Best of 2016

Another year is down and in the books, which means I’m back for an annual tradition– my lists of what I enjoyed the most from the past year, and what I look forward to the most from the coming year! The latter will get it’s own post, so here you’ll find my picks for my favorite: movie, novel, television show, comic, video game, and sports moment from 2016. As usual, I lagged behind on my monstrous reading list, so my choice in the novel  category wasn’t released in 2016, but this was the year that I finally got around to it.

Without further ado —

FAVORITE MOVIE — 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

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It’s very rare anymore that a movie keeps me guessing up until its closing act. I feel as though predictability is an unavoidable evil in most films, but 10 Cloverfield Lane defied all odds and forced me to the edge of my seat for all of its running time. I faced just as much uncertainty as Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character did while she was trapped in an underground hideout, unsure if John Goodman’s unnerving character was telling the truth about an alien apocalypse above ground, or if he was just a crazed maniac. This was pure, psychological horror at its finest, and a very welcome film in an era where bombastic production values are so heavily prioritized.

 

FAVORITE NOVEL — THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE: THE WAY OF KINGS

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Given just how massive each book is and how sprawling the series is planned to be, I was reluctant to start The Stormlight Archive when the third book (out of ten) won’t be out until the end of 2017, but with how much I’ve grown to love Brandon Sanderson’s work, I decided to take the plunge this year on his immense and epic high fantasy saga. I’m glad I did, because The Way of Kings is an amazing introduction to his wondrous world of Roshar. His worldbuilding is at its finest here, creating a setting so rich in history, myth, magic, and culture, that it demands 1000+ pages just to get a taste of it. I’ve only scratched the surface of this series, and I can’t wait to experience more of it.

 

FAVORITE TELEVISION SHOW — VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER

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I admit that I was only a very casual Voltron fan as a child, mostly just catching an episode here and there on early Saturday mornings. Even being only somewhat familiar with the franchise, I adored Netflix’s reboot. No surprise that the studio behind The Legend of Korra would put together gorgeous visuals, whether it was the animation or CGI effects. This new Voltron’s deep space setting was truly fascinating. Despite being sci-fi, there are a great deal of fantasy elements in it; a galaxy that’s filled with just as much magic as it is science. Put in a truly lovable cast with emotional heft when needed, and we had the start to a thoroughly wholesome and entertaining series.

 

FAVORITE COMIC BOOK — WHITE SAND

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Brandon Sanderson gets another nod with the first graphic novel in a series based on one of his unused manuscripts. Like any of his novels, White Sand has a world that he must have painstakingly dreamed up. It’s magic system feels as precise and as detailed as a science, and it was used to put together some really great action sequences on the page. The superhero genre dominates the comic industry, so it’s always refreshing to read something of a different genre. I’d love to see White Sand inspire other publishers to try out high fantasy comics and graphic novels.

 

FAVORITE VIDEO GAME — FIRE EMBLEM: FATES

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I’m sort of cheating with this one, as, technically, there are three unique games under the Fates name, but given that each one is basically a retelling of the same story, I like to look at it as one great package. When viewed that way, Fates was very ambitious project for the Fire Emblem franchise. It not only continued the accessible nature that Fire Emblem: Awakening used to expand its audience, it offered very different ways to experience the story, between what nation you’d ally with, and what kind of design you’d see in the maps and mission objectives. Playing through all ‘three games’ used up a lot of my time on the 3DS this year, and it was more than worth it give that much attention to a handheld system.

 

FAVORITE SPORTS MOMENT — JOSE FERNANDEZ TRIBUTE

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I’m not a Miami Marlins fan, but the death of 24-year-old kid transcended what team you root for. What happened to that young man earlier this year was simply a tragedy. The tribute that his teammates and the Marlins organization did for him in their first home game following his death was heartbreaking, yet also, moving. It was impossible not to get a little misty eyed to see them all wear Fernandez’s jersey, or inscribe his number 16 into the pitcher’s mound at the start of the game. There was no more poignant moment, though, than at the start of the game, when teammate and good friend Dee Gordon (a natural leftie) first batted righty in honor of Fernandez, and then blasted a homerun on the next pitch when he shifted to the left batter’s box. It may sound a little odd to list something so somber as being as my favorite sports moment from the year, but it was undeniably uplifting to see Fernandez’s peers and baseball fans across the league come together to honor the young man.

 

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