The Best and Worst of 2016
(EDIT- OK so some things were forgotten in my original post so I completely revised a lot of this AND because 2016…had to add a few more in the Worst category)
2016 might have been the worst year in quite some time. It’s really hard to defend the year as being great when everyone can agree it was abnormally terrible.
In fact, I’m breaking a tradition with this recurring post and eliminating the “in-between” section from my annual list because very few things were redeeming enough to lift our spirits this year.
If there’s anything to end the year on a good note for me, it’s writing my annual Best & Worst look back at the year. Keep in mind these are things that I thought were awesome (or bad) but feel free to weigh in on your personal best/worst of 2016 either on here or on the Facebook/Twitter talkback! Onto the list!
Best of 2016
Not everything in 2016 was terrible. There were some things that made me happy. So here’s a look at all the good before we get a reminder of how terrible everything was
2016 saw the return of some favorite series (Rory is still the worst in Gilmore Girls) as well as the debut of some stellar new shows (Netflix dominated). While I’m still needing to catch Westworld, Ash vs Evil Dead and Luke Cage, there were plenty to praise this year on the small screen:
Stranger Things- This was definitely the winner this year for new shows for me. Stranger Things was a very amazing E.T./Stand By Me/Goonies/80s love letter with a really cool sci-fi horror story. With virtually no pre-hype buzz or announcements, this show took everyone by storm as the most binge-worthy show this year. I loved everything about Stranger Things. The kid actors were perfectly cast ,especially Millie Bobby Brown’s portrayal of Eleven, and David Harbour’s portrayal of Jim Hopper is pitch perfect as a small town sheriff. I can’t wait until next summer to see the further adventures in and out of the Upside Down. Also to add to the enjoyment of the show, the kid actors are amped to 11(no pun intended) with charisma in their interviews which makes them a really fun new gang to see grow over the years . Also for fun, there’s a VERY entertaining theory that the character of Steve is the biological father of Jean Ralphio from Parks and Recreation so that’s worth Googling. This was hands down probably my favorite thing this year.
Jessica Jones- While geeks like me love the fact that a lot of comic book properties are finally being adapted to live action, there’s definitely some superhero fatigue out there. Jessica Jones, while based on a comic book superhero, does a phenomenal job of keeping the fantastic power elements dulled down in favor for a more realistic story. As a result this was a superhero/comic series that even people suffering from superhero fatigue can enjoy. There was plenty to love about the show. Kristen Ritter was a bad ass woman to root for and David Tennant was a perfect creepy villain for the abusive mind-controlling Kilgrave. If that wasn’t enough, there’s some Luke Cage action intertwined as well that leads to a spin-off series.
The (almost) Punisher- Daredevil made a great Netflix debut last year going for a darker and grittier tone than Marvel’s other properties but the 2nd season really amped things up with the inclusion of Electra and The Punisher. While we don’t quite see Frank Castle take The Punisher helm until the final few minutes of the season, he was every bit a rough sketch of The Punisher that we know and love. While I do wish that Thomas Jane got another movie, I am glad with Jon Bernthal’s portrayal. I look forward to seeing his solo series and Defenders tie-in. Outside of maybe adding Bullseye into the fray for future Daredevil, it’s going to be tough to top Frank Castle.
Negan Arrives- I knew all about Negan and what it meant when he made his debut on The Walking Dead but it was just as uneasy to watch on TV as it was reading it a few years ago in the comics. Even with Negan’s penchant for using the F-word all the F-ing time not being able to transfer to cable, Jeffery Dean Morgan brought just as much guilty pleasure to the live adaptation of Walking Dead’s biggest bad guy. Worth mentioning is that this led to a FANTASTIC Dave Chapelle comeback when he hosted SNL a few weeks later.
Tower of Joy! Bastard Bowl!! Confirmed!!!- Game of Thrones ran this season for the first time without relying very heavily on the books. The pace of the show has officially surpassed all of George R.R. Martin’s works. With little source material to work with, the show went full pace with confirming a few fan theories involving the Tower of Joy (Jon Snow is a “Starkgaryian”!!!), Ramsay Bolton and Jon Snow went head to head in an amazing and VERY VERY INTENSE battle and as a cherry on top, Danarys is bearing down on Kings Landing with a full fleet! Unfortunately we’re going to have to wait later than usual before heading back to Westros. Due to “Winter” finally coming to the Seven Kingdoms, they have to wait for real winter to set in so they can film… so we’re not returning to Westros until next summer.
Mulder meets the Were-Monster– Early 2016, X-files briefly returned in a 6 episode mini-series. You can easily debate if it was ultimately good overall or not, but outside of Mulder tripping on shrooms, having Mulder meet the Were-monster was a perfect Monster of the Week moment. I know there’s the overall UFO government conspiracy arc that had to be addressed but this was far far better.
BoJack Horseman’s Underwater Episode- This is a brilliant episode with very little dialogue. The result is probably one of the most pleasing visual comedic bits since the days of Chaplin. The rest of the season wasn’t bad either but this episode was awesome!
John Oliver (again)- I know I listed John Oliver last year as well, but this year he topped his bits on Televangelism and Standardized Teaching with everything Election 2016 related. He also put together the best and satisfactory farewell to 2016 for his fall finale by blowing up a giant 2016 sign.
A trip to the cinema provided a nice escape from 2016’s reign of terror. While I still need to catch Doctor Strange and this is being published a week or so before Rogue One, I had a good time at the theater this year. (note: I’m not sure how I neglected What We Do in the Shadows from my list last year…that was my favorite discovery). Anyway here’s what I enjoyed this year:
Zootopia- This was probably the best animated film of the year. Granted I don’t watch a lot of cartoons unless I’m out with my niece or nephew, I wanted to see this solely because of the DMV sloths. The entire movie was a blast!
Deadpool- After spending a long time in Development Hell , Deadpool finally had a solo film. Surprisingly enough and wisely the film was R-rated. As a result of taking the shackles of a PG-13 rating for “The Merc with the Mouth” we got probably the most fun superhero/anti-hero movie ever! It’s been a LONG time since comic book fans legitimately sung the praises of a Marvel property that Fox controls. It’s safe to say that this movie officially apologizes for the horrendous character assassination they did to Deadpool in Wolverine Origins a few years back. Well done!
Captain America: Civil War- Spider-man finally got to play with the Avengers!!!! There were A LOT of cool parts to the movie but Spider-Man playing with his Marvel friends made me very happy with the movie. To finally leave a movie featuring Spider-Man without any complaints for the first time in 10 years from me is so refreshing. Not to be outdone, Ant-Man definitely got to shine as well and I loved seeing Black Panther in action too. While we only saw a battle royale at an airport between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America, it was plenty enough to see our dysfunctional family of Avengers tussle with each other before going after Zemo. This was so much more fun than last year’s Rise of Ultron.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them- When Harry Potter’s adventures ended on the silver screen 5 years ago, a lot of fans that grew up with the characters probably thought it would be the last time we’d see the Wizarding World on -screen. However, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we get to explore a exciting new part of the Wizarding World: The USA!!! Set in 1920s New York, we follow the adventures of Newt Scamander and the titular beasts. While we do see some familiar elements to Harry Potter, this felt quite different from Hogwarts which made for a VERY refreshing spin-off. I’m really looking forward to Young Dumbledore whenever that happens.
Swiss Army Man– This was probably the most beautiful movie about a magical farting corpse ever made. Such a weird movie, but it was highly enjoyable and no other advice rings truer than “If you don’t know Jurassic Park, you don’t know shit”.
The Jungle Book- As fun as this movie was, the end credits were almost better than the movie (100% due to Christopher Walken singing “I Wanna Be Like You”). I didn’t catch this movie in theaters because I thought like the live-action Cinderella, it was going to be something passable and I was delightfully proven wrong after renting it. The voice casting was pretty spot-on: I LOVED Walken as King Louie, Bill Murray made Baloo just as lovable as the cartoon if not moreso , Idris Elba brought a menacing voice to Sher Kahn, ScarJo’s singing as Kaa was reminiscent of a James Bond Theme Song and Ben Kingsley brought a regal and fatherly voice to Bagheera (MUCH more likable than the cartoon counterpart making me switch from Baloo to Bagheera as a favorite character… sorry 6 year old Brad).
Events, Memes and Everything Else…
While lots of terrible things tarnished the year. There was plenty to enjoy with music and good news!! Here’s some of the stuff eclipsed by all the negative news this year:
Music- While Beyonce’s Lemonade and Kanye’s Life of Pablo got a lot of the love this year, there were quite a few albums I really liked this year. I already mentioned in November my thoughts on Metallica’s Hardwired…To Self-Destruct . Other new albums I’ve enjoyed were GroupLove’s Big Mess complete with new shouty-clappy tunes like Welcome to Your Life and Spinning, Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book, and The Weeknd ‘s Starboy was a really great album that’s currently smashing the charts. If Suicide Squad didn’t quite impress fans, the soundtrack was a hit largely to 21 Pilot’s Heathens. Surgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth might be the first time in a long time that I really, really enjoyed a country album. His spacey sounds and mellow cover of Nirvana’s In Bloom were often found playing on my Spotify sessions and playlists. Worth checking out as well is Jon H. Benjamin (voice actor from Archer & Bob’s Burgers) taking a foray into Jazz Piano with “Well I Should Have* (*-Learned to play piano) with such tracks as “I Can’t Play Piano, pt 1” and “I can’t play Piano pt.2). The album does have an incredible Jazz band to mostly cover Jon Benjamin’s terrible piano playing. Rest assured many tracks form those albums will appear on my 2016 playlist.
Actual Good News- While 2016 is rife with horrendous news, there were some good things to be happy about. The population for wild tigers grew for the first time in a century, Those videos of people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge raised enough awareness and donations for researchers to identify the gene linked to ALS, Virtual Reality isn’t just a 90s horror, adult, or action plot device thanks largely to the availability of devices like Oculus Rift…and it’s funny to see people fall, a solar powered plane circled the globe without using a drop of fuel, the FDA said Coffee is good for you, India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours and 70,000 Muslim Clerics declared a fatwa on ISIS. So as shit-tastic 2016 came off, there was some good buried under the darkness…just like Darth Vader….OH that is happening too! Darth Vader will be in Rogue One!
Ken Bone- Aka THE most fashionable man during the presidential debates. Ken Bone spawned Halloween costumes and memes alike shortly after becoming an overnight sensation. Unfortunately after doing a Reddit AMA without creating a throwaway account, his penchant for commenting on NSFW photos were brought to light. I’d rather focus on the sweater look of the year and not what he does in his spare time. It was much needed after 90 minutes of Trump/Clinton bickering.
Pokemon Go- I didn’t play this game but a hell of a lot of people seemed to really enjoy going outside and catching digital monsters for about a month this summer. I benefited from it by listening to people playing it so I can pretend to know what monsters my nephew is listing off to me when he plays. I BS-ed enough to make him think I’m cool.
David S. Pumpkins- He’s gonna scare the hell outta you! This might have been SNL’s Best Halloween sketch.
Undercover Boss: Kylo Ren– “Hey I found Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber wanna see it up close?!?” – Radar Technician “Matt” on SNL’s Undercover Boss:Starkiller Base
Katie Lendeky Kicking The World’s Ass- While I felt bad for Colorado’s sweetheart Missy Franklin falling short of repeating her dominance at the last Olympic Games, the women’s swim team still showed up in beast mode, especially when Katie Lendeky destroyed her competition and smashed World Records.
Scowling Michael Phelps- This launched a ton of memes and a self-parody commercial. If this truly is the end of Phelps’ career, I am happy it ended with the scowl seen around the world. Maybe he knew how bad 2016 would end up before we did.
2016 was a banner year in being terrible. Here’s a list of movies and events that really brought everyone’s moods down.
While I generally avoid disappointing movies there were a few that I either saw in the theater or rented later that came off disappointing. These are those movies:
Ghostbusters – Remaking a beloved movie is tricky business and probably THE movie to see the worst of it was the reboot to Ghostbusters. Outside of people that generally dislike remakes of otherwise great movies, the “Ghost Bros” really ripped into this. The “Ghost-Bros” were a very vocal group that didn’t want estrogen all up in their nostalgia. . Even that Angry Video Game Nerd guy sounded off online dooming the movie before it even started and it made anyone who disliked the movie seem like they were aligned with the “Ghost Bros” and/or anti-feminist. Throw in some rumors regarding Bill Murray being forced to promote the movie to dodge legal action and you got a very messy PR mix on your hands. As for the movie itself it definitely had some laughs and fun but then halfway in it sort of just fell flat. Only a singular ghost was trapped in a movie with almost more ghosts than Aragon’s army of the undead. That’s a problem…instead of being trapped, the ghosts were punched into a slimey goop, paper-shredded or straight-up shot by proton pistols and to top it off, there’s a recurring annoying soup joke. It really really should have been a sequel with less soup jokes. I think that would have improved the movie vastly. Chris Hemsworth and Leslie Jones were hilarious though so it was a solid “C” effort overall.
Finding Dory- It wasn’t really a bad movie but the whale joke went far far too long and far too often. Loved the Octopus though. Sorry Dory fans. I had the bar set really high on this one and it underwhelmed me by a lot but it still made a ton of money and was well loved by everyone other than me. So there’s that.
DC movies- Batman vs Superman while not overly terrible, still came off as a meh movie. The movie was far too condensed with way too much going on. I think a lighter tone and about 40% less stuff happening would have made the movie so much better. Suicide Squad on the other hand seemed like 2 movies smashed together (constant re-writes and only 10 minutes of Joker probably contributed to this feeling). At least its soundtrack was really good! Hopefully Wonder Woman doesn’t fail us next year.
When we look at the year 2016 and all of the terrible glory that came with it the following events largely played into it:
The Election- What a shit-show. Email scandals, Walls, “Locker Room Talk”, Nazis becoming a thing again. Nuff said! Wish we could unplug and plug this mess back in to see if that fixes everything. (at least “Please Clap” was sadly kinda funny)
Deaths- This was a busy year for the Grim Reaper for noticeable deaths : Bowie (Singer/Starman), Alan Rickman (Professor Snape), Prince, Gene Wilder (OG Willy Wonka), Abe Vigoda (Godfather), Anton Yelchin (New Chekov), Nancy Regan, Mohamed Ali (Boxer, once fought Superman), Arnold Palmer (Golf Legend, Drink Inovator), Ron Glass (Firefly), Florence Henderson (Mrs. Brady), Jon Polinto (Big Lebowski P.I.), Ron Lester (Billy Bob), Christina Grimmie (singer), Chyna (WWE wrestler), Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond), Merle Haggard (Okie from Muskogee), Erik Bauersfeld (Admiral Akbar), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Garry Shandling (Actor/ prick senator in Iron Man 2), Tony Burton (Rocky series), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird author), Dave Mirra (BMX stuntman), Alan Thicke (Growing Pains Dad), John Glen (Astronaut) and many more (famous and non-famous,Human and non-human, family and friends of friends). Grim Reaper should lay off next year…not even joking. We’ve gone through enough.
The FDA Says No to Eating Raw Cookie Dough- We all know raw cookie dough may be risky but we also know we will not be deprived of delicious guilty pleasures either! The FDA is now saying that E.coli is a HUGE risk for eating raw cookie dough and eating it raw AT ALL is a big no-no.
Death of Pebble- I really like my Pebble watch. I can change out watchfaces whenever my mood suits it, I can screen texts/calls by seeing a notification on my wrist and the paperwhite tech lets it go nearly a week without being charged. Unfortunately the wearable tech industry isn’t so hot and Pebble was killed off after being aquired by Fitbit in December. I guess I’ll rock it until it dies off 🙁
Harambe- Despite the guilty pleasure meme , this was actually a really bad situation. At first I was angry because all I saw was the Gorilla showing an interest in the kid but after seeing the video of the kid being dragged through the water I don’t think it would have been able to end any differently. It seemed like a hard call and it caused a LOT of controversy and blaming between the Zoo, mother, and police. End of the day a poor gorilla was killed over a situation that shouldn’t have even happened in the first place.
Ryan Locthe- Oh Boy! It came as no shock that his alibi of being robbed during the Olympic Games in Rio was absolute BS when he 1-Uped himself by saying when a gun was put to his head he “was like whatever”. In an Olympic Games mostly free of controversy outside of green pools and Zika, he managed to be front and center of one of the biggest controversies of the games. He ended up dancing on ABC a few months after.
Terror in Belgium- This one hit me personally because my wife and I were actually vacationing in Belgium when it happened. We missed being in the attack by flying in and taking the train the day before the airport and train station were bombed but it was the closest we’ve ever come to a terrorist attack. We were safe in Bruges 60 miles away but with such a small country I felt all the sadness, horror, anger and disbelief of the people as a town center that was so lively the day before became a shrine to mourn the deaths of those involved. “It’s the worst thing to happen here since World War 2” a man in a restaurant told me. A few months later a deadlier attack occurred in France.
Syria- The civil war has been going on for years but it’s heartbreaking anytime Aleppo is on the news. From relentless Russian bombing, to the refugee crisis to the recent reports of executions of civilians in the streets, it’s a bad situation all around.
All The other terrible stuff- Police shooting people, People ambushing police, Brexit, Zika, Safe Spaces, Y’all Queda, Disney Gator attack, Pulse Nightclub shootings, having the hottest year on record, Flint’s water, hate crimes….2016 really made a strong case to be an abnormally terrible year….and succeeded! Let’s hope 2017 becomes an abnormally awesome year as a counter-balance .
That’s a wrap on another Best/Worst List! Did your favorite movie or show get snubbed? Did I leave anything out? Did Dory or Ghostbusters deserve to be a “Best”? Feel free to sound off in the comments or on the Facebook page!