2019, almost like any year, has been producing some fantastic releases from the three main quadrants of entertainment: film, literature, and gaming. There is no doubt more to come, all of which will be detailed in a future article, but there is also no doubt that there is much to celebrate about this year’s releases already. Each film, book, and video game may not crack the annual HBB Reviews Awards when 2019 draws to a close, but they each have merits that are worth celebrating in their own right. So, without further ado, this is the mid-2019 highlights of the best in film, literature, and gaming.
Best Game: Sky: Children of the Light (Thatgamecompany)
Having been reviewed and praised for being “a true masterpiece” that is “the single best interactive experience anyone can experience on the iPhone,” there was no question that it was the starred favorite of the genre so far. In addition to objectively being a stirring and riveting journey, infused with the delicate and eternal charm of Thatgamecompany’s previous releases, Sky: Children of the Light had some of the most consumer-friendly practices known to the entire mobile platform. It’s a genius work of art, and I would be surprised to see anything else steal its rightful crown this year.
Our full review for Sky: Children of the Light can be found here.
Best Game (Honorable Mention): Dreams (Media Molecule)
In its own right, the early access release of Dreams can be just as profound as Sky: Children of the Light. Using the customized development tools and creating the worlds of dreams and exploring the dreams of others is undoubtedly an intriguing concept, and Media Molecule realizes it nearly flawlessly. Outside of stiff motion controls and the DualShock controller acting more as an obstacle than an inhibitor, Dreams does exactly what it sets out to do-let anybody dream their worlds into reality.
Our full review for Dreams can be found here.
Best Book: The Light Jar (Lisa Thompson)
Even though it’s technically a re-release, this is the first time that The Light Jar has ever been released officially in the United States. As such, it deserves to be in the running, and it more than deserves to be on the list-not just on it, but on top of it. Yes, this sweet, somber, predictable, but still meaningful story about a young boy whose greatest obstacle is himself is nothing short of a fantastic read. Ever since reviewing it back at the beginning of the year, it has stuck like a constantly tingling impulse, one that consistently encourages me to open its pages once again.
Best Book (Honorable Mention): Cicada (Shaun Tan)
Simply put, there hasn’t been a narrative quite as simple and accessible as Cicada but also as meaningful, layered, deep, and rather dark as Cicada as well. Author Tan has written another home run, entering his already award-winning portfolio. It may not be the most family-friendly picture book of the year, but it’s most definitely the best one out of all of them.
Best Film: Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Warner Bros Animation)
Better than it has any right of being, Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the very definition of a joyride, a consistently thrilling and exciting batch of characters that couldn’t be more different. It’s still to this day, the one film of this year that puts a smile on my face whenever it crosses my mind. A wonderful gift to any fan of either property and even more so, of both properties.
Best Film (Honorable Mention): Rocketman (Paramount Pictures)
Whilst Taron Egerton’s performance as the true “Rocketman” was undoubtedly spectacular, it was director Dexter Fletcher’s work that elevated the material to another level. From the soaring musical numbers to the heart-gnawing moments of camaraderie and disappointment, Fletcher’s work here is a career-highlight, a show-stopping feat that is every bit as sincere and uplifting as it is dark and depressing. As the musical legend Elton John himself said, “the lows were very low.”
Our full review for Rocketman can be found here.