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What a year it’s been: The best of 2015 (so far)

The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death

1. Best new TV show: Galavant

Like its eponymous knight, ABC’s Galavant strode confidently onto television screens in 2015, flooring audiences and palace guards alike. The latest TV project from Dan Fogelman re-teams the Neighbors creator with Tangled songwriters Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, who produced four original songs for the back-to-back premiere episodes—easily the year’s largest number of songs featured in a new, medieval-set musical comedy. With a cast headlined by Psych vet Timothy Omundson, Greendale Community College and Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry alumnus Luke Youngblood, Frankenstein’s Army co-star Joshua Sasse, and Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story Of INXS player Mallory Jansen, the series set the bar for TV star power even higher with a second-episode guest shot by John Stamos. Stamos’ character, in turn, provided 2015’s finest Mad Men joke to date: The once (and future?) Uncle Jesse portrayed Galavant’s handsome rival, Sir Jean Hamme. [Erik Adams]


2. Best film: The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death

Halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, nothing says “the future of cinema” like the name Hammer Films. Launching the month of January with a complacent sigh, The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death is a breath of stale, WWII-era air for horror fans tired of movies that try to shock them into attentiveness with shaky camerawork and monsters with personality. Entering into cinema’s drowsiest season, The Woman In Black 2 is the ideal monotonous rehash for a moviegoing public that just wants to rest its eyes for a minute. [Katie Rife]


3. Best musical performance: Elton John, “I’m Still Standing” on ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve

No musical performance this year entertained a bigger audience than that of Elton John, who sang for the captive millions unable to change the channel on TVs playing in the background of bars and house parties. Minutes after the ball dropped on ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, John was there to usher in 2015 with the soundtrack to our future: 1983’s “I’m Still Standing”—a song he performed while sitting down, in the hip, ironic style that has so characterized this year. As John sang his kiss-off to an ex-lover, so too did we kiss off 2014 and now-outmoded artists like Taylor Swift, whose era ended in the distant past of approximately 11:45 p.m. [Sean O’Neal]


4. Best album: Infected Mushroom, Friends On Mushrooms (Deluxe Edition)

Among all the records released this year, Infected Mushroom’s Friends On Mushrooms (Deluxe Edition) is far and away one of them. Yes, it’s technically a compilation of three previously released EPs from the Israeli psy-trance weirdos stuffed together in a package featuring a scary-looking porcupine. But Infected Mushroom is just so gosh-darn infectious on tracks like “Savant On Mushrooms” and “Nerds On Mushrooms,” even lesser tracks like “Astrix On Mushrooms” are elevated. Indeed, Infected Mushroom’s Friends On Mushrooms is undoubtedly the best album of 2015 so far—though, to be fair, the Lounge Cowboys do make a strong push with their laid-back new double LP, Pina Colada Lounge. [Marah Eakin]


5. Best Simpsons episode: The one that was on this week

The Man Who Came To Be Dinner” is surely the most controversial episode of The Simpsons that Fox has broadcast this year. Was it a winking homage to the show’s glory days, or a cheap cash-in full of recycled ideas? Was its assumed origin as a “Treehouse Of Horror” idea a brilliantly subversive jumping-off point, or a slim sketch stretched to full length? One thing we can all agree on: It is the best Simpsons episode ever aired in the year 2015. [Josh Modell]


6. Viral star of the year: Liquid Nitrogen Cooled Gummy Bear

Few viral videos this year have made the impact of “Liquid Nitrogen Cooled Gummy Bear Vs. 12 Gauge.” Posted to YouTube by Cars And Water, the two-minute clip celebrates its star: the giant, shotgun-speared Gummy Bear that, as the title explains, meets its maker after a showdown with some super-cooled liquid. Truly celebrating both humanity and science at their absolute pinnacles, “Liquid Nitrogen Cooled Gummy Bear Vs. 12 Gauge” is a masterwork in documentary filmmaking. Even Werner Herzog would be saddened by the bleak look at gummy life and gummy death that this clip captures in its final 30 seconds. [Marah Eakin]


7. Invention of the year: Sony Walkman


At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, Sony—the renowned Japanese technology company/magic factory—unveiled its latest imaginative invention (imaginvention). It’s called the Sony Walkman ZX2, and it offers song enthusiasts the opportunity to take their tunes with them while walking. Features include a gold-colored headphone jack and a play button with a little nub on it so you can tell it’s a play button. “It’s heavier than you’d initially expect, in a good way,” raved The Verge’s Ross Miller in his hands-on preview of the $1,120 device. And if you suspect that Sony is going for a retro feel here, you’re right: The Walkman runs “Jelly Bean,” a classic version of the Android operating system that was first released in 2012. [John Teti]

8. Humanitarian of the year: Mac DeMarco

During the holiday season, people tend to feel more empathetic and generous toward those less fortunate, and they share. In 2015, no entertainer embodied that spirit more fully than goofball rocker Mac DeMarco, whose selfless act of charity is a year-so-far definer. DeMarco put his used shoes on eBay, autographed one of them, then promised the auction winner that he’d “probably throw some other crap in the box.” And now the Willie Mae Rock Camp For Girls will be getting $21,000 of some kid’s money. God bless us, every one! [Josh Modell]


9. Best new food: Subway’s grilled chicken strips

Forever looking for new ways in which to paint with all the colors of prepackaged meat, this year the sandwich artists of Subway added to their palette the grilled chicken strip—an innovation on the grilled chicken of yesteryear in that it comes in strip form, to better meet the busy lifestyles of 2015 esophagi. Indeed, these newly slenderized chunks of chicken meat are designed for sliding quickly and efficiently into the stomach, thus eliminating the needless delay that could be spent considering other dining options besides Subway. And with sandwich varieties ranging from the Chicken And Bacon Ranch Melt to the Monterrey Chicken Melt to other, yet-to-be-dreamed-of things that could be melted on top of them, the company proudly proclaims, “They Taste Better,” signaling that 2015 heralds a new era of Subway being slightly more palatable. [Sean O’Neal]


10. Best video game: Some old video games


Rewind your mental video cassette recorder to January 5, when news broke that the Internet Archive had posted almost 2,400 video games from the MS-DOS era for public consumption—and the Archive made all of them playable in your browser, no less. Sure, these games may have been released before 2015, but it’s only this year that you can play hits like Tank Wars, Annihilator Tank, Hyper Tank, Tank: The M1A1 Abrams Battle Tank Simulation, Magnetik Tank, and Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends the way they were meant to be played: a few minutes at a time until you get bored and check Twitter. [John Teti]

11. Sports moment of the year: Chris Christie hugs Jerry Jones


That sound you heard early in the evening of January 4 was the sound of hearts melting as they watched two beloved Americans savor a richly deserved moment of joy. (It was kind of a squishy, melty sound, which might be why you struggled to identify it. We’re here to help.) Shortly after the Dallas Cowboys recovered a fumble to clinch a playoff win, the Fox broadcast cut to a shot of the owner’s box, where pizza spokesperson Jerry Jones and 2016 president-elect Chris Christie shared half of an embrace. Christie was initially thwarted in his attempt at a double high-five, as another of Jones’ companions spun the septuagenarian owner and, for a moment, considered going in for a kiss. So Christie was forced to settle for a half-hug, rubbing his orange sweater against Jones’ pelvis as another man tried to suffocate him. It was awkward to be sure, but the infectious delight of the spectacle reminded us that in the end, sports are about the fans. [John Teti]

12. Love story of the year: Benji Madden and Cameron Diaz

In a year starved for romance, hurting hearts needing healing were warmed by the love of Cameron Diaz for Good Charlotte singer Benji Madden. News of the pair’s surprise wedding captivated the world in 2015, as the tabloids pored over every detail—the guest list that included friends like Drew Barrymore and Gwyneth Paltrow, the “surprise” performances by Lionel Richie and Ryan Adams, the fact that Benji Madden still exists and did not enter some sort of suspended animation as soon as you turned 30. And amid the dust of this whirlwind courtship between two people who have already dated dozens of other famous people, which followed their being introduced just seven months ago by Nicole Richie, it’s evident that theirs is a love that will last for all of 2015 so far. [Sean O’Neal]


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