By now, friends, you know we have opinions. And that we’re also fans of lists. Instead of breaking out Brooke’s top 10 movies or Annemarie’s top 10 reality TV show moments, we opted for a MEGA list with, simply, top 10 of our favorite things from this year. 2017 was often a dumpster fire, but we choose to focus on the positive. Here we go!
What a year, what a year. Here are my top 10 things that made it worth weathering all of those metaphorical garbage flames.
Kesha — Rainbow
This album didn’t drop until we were more than a bit into the second half of the year, but it absolutely dominated my Spotify listens. And I mean DOMINATED. Rainbow was my top album and the source of all five of my top tracks. And that data doesn’t reflect all the times I just let the physical disc spin in my car. When I found out Kesha would be bringing her tour through Denver while I was in New Zealand, I talked my best pal into flying to Vegas to see her with me — this was extremely easy to do. And it was so, so worth it.
And here’s the best part. Up until this album, I knew Kesha’s radio hits and that was it. I wasn’t an Animal, but now I am. I’m powerless before raw, earnest emotion and that’s what Rainbow is. It’s a sonic journey of empowerment and self-discovery that Kesha Rose was gracious enough to share with us. I feel some part of myself in every track, as if it was written just for me. Maybe because Kesha is giving us her whole self and her story and telling us that it’s all going to be okay.
I’d forgot how to daydream
So consumed with the wrong things, but in
The dark, I realized this life is short
And deep down, I’m still a child
Playful eyes, wide and wild, I can’t
Lose hope, what’s left of my heart’s still made of gold
And I know that I’m still fucked up
But aren’t we all, my love?
Darling, our scars make us who we are, are
So when the winds are howling strong
And you think you can’t go on, hold tight, sweetheart
You’ll find a rainbow, rainbow, baby
Trust me, I know life is scary
But just put those colors on, girl
Come and play along with me tonight
You gotta learn to let go, put the past behind you
Trust me, I know, the ghosts will try to find you
But just put those colors on, girl
Come and paint the world with me tonight
If there was one message I needed to hear in 2017, she delivered it — and then some.
Is there anyone in Hollywood cooler than Greta Gerwig? Maybe. But none of them made a movie as lovely as Greta did this year. Lady Bird is what our dear friend Thomas would call a “Brooke” movie in every conceivable way. It’s character-driven, highlighted by sharp dialogue, features a dynamite performance from Saoirse Ronan and it made it okay to like Dave Matthews unironically again. And yes, it left me in floods all three times I watched it in theatres. The happiest, most satisfied floods.
Have we mentioned Sweet/Vicious before? Oh, we have? Well, guess what? We’re not done yet. Sweet/Vicious was impossibly timely before the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Now, it’s indispensable. But has MTV seen fit to reverse their absurd cancellation of it yet? NO. Fuck off, MTV. Fuck right off. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon — you’re up. Remember how incredibly The Handmaid’s Tale just did? (Because it’s brilliant with a capital ‘B’ and has the support it needs.) Give Sweet/Vicious the right network support and we can bring back Must See TV. Imagine that as a night of television. What a sweet, sweet dream that would be.
You Must Remember This
Karina Longworth’s dazzling podcast reached new heights in 2017 with highly conceptual series that left the listener with a visceral longing for more. Karina’s not sure what the next series will cover or when in 2018 we’ll get it, but I’m here to say I will follow her down literally ANY path she chooses. And until then, I might just start at the start and re-listen to every incredible episode.
If you’re here for recommendations, this one won’t do much for you. At least nothing that’s as simple as tracking down a bit of music or a film, but if my words help you justify or fuel your own adventures, I’ll be quite pleased to hear it. I was fortunate to take four trips in 2017. One to Park City, Utah where I spent days in chilly queues scribbling notes and staking out the most intriguing titles at a little event called Sundance. Next I went to Portland, Oregon with three of my very favorite people — I got my first tattoo, we ate everything in sight, we made a pilgrimage to the Goonies’ beach and we saw My Favorite Murder live. 10/10 would do it all again. Months later, and with very little planning, I went to Vegas to see Kesha. If you read the sprawling love letter above, you know that was a big moment. Finally, I traveled with some of my oldest and dearest friends to New Zealand. We spent two weeks road tripping the land of Hobbits and Ricky Baker and it was magical. We saw Thor: Ragnarok among the Kiwis, we nearly got eaten by alpine parrots, we were humbled by nature and we learned to carry our own hot sauce. It was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Who has two thumbs, a Daughters of Themyscira bomber jacket and cried more than once during Wonder Woman? This girl, right here. Yes, the villain in this movie was nonsense and Wonder Woman deserves better. Yes, DC did a dumb by forcing the whole universe back several steps with Justice League. But none of that matters. Not really. Not when we see Gal Godot having the sweetest conversations with tiny fans at SDCC or when entire theatres burst out with applause during the No Man’s Land scene. I cried at both of those moments. And when I first saw the Amazons in action early in the film. Why? Because I caught myself in a moment of disbelief as I saw all of those powerful women taking actions that Hollywood has so long reserved for male heroes. I felt the same way during so many moments of Atomic Blonde and The Last Jedi for that matter. But it happened most wonderfully here.
If you listen to We Discuss Things, you already know that 2017 was a good year for trivia in our world. We routinely crushed weekly pub trivia, but we also scraped an unlikely second place in Buffy the Vampire Slayer trivia and captured long-awaited glory in Game of Thrones trivia. Wise, we are.
If the present awfulness has accomplished anything, it has awoken a lot of sleeping lions. And when Ashley Judd and a host of others went on record in the explosive New York Times article unmasking Harvey Weinstein’s systematic abuses, a wave of declarations and support broke over us all. It was devastating, yes. But it was also incredible to witness the long-overdue turning of a tide. To see so many people stand up and say “I believe you.” And still others feel empowered to speak when they couldn’t previously. It’s all happening. And we’re just getting started.
In Moneyball, Brad Pitt asks, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?” In press screenings of films about journalism, I ask, “How can you not be romantic about the press?” From Newsies to Spotlight to All the President’s Men, there’s a sweeping bout of feels that hits me when the written word does something incredible for the world. I’m what the industry calls a digital native, but I still get misty at a nice sweeping shot of a printing press at work. The Post gives me all of that, plus Meryl and Tom together, with the most incredible supporting cast anyone could ask for. A thousand times yes to this very traditional Awards movie becoming a major awards player.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee always gets me riled up. Sometimes the result is optimism, joy or passion. Others it’s angst and fury. But there’s always something visceral happening in me once Sam’s had her say. Thank goodness her relentless doses of reality come with plenty of humor on the side. As Jack Black says to his students when he’s teaching them to tell off The Man, “I liked it cause I felt your anger.” Sam Bee is the defiant voice of reason we need in times like these. TBS, don’t you even dream of taking her from me.
In no particular order, here’s the things I especially loved this year.
WWT Sponge & Other WWT Things
I’m quite proud of the Victoria Sponge I made as a combo Brooke birthday present and We Discuss Things podcast surprise. Not only was it positively scrummy (to borrow a British term), it was decorated with our lovely logo that was designed by our lovely pal Thomas Hutton. Powdered sugar for the win! I cook and bake things all the time, but I’m rarely so tickled by my own efforts. This top space is also reserved for our burgeoning podcast, We Discuss Things, which despite our best efforts to be disorganized and ramble and go off topic is a great delight to record. The same is true of this website as a whole, which also lets me ramble and go off topic and watch things I probably never would have watched otherwise.
Puddle Splashing in Portland & Other Adventures
Yes, I bought rain boots with the express purpose of finding all the puddles in Portland. Yes, they’re impractical for Denver living, where it’s sunny about 300 days of the year. Worth it? Absolutely. 2017 was a slower year for me, travel-wise, as we ramp up for a big 2018, but I still found time for several LA adventures, a weekend in Portland (where it was mentioned above that we went to the Goonies beach and I fjorded with semi-success across an ocean-bound stream), and a week in New Orleans where I had the best drink experience of my life and also ate all the food. I’m thankful I get to travel, lucky to get to travel so much, and grateful to have a husband and friends and family who go on adventures with me,
Kesha — Rainbow
Brooke beautifully covered why this album is so magnificent, but I want to add a few things, because that’s what I do. I’ve been a fan of Kesha since her days with the dollar sign, and was absolutely devastated when her cases against her abuser and record label were dismissed. She’s been through absolute hell the past few years, and where others might have fallen apart, never to appear again in public, she put together the most scathing fuck you / kiss off song in Praying. It’s an accomplishment in and of itself, but I particularly love for some reason that her abuser still makes money off of this album. I think it’s because I hope every time a check gets mailed in, he knows she won. We won’t remember his name, but we’ll never forget Kesha. I also got to see her perform for the first time this year and am absolutely psyched to see her perform again in 2018.
Game of Thrones
This is partially a shout-out for our GoT Geeks Who Drink trivia victory (I’m still shocked and delighted that we won), and also a shout-out for this show that is still my favorite thing by far on TV. I love the show itself, but I also love how much we geek out over it. I read everything I can find on speculative theories and wild nonsense. The Bald Move podcast is also an absolute nerd delight that I listen to every week with relish. The only upside to this show not concluding for about 1,000 years / 2019? That we definitely have time to rewatch the entire series from the beginning and re-nerd out.
Yeah, this book came out like 150 years ago. We intended this to be the first WWT Book Club entry, and I’m not entirely sure anyone else finished this book. I’m normally a super-speedy reader, but it took me almost the entire year (on and off) to finish Little Women. I found it completely delightful, and I love and appreciate the 1994 film adaptation that much more after reading Louisa May Alcott’s original words. It’s certainly a book of its time, but Alcott was also a writer of extraordinary skill, and there’s a reason why her novel stands up.
I don’t think I can add anything more to Brooke’s gushing above, except to say that I really, really loved this movie and how much it felt like I was leaving for college all over again.
For as much reality TV as we watch, I knew right away what my favorite show would have to be for this list. Bravo’s Below Deck, both the Caribbean original and Mediterranean spinoff. Like all reality TV, it’s ridiculous and manufactured, but also a fascinating glimpse into the world of private yachting. Between all the drama and hookups and rude guests, there’s something to be said about a show that demonstrates that hard work is appreciated.
This didn’t land for Brooke, but I am still thinking about this film six months later, so it had to make the list. It was powerfully tense, awful in its simplicity and absolutely devastating. Of course, I loved Tom Hardy’s cool-as-ice fighter pilot, but actually, my favorite was Kenneth Branaugh’s commander who keeps watch over the proceedings. The time shifts I found to be incredibly effective and the music was incredible. We know how it all ends, but it was amazing to see how closely the whole thing fell apart for Britain during the start of WWII, and how the rest of the world almost fell apart too.
This isn’t something I’m going to make myself anytime soon (I made pastry from scratch when I was 12 and after HOURS of layering butter in to dough I swore never again), but there is something so sublime about almond-flavored pastry cream. One of the best I’ve ever had is at the annual Denver Christkindl Market, where it tastes even better after a mug (or 3) of mulled wine. In a world where everything might fall apart, almond pastry is there for us, without question.
Friends & Family
Every year has its ups and downs, and the word of the year for 2017 has to be obstacle for me. It was challenging, it was upsetting in many ways, but there’s always something to be learned, something to be gained from obstacles. I’ve said this before, and will likely say it again, but I have the best friends and family in the world, and they make my top 10, easily, any year.