Goodbye 2016 (almost…),
Hello and welcome to my 16-part 2016 Year in Review! Every day from now till New Year’s Eve, I’ll be posting a new component-installment in my moderately well-known and often well-regarded Year in Review series. These transmillennial august journals of repute are intended to succinctly recap the erstwhile 12 months in a prolix cyclone of lists, cynicism, completely unnecessary levels of detail, strikingly unearned self-aggrandisement, dangerously honest vulnerability and lazily derivative style and tone plagiarism. It’s a tradition and one I’m proud of.
I like to mix things up every year, keep it upbeat and interesting. For 2015, the Year in Review took the form of a 12ish hour podcast that virtually nobody listened to (with rounding) and a complementary written document that literally nobody read (with rounding). So, what to do when all your effort is going unrewarded? Do what successful people are doing: break your post up into multiple parts and spread them out in tedious drips so that true believers get milked for 16 internet clicks when heretofore they were only counting for 1.
The 2016 Year in Review, which I am calling the 16 of Trumps for obvious reasons zeitgeist-wise if not search engine optimisation-wise, will comprise 16 posts. In each post, there will be the latest entry in four flagship categories (Films, TV, Albums, Books), along with a daily in-full list and some random commentary about the year gone past, depending on my mood, amount of free time and general disposition. Let’s just say if these posts don’t reach double figures readership-like I may not be so enthused about keeping this up through until 31 December 2016, at which point all the constituent parts will come together like a People-Vulture, with a Top 100 Songs of 2016 thrown in right at the coda, to form one big gigantic 2016 Year in Review. I put very little planning into this, so that we are starting a melange of Top 16s on 16 December 2016 is pure serendipity.
Because there are 16 days left in the year and this a very free form make-it-up-as-I-go-along enterprise, there is a lot of scope for reader input. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please get in touch via Twitter or email or in the comments below (although please don’t do comments: that way I can pretend I had a lot of interactions despite the tumbleweedesque desert that is my interface section). Much like the best way to get your request played on Triple J is to request a song they were going to play anyway, I am hopeful that any bespoke list requests are for something I was going to rank anyway!
Okey dokey: let’s get this needlessly bloated show on the road with my #16s…
#16 in Films…
A haunting and heartbreaking reflection on love, loss and the lives we lead despite our best intentions, 45 Years documents the unraveling of longheld secrets in the midst of an idiosyncratic 45-year wedding anniversary. Underscored by subtle notes on English class conflict and with an incredible slideshow scene at its emotional core, 45 Years is a film that will stay with you well after its mercifully constrained 95-minute runtime is concluded.
#16 in TV…
Truth be told, I’ve only seen the first three episodes of Search Party, a dark comedy-in-theory with intriguing psychological subtexts about the nature of memory, how our identity is shaped by chance encounters and the individual’s terrifying inability to assess his or her own sanity. After a college friend is reported missing, Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat becomes weirdly obsessed with finding out what happened to her, much to the amusement-cum-chagrin of her hipster-AF pals. My friend Meg, who is a very good judge of these things, has already finished watching it and she texted me her stamp of approval.
#16 in Albums…
(Australia #1, US #1, UK #1)
Clearly, I don’t rate Lemonade as highly as all the holier-than-thou music biz websites putting it on top of lists like the star on a Christmas tree, ie more out of habit and obligation than true reflection of quality. A true genre-hopper, Lemonade comprises soul, funk, country, rock and a whole lotta attitude. Guest spots by Weeknd, Kendrick and Jack White lend a real oomph, while James Blake’s 90-second contribution on Forward is beautiful if fleeting. Lemonade started bubbling up after Beyoncé’s sensational appearance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show and, with its overt commentary on feminism and the African American experience, it couldn’t be more relevant and urgent in a year culminating with the first female major party presidential candidate being trounced by a man who used craven racism to publicly scorn the first black president. And you can read my track-by-track, frame-by-frame review of Lemonade right here.
Top 16 Tweets of 2016
A good tweet is ≤140 characters of pithy gold so it is essentially the exact opposite of this attenuated folio. People who had a good year on Twitter were the racists, sexists and homophobes in the alt-right and people who had a bad year on Twitter were the people forced to put up with them. And the people who run and own Twitter; they also had a bad year. I love Twitter because it provides a vector for witty (hopefully) bon mots, journalism tastemaking and whinging about Optus’ ‘coverage’ (or otherwise) of the Premier League. But I also hate the way Twitter makes me feel anxious for its dubious and tacit approval by way of Likes (nee Favorites (sic)) and RTs. It’s not as bad a cesspool as Reddit, which must be the worst thing in the history of the world (and I’ve been to Lille), but it is a ghastly quagmire of abuse, inane replies, deeply boring cranks at both extremes of the political spectrum and Johnjohnsonson. On that timely note, here are the Top 16 Tweets of 2016:
4. (with added poignancy…)
Requests! Would you believe that even before publishing this performance-anxiety-inducing opening gambit of the 2016 Year in Review I have already received two requests?! My friend Paul, costar of by-far the best cricket podcast in the world, IMed me to ask for the Top 16 Exotic Bet Types of 2016 and then proceeded to list his chart, which was so authoritative that I am simply reproducing it here (also saves me like one minute of thinking time that I can apply to figuring out what the hell a mixtape is):
Paul’s Top 16 Exotic Bet Types of 2016
16. Last in the Cup
15. Big Six
14. Jockeys Challenge
13. Mystery Trifecta
9. Quadrella (incidentally, one of Paul’s credos is that “there are no small quaddies”)
8. ‘This and the Next’ Double (known in the ACT as a Running Double)
7. Extra Double
6. Daily Double
5. All Up
1. First Four
And my friend Daniel requested the Top 16 Association Footballers of 2016. Instead of picking a First XI in formation and five benchwarmers, which is so the 2008 Year in Review: I AM SASHA FIERCE, I am simply going to rank my best/faves from 16 to 1, with special consideration going to players who win stuff and/or are entertaining…
Top 16 Association Fitbalers of 2016
16. Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich & Germany)
15. Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli + Juventus & Argentina)
14. Dimitri Payet (West Ham & France)
13. Zlatan Ibrahimović (PSG + Manchester United & Sweden)
12. Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City & Denmark)
11. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich & Poland)
10. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City & Algeria)
9. Sergio Agüero (Man City & Argentina)
8. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City & England)
7. Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
6. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal & Chile)
5. Luis Suárez (Barcelona & Uruguay)
4. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid & France (note that it’s ‘Atletico’ (sans h) — amazing how many people don’t know this))
3. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid & Wales)
2. N’Golo Kanté (Leicester City + Chelsea & France)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal)
#16 in Books…
(A note on this section: unlike films and music, which you tend to experience most fulsomely in the moments not long after their release into the world, books tend to have a longer shelflife (and that’s full pun intention), so this list of Books in 2016 is not a ranking of the 16 best books published during MMXVI but actually a list of my 16 best reading experiences, taking into account my milieu during absorption, its effect on my mood and worldview, its literary merit and generally just how the book in question made me feel. My new year’s resolution for this year was to read more, which is a kinda meaningless goal because I didn’t specify more than what or a specific number to get to. I just wanted to read more, and I felt that I would know at the end of the year, ie nowish, whether I had achieved that goal. I have. And not because I am onto my 29th book of the year, having churned through 13,000 pages and change (final mark to come in the final missive of this monstrosity), but because I feel as though I have.)
11.22.63 by Stephen King was made into an event TV series that I haven’t seen yet but I did plow through this meticulously researched and detailed reflection on America’s contrasting concerns and ideals between the current day and the implied prosperity and moral fortitude of the late 1950s and early 1960s, a calm apparently shattered by JFK’s assassination. Fans of the masterful It will appreciate the — you wouldn’t call it a sequel or prequel, more a visitation or reverie — scenes set in Derry, which provides a punchy kick to the anticipation building for that upcoming filmic event (ie the It remake starring Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things). Where 11.22.63 fails the reader (and not just with the title based on the ridiculous way Americans write the date), however, is the wholly uninspiring first person narrator. King’s novels work best when the horrors of the world (be they real or fantastical) and seen through the prism of evanescing adolescent innocence (Stand By Me a quintessential example). When trapped inside the mind of a plaintive and unsympathetic dolt — a high school teacher who has never achieved anything except a failed marriage — the effect is not so much anticipation for action and exposition but for the end. One observation I did enjoy is the description of a reforming heavy drinker leaving Friday’s libations after only two beers with his “brain screaming for more alcohol”.