The fact that 2016 has been terrible is no secret. If the only bad things that happened this year were losing Bowie, Prince, Leonard Coen, and Phife Dawg in the same year it still would have sucked, but somehow that is just the tip of the giant shitberg this year has been.
Fortunately, there is still awesomeness to make me feel better, and I wanted to share a few of those things with you — ‘Five Things’ style.
1. Baby Fucking Groot
The second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy — released a week ago at this point, this post took me way too long to get around to finishing — showcased more of the comedic energy fans expect from the series. I’m assuming anyone who cares about this at all will have already seen it at least once. Still, it’s too great to not have it up on RtM, just for posterity. I loved the first Guardians so much, and this one continues to look like it will easily win my heart next year.
A growing baby Groot is even more amazing that I could have hoped.
2. Awaken, My Love!
Is Donald Glover the messiah? He might be. I just don’t see how an ordinary human can give the world Atlanta and Awaken, My Love! in the same fucking year. HOW?! There are plenty of talented people who might release two things that good in their career… but in the same year?! Say what you will about 2016 — it was fucking awful — but Donald Glover certainly did more than we could have hoped in an attempt to salvage it.
Have you listened to this album yet? Did anyone see this coming? Were we aware Childish Gambino was capable of creating a neo-soul masterpiece?
When Questlove — a bonafide pop music historian with an encyclopedic grasp of all things soul — freaks out and wakes D’Angelo at 4 a.m. to listen to an album, you should take note.
Here is a fun interactive video of Gambino performing “Me and Your Mama” at his Pharos concert event.
3. The Girl Who Drank the Moon
The people who live in the Protectorate believe a witch lives in the woods. They believe they must sacrifice a baby to her every year to avoid her wrath.
A witch does live in the woods, but is nothing like the blood thirsty monster she is imagined to be. Confused why babies are annually abandoned in the wilderness, she rescues them and takes them to loving families far away, feeding them starlight to nourish them on the journey. During one of these trips, the witch accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, enmagicking her.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a book about identity, about the power story has to nurture or destroy, and it is about truth and lies and the way the powerful distort the narrative to maintain the status quo. It’s also about love and family and the way courage and compassion can change the world.
It’s lovely and well-written, full of wisdom and lines I wanted to go back and reread multiple times.
You should read it.
Good news: The guy who wrote the screenplay for Kubo and the Two Strings is supposedly the one adapting this book into a screenplay. More on Kubo if I get around to making my own 2016 lists.
4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
I know, I know — I barely write on RtM anymore and when I do, half the time it’s about how much I love Taiki Waititi. Well, what of it? I do love Taiki Waititi.
A friend recently asked people on Facebook to give a list of their favorite films since 2012, and I listed What We Do in the Shadows; not just because of my affection for that film, but because I needed a representative of Waititi’s work.
His films are so full of charm and joy and sweetness, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople is no exception. Plus, I’m a sucker for stories about people who come together and make weird nontraditional families. It deserves all the inclusion it has gotten on various lists of underrated or underappreciated films of 2016.
Speaking of underappreciated, when people talk about Hunt for the Wilderpeople they always mention What We Do in the Shadows but not Boy. Watch Boy!!!
Taiki for life!
I bet some people are unreasonably disappointed when they visit New Zealand and it’s not actually Middle Earth. I’m probably going to be unreasonably disappointed if I ever go because everyone doesn’t talk like a character in a Taiki Waititi film.
5. End of Year Lists
Hopefully, I’ll find time to make some of my own this year, but either way I am so excited that it is time for people around the internet to curate lists of their favorite things of 2016.
I love curation, both doing it myself and when others do it well. There is so much to learn by experiencing what other people get excited about with an open mind. It expands my life and my perception and offers me new things to enjoy.
Some of the stuff won’t be for me, but I might find a new favorite thing. There might be an amazing album or movie or book I would have otherwise missed, or I might be inspired to finally check out some show I’m sleeping on, or I might be encouraged to look at something I didn’t enjoy in a new light. Either way, my world will get bigger and brighter.