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The best and worst in arts and culture in 2016

Our 2016 Newsmakers: The people, events, and moments that reflect the best and worst of the year that was, in movies, music, and TV


 
Brie Larson poses with the Oscar for Best Actress, "Room," in the press room during the 88th Oscars on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Brie Larson poses with the Oscar for Best Actress, “Room,” in the press room during the 88th Oscars on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Our annual Newsmakers issue highlights the year’s highlights, lowlights, major moments and most important people. Read our Newsmakers 2016 stories here, and read on to see which people, events and moments Maclean’s named as the best and worst of 2016 in arts and culture.

THE BEST

Brie Larson

The Canadian-made film Room won a Best Actress Academy Award for its star. It’s about . . . oh, what does it matter? It’s Canadian and it won!

Beyoncé

Lemonade was her best-reviewed and most socially conscious album so far.

Charles Taylor

The McGill professor (not the Liberian dictator) won the first-ever Berggruen Prize for philosophy, with a very non-philosophical $1-million cash prize.

J.D. Vance

His book Hillbilly Elegy, about the rural people he grew up with, unexpectedly became the definitive book about the world of Trump voters.

Kaytranada performs on Day 1 of Lovebox festival taking place at Victoria park on July 17, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Joseph Okpako/Redferns/Getty Images)

Kaytranada performs on Day 1 of Lovebox festival taking place at Victoria park on July 17, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Joseph Okpako/Redferns/Getty Images)

Kaytranada

The debut album by the Haitian-born Montreal hip-hop and electronic DJ, 99.9%, won the Polaris Music Prize.

Bob Dylan

The singer-songwriter won the Nobel Prize in Literature—and yet that was only the second-weirdest victory of the year.

The end of American Idol

The show that did more than any other to shape the entertainment world we live in today was finally cancelled. Bad for the producers, good for us.

Cast member Donald Glover participates in a panel for the FX Networks new comedy series "Atlanta" during the Television Critics Association (TCA) Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California January 16, 2016. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

Cast member Donald Glover participates in a panel for the FX Networks new comedy series “Atlanta” during the Television Critics Association (TCA) Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California January 16, 2016. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

Donald Glover

He broke out of the ensemble cast of Community to create and star in his own successful show, Atlanta, and Star Wars snapped him up to star as young Lando in a prequel film.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

His musical Hamilton cleaned up at the Tony Awards and got him a contract with Disney.

The Tonight Show Featuring Jimmy Fallon, with Donald Trump, on September 15, 2016. (Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/Getty Images)

The Tonight Show Featuring Jimmy Fallon, with Donald Trump, on September 15, 2016. (Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/Getty Images)

THE WORST

Late-night comedy

Samantha Bee and John Oliver helped Trump by telling liberals he couldn’t win, while Jimmy Fallon helped Trump by sucking up to him and mussing his hair.

Summer movies

There were so many failures that Screencrush described it as “the worst summer for movies in 15 years.” That was one of the nicer descriptions.

Nate Parker

The director-star’s film The Birth of a Nation flopped at the box office and stirred up renewed attention to his acquittal in a rape trial.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) during the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, November 20,  2016. (Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) during the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, November 20, 2016. (Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

The NFL

Once the only reliably popular thing on television, ratings for football were way down in 2016, which could be the final blow to the collapsing U.S. networks.

The Walking Dead

This year the hate-watching was even stronger for the zombie show, after it began the season with a seemingly pointless character death.

Drake attends the Canadian Pre-Launch of Virginia Black Decadent American Whiskey held at LCBO at Yonge & Summerhill on April 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (George Pimentel/Getty Images)

Drake attends the Canadian Pre-Launch of Virginia Black Decadent American Whiskey held at LCBO at Yonge & Summerhill on April 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (George Pimentel/Getty Images)

Drake

The Canadian music star unveiled his own brand of whiskey, Virginia Black, a “decadent American whiskey.” Because stars need to encourage us to drink more.

‘American Psycho,’ the Musical

Yes, there was a Broadway musical based on the novel about a yuppie serial killer. At least it lasted longer than the musical of Carrie.

Sitcoms

You thought this dying form couldn’t get any worse, and then 2016 unveiled more washed-up stars in tired premises, like Kevin James in the groan-inducingly titled Kevin Can Wait.

Ben-Hur

In a year of terrible movies, the latest film of the religious epic was of the biggest bombs in recent memory, hated by the religious and non-religious alike.


ARTS AND CULTURE IN 2016, BY THE NUMBERS

47

Number of years Sesame Street enthralled kids on PBS. Now, subscriber-only HBO is how you get there (to see first-run shows).

750,000

The number of VCRs made in 2015. In July, its chief manufacturer, Funai Electronic, announced it was stopping production.

$6.9 million

North American box office for Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Brothers Grimsby, down 88 per cent from 2012’s The Dictator.


 

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