This was an extremely tough call for me to make, especially being a bit of a sneakerhead myself. Yes I queued up the day before to try to get a pair of Air Yeezy’s (the black and pink ones), and no I still didn’t get a pair. And though I like the feel and will hands down give the Yeezy’s the nod for BIGGEST release of the year (more on that later) I cannot in good conscience give them the nod for best release of the year. This may be partially influenced by Kanye’s stage-stealing, partially by a bit of bitterness at not having a pair myself and partially by my reluctance to admit that Kanye has serious style (I’m sorry people… despite some of the terrible trends he has started… he does). HOWEVER, despite the success of all of the Yeezy releases, the freshest, best looking pair of kicks from this year were both inspired by films and both released by Nike (I will freely admit my bias).

First up: the White Men Can’t Jump inspired Nike Air Flight Lite High. These caught their fair share of both ups and disses, and the comment made by Nice Kicks contributor Matt Halfhill about the fact that he cannot remember Billy Hoyle wearing these bad boys at any point in the film is a valid point. However, the key here is the inspiration rather than the historical validity, and the inspiration created by Billy Hoyle’s “chump” style is well worth exploring. While this is arguably one of the greatest films of the early 90s (if not the entire decade) it should be notice that these are about as true to Hoyle’s persona and style as might be expected or wished for.

 Fresh’uns From Billy’s Closet (Nice Kicks)

This is not an argument to say that a shoe based upon Sidney Deane’s sense of style would not have been even hotter, HOWEVER, that said… this sneaker inspired by Billy boy is true to form and well executed. The selection of the Air Flight high’s and their colorway is perfect for the mishmash style (tie-dye hat, work shorts, tube socks… come on) of Billy.

Billy Hoyle Driving on Sidney Deane (Uncoached)

Obviously, I would have been equally excited to see them bring back the Air Command’s initially worn by Billy, but for a new and fresh film-inspired kick I couldn’t possibly ask for more.

The next choice are the Nike Hypermax McFly (NFW)… another movie inspired sneaker and about as filthy a colorway as you will ever see (gray, white, pink, blue). This particular release is one of my favorites as well because it does more than simply make use of a nice colorway and the name of a film. Drawing inspiration from the ill shoes sported by Marty McFly in Back to the Future II (with a self-locking system and some serious light-ups) Nike took their hypermax and stripped the flywire out of them

McFly on His Hoverboard (Sneaker Hunt)

This is a cool decision to have made for two reasons: one flywire is a bit notorious for ripping despite it’s lightweight and implied strength, TWO (and perhaps more importantly) it is a cool and literal approach to taking “back to the future” and bringing it to life a la Nike. Nike took one of their most technologically advanced sneakers (well known for its use of flywire technology) and flipped it old school by giving it a plain gray flat nylon/satin upper. The combination of the past and the future comes together nicely and a nice hit of glow-in-the-dark on the soles does nothing but make the drop even fresher. Argue if you like about the Hypermax NFW and the Hyperdunk McFly (from 2008), but they are both fresh as any sneaker I saw this past year.

Nike McFly Hypermax NFW 2009 (Highsnobiety)