December 22, 2016

Alexa's Best of 2016: Music, Movies, Shows & Television

As this year draws to a close, I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favorite things with all of you, both bookish and non-bookish. Beginning today, you'll have a chance to hear me gush all about the things that I've loved in 2016, and I'm so pumped to be able to talk up all of my beloved new favorites! Be sure to keep an eye out for all five posts in this series!

I'm pretty excited to be sharing more of my favorites today! This time around, I'll be sharing some of my favorite tunes to listen, films that I've seen, shows I've gotten to watch and TV shows that I've found utterly addicting. (If you've got any recommendations based on what you see below, do leave them in the comments! I'm always looking for new stuff.) (Note: These items are in no particular order, as I found it impossible to rank them since I loved them all for different reasons.)

Chaos and the Calm (Live)
Ya'll already know that I'm obsessed with James Bay. (Spotify even confirmed this by telling me that he's my most listened to artist in my yearly recap email.) When he announced the special limited release of the live album (5000 copies only!), I knew I needed to snag it. And I did! It's seriously incredible, and a good substitute for the months in between his tours.

Rock of Ages (OST)
The first song I ever heard off this soundtrack was the mashup of More Than Words/Heaven Isn't Too Far Away, and I was immediately hooked. I love the combination of tunes on this soundtrack, and I also think that it's an excellent karaoke playlist (in order to indulge in my own dreams of being a rockstar.) (Also, the movie is ridiculous, but I somehow still love it.)

Oldies But Goodies Playlist
Lindsey & I teamed up to create playlists this year for Tracking Down Tunes, and the very last one we did was for "Oldies but Goodies". Man, oh, man, you guys, I am obsessed with this playlist. Our taste in classic tunes is fairly similar, so majority of the songs on there are ones that I love.

The Sound / The 1975 + Can't Stop the Feeling / Justin Timberlake + Shut Up and Dance/Walk the Moon
I had to mention these three tunes because they are my "morning music". They're the songs guaranteed to get me out of bed, dancing and shimmying as I get ready for the day no matter what mood I happen to be in. We all need songs like that, yes? 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Set in New York City, this film is a period piece that still features the trappings of the wizarding world. But it centers on Newt Scamander, who has arrived with a suitcase containing illegal beasts - and a few manage to escape into New York and he is forced to capture them again. All I need to say is that I loved this movie, I think Eddie Redmayne is an excellent Newt Scamander, and I really want a Niffler. (You can find the joint movie review Macky and I did here.) I'm very much looking forward to seeing where the franchise goes.

I only got to see this one recently, but I knew immediately that it would make it onto this list. Moana, the titular character, is the daughter of the tribe's chief and the future leader of their village, but she finds herself drawn to the sea. She eventually is given to understand that she has the task of helping Maui, a demigod, to save the world. It's another a smart, emotional and funny movie, and I could totally relate to Moana on a surprising number of levels. I also really, really love the soundtrack. (You go, Lin-Manuel Miranda, sir!) 

Rogue One
What a brilliant and nuanced addition to the Star Wars series! Jyn Urso, daughter of Galen Erso, is told her father has the key to the destruction of the most powerful weapon of the Empire. In order to save the galaxy, Jyn joins in with a band of unlikely individuals in order to set things right. I loved this movie so damn much. It's not only because I happen to have a soft spot for rogues and heists and impossible missions - though I'm sure that played a part. No, it's because it was a perfect fit with the rest of the movie franchise and just made me love the SW universe even more.

Something Rotten
From the moment I first heard of this show, I'd wanted to see it. The basic premise of the show is that brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom want to write a hit play (which will make them rich and famous) but "The Bard" (AKA Shakespeare) is the crowd favorite of the time. So, anyway, I took the plunge and went alone one night to catch a weekday performance - and it was brilliant. It was as sharp and witty as I'd been promised, and it was a clever play on Shakespeare and the era he lived in. So, so amazing, and I understand why people have been heaping so much praise on it now!

I went to see this show with Danica, and it was wonderful! Jenna is a waitress at a diner in a small town, and she's known for making brilliant pies. When she gets the chance to enter a pie contest, she hopes to save up enough money to finally leave her husband Earl. However, a wrench is thrown in her plans when she gets pregnant, and Jenna is left to decide what is best for her and the baby - staying or leaving. The story is heartbreaking, but also hopeful, and I think the cast and the music came together to really get that across to the audience. It's charming as all heck with its characters and its setting, and I definitely am glad I got to see it.

The Last Five Years
I've always loved this show ever since Macky first introduced it to me. It's a musical that chronicles five years in a couple's relationship, told from the beginning in the guy's perspective and from the ending in the girl's perspective. This year, there was a special benefit performance done - and it was incredible. I'm seriously so in awe of Cynthia Erivo, who is an effing powerhouse and it's so worth seeing her sing live.

Tick, Tick... Boom!
I actually saw this show two times! The first time, I went with Macky and we bawled our eyes out. The second time, I went with Macky, Danica and our friend Chino, and also bawled my eyes out. It an autobiographical show written by Jonathan Larson that centers around an aspiring composer named Jon, who is fretting over his career choices and relationships. And it sounds so simple, but it is so freaking brilliant. 

Naruto & Naruto: Shippuden
Oh man, I love this anime and I'm not even completely done with it (four seasons to go). I avoided watching it initially because I had this impression that it was a show geared towards boys. Boy, I was wrong about that. I love this show so, so much. It centers around Naruto, a resident of the village of Konoha, and his determination to be the Hokage (village leader) one day. He develops a friendly rivalry with Sasuke, one of his assigned teammates, but that rivalry becomes deeper when Sasuke turns to a life of vengeance and power. Man, this show is amazing! It's funny as all hell, but it's also incredibly hard on the feels (I cry a lot watching it). I can't wait to keep on watching.

Sword Art Online
I've only watched the first season of this show, but I loved it! Players who enter a newly released virtual reality game find themselves trapped and unable to leave unless someone defeats all the levels. It's such a cool premise, right? Well, I'm here to tell you that it's executed well. I loved getting to know these characters, witnessing their struggles in this virtual world (and eventually, outside of it). I also totally shipped the main couple so... there's that.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
I'm generally not much for mysteries, but I will make an exception for this show. It centers around Lady Detective Phryne Fisher, who is the kind of unconventional gal that investigates in unexpected ways and isn't bothered by sticking her nose in things or doing things her own way. I loved her and her friends, and I liked witnessing their adventures (even though quite a few of them terrified me). I also loved the slow-burn tension of the romance - though I still need more of it in my life.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This one is an old favorite. I find that this show is so much fun to watch, especially because I never really know where they plan to take the story by the end of a season. It helps that I totally love the main cast like they're family since I've spent so much time with them.

Man, I love Supergirl. I would like to be Kara Danvers, especially if I can have the wardrobe she wears on the show. But seriously, what I enjoy best is that the show has the fun of a superhero film (with criminal hijinks) and the feel of a coming of age story (as Kara attempts to find her place). The overall feel of the show is pretty light, though I'll say that occasionally, it manages to tug on your heartstrings and make you tear up.

What were your favorite songs, movies, shows and TV shows of 2016?
Don't forget to check back for another "Best Of" post next week!


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