A year-end list of, well, year-end lists

December 19, 2018

As this year finally trickles down to a close, journalists of all stripes are taking time to reflect on the year that was.

Do you know who likes to curate end-of-year lists? Every media outlet.

I’ve taken the liberty of aggregating “Best of” lists for television, music (to include albums, artists and songs), movies, podcasts, books, sports and more. As an added bonus, myself and Poynter staffers have added our own spicy takes on what reigned supreme in pop culture in 2018. You may notice that my hot takes are overrepresented: the benefits of being the author/aggregator.

Vulture
Jen Chaney’s 10 Best TV Shows of 2018; Matt Zoller Seitz’s Best TV Shows of 2018; Ten Best New TV Shows of 2018

Vanity Fair
Best TV of 2018

Slate
The 10 Best TV Shows of 2018

Thrillist
The 60 Best TV Shows of 2018

Rolling Stone
The 20 Best TV Shows of 2018

The Atlantic
The 22 Best TV Shows of 2018

The A.V. Club
The best TV of 2018

The New Yorker
My Not-Top-Ten List: The Best TV Shows of 2018; My Favorite TV Shows of 2018

The Daily Beast
20 Best TV Shows of 2018: ‘The Good Fight,’ ‘Atlanta,’ ‘Pose’ and More

Lane’s Take: As a disclaimer, I don’t actually watch that much television. Sports tend to dominate whatever TV time I have. That being said, there are a few shows that have managed to hook me. I would have loved to see critically successful and cult-favorite show “Timeless” get a nod on the top TV lists, but seeing as it got canceled and will conclude it’s brief run with a two-hour movie finale Dec. 20, I’m not surprised. However, the period-piece “The Americans” managed to make it on nearly every year-end list. With its slow burn and gut-punch series finale, it’s my pick for 2018. Alanna “Lane” Dvorak is currently a Finberg Fellow at the Poynter Institute’s News University.

Daniel’s Take: Writing for “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Black Mirror” is exceptional, pushes boundaries and highlights the roles of women in taking down a patriarchal society. Both are prescient given our own political times, despite the fact that they’re based on works for the 20th century. And “Atlanta” and “Insecure” are the most authentic shows on television, hands down. Daniel Funke is a fact-checking reporter with the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network.

The New York Times
Best Movies of 2018

New Yorker
Best Movies of 2018

Vox
Best Movies of 2018; Best Documentaries of 2018

The Washington Post
Best Movies of 2018

Rotten Tomatoes
The Top 100 Movies of 2018

Vulture
Emily Yoshida’s Best Movies of 2018; David Edelstein’s 10 Best Movies of 2018

Variety
Owen Gleiberman’s 10 Best Films of 2018

Rolling Stone
20 Best Movies of 2018

Slate
The 10 Best Movies of 2018

Vogue
These Were 2018’s 12 Best Movies

Kim’s Take: My favorite movie of 2018 is “Crazy Rich Asians.” It was amazing seeing so many talented Asian actors on the screen, not just in a prominent role, but in EVERY role.  It proved that there is diversity in Hollywood and that diversity is marketable. Kim Daorerk is a teaching and events services coordinator at the Poynter Institute.

Sara’s Take: I knew what I was getting into when I sat down in the theater to see “A Star is Born.” It’s a gut-wrenching love story that I was fortunate enough to witness in IMAX. I felt like I was at a two-hour Lady Gaga concert, which I was totally fine with, but the cry-fest that ensued caught me a little off guard. All in all, this remake lived up to the hype, with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper demonstrating epic on-stage chemistry, not to mention a soundtrack begging to be sung at karaoke night. A must see for 2018. Sara O’Brien is a multimedia designer at the Poynter Institute.

Billboard
Year-End Charts: Top Artists; Year-End Charts: Hot 100 Songs; Year-End Charts: Top 200 Albums

NPR
100 Best Songs of 2018

Pitchfork
The 100 Best Songs of 2018; Best Music Videos of 2018; The 50 Best Albums of 2018

Vulture
The 10 Best Songs of 2018; The 15 Best Albums of 2018; The 10 Best Music Videos of 2018

The Atlantic
The 23 Best Albums of 2018

Uproxx
The 50 Best Albums of 2018

Consequence of Sound
The Top 50 Albums of 2018

The Bitter Southerner
The 30 Best Southern Albums of 2018

Ren’s Take: She’s a 23-year-old indie rock singer-songwriter from the heart of the South — Richmond, Virginia — who describes herself as “kind of queer.” She has released two critically-acclaimed albums since 2016 and, this year, made waves for joining an all-woman singer-songwriter supergroup known as boygenius. And she made appearances on just about every top albums list this year, including Pitchfork, The Bitter Southerner, NPR, The New Yorker and Stereogum. It’s inarguable: 2018 was the year of Lucy Dacus. Ren LaForme is a digital tools reporter at the Poynter Institute.

Lane’s Take: I think the only two albums I actually bought this year were Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s Seven + Mary (2013) and How to: Love, Friend, Freefall (2018) in anticipation of its fantastic concert. But while I can’t specify a top album, I can at least mention some stand-out artists. Thanks to my burgeoning interest in reggaeton and Latin trap, I’m pretty pleased with the growing popularity of artists like Ozuna, who was globally the top streamed artist of 2018 and Bad Bunny. Though Bad Bunny had no album or mixtape in 2018, he  charted in the Billboard Hot 100 five times this year, including a number one hit as a featured artist on Cardi B’s “I Like It.”

The New York Times
100 Notable Books of 2018

NPR
Book Concierge: Our Guide To 2018’s Great Read

Buzzfeed
Best Fiction of 2018

Mental Floss
56 Best Books of 2018

Slate
The 10 Best Books of 2018

New Yorker
The Best Books of 2018

Sara’s Take: After seeing advertisements all over buses in London, I decided I needed to see what Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give” was all about. Not the movie, the book; I always go for the book first. It takes the story of a young black male gunned down by a police officer and tells it through the eyes of his female friend sitting in the passenger seat beside him. I always like a female heroine so I was into it, and the story was innocent yet strikingly raw and riveting. Also, Tara Westover’s memoir, “Educated,” hooked me from the start. The success story of a girl born to survivalist parents in the mountains of Idaho is a story in itself. What I was not expecting was the many twists and turns along the way, most of them felt in my gut as I was plunged into her uncomfortable, crazy and terrifying world. If you’re into those “Breaking Bad”-type of stories where you feel sick but can’t turn away, “Educated” wins that award for 2018.

Time
Ten Best Podcasts of 2018

New Yorker
Best Podcasts of 2018

Apple
Best Podcasts of 2018

Vulture
The 10 Best Podcasts of 2018

Lane’s Take: In lieu of music, I listen to a boatload of podcasts, both while I’m driving and when I’m at work. I have old favorites, like Criminal and Reply All, two of the first podcasts I started listening to. But 2018 saw a wealth of incredible new shows. Carruth, a seven-part podcast from the Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, and Gladiator, a podcast from the Boston Globe about Aaron Hernandez, both fulfilled an odd niche category of “football-playing criminals,” but both podcasts were also engrossing and well-produced. I also enjoyed the long-awaited season 3 of Serial. My top two, however, are The New York Times’ Caliphate, which takes a deep dive into ISIS, and Stitcher’s The Dream, a skeptical look at the multi-level marketing schemes that seem to be infesting my Facebook feed.

Mel’s Take: Audio storytelling has the advantage of actually giving voice to the voiceless. We heard women’s stories of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace in 2017; we listened to them tell their own stories in 2018 with standout podcasts like ESPN’s 30 for 30 Bikram. I also appreciated episodes like 5 Women from This American Life and The Doctor and the Judge from The New York Times’ The Daily podcast. When the news gets to be too much, I’ve found myself turning to fandom podcasts in 2018. I will always love Harry Potter and the Sacred Text (a fulfilling twist on literary analysis for HP fans), and I won’t lie — I devoured podcasts about “This is Us,” the royal wedding and “The Bachelor.” Fellow fans, you’ll have to email me for those recs. Mel Grau is a marketing communications writer at the Poynter Institute.

Vulture
Best Video Games of 2018

What Culture
Best Video Games of 2018

Allison’s Take: Fortnite Battle Royale is more than just a video game. It’s a cultural phenomena that has captivated both new and veteran gamers. It has personality, too. You can choose from a ton of avatars, dances and emotes. The graphics are bright and lively. And it’s always being updated. Every week I can expect new locations, challenges and themes. The top brand new game is probably Red Dead Redemption 2 and the Super Smash Bros. [Ultimate] remake is huge. Allison Graves is a multimedia reporter at the Poynter Institute’s MediaWise Project.

Business Insider
The 40 Most Incredible Plays of 2018

Sports Illustrated
Sportsperson of the Year

The Ringer
The Ringer’s 45 Favorite Sports Moments of 2018

ESPN
The Dominant 20

Lane’s Take: This year was a great one for sports. The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang saw wunderkinds like Red Gerard and Chloe Kim, the U.S. women’s hockey team finally toppling Canada for the gold medal (in a shootout!) and a unified Korea walk at the opening ceremony. We also got the highest scoring FIFA World Cup since 1966 as France defeated Croatia 4-2 and got to see a 16-seed, UMBC, beat a number 1 seed, UVA, for the first time in the history of March Madness. Just this month, we were treated to the Miami Miracle. But my top sports moment was decided June 7, when Lars Eller buried the Capitals’ fourth goal in game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, sealing the first-ever championship win for the Washington Capitals and the city’s first title since 1992. I didn’t cry in that random St. Petersburg bar, but I came damn close.

National Geographic
Best Photos of 2018

The Washington Post
What the Year’s Best Photos Tell Us About 2018

CNN Travel
The World’s Best Travel Photos of 2018

These photos are alternately tragic, awe-inspiring, infuriating and more. You should honestly just look at all of them.