Now here’s a category where I have actual valid opinions! I spend more time than I’d like to admit watching TV and movies so I certainly have more than two items for these categories.
I only saw 14 movies this year and there are a fair few that I meant to see but didn’t get around to. But hey, I saw more than 10 and therefore I can make a top 10!
This movie is just so fucking good. I have never been in a room with more white people crying in my life than when I saw this. I want to hug all three Chirons. I want to punch that school counselor lady. I want to give an award to Naomie Harris. I want to tell Janelle Monae that she is a surprisingly good actress. I want to force everybody I know to watch it so we can all talk about how good it is.
I fucking hate Jeremy Renner but watching this movie I didn’t even mind him at all, that’s how good it is. It’s got the creepy aliens and exciting effects shots that you would expect from an “aliens come to earth” movie but it’s also interesting and thoughtful and optimistic and philosophical and kind of a mindfuck in the end. Amy Adams is so great and I won’t be annoyed by her de facto Oscar nomination this year.
#3 Midnight Special
Speaking of people who are great, Jeff Nichols! I wasn’t a fan of Mud but every other movie he’s made has been so good. Of the two movies he made this year this was my favorite. About halfway through the movie I had the thought that there was no resolution or answer to the questions that were being set up that would be nearly as good as the intrigue and excitement of the mystery so I wasn’t disappointed by the ending (which was perfectly fine!). And we all know how I feel about Michael Shannon, so of course I was going to enjoy this movie.
#4 Don’t Think Twice
I grew up watching a lot of Whose Line Is It Anyway so I’ve always had a great appreciation for improv. I also have a great appreciation for Gillian Jacobs, so this movie was right up my alley! Mike Birbiglia’s character is really gross and cringey and the movie is very bittersweet (and occasionally downright depressing) but somehow I came out of the theater wanting to sign up for an improv class (and my date, who has done improv in the past, came out of it really glad that he doesn’t do improv anymore).
#5 Rogue One
It’s so nice to be living in a time where Star Wars movies are good again! I had a number of nits to pick with this movie but overall it was very exciting and moving and fun and sad and a worthy direct prequel to A New Hope. Do I wish Felicity Jones’s character had been played by Rooney Mara instead? Sure. Do I wish there was more Diego Luna? Always. But perfection is boring anyway.
This was a good movie. I am really glad Ruth Negga is getting recognition because she was so great in Breakfast on Pluto and I haven’t seen her in anything since. Joel Edgerton seemed to be trying to channel Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain but it was only mildly annoying. I appreciated the choice to focus more on the main characters’ day to day lives than the drama of the trial, but ultimately I think the movie was just a little too mellow and the main characters didn’t get quite enough characterization, which is why it didn’t crack the top 5.
#7 Star Trek Beyond
Star Trek Into Darkness was a steaming pile of crap that I sort of thought I liked the first time I watched it because of Cumberblindness but did not hold up to a rewatch. So imagine my surprise when Beyond was actually very good! I’m not a special effects queen but I found the effects in this movie very cool and unique (moreso than the overhyped Doctor Strange effects). Jayla was a great character who I hope comes back in the next one. Idris Elba’s character whose name I forget was a good villain. All the usual Enterprise suspects were great. It was sad watching Anton Yelchin and I will miss him in future installments. And of course Gay Sulu was the cherry on top of a very entertaining sundae!
#8 Nocturnal Animals
This is the second movie I saw this year that featured Amy Adams living in a beautiful house with floor-to-ceiling windows. Ultimately she’s kind of wasted though, as her story in the movie is a framing device for Jake Gyllenhaal’s character’s novel. Amy’s rich-lady-in-a-loveless-marriage angst is not all that exciting but considering that the majority of her role consists of reading a manuscript and looking perturbed she did a good job! The story-within-a-story is much more interesting, and not just because it’s the part that has Michael Shannon in it! The late-night car chase nightmare scene is legitimately frightening and the revenge tale that follows is grim but gripping. And did I mention Michael Shannon is there?
#9 Captain America: Civil War
I enjoyed Civil War quite a bit, but upon reflection it is a movie where the whole is actually not as good as the sum of its parts. Every individual character was really fun (except Tony Stark who was the worst as usual) and there were funny jokes and exciting fight scenes and lots of hot people and even though it was long I was not bored at all, but ultimately it was a bit of a disappointment as a Captain America movie. The natural follow-up to the two previous movies would have been focused on Steve helping Bucky after the whole Winter Soldier thing, but instead Bucky apparently recovered physically and mentally offscreen so that Marvel could have a pseudo-Avengers movie that wasn’t shitty like Ultron. But at the end of the day it is a fun popcorn movie and there are worse things.
#10 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I am very skeptical of this Fantastic Beasts thing and the fact that there are apparently going to be a million sequels because it’s obviously just a cash grab, but sometimes cash grabs can be fun too (see: the new Star Wars movies). It was the perfect movie to see with my family on Christmas, and though it’s not as good as the proper Harry Potter movies (well, the better ones at least; everything is better than Chamber of Secrets) and I’m not as enamored of magical animals as others seem to be, it was still a respectable entry into the Potter canon. Tina’s outfits and poor Credence’s magic-as-an-allegory-for-being-gay storylines were my favorite parts.
For the record, the four movies I saw that didn’t make the list were Elvis & Nixon (fun but basically a feature length episode of Drunk History without drunk people), Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (also fun but a little thin), The Lobster (disliked; was weird for the sake of being weird and had little to nothing to say about the actual world), and Doctor Strange (not a fan, wasted a great cast, stupid Inception/Lisa Frank special effects).
I am probably going to forget some of the shows I watched this year (and in my first draft I included Jessica Jones and Master of None which were both from last year apparently), and I definitely failed to watch some shows that I should have because I was too busy rewatching Friends and Gilmore Girls and Elementary for the millionth time, but here are some things I enjoyed:
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2
All Stars 1 was really terrible and I like Chad Michaels and all but girlfriend should NOT have won. But All Stars 2 was one of the best Drag Race seasons ever! The ugliness with Phi Phi O’Hara was unfortunate and Roxxxy Andrews stuck around for wayyyy too long, but it was a super entertaining season in which my two favorite queens (Alaska and Katya) were even better than they were on their original seasons and both made it to the very end! Bonus points for Detox’s wardrobe.
I don’t think there is a show out there that manages to be this hilarious and miserably depressing at the same time. The first two seasons had their bummer moments, but season 3 really outdid itself (that Sarah Lynn episode made me want to die). It was also super funny and creative and, as always, did not shy away from “hot button” topics. After watching the Sextina Aquafina episode I started seriously considering getting a “Get that fetus, kill that fetus” t-shirt made.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
I had a lot of issues with the Gilmore Girls reboot but ultimately I was just really happy to have them on my TV again.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine/New Girl
Even though their crossover episodes were pointless and not very good, this is the best back-to-back sitcom pairing since Community and Parks and Rec! New Girl is possibly past its prime but still very enjoyable (and Nick Miller, runner-up in the Tournament of Hotties, is there). Brooklyn Nine-Nine is still in its glory days, and who didn’t love the brief run of Holt and Peralta: witness protection buddies?
You may all commence telling me I need to watch Stranger Things in the comments!