Alan Waldman :
FILM | The 30 films I enjoyed most in 2016

Plus 73 TV series and 31 standup comics.

Dev Patel starred in The Man Who Knew Infinity.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | February 13, 2017

I guess 2016 was a pretty good year entertainment-wise although it was a wretched year otherwise, as Russian hackers, Breitbart liars, CIA dupe James Comey, and Cable news execs foisted Donald Trump on a gullible nation while wonderful Alan Rickman, Gary Shandling, Glen Frey, and Gary Marshall passed away. Although I considered a lot of the big-screen Hollywood fare to be excreta noxia, there were 30 films I enjoyed and that I sneakily suspect you would too.

With my Netflix subscription and DISH TV, I also really enjoyed 30 British programs (27 drama/thrillers, two comedies, one smart talk show), 23 American series (21 crime shows, one hilarious comedy written, of course, by a British genius, and a late-night talk show hosted by a multi-talented Englishman). This year I widened my net and dug 15 scintillating TV series from Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Sweden, France, Italy, and Europe.

And because the political scene was so depressing, wife Sharon and I allowed our spirits to be boosted by imaginative standup comedy. Below I list the 31 we found funniest and smartest. We also discovered a highly enjoyable Showtime cable TV series (on demand), The Green Room with Paul Provenza, where he spends a very funny and enlightening half-hour discussing comedy with a half-dozen yockmeisters like Tommy Chong, Ray Romano, Gary Shandling, Margaret Cho, Eddie Izzard, Kristen Schaal, Richard Lewis, Robert Klein, Paul Mooney, Jonathan Winters, and Tommy Smothers. Great stuff!

As usual, we saw smarter stuff on TV than in cinemas (with a few exceptions) and better fare from the U.K. than the U.S., largely because U.S. corporate types leave TV writers alone while they generally do what they can to mess with screenplays.

There’s an old joke that every writer I know can relate to: A film producer and a screenwriter were scouting locations in the desert when their car broke down. For hours they trekked across the scorching desert hoping to find water. Suddenly they came across a tiny pool of clear water. The writer knelt down with his parched tongue preparing to drink, when the producer unzipped his pants and pissed in it. “What are you doing?” the horrified writer asked. The producer calmly replied, “improving it for you.”

Foreign fare tends to be superior to American product because networks, producers, and writers assume that their audiences are more intelligent. Yes, 2016 was a good year for movies. Half of the 30 I liked best were foreign, and a third were British. Many were smaller or independent pictures.

My 30 favorite films this year

  1. MICHAEL MOORE’S WHERE TO INVADE NEXT is the best film of the year, and I believe it’s the most important movie of the young 21st Century. Some of Moore’s films get a bit angry and strident, but this one is genial, gentle, and very, very funny. Bursting with great ideas, it is his finest work yet. He goes to Europe looking for great ideas for the U.S. to steal and finds lots of them, but lo and behold, they were all originally our ideas… until someone else carried them out. Most countries’ prisons are bursting with drug criminals, but not Portugal’s, because they legalized drugs 15 years ago. When Wall Street trashed our economy in 2007, only one man (with an Arab surname) went to prison. In Iceland, which had a female head of government, when 80 bankers ripped off the economy, she sent all 80 of them to prison. In this film, Moore learns that Italian workers get eight weeks paid vacation a year, have more sex than us, and live an average of four years longer than us. Children in poor French schools are served healthy two-hour lunches. Students in 20 lands go to free college and have no college debt. The best-educated high schoolers in Europe (Finland’s) have no homework or standardized tests. The sensible ideas just go on and on. If you missed this brilliant film, shame on you. It’s still on DVD and Netflix discs!
  2. THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY (U.K.) is a beautiful, moving true story of a poor, brilliant Madras, India, clerk, Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) who journeys to Cambridge University in England in the 1910s to study with leading mathematician G. H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) and hopefully to get his radical theories published. There he encounters hidebound rules, racial prejudice, violence, and poor health, while back in India his mother schemes to keep him and his loving wife apart. This is a wonderful, wonderful movie, and the factual crawl just before the credits is mind-blowing! 97.2% of the 22,963 viewers who rated it at imdb.com gave it thumbs up.
  3. THE NIGHT MANAGER (U.K.). Fascinating six-part TV (AMC) movie of very suspenseful John Le Carré thriller about a Cairo hotel manager recruited to infiltrate the inner circle of a powerful international arms dealer. Scads of award nominations for powerful performances by Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, and Olivia Colman (including Golden Globes for all three) and writing by David Farr. 92% of critics at rottentomaoes.com liked it as did 97.96% of 34,345 viewers at the internet movie database. Available on Netflix discs. Truly outstanding, and Laurie is really superb as the amiable billionaire villain.
  4. BOYHOOD deserved its 171 awards and 206 nominations, including best supporting actress Academy Award for Patricia Arquette and Oscar nominations for best picture, writing, director, and supporting actor Ethan Hawke. This stunning movie follows lead performer Ellar Coltrane and the primary cast over a 12-year period and gives us a more accurate view of childhood and adolescence than we’ve seen before, with great insight into the challenges of parenting and growing up. It’s a massive achievement by writer-director Richard Linklater. More than 94.7% of 277,332 imdb.com viewers gave it thumbs-up, as did all 50 critics at Metacritic and 98% of 276 critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (N.Z.) appealed to 97% of 168 tomato critics and 96.2% of 33,610 imdb.com viewers, and early in the awards season it has already earned 13 honors, plus 13 noms for best foreign film, best writer and director (Taika Waititi) and supporting actor Sam Neill. When his foster mother dies, a rebellious Aboriginal 12-year-old, his cantankerous foster dad and dog Tupac go on the run through the Kiwi outback, provoking a national manhunt. This comedy-adventure/off-road pic is lovely, poignant, frequently funny, and consistently involving. Neill and Julian Dennison as the boy are terrific.
  6. LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP (Ire.-U.K.-Fr.) is writer-director Whit Stillman’s brilliant adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. It is brilliantly witty, sly, wonderfully performed and produced, and a total delight to witness. Early in awards season, many nominations have gone to Stillman, star Kate Beckinsale, the costumer, and Tom Bennett, who nearly steals the show as a dim but cheerful young aristocrat. The fine cast boasts Stephen Fry, Chloë Sevigny, James Fleet, Jemma Redgrave, and many talents unknown this side of the pond. Beckinsale is an impoverished woman who stylishly insinuates herself among relatives and tries to seduce their wealthy sons and husbands. Very funny stuff. At Rotten Tomatoes, it was a hit with 98% of 173 critics.
  7. MICHAEL MOORE IN TRUMPLAND is an intelligent, funny, poignant appeal to residents of a very conservative Ohio town that voted heavily for Trump in the primary not to do it again in the general election, a few weeks away. The crowd is initially resistant, but he warms them up with his humor, logic, and emotional appeals, such as the fact that a million Americans died needlessly in one year due to the greed and cruelty of insurance companies preventing patients from obtaining needed medical care they would have received in most other countries. Ohio Republicans tried to prevent the film and managed to block it in two cities. Michael Heaton, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes: “To his credit, Moore never talks down to his audience, but instead uses his knowledge of both candidates’ histories to gently skewer Trump’s self-serving past business dealings while pointing out and praising Hillary’s long tenure of public service.” I found this evening of comic agitprop worthwhile and highly amusing.
  8. HELL OR HIGH WATER is a highly entertaining, intelligent and exciting movie about a pair of brothers whose late mother was screwed by a bank’s “reverse mortgage.” They respond by robbing branches of that bank. Nearing retirement, wily lawman Jeff Bridges and his partner pursue them in a deadly cat-and-mouse contest that costs one of the quartet his life and enrages his compadre. A hit with 98% of 216 critics and 98.2% of imdb viewers, the film, early in the season, has racked up 31 awards and 121 nominations, including the Golden Globe, other best picture nods, and many mentions for best director, script, cinematography, ensemble, and performers Bridges, Ben Foster, and Chris Pine. This is better than most bank robber pics.
  9. BRIDGE OF SPIES (U.K.) cleaned up on the awards circuit last year, winning 32 of the 127 honors it was up for. Victories included the best supporting actor Oscar, BAFTA, Toronto Film Critics, and 13 other wins for Mark Rylance, AFI’s best picture, best sound and cinematography at Hollywood Film Awards, best foreign film to Steven Spielberg in Italy, BMI’s best film music to Thomas Newman, a Satellite for art and production design, and a Golden Reel for best editing. Written by the Coen brothers, helmed by Spielberg, and starring Tom Hanks, this tells the true story of an insurance lawyer who was persuaded to defend a Soviet spy and then swap him for downed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers in Berlin, under highly challenging circumstances.
  10. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING is a warm, funny road picture about a man with a personal tragedy (a terrific Paul Rudd) who becomes the caregiver to a smart-assed, trick-playing teen with cerebral palsy (Craig Roberts). Rudd takes him on tour to see the country’s biggest cow, deepest pit, etc., and picks up two female passengers en route. The kid is great, the script is excellent and highly mirthful, and many truths are encountered. More than 94.7% imdb viewers dug it, and it was nominated for best international film and the audience award at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Strong support from Jennifer Ehle, Selena Gomez, Megan Ferguson, Bobby Cannavale, and Frederick Weller.
  11. LADY IN THE VAN (U.K.) treats us to another splendiferous Dame Maggie Smith performance (British Evening Standard best actress, BAFTA and Golden Globe noms). The film is based on a memoir by great Brit playwright Alan Bennett about a complicated bond he formed with a homeless woman who parked and lived in her van in his driveway for 15 years. It pleased 92% of 131 tomatometer critics and 83.2% of 14,757 imdb viewers. Supporting cast includes Roger Allam, Jim Broadbent, Frances de la Tour, Claire Foy, Dominic Cooper, Richard Griffiths, and James Corden.
  12. BEING CANADIAN (Can.) is a very funny documentary in which filmmaker Robert Cohen drives across Canada inquiring what it means to come from Up There and how it impacts their self image and view of the U.S. and rest of the world. He interviews a passel of Canucks, including: Dan Ackroyd, Eugene Levy, Howie Mandel, Morley Safer, David Steinberg, Russell Peters, Alex Trebek, Paul Schafer, Michael J. Fox, Seth Rogan, William Shatner, and many more. We see a lot of interesting Canadian sights along the way and learn about the Great Molasses Heist.
  13. JACK STRONG (Pol.) was nominated for 10 top Polish film awards, copping best actress for Maja Ostaszewska. Available on Netflix, this exciting true espionage thriller tells of spectacular Cold War era Polish spy colonel Ryszard Kuklinski who risks all to inform Americans about the communist bloc’s top secrets in the face of the upcoming martial law. Twist, twist, twist. Patrick Wilson heads excellent Polish cast. 3,029 Imdb users +89.4%.
  14. OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR (U.K.) is a great 1969 Richard Attenborough anti-war classic I just got around to watching, and it was splendid, splendid. Set in World War I and full of songs of the period, it was nominated for eight BAFTAS, winning best cinematography, costuming, art direction, soundtrack and supporting actor Laurence Olivier. The sterling cast included John Mills, Ralph Richardson, Dirk Bogarde, Michael Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Corin Redgrave, Mary Wimbush (BAFTA acting nom), Ian Holm, Edward Fox, Susannah York, and many fine performers of the period. This is an intelligent, poignant film about how war impacts all the classes of participants and their families. The film is based on a successful stage play depicting, among other things, the Christmas meeting between British and German soldiers in no-man’s-land, the wiping out by their own side of a force of Irish soldiers newly arrived at the front and the colossal stupidity of British Field Marshall Haig that uselessly squandered so many lives. A true classic! And the extra DVD features are all wonderful too.
  15. JIMMY’S HALL (U.K.-Ire.) is another fine, smart, astute film from Britain’s Ken Loach. I love just about all the movies he has made in the past 50 years, from 1967’s achingly beautiful Kes through his new I, Daniel Blake, which I’m dying to go see. Loach has been nominated for 159 major awards in 22 countries (including 28 at Cannes), winning 93, and all deal poignantly and sensitively with the struggles of real working people. Jimmy’s Hall is about Jimmy Gralton’s 1932 return to the poor Irish countryside after a decade of exile to reopen the dance hall that led to his deportation, over the strenuous objections of the local priest, local squire, and local fascist leader. They hate this socialist activist opening a place where the community can study, paint, sing, dance, and box. Film has strong Irish cast, Paul Laverty script and Loach direction. This was nominated for the palme d’Or at Cannes, won best foreign film at Spain’s Turia festival, and was nominated for costume design and best actress Simone Kirby at the Irish Film Awards. Stirring stuff. A hit with 84.7% of 4,297 imdb users and 77% of 99 tomatometer critics.
  16. ALL THE WAY is a very fine HBO biopic of Lyndon Johnson’s first year and a half as president, struggling to pass JFK’s Civil Rights Act. It was nominated for 32 awards (eight Emmys) including best miniseries, producer Steven Spielberg, director Jay Roach, and performers Bryan Cranston, Melissa Leo, and Frank Langella. Tomatometer: 87% of 30 critics and 93.4% of 8,187 imdbers. Crackerjack cast included Anthony Mackie, Bradley Whitford and Joe Morton.
  17. BROOKLYN (U.K.) follows a young Irish girl (Saoirse Ronan) to Brooklyn in 1951 where, despite homesickness and challenges, she finds romance. When tragedy calls her back to her Irish hometown, she’s forced to choose between two lands and lives. This sweet little film with engaging characters earned 49 nominations, including Oscars for best picture, screenplay, and Ronan. It also won 33 honors, including the best British film BAFTA. 97% of 233 tomato critics approved, along with 94% of 87,500 imdbers.
  18. FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (U.K.) is a funny, mostly true story of an heiress in the ‘40s who had dreamed of being a concert pianist until injury struck, but who now fancies herself an opera singer — despite an atrocious voice. Everyone humors her — husband Hugh Grant, pianist Simon Hedberg, voice coach David Haig and the audience, until she rents Carnegie Hall for a gala charity concert. A similar historical story was told in the French film Marguerite, about another self-deluded warbler, but Meryl’s movie is much more charming and amusing, buoyed greatly by fine supporting performances. So far it has 40 award noms (nine for Streep, 10 for Grant, two for Hedberg, three for costumer Consolata Boyle and a win for director Stephen Frears). In the wrong hands, this could’ve been a bad movie that made fun of her, but a merry tone persisted, and a good time was had by Al.
  19. THE DRESSER (U.K.) is a British acting tour de force by Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen, both nicely supported by Sarah Lancashire and Emily Watson (all four award-nominated) in this fine Golden-Globe-nominated BBC production of Ronald Harwood’s excellent play. It deals with the relationship between an unwell, aging regional Shakespearean actor and his outspoken gay assistant preparing and doing a performance of King Lear during World War II. I thought Edward Fox was very touching as the fool. Imdb users +80.8%. Tomatometer: 100% of 14 critics.
  20. THE CROWN (U.K.) was a wonderful 10-part dramatization of the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign from the BBC, broadcast here on Netflix. It won the best drama series Golden Globe and best actress for Claire Foy, who limned the queen, as well as a nom for John Lithgow as Churchill. Its three other honors and nine nominations included an AFI TV program of the year win, a SAG best ensemble nom, two more best drama mentions, and two supporting actor nods for Jared Harris as King George VI. The overall cast was very good. We didn’t realize how much was going on in Liz’s early reign and how much mischief Winston, Philip, and Margaret got up to, or how much pressure the queen mum and tradition-bound queen’s secretary Tommy Lascelles put onto young queen Lillibet. This turned into 8.7 hours of fascinating stuff, and Lithgow brilliantly chewed up all the scenes he was in. At Rotten Tomatoes it was enjoyed by 90% of 51 critics. At imdb, it was popular with an astonishing 97.4% of 20,772 viewers, including 41.4% who rated it a perfect 10.
  21. ELVIS & NIXON is one of eight films on this list that could honestly be characterized as comedies. It generally tells the true tale of when Elvis Presley went to the White House to request that President Nixon give him a badge and make him a secret agent, supposedly to spy and report on hippie rockers like the Beatles. The scene in the Oval Office, which resulted in the National Archives’ all-time most-requested photo, is hilarious. Nixon initially didn’t want to meet Elvis, but his aides convinced him that it would boost his standing with youngsters, including the one of his daughters who was a big Presley fan and who desired the signed photo. Former Oscar nominee Michael Shannon is great as Elvis and former two-time Oscar recipient Kevin Spacey does a delightful Tricky Dick — while both of them wisely avoid mimicking the famous voices. Imdb +80.8% of 7,289 viewers; 77% of 132 tomato critics.
  22. FEMALE AGENTS (Fr.) is a very exciting dramatized true story of five French female secret commandos dropped into 1944 France with two highly dangerous missions: to rescue a captured geologist from a country hospital and then to kill an SS colonel in Paris who is about to reveal the D-Day invasion site secret. This is dangerous, scary stuff. The quintet are terrific (including multiple award winners Sophie Marceau and Julie Depardieu), as is the villain, 10-time best actor Moritz Bleibtrau (whom we Yanks know best from Run Lola Run, Munich, and Woman in Gold). This is a very well-made, edge-of-your-seat thriller. And amazingly it’s true, and these capers were brilliantly pulled off by five… women. On Netflix. Imdb +85.7% of 5,959 viewers.
  23. TRUTH conveys the political firestorm just before the 2004 election when CBS anchor Dan Rather reported the [true] story of how future President George W. Bush had used his father’s political clout to avoid the Vietnam draft. The fallout from “Rathergate” cost him and producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) their jobs. Blanchett and director James Vanderbilt each were nominated for a pair of awards. The film was very engaging and dramatic, though the ending was sad. The strong supporting cast included Dennis Quaid, Stacy Keach, Topher Grace, Elizabeth Mos,s and Bruce Greenwood.
  24. MR. HOLMES (U.K.) earned seven acting nominations for Sir Ian McKellen and six for young Milo Parker, as well as a best thriller film Saturn award nom. It joins an aging , retired Sherlock Holmes in the countryside with his housekeeper and her young son as he tries to remember a 30-year-old case and finally solve it, despite early dementia memory loss. It involves an angry husband and a beautiful, unstable wife, as is so often the case. Support from Laura Linney, Roger Allam, Phil Davis, John Sessions, and Frances de la Tour. This motion picture appealed to 88.2% of 46,546 imdb users and 88% of 163 tomatometer critics.
  25. WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT disappointed some viewers because Tina Fey stars, although it’s definitely not a comedy. It is, however, a nice, accurate depiction of journalists attempting to correctly report on the Afghan war in 2003. What humor there is occurs in the first half hour as Tina’s character copes with “fish out of water” adjustments in war zones. The film progressively gets more serious, and sometimes grim, as war will, while she copes with threats, challenges, betrayals, and the need to stay hydrated, despite having a small bladder. She has excellent support from Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie, Christopher Abbott, Billy Bob Thornton ,and especially Alfred Molina. Despite the sparsity of yucks, 88.2% of 30,635 folks voting at imdb.com enjoyed this one. Fey was fine as a dramatic actress, to the pleasant surprise of some of us.
  26. EYE IN THE SKY (U.K.) is a very tense, exciting, moral drama in which a British colonel who heads a top-secret military op to capture terrorists in Kenya (my favorite actress, Helen Mirren, excellent as always) discovers through air and ground surveillance a suicide bombing squad, and is ready to order lethal drone strike, when a nine-year-old girl enters the kill zone. This launches an international political struggle over what to do. Fine cast includes Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen, and Laila Robins. Warmed to by 95% of 171 tomato critics and 91.2% of 49,997 indbers.
  27. MUSTANG (Fr.-Ger.-Tur.) was nominated for best foreign film Oscar and 95 more awards last winter (winning 39) and was very emotionally resonant, if ultimately depressing. Five lively orphan, small-town Turkish girls are innocently playing on a beach with some boys, but their behavior scandalizes their conservative guardians who imprison them and try to arrange marriages for them. The girls seek freedom from the constraints forced on them, but they have to be clever, and all does not go well. 91.9% of 20,816 imdb users enjoyed it as did 98% of 126 tomatometer critics.
  28. A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (Ger.-Fr.-Mex.) is a sly fish-out-of-water Tom Hanks comedy in which an unsuccessful American tries to flog his product in strange, sandy, scorching Saudi Arabia. He runs into vexing local customs and bureaucracy, a wisecracking cabbie, gun-toting foes, and a sexy lady doctor. This film conveys comically the confusion and challenges often involved in foreign life and travel. The cast includes Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen, Westworld), Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, and Tom Skerritt. Only 68.8% of 22,238 imdb users and 70% of 92 tomato critics went for it.
  29. BURNT is a Bradley Cooper-Sienna Miller kitchen drama-romance about a former successful Paris chef, damaged by drugs and big ego (and his need to create new “explosions of flavor” with every dish), who reappears in a London restaurant seeking to capture that elusive third Michelin star. He is aided by sous chef Miller and thwarted by rival Daniel Bruhl. This is an interesting character study. Fans of Cooper loved it; critics mostly panned it; my wife and I enjoyed it and got quite hungry.
  30. CONCUSSION turned out to be an important film; because of the issue it raised, the National Football League has agreed to start making payments of up to $5 million to 200,000 former players with brain damage due to playing the game. This was also a very good, dramatic thriller, the true story about how African immigrant Dr. Bennett Omalu (Will Smith) discovered CTE football-related brain trauma and went head to head (sorry!) with the powerful league in getting it recognized and compensated. The terrific cast features Albert Brooks, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (two noms), David Morse, Arliss Howard, Eddie Marsan, Hill Harper, Paul Reiser, and Luke Wilson. 92.2% of 55,363 imdb viewers were knocked out by it.

73 outstanding TV series from U.K., U.S. & elsewhere

My wife and I love the unique combination of smart, truthful, and funny, so for us the best program on TV, BY FAR, was Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Saturdays on HBO. We also regularly watched The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (until its tragic cancellation) and Real Time with Bill Maher (fast-forwarding through any comments from Ann Coulter and other G.O.P. liars). For news we prefer The Rachel Maddow Show and/or The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.

The 30 British programs we enjoyed most (many available on Neflix and/or Amazon Prime) and all on YouTube) were Tour of Duty, Luther, Vicious, Scott & Bailey, Doc Martin, Last Tango in Halifax, Grantchester, Dalziel & Pascoe, Above Suspicion, Midsomer Murders, DCI Banks, Peaky Blinders, Wallander, Downton Abbey, Shetland, Father Brown, Murder in Suburbia, Silk, Lord Peter Whimsey Murders, P.D. James: Death Comes to Pemberley, Poldark, Mr. Selfridge, The Paradise, The Secret State, Paranoia, Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Thorne, Marcella, and the wonderful talk program, The Graham Norton Show (which combines Hollywood stars, Brit comics, British celebrities, and hot music acts).

American fare we enjoyed included the hilarious VEEP, penned for its first five multiple award-gobbling years by brilliant Englishman Armand Iannucci, the very funny Late, Late Show with James Corden, which we tape each night and watch with morning coffee even if we can’t identify 50% of the young celeb guests and 95% of the music acts and the following 21 series on broadcast, cable, Amazon Prime and Netflix. They were Bosch (Amazon Prime); Orange is the New Black, Narcos, House of Cards, and Limitless, (Netflix); Justified, Major Crimes, Suits, White Collar and TURN: Washington’s Spies (cable); Code Black, The Blacklist, Rosewood, Blue Bloods, Scandal, Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, Madam Secretary, Elementary, The Good Wife, and C.S.I.Cyber (broadcast).

From France I enjoyed Marseilles, Versailles, Witnesses, and A Very Secret Service. Australia provided Wentworth and A Place to Call Home. Denmark contributed Borgen, and Rita. Sweden produced Henning Mankell’s Wallander. Colombia, France, and Netflix gave us Narcos. Cuba and Spain brought us Four Seasons in Havana. Murdoch Mysteries is Canadian. And Crossing Lines is an international production with participation by France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Belgium.

31 funniest and most relevant standup comics I saw

Showtime, HBO, Comedy Central and Netflix have provided a wealth of 30-90-minute comedy specials this year for us to enjoy. Our 10 favorites, more or less in order, were: Lewis Black, Jim Jefferes, Kathleen Madigan, Tim Minchin, Iliza Schlesinger, Trevor Noah, Russell Peters, Colin Quinn, Dana Gould, and Joe Rogan. The next 21, not in any order, were Aziz Ansari, Louis C.K., Mike Birbiglia, Ali Wong, Michael Che, Maz Jobrani, Brent Morin, David Cross, Demitri Martin, Bo Burnham, Hannibal Burress, Patton Oswalt, Donald Glover, Stewart Lee, Margaret Cho, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Carr, Sebastian Maniscolo, Jeff Dunham, Wyatt Cenac and Gabriel Iglesias.


[Oregon writer and Houston native Alan Waldman holds a B.A. in theater arts from Brandeis University and has worked as an editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Honolulu magazine.]


Read more of Alan Waldman’s writing on The Rag Blog.

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