Books, Good Stuff

Jill’s Top 17 Things of 2017


As for 2017… *loud sigh* That was quite the crapshoot, huh? I mean, politically. Mostly in the United States, a country I don’t even live in. (Not that Canada is perfect. Far from it, I assure you.)

I happen to be an empathetic person in addition to a frequent Twitter user. Those two character traits were hard to deal with in 2017. So, as per tradition, I’ve compiled a list of the best things of the year while trying hard not to think about all the crappy things happening in the world right now. I also included my top three personal highlights from within my life.

Okay. Here we go.

Honorable mention #1: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
This show is very much in my wheelhouse. The only reason it didn’t make the top 17 is because I haven’t finished it yet and I started watching it after I published this list. Dang it. But it’s really, really great. Fast, clever dialogue, delightful characters, cute and colorful costumes and lead actress Rachel Brosnahan is adorable beyond measure.


Honorable mention #2: Logan
This movie made me so friggin’ sad. X-Men fans are so used to these films being a wild and fun ride so this movie was kind of a shock to the system in addition to a somber way of saying goodbye to Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine character. (And yes. I did cry. And you did too, admit it.)


17. S-Town
S-Town, probably 2017’s biggest smash hit podcast, achieved something incredible. I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t listened to it but I went in expecting something quite different and I was blown away.


16. K.Flay — Every Where is Some Where
This album is so tight. I need more lady rappers in my life, especially if they can spit out meticulous rhymes as fast, as aggressive, as seamlessly and as effortlessly as K.Flay does in “Champagne.”


15. Beauty & the Beast
I saw this movie twice in the theatre and both times it was such a fun movie. I’ve probably watched the animated version 100 times as a kid so my expectations were incredibly high, and this movie managed to exceed them. I mean, the recreation of “Be Our Guest” gave me an emotional high.


14. What Happened?
Listening to the audiobook for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir What Happened? was painful but very worth it, especially with Clinton herself doing the narrating. Frustrating, infuriating and thought-provoking, the deep dive into the nitty-gritty of the 2016 election made me even angrier about the outcome than I already was. Listening to this book was hard but writing it and reading it must have been damn near excruciating.


13. Dunkirk
This movie was real good. Although I’m not usually a huge fan of war dramas, this one was unique in its execution. Things could have gone wrong easily with his movie because of its massive scope and distant relationship with the characters but Christopher Nolan nailed it.


12. Mindhunter
My reaction from the first episode: “Okay. That was kind of boring.”
My reaction from the second episode: “PUMP IT TO MY VEINS.”
I love a good crime drama. I love media based in the past. And I love me some Jonathan Groff and some David Fincher. These elements combine to make one helluva show. It’s dark, it’s addictive and some of the content even made me squeamish. (I wouldn’t say that happens to often.) I wasn’t familiar with Holt McCallany before but I’m pissed he didn’t get a Golden Globe nod for his performance as weathered FBI agent Bill Tench. I’m so relieved Netflix renewed it for a second season since that season one cliffhanger was such a horrible tease.


11. Review
This year saw the final farewell from Andrew Daly’s oddball sitcom, Review. Overwhelmingly under-watched and under-appreciated during its three seasons, Review’s mini final season managed to keep spirits up. It’s really a shame to see the show end but those final few episodes were excellent examples of what comedy writers can create when they’re willing to do something not just outside the box, but on a different planet from the box.


10. My Brother, My Brother and Me
Only a handful of podcasts have managed to hop from Internet to TV screen and My Brother, My Brother and Me managed to do it in 2017. And they did it well. In six hilarious episodes, the McElroy brothers take us on adventures around their hometown, ending with a heartfelt Candle Nights episode.
(Note: Unfortunately, the streaming service the show was produced by, Seeso, is no longer a thing and Seeso properties were purchased by Otter Media for its streaming service VRV so the future of the TV series is uncertain.)


9. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2
Never thought I’d cry during a Guardians of the Galaxy movie but it happened.

With a stellar soundtrack, the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy was a fun, thrilling space adventure with the same sassy humor as the first instalment. Chris Pratt continues to be an effective comedian and action star. Unfortunately, my heart already belongs to the toughest guy in the universe, Rocket Raccoon.


8. Fargo
The third season of Fargo continued the show’s impressive track record of twisty, turny, murdery, back-stabby mystery and mayhem. The villain, played brilliantly by David Thewlis, was a unique kind of monster that other writers could only hope to emulate. And having Ewan McGregor play twins? Oh my god. Can we please get McGregor playing twins in every movie and show going forward? Please?


7. Loving Vincent
I feel like I’ve been waiting for this movie for ten years. Loving Vincent was a massive undertaking with a lot of artists behind it—truly an incredible work of art that Vincent van Gogh would have been proud to have influenced. Being able to meet the characters behind the painter’s iconic masterpieces and have them fit together like puzzle pieces into this awe-inspiring film was such a treat. This movie was well worth the wait.

You can see my full review of Loving Vincent here.


6. From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death
I picked a really good year to discover YouTuber Caitlin Doughty. California funeral director Caitlin Doughty, the poster child for the Death Positive movement, makes light-hearted (and even funny) videos about different aspects of death and the death industry. Upon finding her videos, I immediately picked up the audiobook for her debut memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, and demolished it in a few days. And, as luck would have it, I was able to pick up Doughty’s follow-up, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, that came out this year. Death traditions in the western world are weird, and they don’t get any less weird in other parts of the planet. Doughty takes a respectful look at death in several different cultures. I only wish this book was longer. It’s almost like traveling the world takes a lot of time and money…

I read a lot of great books this year but From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death was definitely my favorite of 2017.

5. Colbert/Bee/Oliver
I don’t think 2017 would have been bearable without Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and John Oliver. All three former Daily Show correspondents have each found their own unique way of making fun of the president of the United States. And that is awesome.


4. The Handmaid’s Tale
Oh my goodness. This show. I might actually rewatch it so I can become uncomfortable and horrified all over again. Unless you’ve been living under a rock this year—and I can’t say I entirely blame you for this choice—you’ve heard about how brilliant, dark and genuinely frightening this show is. This show arrived in exactly the right moment, somehow taking all of our new-found fears, breeding them with Margaret Atwood’s brainchild and putting them on-screen.


3. Wonder Woman
Remember when movie producers were all like, “We don’t think a Wonder Woman movie has an audience.” and “We don’t think Wonder Woman would make any money.”? Because I remember. This risky investment (snicker) made a whopping $821.9 million at the box office and introduced us all to the goddess on earth that is Gal Gadot. And thank goodness it was directed by a woman—otherwise we may have gotten the weak sauce that was The Justice League. That intense fight scene at the end was so overwhelming, I started sobbing. I’m not exaggerating.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to form a religion where we just spend hours praising Gal Gadot and her awesomeness.


2. Thor: Ragnarok
I fell asleep during the first Thor movie back in 2011. In the theatre. On opening night.

The Thor character was nowhere near the top of my list for reasons to see this movie. My personal reasons were: 1) Director Taika Waititi, 2) Cate Blanchett, 3) Taika Waititi, 4) Tom Hiddleston, 5) the possibility of seeing a fight scene with “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin playing in the background and, finally, 6) Taika Waititi. What We Do in the Shadows is one of my very favorite movies and I adored Hunt for the Wilderpeople so I was surprised, curious and excited when I found out Waititi was getting a fancy new toy to play with: a Marvel movie. Not only did he take the opportunity and just go ham with it, he did an amazing job with it. Thor: Ragnorak was flashy and thrilling and downright hilarious. I mean, Jeff Goldblum playing Jeff Goldblum in Space?! Yes please! The fight scenes were super pumped up and awesome and now, having written about it, I wish I could rewatch it right the hell now. Dangit.

And last but not least…

1. The Women Who Are Just Fucking Over It
Time felt the same way I do when the put “The Silence Breakers” on their cover, although I personally would have replaced Taylor Swift (who has been mostly silent on the issue outside of her own personal court battle) with Anthony Rapp or Terry Crews.

The women who have come forward, and continue to do so, concerning their experiences with sexual assault in the workplace have been world-shaking. I mean, the entertainment industry is going through a major change because of these brave women (and a handful of men) and there’s a good chance that will have a ripple effect into other industries. It’s already had enormous implications into politics, helping a Democrat win a senate seat in Alabama for the first time in 25 years.

But it’s not just the famous women who are making a difference. Social media was flooded with terrifying #MeToo stories. In addition, I’ve noticed a shift in social media.

Women aren’t just trying to nudge the world in a more equal direction—they are demanding it. Women who would have previously been slightly annoyed about mistreatment or inequality are now rightfully angry. The fear of looking like a “crazy bitch” isn’t that much of an impediment anymore. There are much scarier things around us now. Mass shootings in the US are almost a weekly occurrence, the US president is a racist, sexist, insensitive, mentally ill, sexual assaulting criminal and there are literal Nazis organizing marches. In 2017.

The future is female. But Anthony Rapp and Terry Crews can come too.

Books, Good Stuff


Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a history enthusiast, and a dog mom. Learn more.

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