By Scott Harvey, Contributor
Best Movie: “La La Land.” Damien Chazelle’s old-school, Hollywood musical was a bittersweet treasure, with delightful songs from Justin Hurwitz, inventive cinematography from Linus Sandgren and, best of all, luminous performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It really does live up to the hype. Trust me.
Best Blockbuster: “The Shallows.” I know what you’re thinking. That shark movie? Yes, that shark movie, which just so happens to easily be the best killer shark movie since “Jaws.” The setup may seem silly and illogical, but the execution is anything but. Director Jaume Collet-Serra manages to drain every ounce of suspense and tension out of the premise. The result is a thrilling and surprisingly clever adventure with a wonderfully physical performance by Blake Lively.
Best TV Show: “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.” Ryan Murphy’s 10-part opus on the “Crime of the Century” was nothing less than utterly compelling from the word “go.” The whole thing plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy of sorts, but one that has never felt more pressing and relevant. Kudos to all of the performers, particularly Sarah Paulson, Marcia Clark and Courtney B. Vance, who is positively electric as Johnnie Cochran.
Best Performance: Denzel Washington in “Fences.” “Fences” isn’t a play which immediately screams out for a film adaptation and the film itself certainly could’ve come across as stagnant and overly stagey. But Washington’s stunning turn, one of the great actor’s finest, gives August Wilson’s fine play the vim and vigor it deserves, elevating to the searing character study the playwright intended. Fierce, commanding and brilliant.
Best Album: Was it an album or a mixtape? That’s a debate for another forum, but all I know is that Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” was the best collection of songs we were blessed to receive in 2016. It fuses gospel and hip-hop seamlessly and pulses with an infectious, effervescent joy rarely heard in modern music. Guest turns make an impact (2 Chainz’s “No Problem” comes to mind), but this is a full-bodied landscape for one of music’s most original voices to paint on and he takes full advantage of the opportunity.
Best Song: The party anthem that somehow never made it to the radio, Charli XCX’s “After the Afterparty” was a downright irresistible pop jam, with a chorus so catchy you may need a lobotomy to get it out of your head and a raucous guest turn from Lil Yachty, who never fails to liven up the mood. Another hit from pop music’s best unsung heroine.
Best Sports Moment: We were spoiled for choice, really. A thrilling NBA finals. An unbelievable NCAA Championship game. A Premier League season won by … Leicester City?! But the standout has to be the mesmerizing 7 game World Series between baseball’s two lowliest losers, the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians, which somehow surpassed all of the hype and concluded with a final showdown on the level of such Hollywood epics as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Ben-Hur.” The greatest World Series ever? You bet.
Best Tweet: @itskatcombs: “Trump writing a term paper
I know it
You know it
Everybody knows it”
Best Moment of the 2016 Election: When it finally ended.
Best Musical Performance: Is there a more universally likable band than Coldplay? Perhaps not, and that’s why so many people seem to love to hate them. Even the most vocal of detractors, however, couldn’t have been anything but won over by their flawless headlining set at England’s Glastonbury Festival (check it out on YouTube), which featured not only all of their greatest hits, but a truly moving tribute to Viola Beach, a fellow British band whose members were killed in a tragic car accident, as well as a groovy cover of the Bee Gees’ disco classic “Stayin’ Alive,” with none other than Barry Gibb himself joining them onstage.