I typically don’t write year-end lists, but man, 2017 was kind of a dumpster fire. So many terrible things are happening in the world right now, but the art of storytelling makes me believe in a better future. Maybe that’s naive of me to think, but I also feel like it’s more important than ever to talk about the things we love. I didn’t go too deep here, but the following list contains my three personal favorites from each category, including some rambling thoughts. Happy 2018, everyone!
- The Shape of Water. I was totally that weird, grown woman in the theatre softly crying throughout the whole movie. Guillermo Del Toro is known for his dark fairytales, but none of them have captivated me this much since Pan’s Labyrinth.
- Baby Driver. A lot of “fun” movies are usually too cheesy for me, but Edgar Wright’s work might be the exception. From the opening 6-minute car chase to the very end, I was completely immersed in Baby’s story and had the biggest smile on my face the entire time.
- Dunkirk. I also don’t really care for war movies, but Dunkirk is one of the few exceptions. Everything was so gorgeously done. Christopher Nolan has mastered his craft and it’s one of the few blockbusters I’ve watched in a long time that truly valued the art of “show, don’t tell.”
- The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s not exactly fun to watch, but it almost feels necessary. Margaret Atwood’s story resonates more than ever, and I think we’re only a few years away from our country potentially falling into the same trap. Also, this scene with Alexis Bledel’s character (warning: there is a hanging shown onscreen) was the most affective thing I’ve seen on TV in years.
- Legion. One of the first shows in a while where I truly had no idea where it was going, which somehow made the experience even better. Aubrey Plaza is a queen.
- Big Little Lies. Everything about this show was on-point. The directing, cinematography, soundtrack, acting, everything. To see a story so focused on the nuances of marriage, abuse, and motherhood was also very refreshing.
- Horizon Zero Dawn. Ugh…this game, man. It’s so perfect. Everything from the open world design, to its addicting combat system, to Aloy’s quest for answers made this one of the most riveting titles I’ve ever played.
- Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. This somehow managed to improve on the small imperfections in the first installment and exceed all of my expectations. Don’t let the loot box controversy deter you–this game fucking rules.
- Nier: Automata. I’ll admit, I wasn’t as immediately smitten with this game as everyone else, but it has lingered with me months after playing. The story will leave you questioning just about everything, but Yoko Taro knows how to craft a story that will challenge and reward you all the same.
- Lorde – Melodrama. My favorite pop record of all time. I tried writing something and I honestly couldn’t. It’s just perfect. Favorite tracks: “Supercut”, “Liability”
- St. Vincent – Masseduction. There’s a lot of Prince and Bowie worship on here, but Annie Clark continues to be a dazzling creative force in her own right. Favorite tracks: “Fear the Future”, “Los Ageless”
- SZA – Ctrl. One of the most personal records I’ve heard in years and SZA reminds us to keep it real in the way we express ourselves–even if that means being selfish or manipulating. Favorite tracks: “Prom”, “20 Something”
- Saga. Alana, Marko, and Hazel dealt with the aftermath of Alana’s miscarriage, which led us to a new, Spaghetti Western-esque planet! We got a peak at what The Will has been up to! Ghus is also still alive by the end, so I’d say it’s a good arc.
- Snotgirl. Get hooked on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s storytelling and stay for Leslie Hung’s gorgeous, anime-influenced artwork. Lottie continues living it up as a somewhat popular blogger in Hollywood, but there’s still some murder and obsession to worry about. The slow build-up of this comic is such a treat and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
- The Wicked + The Divine. The Imperial Phase closed with what was probably one of the best issues I’ve ever read in a comic book series. Seriously, Kieron Gillen is on some next level storytelling and WicDiv‘s upcoming, final arc will be one you can’t miss.
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, IL. I’ve gone to a few hundred shows at this point, but nothing could prepare me for the intense, blissful experience of what this band had to offer. I was in such humbled disbelief the entire night, constantly shifting from ugly sobbing to screaming with utter joy.
- Nine Inch Nails at Riot Fest in Chicago, IL. Trent Reznor and co. have been taking it easy on shows, but thankfully they made room in 2017 for Riot Fest. NIN are known for their tight, well-constructed live sets, and it was such a gift to finally see it happen during a beautiful, warm Chicago evening.
- Paramore at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA. Paramore has changed so much in the 10 years since I’ve first seen them, but their energy and passion onstage is unrivaled. The highlight of the evening was a stripped down version of “26”, dedicated to the shooting victims in Las Vegas. I don’t think there was a single dry eye in the room.