It’s Top Ten List season again, and because I’m beholden to the whims of my culture, I must add my voice to the conversation. These lists come with the annual caveat that they will inevitably change when the Bummys rock your world next September. Only 5 movies from my 2015 list made it to the Bummys, and 7 albums made the Bummys cut. I listen to more albums than the number of movies I watch, which is less a product of my priorities and more a product of time and convenience. I’ve likely listened to most of the acclaimed albums, but I haven’t caught up with a lot of the acclaimed movies.
Anyway, here are my Top Ten Movies and Albums of 2016. For funsies, I threw in a book, comic, and TV show I enjoyed.
1. The Witch: A perfectly paced horror movie about faith and doubt.
2. Kubo and the Two Strings: The animated movie of the year and another homerun for stop-motion studio Laika.
3. Green Room: A punk band stumbles upon a venue run by neo-Nazis and must fight for their lives, though it’s not as B-movie as a it sounds. Patrick Stewart is the white supremacists’ leader.
4. Zootopia: The animated movie of the year, if you ignore Kubo, which you probably did.
5. 13th: A documentary from Ava DuVernay (Selma) that draws the line from slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration, a line we want to pretend doesn’t exist.
6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: A wonderfully original addition to the Harry Potter universe. It helps that it’s not beholden to an 800-page plot.
7. Captain America: Civil War: The Marvel movies just keep on keeping on. You’d think the quality would dip at some point, but Civil War belongs with Avengers and Winter Soldier at the top, just below Guardians.
8. Sully: A smart examination from different perspectives about what happened the day Captain Sully had to land a plane in the Hudson River. Clint Eastwood directs.
9. Doctor Strange: Speaking of quality Marvel movies. This one is as singular as Guardians, and if it weren’t for the boring origin story stuff, it might be Guardian‘s equal.
10. The Jungle Book: The animated movie of the year, if you forget all those live-action parts. It’s a beautiful movie, visually and thematically.
1. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book: Its title is a good indication of the joy at the heart of this mixtape. Rap has reached peak gospel music integration.
2. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth: The country savant pens a letter to his son in album form, upending many of the genre’s conventions without abandoning his wheelhouse.
3. Beyoncé, Lemonade: A landmark visual album, Lemonade is also a vivid work of rhythm and the cheatin’ blues.
4. Sho Baraka, The Narrative: The newly Humble Beasted rapper’s album draws many of the same lines DuVernay’s 13th does, but Baraka considers our state of affairs with Christ in mind.
5. Solange, A Seat at the Table: How on earth the Knowles family got all the world’s talent into two women, I’ll never know, but I’m assuming a Devil-goes-down-to-Houston kind of pact was involved.
6. Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Denial: A few years ago, this would have been the best punk rock record, but in 2016, Teens of Denial is our best rock record, no extraneous labels necessary.
7. Alicia Keys, Here: Criminally underrated by critics, this is Keys’s unabashed expression of black power.
8. Terrace Martin, Velvet Portraits: I’ve only recently discovered our modern jazz funk virtuosos, and Terrace Martin makes his case here for being among their best.
9. Bon Iver, 22, a Million: Somehow, Bon Iver has completely changed his sound from his breakout For Emma, and yet he continues to release powerful and immediate music.
10. Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings: A rock solid double album with some of Lambert’s most brokenhearted songs.
Best Book I Read
Onward by Russell Moore: There are those in the Southern Baptist Church that would see Moore resign as the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), but this book reveals a man who is one of the few public evangelical leaders who seems to have a handle on 1) where the church fits in today’s American culture in terms of influence, and 2) how the church should engage today’s American culture.
Best Comic I Read
March by John Lewis: My next post is about this seminal graphic novel trilogy. Stay tuned.
Best TV Series I Watched
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson: There was a lot of great art that touched on racism, but few handled it with the aplomb of Ryan Murphy’s supremely entertaining one-off.