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...
Stranger Things (Netflix)
In our modern age driven by social media and constant access to information, trends spread at unprecedented rates. Netflix's out of the nowhere release of Stranger Things capitalized on the wave of information sharing and became a worldwide phenomenon within just a few days of its release. An ode to 80's sci-fi adventure film, this show drew the passionate affections of its viewers instantaneously. The synthy intro music and stylish red lit drop of the show's title made this show engrossing from the jump. Whether it was the heartwarming friendships of the young fellas, the downright spooky alien presence, or beautiful cinematography, this show brought a little of everything to the table and is our clear cut choice for the feels TV show of 2016.
Honorable Mention: Last Chance U (Netflix)
High Maintenance (HBO)
Originally a web series released through Vimeo, this viral video series turned into a full blown show when HBO announced they would release six episodes in the fall of 2016. High Maintenance tells the story of a "v chill" weed delivery guy who bikes around NYC delivering what Frank Ocean calls, "a cheap vacation." While the show centers around the greenery this is not your Cheech & Chong/Half Baked type stoner flick. The show revolves around the delivery guy and his clients but in the end, it turns out to be more driven by the lives of the consumers than The Guy. One episode depicts loneliness and grief ("Ex"), another, the complexities of a relationship between a daughter and a father ("Tick"), and in one of the most invigorating episodes of TV all year, the entire story is told through the eyes of a furry canine named Gatsby ("Grandpa"). If you haven't heard (or have but haven't given it a chance) of this show and are looking for something fresh and worth your while to enjoy over the holiday break, look no further than this hidden gem from HBO.
Honorable Mention: Better Call Saul (AMC); The Night Manager (AMC)
Sister Wives (TLC)
Taking a deep dive into the obscure world of polygamy, this TLC reality series is our pick for TV guilty pleasure. The method of more than one woman marrying a man has long been debunked as a healthy use of the sacrament, not to mention the fact that it's illegal. This is just one those shows you can't logically explain why you watch but you just can't look away.
Honorable Mention: This Is Us (NBC); Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon)
What is art?
Mr. Robot (USA)
This show premiered on USA in 2015 and took the TV world by surprise with its unique style and pace. Following the mind space of the show's main character, computer hacking savant Elliot (and several strong supporting characters), this show is like nothing else on TV. The first season was received glowingly by critics and racked up an array of Emmy noms and wins in two categories. The second season's reception was mixed. Thriving on the blurred line between reality and hallucination, the viewer is kept in the abstract mind space of Elliot for almost half of the sophomore season, leading some viewers to give up on Mr. Robot altogether. If you stuck it out through some of the more difficult episodes to the end you were duly rewarded. The style, depth, and truly unpredictable creation by Sam Esmail and company are as gripping as anything that hit the tube this year.
Honorable Mention: O.J. : Made in America (ESPN); Atlanta (FX); Fargo (FX)
The Night Of (HBO)
Carried by the sheer brilliance of writers Steven Zallian and Richard Price and the breakout performance of Riz Ahmed, The Night Of was easily one of the year's best shows. The opening episode sets the table for the series in gripping fashion as we are taken along on a night that forever changed the life of Naz (Riz Ahmed) and those closest to him. What makes this show so enthralling isn't so much it's violence or fast paced action (although it has its fair share) but more for the disheartening truth conveyed about the American justice system. We witness the injustice through Naz's arrest and his wait for trial in the infamous and well-documented hell hole that is NYC's, Rikers Island (for more on Rikers, read Pulitzer Prize winning article "Before the Law" by, Jennifer Gonnerman from The New Yorker). The message that resonates is that whether you're a criminal or not when you step into Rikers, there is a good chance you're going to be one by the time you depart.
Honorable Mention: The Girlfriend Experience (Starz); Black Mirror (Netflix)