With 2019 over, let’s take a look back at the best moments from Star Wars over the past calendar year, giving out several awards. We’ll hand out the hardware for best film, best show, best book, best comic, best comic arc, best episode, best game, best song, best hero, best villain, best performance, biggest surprise, best storyteller, and then lastly, the best Star Wars story of the year.
Let’s jump in to the awards!
Winner: The Rise of Skywalker
So this one’s the easiest one to decide, since there was only one film released in 2019, but we’ll recognize it anyway. The Rise of Skywalker released in December to mixed reviews, but it’s a really fun and enjoyable film that wraps up the Skywalker saga. I’m not in love with all of the decisions that were made, but it’s a fun film that wraps up the storylines of so many characters I love dearly. I loved it.
Winner: The Mandalorian
This one had more competition because there were two Star Wars shows this year that I loved: Resistance and The Mandalorian. I probably would’ve considered Resistance more seriously if the second season had picked up as good as the first season left off, but in the end I think The Mandalorian runs away with this. It has the distinction of being the first ever live-action Star Wars series, but it’s also fantastic.
Honorable Mention: Resistance
Winner: “Master and Apprentice” by Claudia Gray
I found that this one was one of the harder ones to choose, as there were plenty of really enjoyable Star Wars books that released this year. But I’ll give the nod to “Master and Apprentice,” because it was an incredibly enjoyable read about the relationship between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi during Kenobi’s training – something that hasn’t really been explored much at all. Claudia Gray was the absolutely perfect choice to tell it.
Honorable Mention: “Thrawn Treason” by Timothy Zahn; “Resistance Reborn” by Rebecca Roanhorse
Winner: “Age of Republic” by Jody Houser
Comics have been a staple of Star Wars storytelling in recent years, and that continued in 2019 with a number of awesome additions. I almost put “The Rise of Kylo Ren” here but decided against it mainly because we’ve only had one issue so far. So instead, I’m going with the fantastic “Age of Republic” comics by Jody Houser. The other “Age of” comics were a bit more hit or miss, but the Republic ones were all fantastic. They were interesting and exciting while also adding plenty to our understanding of the Star Wars universe and these characters themselves. It’s exactly what I was hoping for and more when these “Age of” comics were announced.
Honorable Mention: “The Rise of Kylo Ren” by Charles Soule
Best Comic Arc/Issue:
Winner: “The Rise of Kylo Ren #1” by Charles Soule
We’ve only read one issue so far of “The Rise of Kylo Ren”, but it’s fantastic and everything I want in these comics. It explores a familiar and beloved character in Ben Solo and adds a ton of depth and intrigue and meaning to the films by expanding our understanding and filling in the gaps and details. It’s exciting, emotional, and incredibly interesting.
Honorable Mention: “Age of Resistance: Rose” by Tom Taylor; “Age of Republic: Qui-Gon Jinn” by Jody Houser
Winner: “Redemption” (The Mandalorian)
There are a number of episodes of The Mandalorian that could be featured here, but the best one of them all, in my opinion, was “Redemption,” the final chapter of the first season. This episode (and technically the one before it, too) wrapped up so many storylines from season one, such as the character arcs of Kuiil and IG-11. It featured some thrilling action sequences, some satisfying emotional payoffs, and some exceptional teases as to where things will go in season two.
Honorable Mention: “The Prisoner” (The Mandalorian); “Rendezvous Point” (Resistance)
Winner: Jedi: Fallen Order
I’ll start by saying this: Battlefront II has risen from the ashes since a disappointing release, and it has become a fantastic Star Wars game that I thoroughly enjoy. It deserves massive props for what it has become. But with all of that said, the runaway winner in this category this year is Jedi: Fallen Order. It’s the first true story-based Star Wars game that we’ve gotten in a long time, and it lives up to the task by giving us a truly engaging and compelling Star Wars story set to cool new worlds and challenging yet fun gameplay. This game truly was everything I want in a Star Wars single-player game.
Honorable Mention: Battlefront II
Winner: “The Rise of Skywalkwer” by John Williams
John Williams yet again hit a home run with what is likely his final Star Wars score, and in The Rise of Skywalker he brilliantly wove together familiar themes with new ones to produce a perfect score. Included in this was the titular track “The Rise of Skywalker”, which is a beautiful theme. But it’s such a close toss-up between this theme, “Anthem of Evil” from The Rise of Skywalker, and “The Mandalorian” by Ludwig Göransson.
Honorable Mention: “Anthem of Evil” by John Williams; “The Mandalorian” by Ludwig Göransson
Winner: Adam Driver
Throughout the whole sequel trilogy, Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley have established themselves as phenomenal actors, and their performances really make so much of it work. That was certainly the case once again in The Rise of Skywalker, but I’m giving the nod here to Adam Driver. He once again puts together a tremendous performance, but he also manages to completely sell the character of Ben Solo despite only saying “ow”. He has plenty of lines as Kylo Ren and he nails them, but once he is redeemed he says very little – yet convinces the audience that he’s an entirely changed person and someone to root for just by his actions and demeanor.
Honorable Mention: Daisy Ridley; Pedro Pascal
Winner: Rey being a Palpatine
The Rise of Skywalker decided to change (or add to, depending on your point of view) the answer to Rey’s parents, and they made her a descendant of Palpatine. While I wouldn’t say this was entirely unexpected – since J.J. Abrams made it clear all year there was more to the story with her parents – it was still an unexpected development that has generated mixed opinions.
Winner: Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni
The showrunners of The Mandalorian take this award, as they managed to pull off the first-ever live-action Star Wars show and introduce beloved characters. While the first season isn’t necessarily story-focused, it does tell a compelling story about a bounty hunter who retrieves the asset… but then decides to protect it from other bounty hunters and Imperial remnants. Like I said, though, Favreau and Filoni really do a good job of crafting these brand new characters, from the Mando to the Child to Cara Dune to Kuiil to IG-11 to Greef Carga, and on and on.
Best Star Wars Story:
Winner: The Rise of Skywalker
This one is basically a toss-up between The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker, two products that I really loved. While I didn’t really consider J.J. Abrams for Best Storyteller because I questioned some of the decisions he made, I will give the ever-so-slight nod to The Rise of Skywalker because it was an enjoyable film wrapping up the Skywalker saga and these characters we have grown to love over several films.
Honorable Mention: The Mandalorian