Even though for many categories, 2016 was the worst year possible, it still had a lot of highlights in the Arts & Entertainment field. Here is a top list created by the editors of the Voice depicting some of our favorite movies, TV series, albums and books this past year. Feel free to check them out over your winter break, but we all know you are going to use this as another way to procrastinate this last week of finals.
Undoubtedly the year’s finest animated film. Zootopia is everything the newest generation of Disney films has sought to be: trope-breaking, socially-minded and inventive. Zootopia’s themes of stereotyping and discrimination elevated the movie from an entertaining one to an important one. -Jared Berg
In a year that included Captain America: Civil War and the sheer gluttony of marquee actors that came with it, few would have predicted that Marvel’s most successful film of 2016 would be the more esoteric and less-heralded Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange is undoubtedly one of the finest installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a film that rejects the worse habits of this franchise while making the most of its best.
While I’m usually hesitant about sequels, especially when they’re following the likes of Finding Nemo, Pixar did an excellent job with Finding Dory. While the plot was already familiar to the viewer, you were still kept engaged with an overload of cuteness (full disclosure, I cried multiple times at the sheer adorableness of baby Dory), humor and breathtaking visuals. Most importantly the movie reminded the viewer what indispensable tools love and kindness can be when facing the seemingly impossible. -Janel England
I realize praise for the most popular series that came out this year is kind of unnecessary, but Stranger Things deserves all the praise it can get. The Duffer Brothers’ breakout hit blows everything else I’ve seen this year out of the water. The acting is great, the sound design is stunning, and I was consistently astounded that the show was able to create so much intrigue even before the title credits. #BarbIsBae #GoBarb
Donald Glover’s new show on FX was an absolute masterpiece. In creating a semi-biographical show, Glover has woven humor effortlessly into more poignant commentaries about race, class and inequality like no one else. Glover’s talent in many different ways — writing, directing, acting and music — are on full display in this show. The only bad thing about it is that episodes are only 30 minutes long. -Aleksi Pelkonen
Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin’s third season is calm in comparison to the drama of the first two, but the show retains the elements that have made it a standout from the get-go. The strong female relationships remain inspirational, and the show successfully walks the thin line between telanovella-esque over the top drama and a funny, self-aware tone. Do yourself a favor and set some time aside to watch Jane Villanueva live her dramatic and hilarious life.
Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper
In his third mixtape (and yes, it is a mixtape, not an album), Chance the Rapper delivered another instant classic. Everything in it is just amazing. Shortly after the release, Kanye West took to Twitter to compose the most accurate six-word review ever: “Chance too good. God level bars.” It’s not the most unique pick for mixtape of the year, but it is absolutely the most deserving. -Aleksi Pelkonen
A Seat at the Table by Solange
In this album, Solange offers a message on behalf of many black minorities especially women. Unlike many political messages, Solange’s is unusually very tolerable for even the most stubborn. This allows her to convey a message of respect and pride for her black heritage. -Robert Dinkins, Jr.
Changes by Charles Bradley
Charles Bradley is 67 years old, a general newcomer to the music scene and has been confirmed one of 2016’s best live acts, proving that old dogs can, in fact, learn new tricks. Nicknamed (affectionately) the Screaming Eagle of Soul, Bradley’s third album is departure from his previous work in the best way, but doesn’t sacrifice the retro soul sound that made him famous.
Blonde by Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean decided to remind us that he is still alive and breathing by releasing this album. This album shows Frank’s growth from channel ORANGE. This growth in the intrinsic melodies, the somber tone of voice and the great stories is found in each and every song.
-Robert Dinkins, Jr.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
Although I haven’t read Helen Oyeyemi’s latest, I’ve longed for it through multiple bookstore visits. Her careful prose achieves magical levels of characterization. This work centers on short stories that revolve around the idea of keys. -Lily Iserson
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Whitehead narrates the story of Cora and Caesar, two African-American slaves who flee their subjugation and quest for freedom. In Whitehead’s clever re-imagination, they embark on a literal ‘underground railroad’ as they journey. -Lily Iserson
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
A science fiction novel with a love story at its core, it allows readers to explore from a safe distance the regret of the road(s) not taken. The biggest strength of the book is that it provides enough scientific explanation to help the reader suspend disbelief without ever becoming convoluted.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
While I haven’t snagged Frances Hardinge’s latest novel from the bookstore shelves yet, this seems like the perfect novel to read on a dark winter night curled up next to the fireplace. The novel follows protagonist Faith Sunderly, her father’s murder, and the magical tree that produces truth-telling fruits when Faith whispers lies to it. -Megan Zerrer