20 Best Lists of 2016 – Rolling Stone
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20 Best Lists of 2016

From baseball stats to best sandwiches, Trump Twitter insults to ‘Downton Abbey’ d-bags, our picks for the year’s high-ranking lists

From baseball stats to best sandwiches, Trump Twitter insults to 'Downton Abbey' d-bags, our picks for the year's high-ranking lists

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In a contentious election year, it's hard for even the more frivolous elements of pop culture not to be focused on the pressing political issues of the day. As a result, this year's rundown of the best, funniest and most unique lists is noticeably attuned to the presidential campaign and its key themes, whether that means the rise in hate speech or Donald Trump's Twitter obsession. But movies, sports, non-lethal Australian animals and sandwiches also factored into our overview – if only to help us take our mind off who's going to occupy the Oval Office in 2017. Here's our annual meta-list of the 20 best lists of 2016. Yes, there will be a Clickhole entry; grab a nice, greasy bacon, egg and cheese and enjoy. 

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The 20 Times Trump Has Threatened to Sue Someone During This Campaign

One of the bitterest running jokes of this year's joyless presidential campaign was Donald Trump's constant threats to sue any person or institution that displeased him. Starting with the President-elect's June 2015 warning that he'd go after Univision for ending its contract with the Miss USA pageant, FiveThirtyEight kept a running tally of all the man's proposed lawsuits – including in each case whether he followed through with his promise to take legal action. Ted Cruz, the Associated Press, The New York Times, the co-author of Trump's self-congratulatory manifesto The Art of the Deal: They all made the list. (FiveThirtyEight)

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The 21st Century’s 100 Greatest Films

We're now 16 years into this new century, which is not too early to think about what this millennium's finest movies have been. The BBC polled 177 critics around the world (myself included), and the resulting ranked list is a smorgasbord of brilliant animation (Spirited Away), dark post-9/11 allegories (Zodiac), art-house classics (In the Mood for Love), poignant love stories (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and twisted portraits of the American dream (There Will Be Blood). As for the list's No. 1 choice, it went to a majestically spooky and sexy film that's inspired endless debate since its 2001 debut. Check it out. (BBC)

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The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy

It's an undertaking equally ambitious and foolhardy: Vulture set about trying to create a timeline of the quintessential American jokes of the modern era, which the culture site argues begins in 1906 with black comic Bert Williams' humorous tune "Nobody" and culminates with Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake and Ellen DeGeneres lip-syncing Rihanna's "Bitch Better Have My Money." It's a list sure to start arguments, encompassing everything from quintessential movie lines ("I am serious … and don't call me Shirley") to immortal stand-up routines (George Carlin's seven words you can't say on television) to the magnificent Looney Tunes short What's Opera, Doc? (Vulture)

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The 289 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List

No one weaponized Twitter's combustible immediacy as provocatively as Trump, who utilized the social media platform as a way to forward his agenda. Also, he put a lot of stuff on blast. With herculean persistence, The New York Times catalogued every single person, corporation, TV show, country, state, book, magazine, golf course and Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical that Trump insulted on Twitter. Popular taunts included calling people a "dummy" or "dopey." Lots of things got dismissed as "boring." And he used "totally" more than a clichéd 1980s Valley girl. (The Upshot/The New York Times)

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Every Shot Kobe Bryant Ever Took: All 30,699 of Them

In April, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA's most famous and divisive players, retired. He'll be remembered for many things: the championship rings, his feud with Shaquille O'Neal, his ruthless dedication to putting himself in the conversation of all-time greats alongside his idol Michael Jordan. But part of that legacy will also be his penchant for throwing up endless amounts of shots. (He had the third-most field-goal attempts in league history and holds the record for most shots missed in a career.) To celebrate Kobe's trigger-happy ways, his hometown paper made a gorgeous purple-and-gold interactive chart that maps out exactly where he took every single shot on the court. (Purple dots are for makes. Gold dots are for misses.) It's one of the most striking ways that a publication has ever visually honored an athlete's impact on the game he loved. (Los Angeles Times)

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19 Times Someone Gets Thrown Into the Vacuum of Space, From Worst to Best

One of the best ways that sci-fi filmmakers dispense with characters is including a scene in which they're sucked out of an airlock while in outer space. Enter the wonderfully nerdy io9, which decided to approach the trend scientifically. "We all know people don't explode when exposed to space without protection," notes writer Andrew Liptak in his intro. "But science fiction has taken some … liberties with vacuum exposure over the years. Here are 19 scenes of people being exposed to space, ranked from the least realistic to the most." 2001, Gravity and The Martian get high marks, unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall, which may not be realistic but is certifiably hilarious/disturbing. (io9)

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6 Charts That Will Change How You Think About Sexual Assault in America

Vox writer Zachary Crockett wanted to put into perspective the amount of reported sexual assaults in this country. So he took data from private and government agencies and began designing graphics that compared, for instance, the estimated number of sexual assault victims in 2015 to the amount of automobile fatalities from 2000 to 2015. The results are beautifully presented and incredibly sobering, Crockett using everything from the capacity of baseball stadiums to the attendance at the original Woodstock to emphasize the sheer numbers of sexual crimes happening around us. (Vox)

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No More Year Left: 2016 in 10 Lists

Stealing our list-of-lists idea, the satirical BuzzFeed-like parody site Clickhole did a year-end roundup of 2016's best lists. Of course, they're all entirely made up; of course, each is hilarious. You'd think that the funniest thing about "6 Things That Could've Turned Out Differently in 2016 If King Kong Were Real and On the Side of the Common Man" would be its amazing title — but you'd be wrong. And be sure to pour one out for "All 6 Grandpas Who Died at Panera Bread in 2016." (Clickhole)

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U.S. Reaches Goal of Admitting 10,000 Syrian Refugees – Here’s Where They Went

The ongoing Syrian civil war is so unfathomably tragic that it can be challenging to wrap one's head around its impact. The New York Times took one element of the conflict – the influx of Syrian refugees into the United States – as its focus, creating a series of charts that illustrate just how many have come to America per year and where they're living. 2016 will be remembered for, among other things, this country's growing callousness toward immigrants; these infographics persuasively make the case that they're not statistics or political talking points but human beings. (The New York Times)

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Most Embarrassing Things I’ve Ever Done

NFL defensive end Chris Long is an imposing football player; he also happens to do incredibly stupid stuff just like the rest of us. Unlike us, though, he's willing to admit it in public. Long created a web list of embarrassing things he's done. Highlights include that time he drove away from the gas station with the hose still attached to his tank and his excruciating childhood memory of meeting his acting hero, Ben-Hur legend Charlton Heston, and gushing, "You were great in Spartacus." (li.st)

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Australian Animals That Won’t Kill You, Ranked

Dude, straight up, some Australian animals will totally kill you if you're not careful. Thankfully, lots of them won't, however, and Kotaku is here to rank them in order of how much list-compiler (and actual Australian) Luke Plunkett wants them as a pet. Seriously, bro, quokkas are flat-out adorable. (Kotaku)

The 20 Most Despicable Characters in ‘Downton Abbey’ History, Ranked

Many people spent the early spring mourning the end of the PBS drama, which aired its series finale in March. But Vulture writer Jen Chaney worked through her grief a bit differently. "When we think of Downton Abbey, we think poshness and proper five-course meal etiquette, sipping tea and delighting in the barbed bon mots of the Dowager Countess," she observed. "But let's not kid ourselves: In the world that Julian Fellowes built over six seasons, things often got nasty." And thus she proceeded to rank the drama's 20 most fiendish individuals, fondly recalling each of their truly despicable moments. Let us pause to remember the "loathsome" Nanny West, the "total bastard" Larry Grey, and Alex Green, whom Chaney introduces with "This. Fucking. Guy." (Vulture)

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TPM’s Guide to GOPers Hopping Off the Trump Train

A list like this is instructive because it speaks to the confidence Hillary Clinton supporters once were feeling about their candidate's chances. Back in August, Talking Points Memo started a list of prominent Republicans who wanted nothing to do with the GOP nominee. It's a murderers' row of establishment right-wing figures – Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Newt Gingrich – who publically criticized their party's candidate. "Wow," we all thought, "there's no way Trump could possibly win!" It's unspeakably depressing how many of these Republicans have changed their tune – or kept their mouth shut – since Election Day. (Talking Points Memo)

April Fools’ Pranks From Across the Internet, Ranked From Best to Worst

We can all agree that April Fools' Day is the worst. Well, not everyone: Chris Plante, culture editor at The Verge, loves the pseudo-holiday, arguing, "I agree the annual day of pranks and goofs has become a shallow excuse for brands to cloyingly plea for our attention, but sometimes that desperation can transcend into genuine humor." From there, he ranks the biggest April Fools' pranks enacted on the World Wide Web. Okay, fine, the Moon Watch goof was actually sorta funny. (The Verge)

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Regular-Season Baseball Team Victories, Ranked

People love or hate baseball for the same reason: The season is so long. To commemorate Opening Day, Deadspin writer Tom Scocca offered a tongue-in-cheek ranking of victories during a 162-game season. Forgive the pun, but while this inside-baseball list will be utterly baffling to anyone who doesn't care about the sport, it is profoundly, perfectly right for the rest of us who adore the game. (Deadspin)

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What’s Your Favorite Sandwich?

Food culture site Food Republic conducted a highly unscientific study of "approximately 40 sandwich lovers across America" to determine what the greatest sandwich is. The fact that the lobster roll is not No. 1 is just further proof that Americans often make terrible choices in the voting booth. (Food Republic)

Best Photos of 2016

The world-class photography publication National Geographic compiled their 52 best images from 2016. They are stunning, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, majestic – and proof that this is still a pretty magnificent planet. (National Geographic)

100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

Not to toot our own horn, but we do some pretty good lists around here, too. In 2016, we polled actors, showrunners, critics and others to come up with a definitive ranking of the 100 best television shows ever made. In the eternal Seinfeld-versus-Simpsons debate, Jerry's crew won, barely. (Seinfeld was No. 5, The Simpsons No. 6.) But lest there be any doubt, we're living in a golden age of TV drama: The top four spots went to, in ascending order, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire and The Sopranos. (Rolling Stone)

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