2017 has been a year of surprises — and not just on the political stage. The entertainment industry has been a roller coaster ride of crazy moments, unexpected winners and losers, and the rise and fall of some of our most admired heroes. So, as we look back on the strange highs and lows of 2017, these are the moments in TV, movies, and games that surprised us the most.
La La Land NOT Winning the Oscar
By all accounts, the 2016 musical, La La Land, was clearly Oscar-bait. It had all the hallmarks of a movie that would get Academy voters excited. And come Oscar nominations time, that’s exactly what it did. The musical landed 14 nominations, tying records for the most nominations for a single film. Of the 14 nominations, La La Land scored
seven six of them.
When Faye Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner of the Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards, it seemed about right. Of course it would win.
Cut to: two minutes and three speeches later when the Oscar’s crew alerted the “winners” that there was a mistake and that (the arguably more deserving) Moonlight was the real winner.
An Oscar-Worthy Horror Movie
Fans of the sketch comedy series Key & Peele had a good feeling that Get Out would be great. The show had a cinematic feel about many of its sketches and it was clear that the crew were paying a lot of attention to detail, beyond just telling funny jokes. But a horror movie? From Jordan Peele?
Not only was Get Out one of the best, most well-rounded thrillers in a long time, but it was a surprise hit at the box office too, particularly given it was released in what’s known in the industry as a “dump month.”
‘Get Out’ is a documentary.
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) November 15, 2017
Following the movie’s recent Golden Globes nomination (for Best Musical or Comedy? Huh?!) there’s a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding Get Out. This is even more surprising given the Academy’s general reluctance for nominating genre films, particularly those that fit in the horror category.
Wonder Woman Shows Justice League How to Kick Ass and Take Names
— Mike Elston (@MikePElston) May 28, 2017
Before the film came out, nothing specific about Wonder Woman implied it was going to be amazing. Director, Patty Jenkins, was an unknown quantity, and after whatever the hell was going on with Batman v Superman happened, expectations were low. “It doesn’t look amazing,” people would say, “but I guess I’ll see it anyway.”
A quick summary of the #WonderWoman movie:
Some guy: Diana, you can't do that.
Diana: I'm doing it. I already did it. It's done.
— Denizcan Grimes (@MrFilmkritik) June 5, 2017
And then, it happened. Wonder Woman punched her way into our hearts like the total badass she is. Jenkins’ movie proved — in case we weren’t already aware — female superheroes can keep up with the men and she has the box office numbers to prove that female audiences shouldn’t be overlooked. If only Justice League could’ve captured that same Diana magic… but more on that later.
Blade Runner 2049 Stumbles
Blade Runner 2049 should’ve been a home run. With Arrival director, Denis Villeneuve taking on the project and huge stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford galavanting across a post-apocalyptic world together really should’ve been catnip to fanboys everywhere. But when the long-awaited kind-of sequel came out, audiences stayed in.
There are a lot of reasons why Blade Runner 2049 didn’t quite hit its mark. But one of its biggest problems was its lack of appeal for women (besides gawping at Ryan Gosling for two-and-a-half hours). As Forbes put it, the movie’s marketing strategy seemed to be that it was a film about “dudes being dudes doing dude things.”
Twin Peaks: The Return “Part 8”
As if David Lynch’s Twin Peaks wasn’t weird enough, the 2017 return took some, let’s say, unusual turns. Each episode of Twin Peaks was surprising, but it was “Part 8” that took things to David Lynch‘s Lynchiest Lynch that ever Lynched.
Several times during tonight's #twinpeaks my eyes dried out from not blinking
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) June 26, 2017
— shadowcat_becks (@Rebecca_Beluk) June 26, 2017
The fact that the episode made it on television is surprising enough, but this 56-minute surrealist art experiment only barely touches on plot, rarely includes any characters we’ve met, or makes any sense whatsoever.
I don't think it would be hyperbolic to say we've just witnessed one of the most astonishing things to be broadcast in TV history #TwinPeaks
— David Rattigan (@davidmrattigan) June 26, 2017
For a series like Twin Peaks, it takes a lot of effort to really surprise its fans. But for all the surprise you expect from an artist/filmmaker like Lynch, no one could’ve predicted “Part 8.”
A Multinational Corporation Bends the Knee for a Dinky Cartoon
For April Fool’s Day, Adult Swim aired the first episode of the long-awaited third season of Rick and Morty on repeat for four hours straight. The episode reminded Americans of the short-lived McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce that came out for the promotion of the 1998 Disney film, Mulan.
This set Rick and Morty fans into a frenzy and the discontinued McNugget dipping sauce started appearing on eBay, with people paying upwards of $800 for the coveted item.
McDonald’s quickly caught on to Szechuan Sauce mania and smelling a killer marketing opportunity, the fast food giant decided it’d be a fun idea to do a limited run of the sauce. And then, all hell broke loose.
In the next season can Rick be mad he can't get universal healthcare please
— H. Bomberguy (@Hbomberguy) October 8, 2017
It wasn’t surprising that the debacle ended poorly. It was destined to crash and burn. The fact that McDonald’s were willing to play along in the first place was what surprised most fans. That’ll teach ’em.
Mario + Rabbids Shouldn’t Work, But it Does
Mario is a treasured entity. And while he’s seen numerous adventures in his time, little prepared fans for his 2017 romp with whatever the hell kind of creatures Rabbids are.
When the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle trailer landed, the gaming community wasn’t sure how to take the odd crossover. But the Nintendo/Ubisoft game surprised everyone with how well made and executed it was despite its weird concept.
White-Washing Is Still a Thing Somehow
It’s 2017. And although racism is hardly “solved,” it seems that Hollywood is in no rush to include people of color in properties where they should have representation either. So, sadly, white-washing is still a thing.
By now, this shouldn’t be surprising. But it is. It’s disappointing that the entertainment industry has yet to learn its lesson and still thinks it’s ok to cast a white lady or a white guy in lead roles of popular Japanese anime and manga franchise adaptations and still have little-to-no Asian representation in the cast.
At least awareness is starting to spread. Deadpool actor, Ed Skrein, recently stepped down from his role in the upcoming Hellboy reboot when it came to his attention that the original character from the comic book was of mixed Asian heritage. It’s a start, but there’s a lot of work still to go.
What even is Cappy? The existential problem that the Super Mario Odyssey character(?) posed was real, and early trailers didn’t exactly sell Cappy’s existence as being anything but Malibu Stacy with a new hat.
The fact that Nintendo incorporated Cappy in a smart and fun way that made sense even within the strict bounds of the Mario universe was what was truly surprising. It still sucks being relegated to Player 2 and having to play as Mario’s hat though.
Wait, Pikachu Speaks English Now?
In Pokémon’s 20 years of existence, its most iconic creature has never spoken in any kind of human language. That was until 2017 decided that Pikachu needed a voice. In the anime film, Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!, rather than squeaking his usual “pika pika,” Pikachu utters his first recognizable words in perfect English: “It’s because I always want to be with you.”
And the only rational response to this information is:
Hi, I am just learning that Pikachu speaks English in the new Pokemon movie and, yes, it is extremely fucking weird pic.twitter.com/k5hm5lyW7Y
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) November 13, 2017
Game of Thrones Makes Incest OK?
It goes without saying that incest is not ok. But when it comes to Game of Thrones, apparently, there seems to be a bit of a gray area. Fans were pretty sure that Jon Snow and Daenerys were related, but Season 7 confirmed that the two were, in fact, aunt and nephew. This news didn’t quash our desire to see the couple together, however, and thankfully/sadly, fans got their wish in the season finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf.”
It’s not surprising that Game of Thrones went “there” as it’s not the first time relatives have gotten it on. What was more surprising was the way the show revealed Jon and Dany’s lineage while they’re in the throes of passion and somehow making us feel glad and icky all at once. Thanks, Game of Thrones.
Making Killing Nazis Great Again
In the past, hating Nazis was easy. Nazis are evil. Simple.
2017: Hold my beer.
With some unpleasantness surrounding neo-Nazis in the US this year, a theme began to emerge in the gaming industry that was either completely coincidental or incredibly well-co-ordinated. Killing Nazis in games became pretty damn fun. Again. With major game releases Wolfenstein 2 and Call of Duty: WWII both bringing back the old theme, it allowed many of us to let out some pent-up aggression on some unsuspecting Nazi’s brain.
The Justice League production was fraught with problems from the get-go. Rumors that Ben Affleck was done being Batman, Joss Whedon coming onboard for some re-writes and then handling post-production when Snyder needed to leave after his daughter died. And then there was the issue of Henry Cavill’s mustache.
When the Justice League needed to re-assemble in July for two months of reshoots (never a good sign), Cavill was contractually obliged to keep the mustache he’d grown for his Mission: Impossible 6 role. So, Superman’s upper lip went through some expensive CG work and naturally, the results were seamless. No one could tell at all.
JUSTICE LEAGUE EXEC: We can just CGI Henry Cavill’s mustache out it will be fine and not look weird at all
HENRY CAVILL: pic.twitter.com/Ag41j6LbPn
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) November 17, 2017
Hollywood Starts Taking Sexual Harassment Sorta Seriously Kinda
The depth of the industry-wide sexual harassment and assault scandal in Hollywood is by no means a surprise. It’s a serious issue that has plagued showbusiness for so long that it’s a Hollywood trope. Kate McKinnon‘s recurring Saturday Night Live character of senior actress Debette Goldry shows just how pervasive the trope is and how long this kind of conduct has lasted without any serious repercussions for the perpetrators.
But somehow, 2017 surprised us. The industry is actually starting to pay attention to the myriad accusations from women and men and the ongoing sexual predatory behavior of many men who hold positions of power. It’s barely scratching the surface, and there are still many more victims who will come forward, but those accused are losing work and funding for their projects. Finally, Hollywood is starting to listen.
Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) September 22, 2016
ICYMI, Detective Pikachu is on its way to being a real movie, proving once and for all that there is a God. Since we’ve already established that this adorable Pokémon can speak, someone clearly had to play the titular role. Given that Daniel Day-Lewis retired from acting this year, producers had to scrounge for the next best thing. Enter: Ryan Reynolds. This spit-take-worthy casting decision somehow also became one of the greatest things to happen in 2017.