2016 in Review

2016 is over and 2017 is here. To remember the year and look forward to the next, I decided on creating 10 (or 11 depending on how you count) “Top 10” lists with some commentary. They are as follows:

  1. Top 10 2016 Movies I Saw
  2. Top 10 2016 Movies I Want to See
  3. Top 10 Non-2016 Movies I Saw for the First Time in 2016
  4. Top 10 Most Anticipated 2017 Movies
  5. Top 10 Books I Read
  6. Top 10 Assorted Other Media/Entertainment Experiences
  7. Top 10 Numbers to Quantify 2016
  8. Top 10 Foods
  9. Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts I Wrote
  10. My Top 10 2016 Top 10 lists

Top 10 2016 Movies I Saw

  1. La La Land
  2. Moonlight
  3. Tickled
  4. Manchester by the Sea
  5. Hail, Caesar!
  6. Sing Street
  7. The Lobster
  8. Operation Avalanche
  9. Swiss Army Man
  10. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years

Honorable Mentions:

Captain Fantastic, Arrival, Captain America: Civil War, Moana, Zootopia, The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and Hell or High Water

There were a lot of good movies in 2016. Creating this Top 10 was tough and there are still loads of great films that I have yet to see. It was also hard to rank them because they quite a few of them provide incredibly unique viewing experiences that I’m not quite sure how to judge in comparison to other films, but I feel pretty good about where things are at. The Lobster is arguably a 2015 film, but since it’s included on loads of other Top Films of 2016 lists that I’ve seen, I saw it in 2016, and in the 2016 awards conversation I included it here. I also have two documentaries on here, which is rare and surprising (partially because I don’t watch a lot of them and because I don’t really like them as much as other films generally).

La La Land was the most joyful, glee-inducing, and closest to pure happiness experience I had at the cinema all year, which cemented its place in my top spot. Moonlight is phenomenal and moving and probably the most deeply human film I saw all year. Tickled is bizarre and hilarious and frightening and uncomfortable and incredible and difficult to describe. Manchester by the Sea is heavy and sits with you for days, the sense of grief it portrays weighs on you. Hail, Caesar! is hilarious and wonderful and for me, a very spiritually resonant film. Also, all about movies, which I love (shocking I know). Sing Street is great. A lovely, charming teen film with some awesome synthesizers. The Lobster is a shocking and twisted and touching and unique film. Operation Avalanche is daring and fun and an interesting medley of genres. Swiss Army Man is weird. Very very weird. But also really heartwarming. The Beatles is incredible. I adore The Beatles, which is definitely part of it, but this was probably the closest I will come to seeing The Beatles perform live and it was remarkable.


Top 10 2016 Movies I Want to See

  1. Silence
  2. Paterson
  3. Fences
  4. Loving
  5. J.: Made in America
  6. Midnight Special
  7. Jackie
  8. The Birth of a Nation
  9. Lion
  10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Some Others (in no particular order and that may fall under 2017 films depending on how you’re counting):

Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Live by Night, Florence Foster Jenkins, 20th Century Women, Patriots Day, A Bigger Splash, The Handmaiden, Embrace of the Serpent, Green Room, Elle, Toni Erdmann, The Founder, Kubo and the Two Strings, Louder Than Bombs, Everybody Wants Some, The Fits, and American Honey

I’m conflicted about O.J.’s presence on this list because I don’t know whether to count it as a film or not, but besides that all of these I really want to see. I missed them for a variety of reasons, but hope to see them soon. If anything you loved isn’t here or in my seen list, let me know. Or if my priorities seem wrong, argue for a re-ordering of them.


Top 10 Non-2016 Movies I Saw for the First Time in 2016

  1. A Serious Man
  2. Schindler’s List
  3. Alien
  4. The Cabin in the Woods
  5. Love Actually
  6. Miller’s Crossing
  7. Her
  8. Monty Python’s Life of Brian
  9. Hot Fuzz
  10. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

I watched a lot of movies in 2016. A lot. At the moment, these are my favorite films not from 2016 that I saw for the first time. There’s been some fluctuation in this list, but I feel pretty good about loving all these.


Top 10 Most Anticipated 2017 Movies

  1. Star Wars: Episode VIII
  2. Logan
  3. Valerian
  4. Blade Runner 2049
  5. Beauty and the Beast
  6. The Death of Stalin
  7. Baby Driver
  8. Untitled Darron Aronofsky Project
  9. Dunkirk
  10. Murder on the Orient Express


Honorable Mentions:

Spider-Man: Homecoming, Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, Kong: Skull Island, Free Fire, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Justice League, and Alien: Covenant

There’s a lot coming out in 2017 that looks promising. I bumped most of the superhero sequels coming out to my honorable mention list because either I’m not confident that they are providing something new and innovative or they’re a DC film and WB has eroded close to all my faith in their ability to make a decent superhero film.

Star Wars tops my anticipation list because I love Star Wars and TFA is still really really good and I cannot wait to see where Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, Luke, and now more than before Leia end up. Logan is next because Wolverine has been one of my favorite characters as long as I can remember, Hugh Jackman is perfection, Patrick Stewart is solid, and the trailer is AMAZING. The others I have interest in based on trailers, attached directors/actors/other people, or some other random intriguing piece of information I’ve read about them.


Top 10 Books I Read

  1. Bring Up the Bodies
  2. A Short Stay in Hell
  3. Nimona
  4. American Gods
  5. Jane Eyre
  6. Ready Player One
  7. Bleak House
  8. Murder on the Orient Express
  9. The Daughter of Time
  10. Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis: A Simple Developmental Map

All of these are solid books. Bring Up the Bodies is incredible and absolutely gorgeously written. A Short Stay in Hell is terrifying and still haunts me, but in a great, existential dread-inducing sort of way. Nimona is charming. Lovely and charming. American Gods is long and meandering, but fascinating and has some interesting thoughts on belief. Jane Eyre (which I’ve been meaning to read for years and finally did) is really really good. And I’m plagued with a little less guilt now about the missing classic, nineteenth century British novels from my library. Ready Player One is fun. 80s nostalgia fun. Bleak House is great. Murder on the Orient Express is close to perfection in a mystery novel. The Daughter of Time is fun and fascinating. And I couldn’t not have a Mormon book on the list, so I settled on Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis, which is short, profound, and perspective altering. Highly recommend it (well, all of these, really).


Top 10 Assorted Other Media/Entertainment Experiences

  1. Homecoming
  2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  3. The Hamilton Mixtape
  4. Dollhouse
  5. Stranger Things
  6. Space Venture Coalition: A Space rock opera
  7. Mystery Show
  8. “First Vision” by Tyler Glenn, from Excommunication
  9. Surprisingly Awesome
  10. “Steer Your Way” by Leonard Cohen, from You Want it Darker

So, there’s a lot of stuff thrown on here. I probably could have a made a list of pure TV, but it wouldn’t be confined to 2016 and it would probably result in ranking the vast majority of shows I watched in their entirety. I haven’t listened to that much music released in 2016, so I couldn’t make a list just about that. My podcast listening is pretty limited, but I think I’ve finally been converted to its joys and wonder, so that didn’t make sense. Anyway, here’s a collection of TV, podcasts, albums, songs, and a fantastic live concert experience.

Homecoming is amazing. Wow. I believe in podcasts now. Like, this sort of narrative storytelling is remarkable and filled with talent and I can’t wait to find out what happens in Season 2. So so so good. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is hilarious and wonderful and subversive and filled with catchy songs. Watch it. I adore Hamilton and The Hamilton Mixtape is a delight—a fine complement to the musical. Dollhouse and Stranger Things are solid and enjoyable (those synths in Stranger Things…). Seeing the Space Venture Coalition was one of the most fun things I’ve done all year. Wow. That was a great time. If they perform again and you get a chance, go. Mystery Show is fascinating and what I would love to do with my life (or host something like Surprisingly Awesome). Glenn’s album is probably worthy of more discussion and the songs that have stuck out have shifted some since it first came out, but “First Vision” sticks with me as a catchy, great pop song and also a meaningful exploration of faith and relationships. I really like all of Cohen’s You Want it Darker, but “Steer Your Way” stands out.


Top 10 Numbers to Quantify 2016

  1. 14,337.

Pages I read.

2. 246.

Movies I watched this year.

3. 103.

Pages of final papers I wrote.

4. 100.

Student papers graded.

5. 53.

Blog posts I wrote for my own blog.

6. 48.

Books I read.

  1. 39.3.

Pages I read a day (on average).

8. 8.

The number of songs from Hamilton in my Top 10 most played songs in iTunes.

9. 5.

Funerals attended.

10. 1.

Degrees I earned.


Top 10 Foods

  1. Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter popcorn
  2. BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger at CHOM
  3. Steak and Eggs breakfast special at Joe’s Cafe
  4. De La Rosa
  5. Virgil’s Bavarian Nutmeg Rootbeer
  6. Pizza from The Pie
  7. Virgil’s Black Cherry Cream Soda
  8. Onion rings at Café 300
  9. Chocolate shake at CHOM
  10. Doner with fries at Spitz

Obviously, I eat really healthily. I mean, pizza could have been a whole list in and of itself, but The Pie was somewhere I went for the first time in 2016 and it was great. This one is more snapshot-ty into where I’m at right now than necessarily reflective of my 2016, but could be fun.


Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts I Wrote

  1. BYU, Rape, and the Honor Code: A Letter
  2. A Grief that can’t be Spoken
  3. One More Star in the Sky
  4. The Gift of Doubt
  5. Why Me?
  6. What If I’m Wrong?
  7. Live in Faith with Hope for the Future
  8. Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It…
  9. Why Does the Church Work for Me?
  10. My Five Core Beliefs

Grief seems to resonate with people more than other things (or perhaps I write better when grief-stricken). Also, my talks that I re-created as blog posts were popular. And weighing in at kairotic moments, like during the BYU sexual assault kerfuffle (the gist of what I, and many others, proposed was actually adopted by BYU, so hey, maybe what I wrote and sent them made a small difference?).


My Top 10 2016 Top 10 lists

  1. Digg’s Compilation of Top 10 Movies of 2016
  2. Davey’s 10 Top 10s
  3. Salon’s 10 Worst Movies of 2016
  4. Top 10 Highest Grossing Films of 2016
  5. Time’s Top 10 Novels of 2016
  6. Top 10 Movie Trailers of 2016
  7. GQ’s Analysis of YouTube’s Top 10 Viral Videos
  8. Pitchfork’s Top 10 Albums of 2016 (from their Top 50)
  9. Telegraph’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2016
  10. Amazon’s Best-Selling Toys and Games

I don’t agree with all these lists (especially 3), but sometimes a list that you can disagree with is way better than a list that represents what you think. Also, it was much harder to find these than I thought it was going to be. Most of the Top 10 lists I found were all about movies and I didn’t want 10 lists of other people’s top 10 movies, when I already gave you that (but I felt like I needed at least one). Also, I was limited somewhat by only choosing actual Top 10 lists and not Top __ lists. Anyway, this is what I ended up with.

So that’s my 2016. Ish. I’ll probably write a more reflective post next week, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, you can peruse the full (ish) lists of movies I watched and books I read:


The Big Short


The Matrix

The Matrix Reloaded

The Revenant

Pulp Fiction

The Matrix Revolutions


Bridge of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road


Hail, Caesar!

Bottle Rocket

Reservoir Dogs


Welcome to Me

New Frontier Shorts: Voyagers, Abendland (Hours, Years, Aeons), and Swimming in Your Skin Again

Other People

Operation Avalanche

The Free World

The Hollars

The Lovers and the Despot




Me and Earl and the Dying Girl


The Royal Tenenbaums

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

The Darjeeling Limited

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Moonrise Kingdom

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Godfather

Hot Fuzz

10 Cloverfield Lane

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The Tourist

The Sixth Sense


Training Day

Steve Jobs

Saturday’s Warrior


The Town

The Godfather Pt II

Hail, Caesar!

The Jungle Book


Inside Man

Shawshank Redemption


He Named Me Malala

In Bruges

Eddie the Eagle

Jackie Brown



The Terminator

Gangs of New York

Captain America: Civil War

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Captain America: Civil War


Ex Machina

Galaxy Quest




Blood Simple

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not


Donnie Darko


Inglorious Basterds

The Babadook

Raising Arizona

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Apocalypse Now


Schindler’s List

10 Things I Hate About You

Fight Club

Miller’s Crossing


Fruitvale Station

X-Men: Apocalypse


Saving Private Ryan

Taxi Driver

Barton Fink

The Mask You Live In

Shakespeare in Love

Django Unchained

The Nice Guys

Sunset Boulevard


The Hudsucker Proxy

Dear Jack

A Fistful of Dollars

Love Actually

American Beauty

Office Space


The Lobster

The Words

The English Patient


The End of the Tour

The Cabin in the Woods

Now You See Me 2: The Second Act


The Last Temptation of Christ

The World’s End

Genius (2016)



Les Miserables (1998)

The Big Lebowski

Ephraim’s Rescue

Independence Day

Knight and Day


Saturday’s Warrior

The Three Musketeers (1981, animated)

Source Code



The Musketeer

Die Hard


Thelma and Louise + Tickled

O Brother, Where Art Thou?


Trapped by the Mormons

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters (1984)

The Bourne Identity

The Bourne Supremacy

The Man Who Wasn’t There + Star Trek Beyond

The Illusionist

The Robe


The Bourne Ultimatum

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

Captain Fantastic

Batman the Movie (1966)


We Bought a Zoo

Star Trek Beyond

The Trip

Edge of the City

A Shade of Blue

Suicide Squad

The Saratov Approach

Jason Bourne


All the President’s Men

Adventures in Babysitting

A Most Wanted Man

Left Behind

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Sixteen Candles

Jason Bourne

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Emma (1996, A&E)


The Legend of Tarzan

Trouble with the Curve

Million Dollar Arm

The Book Thief


Pawn Sacrifice

The Little Prince

First Knight

The Other Guys

The Passion of the Christ

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Big Fat Liar

The History of the World Part 1

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Intolerable Cruelty

Last Days in the Desert


The Ladykillers (2004)

Hell or High Water


The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years


No Country for Old Men

Son of God (2014)

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

King of Kings

You’ve Got Mail

Burn After Reading


The Gospel According to St. Matthew


Jesus Christ Superstar


A Serious Man

True Grit (2010)


Lost in La Mancha


Inside Llewyn Davis

Swiss Army Man

The Cabin in the Woods


Hail, Caesar!

Doctor Strange

V for Vendetta

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford


American Hustle


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them



Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk


Sing Street

Edge of Seventeen


It’s a Wonderful Life


Manchester by the Sea

Rogue One


Love Actually

La La Land

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars IV: A New Hope

Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

Assassin’s Creed

Saturday’s Warrior




The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Graveyard Book

The Magic Barrel

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, And He Hanged Himself: Love Stories

My Name is Asher Lev




Grace is Not God’s Backup Plan: An Urgent Paraphrase of Paul’s Letter to the Romans

Fortunately, the Milk…


Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings

Infinite Jest

Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism

Bring Up the Bodies


Bleak House

Nothing New Under the Sun: A Blunt Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes

A Short Stay in Hell

“Harrison Bergeron”

Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Mindful Writing (2nd Edition)

My Lady Jane

The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy

Nevermore: A Graphic Adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories

Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis: A Simple Developmental Map

The Woman in White

The Sins of the Wolf

A Study in Scarlet

Murder on the Orient Express

Fairy Tales Transformed?: Twenty-First-Century Adaptation and the Politics of Wonder

The Nine Tailors

Let Your Hearts and Minds Expand: Reflections on Faith, Reason, Charity, and Beauty

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

The Daughter of Time

One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly

Once Upon a Time: A Short History of the Fairy Tale

National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth-Century England


Jane Eyre

A Christmas Carol

Ready Player One

The Philosophy of Beards

When Mormons Doubt: A Way to Save Relationships and Seek a Quality Life

American Gods

“Story of Your Life”, Ted Chiang


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