So long and farewell 2017. You had your ups and downs, and most importantly, great entertainment to get me through them. You weren’t among the best of years when it came to releasing a lot of quality content, but the standouts you had sure were special.
With 2017 already pretty far in the rearview, I thought I’d recollect my favorite works of art from the year and share them with you. Although I generally write about video games, I included my favorite albums, movies, and TV shows as well. Why? Because it was fun to write about. And I hope you have just as much fun reading as I did writing. Enjoy!
- Super Mario Odyssey
Breathtaking. Magical. Utterly mind blowing. All of the superlatives in the dictionary couldn’t convey how much I adore Super Mario Odyssey. Not only is it my favorite game of the year, it is my favorite Mario game of all time. It takes you on a journey across the world, encouraging you to explore a slew of beautifully designed, sandbox-style levels and capture as many power moons as you can find. It’s the reason I splurged on a Nintendo Switch, and I don’t regret spending a single penny.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo stole the show this year between Super Mario Odyssey and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Dropping you into one of the most beautiful and massive open worlds ever crafted, this game will provoke you to scour every inch of its well-designed map in search of shrines, towers, side quests, and more. Even though there is a fast travel mechanic, I never used it because I truly enjoyed wandering the various landscapes of Hyrule. From the hot deserts of Gerudo to the rushing waterfalls of Zora’s Domain, there is a lot of area to cover and a lot of secrets to uncover.
- Persona 5
I initially had Persona 5 pegged as my game of the year, but that was before I played the two aforementioned masterpieces. With its bold, stylish art, vibrant soundtrack, and deep combat system, it quickly stole my heart and hours of my time. I thoroughly enjoyed strolling the streets of Shibuya, Akihabara, and other areas of Tokyo looking for fun side activities or ways to build my skills. Its only downfall is filler content making it unnecessarily long towards the end.
- Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
Easily the best multiplayer game released since Overwatch, PUBG has spread across the gaming community like wildfire. While imperfect, it delivers one of the best competitive survival experiences on the market. Its battle royal premise coupled with a constantly shrinking map creates some tense, memorable moments that keep you coming back for more. Also, nothing feels quite as good as seeing “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!” displayed on your screen after a victory.
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
After being severely disappointed by Resident Evil 6, my expectations for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard weren’t very high. I was wrong to doubt. The switch to a first-person perspective coupled with some incredibly tense chase scenes makes this one of the scariest games I’ve ever played. Memorable moments like getting chased around a garage by a psychopath in a sedan and fighting for your life against a giant spider woman make this a standout horror game. My only complaint is the lack of enemy variety. I can only fight so many weird mold monsters before I start to get bored.
- The OOZ – King Krule
I’ve been a fan of King Krule since he was a 16-year-old prodigy releasing music under the moniker Zoo Kid. Several years later, it’s safe to say he’s released a classic, and at a much younger age than I could have ever anticipated. Dark, gritty, and jazzy, The OOZ seeps inside of you, pulls on your heart strings, and burrows into your brain. The dreamy, blissful “Slush Puppy” and grimy, catchy “Dum Surfer” are two of the many highlights this record offers. You can listen to it for free on Spotify, and I highly suggest you do ASAP.
- Flower Boy – Tyler the Creator
Another big showing of maturity from a talented young artist, Flower Boy is a marriage of some of the lushest beats you’ll ever hear paired with deeply introspective lyrics tackling themes such as loneliness, fame, and sexuality. Tyler has come a long ways from his days of shocking his way into the limelight, finally realizing his true potential and releasing something of true substance. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed his music in the past, but Flower Boy is leaps and bounds better than anything he has ever done, and is a good sign of better things to come.
- Dedicated to Bobby Jameson – Ariel Pink
Ariel Pink is the best pop composer of the past 10 years, and in 2017, he managed to blow me away yet again with another sensational record. Dedicated to Bobby Jameson is catchy, weird, and captivating. Along with the title track, the jingly “Feels Like Heaven” and the raw, abrasive “Time to Die” are some of Pink’s best work. He continues to astound me with his constantly changing, unique sound, and I’m already looking forward to what he’ll grace us with next.
- American Dream – LCD Soundsystem
It’s incredible to think that LCD Soundsystem’s weakest material is still better than most music that gets released today. Though not as enjoyable from start to finish as their previous records, it serves up some great highlights, including the bombastic “Call the Police”, the hard-hitting “How Do You Sleep”, and the ethereal “Black Screen”. All in all, it’s a successful comeback with a mix of fun, explosive bangers and soft, vulnerable ballads that we’ve come to know and love LCD Soundsystem for.
- Damn – Kendrick Lamar
Kung-Fu Kenny did it again. Another masterpiece in his already fabulous career, DAMN tackles issues such as loyalty, wickedness, religion, love, and politics. The production on this record is sublime, especially when the heavy bass kicks in at the end of “DNA” and when the beat shifts from spastic to calm and gentle on “XXX”. To accompany such great beats are deeply complex, ambitious lyrics that further solidify Kendrick as a visionary and master storyteller. This is the work of an artist in their prime, and I’m confident we have yet to see him hit his peak.
- T2: Trainspotting
Trainspotting is among my top five favorite films of all time, so I was a bit worried about the follow up when I first caught wind of it. I was foolish to think Danny Boyle would release an unworthy sequel, especially because the entire original cast came back to redeem their roles 20 years later. Just like its predecessor, T2: Trainspotting is clever, charming, brazen, and beautifully shot. It also does a fantastic job of tastefully going back to the original, without overdoing it, to provide fans with a bit of nostalgia. I couldn’t help but get teary eyed when “Slow Slippy” hauntingly crept into the background of some scenes.
I was super hyped for IT from the moment the first trailer was released. A full-fledged reboot of one of my favorite films from my childhood, this time with the budget it deserves. The result: Pure cinematic gold. Although far from scary, IT provided a healthy dosage suspense and perfectly timed comedic relief. Bill Skarsgard steals the show as Pennywise, and the kids do a remarkable job bantering with one another and making you believe they’re scared for their lives. Word is that part two is in the works, and I’m interested to see if Andy Muschietti will decide to take it in a darker direction since the cast will primarily consist of adults.
- Good Time
Good Time is easily my biggest surprise of the year and a huge Oscar snub. It completely caught me off guard, telling the sad story of a criminal’s attempt to bust his brother out of prison. The biggest surprise here is Robert Pattinson’s performance. After seeing him in this role, he has completely killed my association between him and Edward Cullen. I hope to see him take on more parts like this in the future because Good Time showed me he has the potential to be one of the greats. In addition, the film has a killer soundtrack, and it does a great job of making you feel a great deal of anxiety during its incredibly tense moments.
- Get Out
Of all people, who would’ve thought that Jordan Peele would create one of the best horror films to be released this decade? It’s funny, clever, self-aware, and suspenseful. In fact, it’s so well written that I wasn’t turned off by its predictability. Although I saw the ending coming from a mile away, I still enjoyed the hell out of Get Out. I’m happy it received some Oscar nods, especially Daniel Kaluuya for Best Actor. I see his career skyrocketing in the foreseeable future. Also,cI’m very much looking forward to Jordan Peele’s next feature film.
- Baby Driver
Fast cars, good tunes, John Hamm – what isn’t there to love about Baby Driver? Bridging together a great story with adrenaline-pumping action scenes, this film will grab your attention from start to finish. Music is a big part of this film, especially in its intense action sequences. Gunshots during fights are perfectly synchronized to the tunes being played during them, which is an astoundingly unique creative decision that makes Baby Driver stand out from other action films. It’s smart, stylish and super original; a great formula for a great movie.
- Black Mirror Season 4
Yes, I’m counting this because it was released in 2017, even if it was only just a few days before the New Year. Even though they rehashed the idea of consciously aware digital clones one too many times this season, it was still much more enjoyable than anything else I watched. I particularly liked “Arkangel” because I can see the creepy helicopter parenting technology actually existing in the near future. I was also a big fan of “Metalhead” because of the heavy influence it draws from classic horror films.
- Stranger Things 2
Starting really slow and finishing with a bang, Stranger Things 2 was a treat to watch. Gradually getting better as it progressed, except that awful 7th episode, it delivered more spectacular, 80s-themed sci-fi greatness. What I loved most about this season is the enhanced focus on other characters. I enjoyed learning more about supporting characters like Lucas, Dustin, and Steve, and I loved that they made a female addition to the gang with Max. Also, the climax is utterly sublime. In fact, I put “Chapter Nine: The Gate” as my favorite episode of the entire series.
- Master of None Season 2
Just as charming as the first season, but with better writing, Master of None Season 2 was one of the most binge-worthy Netflix shows of 2017. I loved episodes like “Thanksgiving” and “First Date” for their unique story structures. Also, episode 2 of the season, “Le Nozze”, includes a hilarious scene where Arnold (Eric Wareheim) gets stuck in the sunroof of a small Italian compact car. It’s probably the funniest moment of the entire series, and I still find myself watching it when I need a good laugh.
A true crime show unlike any other, Mindhunter takes you into the psyche of some of history’s most deplorable serial killers. Watching the dynamic duo of agents Ford and Tench tag team interviews with psychopaths is a delight. They pull off a good cop/bad cop dynamic that is not corny in any way. What I love most about this show is how it shows the effect Ford’s work takes on his own mental health. As the season progresses, you begin to see him unravel, evolving from meek and orderly to unhinged and audacious. What’s even more interesting is that it’s hard to tell whether he is progressing or degenerating.
- Game of Thrones Season 7
Despite being my least favorite season of the series, Game of Thrones Season 7 still makes my list because even at its worst, it’s still better than most TV out there. Sure, the pacing wasn’t great, and it was obvious that they tried to make up for it with more dragon scenes, but it still provided the grandiose battles and diplomatic tension that I’ve come to love and expect from the show. Also, it was nice to finally see most of the characters together again in the same place after seasons of being apart. Now I just have to wait until 2019 to see how it all ends!
What were some of your favorite games, albums, shows, or movies that came out in 2017. Is there anything in particular that you’re looking forward to in 2018? Share in the comment section below!