We spoke with family, friends, and the UpFront team to figure out the best movie, TV show, song, discovery, and Ottawa-related happening of 2016. Here are our favourite responses.
The Best Movie of 2016
Deadpool, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Zootopia were the top-grossing movies of 2016. According to Rotten Tomatoes, Zootopia, Hell or High Water, and Arrival were the top-rated movies of the year. Here’s what our panel had to say:
Deadpool (literally the only movie I saw) – Lindsay K.
Dr. Strange – (Benedict Cumberbatch is in it – do I really need to elaborate?) – Lisa K.
The Accountant – In recent years I’ve found movies to be quite predictable, and often find myself bored halfway through the film. Thankfully, the big screen will throw me a curve ball every now and then, with a story that’s original and a plot twist I wasn’t able to figure out within the first twenty minutes. This year, The Accountant was that film. I highly recommend this movie to any Ben Affleck fans, and those who like a dramatic film with a few action scenes. Overall I would give this film 4/5 stars. – Krista B.
Sadly I’ve only seen kids movies. The Secret Life of Pets was the best movie I’ve seen this year. This is a must-see for anyone who has a dog or cat. – Derek C.
The Nice Guys – Laughter, mystery, action, and wardrobe straight from the days of 70s disco. What more could you want? Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe aren’t so bad either. Russell Crowe’s sarcastic cynicism and Ryan Gosling’s dumbfounded whimsy combine for the perfect comedy-action movie that has something for everyone. – Angela S.
Combination of Bad Moms and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Faith M.
Rogue One – Becky P.
Deadpool – Alexa R.
The Revenant – I know it doesn’t technically count as a 2016 movie, but I saw it this year and it was beautiful yet gory, captivating yet understated. This movie with such little dialogue was driven by such enchanting performances and scenic majesty that even I could endure the CGI gore. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a heck of a performance but it is the breathtaking scenery and cinematography that deserve the most acclaim. – Amanda M.
The Best Song of 2016
We started the year with Hotline Bling and ended it with Closer and 24K Magic. Would our panel go for pop hits or under-the-radar gems?
When We Were Young by Adele – Lindsay K.
Ahnma by Beginners – My teenage heroes reunited for their 25th band anniversary. Definitely my song of the year. – Lisa K.
Work from Home by Fifth Harmony – In my opinion, this was the song of the summer and I love it every time I hear it. It never gets old. – Krista B.
The Tragically Hip Concert – This is not a song but should definitely be included in the best of 2016! – Derek C.
One Dance by Drake – I. Can’t. Stop. Won’t. Stop. Loving. This Song. You’re lying if you say you don’t want to dance when you hear this classic Drake jam. From the two-step sway to a full-on bruk out on the dance floor. One Dance is the perfect pre-party track. Must add to playlist NOW. – Angela S.
7 Years by Lukas Graham – Faith M.
Tidal by Protest the Hero – Becky P.
Vienna by Billy Joel – Not a new song, but I can never get enough of Billy Joel. – Alexa R.
A Million Reasons by Lady Gaga – Anyone who knows me knows I’m not down with Lady G, she’s right up there with “7 Years” by Lukas Graham and “Games Without Frontiers” by Peter Gabriel on my “no thank you” list. But her most recent album (especially the strong first half) blew me away. A Million Reasons is the best song on a very good album. The sparse instrumentation and piercing vocals place heartache front and centre. The song will be played and played on the radio so as to lose all meaning, but before it does, take the time to listen, enjoy, weep, and recover. – Amanda M.
The Best TV Show of 2016
The highest rated TV shows this year were The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, and Empire, while Game of Thrones and Veep are the reigning Emmy winners. That’s not even diving into the non-traditional output from Netflix, Amazon et al. What shows did our panel love this year?
Wentworth – Lindsay K.
The Chelsea Handler Show – Uncensored swearwords and a woman that hilariously speaks her mind full frontal about anything that matters. Or that doesn’t matter. – Lisa K.
Jane the Virgin – Krista B.
This is Us – This show has a great plot twist at the end of episode 1 – great stories, great characters. There is a very good chance you will cry when you watch this! – Derek C.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life – While I have my own list of likes and dislikes for the much-anticipated Gilmore Girls Netflix revival, I have to say that overall this was the most exciting and memorable 6 hours of TV I have watched in 2016. – Angela S.
Nashville – Faith M.
Stranger Things – Becky P.
Gilmore Girls – With the new mini-series coming out, and all the hype surrounding it, I thought it would be a great time to start watching this show everyone was freaking out about. To my surprise, this show is definitely worth the hype! – Alexa R.
American Crime – When picking new TV shows, I’m a sucker for the Netflix rating. I don’t usually bother with anything below 4.5 stars (except for that 2 star Cristiano Ronaldo documentary because what does Netflix’s algorithm know anyway). American Crime popped up on our recommended screen with 5 solid stars, and after binging two seasons I can say it’s worth every acclaim and more. It is an anthology series that spotlights a different take on crime in American communities each season, with the same core cast (led by Timothy Hutton, Regina King and the incomparable Felicity Huffman). The first season centres around a murder and the aftermath on the families of the victim and the accused. It is tragic, enraging, and haunting. The second season tackles the issue of sexual assault in a high school setting. It, too, is tragic, enraging, and haunting. There are no happy endings here. Sometimes the showrunners won’t even placate viewers with an ending. Don’t let that stop you. This show is a tour-de-force and tackles impossible subject matter like LGBTQ issues, drug addiction, race issues, and religious friction with grace and compassion. – Amanda M.
The Best Thing in Ottawa
We had a lot of fun with this category. Your submission could be anything related to the city – a hip new restaurant? A must-see museum exhibition? A great event you attended? Let’s see what the panel had to say.
Das Lokal – Lindsay K.
The Wakefield Bakery. Everything that comes out of there is just amazingly delicious. I will travel long and far for their blueberry-lemon scones. – Lisa K.
Mantovani – If you haven’t already discovered Mantovani in the Market, I urge you to make a trip downtown when you get a chance and try the wide selection of rich and flavourful flavours Mantovani has to offer. You will not be disappointed – Krista B.
Orleans foodie scene – With restaurants like Occo, St. Marthas Brasserie, The Waverly East, and even the Mandarin and Popeye’s, Orleans is becoming an impressive suburb for foodies! We also have a craft beer (Stray Dog Brewing Company) and a Winery (Domaine Perrault). – Derek C.
Obama’s visit to Ottawa for the North American Summit, June 2016 (Three Amigos, anyone?) – While the topic of environment, trade, and the movement of citizens between Canada, United States, and Mexico is important and all, what makes this my favourite Ottawa moment of 2016 was watching my favourite bromance, between Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama, flourish before our eyes. – Angela S.
Ottawa river boat cruise! – Faith M.
The Loft board game lounge – Becky P.
Ottawa on a sunny day – I’ve lived in Ottawa for 16 years, nothing beats walking around downtown on a sunny day. Walking around and taking in everything Ottawa has to offer is the best. From the Parliament buildings to the Art Gallery, Ottawa is truly beautiful. – Alexa R.
Fatboy’s – I’ve long been a fan of their pulled pork sandwiches at Sens games, but this was the first year I was able to enjoy a meal at the restaurant. It takes a lot of self-control not to head there daily for ribs, pulled pork, or brisket. If you’re a BBQ lover you’ve got to try their food and their huge selection of southern sides like mac & cheese and cornbread are as good as it gets. Even vegetarians can’t resist their one-of-a-kind fries, so that’s saying something. – Amanda M.
The Best Thing You Discovered in 2016
Finally, we asked the panel what they discovered this year. It could be anything at all, and our panel came up with some pretty interesting responses!
Brunch at Das Lokal – Lindsay K.
Weddings can be beautifully unconventional, filled with crowd-surfing dance fun and pee-my-pants laughter until the sun comes up (Thanks J&E). – Lisa K.
Saving money – You almost never have to buy anything full price, ever. Everything goes on sale at one time or another and signing up for newsletters and downloading apps like Flipp can help you stay on budget and save you money on everyday items. Some stores will also price match items, so there’s no reason why you can’t go to one store, and get the deal of another without having to visit multiple stores. As well, some stores also have a price match policy, so if you buy something full price, but it goes on sale within two weeks of purchasing that item, you can go back to the store and get the price difference back. Big holiday deals such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day are also extremely helpful. My tip if you’re venturing out on those favourite consumer driven holidays is to plan ahead and scout the items you want early. Go online, or visit the store several days in advance making note of what size you need, what style you like, and what the price is. This way, when the day comes, you’ll be fully prepared to make that purchase. Also having a list of what you plan to buy will also help keep you on budget. Happy shopping! – Krista B.
Orleans foodie scene, sitting on an exercise ball at work, tire service that comes to you (Go Tire), Fidget Cube. – Derek C.
Spotify – Yes. I know I’m late. But this is genius. So many songs, so many opportunities to shake my groove thing. One a related note: When is Beyoncé’s Lemonade going to be released on Spotify? I’m (im)patiently waiting… – Angela S.
Pirho’s in Barrhaven! – The most delicious greek food available in the city, without a doubt. – Faith M.
Table top RPGs – Becky P.
Following your dreams – If there is something you really want to do, take the steps to achieve it. Whether it’s getting a job you love or seeing your favourite artists. I’ve always wanted to see Billy Joel live. I would always talk about how this was the only thing on my bucket list and patiently waited for him to come to Ottawa. Since he’s touring less and less, the chance of him coming back to Ottawa was slim so I decided to make it happen. I found out that he plays almost monthly in New York City which is only 8 hours away. One day I just decided this was it. I’m making this dream happen. I convinced a friend to buy tickets with me and travel to New York. Needless to say it was the best night of my life and I will not be forgetting it anytime soon. You don’t get anything in life by sitting around waiting for it to happen, you need to go out and make your life what you want it to be! – Alexa R.
Country music – I’ve never been one of those music fans who claims to “love everything but country,” but aside from singers like Carrie Underwood and Shania Twain, or alt-country stars like Ryan Adams, I never really made the effort to explore the genre. Thanks to Spotify and their genre playlists, one day I clicked a link and never looked back. With no proconceptions about any artists, I fell pretty quickly for Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Blake Shelton, and Keith Urban. My enthusiasm for the genre dimmed somewhat after learning that most country stars don’t write their own songs either, so those heartfelt songs lose some of their meaning in my eyes, but it was quite the experience discovering a whole new world of music. – Amanda M.
Thanks for reading, let us know your thoughts in the comments!