Saturday, December 30, 2017

Alexa & Macky's Best Movies, TV Shows + Music of 2017

It's coming a little bit later than planned, but we're bringing you some of our top recommendations from the year 2017. We're covering quite a few categories this year - books, movies, TV shows and music, to be precise. In the second post of this series, Macky & I are talking about our favorite movies, TV shows and songs from this year. Hope you find something new to listen to or watch, and if you feel so inclined, we'd love to get recommendations from all of you on what to watch in the new year! (I'm particularly into anime and Korean dramas right now...)


(Macky's Note: I found a list of 2017 movie releases, and thought it'd be fun to share with those of you who like to keep track of that sort of thing.)

Whisper of the Heart - Macky says: This is not a 2017 movie release, but it's my favorite Studio Ghibli film of all time mostly because the premise and story kill me with feels. It's also because Alexa has been equally undone, and I love when she suffers the way I do. | Alexa says: I have a lot of feelings about this adorable film, and they are all very, very good. I'm so glad Macky finally convinced me to watch it, because it's in my top Studio Ghibli films as well.

Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale - Macky says: Alexa and I are huge Sword Art Online fans, so when we learned that the movie would be showing in New York, we knew we had to watch. We weren't prepared for how intensely this film would blow us away. We literally could not function afterwards, just because it was so, so good, especially to our fandom hearts. | Alexa says: What he said. No, but seriously, the film was a visual masterpiece and just a love letter to the series and the characters that we love so much.

Your Name - Macky says: it'ssogoodomgomgomgomgomgicannotevenwhyyyyymusttheydothiswatc
hitnowifyouhaventokthanksbye *dies* | Alexa says: I loved, loved, loved this film so damn much, and it was such an unexpected hit for me. It's gorgeous in terms of visuals and music, but it's also a lovely story that really tugged at my heartstrings. I'd highly recommend checking this one out.

Logan - Macky says: I have been a HUGE X-23 fan and Laura Kinney is my girl. I follow the comics, and to this day, she is tearing it all up. So to have an R-rated, no holds barred daddy and baby Wolverine story that was written well and acted well? YES. | Alexa says: I have no particular attachment to Wolverine. Or at least, I didn't have any until I watched this film. It's just so wonderfully done, a compelling story that does not sacrifice anything at all and manages to highlight characters, relationships and story.

Wonder Woman - Macky says: That one scene where she ascends a ladder and busts through no man's land. That is all. | Alexa says: Gal Gadot is incredible as Wonder Woman. That is all.


It - Macky says: It was my gateway into Stephen King. I watched the campy TV miniseries several times as a kid (yes, I had a horror phase) and this solidified my 'me and my friends save the world from terrible evil' trope love. That they remade it so that it was set in the 80s and that it was beautifully done? I cannot ask for more (except perhaps part two)!

Justice League - Macky says: Without losing any love for the Avengers, the DC trinity has always evoked some kind of awe from me. They're heroes that walk among us. As a fan, Justice League gave me that. I mean, for a franchise that has multiverses, this is easily one of the best version of the League out there.

Coco - Macky says: Pixar = tears and ugly crying. It's a simple formula and one that they have perfected for years now. As a music lover and amateur musician, there were several more tears to be shed on a personal level. | Alexa says: I honestly didn't expect to love this film, especially based on the trailer. But love it I did, especially because it really emphasized family, tradition and following your own path.

Power Rangers - Macky says: I wouldn't say that I'm a hardcore fan (especially because I actually know someone who is and he's awesome and has all the Ranger keys among many other things). But I have followed the saga of the Power Rangers of the years (Dr. Tommy Oliver, anyone?) This movie was a lovely reboot, despite all the glaring flaws.

Animated DC Universe (The Judas Contract & Justice League Dark) - Macky says: As per usual, the animated DC universe is still churning out awesome stuff. This year, I managed to get hold of their take on The Judas Contract and the New 52 Justice League Dark. Both did not disappoint (and Alexa is now low-key Constantine fangirling, so that was fun too).


Boruto: Naruto Next Generations - Macky says: It's the next generation! Quite literally. To see how the children of those who fought in the war that changed the world manage to come into their own has been a weekly treat. | Alexa says: The level of affection I felt towards the gang in Naruto & Naruto: Shippuden is equal to the level of affection I harbor towards the gang in Boruto. It's seriously been so great just to see them go on adventures and do all sorts of things, and to get cameos from old favorites every so often.

The Gifted - Macky says: Special props to what is arguably the most sensitive and well-made portrayal of the "mutants in America" plight. Plus points for that Polaris and Eclipse aurora borealis schtick. If that's not grade A sci-fi romanticism, I don't know what it is.

The Originals - Macky says: So... I love immortals. I love families and found families. I recently rewatched Highlander (for you fetuses out there, that's a show in the Cretaceous period that featured Scottish Highlanders who never died and had samurai swords) and it just did not cut it for me anymore. These Mikaelsons are what I have now. And help me, I need to know how it all ends now.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Macky says: Because FITZSIMMONS. I am so invested that in dysfunctional superspy family that I even forgive the Philinda undertones. Also, SkyWard is dead. Thank goodness.

The Magicians - Macky says: Again with the dysfunctional families. Narnia on cocaine is what this world is, and I can't get enough. Have I read the books? Been wanting to for years now. Well, there's always this year. But first, season three.


The Flash (and Earth X Crossover) - Macky says: Honestly, I really just liked the Earth X crossover because every character had their moment. Many have posted online that this was how the Justice League movie should have been. I get that, but this show had years to build this up. Tons of context that paid off for new storylines and frankly, that's what made this four show crossover shine - the payoffs.

The Defenders - And now, for this glorious semi-trainwreck of a show. No, it wasn't all just Danny's fault (though plus points for the fact that everyone just kept bagging on him). I'm keeping this here on this list out of sentiment. And that sentiment allowed me to enjoy Iron Fist for all its craptacular feels of craptitude. 

Naruto: Shippuden (Shikamaru Hiden + Konoha Hiden) - Hi, my name is Alexa and I'm really, really, really obsessed with the world of shinobi and the story of Naruto. I honestly have enjoyed the heck out of this series (as I binged watch all of it in under six months), and I'm especially fond of Shippuden. This year, the latter half of the show was released, and I enjoyed the Shikamaru Hiden (because I adore Shikamaru to pieces, and he is my favorite character) and the Konoha Hiden (because wedding). 

Goblin - I haven't watched a Korean drama in years but I finally sat my butt down and started this show. It. Is. Fabulous. It was way hyped up by so many of my family and friends prior to me actually watching it, but it has lived up to all the praise and then some. It's heartfelt and makes me cry; it's sweet and makes me laugh. Even though many tropes are familiar, and though it has extremely long episodes (1 1/2 hours, yo), I absolutely adore it and can't wait to finish it in the new year.

Bleach - I blame Macky for this latest obsession of mine, because I would never have known about this show without him. I didn't expect to fall hard and fast for the world of shinigami nor did I expect to love so many of the characters with all of my heart. While I'm still not so keen on the actual execution of the story (because it can get a little bit info dumpy), it's still a show I'm enjoying, especially because of the characters. 

Rurouni Kenshin - I have to finish the last season of this show and watch the live action films, but I really enjoyed the first two seasons tremendously. Similarly to Naruto and Bleach, I really like the cast of characters a lot... and that's what really drives my love for this show. I'll also say that it has the best second season arc ever, and I was highly emotional watching it.

Special mentions: Macky wanted to give a quick shoutout to Ducktales, Game of Thrones, American Gods, Scandal, Will and Grace and Blindspot, while I'm using my shoutout for Doctor Who and Friends (which was a rewatch!).


(Alexa's Note: Just so you guys know, Macky has actually covered a number of these songs! If you're interested in hearing him sing any of them, you can check out his Soundcloud. I'll be linking to the original versions on the Spotify playlist.)

Need the Sun to Break by James Bay - Macky says: "Been in the dark for weeks, and I realized you're all I need. I hope I'm not too late." Come on. What a line. It's also magnificently fun to sing if you're melodramatic like me.

Incomplete by James Bay - Macky says: "I don't wanna look down. I don't want us to break up in the clouds. All I want is to stay us, to stay with you now." There is a desperation in this line that tells pages and page of story we don't know about, but feel in the music. Also, it's hella fun to sing (though difficult.)

Only Us from the musical Dear Evan Hansen, as performed by Laura Dreyfuss & Ben Platt - Macky says: "We can try that. You and me - that's all that we need it to be, and the rest of the world falls away." My gawd, but falling in love at age sixteen is always like this, isn't it? Plus, I have a perennial love for duets and I got to have fun singing this one with a lot of my friends (and Alexa too!) | Alexa says: It was because of Macky that I learned of this song, and it immediately hooked me upon my first listen. I loved the way it captured a facet of falling in love, and I could not stop listening to it for ages and ages after I first heard it.

I Don't Wanna Live Forever by Zayn & Taylor Swift + Dress by Taylor Swift Macky says: "I just wanna keep calling your name 'til you come back home."/"All of the silence and patience, pining and anticipation - my hands are shaking from holding back from you." A mash-up of these two songs is in the words in my humble little 'cover forge', because I cannot, for some reason, get over these songs. Haters gonna hate (with reason), but Miz Swift can write a mean tune.

For Forever from the musical Dear Evan Hansen, as performed by Ben Platt - Macky says: "I look around, and I see him come to get me. He's come to get me and everything's ok." Totally out of context, but this song (sincerely rendered) applies to me and my brother, who is my best guy friend in all the known universes. This song captures exactly how I feel about the fact that everything will always be okay with him around. Also, it's a FUN vocal workout that took me all year to manage to sing, LOL.

You Matter to Me from the musical Waitress, as performed by Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz - Macky says: "They've seen things that you never quite say, but I hear. Come out of hiding, I'm right here beside you." I'm new to the Waitress party, but that first stanza murders me where I stand. Managed to figure it out on the piano, and got an old friend to sing it with me because she was obsessing over the song too.

This is Not Over Yet from the musical Parade, as performed by Carolee Carmello and Brent Carver - Macky says: "No, this isn't over. Hell, it's just begun." So, Parade is everyone's favorite musical that involves a true to life lynching (Thanks, Jason Robert Brown!) Still, the genius of the whole show is still shiny to this day and frankly, like most Jason Robert Brown songs, this one is both awesome by itself and just as fun to sing.

Music of Heaven by Jason Robert Brown Macky says: "They sing and they cary and I watch, lean back in my chair, a classic New Yorker, alone among millions." Early this year, I managed to reconnect with some old friends who have found themselves living in NYC and who are also obsessed with Jason Robert Brown. I got a good keyboard, and we have been jamming Broadway songs all year. This song is just one of the most significant ones to me because it's about a musician's creativity and the hope that the music of heaven flows through in that moment.

Falling Slowly from Once, as performed by Marketa Inglova & Glen Hansard Macky says: "Take this sinking boat and point it home. We've still got time." Remember the friends I mentioned? Well, we covered this (our first cover recorded live, where two of us sang at a mike and two of us played guitar and piano) and it's still one of the best things I've done all year.

And I Will Follow by Lauren Kennedy - Macky says: "And I will follow anywhere, and you will lead me there." It's a lovely song about not being too sure about falling in love, but being willing to be led there. Traditionally, it's sung by a girl, but we decided to try and do a guy version. Needless to say, I loved it.

(Alexa's Note: I totally cheated here, because if I hadn't, all you would have seen on this list is Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. I'm highlighting both albums in question, but I also wanted to include the ten songs that I listened to the most apart from them.)

Divide by Ed Sheeran - Alexa says: If anyone asks me what my album of the year 2017 was, my immediate and certain answer would be this one. I have been an Ed Sheera fan for so very long, but this album. This album. It's a magical experience to be able to listen to the entirety of an album without skipping any songs, and to love every single song on it, and to just know that the artist put his entire heart into creating it. I'm so obsessed with it, and I don't foresee that ever changing. In terms of specific songs, I've had Dive on repeat (because it gives me lots of feels), Perfect (because it's the soundtrack of a Shikamaru fan fic I have going on in my head) and Castle on the Hill (because it brings me nostalgia about my own hometown, even though I grew up in the Philippines and not the English countryside).

Reputation by Taylor Swift - Alexa says: I love Taylor Swift's music. Whatever else can be said about her (and I know that there's a lot), she's a really talented songwriter. I've always found her lyrics clever, and her constant pushing of her own self to break her musical boundaries really inspiring. I was eagerly awaiting her new album, and happily, I really, really love it. I've been listening to it nonstop since it dropped (and only alternating with Ed's album). Of the songs on it, I'm particularly fond of I Did Something Bad (because of the great beat that is perfect for a good strut), Delicate (because of the chill NY vibes I get from it) and Getaway Car (because of the great narrative and the Bonnie and Clyde reference).

Your Song by Rita Ora Alexa says: This song is totally my 2017 jam. I cannot get enough of the catchy beat, the positive message and the good vibes that it brings me. It's also unsurprising that I loved this one because guess who collaborated with Rita to create the song? None other than Ed Sheeran.

Slow Hands by Niall Horan - Alexa says: I really liked Niall's album Flicker on the whole, but this is the Niall song I listened to the most this year. There's just something about that beat that gets me, plus it is also a song I associate with a Shikamaru fan fic that I'm writing in my head...

Rain by The Script - Alexa says: While it is a different sort of sound for them than what many fans are used to, I happened to love the first single that The Script released off their new album. It has a catchy beat, excellent lyrics and this was the song I listened to every single morning for months while I was getting ready for the day (as Macky and my sister Melissa can attest to).

Waking Up Slow by Gabrielle Aplin - Alexa says: I'm totally a Gabrielle Aplin fan, after I fell in love with her song Please Don't Say You Love Me. Like The Script, this is a new sound for her - and though it took a couple of listens, I eventually warmed up to it and fell in love with this tune.

brand new eyes by Bea Miller - Alexa says: I discovered this song on one of the New Music Friday playlists, and I adored it from my first listen. The message in it is so positive, and the song itself is just so dang catchy. I couldn't stop humming it for weeks, and listening to it still makes me smile.

Call Me by NEIKED, MIMI - Alexa says: It was Rachel who I have to thank for introducing me to this song! I didn't think I loved it until I realized that I was constantly looking for the beat in my ears and singing the lyrics to myself. It's just so damn catchy and perfect to listen to on a summer road trip.

Symphony by Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larssson - Alexa says: Much like Your Song, the reason that I'm majorly obsessed with this one is because it has such a happy feel to it and it's super catchy and it just puts such a great image in my head about music and love.

Katawaredoki by RADWIMPS - Alexa says: It's not shocking that a song from Kimi No Nawa made it onto this playlist considering how much I adored the film. I'm particularly obsessed with this song, and folks who have watched the film will probably understand why. Suffice to say that it gives me all the feels every single time, and will likely have that same effect forever.



Whew, that was a doozy of a post! If you made it all the way to the end, yay you and I also sincerely hope that you found some new things to check out. We'd love to know what your favorite shows, movies and songs were for 2017, if you feel keen to share in the comments section below. And in case you discovered something you want to try, happy watching and listening!

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