A jour­ney through 2018’s top pop cul­ture mo­ments

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE - Jo­ce­lyn Noveck AP Na­tional Writer

And the top pop cul­ture mo­ments of 2018 are ... Wait. WAS there any pop cul­ture this year? Of course there was, but you could be for­given for for­get­ting, be­cause more than ever it was pol­i­tics, pol­i­tics, and more pol­i­tics oc­cu­py­ing the zeit­geist and suck­ing the prover­bial air out of the room. Still, if you wanted a break from that, there was a royal wed­ding with some­thing for ev­ery­one, some ground­break­ing movies, the re­turn of Mary Pop­pins (to the screen) and Harry Pot­ter (to Broad­way), a good­bye to some favourite celebri­ties, a tale of two coats that were more than just coats, and more. Join us on a highly se­lec­tive chrono­log­i­cal jour­ney through a year in pop cul­ture:

Jan­uary

The first awards shows re­flect a changed Hol­ly­wood, only a few months af­ter the #MeToo move­ment en­gulfed the in­dus­try. At the GOLDEN GLOBES, the red car­pet be­comes a sea of glit­ter­ing black gowns in sol­i­dar­ity with vic­tims of sex­ual mis­con­duct, and OPRAH WIN­FREY gives a barn-burner of a speech, look­ing to a day "when no­body ever has to say 'Me Too' again!" At the GRAM­MYS, stars don white roses, and singer Kesha ded­i­cates a tear­ful per­for­mance of "Pray­ing" to the #MeToo move­ment.

Fe­bru­ary

Wel­come to WAKANDA: The lat­est Marvel hero to jump off the page into his own movie is the "BLACK PAN­THER," and RYAN COOGLER'S film is uni­ver­sally ac­claimed. "Show them who we are," goes a line from the film, an ap­pro­pri­ate pre-Os­car chant for Coogler and a starry cast in­clud­ing CHADWICK BOSE­MAN, MICHAEL B. JOR- DAN, LUPITA NY­ONG'O and a slew of oth­ers. Ten months later the film will be nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe, be­gin­ning its awards jour­ney.

March

Speak­ing of OS­CAR, it's that time, and we're still talk­ing about #MeToo, not to men­tion "Time's Up!" Ap­pear­ing on­stage to mark the mo­ment is a pow­er­ful trio of Har­vey We­in­stein's ac­cusers: ASH­LEY JUDD, ANNABELLA SCIORRA, and SALMA HAYEK. And when FRANCES McDOR­MAND says she has "some things to say," peo­ple lis­ten: The best ac­tress win­ner asks all the women nom­i­nees in the room to stand, and in­structs Hol­ly­wood to tell their sto­ries.

April

Times are chang­ing at the PULITZERS, too, where rap­per KEN­DRICK LA­MAR wins the mu­sic prize for "DAMN." He's the first rap­per to win the pres­ti­gious lau­rel and the first win­ner who's not a clas­si­cal or jazz mu­si­cian. In film, di­rec­tor JOHN KRASIN­SKI en­er­gizes the hor­ror genre with the creepy, silent "A Quiet Place," also star­ring wife EMILY BLUNT. On Broad­way, the en­dur­ing magic of HARRY POT­TER is con­jured with the hit London trans­plant, "Harry Pot­ter and the Cursed Child."

May

Let's say "Do Svi­daniya" to our favourite Soviet spy cou­ple as "THE AMER­I­CANS" ends its sixsea­son run on FX with an el­e­gant, sur­pris­ing and mov­ing se­ries fi­nale. At the an­nual glit­tery MET GALA, the theme is "Fash­ion and the Catholic Imag­i­na­tion," and imag­i­na­tions are run­ning ram­pant — we're talk­ing about you, KATY PERRY and your gi­ant an­gel wings! But per­haps the most mem­o­rable fash­ion state­ment comes when the very Amer­i­can MEGHAN MARKLE weds the very Bri­tish PRINCE HARRY in a re­fresh­ingly un­adorned white gown. A gospel choir sings "Stand By Me," and an Amer­i­can bishop, MICHAEL CURRY, al­most steals the show with a spir­ited im­pro­vi­sa­tional ser­mon be­fore say­ing: "We gotta get y'all mar­ried!" Also this month, "THIS IS AMER­ICA" by CHILD­ISH GAM­BINO, aka multi-tal­ented DON­ALD GLOVER (also hav­ing a big year with "Atlanta") opens at No. 1 on the Bill­board chart, ac­com­pa­nied by a vi­ral video of non­stop danc­ing punc­tu­ated by shock­ing scenes of shoot­ings. And good­bye, ROSEANNE: The show's re­boot is can­celled fol­low­ing her racist tweet.

June

What was she think­ing? ME­LA­NIA TRUMP doesn't say, but the writ­ing on her Zara jacket has ev­ery­one talk­ing. "I don't re­ally care. Do U ?" reads the gar­ment worn by the first lady on parts of her trip to visit de­tained mi­grant chil­dren in Texas. Four months later she'll ex­plain it was "for the peo­ple and for the left-wing me­dia who are crit­i­ciz­ing me." In mu­sic, JAY-Z and BEY­ONCE con­tinue to ex­ert their unique in­flu­ence with a sur­prise joint al­bum, "Ev­ery­thing is Love." On a sad note, two ad­mired celebri­ties are mourned af­ter tak­ing their own lives: global culi­nary chron­i­cler AN­THONY BOUR­DAIN and colour­ful it-bag de­signer KATE SPADE.

July

Last year, it was WE­IN­STEIN. This year, it's LES MOONVES, one of the most pow­er­ful men in tele­vi­sion. Re­porter RO­NAN FAR­ROW breaks the ex­plo­sive story of sex­ual mis­con­duct on the part of the CBS chief ex­ec­u­tive; in Septem­ber, with ac­cu­sa­tions es­ca­lat­ing, Moonves will step down. And at year's end he'll lose his $120 mil­lion sev­er­ance when CBS says it has grounds to fire him for cause, con­clud­ing he vi­o­lated com­pany pol­icy and was un­co­op­er­a­tive with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion — a claim Moonves' at­tor­ney de­nies.

Au­gust

Farewell to the Queen of Soul: ARETHA FRANKLIN's death sparks world­wide mourn­ing, and the singer is hailed not only for her tal­ent — the great­est of a gen­er­a­tion — but her life­long de­mand for "RE­SPECT," as a woman and an African-Amer­i­can. She is eu­lo­gized in an epic eight-hour fu­neral. An­other long­time great, PAUL MC­CART­NEY, does car­pool karaoke with JAMES COR­DEN, and their visit to Mc­Cart­ney's home­town of Liver­pool that has many fans cry­ing sweet tears of nos­tal­gia.

Septem­ber

"Be­lieve in some­thing, even if it means sac­ri­fic­ing ev­ery­thing," says a new NIKE ad that makes waves be­cause of the man speak­ing the lines: COLIN KAEPER­NICK, the for­mer San Fran­cisco quar­ter­back who be­gan a wave of protests among NFL play­ers against po­lice bru­tal­ity and racial in­equal­ity. At the EM­MYS, the awards them­selves are up­staged by a sur­prise mar­riage pro­posal. And happy birth­day, HARRY POT­TER! Wow, you're 20 years old.

Oc­to­ber

Usu­ally DON­ALD TRUMP has the spot­light in the Oval Of­fice, but ap­par­ently not when KANYE WEST vis­its. The rap­per, os­ten­si­bly there to dis­cuss pri­son re­form, de­liv­ers a 10-minute speech about the pres­i­dent, pol­i­tics, and of course him­self. "You are tast­ing a fine wine," he says, re­fer­ring to, er, his truly. "It has mul­ti­ple notes to it." On­screen, the ul­ti­mate chameleon, LADY GAGA, rein­vents her­self yet again with a stun­ning turn in BRADLEY COOPER's ac­claimed "A STAR IS BORN. " And some fine-art news: The elu­sive BANKSY pulls a stunt for the ages with his self-shred­ding paint­ing at a Sotheby's auc­tion. But was that him, in the au­di­ence? Maybe.

Novem­ber

Three bro­ken ribs might side­line a foot­ball player, but RUTH BADER GINS­BURG? Nah. Days af­ter her in­jury from a fall, the 85year-old Supreme Court jus­tice is back on the job, cap­ping a year in which she's emerged as a true pop cul­ture hero­ine. Al­ready in the spot­light for "RBG," the doc­u­men­tary in which she's shown do­ing push-ups among other things, she's also the sub­ject of a pop­u­lar SNL rap video, and by year's end a new fea­ture film, "On the Ba­sis of Sex." Oh, and she's back at the gym, too.

De­cem­ber

Want to be the new Os­car host? They're hir­ing! (Un­less you'd pre­fer to be Trump's chief of staff.) KEVIN HART is forced to step down — two days af­ter be­ing named — when past ho­mo­pho­bic tweets are aired. And re­mem­ber all the talk over the first lady's Zara coat? Now it's NANCY PELOSI's Max Mara coat we're dis­cussing, a fiery orange-red num­ber that she wears — with Ar­mani shades — emerg­ing from a tense show­down with the pres­i­dent. The fash­ion la­bel im­me­di­ately reis­sues the dis­con­tin­ued "Fire Coat." And speak­ing of hot (or cool) over­coats: A stylish new MARY POP­PINS is on the block, thanks to BLUNT, who proves a wor­thy suc­ces­sor to Julie An­drews in the Dis­ney se­quel. At the end of a tough year, it feels nice to in­dulge with just a spoon­ful of sugar.

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