Oh boy, do I love a good year-end list, especially when I craft it myself.
In terms of music, 2016 semi-underperformed. Sure, as a hard-core Britney Spears fan I was thrilled with the release of the pop masterpiece Glory. Not only did Britney sound human on the record, but she also managed to add a few insta-classics to her oeuvre of sonic gems, including the stand-out Change Your Mind.
The lack of earworms in 2016 was not lost on me. In fact, I preferred the lack of incessant, meaningless choruses and bridges resounding in my mind at the most inopportune times. So, in that sense, I thank the music gods of 2016.
As with music, television just didn’t do it for me in 2016, with a few obvious exceptions, like the awesome Gilmore Girls revival. Wowsah, did that show not disappoint. Told in 4 seasons in four separate episodes, the narrative was as strong as ever with original show-runners behind the solid dialogue and tender moments shared amongst the stellar cast. Rumours run rampant of more episodes in the pipeline, but I’ll wait until there’s an official announcement. I’ve been disappointed one too many times.
I liked This is Us, but not enough to watch an entire season of it. Good acting, quick dialogue, but 22 episodes a season really does bring down a story’s momentum, regardless of how many talented actors are within it’s cast.
The People Vs OJ Simpson showcased Sarah Paulson at her finest. Every minute she was onscreen as Marcia Clark was sheer brilliance. Her aura, slight mannerisms, and sharpness made Paulson the TV actor of the year for me.
I also enjoyed the latest American Horror Story: Raonoke. Short and sweet and smartly told in 10 episodes, the show returned to its roots as a horror series wherein all expectations are defied and all stereotypes are subverted. And to entice you even more, Sarah Paulson plays THREE characters. How can you top that?
Ok, so no one is more surprised than myself when I say that La La Land is really and truly one of the best films I’ve EVER seen. Coming from an academic in film, this is a major compliment. In fact, the last time I remember saying something like this was with David Lynch’s ethereal Mulholland Drive.
Its impossible to define what makes La La Land such a landmark cinematic masterpiece. It has all elements one would expect from a Hollywood film: lavish sets, saturated costuming, and a cast of thousands. But what I didn’t expect was to be told such a real and earnest tale of growing up, meeting someone special, and chasing one’s dreams. Not only are Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling incredibly perfect in this film, they inhabit such realistic and likeable characters that the audience instantly feels connected with them. They’re relatable, and their unfolding predicaments told on screen only make them more and more endearing. As I write this, I find it hard to believe that I’m heaping such praise on such a film, but I can’t help myself. I haven’t agreed with so many critics as I do this year with naming La La Land the best film of the year. It’s as close to perfect as a Hollywood film can get. And the soundtrack? Amazing. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one sweeps every single award it’ll undoubtedly be nominated for at this year’s Oscar’s.
Coming in a close second as the best film of 2016 is Chris Kelly’s Other People. Starring the ever-talented Molly Shannon and the tender Jesse Plemons, the film is not easy to watch. In fact, as someone who has had such a similar experience to the characters on screen in terms of the impact of what Cancer can do to a family, I had to take a few breaks from the intensity while viewing. It’s a solid story, full of humour and kindness, and honestly reveals to the viewer that terminal illness can be a catalyst to revitalization and regrowth. With tears comes joy, and Molly Shannon gets my accolade for Film Actress of the Year for this flick.
Check ’em out. 🙂