The holidays are a time to reflect on life’s more meaningful elements: family, friends, alcohol, your bank account, etc. It’s also a time of knowing one’s place. You take part in the consumerist tap-dance not because you want to, but because you don’t have the spine required to refuse it.
In the spirit of knowing one’s place, I’m not going to submit a best-of 2016 list for music, movies, books, games or beer. This is a low-traffic blog and my opinions are far from authoritative. I’ll leave lists of ranking to the big dogs that get paid to do it.
…but I’m going to tell you what I think about their lists.
1) Noisey – The 100 Best Albums of 2016
This is the best Best-of list that I’ve read this year. Noisey, the music arm of Vice, is actually one of the outlets that I enjoy reading with some regularity. Their list is pretty representative of the rest of their work. At 100 albums, it’s a hefty list. It covers the expected territory, to be sure, with the year’s list-toppers from other (more predictable outlets) being present, but also veers off into pleasant obscurity, featuring releases from a wide range of genres that other lists wouldn’t have considered. Pair this with this list of 37 Best Overlooked Albums of 2016, and you’ve got an outlet that seems to line up well with my attitude that the populist winners shouldn’t necessarily the end of the story and that popularity doesn’t absolutely correlate with quality. There were records on this list that I had never heard that I’ve since downloaded and enjoyed, which was a pleasant surprise.
2) Pitchfork Readers’ Poll 2016
I’m glad that Pitchfork exists, because whenever one of my friends tells me that they think that I’m opinionated and narrow-minded, that I don’t give things a chance because I don’t think they’re cool or obscure enough, or just that I’m an asshole, I can rest easy in the consolation that at least Pitchfork still exists and they’re still way worse than I’ll ever be.
Readers’ Polls are great, because they invariably prove that the public simultaneously knows everything and knows nothing. There are like three or four repeated entries on the “Top Ten Most Overrated” and “Top Ten Most Underrated” albums lists. You dummies.
There is also a ranking of 10 best social media accounts of the year, which confirms longstanding suspicions that Pitchfork isn’t about being interested in music to begin with.
The list of the year’s 50 best albums reads a whole lot like Pitchfork’s readers were given a list of approved albums by Pitchfork’s editorial board, of which there were 50 to choose from. No real surprises here. Other than the fact that Pitchfork has readers, I guess.
3) The AV Club TV Club’s Best TV of 2016
I was pretty harsh on ol’ Pitchfork up there, and for that I apologize. It’s an outlet that I just love to hate. The AV Club, on the other hand, is an outlet that I love to love. I don’t always agree with their choices, but the television coverage on the AV Club is the most thoughtful and fun to read that I’ve stumbled upon across the entire great expanse of the interweb. I will frequently read the AV Club review of an episode of television immediately after watching it, in order to compare thoughts and uncover perspectives that I may not have noticed.
Given my warm and fuzzy feelings about this website, it comes as little surprise that I would recommend their annual Best TV list. I don’t universally agree with their choices, and there are many shows that I haven’t seen (the top two shows on the list are among the pile of shows that I haven’t caught). Their third and fourth ranked shows this year (The Americans and Better Call Saul) would probably both hover near the top of my top-five, though, so I think that their judgement is sound.
Boy, I really gotta watch this O.J. show, huh?
4) Rotten Tomatoes’ Top 100 Movies of 2016
I’m going to be honest. I’ve selected Rotten Tomatoes‘ list because it presents me with a ranking of aggregated review scores that prevents me from ever having to read a film critic telling me why this movie or that movie is “the film that America/the world needs right now”. The world is fucked and if someone out there knows what it actually needs, it’s certainly not going to be a film critic. Those people are a mess.
I’ve seen a handful of the films in the top 25 of this list and they were all pretty good. It checks out. Good enough for me.
5) Giant Bomb’s 2016 Game of the Year Awards
Out of all of the millions of websites featuring a bunch of dweebs talkin’ nerd shit, the Giantbomb gang are my favourites. Their annual GOTY deliberations and round-ups have become too much material for me to consume, but I’m always interested in seeing what they wind up crowning as the year’s best.
I haven’t played the #1 game on their list (Hitman), but their #2 game was probably my favourite game of the year: DOOM.
Giantbomb tends to give equal time to smaller, weirder titles as well, with this year’s list including Inside and Superhot. I’m a big fan of lists that are open to more obscure entries, so this floats my proverbial boat.
The site also goes so far as to include individual best-of lists from their staff and from other personalities across the larger video game industry, which I think is a nice touch and works well with the community vibe that Giantbomb have cultivated over the years.
I do so wish that I had the spare hours to listen to their debates about the best of the year, but I’ve got another list that needs my attention: A list of holiday chores! HAHAHAHAHAHA