Foothill Technology High School

Best of 2016

This year brought sweeping changes in politics, science and society; revisit the highlights of pop culture and media here, curated by the Foothill Dragon Press’ Arts & Entertainment section. Click through the tabs for a look at the best movies, TV shows, albums and fashion trends of 2016!

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1.) The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen is a relatable, humorous and wonderful portrayal of what being a teenager is like in the age of smartphones. Directed and written by Kelly Freeman Craig, the debut director depicts her truth behind the drama, friendships and romances of the average socially awkward high schooler.

The main character Nadine, played by Hailee Steinfeld, embodies the everyday teen attempting to comprehend their social, academic and family life simultaneously. She lives in the shadow of her older brother, who is deemed the better sibling by peers, her parents and even her best friend. Nadine is put to the test when her best friend of second grade falls in love with her brother. The film spirals until its climax and gives its audiences moments of laughter and tears.

–Suvee Ranasinghe

2.) How to Be Single

This movie screams “I just broke up with my significant other of five months and need a tub of ice cream.” With its incredible casting, “How to Be Single” is a must for your watch list. The film encapsulates the daunting feeling of being single in a crowd of couples, and learning how to have fun on your own.

Featuring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann, this isn’t your typical romantic comedy. It doesn’t follow the typical clichés, and actually has a message at the end. Sometimes romantic comedy films can seem pointless, dragged on or stupid, but “How to Be Single” is entertaining, hilarious and gets to the point.

–Suvee Ranasinghe

3.) Allegiant:

Based on the third and final installment of the “Divergent” Series, Allegiant unleashes what fans have all been waiting for. Like its predecessors, “Allegiant” is full of suspense, action and shocking revelations that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

In this film, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) must transcend the wall that keeps them captivated and confined from the city of Chicago, forcing them to leave everything they thought they once knew in order to uncover all of the secrets that lie outside of their previous realm of life. After escaping their “old world,” and entering into this “new world,” the two quickly learn that the seemingly significant things they discovered in the past are actually meaningless, and new secrets are thus disclosed. Tris’ commitment to her cause, her courage, as well as her love for Four is put to the test, as she is forced to overcome this battle that ultimately threatens humanity as a whole.

This science fiction adventure film directed by Robert Schwentke was highly criticized as being the lowest-earning film of the series, and left many fans in disappointment due to the fact that it arguably failed to live up to its hype.

–Brooklyne Shepherd

4.) Finding Dory

The Walt Disney Studios had its hands full this year, as it produced an array of well-received and highly anticipated films, ranging from Pixar, to classic Disney animated productions, to the “first standalone ‘Star Wars’ film,” to two Marvel pictures. The skyrocketing numbers of box office sales allowed Disney to dominate and continue to be a spearhead in the film industry in 2016.

Finding Dory was one of this year’s most awaited productions, as individuals young and old looked forward to the return of the iconic duo, Ellen DeGeneres as Dory and Albert Brooks as Marlin. “Finding Dory” is a spinoff of Pixar’s 2003 original classic, “Finding Nemo,” as it follows the quest of the forgetful blue fish’s journey to find her long-lost parents. Throughout the film, Dory “just keeps swimming” in order to find her parents, but is forced to overcome the hardships that are thrown her way.

The theme of the true meaning of family is at the forefront of this film, as Dory discovers the lengths she is willing to go to in order to find her parents.

–Brooklyne Shepherd

5.) Moana

The recent release of the Disney film “Moana” has captured the interest of people of all ages. It is obvious that 2016 was a successful year for Disney. The movie follows the life of Moana Waialiki and her island’s tribe.

As the island runs out of natural resources, Moana comes to understanding that rules must be broken for her tribe’s survival. The animation features voices from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rachel House and a debut from Auli’i Cravalho. While Moana isn’t a Disney Princess, the film definitely has it’s similarities to “Mulan.”

“Mulan” was the first of it’s kind to be added to the Disney franchise and both show the female heroine prevailing. Moana also promotes more realistic body types for younger girls. It’s a must-see for people of all ages, children and adults alike.

–Suvee Ranasinghe

6.) The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is a unique rendition that transforms the original, classic tale into a live action film. Based on the 1894 classic collection of stories, written by Rudyard Kipling, “The Jungle Book” follows Mowgli’s return from his wolf pack to “man village.”

Mowgli, however, is reluctant to leave his animal family due to the fact that the pack of wolves raised him as their own after being abandoned. Mowgli is forced to learn that embracing his “human tricks” while continuing to follow the “wolf life” he learned in the jungle can help him accomplish anything. The young boy encounters several animals along his journey back to “man village,” like the friendly bear Baloo, played by Billy Murray, the hypnotic snake, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson and the orangutan, played by Christopher Walken, who ultimately aide Mowgli on his quest.

The film earned a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and received a variety of praising reviews; “Favreau’s film, virtually entirely CGI [Computer-Generated Imagery] save for a human child lead, is a serviceable mix of action, computer-provided visual splendor, Disney-approved morality, and fine voice work from its star-studded cast” – Piers Marchant.

–Brooklyne Shepherd

7.) Star Wars: Rogue One

For decades, “Star Wars” fans have yearned for the answer regarding the timely demise of the “Deathstar.” How could the Empire’s strongest and most vicious weapon have one fatal flaw that could lead to the victory of the Rebellion? With all the mighty strength of the Sith, Darth Vader and the Emperor, it should have been impossible for anyone to do anything about their moon sized weapon of death.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” directed by Gareth Edwards, answers this question. Starring Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso and Diego Luna as Captain Cassian Andor, the rebel forces are shown in their earliest days fighting for peace in the Galaxy. “Rogue One” takes place before “A New Hope,” providing the disillusioned fans of the generation of Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III with the prequel they were always asking for.

The opening of the movie immediately intrigues the audience as there is no classic Star Wars theme music or a title crawl. The opening shot is of a planet that Jyn Erso and her family inhabit. Taking on a very dark tone, Galen Erso  is held at blaster-point by Imperial soldiers and the director of the Deathstar project named Orson Krennic. The movie has less of a heroic and optimistic vibe, like other films in the series, as it showcases more of a dark, hopeless, treacherous kind of feeling.

The film does not feel entirely like a Star Wars movie, it feels more like that of a real wartime film, especially during combat scenes in urban and military occupied areas where soldiers on both sides are blown to bits as well as the city and the civilian inhabitants. Overall this movie is absolutely a best of 2016, for it is new, dark and creative.

–Zach Castro

8.) La La Land

What makesLa La Land stand out as more than just your average musical is that it takes place in modern day, yet has the old school Hollywood feeling. Between the dancing, singing and classic love story, the new film has been taking moviegoers by storm.

Mia (Emma Stone) is a coffee barista in the heart of L.A.’s hit movie sets, dreaming to one day be the star of a film of her own. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a talented pianist and dedicated lover of old-school jazz, dreaming to reignite the genre by opening a club of his own.  However, both have hit a rough patch: Mia fails audition after audition, and Sebastian cannot hold a steady job due to his constant desire to make every song his own.

The two’s desires to live out their dreams draw them together in a passionate romance, filled with songs, tap dancing and adventure.  The film shows their hardships, proudest moments and greatest successes, all through song and dance. The beautiful cinematography to match the unique soundtrack makes this film truly one of a kind.

–Julia Fickenscher

9.) Zootopia

Not only is Zootopia full of cute animals with bubbly personalities, but the Disney film teaches an important lesson for all ages: no matter who you are or where you come from, you can do anything you put your mind to it.

“Zootopia” follows the story of Judy Hopps, a tiny but mighty rabbit who lives in a modern-day metropolis where every animal lives together in unity. Her lifelong dream has been to become a member of the police force. However, that job is typically for a bigger, more dominant animal. Her determination and dedication to her dream is what drives her to the top. Although often knocked down by those who don’t believe in her, she constantly perseveres. When given a tough case and a risky time limit that puts everything on the edge, she utilizes the help of a clever fox and never fails to believe she can achieve anything.

With humor adults can relate to and characters that children will adore, “Zootopia” is a hit film for all ages to enjoy.

–Julia Fickenscher

10.) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Unlike any of the “Harry Potter” films, the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Themwas written by “Potter” author J.K. Rowling herself– and it shows. The film watches similarly to how a novel reads, telling an adventurous tale worthy of a seven-book series itself. Rather than the typical, formulaic unveiling of all characters and setting up of plot in its first ten minutes, characters and their backstories are carefully presented as the film’s events play out, allowing viewers to fill in the blanks themselves over its whirlwind two hours and thirteen minutes.

The axis of the film rests on Newt Scamander, an English wizard (played by the Oscar-winning Eddie Redmayne), who travels across the Atlantic Ocean to find a rare and endangered species of magical creature in New York City. In the wake of the ratification of several strict creature-restricting laws, Scamander has dedicated his life to collecting and protecting otherworldly animals. When his magical briefcase of critters mistakenly comes open, a zoo of powerful and potentially dangerous lifeforms freely roam New York City, causing torment and absurdity.

While “Fantastic Beasts” may leave some diehard “Harry Potter” fans in a nostalgic stupor, still craving to recreate the tremendously mystifying magic they found in the original films, it will most definitely provide them with the satisfying memory of a wondrous escapade fit for a new special place in their hearts.

–Lorenzo Alexander

Image credit, from left to right, top to bottom: STX Entertainent, Warner Bros., Summit Entertainment, Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm Ltd., Summit Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros.

Thinglink Credit: Suvee Ranasinghe / The Foothill Dragon Press

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1.) “Blackstar” – David Bowie

“Something happened on the day he died. Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside. Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried: I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar.” In life, David Bowie was one of music and fashion’s most innovative and influential icons. Leave it to the transcendent trendsetter to predict an event so cosmic as his own inevitable death.

Bowie’s 25th and final studio album, Blackstar, was released on Jan. 8, 2016, only two days before his passing at the age of 69. Blackstar’s lyrical narrative traces one man’s dystopian adventure into the enchanting realm of the great unknown. Musically, the record is unlike that of any previous Bowie release. While the “Space Oddity” was known to constantly refine and evolve his playing with each album, his Blackstar album creates a unique sound all its own. With the assistance of a hand-picked gang of jazz musicians and seasoned producers, the album’s 41 minutes are a churning and clanging symphony of industrial psychedelic jazz and brooding art rock.

Although David Bowie’s death was a jarring reminder of man’s mortality, the larger-than-life legend lives infinitely on through the timeless music he dedicated his life to creating.

–Lorenzo Alexander

2.) “Freetown Sound” – Blood Orange

Devonté Hynes has revolutionized music. In July, the multi-talented musician, producer, director, dancer and author released his third full-length album under the name of Blood Orange.

The record, titled “Freetown Sound,” is much more than a solid collection of soulful, funky grooves; it is an honest commentary on the (not-so) silent plague of oppression. During an era in which, for minorities, mere existence is a political matter, “Freetown Sound” is a powerful protest record about the importance of community and visibility. Upon the record’s release, Hynes told his Instagram following that the record is intended for those who have been told that they are “not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way.” Its raw subject material is portrayed with both subtle strength and daring vulnerability.

Nearly every song features a different female vocalist, musically blending themes of hurt and struggle with the unapologetically delicate parts of being human. Just as any record of resonance should be, “Freetown Sound” is auditory proof that salvation from society’s faults can be found in art. The masterpiece is a protest record the likes of which this generation has yet to make, but Blood Orange, a musical prophet, has peacefully returned power to the people.

–Lorenzo Alexander

3.) “Hypercaffium-Spazzinate” – The Descendents

After over a decade, the Descendents have released their seventh studio album, “Hypercaffium Spazzinate.” Following their previous album released in 2004, this album reflects personal issues, the death of loved ones and growing older. With Milo Aukerman on vocals, Bill Stevenson on drums, Stephen Egerton on guitar and Karl Alvarez on bass, these four icons are still shredding.

For years, the Descendents have been inspiring bands such as Blink-182 and Green Day. Not only does this band inspire many but Stevenson has recorded and produced bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Rise Against in the famous “Blasting Room,” a recording studio in Fort Collins, Colo.

–Zach Castro

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1.) Stranger Things

The new Netflix series took the world by storm, making it a prominent success of 2016. When 12-year-old Will mysteriously disappears, his mom senses his appearance in the walls. However, when trying to communicate, she comes across a much darker, creepier creature as well. While she continues her search, Will’s friends start an investigation of their own. When out looking for his whereabouts, they meet Eleven, a young supernatural girl who escaped from an antagonizing system. When all traces of Will lead to foreign realms and dimensions, it’s clear they need Eleven if they have any chance of finding their friend.

The strong acting and believable effects really work for what is later discovered to be a “Dungeons and Dragons come to life” tale. With season two on the way, “Stranger Things” is the perfect show to binge watch at any time.

–Julia Fickenscher

2.) American Horror Story: Roanoke

Since the very first episode aired in October 2011, “American Horror Story” has been all the rave. Due to high demand for the show that follows the hauntings of demonic creatures, several seasons of the anthology horror drama have been produced, all equally as haunting and full of freakish events.

Created and produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, season six, or “American Horror Story: Roanoke,” is as sinister as ever and full of unexpected surprises. Roanoke features cast members like Kathy Bates, who plays Thomasin White, Sarah Paulson, starring as Shelby Miller and Cuba Gooding Jr., as Matt Miller. Airing over one month, spanning from September to November, “American Horror Story: Roanoke,” follows the powerful hauntings of the pre-16th century Lost Colony of Roanoke ghosts.

The story of Roanoke is still one that is not fully understood and perplexing to most, as more than 100 colonists unexplainably and mysteriously disappeared from the North Carolina colony. “The American Horror Story” version follows the governor’s wife who takes control of the colony due to her husband’s absence, and ultimately becomes the colony’s immortal and murderous leader, the Butcher. The suspense that builds up to the season finale is jaw-dropping and something that must be seen to be believed.

–Brooklyne Shepherd

3.) The People v. O.J. Simpson

As 2016 was a year heavy with heart-shattering tragedy, seething political slander and outrageous drama, becoming engrossed in the sensationally riveting, yet equally spine-chilling events of 1995 is a refreshing escape.

For those who lived it, that was the year that the infamous murder trial of former NFL player Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson reached a final verdict. He was tried on two counts of murder for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend. Surrounding much more than the logistics of the killings, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is a 10-episode miniseries that delves into the complexities of racial discrimination and corruption in America’s broken justice system.

Despite copious blood evidence and a blatant motive, these conflicts of interest turned Simpson’s trial less into a simple act of justice and more into a cultural phenomena. Airing over one month, from February to April, the FX production hosts a star-studded cast, namely Cuba Gooding Jr. (The Butler) as a conflicted yet seemingly sincere Simpson. Emulating beautifully the perplexing commotion surrounding such a sensitive event, director Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) ushers viewers through feelings of confusion, anxiety, relief and disgust over the course of any given episode.

In addition, the series is extremely historically accurate. In an almost surreal manner, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is integrated with real-life crime scene evidence, trial transcripts and media coverage, telling a truthful tale that is stranger than fiction.

–Lorenzo Alexander

4.) It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The vulgar and insatiably funny television show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” released their 11th season for the rather bleak and dark year of 2016, bringing a light and funny tone to the overall discontented mood of the people.

Since 2005, this wacky and ridiculous show has produced seasons each one funnier than the last. In its newest season, “the gang,” consisting of Rob McElhenney as Mac, Charlie Day as Charlie, Glenn Howerton as Dennis, Kaitlin Olson as Dee and Danny Devito as Frank, continue their misadventures.

They remain to be the savage, heartless and insanely self-centered individuals that they have always been. This season has ten episodes, each one different in story, but all having to do with some sort of funny scheme, idea or show of vanity. From the first episode of the season to the last, the humor holds its own.

–Zach Castro

5.) Daredevil

The classic Marvel character Daredevil has been revitalized in the 2016 Netflix show, simply called “Daredevil.” The show stars Charlie Cox who plays Matt Murdock and Daredevil. By day, Matt is a very unsuspecting yet intelligent defense attorney, along with his partner Franklin “Foggy” Nelson.

The show is based around Matt and Foggy defending criminals in court during the day and Matt fighting crime during the night. Throughout the series, Daredevil takes down an entire crime organization, as well as defeats a very ancient group of assassins. All in all “Daredevil” represents a very interesting and new take on a blind, boxing Marvel character.

–Zach Castro

6.) Gilmore Girls

After a nine-year break, the legendary mother-daughter duo was reunited for a final Netflix revival of “Gilmore Girls.” Lorelai Gilmore had her daughter, Rory, at age 16, left her parents, Richard and Emily, and slowly built her way up in the small town of Stars Hollow. The Netflix series picks up with Rory visiting her mother on a short break from her crazy job of traveling all around the world to write a potential book for a crazy celebrity. Lorelai still runs the Inn, with the love and support of her boyfriend Luke, who runs Luke’s Diner in town. Together, there are adventures, romances, hardships, humor and lots and lots of coffee.

Although it had been a while since the last episode, the revival brings back familiar faces, as nearly everyone in the cast returned for the special occasion. Along with familiar faces, that same wit, humor and charm returns as well. The acting, cinematography and town all feel the same, pleasing fans and giving them more of what they love.

The Netflix series finally showed the finale the director always longed for: it shows the true relationship of Rory and Lorelai and how their life eventually goes full circle. Gilmore Girls fans everywhere were thrilled for this Netflix revival, making it a big hit of 2016.

–Julia Fickenscher

Image credit, from left to right: NETFLIX, FX, FX, FXX, NETFLIX, NETFLIX

Thinglink Credit: Suvee Ranasinghe / The Foothill Dragon Press

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1.) Textured fabrics (corduroy, fishnets, velvet and suede)

In 2016, texture was brought to a fashion forefront. Velvet was popping up in the windows of stores all throughout the year. It went from being a traditional elegant material to becoming more casual. It showed up in the form of bralettes, skirts, crop tops and chokers especially. Suede and corduroy were popularly used for button up skirts and jackets. All three textures were seen on the runway and in the school hallways.

After chokers made their comeback in 2015, the new textures mainstream fashion had become accustomed to become chokers. As of recent, Forever 21 has an entire stand for their chokers, with all sorts of variations.

Fishnet tights haven’t been seen too often on campus, but have raised in popularity in fall of 2016. They’ve been worn peaking out off the top of jeans, through large rips in pants, with a casual skirt and shorts. Fishnet tights have been seen being worn by social media models and fashion bloggers.

–Suvee Ranasinghe

2.) Button-up skirts

The biggest leap in fashion this year was made by the button up skirt. It was in every texture, every color and every style. After they gained their popularity, the mini skirt made it’s comeback to mainstream fashion as well. Both were worn dressed up and down.

Button up skirts are adding to the ’90s trend with their class and simplicity. They are versatile, can be worn in various styles and materials which contribute to their popularity. Skirts can be worn to suit any season; a brown corduroy for fall, maroon for winter, denim for spring and summer. There’s not a doubt in my mind that this trend will be around for a while.

–Suvee Ranasinghe

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–Brooklyne Shepherd, Julia Fickescher, Lorenzo Alexander, Suvee Ranasinghe and Zach Castro

Image credit, from left to right, top to bottom: STX Entertainent, Warner Bros., Summit Entertainment, Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm Ltd., Summit Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros.

Thinglink Credit: Suvee Ranasinghe / The Foothill Dragon Press

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