute shit when it comes to staying up to date with it: case in point, I completely missed 4:44 when it first dropped. Don’t get me wrong, I kept relatively up to date with what was going on between Beyonce and Jay-Z, but Lemonade itself was an album I had immense respect for, but it wasn’t something I listened to out of enjoyment (even though it was Beyonce at her absolute A-game, and her best work in years... right up until she decided to work with Ed Sheeran for god knows what reason). But that album though isn’t poppy; it just isn’t my kind of thing... but 4:44 was, and like Lemonade it featured an artist who audibly went through some shit, and came out sounding like they had gone through a crucible. Jay-Z is still Jay-Z here with his signature smooth production, but with singles like the instant classic “Story of O.J.”, the powerhouse “4:44" itself, and my personal favorite “Family Feud”, Jay-Z unexpectedly got my interest back in the best way possible.
Best Missed Movie: The Florida Project
2018 has been a bit of a letdown when it comes to movies. I can’t completely blame it though; when you’re following up 2017, anything would feel like a downgrade. And weirdly enough, some of the best movies of 2018 are all coming out in just the last month of the year (personally, I can’t wait for Into the Spiderverse, Bumblebee, Vice... hell, even Aquaman looks kind of fun). I did a pretty good job of forgetting the awfulness of everything by going to the the cinema on an almost biweekly last year, but there was one movie that fell under my radar, and that was due solely on nobody telling me that Sean Baker directed it. His previous film Tangerine was one of the most overlooked films of 2015, and his follow up thankfully got more attention, even if Willem Dafoe was robbed of an oscar for best supporting actor (grumble, grumble). I wouldn’t say that The Florida Project is better than Tangerine, but it does come pretty damn close, and even though it isn’t an incredible feat of indie film-making like what came before, The Florida Project is still an incredible look into American poverty with some of the best acting of that year, and it’s not just Dafoe giving a great, understated performance, but it also has some of the best child acting in any film period. I’ve no idea where Baker goes from here, but I’m keeping a closer eye on him from now on.
Best Missed TV: Brooklyn 99
Is there a coined term for someone who gets into something right as it ends? Because when it was (briefly) cancelled by Fox, I decided to finally give Brooklyn 99 a shot after the massive outcry there was following the decision, and after binging through five seasons straight, I get why so many people were upset with its premature demise. I’m kind of surprised it didn’t originate on NBC, considering it feels like a lost brother to Parks and Rec, and it was created by Michael Schur, who also gave us The Good Place (a show that was part of my Best Missed 2016 list, as it happened). Along with great jokes that rarely punch down, Brooklyn 99 feels like a show we need nowadays, given its fantasy of a progressive police force that truly feels like it protects and serves, instead of the nightmare force we’ve become accustomed to in our reality. That, along with an ensemble cast and a returning sixth season this January, made B99 one of the shows that truly helped me through this year. Nine nine!
Best Missed Game: Super Mario Odyssey
I know I already wrote about this game earlier this year, but it’s honestly still the best game from last year I missed out on. And a play through from last week that ended up going on for a few hours made me double down on it being a damn close instant cure for depression. If I were to redo my Best Games of 2017 list, this would definitely edge its way into the top three, and honestly I still think it’s the best Switch game, even after Let’s Go P/E and Smash Bros have both come out. I can’t say much else that’s been said already about it, besides... it’s damn good to see you get out of your funk, Nintendo.
Best Missed Comic: Transformers: Lost Light
I know I’m stretching my rules a bit, considering how the first issue of this came out technically in December of 2016, but the first collected volume came out in November of 2017, and the series itself is a sequel to Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, which started back in 2012... but regardless, I’m putting Lost Light as my best missed comic because it finally ended this year, along with all of IDW’s current continuity of Transformers comics, which itself started all the way back in 2005. And after reading through over a dozen volumes of the two series (which are really just one series told across two parts), I’d go so far as to say that James Roberts’s work might isn’t just the best piece of Transformers media to come out in the 2010s, but Lost Light just well be one of the most underrated comic book series of this decade.
Where does one start with this series? How its daunting scale actually hides how approachable the series really is when you give it a chance (I’d say volume six though is the best place to start, right as Megatron joins the crew... it’s a long story). It’s large cast of characters all feel distinct, thought out, and you find yourself rooting for all of them to a certain degree, and even relating to a few of them on a level you didn’t think would be possible. It has a sense of humor and imagination that puts the best TV shows to shame, consistently great artwork, and above all else... just care. So much care went into this series, from story beats and turns that had outstanding payoff when they came through, character development and relationships that made the robots that you were reading about feel like real beings, and a universe that I find myself unexpetedly sad to see go. But the journey of the Lost Light and her crew... that’s what mattered. And in whatever case, I can’t wait to see what James Roberts does next.