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Best and Worst of 2017: my year

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2017 was devastating for me both physically and emotionally but the following films, television, articles (and more) helped keep me going and provided glimpses of light, interest and joy (even though, like everything, they were tainted by acute physical suffering). I hope they will bring you happiness too. I added items to the list throughout the year in order to prevent me from destroying my hands even more by attempting to write the whole blog post at the end of the year.

 
FILMS

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This has been a bumper year for incredible films that I’ve loved.

Best 10 films that I saw for the first time in 2017:

1. Hidden Figures
Amazing. This was my favourite film of the year. Loved it.
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
After the dull, bland and emotionless The Force Awakens, it was such a relief to experience the joy of Rogue One. This felt like proper Star Wars. Awesome characters that you could actually care about, an exciting plot and plenty of emotion!
3. Queen of Katwe
The story of a young girl living in the slums of Katwe who finds that she is brilliant at chess and where it takes her. Great film.
4. Moana
On first viewing, although I liked the film, I thought that the songs were a bit disappointing in that they weren’t very catchy and not up to the usual Disney standard. But on repeat viewings, the film grew on me and so did the songs. I love it a lot now. I get goosebumps in the bit where Moana sings to the “lava monster”:
‘They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are’
5. Wonder Woman
6. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Really good. Plus, how could anyone not love Emma Watson?
7. The Good Lie
8. The Shack
Films never make me cry but this one did!
9. Arrival
I loved the language aspects to this.
10. Sully

Honourable mentions: Lion, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Zookeeper’s Wife, Unbroken, Wild, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Philomena, The LEGO Batman Movie, The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, Doctor Strange, Sing, Gifted, Snowden, Trolls

The most disappointing films that I saw for the first time in 2017:

La La Land
Me Before You
Passengers
Pitch Perfect 2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Films that I’m most looking forward to seeing in 2018:

Thor: Ragnarok
Justice League
Avengers: Infinity War
Wonder
Ready Player One
Ocean’s 8
Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The Greatest Showman
The Incredibles 2
Paddington 2
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Ant-Man and the Wasp
X-Men: New Mutants

 
Best 3 videos/talks I watched in 2017:

Video (12mins): this woman jumped from a train going to Auschwitz, leaving her unresponsive father behind. Decades later, she got a message from him:
www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/i-have-a-message-for-you

Talk: how language shapes our thinking about space, time, numbers, events, colours and gender:
www.youtube.com/language-shapes-thinking/

Talk: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime
www.ted.com/talks/how_childhood_trauma_affects_health

 

TELEVISION

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Best of the TV that I saw for the first time in 2017:

Madam Secretary – I love this so much. If you miss The West Wing, you might enjoy this show too. Téa Leoni’s character is awesome.
Star Trek Discovery – what a treat to have new and exciting Trek. I’ve really enjoyed it.
The Good Place
The Good Fight
Salvation
The Handmaid’s Tale
Ascension
3%
Parenthood
How to Get Away with Murder
Richard Osman’s House of Games
Celebrity Hunted

Best TV that I continued to watch new seasons of in 2017:

Masterchef Australia – this has been a highlight of my year for many years now. It’s so different from any other Masterchef or cooking show; you’d have to watch it to understand what I mean. Pure joy and excitement.

Once Upon A Time – oh my goodness, THE MUSICAL EPISODE. It was a complete surprise to me but once the characters started to sing and I realised what was happening, I was bursting with delight and my eyes were wide with glee, trying to drink in and savour the joy of the moment. Loved it.

Game of Thrones – in the past I’ve been torn between loving and hating this show but this year it was spectacular. Season 7 was the best season by far.

University Challenge

Doctor Who

Would I Lie To You

The Graham Norton Show

Michael McIntyre’s Big Show – this makes me so happy. The ‘Send To All’ game and ‘The Midnight Game Show’ are my favourite bits.

Elementary

The Durrells

Sense8

Stranger Things 2 – Weirdly, I found the first season a bit slow and not all that great but I really enjoyed season 2.

The 100

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Big Bang Theory

Gogglebox

Home and Away

Have I Got News For You

Most disappointing TV that I saw for the first time in 2017, which didn’t live up to the hype:

Riverdale
Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling
Strike – The Silkworm
Anne with an ‘e’ – I’m sorry that this fell short. Nothing can compare with the Megan Follows version of Anne of Green Gables, which is my favourite thing ever.

Best TV documentaries of 2017:
Turkey with Simon Reeve
Russia with Simon Reeve
Colombia with Simon Reeve

 
SPORT

My favourite Sporting Events of 2017 that I thoroughly enjoyed:
Swimming World Championships
Athletics World Championships
Gymnastics World Championships
Diving World Championships

 
YOUTUBE

Best 3 YouTube channels of 2017:

1. The Endless Adventure – A young American couple film their travels around the world, vlogging themselves trying different countries’ foods and experiencing their cultures. I particularly love the videos when they come to the UK; it’s fun to see their reactions to our food and culture.
2. PointlessBlogVlogs – vlog of Alfie Deyes
3. TheFineBros (FBE) and REACT – all age groups react to different things (foods, films, retro things, TV, songs etc.)

 
BLOG

Blog posts I’ve written in 2017 that I’m proud of:

Confronting my own internalised ableism:
http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2017/05/combatting-my-own-internalised-ableism/

The eternal dilemma of trying to Sort myself into a Hogwarts House:
http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2017/07/hogwartshousesorting/

Fictional male role models:
http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2017/07/fictional-male-role-models/

Cinema Memories:
http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2017/09/cinema-memories/”

When you beckon lightning and invite it in for tea:
http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2017/09/when-you-beckon-lightning-and-invite-it-in-for-tea/

The Best 25 Romcoms and How I Came To Love The Genre:
http://www.jkrowbory.co.uk/2017/10/romcoms/

 

BOOKS

Best audiobooks that I listened to in 2017 (I’m unable to read books due to my illness so I have to listen to them):

My brain has really struggled with audiobooks this year. Plus I can’t seem to find any that I like enough to finish listening to. However, I’m doing a reread (via audiobook) of His Dark Materials in order to refresh my teenage memory of them before listening to The Book of Dust. It’s been wonderful to rediscover the delights of Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife; I got through them quite quickly. I’m having less joy with The Amber Spyglass at the moment and it’s taking me ages to wade through it.

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The most interesting articles that I read this year (well, the ones that I remembered to bookmark at least) – I hope that you’ll find some articles here that are of interest to you too:

January:

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down – Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method to analyze people in minute detail based on their Facebook activity. Did a similar tool help propel Donald Trump to victory? Two reporters from Zurich-based Das Magazin went data-gathering.​

I wore men’s clothes for a month – and it changed my life

Trump’s biographers talk

How the world’s languages name the rainbow

The new gender prison

February:

From sea to plate: how plastic got into our fish

When It’s Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig

Against Normalization: The Lesson of the “Munich Post”

Tom Hiddleston on Taylor Swift, Heartbreak, and Great Bolognese

Sex, Gender, and the New Essentialism

The continuing conflict of married women’s names

It’s about 50 degrees warmer than normal near the North Pole, yet again

March:

Climate change: global reshuffle of wildlife will have huge impacts on humanity

Diseases of the Will: Neuroscience Founding Father Santiago Ramón y Cajal on the Six Psychological Flaws That Keep the Talented from Achieving Greatness

April:

What bullets do to bodies

Receding glacier causes immense Canadian river to vanish in four days

In the Oppression Olympics, women always lose

Sexism in Medicine: women are dying because doctors treat us like men

May:

The big melt: Glacier National Park is losing its glaciers

Don’t Ever Bring Me Red Velvet Cake: the “flavor” red velvet and why it’s trash

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

July:

When will climate change make the Earth uninhabitable for humans?

Something Strange in Usain Bolt’s Stride

A mission to the Pacific plastic patch

If ‘white feminism’ is a thing, gender identity ideology epitomizes it

Freed From ISIS, Yazidi Women Return in ‘Severe Shock’

August:

Robert Webb: ‘I was never very good at being a boy’

‘There are hundreds of sick crew': is toxic air on planes making frequent flyers ill?

September:

The Week My Husband Left And My House Was Burgled I Secured A Grant To Begin The Project That Became BRCA1

Wonder Woman: Let’s Talk About That No Man’s Land Scene

Brilliant, irreverent, indefinable: my poetry class with John Ashbery

October

‘Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

Glorifying Selflessness In Women Is A Way To Make Us Do All The Work

November

Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies

INTO THE VORTEX: Storm Chasers, megacomputers and the quest to understand superstorms

How the Zombie Fungus Takes Over Ants’ Bodies to Control Their Minds: The infamous parasite’s methods are more complex and more sinister than anyone suspected

When Women’s Rights Are #NotADebate

December:

I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor

Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen?

Mimi O’Donnell Reflects on the Loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Devastation of Addiction

Harvey Weinstein is my Monster Too

Why the sexual harassment allegations you read about are the tiny tip of a huge iceberg

‘The difficulty is the point': teaching spoon-fed students how to really read

 
PERSONAL

Best surprises of 2017:

• For Christmas, my older brother made me a game that I can play on a mobile device. A whole game! I get to be Prime Minister and make choices and decisions that affect the narrative and whether I’ll get elected again. It’s illness-friendly in that I can just play for a few minutes at a time with my thumb, save the game and then carry on playing another day for a few minutes. He spent months making it all up and doing the coding. Wow.

• Dad recorded more of his life story for me to listen to. I love this and find it fascinating.

• The wonderful Tanya Marlow dedicated her new book ‘Those Who Wait’ to me:

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Worst things of 2017:

• Further physical deterioration and increased level of severity of symptoms and pain. Being close to death all the time. Every bodily system seems to be failing even more. It’s hard to make it through. I work so hard to stay alive.

• Traumatic and lengthy legal proceedings with cruel delays. Rage, grief and heartbreak that the legal system let a particular paedophile get away with only a couple of months in jail for horrific crimes that caused lifelong destruction, damage and trauma to people. Old, wealthy, white men can get away with anything. Abusers are adept at minimising their crimes, at never truly realising or acknowledging the devastating continuing effects, impact and damage that their crimes have done to someone, at switching the narrative around so that people feel sympathy for them, at playing the victim, at appearing penitent, at absolving themselves for their crimes because they think that God has forgiven them, at manipulating people, and at feeling so sorry for themselves that they feel like a minuscule punishment is enough. A lifetime in prison wouldn’t have been enough. There was no justice.

• A head injury in May that has led to permanent damage, numbness and reduced circulation to the head. If the surface of my head is touching anything, more blood gets cut off and it becomes more numb. A constant feeling that I’m about to pass out. This also means that I can no longer use my ear defenders, which has been a nightmare because sound is agony for me. It has been especially problematic because a bypass has been being built right by us this year.

• I’m always too ill to have anyone come into my room apart from my parents bringing me food and water and emptying the commode. At Christmas though, I usually have my brothers, little nephew and sister-in-law come into my room for a few minutes, even though I have months of consequences, and that’s the only time I see them all year. This Christmas though I wasn’t able to have them come in my room at all. I’m just too ill. I’m very sad; I miss them so much. I didn’t even see Mum over the three main days of Christmas because she was laid low flat on her back in agony (due to her bad back suddenly going). She couldn’t even speak or move an arm or leg or pick up her phone due to being in so much pain. Dad was doing double shifts in both looking after me and rushing back and forth to where my brothers were staying nearby for Christmas. My parents are sad that they didn’t get to see their sons and grandson as much as they wanted and had looked forward to for so long. Their lives are especially tough because they see their daughter (me) suffering so badly every day and they’re exhausted from working so hard to care for me so well and so selflessly. They’ve given everything up for me and are worried out of their minds about me. I just wanted them to be able to have a nice time over Christmas to see my brothers. But we never seem to catch a break!

 
How has your year been? What were your favourite and least favourite things (films, TV, books etc.) of 2017? Let me know.
 

3 comments to Best and Worst of 2017: my year

  • Lisa Merrick Higgins

    HI Jenny
    One of my most and least favourite things this year has been following your journey. I love your blog, parts of it break my heart. Actually most of it breaks my heart :( My favourite movies and TV shows shadow yours. I love Game of Thrones and watched Hidden Figures with my girls. I loved the message it gave them – it’s one of their favourites too. Moana and Beauty and the Beast also so beautiful. We did enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Baby Groot is just too cute not to love. Books – sadly time to read is never enough. I am reading Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese – a Canadian First Nations author. It’s powerful and I love the reminder of the importance of connecting with nature. I quite like Imagine Dragons ‘Thunder’ but loved Coldplay and the Chainsmokers ‘Something Just like This’.
    Thinking of you so specially
    Lisa

  • Thanks so much for listing my Wonder Woman post. I’m glad you thought it was interesting.

  • Rielyn

    Hello Jenny, I have had severe ME for 22 years now. Have been on the border between severe and very severe a few times and I wanted to say how much strength I take from your courage in willing yourself to keep on keeping on each day. Also, you have such beautiful skin and eyes!

    Sorry you had a rough Christmas this year. I’ve had your site bookmarked for years but didn’t notice the posts listed at the bottom, until recently, lol. So now that means I have lots of good reading to look forward to.

    I also liked Hidden Figures, Moana and Arrival. I’d put Lion higher up on my list though. I did watch and enjoy Stranger Things and The Handmaid’s Tale as well. I was the same age as the Stranger Things kids were in that time, so it’s nostalgic for me. I’m an Anne fan too and didn’t even bother with the new version. I totally agree the Disney version with Megan Follows is the best. Also agree about La La Land – I don’t get what people see in it and I’m a huge fan of movie musicals.

    Thanks for posting the “I Have A Message” video – I loved that and passed it along to my dad who thought it was beautiful. On youtube this year I’ve been enjoying the Try Guys and recently been watching the McHusbands and their new baby girls.

    When I want to talk and can’t I will have the conversation in my head, so I’m just going to go ahead and keep chatting with you about your faves and such, and you can chat with me in your head (I think it’s always fun talking to a new person) and I imagine we’ll hear each other somehow. :)

    Take Care,
    Rielyn