From Train to Star Wars electronica, this is 2016’s least essential music

While The A.V. Club spends much of December praising the year’s best works, it’s also a time to reflect on the ones that left us scratching our heads. This isn’t necessarily the worst music of the year, but these albums left lingering questions about why they exist and who they are for. Dive in, friend: This is the…

Our favorite games of 2016, part 2

Every December, instead of searching for a group consensus, Gameological looks back at the year in games through individual perspectives. These are the staffers’ personal takes on a few games that have stuck in their minds for whatever reason—big or small—and does not represent any sort of institutional expression.…

Help for the holiday procrastinator: 10 gift books that don’t say “last minute” at all

As someone once wrote in a book, the best-laid plans often go awry. Worry not if you have last-minute holiday shopping to do; Barnes & Noble is open Christmas Eve, mom-and-pop shops that have yet to shutter their doors are desperate for your holiday purchases, and even Amazon can still get you books if you order them…

Our favorite games of 2016, part 1

Every December, instead of searching for a group consensus, Gameological looks back at the year in games through individual perspectives. These are the staffers’ personal takes on a few games that have stuck in their minds for whatever reason—big or small—and does not represent any sort of institutional expression.…

Our 20 favorite books of 2016

When things get hard, you can always retreat into a good book. For all the drawbacks of 2016, the year produced some wonderful books to lose ourselves in, from extraordinary memoirs to autobiographies seeking deeper truths about the nature of fame to fantasy worlds that hold us enthralled. In no particular order, The…

The best of film 2016: The ballots

As usual, our list of the best movies of the year has been mathematically assembled from the ranked favorites of a small number of contributors—the six writers who worked the review beat all year long, bringing you graded takes on everything playing in a theater near you. (Okay, not everything.) Below, we’ve presented…

The 20 best films of 2016

When people talk about what a terrible year 2016 has been, they could be referring to any number of things, from virus scares to the death of beloved celebrities to whatever the fuck happened on November 8. What they can’t mean is the movies, though. Only those who spent all their money on the biggest Hollywood…

Hyper Light Drifter blended past and present to become 2016’s most beautiful game

Hyper Light Drifter is one of many modern games that cribs from the chunky sprite-based look of yore. It’s now a commonplace visual style and frequently criticized as being either an empty stab at nostalgia or a resource-saving crutch for a game made by a tiny development team. Even when framed as a positive, the…

The 20 worst films of 2016

Critics tend to see all the same good movies and none of the same bad ones. That’s the major difference between a best-of-the-year staff list and a worst-of-the-year staff list: The former expresses consensus enthusiasm, while the latter is just a series of individual bones being picked—a way for writers to vent about…

The year’s best video game puzzle reminds us no world is an island

Earlier this year, we talked to Myst creator Rand Miller about the art of crafting adventure games. During the conversation, he posited that an effective adventure balances its foundations on three equally important legs: puzzle, story, and world. At the time, Miller noted that he personally favored the crafting of…

The 35 best TV performances of 2016 (and one worst)

With more scripted television programs in production than ever before, it follows that there are now a wider range of opportunities for television actors. Looking back at the performances that caught The A.V. Club’s eyes in 2016 confirms that hypothesis: While some of our favorite character actors found new facets of…

The best TV of 2016, part 2

Yesterday, The A.V. Club ran down the first half of the year’s best television, from Last Week Tonight to You’re The Worst. Today: the best of the best, featuring robot cowboys, nasty women, and a dream team of legal and legal-adjacent shows grappling with moral, mental, and media crises.

A floating diner was the year’s most memorable video game location

After two years of increasingly feverish speculation, Cardboard Computer finally released the fourth act of their five-part magical-realist epic Kentucky Route Zero in July of this year. It felt denser and weirder than any of its predecessors, as if refusing to play nice after all that time. Onetime protagonist Conway…

Somehow this fascist take on Werewolf was created before Trump won

Werewolf is a game known by many names, but it always has the same core function: A group of people sit in a circle; someone can eliminate other players with a surreptitious gesture (I played sticking out my tongue); the victim has to drop dead; and everyone else goes on high alert to figure out who the killer is. The…

The A.V. Club’s 20 best albums of 2016

There’s no easy way to summarize the year in music given how much of it took us by surprise. High-profile albums would be announced with little warning, arriving on streaming services in a flash, and dominate the cultural conversation until the next one came along. Similarly, some of the most innovative names in music…

2016’s best-sounding game gave a voice to nature’s small wonders

No one makes games quite like Amanita Design. For 13 years, this small Czech studio has turned out minimalist adventures in the classic point-and-click style, but where the giants of that genre built themselves around memorable characters and dialogue, Amanita’s creations pursue a more meditative experience: wordless…

The year in swag: 2016 left us with broken goggles, a cow eye, and witch pee

The horror of the year we are about to depart has been well-established, but thanks to our swag table, we at The A.V. Club were not left empty-handed. Why, we received a variety of fun items, like: A Grand Tour air-freshener for our car! Donald Trump socks! A bottle of witch’s urine! An actual cow eye! Many, many…

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