It’s been a wild and wearying year in the world of pop culture, with memorable moments by the dozens. From surprise box office hits, new Hollywood tropes and fresh reboots to the wave of sexual misconduct allegations that toppled Hollywood power brokers, politicians, media icons and many others.
So, here’s your A-Z guide to everything pop culture from 2017 with some of the biggest entertainment stories of the year (though a few of them are perhaps best forgotten):
A – Ariana Grande’s benefit concert
Ariana Grande, hardly a household name in the UK before a suicide bomber killed 22 people at her Manchester concert in May, emerged as a national heroine following an emotional televised benefit performance. She held a benefit concert, One Love Manchester, on 4 June 2017 at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester for the victims of the bombing at her show.
B – Baby Groot and BB-8
They were two of the year’s most adorable characters bringing joy to our hearts with their endearing non-human performances. Following the catastrophic events of Guardians of the Galaxy in which Groot sacrifices himself to save the Guardians, the sequel sees the powerful tree alien as a baby sapling, changing the dynamic between the five heroes. Baby Groot offers up comedic relief during high-stakes scenes, such as a battle with a giant monster in which the tree sapling dances his way through the chaos and delivers tiny roars. Sure, Baby Groot is kind of a gimmick to sell toys, but that cute monosyllabic tree still managed to upstage Chris Pratt. Director James Gunn knew just where to use Baby Groot, whether dancing with abandon to “Mr. Blue Sky” while his fellow Guardians are fighting a monstrous space alien or spectacularly failing to comprehend a simple plan that would help his friends escape from a locked cell. Despite boasting a cast of incredible characters like Poe, Rey and Finn, BB-8 is still one of the most loved characters in the new Star Wars franchise. Before the premiere of The Last Jedi, the robot bowed to Prince William and Prince Harry on the red carpet at the Royal Albert Hall and even seemed to have had a serious chit-chat with Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke.
C – Coco
Coco, one of the largest American productions ever to feature an almost entirely Latino cast, not only celebrated Mexican culture but also helped bridge the political gap between the United States and Mexico. Disney-Pixar’s colourful animated adventure into the land of the dead is a story of family, memory and legacy. The film, based on the traditions surrounding the Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico, centers on a 12-year-old Mexican boy, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who longs to become a musician but faces a generations-old family ban on music.
D – Dustin, Dart and the “demodogs”
In Stranger Things 2, Dustin’s interdimensional pet, D’artagnan, starts out as a cute little pollywog but he and his fellow demodogs prove they were anything but cute by the season’s end. A year has passed since a supernatural demon terrorized the town of Hawkins, Indiana, but as Netflix’s hit 1980s science fiction series Stranger Things returned for a second season, life still did not return to normal for the unlikely heroes. But it still made for one fun and thrilling nostalgia trip.
E – Envelopegate
Moonlight won the Oscar for best picture on Hollywood’s big night but that was overshadowed by an embarrassing onstage gaffe over the top award. In a mishap that caused uproar and confusion, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially announced that romantic musical La La Land, the presumed favorite for best picture, had won. As the casts of both films stood awkwardly on stage, Beatty explained he had been given the wrong envelope to open. It was the first time in living memory that such a major mistake had been made at the Academy Awards, Hollywood’s biggest night. It even eclipsed the prior three hours of a show peppered with jokes about US President Donald Trump. Accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, who oversee the ballots, said the presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope.
F – The F word In the year that Donald Trump’s inauguration triggered nationwide women’s protests and powerful men were toppled by a firestorm of sexual misconduct allegations, Merriam-Webster named “feminism” its word of 2017. This year the dictionary announced a 70 percent increase in online searches for “feminism” compared to 2016, recording multiple spikes corresponding to a string of news reports and events. Searches rose following the Women’s March on Washington and other US cities on 21 January, the day after Trump was sworn in as president, the dictionary said. Interest was also driven by The Handmaid’s Tale, the Hulu series about a dystopian future in which a woman lives as a concubine during a time of dictatorship, and Hollywood blockbuster Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot.
G – Gal Gadot With Wonder Woman, the Israeli actress and all-round badass saved superhero films from being a boy’s club with Wonder Woman, which was the first superhero movie to star a woman since 2005 and the first to be directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins). It rode to the top of the box office on a wave of good reviews and female empowerment. We still get goosebumps thinking about Gal Gadot emerging from that trench and walking confidently with a steely calm into that empty and unwinnable field, swatting bullets away with her golden bracelets and giving hope not only to those counting on her in the film but to every woman in the audience too.
H – The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book about a totalitarian regime where fertile women live in sexual servitude, resonated with millions of women because those worlds no longer seemed so far-fetched. Having been turned into a major television show on Hulu, the story’s trademark red cloaks and white bonnets have been donned as symbols of protest at US demonstrations against threats to women’s healthcare under Trump.
I – I, Tonya I, Tonya is the Tonya Harding film you never knew you wanted: an outrageously entertaining reappraisal of the Olympic figure skater who, in 1994, was involved in a scheme to injure her main rival, Nancy Kerrigan. It begins in a mock-documentary style with the characters — Margot Robbie as Harding — giving present-day interviews recalling “the incident.” It is a bold reevaluation of one of the soapiest tabloid scandals of the last century and the most audacious film of the season.
J – Jordan Peele
Get Out isn’t your standard horror and that’s what makes it great. Writer-director Jordan Peele brilliantly weaved poignant social commentary into a top-notch genre pic — a tricky thing to do, especially when it’s your directorial debut. With it, the man who had previously been known as a comedian and actor made himself a must-follow filmmaker too. Despite a $4.5 million budget, the critically acclaimed tale of a young black man meeting his white girlfriend’s sweet-turned-sinister family earned $175 million — with takings of $254 million internationally. It was recently announced that Peele will be helming the reboot of a renowned CBS science-fiction series. Are you ready to re-enter “The Twilight Zone?”
K – Kimmel’s health care segments
Late-night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel emerged as the unlikely town crier against the Republican plan to overhaul Obamacare, highlighting his son’s heart disease in an emotional new appeal to salvage America’s health care system. For two straight nights he has stood on stage at an ABC studio in Los Angeles and, using his own son’s harrowing story as an example of the extraordinary costs of emergency treatment, argued that poor and middle class families would be priced out of health care under the new plan. “I want you to know I am politicising my son’s health problems, because I have to,” Kimmel said in a lengthy monologue in which he blasted a bill unveiled by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham. In a tearful on-air appearance in May, the late-night host stressed that “no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.”
L – Lynch returns
Twin Peaks, David Lynch’s famously surreal noir soap opera about murder in small-town America, returned in May after 26 years away, for a new 18-episode run in perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated television events of the year. Lynch and Mark Frost created a layered revival with some delightful cinematography and disquieting moments as we saw the return of the coffee- and pie-loving FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). Other than Lynch veterans Harry Dean Stanton, Laura Dern and Naomi Watts, the show’s star cast included Michael Cera, Monica Bellucci, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jim Belushi, Tim Roth, Robert Forster, Ashley Judd and Amanda Seyfried.
M – McCarthyism
Melissa McCarthy lampooned then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer in a January edition of a Saturday Night Live sketch where the actress taunted reporters as “losers,” fired a water gun at the press corps and used the lectern to ram a (fake) Wall Street Journal reporter. “I want to begin tonight by apologizing on behalf of YOU to ME for how you have treated me these last two weeks,” McCarthy said in opening the mock press briefing. “And that apology is NOT accepted.” It was one of the funniest bits on television as SNL‘s popularity soared in the era of Trump.
N – The reign of Netflix
The old model of hefty pay TV packages supporting the content creators is fading, and the struggle for power in the industry is now referred to by some analysts as a “Game of Thrones”. Fueled by huge piles of subscriber money, Netflix, in particular, has disrupted the sector with some critically and commerically successful original programming. This year saw the premiere of plenty of new shows like 13 Reasons Why, GLOW, Mindhunter, Godless, etc. The Meyerowitz Stories and Okja were the first Netflix original movies to be shown at Cannes. Hit shows like Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black and Bojack Horseman returned for new seasons.
O – Okja
Directed by Korean Bong Joon-ho, known for Snowpiercer and The Host, Okja is the story of a little girl’s relationship to an intelligent giant pig-like animal which has, unknown to her, been bred by a U.S. biotech company to produce cheap meat. The animal is saved, but also used, by activists from the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). It marked a milestone for Netlix’s ever-growing slate of exclusive and diverse original content. At Cannes Film Festival, as the Netflix logo hit the screen, sections of the crowd booed, and the opening scene was difficult to hear due to heckling and slow handclapping – apparently due to the film being projected in the wrong aspect ratio. The projection was stopped, the screen adjusted and the movie then restarted, with the Netflix logo again being booed, but the rest of the film watched in respectful silence and ended to hearty applause. Gyllenhaal made light of speculation the screening glitch had been sabotage, possibly by Netflix’s opponents in the French movie industry angry at its refusal to release the film in theatres, saying: “It was the ALF I guess.” French rules mean that movies cannot be streamed online until three years after their theatrical release, and Netflix has ruled out any such release in France – creating a controversy that has been hard to avoid at the festival.
P – Pennywise
It has been 27 years since a deranged killer clown terrorized a town on the small screen in It and ushered in a generation’s fear of clowns. Now, Stephen King’s Pennywise the child-eating clown is back, with bloodier teeth and a fresh set of victims. The long-awaited movie version of King’s 1986 horror novel is filled with gritty thrills, gory deaths and a Loser’s Club – the group of hero teenagers – not shy about cursing and making crude comments. “It” begins with a very vivid homage to the 1990 miniseries as little Georgie Denbrough, clad in a yellow raincoat, chases a paper boat down the rain-soaked streets of the fictional suburban town of Derry, Maine, right to a storm drain. There Pennywise, a supernatural demon clown, lurks underground and lures Georgie to a gory fate that kicks off a chain of deaths for the town’s teenagers and strange visions among the seven members of the Loser’s Club.
Q – Quentin Tarantino to helm Star Trek?
The Pulp Fiction director apparently has “a great idea” for the next instalment of the sci-fi movie series, and has shared the idea with JJ Abrams, who himself is currently busy preparing for “Star Wars Episode IX”. Tarantino and Abrams are in the process of setting up a writers’ room. If the script is approved by both parties, Tarantino may direct the potential project, with Abrams attached to produce. Tarantino, 54, is currently working on an untitled Manson Family murders film, which is set to release on 9 August, 2019. Considering Tarantino’s repeated insistence on sticking with his 10-film retirement plan, would you want his last to be a Star Trek film?
R – Rooney Mara’s pie
It is not necessarily supposed to be funny when Rooney Mara, in a bizarre moment of grief over the death of her husband, eats an entire pie in one take in David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, but awkward laughter is just one of the many emotions you experience watching her stab at the pie pan with a fork. It was made even better when Mara revealed that she’d never actually eaten pie before.
S – Stephen King renaissance
Other than the box office hit It and Netflix’s Stranger Things homage, it was a good year to be Stephen King. While The Dark Tower film adaptation was a box office and critical failure, Netflix premiered two original horror films based on King’s works, Gerald’s Game and 1922 — both earning plenty of praise. And there are more adaptations planned of the famously prolific writer’s books. Along with the upcoming Hulu series Castle Rock, and a new remake of Firestarter, an eponymous remake of the 1989 horror film Pet Sematary is slated to release on 19 April, 2019. New Line Cinema also announced that the It sequel is scheduled to release on 6 September, 2019.
T – Twins send social media into a frenzy
Amal Clooney and Beyonce’s twins turned motherhood into the biggest celebrity stories of the year despite the striking contrast in styles of the two women who have become the focus of a baby-obsessed public. The birth of George and Amal Clooney’s twins sent media into a frenzy with paparazzi lined up outside a London hospital clamouring for the first pictures and celebrity websites outdoing each other for clicky headlines like “10 Reasons George Clooney Will Make a Great Dad.” Yet for all the fuss that greeted babies Ella and Alexander Clooney, they were merely the warm-up act to the summer’s blockbuster. Beyonce released a slew of photos of herself posing pregnant and nude, a day after announcing she was expecting twins with her husband, rapper Jay-Z. The announcement instantly went viral with a photo of the singer stripped down to her lingerie holding her bare belly and a veil draped over her head. Then, after their delivery, she debuted the pictures of her twins, Sir Carter and Rumi, in an Instagram post, causing an internet sensation once more in her first public acknowledgement of their birth. She wore a blue veil and a colorful flowing robe that fell off her left shoulder. The picture had been “liked” more than 6.5 million times nine hours after it was posted.
U – Unreviewed films at the awards season
Two films that have yet to be released or reviewed (and in some cases even seen) by critics, All the Money in the World and The Greatest Showman, scored three Golden Globe nominations each. The PT Barnum musical The Greatest Showman earned a best musical or comedy nomination and an acting nod” for Hugh Jackman. The Getty kidnapp”ing drama All the Money in the World, which got a publicity boost when Scott decided to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer six weeks before the film’s release, got a nod for Plummer, actress Michelle Williams and Scott. Films like The Post, Phantom Thread and Molly’s Game are also yet to be released in theaters, but at least those have been widely seen and evaluated by critics and press beyond the mysterious members of the HFPA.
V – Villeneuve’s reboots
Canadian director Denis Villeneuve had fended off numerous requests to direct big-budget sequels until he was approached to make a follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 neo-noir sci-fi film “Blade Runner.” Blade Runner: 2049″ sees Gosling as a new Los Angeles Police Department “blade runner” — charged with killing bioengineered androids known as “replicants.” On uncovering a secret which threatens society, he embarks on a search for Harrison Ford’s character, a former blade runner who disappeared 30 years ago. Unfortunately, despite stellar reviews, the reboot fell far short of expectations at the box office. After making three acclaimed movies in three years with Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner: 2049, Villeneuve is working on his passion project, Dune, which he promises won’t be anything like David Lynch’s adaptation of the iconic Frank Herbert novel.
W – Weinstein and Co
On October 5, the New York Times publishes a bombshell investigative report accusing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, 65, of sexual harassment over several decades. Allegations of sexual misconduct have since been levelled at a long list of personalities in film, television, journalism and politics around the world. Actors and other public figures began vanishing from the TV screen (and elsewhere) in October as scores of allegations of sexual misconduct targeted one prominent man after another. Fox News Channel’s fired Bill O’Reilly had led the way in April, but in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s disgrace, Kevin Spacey was removed from the final season of Netflix’s House of Cards. Louis CK lost a Netflix comedy special and other TV projects. Charlie Rose was removed from CBS This Morning and his own public television interview show was cancelled.
X – Xenophobia is funny
2017 saw immigrants go from xenophobic tropes to chief protagonists. The Big Sick is an autobiographical comedy scripted by real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon. The two wrote the screenplay together and Nanjiani played himself in the film, opposite Zoe Kazan, with Holly Hunter playing her mother. The film has been one of the most celebrated of the year since its premiere last January at the Sundance Film Festival and splashy acquisition by Amazon. It also had one of the year’s funniest moments in film.
Y – Yes, we do!
While 2017 saw some famous splits (Josh Duhamel and Fergie, Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, and Chris Pratt and Anna Faris), it also saw its fair share of big celebrity weddings with tennis ace Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr and Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel, and The Adventures of Tintin star Jamie Bell and House of Cards actress Kate Mara. But taking the crown as this year’s best engagement announcement was Prince Harry and Suits star Meghan Markle.
Z – The father of Zombies
George A Romero, creator of the zombie film genre with Night of the Living Dead and a series of sequels that left a lasting impact on horror movies, passed away. Romero wrote and directed the 1968 classic, in which the dead come back to life and eat the flesh of the living, and five sequels including the 1978 box office hit Dawn of the Dead. Romero influenced a generation of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and the late Wes Craven.