Welp, 2016 has been a stressful, depressing year for many of us, and 2017 doesn’t look like it’s going to be much better. In fact it will likely be worse! That said, books are still going to be written. Movies and TV shows are going to be produced. Songs will be sung. In other words: Culture will go on. So we wondered what some of the biggest names in culture are looking forward to in the coming year. Turns out, quite a lot.
1. Maris Kreizman, editorial director, Book of the Month Club
“My favorite book that I never thought would be a TV series but more importantly never ever expected to be More Relevant Than Ever is The Handmaid’s Tale. Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece starring Elisabeth Moss airs in April. I hope it isn’t merely an echo of what America looks like by then. In the meantime, ‘Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,’ or, ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down.’”
2. Syreeta McFadden, writer
“Light always combats darkness. And while the political climate may augur extremely dark times to come, I resist surrendering to those forces, because we have great art and culture works on the horizon. As far as books in 2017 that I’m excited will be in the world, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s The Explainers and the Explorers, Morgan Parker’s There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, Safia Elhilo’s The January Children, Melissa Febos’s Abandon Me, and George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. This year, while crappy, managed to yield an abundance of great music from Jamilah Woods, Noname, Frank Ocean, Solange, Chance, Radiohead, Beyoncé, A Tribe Called Quest, Anderson Paak, Blood Orange, James Blake, and, and…that I feel really fortified entering 2017 on that end. Ah! A web series I’m really excited to see debut next year is Brown Girls, set in the South Side of Chicago and centering on the friendship of two women of color. Also, the I’m Not Your Negro documentary!”
4. Jake Fogelnest, comedian and TV writer
“I am looking forward to all of my upcoming television projects: Girlboss on Netflix, Hampton DeVille on Comedy Central, and Season 3 of Difficult People on Hulu. I am also looking forward to more self-promotional opportunities.”
5. Durga Chew-Bose, author of Too Much and Not the Mood
“Three books I’m looking forward to in 2017: Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, out Feb. 21; Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, out March 14; and Ariel Levy’s memoir The Rules Do Not Apply, out March 14.”
6. Rachel Sanders, senior editor, BuzzFeed News
“I have extremely high hopes for Alex Garland’s movie adaptation of Annihilation, which is supposed to come out sometime in 2017; it’s one of those beautiful convergences of Things I Love that gives me a little hope the universe is looking out for all of us. The original book (by Jeff VanderMeer) is one of most fun, creepy, brilliant novels I’ve read in recent memory and also happens to be one of those books where the whole time I was reading it I was like, This would make SUCH an incredible movie. After I finally got around to watching Ex Machina this year (yes, ugh, you were all right, it’s amazing) I suspect that Garland is one of the few people who could really do justice to the source material. Doesn’t hurt that the cast is also ~stacked~ with great actors to play the kick-ass women scientists in the story (Tessa Thompson! Natalie Portman!! Gina Rodriguez!!!) and even if they fucked up by putting Oscar Isaac in this movie and not waiting to cast him as Control in the second one, I think it’s going to be really, really good. And really beautiful. This shit is my Star Wars; see you on opening night.
7. Ayelet Waldman, author of A Really Good Day
“I’m sure everyone is preceding their entry with some version of this: 2016 has been such a clusterfuck, and the coming year is going to be so much worse that it was nearly impossible to remember something I was looking forward to. So, that. But also I am really looking forward to the Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir. Having just turned 52, I love the idea of marking this potentially distressing decade with a burst of creativity.”
8. Bim Adewunmi, senior writer, BuzzFeed Reader
“Lesley Nneka Arimah’s debut collection of short stories, What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, which comes out in April. Her 2015 story ‘Light’ stayed with me for days after I read it, and I can’t wait to see what else she can do in a full collection.
I’m very much looking forward to the second half of the seventh season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, in which I think/hope Michonne (the superb Danai Gurira) will really come into her own. I love the character, even more than I love the show (and I love the show a lot).
Cinema-wise, I’m really here for John Wick 2. Because Keanu ‘Bae’ Reeves.”
9. Emily V. Gordon, co-writer of upcoming movie The Big Sick and author of Super You
“I am excited about the Wonder Woman movie because I’d love to see a lady-fronted superhero movie. I’m excited for Jordan Peele’s horror movie Get Out. And I’m excited to see new shows that I fell in love with in 2016 — Insecure, Atlanta, Chewing Gum, Search Party (if you could even make a second season of that) — spreading their wings for their second seasons.”
10. Kevin Nguyen, editor, GQ
“This year, my partner and I played a lot (and I mean A LOT) of a video game called Towerfall. It’s a retro-styled platformer where you and three other friends try to shoot each other with arrows or bop each other on the head. Over the summer, we’d have friends over to play Towerfall and play late into the night. The maker of Towerfall, Matt Thorson, has a new game coming out next year called Celeste. There are a few clips of it out, but not much is known about it other than that it looks a bit like Towerfall, except you’re trying to scale a mountain through a series of clever jumping puzzles. It also looks like a single-player affair, but I am sure we’ll still play Celeste with friends, passing the controller back and forth. Maybe 2017 is a good year to stop stomping on each other and cooperate on something. We’ll climb this mountain together.”
12. Aaron Edwards, senior editor, The Outline
“On a platform like Vine, distillation was almost instantaneous: young black creators made memes and moments, dissected them, then remixed them into new statements. The death of a medium is not the shared fate of the culture that built it, though. In 2017, I’m looking forward to a flourishing diaspora in Vine’s wake: YouTube shows. TV shows. Instagram Stories. Film roles, on and off camera. I hope the stars Vine created get their due, teach us how to say goodbye, and lead us to what’s next.”
13. Fran Hoepfner, writer
“Next August, writer-director Edgar Wright returns to the big screen with Baby Driver, his first feature after the completion of his Cornetto Trilogy with 2013’s The World’s End. Wright has always been a profoundly original filmmaker and essential voice in comedy. Not to mention, Baby Driver boasts an all-star cast of Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and the baby driver himself, 2017’s dreamboy Ansel Elgort. Between this not-so-cryptic tweet from Star Wars: Episode VIII director Rian Johnson and its premise alone (a heist doomed to fail!!!), please consider my ticket purchased.”
14. Dodai Stewart, editor-in-chief, Fusion
“I am looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie. My third-grade summer uniform was a Wonder Woman bathing suit and roller skates, a get up that made me feel radiant and invincible. This film has taken decades to get to the silver screen; development for a theatrical release began in 1996 (!); Wonder Woman made her first appearance in All Star Comics in 1941. Year after year, I’ve watched aggressive marketing campaigns targeting American audiences — American KIDS — featuring Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. Men, men, men. Finally, the story of the female superhero — a woman from an island without men — will be the one with the T-shirts, dolls, fast-food toys and MAC lipstick ads. No one movie can make up for the decades of testosterone-drenched superhero flicks we’ve been inundated with. And though this flick is directed by a woman, it’s based on a character created in part by a man and illustrated by men over the years. Still, she’s no damsel in distress, no princess in a tower, no teen on a quest for self-discovery, but a fully-fledged woman, kicking ass and reciting stilted dialog just like the dudes. It’s painful that with all the reboots and remakes and retreads it’s taken so long to mark her entry into the American film narrative. But what matters to me is that we’ll see Gal Gadot vanquishing enemies up on a giant screen, and that some little girl out there may be able to don a Wonder Woman swimsuit and some roller skates (or a hoverboard?) and feel that nothing can stop her.”
15. Jason Diamond, author of Searching for John Hughes
“I’m not sure why, but I haven’t really been able to fully get into binge-watching Netflix shows when they’re released. I took my sweet time with Stranger Things, The Crown, and I’m still not even close to being caught up on Orange Is the New Black. I tend to like to watch one episode or maybe two a week of something and sort of let it sit, but I get the feeling that when Netflix drops G.L.O.W. at some point in 2017, I’m going to rip through that so hard. Women wrestlers in the 1980s? Alison Brie? Marc Maron? I’ll probably call out of work when the first episodes are available.”
16. Tomi Obaro, culture editor, BuzzFeed Reader
“I’m going to see the limited engagement Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park With George, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Analeigh Ashford in February. I am sooooo excited about it. I’ve loved this classic, Pulitzer Prize–winning Sondheim musical ever since I sung the closing number ‘Sunday’ with my high school honors choir back in the day. And this particular production, an expansion of a four-night City Center Benefit concert series in October has gotten raves — Jake Gyllenhaal can SANG apparently. It’s definitely going to be my motivation to get through those gray, interminable winter months.”
17. Lindsey Weber, co-host, Who? Weekly
“Call me extremely biased, but did you know that in 2016 — just this year — for the first time, according to Edison Research, awareness of podcasting among all Americans now stands at 55%. So before this year, less than half of Americans knew what a podcast was (let alone listened to one — in the same study, 21% of Americans said they’d listened to a podcast in the last month). Basically, if you thought podcasting was trendy now, just wait until the rest of the country (and parts of the world) get into it. Every single day people are starting new podcasts — my favorite types are ones that dive in on a single topic — sometimes so niche they border on insanity — or even center an entire show around a coveted interview with Oprah. (And does everyone already know that the best celebrity interviews are the ones they do on podcasts, hoping that no one will hear them — or at least that they’ll go un-transcribed?) You don’t need an elaborate concept to start a podcast, just a good story. And while thanks to Serial, we’re all still obsessed with true crime serials… But what will launch in 2017? More scripted storytelling (like Night Vale, Limetown, or Gimlet’s newest,Homecoming)? Prank phone calls (like Madhouse, The Snow Plow Show, or Twisting the Wind With Johnny Pemberton)? Maybe even the full-on return of shock-jock morning shows. OK, so probably not the last one. But who knows, really! This podcasting thing has only just begun.”
18. Jami Attenberg, author of All Grown Up
“My hot poetry recommendation is Morgan Parker’s There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, which just feels like required reading for people alive and breathing and consuming culture in America. Alissa Nutting’s Made for Love is batshit weird and funny and just zooms along so beautifully. Books I am dying to read that are being published in 2017: Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, Lindsay Hunter’s Eat Only When You’re Hungry, and Catherine Lacey’s The Answer.”
19. Kara Brown, senior writer, Jezebel
“Specifically, in 2017 I’m looking forward to the next and hopefully much longer seasons of Atlanta and Insecure. For all the terribleness of the year, 2016 did feel like banner year for incredible music. I mean, we were blessed with perfect albums from both Knowles sisters in a calendar year. For that reason, I’m going to temper my hopes for 2017’s musical output somewhat out of fear of being disappointed. More than anything, however, I hope artists from every medium remain vigilant and unrepentant in their depictions and mockery of our next president. If nothing else, I want our art to remember him as he truly was.”
20. Alana Massey, author, All the Lives I Want
“With all the talk of 2017 ushering in a dystopian hellscape, I am actively resisting the urge to bury myself in grim and cynical art that simply reiterates the brokenness of the world more artfully. So I am looking forward to art that will allow me to escape to worlds unaware of the world of the audience, like the Baywatch movie, Toy Story 4, Despicable Me 3, and surely plenty of other things anathema to good taste, but medicine to broken spirits. One genre exception is that I do want to watch movies that have unlikely survival at their core, movies like Dunkirk and The Mountain Between Us, where regardless of the outcome, the characters decide that it is a worthwhile thing to try and live. I also look forward to all of the albums coming out from the former members of One Direction because I think that in addition to being talented, they are adept at knowing what their fans want, even if it is not in the same pop family as their boy-band days. The world will be a scary place in 2017, so I’m grateful that we’ll have Harry Styles to sing us through it.”
21. Isaac Fitzgerald, books editor, BuzzFeed
“Two things I’m most excited for in 2017 are the books Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders and Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell.
Lincoln in the Bardo is the first novel from short fiction legend George Saunders. Not only is it possessed of a wildly intriguing high concept — the fate of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s young son, Willie, in the spirit realm — but it is incredible, moving, and unlike any other novel I’ve ever read. Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is another fantastic first novel — a debut book from Patty Yumi Cottrell. When her brother kills himself, 32-year-old Helen Moran returns to their childhood home to investigate why. Helen is an unforgettable narrator, both disturbing and delightful, who I’d follow absolutely anywhere.
Both books are about death and grief — all the sad, huge things — and both are very, very, very funny, brilliant, and unique. I can’t wait to wade through all the socks these two books are gonna blow off.”
23. Zan Romanoff, author of A Song to Take the World Apart
“Is it cheating if I say my own book? Grace is sort of a strange thing to be excited about — it’s not, like, Serious or Timely or anything, but it is about figuring out how to love stuff with your whole heart and soul and self, and I’m hoping that will be useful to people even in what looks likely to be such a dark, difficult moment.
“And actually one of the few good things about 2016 has been my first book coming out, and how it’s allowed me to meet and make friends with so many writers whose work I admire. Kate Hart is in that category, and her debut After the Fall comes out in January. It’s both seriously and timely and also deeply smart and thoughtful, about rape culture not as an abstract concept but as lived experiences for teenagers. I got to read an early copy and I was underlining basically every third sentence as I read. I’m also looking forward to Brandy Colbert’s Little & Lion after loving her fantastic first book, Pointe — Brandy writes about big issues but never in a way that feels Big Issue-y, and her characters are as lively and frustrating and endearing as you want people you’re spending a couple hundred pages with to be.”
24. Scaachi Koul, writer, BuzzFeed Reader and author of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
“In May, Sam Irby’s new collection of essays, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, will be out. She is, of course, a great writer but has these troves of rage that I hope will be the perfect antidote to 2016.”
25. Thessaly La Force, editor-in-chief, Garage
“I am one of those New Yorkers who was shaken out of my complacency after the election of Trump. Given how he’s stacked the administration with men whose careers have never reflected the kind of world I want to live in nor the one that I want for the generations who will follow me — I don’t have much hope at the moment. But I look forward to seeing how artists, especially those who have organized the Halt Action Group under Dear Ivanka (check out their Instagram), will express their dissent and rally together in protest of the incoming administration. I find Dear Ivanka compelling partly because Ivanka is of my generation, even if she represents privilege and entitlement. This movement makes the call to action in her name. It’s as if we know her father won’t listen, that he doesn’t care. But with Ivanka, is it possible to believe that our concerns for the future — for our rights, for what we know is good — won’t fall completely on deaf ears? That she might see the world the way we do? That she knows her love for her father isn’t enough to forgive his faults when it affects millions? You can create change with policy. But art is still a powerful way to create change. It can persuade people too look at the world differently.”
27. Helen Rosner, executive editor, Eater
“Okay, being completely serious: I’m overflowing with anticipation about Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s deceptively cartoonish, ultra-violent, hyperlayered 2014 excoriation of the brutal selfishness of the global ruling class. Give yourself the gift of reading this extraordinary 17,000-word all-caps exegesis about the spectacular subtextual machinations of the first film (including, improbably, an argument for the bizarre closing scene that not only makes it all make perfect sense, but makes it brilliant), and I promise you’ll be just as excited about the second one as I am.”
29. Wendy MacNaughton, illustrator and graphic journalist
“At risk of sounding super sincere (which I am) and overly earnest (yes, that, too), I look forward to all the thought-challenging, mind-opening, humanity-reinforcing art, writing, design, poetry, plays, films, and performances that will be created in response to the turn this country has taken, not to mention the state of the world in general, and our place in it. Something that keeps me feeling hopeful in the face of 2017 and the upcoming four years is thinking of the inspiring, subversive ways artists and writers will continue to work together to speak truth to power, and the incredible support people are offering these projects right now. The mettle of the creative community — and by that I mean everyone remotely connected to any culture-creating-promoting-celebrating endeavor — could soon get tested at a level we haven’t in some time. I look forward to seeing what we’re made of — and what we make.”
For more Best of 2016 content, click here!
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