Aaaaand we’re at the end of the year again. And what a year it’s been! Last year, after TIME magazine encountered some controversy with their Person of the Year selection, I decided to have my own pop culture/entertainment person of the year. Here we are again! I don’t usually do numbered-list-articles, but person of the year is such an occasion that would seemingly merit it.
10. Neil Gaiman
Early in the year, fantasy fiction maestro Neil Gaiman published Norse Mythology, a collection of classic Norse myths in the form of a novel. It was critically well-received, and probably my favorite new book I read this year.
This year, an adaptation of Gaiman’s novel American Gods launched on the Starz network. Gaiman is working on the series as a showrunner, overseeing a successful first season. I think that over the next few years, we’re going to see American Gods gradually become one of the most popular shows on television.
9. Child Actors – Dafne Keen and Noah Schnapp
In my post last year, I took time to honor several standout child actor performances. 2016 saw the premiere of Stranger Things, which brought the Stranger Things kids, and our favorite sassy child-ruler in the Game of Thrones cast, Lyanna Mormont. And this year, there are a couple more great child actor performances to honor.
There’s Noah Schnapp who was in the first season of Stranger Things for a short amount of time, but really got a chance to shine in Stranger Things 2. He played a child trying to cope with things he couldn’t understand, trying to move past trauma, and trying to beat his inner demons. Noah, you rocked it this season.
Then, there was also Dafne Keen, who played X-23 in Logan. (More on Logan later.) She is silent for most of the movie, but still manages to convey a so much. It’s a quiet performance, but an exceptionally moving one.
8. Edgar Wright
Did Baby Driver have the best use of music in a movie? I certainly like to think so. Edgar Wright’s most recent movie is one of the most lauded and unique movies this year. And it’s just so damn fun. It’s the most delightful action movie in years.
Also, look for Wright’s cameo in The Last Jedi.
7. The Nintendo Switch
The Switch isn’t a person, sure, but remember in 2006 when the person of the year was “you?” The rules aren’t exactly hard and fast. The Nintendo Switch is an exciting new console that has had Super Mario Odyssey and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, two clear game of the year nominees.
6. Lady Gaga
The first time this year I really appreciated Lady Gaga as a musician was her Superbowl halftime show. The show itself was really good, sure, but I was just really impressed with the reaction to it. Namely, the political reaction to it. All my conservative friends and family said “Wow, she earned my respect my keeping any politics out of her show.” Alternatively, all my liberal friends said “Wow, she earned my respect by using her show to convey her political beliefs.” I enjoyed the music, but I enjoyed the reaction so much more. Any entertainer who can trick people on both sides of the political spectrum into enjoying her performance is quite the performer.
Additionally, 2017 was the year that I found out Lady Gaga’s music is actually awesome. I mostly listen to alternative rock and classic rock, so I don’t often listen to pop. Now I realize that she’s super talented. My girlfriend and I listened to her new album (which technically came out last year but she’s been touring and releasing singles for this year. To highlight a few of my favorite songs from her album Joanne: “Million Reasons,” “Hey Girl,” “Joanne,” and “Come to Mama.”
5. Gal Gadot
Gal Gadot has had quite a year. Playing the title role in Wonder Woman, she lead the film to become the first financially successful female-led superhero movie, and the highest-grossing movie by a female director ever.
I probably don’t have to say that I wasn’t crazy about the Justice League movie. It wasn’t
phenomenal great good. It was distinctly better than Batman v. Superman or Suicide Squad, but that’s most of the praise I have for it. Except, of course, Gal Gadot. Forget Batfleck, Gadot is really the standout performer of this franchise. She clearly seems to have the most fun. She also had a great appearance on Saturday Night Live.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gal Gadot stood up for women, refusing to work on the WW sequel until Brett Ratner – who faces sexual harrasment allegations – was no longer involved.
Perhaps you might say “Well, why not include director Patty Jenkins on your list?” Well, it’s simple. This list has too many directors and Jenkins was nominated for TIME’s person of the year.
4. Old friends – Carrie Fischer and Mark Hamill
You’re probably not reading this blog unless you know a thing or two about Star Wars. Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuted in the final weeks of 2017, and encountered a… rather divided reaction from fans. But one thing rang true for everyone who saw it. Mark Hamill’s weary and bitter performance was the emotional core of the film.
Sadly though, The Last Jedi is the final film appearance of Carrie Fisher. Fisher, as always, was an absolute delight in this movie. *Minor spoiler* Thankfully, her character, who has always had a small amount of control over the force and is “force sensitive,” does get one very impressive moment where her character does get to use the force. And don’t let anyone say that that moment is silly, or that it isn’t earned, or it would have been best just to leave her like that. This was the last time we’d see Carrie Fisher and Princess/General Leia on screen. Let her have her moment.
Mark Hamill gave one of the better performances in this series, and Carrie Fisher will be forever missed.
(Side note: Mark Hamill appeared in a movie that I think ought to be remembered as this year’s diamond in the rough: Brigsby Bear. Expect a full-length post about that.)
3. Jordan Peele
Who would have thought that comedic actor Jordan Peele would have given us the breakout horror movie of the year? I certainly wouldn’t have.
What is there to say for Get Out – Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, which he also wrote? Well, let’s look to the box office. Get Out broke the record for box office gross by an original horror film – previously held by Blair Witch Project – and broke the record for highest-grossing film by a black director – previously held by F. Gary Gray for Straight Outta Compton and reclaimed with The Fate of the Furious. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, this was the year for horror movies. There was It, Split, Happy Death Day, and a slew of other successful horror movies, but none are nearly as unique and fascinating as Get Out.
There’s an interesting discussion about genre relative to Get Out – for the recent Golden Globe nominations it was classified as a “comedy,” which lead Peele to refer to it as “a documentary.” And Get Out – like any revolutionary movie – pulls from multiple genres. It’s horror, comedy, blaxploitation, satire, and, as Peele says, documentary.
But as far as I’m concerned, this is the little movie that could. It was made for $4.5 Million dollars – a minuscule amount compared to most Hollywood films – and brought in over $250 Million. That’s nuts, but refreshing. It shows that an original, creative, clever, and poignant screenplay will lead to the much-coveted “word-of-mouth” marketing – which will do so much more for a movie than being part of some big franchise. Get Out was truly a gift. Thank you, Mr. Peele.
2. Hugh Jackman
I think that, before we talk about Hugh Jackman, we need to talk about Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp, after 14 years, starred in his final turn as Captain Jack Sparrow – or at least, that’s the way Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is marketed, I don’t actually know, because I haven’t seen it yet. And that brings me to my point. The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie is great. It’s a modern classic. But the franchise couldn’t sustain greatness, and each installment is a little bit less warmly welcomed than the one before it. The fact that Johnny Depp’s exit from his long-running franchise is met with a critical response of “eh,” shows just how far the series has fallen since it started.
So, an important point of comparison is Hugh Jackman, appearing in Logan, his last appearance as the character Wolverine.
Obviously, it’s important to acknowledge that the X-Men franchise is significantly bigger than Pirates. X-Men consists of ten movies, Jackman has appeared in some capacity in nine of them – only sitting out for Deadpool, which is more of a spinoff anyway. And sure, there were a few missteps, The Last Stand isn’t great, and Origins: Wolverine is bad. But the franchise always recovered.
At its center, Hugh Jackman. Hugh Jackman was so well-liked that people (hard-to-please comic book fans nonetheless) stopped caring that he’s a foot taller than the character he plays. He was so well-liked that some people tend to think of him as the main character, forgetting that the story centers around Professor X and Magneto.
So, when Hugh Jackman decided to hang up his claws and ride off into the sunset, director James Mangold presented Logan – a beautiful, tragic, compelling, sendoff for the character. In this age of superhero movies, Logan is the best example of character-driven narrative in the genre. And at the center of it is Hugh Jackman’s weary, melancholic performance. This was an appropriately bittersweet sendoff for Jackman’s Wolverine. I desperately, desperately hope they don’t recast Wolverine in my lifetime, because it won’t get any better than this movie.
So to bring it back to my introduction – compare Wolverine’s last movie to Jack Sparrow’s. I can’t necessarily point to one single thing that made one franchise more sustainable than the other, but it’s apparent that Jack Sparrow won’t be nearly as missed as Wolverine will.
And my NUMBER ONE ENTERTAINMENT PERSON OF THE YEAR IS:
Director Rian Johnson, for giving us the absolute triumph that was STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Best film. 10/10.
In all seriousness though, Rian Johnson deserves the top spot. TIME doesn’t model their person of the year selection after who is most liked, but rather, who is most talked about and influential. Johnson’s polarizing new Star War film created so much debate among fans and critics online that it has divided a fandom that has always held to the basic tenets of “Originals are classics, prequels are bad.”
Not to mention, Johnson was selected to be an executive producer for THREE NEW, ORIGINAL STAR WARS MOVIES, one of which he will write and direct. This is a man with power. And I think there’s a lot to be said for that.
I’d be interested to hear:
- Who was your Pop Culture Person of the Year?
- What’d you think of Star Wars: The Last Jedi?
- What was the best movie/television show/book/album/video game of the year?