As the year draws to a close, so too comes a flood of “Best Of” lists from all corners of the Internet… can we play, too? With a slight twist, however. Here at Mondo we have a pretty tight knit crew from all walks of life and pretty diverse interests and opinions. We’re not interested in telling you what’s the best thing 2019 gave us (“maclunkey” has been an utter gift around these parts), but we did want to put together a list of some of our favorite things that came out of this year. We put out a call to everyone on our team and worked to assemble a breakdown we thought would be worth sharing.
From movies to soundtracks to podcasts and all sorts of in between, we are excited to share with you 10 of our favorite things of 2019. What was yours? Share your lists with us on social and let us know if there’s anything we should catch up on as we close the book on 2019. We’ll retweet the ones we get tagged in!
Mondo Top 10:
Best Movie: AVENGERS: ENDGAME
Within the first 10 minutes of AVENGERS: ENDGAME, I’m hooked. All over again, like when I was first sitting in the theater, full of tears. It was like Infinity War had just ended, again. The heartache hit me, again. But I love it when a movie (hell, a franchise) can just pull you back into that head space so quickly & as gripping. As many sad tears as I shed, there were happy tears – gotta love those tender character crossovers that give you a gut laughter or happy tummy feels because two people from different worlds get moments together. So, a lot of this movie is my favorite moment, however, a few to point out would be “I’m still worthy” because of its relatability to our normal human existence. Marvel has always been able to tell us that it could be us under the mask. I think the scene that makes me happy cry the hardest is when the women of Marvel are able to come together and all be in a fight scene together. "Don't worry. She's got help." It’s what I have been waiting for. Cinematic history. So, thank you, Captain Marvel for being a complete badass, and Black Widow & Iron Man for your sacrifices, so that everyone could come together in the end and defeat Thanos, one last time. Thank you to the rest of The Avengers, I love you 3,000." – Krystal Karim (Merchandising Specialist)
Best Score: THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
The score to THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO, by composer Emile Mosseri, is my favorite of 2019. It is imbued with equal parts beauty, melancholy, and whimsy. Every family of instruments, ranging from strings to brass, play off each other perfectly. There are many stand out tracks, but the one that I continue to return to is the cover of San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair). This remix adds new meaning to the famous song, and fits perfectly within the film’s themes of pride, family, and what constitutes home. THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO is a modern fairy tale that begs to be seen, and consequently, heard (Boo to the Oscars for not adding it to their shortlist this year). – Thomas Desimone (Digital Producer)
Best TV Show: WATCHMEN
In our world of the always-on typhoon of original content, it's hard to give a shit. And it's clear that the most masterful creators, like Damon Lindelof and the WATCHMEN writing crew, know this and therefore, create genuinely memorable characters of mystery and intrigue so that we have a fighting chance to give a shit.
WATCHMEN's plot weaves white supremacy with the historic Tulsa Race Riot into a quilt of vigilantism as realized by mask-wearing heroes and villains who make up the bulk of the story. This elegantly shapes some of the series' bigger philosophical questions that any well-examined life would seek to answer; what masks do we wear to conceal our pain (and is that bringing us more pain), how do humans experience time and is there anything we can do about it, what's the relationship between freedom and confinement, and general philosophical queries like, the chicken or the egg? Turns out both, at the same time.
And if you're into symbolism, and I am, it's deliberately sprinkled throughout for your over-analyzation at most, and simple enjoyment, at least. All of this alongside a beautifully executed narrative arc in the midst of time-warps and subplots that all simplistically come together, in the end, make for fulfilled viewing. And if all of this doesn't entice you, the breakout performances by Jean Smart as funny, badass Detective Laurie Blake, Regina King as Woman-Fully-in-Charge Angela Abar, and Jeremy Irons as the intriguingly twisted Adrian Veidt - might even drive you to dig into Peteypedia, the show's supplemental material, and take a dive straight into the deep end, or a supernatural walk across the water, as the case may be. It's all worth the risk. –Darby Strong (Director of Production)
Best Video Game: Death Stranding
One paragraph is not enough for me to express why I love Death Stranding... Mads Mikkelsen’s cheekbones, a baby you carry around in a pod that helps you see ghosts, an otter hat that lets you swim on your back and break stuff on your stomach like a real otter… too much to list. The main thing I love about the game is its originality, from its unexpected storyline to its open-world gameplay. I especially enjoy the multi-player aspects, in which you can work with anonymous players to build in-game structures to make traversing the landscape easier. In Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima has created a game like no other. While it’s not for everyone, it is one of the handfuls of games that I can truly call “art.” – Ricardo Goiz (Wholesale Specialist)
Best Book: Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer has become a major voice in the 'weird sci-fi' genre over the past few years and his new book has no shortness of weird held within. Dead Astronauts reintroduces minor characters from a previous work (Borne) of VanderMeer's, and it takes the story and world of that novel to strange new places. If you haven't had any contact with the Borne universe, just know that our future has been ruined with biotech (specifically: fusing, in mind and body, of humans and animals) and existence has gotten pretty damn hard. I'm always a fan of expanding on and learning more about something I love, and this novel really delivers on making this world stranger and more intertwined than I'd previously viewed it. VanderMeer also challenges himself with a change of structure and style than previously seen in this series. The tone and prose are poetic and dreamlike, which put me in an almost 'I'm not sure what's happening, but it sure sounds pretty' mood for a lot of the reading. This is no detractor however, as the story explores the fascinating ideas of mishandled science and what happens when that science changes us into something not even we can recognize. Those themes under this dreamlike tale of people living and re-living their lives in an effort to change their circumstances worked so well that I floated along with the action, willing to take in whatever horrific, beautiful idea was thrown at me next. –Blake Bowers (Product Specialist for Posters)
Best Comic Book: House Of X/Powers Of X
Throughout their history, The X-Men have had no shortage of great creatives behind their ongoing tales. There’s the Chris Claremont and Jim Lee years, the epic Grant Morrison run and hell, they had Stan Lee and Jack “King” Kirby right from the start! With so much history and decades of storytelling, amidst the high water marks the X-Family had, in recent years, become a bit stale and majorly convoluted. Realizing this, Marvel tapped writer extraordinaire Jonathan Hickman (along with artists Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva) to take the reigns of the X-Men and plot out a brave new world.
With these two new titles, House of X and Powers of X (in the case of “Powers of X” the “X” is pronounced as “ten”. Trust me it makes sense), Hickman somehow manages to incorporate our merry mutants canonical history while also crafting a tale that feels fresh and new. This not only makes these twelve issues a great starting point for newbies but also an absolutely wonderful welcome home for those of us (myself included) who felt the titles and continuity get a bit off the rails over the years.
I’ll refrain from specifics as to avoid spoilers but trust when I say that House of X & Powers of X contain some of the most exciting, dense (in a tremendous way), thought provoking and jaw dropping stories and moments to come out of the House of Ideas in quite some time. These twelve issues (also now nicely collected in a deluxe hardcover) are also the basis for all X-Men books going forward with Hickman as the grand architect of them all. It’s a truly wonderful time to be an X-fan. – Matt Hardeman (Trade Show and Event Specialist)
Best Podcast: Last Podcast On The Left
There is no place to escape to - this is The Last Podcast on The Left.
Clouded under layers of crude and inappropriate jokes, Last Podcast on The Left is one of the most informative true crime podcasts existing that covers all stories ranging from current news to fascinating pieces of history (like Bonnie & Clyde), or to some straight up paranormal or Satanic sh*t. But most impressive is the three comedians' ability to ease us into some of the most gruesome and disturbing cases of 'happenings' or human criminal behavior throughout the years, and that is why I love this podcast. Bonus - I met Henry Zebrowski at SDCC this past year at our booth and he is a Mondo fan! – Roxy Arfa (Licensing Manager)
Best Album: Ceremony – In The Spirit World Now
This album marks an expected but great change in Ceremony's sound, continuing their progression from hardcore into post-punk, now adding in elements of psych and garage. In my younger years, my musical tastes were deep into late 70's/ early 80's punk and post punk, before getting into hardcore and bands like Ceremony in my late teens. This album is a great call back to the music I loved when I was younger, while still feeling fresh and new. Synth sits heavy in the mix, but the drums and bass keep things driving, and reminiscent of Ceremony's hardcore past. Lyrically it keeps the anger that you would expect from them, but skews a bit more introspective. It's a great record, that I'm still playing though quite a bit, give it a listen! –Zak Youngquist (Sr. Manager - Inventory, Warehousing, and Logistics)
Best Pop Culture Moment: Cap Lifts Mjölnir
I cry all the way through AVENGERS: ENDGAME. Happy cry, sad cry, all the cries. But my favorite Endgame cry is the pride cry. When I saw Thor's hammer, the legendary Mjölnir, being lifted by Captain America the tears poured. Part of this fictional character ceased being fiction. The feeling of true pride I felt was real. I had the tear stained cheeks to prove it. I couldn't help but stand up and say, in unison with Thor, "I knew it". I knew that Cap. was worthy. For me, Steve Rogers is the heart of the MCU and the conscience of the entire franchise. He is an ass-kicking Jiminy Cricket. Seeing him wield Mjölnir, I couldn't help but think about how far he had come from the scrawny kid that just wanted to serve and do good. Well Cap., thank you for your service. And thanks for the cry. - Shannon Smith (Product Specialist for Soundtracks)
Best Toy/Collectible: Splendor and Riches Tiki Mugs by Becky Cloonan
Becky Cloonan’s art has been a part of my life for a few years now. This tiki is by far my absolute favorite.
Becky, thank you for designing this because it makes me feel like the badass queen of darkness I know I can be. –Tori Vasquez (Customer Service/Office Manager)