In the years I’ve started to become more interested in consuming film, music, books and (recently) series, my preferences for the genres that surround it have changed so much. I used to think I was only the one who preferred rom-com or avoided thriller films or series at all costs. Needless to say, my affinity for true-to-life pieces ultimately defines a very specific period in my life—one that is probably the more transitional ones I’ve had so far.
I managed to watch a lot of films this year, maybe around 30-40? Ultimately, my top 5 films are very different yet seem to have some sort of connection in terms of the values in each film.
I recently watched this and I really don’t know what to say. It’s probably one of the more extreme choices I’ve made in terms of film watching (I even dragged my sister to watch because it felt risky watching it alone) but definitely one that is magnificent, to say the least. From the symbolisms to the cinematography and amazing visual storytelling, Bong Joon Ho’s Palmes d’Or recipient definitely made a mark on my way of thinking (yes, I’m still not over it).
Plus points for Park Seo-Joon’s supporting role!
As someone who’s highly interested in NASA and space—and the persistence of human endeavour, First Man was interesting to watch. Seeing Neil Armstrong’s character evolve and transform throughout the duration of the events that happened was impactful. Also: we often think highly of these achievements yet don’t take into consideration the sacrificial aspect that led from one thing to another. I think that was one of my key takeaways from this in general.
Also, I didn’t like La La Land but director Damien Chazelle outdid himself in this film (and also Whiplash).
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
Initially assumed this would just be one of those “concert films” but alas, I was mistaken. From the home video style footage to the heart-pounding performances, Beyoncé proves that she is a kween—and a truly amazing one, at that. I also did an in-depth research on black culture after her Coachella performance, which for me felt like the perfect opportunity to showcase her heritage to the world stage.
Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story
I’ve never seen Anne Curtis and Dingdong Dantes in a film together, so this was quite an interesting mix. It also perfectly illustrates the blur between wants and needs, the contrast between two lovers leading two extremely different lives yet could not meet in the middle. Plus points for the coloring, as well as the screenwriting. I couldn’t stop thinking about the film way after I watched it for the first time.
Second runner up for pinoy film would be Hello, Love, Goodbye by Olivia M. Lamasan (who is a genius with these types of films).
Always Be My Maybe
Since Ali Wong announced this film, I had been waiting for it to be released on Netflix. I remember ordering Chinese takeout and watched it while sipping on Coke and eating fried rice (#veryAsianindeed). What drew me most was the striking similarity between the two lovers and two typical Asian lovers—in theory, I can totally see myself as Ali Wong’s character, and I could easily pinpoint who Rendell Park’s character would be (again, in theory!). But overall, a v cute film. 10/10 would rewatch over and over (I think I’ve watched it more than three times now).
Usually I don’t like throwing films under the bus, but I found these really worth writing about.
Look, I LOVE the Beatles. I changed my name’s spelling in relation to Abbey Road, and Ticket to Ride was my 18th birthday theme song. But this film just didn’t cut it for me. The whole time, I was like, “Wait, what?” and while the ending was ~okay~, I really didn’t like it. I’m sorry.
I dragged myself to finish the movie on my second flight (or did I? I actually forgot) and I was in ??? while watching. Yes, I get it, this girl has social anxiety. She also has quite an insecurity which she tries to combat by uploading videos on YouTube and trying to seek approval from her peers in middle school. Although I think in terms of cultural context, I couldn’t relate to what she was going through because maybe this period of a person’s life (in America?) felt like this. But I could be wrong.
Overall I would never watch it again. Also because I was so anxious for her while watching lol.
Tracktown is one of those films that I liked, but also questioned, then eventually disliked. Whilst this is loosely based on the director and actor’s life as a professional sports player, I found the climax weird. Also, for me her indecisiveness led her to ultimately lose sight of her own goals and what she wanted out of life. There were a lot of question marks (again) that popped in my head during the period I was watching this, so I did a lot of Googling before fully understanding the context. So that made me not like it as much. I mean, if I could sum it up, I would say it was…interesting.
Since a lot of my months were spent abroad, my ultimate companion was Netflix, all the way. So it was no surprise that I got myself hooked on a lot of different series—but personally, the drag genre was hands down, my favorite.
I watched the first episode two years ago, skipped it, and rewatched it again. A week later, I finished both seasons. The third season came out last November, and I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait for Season 4. This coming-of-age series focuses on Sam, a boy with autism, as he navigates his life with his family and peers. What I loved about this series is not the focus on autism as a weakness, but as a strength—with Sam’s outlook on life, he inspires his family to be better. I’m not a family person (do NOT hug me, lol) but the camaraderie and internal conflicts in this series really make you think and see how the characters transform throughout the seasons.
She Was Pretty
An impulse “press play” moment on a sick Monday in Berlin made me finish this in less than two days. Park Seo Joon stars as the main character, and this cute romantic comedy focuses on true friendship, love, running a magazine (!) and everything in between. While I know the ultimately formula for a highly rated kdrama, I gotta admit, She Was Pretty is right there on the top spot, throwing over Fight For My Way.
Also: Si Won’s quirky character makes him such a strong contender. He’s the character you’ll hate at first but you start loving as you move to each episode. I even cried at one point, lol?
I believe I’ve watched this since last year but never got to finish it because #actionfilmnewbie lol. Really though, as I was preparing for my stay in Berlin, this series drew me more into the world of this East-West division (but also the coming of age feel of this series was an instant plus).
Master of None
Binged on this the week after I arrived home from my summer in Berlin, and it was just wow. A lot of topics were covered in the series which I find very good to watch (but also makes you think a lot—aka the type of content I prefer watching). Aziz Ansari was great.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Why did I get on the bandwagon just this year? As of this writing I’ve already watched from S5-S11 (+ All Stars 4) and all I can say is…she done already had herses~
I loved Project Runway growing up so this felt exactly like that but 100x better because it’s drag—more sass, more Britney (and Whitney!), more glam and glitter, more tea spilling, and more reading (because it’s fundamental). Can’t wait for the next season.
Also, I love Jinx Monsoon, Sasha Velour, and Alyssa Edwards. *clicks tongue*
Nothing like nuggets of new knowledge to take in once a week, eh? That’s how Explained feels to me. Produced by Vox and Netflix, this series tackles different topics (all v interesting) from animal production, diamonds, to mental health (The Mind: Explained is a fave indeed). I must say, the graphics really were stimulatingly good and that’s what kept me hooked as well (apart from the information, of course).
Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!
I’ve seen the OG Queer Eye (I was still a teenager back then!) and it’s nice to see the show evolve (BUT ALSO ANTONI <3) and be available on Netflix. I particularly loved this Japan series because 1) I love Japan and 2) it’s nice that the Fab Five are getting to know the Asian culture and seeing how they transform it based on the person they are making over.
My best friend Erika recommended this to me after my whole RPDR fandom started to peak. POSE is based on Paris is Burning, an award-winning documentary showcasing the origins of drag and ball culture. A drama-heavy series, the series focuses on the prevalence of drag culture, trans culture, and also the initial arrival of AIDS in the society. Very, very interesting. I’m now on Season 2 and I don’t want it to end.
Plus: 80s and 90s tunes for daaaays.
The Art of the Good Life, Rolf Dobelli
While I haven’t finished The Art of Thinking Clearly (as it’s sitting pretty on my desk shelf back in Manila), I picked up this book at the Berlin train station during my 8-hour stay there (long story). I read this regularly during commute as it provided nuggets of wisdom and insights that make you go, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it that way!” with certain life situations. Haven’t finished yet but I’m halfway (#progress) and so far, so good.
I Might Regret This, Abbi Jacobson
I’ve known of Abbi thanks to Broad City and A Piece of Work (her podcast series w/ MoMA), but reading I Might Regret This and getting deep into her way of thinking, writing, and analyzing the world around her was a whole different story. I couldn’t put the book down—it was so friendly, and it was like reading a friend’s diary. Lots of insights I’m taking into heart as I make my way to adulthood.
Keep Going, Austin Kleon
I picked up this book during the start of my career crisis. As a long-time Austin Kleon fan (and a loyal newsletter subscriber), this book was what I needed to…keep going. I keep this on my bedside table so I can revisit it every so often.
The Head and the Heart, Living Mirage
A no-skip album. 10/10. All the feelings, really.
Taylor Swift, Lover
Taytay’s best album YET.
My on-repeat playlists below:
Because I am that person who *still* listens to music I listen to 24/7:
And because I’m an old soul:
I’ve been a true blue podcast listener since 2016, so it’s no-brainer that I always recommend the usuals for creatives: Design Matters and Creative Pep Talk are always on my list. This year, however, I binged on Modern Love so much that I probably have to scroll down to the very first episode to find ones that I haven’t listened to yet.
My personal favorite is He’s Playing Our Song because it was the cutest.
OMG. It was so hard to narrow this down, tbh. How about you, what were your favorites for 2019?