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20 Best Lists of 2017

From Trump lies to T-Swift tunes, Johnny Depp’s houses to ranking the religions – our favorite lists of the year

best lists of the year list

The culture’s fascination with ranking things continues unabated – even in the first year of the Trump administration. Partly, that’s a product of wanting to escape, albeit briefly, from the horrors of this president by indulging in the silliness of numbered lists and pointless debates. But while some of this year’s best rankings saluted the finest in action movies, female-driven albums and Johnny Depp’s myriad homes, it was impossible to totally avoid politics and current events – whether while learning the extent of damage being done to NFL players’ brains or reading about all the women victimized by monsters like Harvey Weinstein. It wasn’t entirely bleak, though: Any year that lets us fight over which Taylor Swift song is the greatest can’t be all bad. Here’s our picks for the 20 best lists of 2017.

110 N.F.L. Brains

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110 N.F.L. Brains

Boston neuropathologist Ann McKee wanted to study the brains of football players to chronicle the physical damage done by head collisions. After examining 111 NFL players, she concluded that all but one of them had CTE – or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease that has devastated athletes after they’ve walked away from the gridiron. The New York Times put together a sobering overview of McKee’s findings, including distressing pictures of affected brains. “It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football – there is a problem,” she writes. If you’re already conflicted about continuing to watch pro football, this report will only further fuel your moral objections. (The New York Times)

Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers: The Full List

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Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers: The Full List

During last year’s presidential campaign, Teen Vogue was one of the strongest sources of coverage about Trump’s deplorable misogyny. So it’s no surprise that its editors put together a list of every woman who has accused disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Catalogued alphabetically by first name, this list is filled with high-profile actresses, but there are also studio executives, fashion designers, company employees and even nannies – all with links to the original allegations. This list is long and dispiriting – and it’s almost certainly going to get longer in 2018. (Teen Vogue)

Fuck It: Let’s Rank The Religions

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Fuck It: Let’s Rank The Religions

Finally, someone has figured out which religion is best. And when the decision is handed down by ClickHole – the web’s best BuzzFeed parody site from the geniuses at the Onion – you know the results will be unassailable. (ClickHole)

Reasons You Were Paid Less Than A Male Coworker With The Same Job, Ranked

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Reasons You Were Paid Less Than A Male Coworker With The Same Job, Ranked

Turning the listicle into a funny, angry humor piece, former Gawker writer Kelly Conaboy critiqued the ongoing inequality between genders in the workplace. Over at The Hairpin, she imagines the comments of a mansplaining superior to his female employee who’s annoyed that she’s not getting paid as much as her male coworkers. Warning: This great article may be triggering for, oh, about 50 percent of the workforce who have had to hear something similar in real life. (The Hairpin)

The 30 Greatest Action Movies of This Century

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The 30 Greatest Action Movies of This Century

Everybody has an opinion on what are the really incredible action movies of recent years. But it takes a special kind of gonzo genre maven to shake up the canon. Enter Vern, an unapologetic lover of B-movie pulp and Steven Seagal, who opined over at Thrillist about everything from the cult classics Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Asian cinema rules in Vern’s world, but he’s also more than willing to give props to Mad Max: Fury Road and Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. This is one of those lists that’s most valuable for the titles you haven’t heard of, hopefully prompting the curious to go exploring. (Thrillist)

All 14 of Johnny Depp’s Homes, Ranked From Worst to Best

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All 14 of Johnny Depp’s Homes, Ranked From Worst to Best

At the box office and in his personal life, Johnny Depp has been beset by scandals, failure, controversy and the perhaps permanent destruction of his reputation. Among his public humiliations was the discovery of his deep financial woes, including the fact that he has 14 residences, which cost him a reported $75 million. Vulture did a little investigating, ranking his properties by how fantastic they are. We agree that, all things being equal, living on a yacht is pretty lame. But we’d like to stick up for Downtown Los Angeles, which is actually a very cool place to live at the moment. It might even beat a compound in the middle of nowhere in France. (Vulture)

Ranking the Trump-Administration Appointees, From Bad to Monstrous

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Ranking the Trump-Administration Appointees, From Bad to Monstrous

Early in the Trump administration, New York‘s political writers gave themselves the task of picking the absolute worst of the new president’s appointees. (In a nod to fairness, Rebecca Traister tried her best to select the least-horrendous individuals, ultimately admitting, “Trump’s cabinet picks are each chilling in unique ways; to pick the worst feels like suggesting that the destruction of the planet is somehow worse than the rollback of our human rights or that either of those is worse than the eradication of our public-education system.”) Incredibly, despite all the other comings-and-goings in Trump’s first year, most of these people are still working for the White House. (Daily Intelligencer/New York)

Confederate Monuments Are Coming Down Across the United States. Here’s a List.

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Confederate Monuments Are Coming Down Across the United States

One of the country’s bitterest debates concerned the removal of Confederate monuments, helping to further polarize a nation riven over racial and cultural divides. The New York Times put together a map that chronicled the monuments that were taken down and the ones whose removal was proposed, providing links to each instance. As you might imagine, the majority of the commemorations were in the Midwest and South but, remarkably, also in Los Angeles in San Diego. (The New York Times)

The Donald Trump Election Brag Tracker

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The Donald Trump Election Brag Tracker

Perhaps you heard Donald Trump won last year’s presidential election in a stunning upset. Well, in case you’re still in denial about that fact, don’t worry: Trump is here to remind you that he did, and then he’ll remind you again and again. Slate set up an “Election Brag Tracker” that keeps count of every time POTUS makes mention of his 2016 triumph, including his most recent brag on December 8 during a rally in Florida. According to the site, Trump went as long as 30 days between brags. (The average gap between brags, in case you wondered, is eight days.) It’s pretty unseemly how often in public the guy brings up his victory, but just imagine how frequently it probably comes up in conversation behind closed doors. (Slate)

95 Theses, Ranked

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95 Theses, Ranked

It’s a shame there weren’t more celebrations this year for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (Just imagine that oral history.) But all is not lost: Deadspin editor Timothy Burke did his darnedest to rank all 95 of Martin Luther’s theses. Personally, we think “Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence” is placed way too low. But it’s great to finally see a 95 theses list that gives “Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters” its due. (The Concourse/Deadspin)

The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century So Far.

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The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century So Far

Anybody can make a list of this century’s greatest films – making one that’s a work of art in and of itself is far more challenging. The New York Times‘ peerless film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott put together a ranking of 25 terrific movies, combining their own commentary with insights from filmmakers and others. But special credit goes to The Times‘ design team, which has fashioned this list with beautiful moving images from each movie that capture their indelible magnificence. Wanna quibble with their picks? No problem, that’s the idea. But in making a case for cinema’s continued relevance in a fragmented cultural landscape, Dargis and Scott throw down a gauntlet that’s inspiring and revelatory. (The New York Times)

The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women

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The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women

Music fans are used to greatest-album lists that are invariably topped by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan. In other words, by male artists. Described as “an intervention, a remedy, a correction of the historical record and hopefully the start of a new conversation,” NPR’s “The 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women” was a list complied by nearly 50 female critics, writers and DJs, spanning records from the mid 1960s to the present. It’s the one list in which Missy Elliott, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill battle for the top spot – and where Joni Mitchell’s Blue reigns supreme. But more than just a provocation that argues for a serious rethinking of the canon, this is an exceedingly thoughtful and well-written overview of the vital musical artists of the last several decades. (NPR)

The 150 Worst Albums Made By Men

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The 150 Worst Albums Made By Men

Sometimes, a great list inspires another great list. Building off “The 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women,” Jezebel chose to up the ante by offering its “canon of dread” – a rundown of the worst records conceived by men. Offering no explanation for the selections and simply ranking them, the Jezebel list is set for maximum troll, taking aim at revered albums such as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot while also throwing shade at musical Neanderthals like Creed, Hoobastank, Nickelback, Warrant and Kid Rock. In its own way, this countdown is as wonderfully combative as NPR’s. (The Muse/Jezebel)

13 Trump Scandals You Forgot About

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13 Trump Scandals You Forgot About

It is exhausting to keep up with Trump’s nonsense – as soon as you read about one of his monstrous acts, his administration is busy serving up another. This summer, Politico decided to refresh readers’ memories about some of the forgotten – but no-less-egregious – scandals of the past year. Even those of us who try to keep apprised of all of Trump’s maleficence may be shocked how many of these outrages we’ve forgotten about. It’s a cliché by this point, but it need to be repeated again and again: In any other era, any of these 13 business and/or ethical indiscretions would be big news. Just because they aren’t doesn’t mean we should let them slide. (Politico)

Stuff That Scares Black People, Ranked

Stuff That Scares Black People, Ranked

One of 2017’s epochal films, the horror movie Get Out, laid out in scathing, hilarious detail exactly what scares African-Americans – namely, white people. Over at Very Smart Brothas, writer Corey Richardson put together his own sorta tongue-in-cheek list of black fears, including Russians, unescorted dogs and being ashy. We agree with Richardson that “Carol from human resources” sounds like a total nightmare. And we suggest that everybody scroll down the column to check out the reader comments – which, like Richardson’s piece, are filled with jokes and legitimate anxieties in equal measure. (Very Smart Brothas)

All False Statements Involving Donald Trump

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All False Statements Involving Donald Trump

Different publications dutifully tried to keep a running list of every one of Donald Trump’s lies. (The New York Times made it to July and then stopped.) So thank the stars for the good folks at PolitiFact, who have long made it their mission to keep politicians honest. Seeing Trump’s lies all strung together over several pages is sufficiently galling, which is why it’s nice that the site also throws in a pithy little commentary for each untruth. Among our favorite PolitiFact retorts: “Despite repetition, still not true,” “Wrong on several levels” and “A lot of fertilizer here.” (PolitiFact)

Michael Bay Characters, Ranked by Sweatiness

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Michael Bay Characters, Ranked by Sweatiness

You don’t need us to tell you that Transformers: The Last Knight was one of the year’s worst movies – although we did tell you that. Everything that makes Michael Bay’s movies so loathsome was on display in this sequel, as well as his weird fixation with characters who sweat a lot. The clever folks at Vulture decided to do a little investigative work, figuring out which 16 characters in the Bay-iverse were the absolute sweatiest. This list is really funny but also kind of disgusting – and a reminder to be grateful that movie theaters don’t have Smell-o-Vision yet. (Vulture)

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