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  • The ‘Bestest’ of 2016

    The very best of 2016 according to The Wild Detectives’ family.

    The 'bestest' 2016 according to The Wild Detectives

    The very best of 2016 according to The Wild Detectives’ family.

    The Girls

    The Girls
    by Emma Cline
    Random House (2016)

    Moonlight

    Moonlight
    Written and directed by Barry Jenkins
    A24, Plan B Entertainment (2016)

    Blackstar

    Blackstar
    by David Bowie
    Columbia Records (2016)

    We’re about to say goodbye to 2016, a year that has challenged all those things we thought we knew. Big time. Politics aside, 2016 has been a great year for us; we’ve consolidated our cultural offering combining readings, music shows and even some gastronomy events. But overall, we’re happy to have deepened our bonds with the amazing creative community that surrounds us –we don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but Dallas is brewing something truly great at the moment. That community is what really makes The Wild Detectives what we’re trying to get it to be; a platform to promote an enriched, enlightened and entertained lifestyle around culture that feels sexy, inclusive and approachable for everyone. As Max Estrella usually says in Valle-Inclán’s play Bohemian Lights, allow us to ‘tip our skull’ to all of you creative beings; thank you all so very much.

    And now let’s cut to the chase. Here it is, the best of the year according to our big family, starting with the top 5 on each category. We bet you haven’t seen a ‘Best of the Year’ list as heterogeneous as this one yet. Ain’t diversity such a great thing?

    Books:
    1. The Girls -Emma Cline
    2. Born to Run -Bruce Springsteen
    3. Underground Railroad -Colson Whitehead
    4. A Zero Sum Game -Eduardo Rabasa
    5. Among Strange Victims -Daniel Saldaña París

    Movies:
    1. Moonlight -Barry Jenkins
    2. Hell or High Water -David Mackenzie
    3. The Lobster -Yorgos Lanthimos
    4. The Arrival -Denis Villeneuve
    5. Manchester by The Sea -Kenneth Lonergan

    Albums:
    1. Blackstar -David Bowie
    2. A Moon Shaped Pool -Radiohead
    3. A Seat at the Table -Solange Knowles
    4. We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service -A Tribe Called Quest
    5. You Want It Darker -Leonard Cohen

     

    At The Wild Detectives:

     

    Jean Paul Caron

    Best Book:
    Forever Words –Johnny Cash

    Best Movie:
    Arrival –Denis Villeneuve

    Best Album:
    Allah-Las –Calico Review

     

    Andrés de la Casa-Huertas

    Best Book:
    Fiction
    Among Strange Victims –Daniel Saldaña París
    Non-Fiction
    Blackout –Sarah Hepola

    Best Movie:
    Fiction
    Hell or High Water –David Mackenzie
    Non-Fiction
    Tower –Keith Maitland

    Best Album:
    Fiction
    Human Ceremony –Sunflower Beam
    Non-Fiction
    Blackstar –David Bowie
    You Want It Darker –Leonard Cohen

     

    Javier García del Moral

    Best Book:
    Fiction
    Among Strange Victims –Daniel Saldaña París
    Non-Fiction
    Evicted –Matthew Desmond
    Best Local Achievement
    A Zero Sum Game –Eduardo Rabasa, (published by Deep Vellum)

    Best Movie:
    Feature Film
    Manchester by the Sea –Kenneth Lonergan
    Documentary
    13th –Ava DuVernay
    Best Dystopian Screening
    Election Night at The Texas Theater

    Best Album:
    Alternative
    Mangy Love –Cass McCombs
    World
    Caribbean Roots –Anthony Joseph
    Experimental
    IV –Bad Bad Not Good

     

    Carlos Guajardo

    Best Book:
    The Midnight Assassin –Skip Hollandsworth

    Best Album:
    PILE –A Giant Dog

    Best Movie:
    The Invitation –Karyn Kusama

     

    Sophie Massie

    Best Book:
    Swing Time –Zadie Smith

    Best Movie:
    The Witch –Robert Eggers

    Best Album:
    III –Rakta

     

    Víctor Rimach-Vera

    Best Book:
    Senior Moments, Looking Back, Looking Ahead –Willard Spiegelman

    Best TV-Series:
    Westworld –Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy

    Best Album:
    Sirens –Nicolas Jaar

     

    Sam Villavert

    Best Movie:
    Manchester by the Sea –Kenneth Lonergan

    Best Album:
    A Seat at the Table –Solange

     

    Paco Vique

    Best Book:
    Fiction
    Racimo –Diego Zúñiga
    Revulsion: Thomas Bernard in San Salvador –Horacio Castellanos Moya
    Fiction
    The Impostor –Javier Cercas

    Best Movie:
    Feature Film
    Mustang –Deniz Gamze Ergüven
    Documentary
    Sonita –Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

    Best Album:
    Folk
    We all the Light –River Whyless
    Indie / Rock
    Fill in the Blank –Car Seat Headrest

     

     

    Our collaborators:

     

    John Bradley
    Federal prosecutor and the engine that makes our Book Club possible.
    Check out his articles on our website.

    Best Book:
    Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen –Mary Norris

    Best Movie:
    Everybody Wants Some –Richard Linklater

    Best Album:
    Eternally Even –Jim James

     

    Kelsey Capps
    Author.
    Check out her articles on our website.

    Best Book:
    Hag-Seed –Margaret Atwood

    Best Movie:
    Moonlight –Barry Jenkins

    Best Album:
    Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony –Gregory Alan Isakov

    + Obnoxious Entries
    Book: 2016 Poor Richard’s Almanac
    Movie: Deadpool –Tim Miller
    Album: The Life of Pablo –Kanye

     

    Marina Cuesta Tovar
    Creative Director at Dieste.
    Responsible for this and this.

    Best Book:
    Historia de un canalla –Julia Navarro

    Best Movie:
    The Lobster –Yorgos Lanthimos

    Best Album:
    A Seat at the Table –Solange Knowles

     

    Jesse Echeverría
    Creative at Dieste.
    Grey matter behind this campaign.

    Best Book:
    The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings –Lars Brownworth

    Best Movie:
    Neon Demon –Nicolas Winding Refn

    Best Album:
    Toro y Moi –Live from Trona

     

    Luis Gonzalez
    High School English Teacher.
    Check out his articles Ménage à Trois: Maupassant, Flaubert, and Desire and How My Students Taught Me to Love To Kill a Mockingbird (Again).

    Best Book:
    All the Light We Cannot See –Anthony Doerr
    I know, I know. This came out years ago.

    Still, when I look back at what consumed me in 2016, I inevitably return to Anthony Doerr’s epic, in a way very few things remain epic these days, All the Light We Cannot See. Yes, it’s another World War II narrative. Yes, it’s another story of the German occupation. Yes, it’s another story of good and evil.

    And yet…it’s not.

    It’s mostly about—or maybe only a little bit about? —the passage of time, about how when one soul is extinguishing, another one begins to burn, and about how this rite of passage allows humanity to continue. Onto what? Who can possibly know? But no one can deny Time from performing its duties.

    One passage, in particular, struck the very core of me. When a young boy walks into a military school for the Hitler Youth, he is indoctrinated. “You will strip away your weakness, your cowardice, your hesitation,” he is told. “You will forgo comforts; you will live by duty alone; You will eat country and breathe nation.”

    In the past few weeks, months after having read the novel, I had to return to this passage. And then I understood. I understood the beauty and the tragedy. I understood how—and why! —someone could vote the way he did in 2016. And it allowed me to empathize, which is something from which we all could benefit as 2017 begins and time marches along, performing its calling dutifully.

    Best Movie:
    Captain Fantastic –Matt Ross
    Ben Cash, the bearded, derelict patriarch of a wilderness hippie family, played by the phenomenal Viggo Mortensen, is the type of intellectual rebel who would have voted for Gary Johnson in the 2016 election—just to sabotage the status quo. For that, I should hate him; instead, I idolize him.

    As the titular Captain Fantastic, Cash finds himself an unexpected widower, struggling to raise his six children the best way he sees how: completely isolated from technology, consumerism, obesity, and every other malady that comes with American capitalism. In the midst of the Washington wilderness, these children spend their days reading Middlemarch and The Brothers Karamazov, learning to commune with nature, and eschewing Christmas traditions in order to celebrate Noam Chomsky Day. (They had me at Middlemarch.) But when the family is forced to leave their paradisiacal treehouse and journey into an uncharted land of Target-filled cities, Cash and his children must confront the temptations of living inside ‘The Cave.’ After all, even philosopher kings need their Starbucks.

    Mortensen, as a man collapsing under the weight of his ideology, has never been more soulful, nor has he ever been so tormented as he is Captain Fantastic. Writer-director Matt Ross perfectly balances comedy and pathos in what is undoubtedly the loveliest, quirkiest, quirky family dramedy to come along since Little Miss Sunshine.

    As a nation currently averse to the idea of a philosopher king, perhaps this family of philosopher kings can remind us precisely what type of leaders our society should produce.

    Best Album:
    Voluma –Leon Larregui
    Love makes one stupid—overtly, unabashedly, embarrassingly, stupid—unless one happens to be Leon Larregui: Mexican alt-rocker, Zoe front-man, and one of the last-remaining rock stars in music (in any language).

    In spite of being head-over-heals in love, Larregui remains an effortless musical visionary on Voluma, his second solo effort. He’s sung about love before (and heartache and death and spirituality), but for the first time in his career as a songwriter, he comes off as a credible expert on these weighty matters, a credibility that only comes with newfound vulnerability.

    This vulnerability, the result of fatherhood, gives Voluma its substance. Written in the months leading up to the birth of his son, Lucian, Voluma—which comprises twelve lyrically simple but confident tracks—begins candidly with the giddy, sauntering ‘Locos,’ continues contemplatively with the ode ‘Mar,’ and peaks with the swoon-worthy ‘Birdie.’ Listeners get a glimpse of the courtship of his long-time girlfriend, the anticipation during her pregnancy, and the responsibility of having produced an heir who will continue Larregui’s legacy.

    Larregui, however, refuses to devolve into sappiness even when he is intimately confessional in ways he’s rarely been before. These songs have a stunning aplomb to them that makes fatherhood seem—dare I say it? —glamorous? He may now be pushing strollers and carrying baby Bjorns, but Larregui, skinny jeans and Michel Gondry-aesthetic intact, struts along with an unyielding swagger that would make even a stone or two slightly envious.

     

    Fernando Guevara
    Our music commentator and, by far, our most prolific collaborator. Check his articles here.

    Best Book:
    Born to Run –Bruce Springsteen
    The boss puts his guitar and working class swagger to the side and picks up a pen to deliver a heart warming, illuminating memoir. Seven years in the making, the book is filled with nuggets that will surprise even the diehard fans. As always Springsteen downplays his brilliance with grace and humility. Charming, honest portrait of a rock and roll hero.

    Best Movie:
    Moonlight –Barry Jenkins
    The innocence of youth, the trial and tribulations of forbidden love, the day to day hardships of the inner city. Moonlight is a visually stunning opus that spans three decades. A tale that courageously explores an aspect that is still taboo in the African-American community: homosexuality… Up and comer Trevante Rhodes is a revelation, character acting of the highest order.

    Best Album:
    Blackstar –David Bowie
    Musically speaking, 2016 was cloaked with shades of grey as one the pillars of light returned home. Bowie was losing his battle against cancer. Our beloved alien from heaven was pouring the last of his light into his music. Months ago I reviewed the album and offered a theory for Bowie fans to explore. Start at the end and press play. He deals with his personal battle at the end of the record and works his way up to a political statement. Hearing the tracks chronologically backwards you will arrive at the title track. The accompany video features a false prophet who tricked people into following him. Sounds familiar. He tried to warn us.

     

    Biviana Marin McAfee
    Teacher. Check her article Myths and Truths of the Quran: a Coffee Shop Book Study.

    Best Book:
    Ursúa –William Ospina

    Best Movie:
    Embrace of the Serpent –Ciro Guerra

    Best Album:
    Caja de Música –Monsieur Periné

     

    Raúl Méndez
    Creative at Dieste.
    The guy who thought this.

    Best Book:
    Wolf Boys –Dan Slater

    Best Movie:
    Swiss Army Man –Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

    Best Album:
    A Moon Shaped Pool –Radiohead

     

    Charles Dee Mitchell
    WordSpace president, curator of the First Hearings series.
    Check out his article The Universe wants to see you dead: the return of Cosmic Horror.

    “I have become one of those people who watch movies on DVD, and I don’t pretend keep up with music. But for books, I would like to propose one ‘Best’ and two ‘Favorites.’”

    Best Book:
    What Belongs to You –Garth Greenwell
    Favorite 1
    The Loney –Andrew Michael Hurley
    Favorite 2
    The Transmigration of Bodies –Yuri Herrrera

    “And if I can throw in a favorite re-read Portnoy’s Complaint, Phillip Roth”

     

    Ernesto Montiel
    Artist, Dj and music erudite.
    Ernesto has brought to our spot some of the most interesting music that is happening in Dallas right now.

    Best Book:
    Maniobras Elementales –Roberto Echeto

    Best Movie:
    Embrace of the Serpent –Ciro Guerra
    The Club –Pablo Larrain
    The Handmaiden –Chan-Wook Park

    Best Album(S):
    U –Calhau!
    Graham Lambkin –Community
    The World Unseen –Mamiffer
    (five) Stories Untold –Sei Miguel
    Far from the Silvery Light –They Say The Wind Made Them Crazy
    Vida –Tropa Macaca
    Best Reissue
    AMMMusic –AMM
    Op.50 Fluxorum Organum II –Henning Christiansen
    This Heat/Deceit/Health and Efficiency –This Heat

     

    Laura Ortega
    High School English Teacher.
    Check out her article #howtowinanelection.

    Best Book:
    Nothing published this year. Reading Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death, Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the U.S., The Road by McCarthy. I think Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance was published this year, and it’s enlightening and confessional so far.

    Best Movie:
    Deadpool, for all its quirky meta-fiction elements

    Best Album:
    Haven’t really listened to anything from this year. For me it’s been Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Little Richard, and, oh yes! The Weeknd’s new album, Starboy.

     

    Laura Pacheco
    The super talented illustrator of our web-comic series Reading Quirks.

    Best Book:
    Du Iz Tak? –Carson Ellis

    Best Movie:
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them –David Yates

    Best Album:
    Ape in Pink Marble –Devendra Banhart

     

    Roro Ramirez
    Creative at Dieste.
    Grey matter behind this campaign.

    Best Book:
    The Girls –Emma Cline

    Best Album:
    A Seat at the Table –Solange Knowles

     

    Camile Robinson
    Medicine Physician and the heart and soul of our Book Club.

    “Here are my humble submissions!! It was hard to find things from 2016, because I’m always catching up from all the “Best Of” lists from last year!! But here’s a go”

    Best Book:
    One Hundred and Twenty One Days –Michele Audin
    I loved the literary conceits of playing with the writing styles, and how it made me interact with the book. Locally published, and a quick read. Also written by a fellow female STEM, which just kicks ass.

    Best Movie:
    10 Cloverfield Lane –Dan Trachtenberg
    Now I’m not usually one for alien movies, but this was just a fantastic thriller. I went back and forth on what I thought the ending would be at least 20 times during the movie. And John Goodman as a bad guy?? The best.

    Best Album:
    Cheers to the Fall –Andra Day
    So this technically came out at the end of 2015, but I’ve been rocking it all year. Her voice is perfect, it just feels like going to church every time I put it on. And I won’t sound like her, but I’m definitely gonna try. But if you need my perennial best record, it’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. That has been my best record of the year annually since 1998. It is life.

     

    Vicky Sanz
    Bi-Lingual Teacher.
    Vicky is our moderator in all our bi-lingual events. She’s been collaborating with us from the very beginning. You can check her articles here.

    Best Book:
    A Zero Sum Game –Eduardo Rabasa

    Best Movie:
    Manchester by the Sea –Kenneth Lonergan
    Papa Hemingway in Cuba –Bob Yari

    Best Album:
    Freetown Sound –Blood Orange

     

    Lauren Smart
    Arts journalist extraordinaire.
    Back in March, Lauren helped us to put Women Galore together, a festival that celebrated women authors/artists and their work in the arts.

    Best Book:
    A Little Life –Hanya Yanagihara
    Sure, technically 2015, but it wrecked my 2016 — in a beautiful, harrowing, crying-the-whole-five-hour-train-ride-from-Buffalo-to-Syracuse type of way.

    Best Movie:
    Moonlight –Barry Jenkins
    Based on Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, this movie is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

    Best Album:
    Coloring Book –Chance the Rapper
    At times charming, fun, spiritual, thoughtful and even, if not especially, spiritual.

     

    Tempranillo (David Piorno)
    Dj and our Mondays music curator.

    Best Book:
    The Girls –Emma Cline
    (Special mention in the Spanish language, París-Austerlitz by Rafael Chirbes)

    Best Movie:
    I, Daniel Blake –Ken Loach
    (Special mention in the Spanish language,, Ciudadano ilustre by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn)

    Best Album:
    Hopelesness –Anohni
    (Special mention in the Spanish language,, Salve discordia by Triángulo de Amor Bizarro)

     

     

    Our friends:

     

    Andrea Amosson
    Author.

    Best Book:
    Chilean Electric –Nona Fernández

    Best Movie:
    Son of Saul –László Nemes

    Best Album:
    Esquimal –Wentru

     

    Margaux Anbouba
    Editorial Manager at 1530 Main.

    Best Book:
    “One of my favorite Wild Detectives’ finds is Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder (Claudia Kalb). It’s an in-depth look at some of pop culture’s most beloved (and mesmerizing) figures. The Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana chapters were especially fascinating. I also loved Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (Therese Anne Fowler)—it was a godsend during a 15 hour flight to China.”

    Best Album:
    “It’s a tie for me. I have loved basically every music project by Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, and his newest album Awaken, My Love! is funkadelic perfection. I first listened to it while wandering around the Dallas Museum of Art and it brought me to tears. My other favorite is the special edition pressing of Selena’s Ones (which I picked up at Spinster). It came on purple vinyl, which is amazing, and every single song is a total jam. ”

     

    Sudie Abernathy
    Musician (former Wild Detective).

    Best Book:
    “I am working on music so much I barely had time to read anything this year except the Ableton Reference Manual!”

    Best Movie:
    “Since my life is surrounded by music I didn’t really have a chance to watch that many movies this year either, but I really enjoyed The Conjuring 2! It was way more scary than I anticipated. ”

    Best Album:
    A Seat at the Table –Solange

     

    Katherine Bourne
    Ex-Shakespeare in the Bar, kind of, and source of cute stories, like this one, for example.

    Best Book:
    The Bricks That Built the Houses –Kate Tempest

    Best Movie:
    Doctor Strange –Scott Derrickson

    Best Album:
    “Does Rumours count? I discovered it this year.”

     

    Lucas Buckels
    Cinestate (and former Wild Detective).

    Best Book:
    Bukowski in a Sundress –Kim Addonizio

    Best Movie:
    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story –Gareth Edwards
    (Hasn’t come out yet, but calling it now)

    Best Album:
    Untitled Unmastered –Kendrick Lamar

     

    Zac Crain
    D Magazine.

    Best Book:
    As far as new stuff, I’d say Trouble Boys by Bob Mehr, about the Replacements, even if I wasn’t friends with the author and a fan of the band. You honestly don’t need to care about the ‘Mats to lose yourself in this book. It is as much about broken homes and self-destruction as it is about one particular band, or even music in general. I also really liked Wolf Boys by Dan Slater, about two American teens who get mixed up with a Mexican cartel. Probably some others.

    I read a lot of old books this year –The Sportswriter by Richard Ford, a book about Manute Bol, some re-reads. I also read a lot of comics, and my favorite was the new run on Black Panther by Ta-Nahesi Coates.

    Best Movie:
    I didn’t see a ton so far this year — I’ll probably see one or two a day during the break — but I really loved Arrival. This is still in progress.

    Best Album:
    (In no order) Mitski, Puberty 2; Pinegrove, Cardinal; Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book; Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Denial; A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here … Thank You For Your Sevice; The Hotelier, Goodness; Descendents, Hypercaffium Spazzinate; Migos, “Black Beatles.”

    And various songs by Young Thug, Sturgill Simpson, Anderson .Paak, Vince Staples, Noname, Saba, Beach Slang, Lucy Dacus, The xx, Japandroids, Run the Jewels, G.L.O.S.S., D.R.A.M., Cymbals Eat Guitars, Museum Mouth, Swet Shop Boys, The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, and and and and and

     

    Catherine Cuellar
    Author.

    Best Book:
    Between the World & Me –Ta-Nehisi Coates
    (which came out in 2015 but I just read it this year)

    Best Movie:
    Nocturnal Animals –Tom Ford

    Best Album:
    You Know Who You Are –Nada Surf

     

    Barak Epstein
    Texas Theatre.

    Best Movie:
    Green Room –Jeremy Saulnier
    Demon –Marcin Wrona

    Best Album:
    Skeleton Tree –Nick Cave

     

    Will Evans
    Deep Vellum (both, Publishing and Books) and Cinestate.

    Best Book:
    One of Us Is Sleeping –Josefine Klougart
    So beautiful, so haunting, so fragmentary, so good.

    Best Movie:
    The Lobster –Yorgos Lanthimos
    Such a well done mindfuck, (and I love Colin Farrell).
    The Little Prince –Mark Osborne
    Beautiful mix of animation brings this classic to life in a new way, I loved it.

    Best Album:
    Starspawn –Blood Incarnation
    Death Metal so good it transcends this mortal coil to something far more celestial & eternal.

     

    Ben Fountain
    Author.

    Best Book:
    The Last Painting of Sara de Vos –Dominic Smith

     

    Suzanne Frank
    Author.

    Best Book:
    The Medici – Brian Strathern
    Not new, but OMG an amazing investigation.

    Best Movie:
    The Lobster –Yorgos Lanthimos

    Best Music:
    Hamilton by Broadway cast (though that’s so 2015 …)

     

    Pete Freedman
    Central Track.

    Best Book:
    It’s not new by any means, but I really enjoyed reading J.R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar this year; it’s a memoir, but it reads as if Richard Russo wrote a coming-of-age tale.

    Best Movie:
    I’m shocked I’m not seeing The Nice Guys on more year-end lists, so let’s go with that. Shane Black is a treasure and his mastery of noir is unmatched in modern Hollywood.

    Best Album:
    I suppose I’m still figuring my answer to this one out, but the album I listened to the most this year was definitely PUP’s The Dream Is Over because I guess I am still an angsty teen at heart.

     

    Kendra Greene
    Author.

    Best Book:
    We Show What We Have Learned –Clare Beams
    (Can I also pick Experimental Animals by Thalia Field?)

    Best Movie:
    All Exchanges Final –Annabel Oakes

    Best Album:
    The Music Of Morocco –Recorded by Paul Bowles

     

    Daniel J. Hale
    Author.

    Best Book:
    The Underground Railroad –Colson Whitehead

    Best Movie:
    Arrival –Denis Villeneuve

    Best Album:
    A Moon Shaped Pool –Radiohead

     

    Louisa Hall
    Author.

    Best Book:
    Reputations –Juan Gabriel Vasquez

    Best Movie:
    Christine –Antonio Campos

    Best Album:
    Blackstar –David Bowie

     

    Brentney Hamilton
    Dallas Morning News.

    Best Album:
    You Want it Darker –Leonard Cohen
    I don’t know if my answer covers what’s truly best of the albums released this year, or just indicative of my own weird tastes. I thought Iggy Pop’s Post-Pop Depression and Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker were both outstanding. That said, I’m comparing them mostly to new takes from Bowie, Neil Young and Willie Nelson, which says more about the sand in which my head is stuck than the year’s very best over a variety of genres.

     

    Sarah Hepola
    Author.

    Best Book:
    The Girls –Emma Cline
    It’s like someone took all my personal obsessions –Charles Manson, the darkness of female adolescence, the appeal of cults, emerging sexuality– and jumbled them up into one book. A book that is written with such eloquence and crackling observation that I was simply in awe of it.

    Best Movie:
    Tower –Keith Maitland
    This animated documentary, about the 1966 sniper shooting at the University of Texas, has all the gripping suspense and drama of a Hollywood action film, but twice the emotional power, because it really happened. It also serves as a grim first chapter in our country’s now-long history of mass public shootings and reminds us that the real story is not the shooter, but the lives undone. Everyone should see this film.

    Best Album:
    A Sailor’s Guide to Earth –Sturgill Simpson
    I grew up hating country music because of what I understood it to represent, and Simpson is yet another lesson in the problem with those kinds of sweeping stereotypes. Simpson has earned himself a place beside the greats –Dolly, Waylon, George, Merle, Willie, etc.– who taught me the depth and beauty of this genre.

     

    Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi
    Poet.

    Best Book:
    The Crown Ain’t Worth That Much –Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

    Best Movie:
    Moonlight –Barry Jenkins

    Best Album:
    A Seat at the Table –Solange Knowles

     

    Anne Hollander
    Deep Vellum.

    Best Book:
    Blood of the Dawn –Claudia Salazar Jiménez
    It opens with a quote from Marx: “Everyone who knows anything of history also knows social revolutions are impossible without the feminine fervent.” It only gets better (and bolder – and breathless) from there.

    The two books published this year from Dorothy, A Publishing Project – Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger and The Babysitter at Rest by Jen George – are excellent, riffing on the concept of identity, a theme reflected in a majority of my reading choices this year.

    Also on the list: Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett, The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz, and Blackacre by Monica Youn. (Seriously. A book of poetry written by a former lawyer that references an abstract legal hypothetical throughout. How much more perfect does it get for me?)

    Best Movie:
    Admittedly, I didn’t make time for films this year. In fact, there’s only one thing I saw in the theatre, and it’s still stuck with me: Jackie (Pablo Larraín). Natalie Portman knows damaged characters, especially with the number of closeups to display the emotional miasma and complex decision-making that goes into action to preserve the life, death, and legacy of Camelot.

    Best Album:
    Where I slacked in film, I made up in music (which is standard practice in my world). I can get down to three selections, starting with The Armory Concert from Jason Moran. I regularly go through his entire discography to find whatever answer I’m searching for, and this particular album does not disappoint with its fresh, vibrant piano solos.

    When I’m at Deep Vellum in the late evening hours (and often with a pour of whatever whiskey or rye is around), I’m often listening to A Sailor’s Guide to Earth by Sturgill Simpson front to back. This one is a new artist for me this year, a recommendation from a friend who told me verbatim: it’s as if Space Oddity-style David Bowie were a cowboy trapped in a small town with nothing to dream but the stars. Here’s to our new Space Cowboy.

    Every list this year should include Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, and David Bowie, hands down – but my list is incomplete without the incomparable Beyonce. In my previous gig (previous life), Lemonade was the soundtrack for the commute back and forth to work, listening to this album again and again and again, often at high volume and high RPMs. It’s also the soundtrack while sitting outside of work, dreading the brewing storm inside, reflecting on the generations of women who pushed me to where I – where we – are today, and adopting a filigreed ‘take no prisoners’ armor before the necessary walk into a putty-colored, building to take a place on one side or another of Us versus Them. Lemonade was – is – my redemption in a world ready to throw us lemons.

     

    Bill Holston
    Humans Rights Initiative of North Texas.

    Best Book:
    Homegoing –Yaa Gyasi
    Yaa Gyasi’s first novel is a Beautiful and moving account of two families from Ghana, one who is torn from home by Slavers.

    Best Movie:
    Not sure if this counts, but for me Stranger Things on Netflix. This fun and suspenseful show was the best thing I saw last year.

    Best Album:
    God Don’t Ever Change –Blind Willie Johnson
    The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson. Great bluesman covered by Lucinda Williams, Tom Waits (!) and Cowboy Junkies

    Best Birthday Party: The Wild Detectives. Great tacos and as always, we met great people and had great conversation. (Thanks Bill)

     

    Harry Hunsicker
    Author.

    Best Book:
    The Far Empty –J. Todd Scott
    An absolutely brilliant debut thriller. Do you ever wonder what it would be like if Dennis Lehane and Cormac McCarthy wrote a book together? This is a close as you can get.

    Best Movie:
    Hell or High Water –David Mackenzie
    staring Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster and Chris Pine. From the same screenwriter responsible for 2015’s superb Sicario, Hell or High Water is the spiritual heir to No Country for Old Men.

    Best Album:
    Blue and Lonesome –The Rolling Stones
    It’s the Stones first studio album in ten years. Enough said.

     

    Janielle Kastner
    Shakespeare in the Bar.

    Best Book:
    Ways to Disappear –Idra Novey
    I’m behind on most of 2016’s books, as I’ve been trying to catch up on the likes of John Steinbeck and Zora Neale Hurston. But Novey plays with this wonderful vignette-like format that has inspired me theatrically.

    Best Movie:
    Love & Friendship –Whit Stillman
    Kate Beckinsale is a delight!

    Best Album:
    My Woman –Angel Olsen
    She’s just so terrifically haunting. She dives into how she made Shut Up Kiss Me on the podcast Song Exploder, and it made me fall in love with her and the song a little more.

     

    Kathleen Kent
    Author.

    Best Book:
    Underground Railroad –Colson Whitehead

    Best Movie:
    Hell or High Water –David Mackenzie

    Best Album:
    Blackstar –David Bowie

     

    Josh Kummler
    Bar Politics.

    Best Book:
    Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. –Ibram X. Kendi
    An eye-opening and highly readable narrative nonfiction that’s only grown more relevant since it’s release in April. I have the privilege of directing the audiobook with local Dallas actor Chris Piper, who is killing it.

    Best Movie:
    The only movie I saw this year was the Lonely Island’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, (Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone) which was everything I wanted it to be and more, but I have no idea if it’s the “best.” I did, however, see a lot of plays, and my favorite was the world premiere of “Mirror: As If It Were the Moon” by Stephen Gardner, produced at Deep Vellum Books. If you missed it, you can hit that dude up on Facebook and he’ll send you the PDF, it is well worth the read.

    Best Album:
    There’s no way you’re getting me to pick just one. But here’s my top five from Dallas artists:
    Fjord –Jacob Metcalf
    Fire Escapes –Mur
    Live from the Deep –Ezra Vancil and the Congregation
    Beach Party –Surprising Flavor
    Dreamstate –Horace Bray

     

    Alex Macon
    D Magazine.

    Best Book:
    Non-Fiction
    Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right –Jane Mayer
    Fiction
    The Sellout –Paul Beatty

    Best Movie:
    Embrace of the Serpent –Ciro Guerra

    Best Album:
    My Woman –Angel Olsen

     

    Courtney Marie
    Poet and powerhouse.

    I am seriously so behind when it comes to consuming new media! I can’t think of any movie i saw this year, and a lot of the music i listen to is old records, but I have three poetry books that i read this year that i’d recommend! There Should Be Flowers by Joshua Jennifer Esponiza / Dream With a Glass Chamber by Aricka Forman – both of those were published 2016. The book that shook me the most, that I’d say was my favorite this year was probably Extracting the Stone of Madness by Alejandra Pizarnik, which are poems from 62-72 but I believe that it was finally translated to English this year or late last year. :)

     

    Joe Milazzo
    Writer, editor, educator, and designer.

    Best Book:
    Poetry
    Scarecrow –Robert Fernandez
    Fiction
    Eve Out of Her Ruins –Ananda Devi (publsihed by Deep Vellum)
    Non-Fiction
    The Yesterday Project –Ben & Sandra Doller

    Best Movie:
    Don’t Think Twice –Mike Birbiglia

    Best Album:
    Sunergy –Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani

     

    Michelle Newby
    Lone Star Literary Life.

    Best Book:
    Fiction
    News of the World –Paulette Jiles
    Check her review.
    Non-Fiction
    Walking the LLano –Shelley Armitage
    Check her review.

     

    Caroline North
    Dallas Observer.

    Best Book:
    The Nix –Nathan Hill

    Best Movie:
    The Lobster –Yorgos Lanthimos

    Best Album:
    The Best Friends I Ever Had –Field Guide

     

    Sebastian Hasani Páramo
    Poet.

    Best Book:
    Landscape With Headless Mama –Jennifer Givhan

    Best Movie:
    Arrival –Denis Villeneuve

    Best Album:
    Puberty 2 –Mitski

     

    Eduardo Rabasa
    Sexto Piso.

    Best Book:
    A nuestros amigos –Comité Invisible

    Best Movie:
    Holy Motors –Leos Carax

    Best Album:
    A Moon-Shaped Pool –Radiohead

     

    Beth Rankin
    Dallas Observer.

    Best Book:
    So not published in 2016, but Murakami’s Dance Dance Dance is so visceral and has stuck with me months after I finished it.

    Best Movie:
    Moonlight –Barry Jenkins
    Stunning, thoughtful and a perspective that is all-too-often stifled in the American film industry.

    Best Album:
    Robert Ellis –Robert Ellis
    I’ve been in love with Ellis since my time in Southeast Texas, where I’d get to see him fairly regularly when he played his hometown of Houston. He’s so beautifully emotional and genuine but at the same time oh-so Texas, and as someone who had their own heart broken in 2016, the fact that his latest release is a break-up album really made it resonate with me.

     

    Jason Reimer
    Texas Theatre.

    Best Book:
    Beale Street Dynasty –Preston Lauterbach

    Best Movie:
    Hell or High Water –David Mackenzie

    Best Album:
    We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service –A Tribe Called Quest

     

    Tim Rogers
    D Magazine.

    Best Book:
    Wolf Boys –Dan Slater

    Best Movie:
    Hell or High Water –David Mackenzie

    Best Album:
    We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service –A Tribe Called Quest

     

    Felipe Rosete
    Sexto Piso.

    Best Book:
    Preparation for the Next Life –Atticus Lish

    Best Movie:
    Among the Believers –Hemal Trivedi

    Best Album:
    A Moon Shaped Pool –Radiohead

     

    Sanderia Smith
    Author.

    Best Book:
    Here Comes the Sun –Nicole Dennis Benn

    Best Movie:
    Moonlight –Barry Jenkins

    Best Album:
    Coloring Book –Chance the Rapper

     

    Daniel Saldaña-París
    Author.

    Best Book:
    Zama –Antonio di Benedetto
    It isn’t a 2016 release (first edition in Spanish is from 1956), but it’s been recently translated into English, which is a good pretext to include it in this list.

    Best Movie:
    The Handmaiden –Park-Chan-Wook
    It isn’t my top favorite movie ever, but there is a lot of sex in it, and it’s from this year, so let’s have it here.

    Best Album:
    A Moon Shaped Pool –Radiohead

     

    Eric Steele
    Texas Theatre.

    Best Book:
    Born to Run –Bruce Springsteen

    Best Movie:
    Hell or High Water –David Mackenzie

    Best Album:
    Away –Okkervil River

     

    Leah Tieger
    Poet.

    Best Book:
    Night Sky with Exit Wounds –Ocean Vuong

    Best Movie:
    Moonlight –Barry Jenkins

    Best Album:
    Pool –Porches

     

    Carlos Velázquez
    Author.

    Best Book:
    A Manual for Cleaning Women –Lucia Berlin
    Born to Run –Bruce Springsteen
    Bowie –Simon Critchley

    Best Movie:
    Little Prince –Mark Osborne

    Best Album:
    Post Pop Depression –Iggy Pop
    Feels Like –Bully
    Adore Life –Savages
    Blackstar –Bowie
    Schmilco –Wilco
    We Got It from Here… Thanks 4 Your Service –A Tribe Called Quest
    You Wanted Darker –Leonard Cohen
    Worst Album
    Hard Wired… to Self Destruction –Metallica

     

    Chris Vognar
    Dallas Morning News.

    Best Book:
    The Nix –Nathan Hill

    Best Movie:
    O.J.: Made in America –Ezra Edelman

    Best Album:
    We Got It from Here… Thanks 4 Your Service –A Tribe Called Quest

     

     

    All our best wishes for 2017.
    Let’s all be the change we want to see.

    Published on

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