The most exhausting theme of 2016 is … can 2016 be over, already?
You can partially pin this on all the talented souls who left us over the past 12 months. The death of George Michael served as a somber exclamation mark to this macabre run.
The grueling presidential campaign left almost all of us weary. Plus, the media’s disgust with the notion of a President-Elect Trump is fueling a fair share of “please let 2016 end” think pieces.
This year offered plenty of hope for a brighter 2017, at least on the pop culture front. Consider the following seven reasons for optimism as the new year approaches.
The Streaming Revolution Is Still Being Televised
Once again, streaming outlets led the way when it came to killer content. Look no further than Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” The blast of ’80s nostalgia became the must-watch show of the year. And for good reason.
Meanwhile, Amazon and Hulu upped their games, respectively, and newer streaming services, like Seeso, brought fresh content to the masses. This will only intensify in 2017 (and beyond).
All that competition is forcing creators to improve their product. This season alone broadcast TV made us weep uncontrollably with “This Is Us” and gave Kiefer Sutherland another small screen hero (“Designated Survivor”).
The Year Movies Mattered (Again)
This critic struggles every year to come up with a 10 Best Movies list. Let’s face it. Hollywood hasn’t cooperated for some time with that task. This year was different. The Spring gave us popcorn excellence with “Captain America: Civil War.” Later, we got the most joyous movie musical in ages -- “La La Land.”
In between, the industry churned out a number of compelling stories we’ll be watching over and again. “Sully.” “Patriot’s Day.” “Sing Street.”
It’s about time.
I vaguely remember attending the press junket for the 2006 comedy “You, Me and Dupree.” Why? Star Kate Hudson was talking up her marriage during the Q&As. A short while later she divorced. That left a mark with me.
The notion that the film’s directorial team, Anthony and Joe Russo, would later become Marvel’s go-to auteurs, never crossed my mind. It should have, apparently.
Not only did the Russos deliver two stellar Captain America sequels, they’re now in charge of the “Avengers” sequels.
‘Stranger’ Sci-Fi and ‘Arrival’
We’ve already praised the sci-fi mystery cocktail that is “Stranger Things.” What about “Arrival?” A smart, uncompromising science yarn without a brand attached to it?
Box office poison, right? The screenwriter sure feared just that.
Instead, it’s one of the year’s nicer surprises. And while “Passengers” is tanking at the box office, the success of “Arrival” should tell Hollywood we crave sophisticated fantasy fare.
‘Walking’ and Talking
Yes, everyone had an opinion on the opening episode of “The Walking Dead’s” season 7 debut. Isn’t that a great thing? Week after week we watch the AMC thriller, eager to find out what happens next to our flawed heroes.
It’s appointment television in an age when the term no longer applies. “TWD” doesn’t follow those rules. For that reason alone it makes us hopeful that Hollywood can still surprise us.
Ryan #$%^ Reynolds
The handsome actor crashed and burned with the 2011 dud “Green Lantern.” Did he lick his wounds and go away? Hardly. He nurtured his passion project, the gleefully profane “Deadpool,” until it came out to his specifications. And, of course, it became a massive hit.
That wasn’t all Reynolds did. He used his social media account to connect with “Deadpool” fans, tease the movie’s R-rated antics and generally behave like a fan himself. Who couldn’t rally behind him? Besides, the movie lived up to its raunchy potential.
Now, about that sequel…
There’s Always Adele
It’s harder to break through the pop culture noise these days. Acts still dress up in silly ways to gin up interest. They start Twitter wars both real and imagined. Some even offer unsavory acts to sway a confused electorate.
And then there’s Adele.
The British singer has the pipes … and that’s more or less it. Sure, she’s beautiful but she doesn’t use her looks to push product. She just sings, and we hang on every note. Isn’t that refreshing? Her album “25” came out at the end of 2015, but it carried well into the new year as did her touring schedule.