In which Thea reveals her list of the best TV, movies, and assorted geek ephemera of 2016. (It’s late. But better late than never, right?)
Clearly, both Ana and Thea are bananas, and in addition to reading and reviewing obscene amounts of books, we also obsess over multiple television shows, movies, video games, and all other manner of geekery. With that in mind, we needed to create ANOTHER list (we are list makers, yes we are) for our end of the year celebration. We give you our very own BEST OF THE REST (everything that isn’t a book).
Thea’s Best of The Rest
Last year, as mentioned in our best books list, was kind of a doozy–personal challenges, job changes, general Life Things. I did manage to keep up with some shows and films, though, and picked up a few new ones, too. Here’s my list of favorites from 2016!
The Pied Piper crew has gone from concept-that-no-one-wants, to over-valued startup, to litigation survivors. In season 3, Pied Piper finally truly launches in earnest… but Richard is no longer the CEO. (For what appears to be good reason: he’s a crap CEO and not a great leader, though clearly the technical driving force from seasons 1 and 2.) Going B2B versus B2C, the perils of inflated user numbers, all of it comes to a hilarious and high-stakes close in this third season, and I loved every moment of it. If you aren’t watching this incisive, brilliant take on startup tech company culture, I urge you to please give it a try.
Ok. I have problems with Westworld–like, a lot of problems. I like the underlying premise, I absolutely LOVE Thandie Newton, I think that there is a lot of potential for the show. (Or, at least I did before the season finale, but no spoilers.) Westworld, to me, is like a less-good Battlestar Galactica: both shows were based on older television series, reimagined for a new generation; both shows ask questions about morality, humanity, and the line that separates machine-awareness from human-awareness. BSG, however, was much smarter, more politically relevant, and on the whole better-acted than Westworld (though Westworld has the special effects and budget that I can only imagine dwarfs BSG’s). There are eerie parallels between the two shows–including a human-host love story, a host who keeps killing herself to get closer to her gods, secret messages embedded in the code of the hosts, and so on and so forth. I want to LOVE Westworld, but there’s always something holding me back–heavy-handed writing, simplistic plot giveaways, pretty straightforward twists… still, I cannot deny that I was immersed in the first season and as an HBO SFF show, I have to put it on my list.
Game of Thrones
Speaking of HBO SFF shows, here’s a controversial one. There are, admittedly, lots of problems with GoT and its portrayal of violence, particularly sexual violence. I acknowledge this, and completely understand why others choose not to support or watch the show. I watched this last season, which breaks from the books and expands the story into uncharted plotting territory, and I kind of… loved it.
Star Wars: Rebels
OH MY GOD, THIS SHOW. Last season’s finale–the return of Darth Maul, Ahsoka fighting Vader, ALL THE DARKNESS. I love that this is a kids’ animated show, but it’s not afraid to show consequences–Kanan is blinded from his encounter on Malachor, Ahsoka’s fate is up in the air, and Ezra faces temptation in using the Dark Side of the Force. (Also, Hera is the best pilot and gets a shoutout in Rogue One–Chopper even gets a cameo.) I love this show–it’s not as nuanced as The Clone Wars but DAMN, it’s a show that clearly weighs consequences against actions, adds a whole new dimension to the Star Wars canon.
I wrote a post after binging this show, and all the reasons why I (and the rest of the world) loved it. I NEED SEASON 2 NOW.
Oh, Black Mirror. You twisted, dark, frightening, hilarious, but mostly frightening SFF show. I grew up a Twilight Zone fan–Black Mirror is its twisted, nasty, makes-everyone-uncomfortable-at-the-holidays-dinner-table older sibling. You know, the one that’s cynical and jaded, but makes the most cutting (as in, down to the bone) comments about your family and the world? That’s kind of what Black Mirror is. I don’t recommend binging these unless you want some really effed up dreams. (Like I had after watching all of season 1 in a single go, then curled up into a little ball, cuddling my bewildered cat.)
Crazy Ex Girlfriend
West Coviiiiiiiinaaaaaaaaaa, Califooooooorniaaaaaa! The best discovery all year and my favorite television show of the year, this feminist (yes) musical (yes) television show is SO CRINGY and so awesome. ALSO: the fact that a filipino man is the sought-after hunk on the show? That’s ALL KINDS OF AWESOME.
Other TV Shoutouts to The Night of (which had some pacing issues and didn’t quite hit that homerun I so desperately wanted it to hit) and Steven Universe (which I’m just starting to get into and already love but haven’t watched a full season yet so can’t quite put it on the best of list).
On the movies side…
A documentary about the insidious “professional sport” that is tickling is terrifying and thrilling in a way that I wasn’t expecting. An expose of the twisted lies behind a shadowy organization that pays young athletes–thousands of dollars–in exchange for being tickled on film, and then blackmails them into keeping hush-hush about it all, Tickled is scary stuff.
Disney continues to kill it on the animation side–and Zootopia is no exception. An animated film that stands as a metaphor about race, law enforcement, and society–told through the lens of predators and prey–Zootopia is every bit as smart as it is touching (and hilarious).
Captain America: Civil War
Is it anything like the comic book arc? Not really. But… I loved it. The question of agency and autonomy, balanced against collateral damage and duty are compelling on both fronts. Also: Black Panther and Bucky forever.
A powerful gut-punch of a film, this short story-to-screen adaptation is emotional, resonant, and beautiful. From the acting to the concept–how language changes our perception of the world–Arrival is the real deal.
I know it’s a flawed movie. I know that it skips a lot of important emotional building blocks. BUT DAMN, I LOVED THIS MOVIE. I have watched it thrice in the theater, and have no regrets. This Band of Brothers-esque prequel is a war film about the true cost of the “war” part of “Star Wars.”
My favorite film of 2016, for many reasons: the beautiful animation, the Lin Manuel-Miranda songs, the voice talent (all Pacific Islanders), the fact that Disney is telling one of the greatest historical adventure stories ever… all of that, wrapped into a powerhouse future Chief named Moana, who dares to test the horizon, even if it means defying the norm, in order to satisfy her need to push the known limits of her world and save her people? THIS MOVIE IS EVERYTHING.
SO that’s it! My favorite Movies and TV shows of 2016. Here’s to an equally exciting 2017!