2017 was a pretty dizzyingly great year for pop culture, with some genuinely classic albums, movies, TV shows, books and moments. Here’s our take on some of the revelations of the year, as well as our attempt to identify the ULTIMATE THING OF THE YEAR.
REVELATIONS OF THE YEAR
Just how good Jason Bateman is at directing. Like, really, seriously good. OZARK was a revelation in many ways (across-the-board excellent performances being one of them), but in large part because of Bateman’s effortlessly expert and dynamic way with shooting scenes.
How many of THE FORCE AWAKENS’ plot points Rian Johnson could casually toss over his shoulder in THE LAST JEDI and still craft such a richly extraordinary, franchise-redefining experience.
How DOCTOR WHO could make us fall in love with a new Doctor with just one word (“brilliant!”).
How much more fun GAME OF THRONES is when characters don’t have to travel in real time anymore.
On a related note… ICE DRAGON!!!
How STRANGER THINGS could so successfully shift gears right before the finale in the clearly brilliant episode seven where Eleven goes looking for her sister (much of which was down to the truly astonishing, visceral directing of Becca Lou Thomas – give her all the franchise immediately!).
GLOW showed us that a TV show about a cheesy 80s ladies wrestling TV show could be revelatory, inspiring and addictive, and could give Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin beautiful and fantastic roles that they so wonderfully OWNED.
That in the midst of the SUICIDE SQUAD and JUSTICE LEAGUE dust-ups, the DCEU managed to bring us one of the year’s defining and most inspiring movies in WONDER WOMAN.
TOM HOLLAND IN SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.
In fact, all of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
We all know M. Night Shyamalan is a genius director and James McAvoy is one of our greatest living actors, but that still didn’t prepare us for quite how flawless, atmospheric, terrifying, emotional and powerful SPLIT would be. And it definitely didn’t prepare us for THAT ENDING, nor the fact that GLASS will be released in a year’s time!
How dropping the X-Men movies’ increasingly complex timelines allowed James Mangold to create the elegiac yet emotionally bone-crunching LOGAN and deliver not only the greatest X-Men movie of all time, but also one of the greatest movies of all time.
Ryan Graudin showed us how utterly fresh and unexpected and moving and romantic a dazzlingly complex and breathlessly tense time travel story could be with her masterpiece INVICTUS.
ULTIMATE THING OF THE YEAR
OK. Here goes. It’s tough. Really tough. You had Alison Brie in GLOW, Porgs, an ice dragon, STRANGER THINGS, the Spider-Man we’ve always needed, a hugely inspiring and moving female superhero movie courtesy of Gal Godot and Patty Jenkins, the greatest Wolverine movie ever (and one of the standout movies of the year) in LOGAN, one of the purest and most inspiring performances of one of the greatest superheroes ever from Melissa Benoist in the CW’s SUPERGIRL, Porgs, one of Patrick Ness’s most quietly stunning and ambitious novels yet (RELEASE), one of the most hypnotically beautiful novels ever written (Laini Taylor’s STRANGE THE DREAMER), Laura Dern’s purple-haired and unpredictable brilliance in THE LAST JEDI, which was also a STAR WARS movie that felt like nothing we’ve ever seen before while connecting so deeply to our love for the franchise, a knockout YA Princess Leia novel from the queen of five-star Star Wars novels Claudia Gray (LEIA, PRINCESS OF ALDERAAN not only showed us the future general in the making and the very beginnings of the Rebellion, but also beautifully depicted Leia’s childhood friendship with future Vice-Admiral Holdo), a dark, funny and emotional DOCTOR WHO spin-off show called CLASS that was absolutely—thanks to showrunner Patrick Ness and his wonderful cast—one of the great shows of this year (or any year), Porgs, and a time travel YA sci-fi that was maybe the most fun and brilliantly constructed piece of pop culture this year in Ryan Graudin’s INVICTUS… DAMN. That’s Kendrick’s masterpiece, not an exclamation, although, damn… What a pop culture year to celebrate!
However, if we have to choose one thing, somewhat inevitably, it’s gotta be… THE LAST JEDI.
Rian Johnson followed our heroes on their darkest journeys yet while inspiring us, making us laugh, tapping deep into the way Star Wars felt when we watched it as kids…
…yet still managing to reposition the entire franchise to point it to a new future, and somehow landing on the kind of note of poignant hope we really need this year.
It was a joyous movie, an upsetting movie, a thrilling movie, a spooky movie, a movie that made you cry with deep nostalgia as well as fresh heartbreak, a movie that kept you on your toes, but above all, it was a movie about believing in the possibility of a beautiful future.
And who doesn’t want to believe in that?
On that note… Wishing you all a Happy Holidays, and a wonderful New Year!