The internet consensus appears to be that few people will miss 2016. A string of celebrity deaths, continued devastation in Syria, a global increase in desperate refugees, confronting terror attacks, Brexit, Trump. There were moments when it was like a puke soaked carnival ride spiraling out of control, and many cannot wait for the ride to end. The year provided what seemed to be a rolling news reel of surprises that often made us sigh and shake our heads.
Some of those surprises were welcome. Rightly, many dubbed 2016 as the ‘year of the underdog’, and so it was. Leicester City won the Premier League at 5000/1 odds. The Western Bulldogs rampaged through the AFL finals from seventh position to claim their first premiership since 1954. In the NRL, the Cronulla Sharks ended 50 years of heartache. It didn’t stop there. The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series since 1908, and the Cleveland Cavaliers managed to pip a record breaking Golden State by a single point in Game 7 of the NBA playoff.
Of course, away from sport, the underdog stories were met with mixed reactions ranging from shock, anger, fear, and for a few, absolute glee. Few predicted that Brexit would actually win. It did, much to the surprise of world markets and onlookers around the world. Then came the rise of Donald Trump, the billionaire renegade written off as a crackpot, demagogue, misogynist and liar. On January 20th, 2017, he becomes the 45th President of the United States. There’s an underdog story with several possible endings.
Once again, terror attacks shocked and repulsed millions around the world, as was their intention. The tragedies in Brussels, Nice, Istanbul, Baghdad, Syria and Orlando reminded us of the ongoing and complex challenge against Islamic extremism, and Australians were once again reminded that we are not immune as news of a failed Christmas Day plot to attack well known Melbourne landmarks hit our screens and news feeds.
Extreme incidents usually incite extreme responses, so it was no surprise that 2016 ushered in the re-emergence of Pauline Hanson and other like-minded politicians around the world, a movement dubbed the alt-right in some circles.
We also had the Rio Olympics, a botched census, tragedy at Dreamworld, and Brangelina finally split. Harambe the gorilla was shot dead, Pokemon Go got people out and about, gang violence caused consternation in Melbourne’s streets, and the number of homeless people around the CBD skyrocketed.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull was returned as Prime Minister without enthusiasm, while Safe Schools and the plebiscite debate divided the electorate. On the film front, Leonardo DiCaprio finally broke his Oscars drought with The Revenant, while Captain America: Civil War took number one at the Box Office, but not without a late and ongoing challenge by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
As 2016 draws to a close, many turn to 2017 with a sense of relief, but also with some sense of foreboding, given the seismic changes of the past 12 months.
As always, below you’ll find the best, the worst, and the peculiar that was the year, 2016, along with a sneaky look at the headlines of 2017.
Best film: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Disney continues to prove why purchasing the Star Wars franchise was a stroke of genius. With Rogue One, fans were treated to a worthy addition to the Star Wars world without it treading on the toes of the main story.
Honourable mentions: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Zootopia; Moana; Sully; Captain America: Civil War.
Best song: Stranger – Peking Duk
Teaming up with Swedish pop/rap songstress Elliphant, the impressive electronic music duo delivered an absolute smash hit with Stranger. Rarely is it easy to instantly like a song after hearing it just once, but the big hook and gradual intensity draws you in straight away. The standout for me.
Honourable mentions: Flume – Never be like you; Amy Shark – Adore; Coldplay – Hymn for the Weekend; Calum Scott – Dancing on my own
Most overplayed song: Too Good – Drake feat. Rihanna
Not necessarily a bad song, but there comes a point where Drake’s monotone voice, particularly in the opening verse – I don’t know how to talk to you, I don’t know how to ask you if you’re okay – becomes repetitive and dull when commercial radio plays it over, and over, and over, and over again.
Dishonourable mentions: Fast Car – Jonas Blue; 7 Years – Lucas Graham.
Best television show: Game of Thrones
Different year, same result. Seems slightly repetitive to label GoT as number one, but seriously, Season 6 was quite possibly the best one yet. The show’s writers, free of the need to honour the books, delivered ten episodes that moved faster than previous seasons. There were more payoffs and greater movement of characters, culminating in an awesome final showdown between the two bastards.
Honourable mentions: Stranger things; The Walking Dead; House of Cards; Westworld.
Most overrated television show: The Bachelor
It still cleaned up the ratings, but Richie and his group of eager girls yearning to steal his heart was even more dull than previous seasons. Once again, the greatest irony of the year goes to the large group of feminists that seem to love this show.
Dishonourable mentions: Married at First Site; Masterchef.
Biggest disappointment: Malcolm Turnbull
There is no joy in this. Few want to see the Prime Minister succeed more than I, but any objective analysis of his time at the helm thus far would conclude that his tenure has been disappointing. Turnbull has let go of the one thing that made him appealing to voters in the first place: a sense of conviction. It seems he signed a Faustian pact, and now he is beholden to the Hard Right of his party. Please Malcolm, in 2017, make a stand!
Dishonourable mentions: Hillary Clinton; The Remain Campaign; Richmond FC; Travis Cloke.
Most influential individual: Donald Trump
Love him or hate him, there is no dispute he had a significant, almost unprecedented, influence on international politics in 2016. He basically disregarded every campaign convention, used dishonesty to his advantage, and made no attempt at even a fake show of contrition when responding to the many individuals he offended during his run to the White House. Trump has redefined politics in the 21st Century, and where this will let is still unknown…
Honourable mentions: Vladimir Putin; Nigel Farage; Xi Jinping
Biggest social media craze: The Mannequin Challenge
Every year there is something new that goes viral, and this year the Mannequin Challenge was the internet video trend that got people frozen in time.
Honourable mentions: Dabbing; Pokemon Go!
Sportsperson of the year: Patrick Dangerfield
Seriously, the guy is an absolute superstar. When he racked up 43 possessions against Hawthorn in Round 1, he went beyond even the most optimistic of Geelong supporters’ dreams. He did not slow down, and he took home his first Brownlow Medal for his phenomenal efforts. If only he had more than Joel Selwood to help him out when the going got tough for the team.
Honourable mentions: Mack Horton; Chloe Esposito; Michael Phelps; Marcus Bontempelli; Usain Bolt (let’s face it, he should be number one, but Dangerfield).
Now, the headlines for 2017?
Bernardi quits Liberal Party
Trump supporters feeling duped
Dangerfield wins back-to-back Brownlow Medal
Republic Referendum on the cards
Same-sex marriage fails to pass…again
GWS wins first AFL premiership
Hard right parties dominate European elections
Behind the plot to impeach Trump
Nick Kyrgios’s shock Australian Open win
Tony Abbott returns to the Front Bench
Damien Hardwick sacked
As always, best wishes for 2017!