By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Dec 31, 2015 at 5:06 PM

Well, we're finally out of 2015. Today is the last day of the year, and while we're all having fun looking forward to the year to come with optimism a plenty, let's take one final look back at just some of the good, the bad and the just plain bizarre that was 2015. 


  • Packers playoff run: After a strong regular season, the Packers snuck into the NFC Championship thanks to a Dez Bryant catch that, according to the referees, wasn't. Considering the Cowboy were aided in the Wild Card round by a questionable call, call it karma – though just one game later, it would be the Packers in karma's fickle sights as they squandered a miserable first half by the Seahawks, botched several key plays in clutch time and lost their chance at the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, almost a year later, we still have no idea what the heck a catch actually is. 
  • Deflategate: A lot of grown men had to address the state of their balls to a giggling nation after the Indianapolis Colts accused the New England Patriots of deflating footballs in the AFC Championship. The Patriots won that game 45-7 though, so it's safe to say the Colts problems were not isolated to excessively squishy cowhide balls. The investigation would eventually come back with a four-game suspension for Tom Brady – a suspension that would quickly be overturned, rendering all of this talk of balls useless but very amusing.
  • Larry Sanders: In the midst the Milwaukee Bucks' surprisingly successful start to the 2014-15, there was this odd bit of drama. After being placed on the inactive list for "personal reasons," returning to the bench only to be suspended 10 games for violating the NBA's drug policy and rumors abound, the Bucks bought out the talented but troubled center's contract. In the end, it was a win-win, as the Bucks went on to the playoffs and Sanders was able to leave a game that, according to later interviews, had taken a toll on his mental and emotional health. 
  • Stuart Scott: The influential SportsCenter anchor died at the age of 49 after a long fight with cancer. His swaggering broadcasting style thoroughly inspired countless sports anchors and reporters – not to mention ESPN's tone as a whole – while his brave words and actions during his battle with cancer would inspire millions fighting the same enemy. Former colleague Rich Eisen would pay lovely tribute to Scott by filling an entire highlight package with Scott's signature catchphrases.  
  • Charlie Hebdo: On Jan. 12, two gunmen opened fire in the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. 12 died in the attack, which would tragically not be the only terrorist attack to strike Paris in 2015. 
  • "American Sniper": Fueled by Oscar buzz, controversy, a star actor and a terrific advertising campaign, Clint Eastwood's Chris Kyle war drama became the highest grossing movie of 2014, beating out names like Katniss, Captain America and Groot. 
  • Shawn Oakman: The Baylor defensive end became a Twitter sensation when a photo of him at the Cotton Bowl made him resemble a destroyer of worlds. Or a defensive end who'd eaten another defensive end for a pregame meal. Or the boss at the end of a fighting game. 


  • Leonard NimoyThe iconic "Star Trek" actor died on Feb. 27 of complications from COPD. His beloved memory will live long and prosper. 
  • Brian Williams: The generally respected newsman got in trouble for getting caught exaggerating a common war story he told about his time covering the 2003 Iraq War. A later investigation by NBC discovered several of Williams' stories were inaccurate or exaggerated. He would eventually be suspended and sent off to MSNBC. 
  • Streetcar: After years of debate and debate and more debate, the Milwaukee streetcar was finally approved in 2015. Some projections have the route ready for public transportation in July 2018. I'm sure nobody will complain about it at all. 
  • An arena for a casino: In what was basically a bribe in all but name, the Menominee Indian Tribe and Hard Rock International proposed giving $220 million toward a new Downtown arena ... if Gov. Walker approved a casino for Kenosha. The proposal was turned down; the new arena is still being built. 
  • "Fifty Shades of Grey"The film adaptation of the hit book premiered, whipping up a bit of controversy, a ton of money – $166 million to be exact – and absolutely no interest in its leading man, Jamie Dornan. #NotMyChristian
  • Jon Stewart: The host of "The Daily Show" announced that he would be leaving the show. The announcement – and his final show later in August – led to sadness everywhere ... until November when he signed with HBO to provide exclusive digital content for the network. 
  • Brandon Knight trade: On Feb. 19, the Bucks traded away point guard Brandon Knight to the Suns for the 76ers' Michael Carter-Williams and the Suns' Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis. Almost one year later, it's hard to say who won the trade. The Bucks have struggled since, with MCW's future with the team uncertain, the Suns are in the midst of a collapse and the 76ers are, well, the 76ers. But hey, at least the Bucks still made the playoffs!
  • Oscars: "Birdman" won Best Picture at the Academy Awards – much to the disappointment of me – while "Whiplash" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" also came away with several Oscars. Also: This GIF of Meryl Streep being just so jacked up.

  • "Parks and Recreation": The world said goodbye to Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson, Andy Dwyer and company this year. We also said goodbye to NBC's "Constantine," but did we ever really say hello?
  • Grammys: Some people won some stuff at the Grammys, but the important thing is that, after Beck won Album of the Year, Kanye West took to the stage ... only to think better of it and dip back into his seat. It was a funny moment – which got ruined later when Kanye made it pretty clear that he was gonna let Beck finish, but Beyonce had one of the best albums of all time.
  • Llama chase: Lost in the dress mania was the story of two llamas getting chased around a retirement community in Sun City, Arizona. Poor llamas; you never really got the spotlight you deserved. 

  • Super Bowl: After days of Deflategate and "I'm just here so I won't get fined," they actually played the damn Super Bowl, with the New England Patriots winning out in the last second over the Seattle Seahawks after Seattle coach Pete Carroll bizarrely elected to pass from the one-yard line. Probably the worst decision anyone made in 2015 – and people saw "Mortdecai" this year.
  • Left Shark: Katy Perry was maybe the third most important thing that happened during the Super Bowl halftime show – and she was the Super Bowl halftime show. Left Shark was obviously number one, with Missy Elliott coming in a close second. I wonder what Coldplay will have for uszzz, sorry fell asleep there just thinking about it. 


  • The Rolling Stones: After about a month of billboards, rumors and delays, it was finally announced that the Rolling Stones were coming to Summerfest. 
  • "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt": Netflix' new sitcom premiered this year, and it was delightful. If Ellie Kemper isn't everywhere in 2016, we have failed as a society. And if you didn't like it, well, 2090 called; you're dead and you wasted your time on Earth!
  • March Madness: This year's edition of the NCAA tournament wasn't packed with the usual upsets, but there was Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter falling out of his chair in excitement watching his son R.J. hit a big shot to help beat Baylor in the first round. That was a moment with the joy of 1,000 upsets.  
  • Trevor Noah: After much speculation, "The Daily Show" announced Trevor Noah as Jon Stewart's replacement. It took less than a day for that to go wrong. Websites found some old bad joke tweets from the South African comedian, and Noah went mostly into hiding. Noah's new "Daily Show eventually premiered in September. It hasn't been heard from since.               


  • Bucks' new logoThe Bucks introduced their new logo – and later, their new jerseys – in 2015, impressing the nation with the slick new look. They may not have won much in them, but in a year when the Clippers' new duds are duds indeed and the Atlanta Hawks decided neon green was a good look, the Bucks came out winners. 
  • Bucks in playoffs: No one expected the Bucks to make the playoffs, and no one most certainly expected them to give the Chicago Bulls much of a fight. But the pesky Bucks took their neighbors to the south to six games ... where they then got pummeled into the dirt. But hey, we'll always have that Jerryd Bayless game-winner. 

  • Badgers in NCAA Championship: In related local basketball success, the Badgers managed to march through March Madness – and the seemingly destined all-star team of the Kentucky Wildcats – into the NCAA Championship. They eventually lost a tight game to Duke – but nobody likes Duke, so it's like we still won. 
  • Aaron Hernandez: The former Patriots tight end was found guilty of first-degree murder on April 15.             


  • "Mad Men": The acclaimed AMC show ended its run in 2015, ending with a smiling Don, a Coke ad and watchers both baffled and ... well, mostly kinda baffled. 
  • Ron Roenicke: The Brewers' 2015 season went south fast, and by May, manager Ron Roenicke was out the door and replaced by the equally alliterative Craig Counsell. Also like Ron Roenicke: He didn't win much in 2015. 
  • "Avengers: Age of Ultron"The massive Marvel sequel came out this year to fairly subdued fanfare for a massive blockbuster. Yes, it's now the sixth highest grossing movie worldwide – seventh after "Star Wars" inevitably passes it. But it also got beat out by "Star Wars" and "Jurassic World" domestically – where it also fell short of the first "Avengers" movie – and the reviews were modestly pleased rather than raves this time out. They still have $1.4 billion dollars to wipe away their disappointed tears. 
  • Mayweather/Pacquiao: So the fight of the century happened. After a decade of waiting for this fight, what we got was a limp, weak fight won by a man most hated for being an unrepentant woman-beater and placed up on a pedestal by a slobbering Stephen A. Smith. Scratch that: Nobody won. 
  • "Bad Blood": Taylor Swift released the #squad-studded music video for arguably the worst song on "1989" (even with Kendrick Lamar helping out). Taylor Swift followed up its massive success by bringing her famous friends on tour with her and probably getting elected president next year.    

  • FIFA: Everyone's always known FIFA is the most corrupt organization on the planet. But 2015 was the year people finally got around to doing something about it, with several officials getting arrested in May and perfectly named godfather of corruption Sepp Blatter getting banned form the spot for eight years. Amazingly, the organization's self-produced propaganda movie "United Passions" did not help matters. 


  • Summerfest: Despite cold weather, a transit strike and some very late Marcus Amphitheater announcements, the Big Gig brought out big numbers yet again, not to mention big names: Rolling Stones, Walk The Moon, Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar, Neil Young, Ed Sheeran and, most importantly, DJ P Hilty. 
  • "Inside Out"Does Pixar feed off of tears? Probably. Anyways, "Inside Out" was a beautiful, hilarious and insanely inventive movie, and I sobbed like child who just discovered he made Santa disappear forever. 
  • "Jurassic World": "Jurassic World" was going to do big, but it's hard to imagine anyone imagined it doing THIS big. The dinosaur sequel became the third highest grossing movie of all time worldwide and dominated the domestic box office (until "Star Wars" obviously) all while not being a particularly good movie. Dinosaurs and Chris Pratt, however, make a tough combo to beat. 

  • NBA Finals: The Golden State Warriors beat what remained of the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA Finals. They haven't looked back since.
  • Gay marriage: On June 26, the Supreme Court declare same-sex marriage was legal across the nation. Confetti rained down on celebrations, Facebook profile photos were rainbow-ified, fake ISIS flags hilariously trolled CNN and no Kentucky clerks decided that, nah, the law isn't for me. Oh darn.
  • American Pharaoh: After several close calls over the years – California Chrome, Big Brown, Smarty Jones, War Emblem – American Pharaoh pulled off the rarely seen by winning the Triple Crown. 
  • "True Detective": I unfortunately don't get around to watching much television – there's just so many shows out there, I just don't have the time to commit – but I watched "True Detective" season one. I watched "True Detective" season one about five times, it was that good. So obviously I got excited for season two, and BOY WAS THAT A MISTAKE. Imagine everything good about season one gone wrong, and you've got this dumpster fire of a season. At least we got "Beasts of No Nation" out of it. 
  • Rachel Dolezal: In the running for 2015's most bizarre story comes the curious case of Rachel Dolezal, the Spokane black woman and NAACP chapter president who ended up getting outed by her parents as being born white.


  • Milwaukee lion: Milwaukee lost its goddamn mind this summer when reports came in about a lion stalking about. Was it just an oversized cougar or bobcat that got lost in the city. A prank gone viral? A cat yeti? We'll never know because nobody ever found the thing. Milwaukee lore, meet the Milwaukee lion. 
  • Scott Walker for president: Surprising exactly zero people, Scott Walker announced July 13 that he would join the ever-growing mass of people running for the Republican nomination. It went poorly. 
  • Greg Monroe signing: In an off-season stunner, free agent Greg Monroe rejected the likes of New York and Los Angeles to sign with the Bucks. It hasn't paid off quite yet, but just the fact that Milwaukee beat out massive markets for a big-time player is exciting in its own right.
  • Caitlyn Jenner: It was a big year for Caitlyn, from her April interview on "20/20" to her early summer introduction on the cover of Vanity Fair. The spotlight kept on her in July, when she was controversially named by the ESPYs for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Say what you will about her place in tabloid celebrity culture, Jenner delivered a moving speech that night – and has done great work overall in helping to bring knowledge and acceptance of transexuality into the mainstream. 
  • The Dissolve folds: The Dissolve was a movie website created by some of the best film critics, writers and thinkers currently out there. Unfortunately, having great content wasn't enough, and the website folded this past summer – the same weekend of Adam Sandler's "Pixels," supplying the perfect blackly comic punchline. 
  • Women’s World Cup: The U.S. women's team became the pride of the nation when they beat Japan in the finals of the 2015 FIFA World Cup. Then, like all American heroes, they took their rightful place next to Taylor Swift at one of her concerts. 
  • Cecil the Lion: In case being a dentist wasn't bad enough, Walter Palmer went ahead and killed beloved Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. And once social media got word of Palmer's kill, the hunter soon became the hunted (OK, maybe just strongly disliked).


  • Wes Craven: Horror genius Wes Craven sadly died on Aug. 30 at the age of 76 from brain cancer. He left behind the best nightmares the movies could offer.
  • Kim DavisIf you can't put aside your own bigoted feelings and attitudes in order to follow the law and do your job, then don't get a job with the government. Or anywhere in particular, actually. 
  • Jordy Nelson: It was a massive bummer when Jordy Nelson was lost for the season with a "significant knee injury," as the early reports said. Little did Packers fans know that the pain was beginning ...
  • Twitter shooting: In a moment so horrific it bordered on surreal, aggrieved former Virginia TV station employee Vester Lee Flanagan shot and killed reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward on air and then tweeted a first-person video of his attack. A truly terrifying moment somehow forgotten only because, tragically, there were still many more shootings to come this year. 


  • Water on Mars: NASA confirmed this year that, yes, there is liquid water on Mars – which did nothing to help poor Matt Damon in "The Martian."
  • Garth BrooksAfter almost two decades away from the Cream City, Garth Brooks returned to Milwaukee for a weekend of shows at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. According to reviews and accounts of the show, however, Chris Gaines was nowhere to be found. What a shame. 
  • New Brewers GM: To replace Doug Melvin, the Brewers hired boy wonder David Stearns from the Houston Astros. And judging by the Astros' recent playbook for success, expect Stearns to burn this thing to the ground in order to build it back up. It's gonna be a long few years, Brewers fans. 
  • Scott Walker drops out: Like I said, it went poorly. After several lackluster debate appearances and plummeting poll numbers, Walker dropped out of the race barely two months after jumping into it. In his news conference, he noted part of his reasoning was the hope of clearing up the race for "a positive, conservative message" to come through the clutter, an act he hoped other candidates would follow. They didn't.
  • Stephen ColbertThe former "Colbert Report" host took over "The Late Show" reins from David Letterman in September, opening off his run with interviews with George Clooney and Jeb(!) Bush. It was a good start, one that's only gotten better as it's gone along. 
  • Pope visits U.S.: Pope Francis made his visit to America, making his way through New York, Washington and Philadelphia. In other Pope-related news, a Vatican paper gave a scathing review to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Can't wait to see the nerds versus church Twitter war. 
  • Ryan Adams covers Taylor Swift: Everybody liked "1989," but nobody may have liked it more than Ryan Adams, who decided he liked it so much he wanted to cover the whole darn thing. The results were very different, digging into the sadder parts lying under Swift's pop monolith, but quite good in their own right. So no matter which "1989" you'll listen to, it'll be worthwhile. 


  • John Henson: What better way to congratulate John Henson on signing a four-year extension with the Bucks that with an act of insane racial profiling. That's what happened at Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers' Whitefish Bay location, which locked the Bucks forward out of its store and called the police. Apologies were given and accepted, and most have moved on from the misunderstanding – but still, it was a bad look for Schwanke-Kasten and for Milwaukee, as the story went national. 
  • Goodbye, Grantland: The Dissolve wasn't the only esteemed online publication we had to say goodbye to in 2015, as ESPN pulled the plug on its sports and pop culture site Grantland. Its demise wasn't hard to predict – Simmons and ESPN heads clashed regularly, and after the former was fired, Grantland contributors began to flee – but that didn't make it any less depressing. 
  • "Hello," Adele: We missed you, Adele! The Brit songstress' single erupted like one of her signature belted notes into popularity – only to be outdone by when the rest of the album, "25," came out the following month, breaking first-week sales records across the globe. 


  • Brett Favre gameIt was the best of times, and it was the worst of times on Thanksgiving. On the good side, seeing Brett Favre's number retired and seeing him, Starr and Rodgers together in the same building was quite the moment. On the bad side ... the rest of it. Losing on such a big night – to the Bears of all teams – was rock bottom of what's been the most underwhelming 10-5 season in NFL history. 
  • Milwaukee GOP debateThe insanity that's been the GOP presidential race made a stop in Milwaukee. The debate here in the Cream City wasn't the year's craziest – but then again, the bar for that is set pretty high at this point. 
  • "The Walking Dead": AMC's hit zombie show took perhaps its biggest risk since, well,  its creation when it seemingly killed off Glenn ... and then took about a month to get around to solving its cliffhanger. And the result? SPOILER ALERT: He's fine; he just hid under a dumpster. Now, I don't watch the show, but if I did? I'd call that a cop out. 
  • Paris bombings: The globe was deeply shaken after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13. There's no saying where those tragic events will lead in the coming year, but as naive as it sounds, hopefully some peace lies somewhere in the cards. 
  • Ronda Rousey: For the first time in her MMA career, Ronda Rousey lost – and that seems like an understatement. Challenger Holly Holm dominated the match, from start to very quick finish. Even her biggest fans knew she would have to lose at some point; no one imaged it would look like that. 


  • Hoverboards: If you got a hoverboard for Christmas, there's a good chance you actually got a box of danger and deception (said Matt in his best "Dateline" voice). People across the globe have dealt with exploding hoverboards, and those that haven't busted batteries have blown up their owner's bones instead as they topple off the unstable devices. AND IT'S NOT EVEN AN ACTUAL HOVERBOARD! The whole thing is a deathtrap made of LIES!
  • "Making a Murderer"Netflix quietly released this docu-series, seemingly unaware of the phenomenon it had on its hands. The 10-part investigation has turned the nation rage-addled and conspiracy-minded, asking lots of major questions of the Steven Avery case. Did Avery actually do it? What's the deal with that key? If Avery didn't do it, then who did? And least important of all, do people now think all Wisconsinites sound like that? 
  • "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"Here's a crazy stat: If you took just "The Force Awakens" second weekend box office tally – $149 million – it would be the 12th highest opening weekend of all time. That's how crazy well "Star Wars" is doing. It's nice to know that this truckload of money is going toward a pretty good movie too, one that, while maybe too obsessed with the past for its own good, reminds us why we liked these movies in the first place. Here's to the next one!
  • Hail Mary game: This past Packers' season hasn't given us much in the way of happiness – or just merely in big exciting plays. But there was the Hail Mary game against the Lions, saving the season – not to mention fans' collective emotional state. 
  • Bill CosbyNo one's legacy took a bigger hit than Bill Cosby, who went from the nation's TV dad to one of the nation's greatest shames. His mugshot, and the awkward addled perp walk into the station to take it, after being charged with sexual assault is one of the sad defining images of 2015. 
  • Bucks/Warriors: It's been a rough season for the Bucks thus far, but at least they have this remarkably highlight: beating the then-undefeated Golden State Warriors. Yes, the defending champs were tired from a long road trip and a double-OT game the night before, but the Bucks – and the Bucks faithful – looked good that night. More of that in 2016 please. 
Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.