2016 Year In Review: Shows & Movies I Watched

I seriously can’t believe 2017 is almost here! How did this even happen??

No, really, I need scientific explanation of the increasing speed of time!

Looking over 2016, I have to say I watched a lot of enjoyable shows and movies. Some I was anticipating since 2015 and others I just decided to take a chance on and surprisingly fell in love. Sure, not every drama was great. Some were merely tolerable and I finished them for one reason or another (or dropped them, heh). Here’s a look at the movies and shows that captivated me this year (note: I’m only listing dramas that came out in 2016)!

2016 SHOWS



Cheese in the Trap -
How is this possible? It’s  (sorta) almost a year since I watched this immensely popular and heavily criticized drama! Cheese in the Trap’s imminent draw was how different it was from your typical K-drama. The first episode startled me with a hero that felt more like a villain (blame the danger music playing every time he walked onscreen lol); but that was also the show’s biggest draw. I enjoyed reading the endless comments on Dramabeans after each episode as viewers analyzed character behavior and morality. Was the love interest, Jung, a good guy or a bad one? Perhaps that was the show’s main purpose in pointing out perspectives, leaving us with so many different conflicting looks at Jung, and then finally leaving us to make up our own minds. I personally found Jung a good guy, just with some bad habits mainly influenced by his father. But most of the baddies had even worse habits, so it all balanced out, lol. Of course, if I had been Seol, there’s no way I would’ve dated Jung (or really any of the guys in the show)… but that didn’t stop me from shipping her with him!

Sadly, the second half of the show focused less on Jung and more on the second lead, In-Ho. I actually enjoyed In-Ho’s character, but after seeing Jung’s character slowly disappear and then learning that, for whatever unspecified reason, the director cut out important scenes with Jung nearing the end (many rumors flooded the internet, including insinuations that the director had a bone to pick with Jung’s actor), I grew annoyed and disappointed. Luckily I read the recap for the ending before watching it, which helped me emotionally prepare for an ending that was extremely hands off, horribly ambiguous, and very anticlimactic. Despite the show’s trajectory during the second half, I still have fond memories of Cheese in the Trap.


Descendants of the Sun –
The most anticipated K-drama of 2016. It broke record views and won the hearts of a vast worldwide audience. I initially worried about the writer (known for her dramas like Heirs, with loser male leads), but I totally jumped to conclusions on that one. The writer deftly side-stepped some of the most annoying K-drama tropes (the hero is faaar from a controlling jerk and he’s not rich either, haha, and the second leads have their own romance instead of trying to screw up the leads’ romance). The show had hilarious and epic moments and kept me riveted through its run. Near the end, I did wish there had been more emotion shown/conveyed… or real consequences so that it felt like there was actually more at stake. And the show did get sillier closer to the end (like Shi-Jin getting shot and then he’s fine like barely a day later). But overall it was a gorgeously shot, exciting and romantic story.

Daebak/Jackpot –
This was Jang Geun-Suk’s comeback drama after the army. I was super excited for this one and initially, I was quite riveted by the absolutely stunning cinematography and intriguing characters. Sadly, the show way overplayed the invincibility of the hero (basically, fate demanded he survive the most ridiculous things, i.e. shot with an arrow, beaten, stabbed, thrown over a cliff, fighting a tiger, etc) and then later on the invincibility of the villain, who could not be stopped no matter what crazy and ridiculous thing he did. What kept me around was Jang Geun-Suk and Yeo Jin-Goo’s characters and their precious, if sadly understated, bromance.

The Man Living In Our House –
I thought the premise of this K-drama was funny, albeit a little odd – a woman returns home to find a young man who swears he’s her stepfather. However, (spoilers, lol) there was really nothing weird in the story. I actually fell in love with the show because of the adorable leads. The first half of the show was my happy place; the second half faltered around with lack of plot, and not enough romance, but I love the hero Go Nan-Gil so much that I’ve basically forgiven this show for all of its glaring faults. Everyone has a drama that has all the “right” tropes that melts her heart, and The Mna Living In Our House was mine.


Cinderella & the Four Knights –
I wanted to love this drama! I definitely tried to. And I enjoyed it, or most of it, despite its meandering plot and boresville characters (I’m really looking at you, Park Hye-Ji). Ha-Won (played by Park So-Dam) was so adorable and I loved her cutesy romance with Ji-Woon. There was a lot that could’ve been better, but still a fun little watch.


Scarlet Heart: Ryeo –
My first K-drama to recap the entire series. Check it out HERE. I was thrilled when I learned about the remake of the Chinese show. And I really loved the new version… despite its later attempts to try and make me dislike it, lol. I wasn’t a huge fan of the director (choppy editing, horribly close-ups that never, ever ended, and unnecessary flashbacks for things that could’ve been shown one after another). I often understood the quiet tragedy and subtlety the drama was trying to convey, but felt like the writing, directing, and acting at times couldn’t reach the pinnacle of emotion that it needed to make the plot points not feel annoying or pointless (i.e. the time-gaps between Hae-Soo and 4th Prince’s romance, her loyalty to the princes and 4th Prince’s enemies over him). Still, I loved the romance and Lee Jun-Ki slayed it as 4th Prince, filling his character with pathos and empathy. The drama was stunning visually with gorgeous costumes and beautiful music. Overall, it was a fascinating and crazy ride that I was so glad I took.

Doctor Thorne –
A super sweet little period drama that reminded me why I love period dramas. Gorgeous costumes, STUNNING scenery, and a very innocent, sweet little tale that was fun to watch.

Moonlight Drawn By Clouds –
This drama turned out to be an unexpected fun ride. The humor was what really caught me and I loved the show for that. The romance was super precious and the hero was all kinds of gallant and sweet. I liked the second leads as well (which is super rare in K-drama land, lol). I admit that my interest dwindled as the story became more politicky at the end. I would’ve liked a deeper ending (it was happy, though), so overall a super fun and funny romp.

Shopping King Louie –
Louie-ya! This show was cuteness overload and that’s what I loved about it. I was very grateful that the show focused more on humor and interpreting tropes and characters entertainingly because it was more fun that way. I think the story lagged a bit at the end, but I just skipped to all the Louie and Bok-Sil parts!


1 Percent of Anything
This was a remake of an early 2000 K-drama. I hadn’t planned on watching it but I saw reviews squeeing over the romance, so I gave it a chance. I loved the shorter episode format (not watching an hour long episode is life-giving, my friends). The romance takes some time to get started as the hero is a real jerkbag during the beginning of their contract relationship. But then he becomes all sweet and adorbs and I loved the show. Because the show is so short, the episodes really on focus on the romance and for a total-romantic-at-heart (yes, I’m here for the romance and I’m not ashamed to admit it!) it was perfect. The chemistry between the couple felt super real. Overall, a fun watch.


ITV Victoria –
I wasn’t planning on watching this. I just kept seeing gifs on Tumblr (darn you Tumblr!). And curiosity got me. I really wanted to see this show’s version of Albert. I’m a big fan of The Young Victoria film and wondered if the show could pull off a sweet romance like the film did. ITV’s Victoria feels very similar to the film, as it deals with many of the same plot points. However, ITV had more episodes and could delve more into Victoria’s past which was fun. I didn’t care for any of the servants’ stories, besides Skerrett. Albert was really the reason I kept watching the show! I love his character so much, despite his flaw of being exaggeratedly seriously, lol. Victoria and Albert chemistry was all kinds of romantic. I’m onboard for season 2 next year!

2016 FILMS

Hail, Caesar! 
I have a detailed review herebut my condensed thoughts were: a fun, enjoyable ode to the classic era presented in the unique story telling the Cohen brothers are known for. Big names like Channing Tatum as a “Gene Kelly” and Scarlet Johannsson as a “Esther Williams” character are a fun draw. Also
I adored Hobbie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) and all his hilarious scenes. Overall, it’s more of a look at Hollywood through the inaccurate, exaggerated, and very entertaining lens of the Cohen brothers.

Captain America: Civil War –
The movie we were all waiting for. Super epic, fun and enjoyable. I adored Spiderman. And enjoyed the angsty broken bromance between Tony and Steve. Also loved new characters like Black Panther and seeing all the characters come together. I also loved the ending, that side-stepped the typical boss fight and gave us a more heartfelt battle. Marvel really does no wrong.


Love and Friendship –
Based on the unfinished novel by Jane Austen; Love and Friendship is a slightly different story than most of her usual books with a heroine that is more of an anti-heroine. The story focuses on the wit and comedy of manners, as a widowed lady easily manipulates everyone around her. Kate Beckinsale is charming, even if you can’t quite root for her character to win. Overall, a short, entertaining movie that reminds me why I love the Regency era and Jane Austen.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies –
I love Pride and Prejudice but I hate zombies. So I really wasn’t certain how I would feel about this film. While I still didn’t care for the zombie gore, I enjoyed this film! The new twist was a lot of fun and the actors playing Darcy and Elizabeth were great. There were definitely things I think they could’ve done better story wise, but overall I had a lot of fun watching this film. And my favorite scene definitely goes to Darcy’s first proposal. You have to see it for yourself!


The Legend of Tarzan –
I took forever to watch this one. I wanted to see it in the theaters, but I procrastinated and my sisters weren’t interested (they were adamant that the m
ovie would be awful, lol) so I put it on the back burner. Eventually it came out on DVD and I decided that I needed to watch this one as I’m a big fan of Tarzan, particularly the Disney film, though I’ve also read the book (and watched a terrible CW drama adaptation, but that’s another story, hehe). Perhaps my low expectations were the best thing for this movie because I really enjoyed it. I actually loved the casting; I thought Alexander Skarsgård was really excellent. He did a great job of balancing both sides of the character - John Clayton and Tarzan, making them feel like one man. Initially I didn’t think I was going to like Jane, but I thought Margot Robbie did a great job. I loved that they were already married and how their romance was portrayed onscreen. I loved the very period drama feel. Overall this was an extremely enjoyable film that I wouldn’t mind watching again. Which says a lot!


Okay, friends, your turn! Tell me what shows and movies you loved watching 2016! Or what were the biggest disappointments? Lemmie know in the comments!

Comments

  1. There were sooooo many great dramas in 2016! I couldn't believe they just kept coming. You definitely got in some pretty good ones. My list will be out Monday :)

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    1. Yes! 2016 was definitely a good year to be a K-drama fan! Thank you! Awesome! I'll check yours out then!!

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  2. I decided to write a post instead since it was rather long but I'll list the shows without my input:

    Signal
    Doctor Crush
    Let's Fight Ghost
    Ms. Temper and Nam Jung Gi
    Detective Sweet
    Chinese paladin 5: clouds of the world
    Beautiful Gong Shim
    Mirror of the witch
    Beautiful Mind
    Love me if you dare
    Late night restaurant
    Under the veil

    & sorry to say I have not seen a single show you've listed nor the mvoies but I did see the first two movies and they were good, maybe I'll watch this third one.

    definitely will not be watching Pride & Prejudice and Zombies as I hate zombies too, can't watch them without earning some sleepless nights. plus I sort of hate how classic books are turned into these sort of books, I actually refuse to read them so no watching them either...

    I saw the new Ghostbusters with all female - not good, it was just too long and bloated

    Independence Day Resurgence - sort of good, better than ghostbusters

    so there you go, hope have a lovely december.

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    1. Impressive list! You definitely got a lot of K-dramas down. How did you like Love Me If You Dare? That's a Chinese show isn't it?

      Lol, how funny that we watched almost all different dramas this year. To be fair, I did watch some of Beautiful Gong Shim (but dropped it when the show started getting more serious... I was going to go back to it, I swear, but woe is me, once I stop, I often forget to go back). And I saw the first episode of ms. Tempre and Nam Jung Gi - which I thought was amusing, but I think I just got distracted with other shows and forgot about it as well.

      I respect your decison to keep away from zombie films. Even after watching it, I still hate zombies and zombie gore, lol. We just can't change our zombie disgust. It's too strong. And probably for a good reason. :D

      Never saw the original Ghostbusters (my sister had unflattering things to say about it, lol) so I didn't bother with the new one. But then I saw the trailer and wasn't interested anyways, haha.

      Thanks for sharing, Lissa! Have a wonderful holiday season!

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  3. I wrote a blog post about the shows I watched but I'll answer your question:

    'love me if you dare' is actually very good, I love watching Wallace Huo - he's wonderful in it and you can hear his real voice as oppose to the somewhat higher ones that you often hear in his costume dramas

    'Beautiful Gong Shim' did sort of became a bit far too serious right in the middle and I'm not surprised you stop watching, but at least, Gong Shim didn't turn into a weakling and she did became a much stronger person and that is what I had hoped for her

    ms. temper is really a great character, it's just ashamed there were no men around equal to her not even the title character nam jung gi

    actually whenever I hear a movie that has zombies and vampires (couldn't watch them either!), I avoided them as much as possible, I don't get how people could watch 'the walking dead' at all

    compare to the original, the new ghostbusters doesn't compare, it really is that bad but it could also be a matter of personal preference, I read some reviews from people who loved it so...

    anyway, have a lovely december

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    1. I just realized I misunderstood what you said before - you wrote a post about all the shows! Awesome!! I'll check it out. And thank you for rplying. :D

      Aww now I want to check out Love Me If You Dare. I'll add it to my To-Watch list. ;)

      I have a special place in my heart for Lee Yo Won (Ms. Temper) since she played the main lead in Queen Seondeok which was my favorite drama. I did like her in the drama. Too bad none of the dudes were worthy of her character!

      Thank you, Lissa. :D

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  4. What fun!

    I think I need to try K-dramas one of these days...

    Ooh, The Legend of Tarzan! I'd sort of picked up your sisters' pre-bias toward it, but if you liked it I may have to reconsider! What was the content like?

    Have you seen/heard of Dear Eleanor? Based off our conversations on Hail, Caesar!, I think you'd enjoy it :D It's really wacky but it's a lot of fun :)

    And ITV Victoria! Haha, I know how you feel about "darn you, Tumblr". I haven't seen it, but the stills on Pinterest are beautiful.

    And Love and Friendship! I really liked that one, especially the first time around :) (Mr. Martin though xD)

    Thanks for reminding me that I have to check out Doctor Thorne!

    It's good to be over here reading your posts again -- how are you??

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    1. I'm probably biased, but I do think K-dramas are so much fun. :D

      Yeah, I really don't blame my sisters, lol. We have different tastes (one of my sisters watches a lot of old horror, and I have no idea why). You can check out Plugged In's detailed review for content here but the movie was pretty mild. There was one "intimate" scene of smooching and an allusion to sex, but nothing really shown and easy to fast forward.

      I haven't heard of Dear Eleanor. I'll have to look that one up!

      I know. Tumblr is so dangerous. It gets you to watch shows that you didn't care about initially. I don't have that much time, Tumblr, lol.

      Lol, oh Mr. Martin!! What a hilarious dork. :D

      You're welcome! Doctor Thorne is super sweet!

      Aww thanks, Olivia! I'm good! It's nice to be posting a little more. I was pretty busy doing recaps for a while on Silver Petticoat Review and even after I stopped, I kinda slowed down posting here. I hope I can get back into the rhythm though. How are you?

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