The year is coming to a close and publications around the globe are dropping their annual best of lists of anything and everything. Whether it's movies, moments, music, TV, or anything else one could think of, there's a list. In an effort to follow the trend, but also provide a fresh take, we decided to not only shorten our lists from the more conventional ten to five (peak innovation) but also provide five categories within the categories.
The categories are as follows: music, movies, TV, podcasts, and sports moments. Within those five broad categories, our staff has come up with five divisions within the groupings. Here are the five, with a breakdown of the criteria for choosing the winner of each group.
This section is reserved for the things that made us feel in 2016 (hence the name). More than just the warm fuzzy's we were looking for things that captured our attention and reeled in our emotional investment. Nostalgic value, excitement, and a diverse range of feelings were all factors as well.
Every year there are things that slip through the cracks and don't spread to the masses. Our hope here is to compile some of less talked/written about things of 2016.
What are the things you watched/listened to this year that you aren't rushing to bring up at a dinner party? We all have them; it's time to come clean and experience the refreshment of confession. This category is all about mindless, light-hearted, good old fashioned entertainment.
What is art?
If there were a polar opposite of the guilty pleasure, this would be it. This category is reserved for the most challenging, thought-provoking, and abstract pieces of pop culture from this year.
This category is not for the faint of heart. The winners in this category usually, like the what is art group, inspire thought, but they also depict a truth that is particularly difficult to swallow.
Top five, top five, top five...
La La Land
When a director under thirty makes something as substantial as 2014's Whiplash, everyone takes notice. That is exactly what Damien Chazzelle did, and with the national debut of his second major feature, La La Land, the anticipation has been bubbling since it received stellar reviews at the Venice Film Festival. Set in LA, this musical tells the story of two dream chasers, one trying to make it as an actress (Emma Stone), and the other hoping to open a jazz club that preserves and ignites passion for a dying genre (Ryan Gosling). The chemistry between Gosling and Stone is delightful throughout, reminding viewers of their palpable tension in Crazy, Stupid, Love. The luminous colors and gorgeous backdrop of the City of Angels combine to make for a perfect setting. Reminding us to keep dreaming, La La Land is not only our pick for the feels, but hands down one of the best movies to hit theaters in 2016.
Honorable Mention: The Jungle Book
Everybody Wants Some!!
The self-proclaimed, "spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused" this college party bro flick is a hit. Due to its early release in May, it didn't receive as much attention as it would've with a winter release (or make much money). The first work brought to us by Richard Linklater since his life work Boyhood, this strikes all the chords Dazed and Confused did so many years ago. Set in Texas, in a glorified frat house full of baseball bros, this is ultimate camaraderie movie. If you missed out on this one during its theater release, rent it for a few bucks over the holiday and enjoy.
Honorable Mention: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
This buddy comedy is nothing but fun from the get-go. Full of action and straightforward humor, you can check your thinking cap at the door for this blockbuster. Hart and Johnson aka The Rock, have an intrinsic chemistry that pops off the screen and is entertaining and funny as hell throughout. This might not win any Oscars (when I say might, I mean that it definitely will not) but if that's what you're looking for this isn't for you anyways. Central Intelligence is a fun ride and if you're looking to unwind and forget the stresses of life for a few hours, this movie is for you.
Honorable Mention: London Has Fallen
Uh, what is art?
This devastating narrative depicts the life of Chiron, an African American boy raised in Liberty Square, a housing project in Miami. The story is told in three stages. One depicts childhood, one his teenage years, and last, adulthood. Raised by a drug-addicted mother, we are quickly met with the pain and confusion of Chiron as we are witness to him being subject to bullying throughout his young years. Without giving any spoilers, the movie shows how his identity and ability to be true to himself was threatened from a young age. By the time we reach the third chapter of the film (adulthood) we see the detrimental effects his arduous upbringing had on his psyche, teaching him to suppress something at the very core of his identity.
Honorable Mention: Jackie
Manchester by the Sea
Anchored by the performance of a lifetime from Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea is one of the most sincere depictions of grief and regret in recent memory. Affleck carries the pain so vividly it's hard not to bear it with him while you watch. With supporting performances from Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and breakout star Lucas Hedges, the acting is supremely executed from start to finish. Bring your tissue box with you, this one is a tear jerker but unlike many movies that rely on sappy manipulation, Manchester earns its viewer's emotional investment.
Honorable Mention: Hell or High Water