Our top films of 2017

I have a confession to make: I'm a little addicted to coming-of-age movies. The kind that end with the saccharine revelation that a main character has gone from a hapless, confused kid to a capable and experienced young adult. They've lost some things along the way — maybe friends, maybe innocence — but when the credits roll, you can't help but feel renewed.

Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird is no different. We meet Christine McPherson {Saoirse Ronan) at a tipping point in her life, one we all probably remember pretty well. She's a high school senior with a dogged determination to go to college on the East Coast — and to reinvent herself as "Lady Bird."

Throughout the film, we watch Christine deny her identity at just about every turn. The prospect of attending a university anywhere near her California home sickens her, and her modest upbringing in a less-than-affluent suburb of Sacramento is something she'd rather hide from her more well-to-do Catholic school friends. Christine isn't the most likable character there is — her pretentious attachment to a nickname that just won't stick is, at times, eye-roll inducing.

But watching a unique character grapple with identity issues and high school drama, interspersed with enjoyable scenes of her thrift store prom dress shopping, snacking on a box of school communion waivers and listening to the Dave Matthews Band's "Crash Into Me" at max volume, was delightfully cathartic.

– Christine Condon, assistant news editor

Jordan Peele made a masterpiece with Get Out. The movie not only had an interesting, edge-of-your-seat, scary plot but was also socially relevant by focusing on racism in America.

The plot about 'the sunken place' was scary enough already — everybody can be scared of feeling trapped in a weird darkness while still being able to see the outside world — but the racial elements made it something special for people of color to relate to.

The intense and bloody ending of the movie is what makes it the best of the year, though. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a black man, is clearly the protagonist of the horrible situation his white girlfriend's family put him in.

He has to literally fight for his life and autonomy in the closing minutes of the film, then a cop arrives and all viewers hold their breath, thinking the harsh realities of policing in America will come to light.

The movie is socially relevant and something all complicit Americans should watch. Even those who don't seem to have a racist bone in their body may be holding some deep-seated prejudice, and even the people of color who fit white America's mold can be victimized by racism.

– Allison O'Reilly, diversions staff writer

Baby Driver

It's been a long time since I've seen a movie in which I legitimately had no idea what would happen next. Maybe Baby Driver wasn't the best singular movie of 2017 — seriously, you should see Get Out if you haven't already — but, man, it's really refreshing to predict the outcome of a scene, then have that prediction explode in front of your face like an abandoned warehouse full of stolen arms and dead crooked cops (sorry, spoiler).

Baby Driver has a number of positive attributes — its casting (Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm were the only two actors on the planet who could've played their respective roles), its direction (the Three Flavours Cornetto-style panoramic camera move is a classic), its soundtrack (Run The Jewels and Big Boi on the same song!). But it's really that bonkers plot that makes it a blast to watch.

While "I sat on the edge of my seat" is about as tired a cliche as there is, that accurately describes me in the theater seeing this movie. I'm just glad I was in another state, watching with total strangers, so no one could judge me for shouting "Holy shit!" several times over the course of 113 minutes.

– Ryan Romano, deputy managing editor

Logan Lucky

There are few things more satisfying than a well-executed heist movie, and few directors more capable of putting one together than Steven Soderbergh.

What separates Logan Lucky from other heist movies is Soderbergh's decision to remove the element of professionalism that's so central to the genre.

The movie's plot follows the same basic structure you'd expect from a heist movie — a team is assembled, a plan is devised, a heist is performed, a getaway is made. But it's all done by two brothers — Channing Tatum and Adam Driver — who are as white trash as they are unlucky.

Logan Lucky's fun comes from seeing how the cast manages to carry out the heist without the expertise, polish and capital usually at the disposal of those performing heists.

Soderbergh even subverts audience expectations at a meta level by having Daniel Craig, usually seen with high-tech gadgets as the sophisticated James Bond, make a bomb out of bleach pens and a plastic bag as explosives fanatic Joe Bang in one of the movie's many laugh-out-loud, superbly edited scenes.

Logan Lucky is a welcome twist on the tried-and-true heist genre and proof that Soderbergh hasn't missed a step since his "retirement" from film in 2013.

– Jack Roscoe, senior staff writer

The Big Sick

Romantic comedies are usually a hit-or-miss for me, but the fact that The Big Sick is based on the real-life romance of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon makes me love it that much more. Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan (who plays Emily) have an amazing chemistry that starts off as a one-night stand and slowly blossoms into a beautiful relationship. The only problem is, Nanjiani's parents (played by Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff) are traditional Pakistani parents and believe in arranged marriages and thus, do not approve. Through trials and tribulations (and several more "one-night stands"), the young couple discovers the importance of love and sacrifice. I love Nanjiani, but Kazan steals the show as the fresh-faced and young Emily Gardner. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, as her mother and father, are the typical suburban mom and dad — but with hearts of gold.

The story is a romantic comedy but it's also a social commentary, a fat "Fuck you!" to the racists out there, and a short-lived medical drama … it's a mish-mash of all the best and worst things about society, and watching it, you feel connected to the characters. Trust me, watch The Big Sick. It's sweet and funny and sad all at the same time, and when it's over you'll just stare at the screen wondering how and why it ended so soon.

– Balbina Yang, diversions contributor

Our top albums of 2017

Standing atop a vehicle parked on the concrete base of the Los Angeles River, Kendrick Lamar takes an opposite hand golf swing and yells, "My left stroke just went viral!" The brag, which I've always considered a reference to the critical acclaim and fanfare over the release of Kendrick's Untitled Unmastered throwaway project, is the Good Kid's "HUMBLE." way of reminding the world he is significantly better than your favorite rapper with zero effort.

DAMN., Lamar's fourth studio album, solidifies the prodigious Compton emcee's place as the greatest (yes, greatest) rapper of all time. It's a tale of salvation and damnation, with Kendrick exploring both paths with vivid metaphor, biblical allusions and laughing to the bank like HAHA. "DUCKWORTH.", a commentary on the immense power of free will, is arguably the most complete, well-developed execution of storytelling in the history of rap music.

The beginning is the end, and the end the beginning, a riddle of sorts that Lamar left for the internet's most well-intentioned music conspiracy theorists. With more layers than a Taco Bell burrito special, DAMN. is 2017's most essential work.

– Cameron Neimand, diversions senior staff writer

Vince Staples told NPR that his latest album, Big Fish Theory, should have been Grammy-nominated for rap album of the year, electronic album of the year, alternative album of the year and just album of the year. He told no tales. The Long Beach, California, rapper maneuvers around an intoxicating blend of off-kilter hi hats, 808s and synthesizers on his sophomore album.

While his previous projects find the 24-year-old immersed in the chaos of his upbringing, Big Fish Theory observes his current environment of rap stardom and the paradox of mixing "holy water with the Voss." That is to say finding the perfect intersection between humility and arrogance, being constantly surrounded by beautiful women but not wanting love, wanting fame but knowing too much can kill you ("Alyssa Interlude" is a chilling nod to the pressures put on the late Amy Winehouse).

Its featured artists take on distinct personas delivered in succinct packages. Juicy J is an over-the-top baller (unsurprisingly) on "Big Fish." Kendrick Lamar is a bloodthirsty shark on "Yeah Right." Kilo Kish, who frames a large part of the LP, is a cautious realist. Ty Dolla $ign makes for a gritty, stormy conclusion of highs and lows.

The album is haunting. Staples' storytelling isn't flowery or overdone. There is nothing to decode or hypothesize. His depictions are stark. His current space finds him at a crossroads. But this state of no direction is embraced as Staples moves differently down his own lane.

– Ayana Archie, diversions staff writer

After LCD Soundsystem's emotional departure from the music scene in 2011, their 2016 reunion felt almost cheap. Yet american dream, released in September, proved the deans of electronic rock had more on their minds than money when they reunited. Over the course of this 68-minute epic, frontman James Murphy rages against his own mortality — all the while backed by the eclectic synths and seething wit that catapulted the band into the stratosphere in the first place.

From their debut single, 2002's "Losing My Edge," age has been a recurring theme in LCD Soundsystem's discography. While many of the artists Murphy namechecked in the hit — Lou Reed and Alan Vega among them — have left us in the meantime, lyrics such as "and life is finite/ but shit, it feels like forever" in the track "tonite" become more poignant. In true LCD Soundsystem fashion, however, that doesn't stop you from wanting to dig up your dad's leisure suit and disco away the blues.

The spectre that hangs most notably above the album, however, is that of David Bowie. The album is littered with lyrical and stylistic homages to the fallen star, who Murphy said spurred him to come back in the first place. Indeed, the album closes with a 12-minute ode to Ziggy Stardust, "black screen." Throughout the album, Murphy acknowledges that the halcyon days might be behind us, but that's no reason to not rage against the dying of the light — and if that's not a perfect summary of 2017, I don't know what is.

– Arya Hodjat, copy editor

Run the Jewels 3

"We return from the depths of the badland/ With a gun and a knife in our waistband/ Went to war with the Devil and Shaytan/ He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan." So begins "Talk to Me," the lead single from Run The Jewels' self-titled third album, the official soundtrack to the Trump era.

While it technically dropped Dec. 24, 2016 — a Christmas Fucking Miracle, if you will — Run the Jewels 3 is, for all intents and purposes, a 2017 album. It features a jazz saxophonist. It calls a CNN anchor "dummy Don." It samples 1970s British prog rock. It samples Martin Luther King, Jr. It samples a Ticketmaster ad. It's unabashedly political throughout, obviously. And, oh yeah, it was in the Black Panther ad.

If RTJ3 had a flaw, it's that it lacked a truly transcendent breakout single. (I mean yes, I think RTJ3 was their best album and ALSO that they'll never make a better song than "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)." Both can be true.) But in a time when our country is on fire and nothing makes sense, this brash, banging, bizarre album represents us better than any dull, repetitive indie bullshit ever could.

– Ryan Romano, deputy managing editor

Signs of the times

The Women's March, which took place the day after the inauguration, showed the power of people showing up in large numbers and started a trend of protests. It seems like there was a march of some kind every weekend in Washington, D.C., this year.

The People's Climate March, The March for Science, demonstrations against the travel ban and more brought people from all over the country to D.C. and gave a message of defiance to the Trump administration.

The protests aren't always a direct response to a political action, but are instead a way of proving to the world that the resistance is here. It is active and present, and willing to fight dangerous policy.

2017 was not the most hopeful year for those on the left side of politics, but the left has shown so much vision and desire for change recently. There's no way this year's emotion and drive won't spill over into the future.

Americans choosing not to lay down and die in a time when it takes a lot of effort not to be complicit is a great feat and one of the best things to come out of this trash year.

– Allison O'Reilly, diversions staff writer 

He's looking at another woman. His girlfriend is looking at him in disgust. They became an instant hit.

The stock-photo-turned-viral meme came to popularity toward the end of the summer when people began substituting pictures or words on top of each of the three people.

There were three main routes to take: existing pop culture (i.e. making a meme about High School Musical's Troy Bolton and his divide between singing and basketball), topical references (a media company suddenly getting distracted by video and disregarding written content), and relatable personal commentary (starring "me" staring at a $30 food delivery while a newly-stocked refrigerator looks on in dismay).

The word meme is derived from the idea of a medium conveying a message, and the best memes are the most versatile ones.

That's why this meme tops the rest (sorry dancing Snapchat hotdog and blinking white guy). As we go into the new year and new internet jokes take over, I'll still be the distracted boyfriend looking back at this meme.

– Hannah Yasharoff, diversions staff writer

Resembling something closer to an indie film than a Comedy Central television finale, the two-hour long season four closer of Nathan for You deserved every minute of airtime it received. In the epic "Finding Frances," Nathan Fielder and new friend Bill Heath — known by fans as the Bill Gates Impersonator — embark on a mission to track down Heath's high school sweetheart in Dumas, Arkansas, with nothing but her first and last name. What begins as a quest to find a long-lost love evolves into the slow unraveling of Fielder's innermost fears, regrets and secrets, a side of him never before exposed to the viewer. While you can count on the laughs to carry this episode to its end, it's the heart of the characters and the depths of their truths that make this one of the most memorable and shocking finales in television history.

– Hallie Miller, special projects editor

The year’s best songs

Lorde — "Supercut"
Khalid — "8TEEN"
Harry Styles — "From the Dining Table"
Lorde — "Green Light"
Kendrick Lamar — "LOYALTY." (ft. Rihanna)
LEON — "Surround Me"
MØ — "Nights With You"
SZA — "Supermodel"
Carly Rae Jepsen — "Cut to the Feeling"
Niall Horan — "Slow Hands"

– Mina Haq, editor in chief

1. GoldLink – "Crew" (feat. Shy Glizzy and Brent Faiyaz)
2. Charli XCX – "Boys"
3. Creek Boyz – "With My Team"
4. Reddish Blu – "You're So Beautiful"
5. Playboi Carti – "Magnolia"
6. Corbin – "Ice Boy"
7. SZA – "Supermodel"
8. Kendrick Lamar – "DNA."
9. Tove Lo – "Disco Tits"
10. SOPHIE – "It's Okay To Cry"

– Patrick Basler, diversions editor

1. Migos – "MotorSport" (feat. Nicki Minaj and Cardi B)
2. Run The Jewels – "Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost)" (feat. Tunde Adebimpe)
3. Cardi B – "Bodak Yellow"
4. Gryffin and Illenium – "Feel Good" (feat. Daya)
5. N.E.R.D – "Lemon" (feat. Rihanna)
6. SZA – "Love Galore" (feat. Travis Scott)
7. Demi Lovato – "Sorry Not Sorry"
8. Travis Scott – "goosebumps" (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
9. Linkin Park – "Heavy" (feat. Kiiara)
10. A$AP Ferg – "Plain Jane"

– Ryan Romano, deputy managing editor

1. Lil Pump – "Gucci Gang"
2. Kendrick Lamar – "FEEL."
3. Electric Guest – "Oh Devil"
4. LCD Soundsystem – "call the police"
5. Lil Uzi Vert – "XO TOUR Llif3"
6. Paramore – "Hard Times"
7. French Montana – "Unforgettable"
8. Father John Misty – "Total Entertainment Forever"
9. Phoenix – "J-Boy"
10. Kendrick Lamar – "PRIDE."

– Arya Hodjat, copy editor

1. GoldLink – "Crew" (feat. Shy Glizzy and Brent Faiyaz)
2. Vince Staples – "745"
3. Lorde – "Liability"
4. Tyler, The Creator – "See You Again"
5. Olivia O'Brien – "Empty"
6. SZA – "Supermodel"
7. 6LACK – "PRBLMS"
8. Lil Peep – "Benz Truck (Гелик)"
9. Kendrick Lamar – "DNA"
10. Blackbear – "hell is where i dreamt of u and woke up alone"

– Jay Reed, multimedia editor

1. GoldLink – "Crew" (feat. Shy Glizzy and Brent Faiyaz)
2. Post Malone – "rockstar" (feat. 21 Savage)
3. Calvin Harris – "Slide" (feat. Frank Ocean and Migos)
4. Future – "Draco"
5. Migos – "Get Right Witcha"
6. Kendrick Lamar – "LOYALTY." (feat. Rihanna)
7. Kendrick Lamar – "DNA."
8. Lil Uzi Vert – "The Way Life Goes"
9. DJ Khaled – "Wild Thoughts" (feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller)
10. Sam Hunt – "Body Like A Back Road"

– Connor Newcomb, assistant online managing editor

1. Kendrick Lamar – "LOVE." (feat. Zacari)
2. XXXTentacion – "Fuck Love"
3. 2 Chainz – "It's A Vibe"
4. Drake – "Passionfruit"
5. Jay-Z – "The Story of O.J."
6. Gorillaz – "Saturnz Barz"
7. SZA – "Drew Barrymore"
8. Kendrick Lamar – "HUMBLE."
9. Tyler, The Creator – "911 / Mr. Lonely"
10. Post Malone – "Candy Paint"

– Casey Kammerle, online managing editor

1. Brockhampton – "Gold"
2. The National – "Day I Die"
3. Mount Eerie – "Soria Moria"
4. Run the Jewels – "Don't Get Captured"
5. Kendrick Lamar – "XXX"
6. Rina Sawayama – "Take Me As I Am"
7. Car Seat Headrest – "War is Coming (If You Want It)"
8. Big Thief –  "Mythological Beauty"
9. Julien Baker – "Claws In Your Back"
10. Demi Lovato – "Sorry Not Sorry"

– Max Foley-Keene, opinion editor

Kendrick Lamar – "PRIDE."
SZA – "Love Galore"
Frank Ocean– "Chanel"
Frank Ocean – "Biking"
Miguel – "Banana Clip"
Jay-Z – "4:44"
Miguel – "City of Angels"
BROCKHAMPTON – "GOLD"
Buddy – "World of Wonders"
Smino – "Wild Irish Roses

– Connor Senay, diversions contributor