Tis the season for Milwaukee merriment and BMO Harris Bank is bringing you happy holiday stories all season long.
It's time to say goodbye to 2016 (thank god) and ring in the new year. But before we do, here are the best – and just a bit of the worst – of what 2016 had to offer, according to OnMilwaukee pop culture editor Matt Mueller.
Best sports moment: 2016 may have, in general, sucked, but when it came to sports, 2016 was an all-timer – from the Warriors' incredible regular season to their even more incredible self-destruction in the Finals, to Leicester City's unfathomable soccer triumph to our country's dominance in Rio. The year was so spectacular, it's easy to forget the NCAA basketball championship was decided by an amazing buzzer beater.
Yet even with all those already iconic sports moments, the best of the best has to go to this past fall's World Series.
Now, before I say anything more: Screw the Cubs. Screw them for convincing the nation a team in the third-largest market was an underdog lovable loser (especially in a World Series against an ACTUAL underdog, the Cleveland Indians), and screw any Brewers-fan turncoats that jumped on the bandwagon in the hopes of getting invited to our big brother's party. That's not how a rivalry works! Where's your commitment?!
But damn, what a series – one at least tied for the title of the best World Series I've been alive to witness (Yankees vs. Diamondbacks in 2003 would be the other contender). Two teams, each with terrific storylines heading into the finale, playing terrific baseball and taking each game seemingly to the wire. Then, to top it off, they completed the thing with a comeback to take the series to an extra-innings, back-and-forth, dramatically rain-delayed Game 7. And even though, as I predicted, it didn't end how I hoped, I'll always remember bellowing with joy at Rajai Davis' unbelievable home run to tie the game, speeding over to a new bar after our previous one closed during the brief rain delay and, finally, hearing the cheers of the Cubs fans surrounding me at the last out – and then smiling because, you know what, fine; you get this one. Just know you're on your way to being Red Sox fans now.
Worst sports moment: Remember when the Packers blew the NFC Championship to the Seahawks in 2015? Oh no, please stop crying; I'm so sorry I brought it up. Of course you remember it (as much as you might try not to), but do you remember the opinion of the Packers before that game? We were just happy to be there! Yeah, we had a strong season, but we'd just barely survived the Cowboys the week before thanks to the Dez Bryant not-catch, Rodgers was hobbled and there was a collective feeling we were going to get smoked by a much more complete Seattle team that had already done so in Week 1. But thanks to the now infamous blown lead, the attitude changed from "We're glad we made it this far" to "What a disappointing season."
And that's what happened to the Wisconsin Badgers football team this past season.
Blowing that big lead (as well as any hope of landing in the playoff) in the Big Ten Championship game – to Penn State, worst of all, adding the extra ickiness of broadcasters calling their win "a part of the healing process" for a school that covered up the sexual abuse of children and rioted to protect one of the key figures behind it – utterly rewrote the Badgers' season. We went into the game amazed their team put together such an impressive campaign, starting unranked with a death march of a schedule to in the midst of the playoff conversation. We went out feeling the whole season was a disappointment, a missed opportunity. They'll play in the prestigious Cotton Bowl on Monday, but after the blown Big Ten championship debacle, it might as well be the Polyester Bowl (sponsored by Natty Light).
Best (on-screen) movie moment: My editors tell me that I can't just point at "Green Room" and say, "All of that," so I'll go with the combination of the mesmerizing final five minutes of the Milwaukee Film Festival selection "The Fits," the delightful "What don't you want?" waitress scene from "Hell or High Water," the oh-so-deserved slaughtering of Macklemore's "Same Love" in "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" and pretty much everything involving Spider-Man in "Captain America: Civil War." Oh, and any of Ryan Gosling's scenes in "The Nice Guys."
Best (off-screen) movie moment: Once again, it's hard to pick one, so I'll name a few that stick out – such as the unexpected trailer release for "10 Cloverfield Lane." In a world where anything and everything about a movie is instantly reported and marketed months before its release, to see a trailer for the first time in the theater for a movie you'd never heard of was something I never expected to feel again (even the secretive marketing for "The Force Awakens" released its first trailer online rather than in theaters). Ironically, I think the movie would've been better if it was called its original title, "The Cellar," rather than tying itself to the "Cloverfield" brand, but it might have been worth the rush of witnessing that preview for the first time, utterly out of the blue.
Oh yeah, I also went to the Sundance Film Festival this year! I arrived near the end of the iconic indie movie event, which meant most of the stars and press had gone home already, but I still got to see some of the year's best, most talked about movies months before they'd hit theaters amongst crowds of equally thrilled film fans – many of them filmmakers themselves with projects of their own there. In fact, I got to wait in line for a screening of "Weiner" with one of the directors of the Daniel Radcliffe farting boner corpse movie – which is easily the weirdest sentence I'll type in 2016.
Best TV: While I normally struggle to keep up with TV, I did better than usual this year with watching some of the year's most notable shows. I dug "Stranger Things," for instance, and "Westworld" season one was overall a fascinating prequel for what looks like an epic second season.
My favorite television in 2016, however, would have to be two individual episodes: the pilot of "The Night Of" and "San Junipero" from the new collection of "Black Mirror" stories. The way the premiere of "The Night Of" showed a character's night become a nightmare – as well as hint at the justice system issues to be pried at the rest of the season – was an immaculately stressful, brilliantly crafted bit of television. The rest of the show's run couldn't quite live up to that pilot (it was still very good). But what could? And as for "San Junipero," who could've expected the best thing this brutally bleak techno-horror anthology would do in its new episodes would also be its most human, heart-filled and hopeful.
Random thing you probably forgot happened this year: Hey, remember when a new Pee-wee movie came out in 2016? Well, now you do!
Best concert: While obviously nothing in 2016 could compare to the musical monolith that was DJ Paris Hilton's Summerfest set, Alabama Shakes and Chris Stapleton was an incredible night. While the two acts – one a soul-heavy R&B rock band, the other a country performer – may not appear to have much in common save for their status as critical darlings, the two made for utterly harmonious Summerfest double feature that left me dazed and humming out of the Marcus Amp. Watching Stapleton be moved to tears by the crowd blaringly singing "Fire Away" back at him in the night air was a moment I'll probably never forget.
Best music: The greatest musical triumph of 2016 was, of course, "Connquest" by Connor4Real from "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" (especially the track "I'm So Humble"). But since that album doesn't technically exist, I'll have to say my favorite record this year, the one I keep listening to well after its release, is The 1975's preposterously titled but perfectly poppy "I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware Of It."
Best Milwaukee story: As a film addict, I could say the Milwaukee Film Festival is my favorite Milwaukee story every year. It's a perfect collision of seeing some of the best selections from my favorite art form and watching different parts of the Milwaukee community come together to watch, learn, listen and feel as a collective whole – and 2016 was no different. But it's not my favorite Milwaukee story this year because of its selection of movies was once again stellar (though it was) or because its numbers increased yet again (though they did).
Instead, Milwaukee Film and the festival are my favorite Milwaukee story this year because its terrific Black Lens program scored an incredible grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (yes, the people behind the Oscars), an awesome bit of national recognition for a more than worthy mission. And if that wasn't enough, Oscar-winner John Ridley joined Milwaukee Film's board of directors, adding a strong voice and big name to further the organization's presence and future.
So whether on screen or off, there was a lot happening with Milwaukee Film in 2016 for a movie maniac to applaud.
Best part of 2016: That it's finally coming to an end.
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.