25. Coloring Book
With his prayerful, thought-provoking lyrics, in this album, Chance the Rapper discusses so many important things that lots of rappers are afraid to tackle—faith and life and justice and heartache and so much more. He even covers Chris Tomlin, so that’s very neat. With this genre-defying album, Chance is definitely changing music and I am so happy to be a part of that change.
This sixth album from NEEDTOBREATHE is just different enough from their previous five to keep it from being stale, but without completely changing who they are. Their artful and profound lyrics along with their bright melodies and of course Bear Rinehart’s voice just make me smile real big and want to dance around a lot. Six albums in and not once has NEEDTOBREATHE disappointed.
23. Chef’s Table
So you are probably like ‘isn’t this a cooking documentary? That’s lame’. Let me be the first to say IT IS NOT LAME IT’S BEAUTIFUL. It’s so much more than a cooking show. This gorgeously shot Netflix documentary series explores not only food, but different cultures, breathtaking locations, and the hilarious, extraordinary, bizzare, and touching lives and stories of amazing humans around the world. Being in the arts myself, I never would have considered cuisine an artistic endeavor. BUT this series provokes a deep appreciation for food as an art form — an appreciation I never would have had without this show.
22. Light Up The Sky
The Dunwells are an English indie/folk rock band that are absolutely a pleasure to listen to. Consistent and tight harmonies, passionate lyrics and vocals, and their wonderful blending of genres add to the fun of this album. Oh yeah and their accents are cool. It’s just some really good music that’s what it is.
Yeah everyone is talking about it, and I have to agree that they are talking about it for a reason. It’s real good. This television show is completely engaging, brilliantly acted, and totally transported me to another world. It expertly combines the wild west and sci-fi genres to create a wonderfully original premise. And did I mention the acting is fantastic?
20. 10 Cloverfield Lane
I really love this franchise. And J.J. Abrams. The whole movie was wonderful and surprising and tense and with Cloverfield being a favorite of mine, the ending was exactly what I was hoping for and absolutely so satisfying.
19. Hacksaw Ridge
An artful and pretty graphic look at war and faith and love. Based on true events, this movie tells a pretty important story. Oh and also Andrew Garfield is amazing.
18. Beyond Control
King’s Kaleidoscope’s worshipful, passionate, and personal lyrics don’t just cover worship and wonder, they cover doubt, questions, and pain. It’s a beautiful album from beginning to end, not just throwing music at you, but telling a story the whole way through.
17. Stranger Things
Another thing everyone is talking about. Still. There’s really not much to say except watch it if you haven’t already.
16. Let A Lover Drown You
Penny and Sparrow makes some of my favorite type of music—acoustic, ethereal, peaceful, haunting harmonies, and beautiful lyrics. This third album of theirs has all that plus large string sections, tambourines, smooth falsettos, prominent guitar, and so much more. Please listen to this.
15. Sing Street
If you love Once, I think you’ll love this movie. I did. It’s a coming of age story about a group of Dublin kids forming a band to impress a girl. The synopsis sounds a tad simple, but let me tell you the movie is not. It’s beautifully truthful and the music is wonderful and it’s just really fun. Oh also it’s on Netflix, so there’s another reason to go watch it.
14. Reply All
So this podcast isn’t like a ‘2016’ thing, but it’s continued producing great content over the year that I have enjoyed so much. It’s an incredibly interesting podcast about the internet and stories that emerge from technology. I’ve laughed out loud, been astounded, moved to tears, and everything in between. The episodes range in topic, but they are always fascinating.
13. Captain America: Civil War
This was just a really good superhero movie. Nothing subtle or intricately artful about it. And I loved every second of it. I love superhero movies, especially in the Marvel Universe, so this had basically all the people I love in one movie. It was a treat.
12. Wild Swan
Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance’s third album is one of those rare albums that gets better every time I listen to it. Yes, his beautiful growl of a voice hooks you, but its his heartfelt, personal, poetic, uplifting lyrics that keep you there.
One of the most bizarre and surreal things I’ve ever seen. What makes it crazier is that it’s true. This documentary follows journalist David Farrier and his inspection of a weird online discovery: ‘competitive endurance tickling’. What starts as a weird silly discovery morphs into an engrossing web of resistance, lies, and even more questions. If there is such thing as a thriller documentary, this is it. My jaw dropped so many times in this film—this is a story you really need to see to believe.
10. Trouble I’ve Seen
While being one of the few books I read this year, it is one of my favorites I’ve read ever. The author Drew Hart has the tagline as “Changing the way the church views racism”. This heart wrenching, transformative book challenged me in ways I hadn’t before been challenged. At times it even made me a bit uncomfortable, but the good kind of uncomfortable that inspires change when it needs to happen. This book is incredibly important.
I definitely teared up during this movie. And not even at the story, but just at the animation. It’s beautiful to watch, listen to, and be a part of. If you are looking for the best animated movie of the year, this one is it (Zootopia fans, I’m lookin at you).
8. Georgica Pond
For those who don’t know husband and wife duo Johnnyswim, listen to this. Please. Dang do they both have some pipes, but their lyrics are also so intimate and beautiful. From singing about each other, to their journey of joys and hardships, to their child, these two will make you feel lots of emotions. Good ones though.
7. Hunt For The Wilderpeople
After I saw this movie, I immediately wanted to watch it again. About a child and a grumpy old man who find themselves on the run in the wilderness of New Zealand. This movie filled me with joy from start to finish and I don’t think I stopped grinning the entire time. I hate to say it, but even though the child actors in Stranger Things absolutely rocked it, I think the boy in this movie takes the cake (@ me I dare you).
6. The Liturgists Podcast
This is a pretty intellectual, but still relatable podcast that takes a look at current issues and examines them through the three different lenses of science, faith, and art. This year they had truly fascinating discussions on suffering, the Enneagram, racism, storytelling, religious art, and so many more important conversations. I learn a lot but also I’m challenged to examine my thoughts on different topics.
Another INCREDIBLY important work of art from this past year. It examines the prison system and its relation to racism in America. It was shocking, deeply saddening, and incredibly well researched and produced. It does quickly cover the history of America’s prison system and racism, but it mostly is about today and the corruption and bigotry that is hiding right under our noses. Do yourself a favor and watch this please. It’s on Netflix yay!
It’s a captivating film that follows Amy Adams as she tries to communicate with strange aliens that have mysteriously showed up across the globe. I always introduce it as “an alien movie but it’s not even about aliens”. It’s about humans and our own relationships and stories. It’s also one of those movies where at the end you are like flipping out in your seat because you are trying to comprehend what just happened. It’s absolutely stunning to watch and experience and I can’t do it justice explaining it, you just need to go see it.
3. La La Land
I walked out of Arrival saying that it was going to be my favorite movie of the year. Until I saw this movie. Twice. And loved it even more the second time. This romanticized and transportive movie musical reminds me why I do what I do and inspired me to keep doing it. The story is magical and inspirational, the music is beautiful, the dancing is incredibly fun and makes me wish I could do it, and Emma Stone’s performance is maybe one of the best things I’ve seen done on screen. All artists need go watch this movie. But actually everyone go and watch it. Probably multiple times.
2. Black Mirror (season 3)
This has been probably my favorite series since Season One, and this year’s release of Season 3 did not disappoint. It actually exceeded expectations. This show, for those who haven’t seen it, takes an unsettling look at technology, usually set in the near or sometimes distant future. It requires the viewer to think about their own relationship with technology and its destructive and often disturbing side. The creativity of the episodes never ceases to astound me nor do the talent of the actors. Please watch if you have not. (DISCLAIMER: Each episode is stand alone with a whole new set of characters, so there is no need to watch in order. In fact, I would encourage watching out of order, because the first episode doesn’t set up the series quite well enough. Oh this is on Netflix too!)
1. Human Condition
I wrote a whole blog post about this album and how amazing it is. So go find that and read it. But yeah it’s number one. Tada.