This year marked some of the most emotional, action-packed films and series, diverse and unique music, ’90s themed fashion trends and high quality video games. Click through the tabs to see our A&E staff picks of the best of 2017!
1. “The Greatest Showman”
“The Greatest Showman” tells the story of the founder and actors of the well known Barnum and Bailey Circus. With a beautiful depiction of the interesting figures of the circus, “The Greatest Showman” will inspire, amaze and will make you want to dance in your seat while watching.
This film follows the life of P.T. Barnums and encompasses all of his high and low points. While doing so, the movie also includes the stories of the interesting characters inside of the circus. The story, in truth, is really about people finding their place in the world and the acceptance of everyone no matter their differences. This message is delivered to the audience through an exceptional soundtrack.
With Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams in the cast, this film is a memorable and inspiring film that will teach everyone to persevere and to be resilient when reaching for your dreams. –Emma Yakel
2. “The Lego Batman Movie”
Batman and Legos. What could go wrong? As proven in “The Lego Batman Movie” the answer to that question is nothing, because that combination created true perfection.
With witty humor and an amusing plot, “The Lego Batman Movie” takes the audience on a trip with the superhero Batman, and all his greatest villains and sidekicks. In the film, Batman is tasked with taking down the notorious Joker and his band of villains before they destroy Gotham City. While on his pursuit of apprehending the Joker, Batman has to leave his past of being a lone superhero and instead partners with his new adopted son Robin, his butler Alfred and the new chief of police.
The addition of an amazing cast of voices that include Zach Galifianakis, Will Arnett and Rosario Dawson sets up “The Lego Batman Movie” to be an entertaining ride. –Emma Yakel
3. “Get Out”
Jordan Peele uses the term “white control” to a very literal extreme in “Get Out.” Its pacing is executed flawlessly, scaling its racist themes from the occasional verbal offense to pure psychotics. The movie keeps its right to the horror genre with constant tension, but the “monster” is the threatening atmosphere of America. It’s a creative take on modern racism that you won’t want to miss. –Riley Bangs
What may be the best superhero movie yet, “Logan” shares the bitter and lonely end to the X-Men’s Wolverine. While some characterization is only reaped from the earlier movies in the series, their connections are made real and human in a way that isn’t usually done in movies of the same vein. The focus is on the value of relationships, even in a world with godlike powers and extravagant acts of heroism. Hugh Jackman delivers a brilliant performance; his weariness as a character who’s lived lifetimes feels all too real. Enjoying it at full volume may take drudgery through some lesser quality movies, but it provides a glorious end to one of Marvel’s most beloved characters, and stands on its own as a faux-Western masterpiece. –Riley Bangs
“Wonder” is a heartwarming movie that is based on the New York Best Seller novel “Wonder,” written by Raquel Jaramillo and directed by Stephen Chbosky.
August Pullman, portrayed by Jacob Tremblay, was born with both Treacher Collins syndrome and a hemifacial microsomia characteristic, causing him to not have any facial features due to missing bones. Many surgeries have been performed on this young boy throughout his life, causing him to be homeschooled. His parents, played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, decide he needs to go to public school. We see the emotional rollercoaster as Auggie tries to live a normal life and find friendships. His journey comes with a plethora of emotions; empathy, sadness, happiness and hope. –Sophia Parker
6. “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
Though two versions of the “Spider-Man” series have been made before, Marvel’s latest edition tops the rest by far. Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker, your average American teen, just trying to survive the scary world of high school. However, the one thing that makes him stand out from the rest is his unusual capabilities and superpowers, along with his one shot at being a part of the Avengers. Throughout the movie, he tries to balance his normal high school life with his desire to be one of the world’s superheroes.
Along with Tom Holland’s spectacular performance in the legendary red suit, we see the familiar face of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark; Downey Jr. once again does an incredible job playing the brains and businessman behind the whole Avengers operation. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” combines the teenage high school movie with the action and intensity of a superhero film, making it the perfect compromise for everyone to enjoy. –Julia Fickenscher
Thinglink credit: Emma Yakel
Image credit(top left to bottom right): 20th Century Fox, DC Company, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Columbia Pictures
1. ÷ by Ed Sheeran
After a year-long hiatus away from technology and fame, Ed Sheeran returned with “÷.” Perhaps his best album yet, Sheeran combines heartfelt lyrics about life, love, friendship and family with a mixture of upbeat and soft tempos to give listeners a whirlwind of feelings and emotions.
Songs like “Perfect” and “How Would You Feel” are romantic tunes for the perfect slow dance or heartfelt serenade. Others like “Castle on the Hill” take you on a roller coaster of nostalgia, as Sheeran reminisces on his childhood and coming of age with his closest friends. Conversely, Sheeran writes tear-jerkers such as “Supermarket Flowers” and “Save Myself,” describing past losses of family members and a feeling of loneliness and loss. His songs are relatable and the perfect variety of happiness, sorrow, love and everything in between. –Julia Fickenscher
2. Flower Boy by Tyler the Creator
Tyler, the Creator, has created another masterpiece. “Flower Boy,” released on July 21, is one of Tyler’s more mature pieces. The album received a nomination for Best Rap Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. In “Flower Boy,” the rapper played with lyrics hitting the subjects of loneliness, sexuality and navigation of his youth.
He first released two singles, “Who Dat Boy” and “911/Mr. Lonely,” as one. They both reached the position of 87 on Billboard’s “Hot 100,” making this single his highest climber on the charts.
“Flower Boy” is a combination of his personal thoughts and complex feelings. Almost all the songs on this album seems if he is calling out to someone to explain his unrequited feelings: “Call me some time, please bang my line.” –Sophia Parker
3. Ctrl by SZA
R&B has been taken to new levels with artist SZA. This past year she released “Ctrl” (pronounced control) and quickly became a huge hit. “Ctrl” reached position three on the Billboard “Hot 100” and was nominated for four Grammy awards; meanwhile SZA was also nominated for “Best New Artist.”
“Ctrl” features many popular male artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Isaiah Rashad and James Fauntleroy. This album describes SZA’s empowerment in freedom as a woman. An independent woman writes about lost love and meaningless love. It’s deep, personal and frankly brutal on modern love. This fearless artist takes her troubled past and twist it into sweet melodies. –Sophia Parker
4. Arca by Arca
Spotlight producer Alejandro Ghersi has always been on the outset of musical ingenuity. With his self-titled album, he goes beyond his previous releases as Arca and brings back something only heard in his production as Nuuro: his angelic, heart-on-the-chest voice brings a soul to his music, which would previously feel inaccessible to most listeners in its earlier stages. His otherworldly and abstruse style still makes its glorious appearance, however, leading old and new listeners to his wake of futuristic melody. –Riley Bangs
5. All This I Do For Glory by Colin Stetson
Out of all the aspiring musicians in the rising scene of jazz, none flaunted their skill more than saxophonist Colin Stetson in this year’s release. Circular breathing is used to create simple, fast progressions that keep an ever-shifting tempo. The percussion in most tracks resembles the ambiance of clacking pads. Combined with long, echoed notes that range from distinct aria to gritty moan, and you have one of the most impressive displays of brass to date. –Riley Bangs
Originally planned to be a full-length film, Netflix series “Castlevania” received overwhelming popularity on its onset, leading to a second season renewal on the day of its release. Vlad Dracula Tepes has cursed the land of Wallachia with demons and hellfire for burning his wife at the stake and disgraced vampire hunter Trevor Belmont steps out of the shadows to defeat Dracula. The TV adaptation of Konami’s line of video games features fully realized characters, beautiful sometimes gruesome animation, and a story that leaves you in anticipation for more. Castlevania has set itself up to be one of Netflix’s best anime-inspired series yet. –Riley Bangs
2. “The Gifted”
Marvel’s come out with many television series lately, but one of the most riveting is “The Gifted.” It is a show that will make you reflect on the lengths people will go in order to protect their family and in doing so, the creators have produced a brilliant show that will make you think about the words acceptance and family.
“The Gifted” is about a family’s discovery that their children are mutants (humans that have superpowers) in a society that ostracizes all mutants because they are considered “dangerous.” As a result of this discovery, the family embarks on an adventure of a lifetime, which includes joining a secret underground mutant organization in order to flee from prosecution. In doing so, the family is faced with various challenges.
This show is an interesting and exciting view on a superhero story and will interest a variety of viewers, even those who aren’t fond of Marvel. –Emma Yakel
3. “A Series of Unfortunate Events”
Come prepared to be immersed into the eccentric world of “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” In this world filled with allusions to “1984” by George Orwell, a crazy “actor” and three intelligent kids, viewers will be tempted to binge the whole series in order to see all the unfortunate events.
This Netflix original is an adaption of Lemony Snicket’s (also known as Daniel Handler) novels in the series of the same name as the show. This show follows the story of three siblings: Violet Baudelaire (played by Melissa Weissman), Klaus Baudelaire (played by Louis Hynes) and Sunny Baudelaire (played by Presley Smith) after their parents pass away in a mysterious fire. They are put in the care of their very distant cousin, Count Olaf (played by Neil Patrick Harris), who wants to steal the children’s inheritance that their parents passed on. He will do anything to get that inheritance and during the pursuit the children must flee to various locations with Count Olaf following their every turn.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” is a perfect adventure for everyone to enjoy. It may be a bit strange but it is a show that no one wants to miss. –Emma Yakel
4. “Stranger Things 2”
Last year, the story of three young boys, a worried mom, a sheriff and a mysterious girl on the hunt for Will Byers, a boy who fell into the supernatural world known as the “upside-down,” took the world by storm. In October, season two was released, and some would argue it is even better than the first.
In this season, Will is stuck between the real world and the upside-down, as he sees the monsters of the upside-down not only surrounding him, but within himself. In order for the visions and the danger to go away, they must find a way to defeat the monster inside of him and close the portal to the upside-down. Will’s friends, his mom, siblings, the sheriff and of course, that same mysterious girl all embark on a seemingly familiar journey to defeat the supernatural.
Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp and the rest of the cast do an extraordinarily incredible job in showcasing the fear of the unknown, the bonds that the fear and adventure can bring and the reunion of long, lost, loved friends. The Netflix Original series was a hit from the start and season two gave the fans all they were asking for and more. –Julia Fickenscher
At first glance the town appears to be a nice suburban town. Don’t be fooled. There are secrets to be uncovered in this town. This is “Riverdale.”
“Riverdale” is a show that many have heard of and many have watched because it submerges all the viewers into an entrancing show about a mysterious town that most will want to binge watch. The viewers are shown a friend group of Archie Andrews (played by KJ Apa), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse). All of them begin to unravel a murder of Jason Blossom, a student at their high school. In doing so, they are shown the secret side of their supposed quaint town of Riverdale and it isn’t pretty.
“Riverdale” is an instant favorite with many because it will take everyone into a town full of drama, murder and tension that will inspire everyone to figure out who murdered Jason Blossom. –Emma Yakel
The enigmatic finale of an enigmatic series left more questions than answers this year. Based on a novel of the same name, the story begins with two percent of the human population disappearing from earth, and follows the remainder trying to find reason to it. The series’ nature is one of many unanswerable questions and that finding whatever answer may suit the individual is sometimes the best we can get. Now with the third season finale, it “solves” some mysteries, while leaving most up to pure interpretation. It is rare to find a story to be so bold about its cliffhanger message in a world that is all about milking the Hollywood cow. “The Leftovers” found exactly the end that it was looking for and it will place as a cornerstone for mystery series everywhere. –Riley Bangs
Thinglink credit: Julia Fickenscher
Image credit(top left to bottom right): Netflix, FOX, Netflix, Netflix, The CW, HBO
Bringing the ’90s back is all we have done for the past two years and I’m loving it. Skorts have shown up once again, popping up in many popular retail stores (Free People, H&M, American Eagle and many more). This is a trend that has began with athletes but extended towards everyday use. Skorts can be dressed up or dressed down, making it simple yet highly fashionable.
At first I was not sure about the revival of this trend, but now as I have seen adorable outfits paired with skorts and I am all for it! Skorts are giving mini skirts a run for their money by having a scandalous length but complete coverage for security. Say a big hello to 2018, where skorts are all the rage. –Sophia Parker
2. Newsboy Hats
My absolute favorite trend from 2017 is newsboy hats. These stylish hats can be paired with almost anything. This adorable trendy cap is a year-round hat that is fit for both women and men. You’ll be sure to look both casual and vintage. It inspires the Great Gatsby within all of us. I hope to see this trend among us for many more years. –Sophia Parker
3. Head-to-Toe Color
Head-to-toe color is the challenging style that has popped up this year. This style is very difficult to pull off, but if done well and precise can make an exceptional outfit. The bold trend turns heads with an outlook on true confidence within the wearer. Start off 2018 with a bang of confidence and conquer this year, bringing head-to-toe color to the future. –Sophia Parker
4. Sock Booties
This year we started pairing socks with heels, which is an adorable style if done right, but this season a designer made an amalgamation of both: sock booties! I have seen this high fashion footwear take the over the streets by stars and casual wearers. This is arguably one of the best creations this year, if not in this decade. These booties/heels can be casual and dressy, perfect for all occasions. –Sophia Parker
5. Color Tinted Sunglasses
Why not look at the world and see its tinted beauty from behind colored sunglasses? This year color tinted sunglasses have been seen worn by many fashion icons. These sunglasses are in many retail stores including Urban Outfitters, which have many styles in all sorts of colors: yellow, red, green, blue, purple and more. We have been looking out onto the world through rose-colored sunglasses. As we enter 2018, wishing the best out of it, let us look at the positive things it holds: pretty tinted sunnies! –Sophia Parker
1.Super Mario Odyssey
Nintendo sweeps its competition this year with its famous plumber returning in a spectacular adventure. “Super Mario Odyssey” contains a world that is so rich with color and creativity that it puts its more realistic rivals to shame. As well as being incredibly smooth to control on his own, Mario gains an array of new abilities by “capturing” different creatures throughout the world. Nintendo also aims to please both casual players and the hard-hitters; while the story is one of the shortest ever to be featured in a mainline Mario title, there is an extraordinary amount of content beyond it that will keep a hardcore fan entertained for days. This has certainly been one of the greatest games to come out in the past decade, let alone this year. –Riley Bangs
2. Nier: Automata
Yoko Taro is a shining, yet oftentimes overlooked auteur in the video game scene. As the sequel to one of his cult favorites, “Nier: Automata” features an entirely new story and characters; the world has been overrun by machines and humans have escaped to the moon. Now, a division of elite androids called YoRHa aims to reclaim Earth for the human race. The game focuses on ethics of humanity and what it means to have a soul. What has “Nier” standing out from other titles is how it uses gameplay to develop character and themes, a tactic that is almost never seen so explicitly. Hopefully with this spectacular release, we can see more gems from Taro’s team. –Riley Bangs
What is assuredly one of the most difficult games to come out this year, “Cuphead” brandishes a 1930s aesthetic that is so pleasing and creative that you will forget that the difficulty is even an issue. Every character is animated by hand, speaking volumes about its flawlessly executed design. The story of the game is a comical tale that doesn’t invade on what the developer’s intended to focus on. “Cuphead” throws its punches exactly where it wants to, and it will be immortalized as some of the greatest animation in gaming. –Riley Bangs
4. Persona 5
The fifth installment of Atlus’ hit franchise delivers yet another array of memorable characters as well as clean-cut improvements to its role-playing mechanics. The story revolves around a group of high schoolers who have all been exploited by corrupt adults in their own separate ways. With a newfound ability to change a person’s cognition and cause them to regret their actions, they form together on a vigilante crusade against evil in society. Following role-playing tradition, the base game will take around 80 hours to beat, but for fans of the genre and series, it’s a title that cannot be passed up. –Riley Bangs
5. Sonic Mania
Sonic has had quite a poor reputation since the turn of the millennium, but with “Sonic Mania,” the series gets a breath of fresh air, as well as paying homage to the classics that made Sonic an icon. Most levels are newly updated versions of those found in Sonic 2 and 3, with completely new levels in between, each with an amazingly crafted retro soundtrack. Graphics also get a beautiful update while sticking to the same visual style of the originals. It’s impressive that a game so true to the style of an older generation would be so well received, but “Sonic Mania” is among a franchise where quality is not often seen. Sometimes all that’s necessary is a revival of classic formulas. –Riley Bangs
— Riley Bangs, Julia Fickenscher, Sophia Parker, Emma Yakel