The Best of 2015's Best of Lists

Standouts from this year’s December pop-culture roundups

Evan Agostini / Invision / AP

2015 Pop Culture Time Capsule | Vox
“Either you saw a black-and-blue dress, a gold-and-white dress, or a useless exercise that represented all the worst the Internet has to offer. Scientific explanations came forward, conspiracy theories loomed large, and Twitter became a hivemind devoted to the sole task of figuring this puzzle out. It was a wacky time, but it will be difficult to explain to future generations why, exactly, anyone ever cared at all.”

16 Best Pop Culture Characters of 2015 | Slate
“This was the year when the princess of contemporary hitmaking completed her transformation from Taylor Swift to ‘Taylor Swift’ … Each time the jumbotron zoomed in on her face, she delivered a wink so crisp and crowd-pleasing that it could have been CGI’d. Even her hair seemed to have learned the choreography.”

Book Concierge | NPR
“Tom McCarthy himself writes in the novel (parenthetically, how else?): ‘(events! If you want those, you'd best stop reading now).’ So it’s not a page-turner, but it is a mind-turner, and sometimes that kind of book hits the spot.”

Best Book Covers of 2015 | The New York Times
“When considering the book as a whole, I prefer that the interiors contain answers and the covers ask questions. To the extent that my favorite reading experiences empower me to confront uncomfortable truths and honest answers about people, societies and the greater universe, the covers that lure me into the pages often do so by posing questions that I don’t want to ignore.”

10 Best Memes of 2015 | Vulture
“There have been countless Drake memes throughout 2015, but none was bigger than those birthed from the ‘Hotline Bling’ music video. Drake knows the internet, and he made that music video specifically for the it—because he knows that being in on the joke pays dividends.”

76 Viral Images From 2015 That Were Totally Fake | Gizmodo
“This photo may seem like one of those that’s so absurd, no one could ever believe it deals. But people do. And they keep sharing it far and wide across social media. Like a cockroach scurrying around during Nuclear Winter, the image just won’t die. But yes, it’s a fake.”

100 Most Bullseye Things That Happened This Year | EW
“In a year punctuated by strange quarterly decisions from Shia LaBeouf (including #AllMyMovies in November and that time he yelled a motivational speech at you in August), his simple, disgusting, Elsa-from-Frozen haircut was his most offensive choice of 2015.”

The 15 Weirdest and Wildest Art Stories of 2015 | Artnet
“An art and design collective made a black-and-white striped bouncy castle with Nicolas Cage’s face on it (Cage in a cage, get it?), and it’s kind of terrifying.”

20 Biggest Breakouts of 2015 | Rolling Stone
“This year, Fetty Wap put Paterson on the map with ‘Trap Queen,’ his surprisingly sweet tale of pie-slinging romance—then scored two more ultra-catchy Top 10 hits, ‘679’ and ‘My Way.’ And that was all before Fetty dropped his self-titled album in September.”

16 of the Best Jeopardy, Family Feud, and Wheel of Fortune Moments of 2015 | Buzzfeed
“When a Jeopardy contestant got Alex Trebek to say ‘Turd Ferguson’: Sure, Talia Lavin might have lost the game, but she won at the game of trolling Alex Trebek.”

Top 11 Moments for Women in Pop Culture in 2015 | Time
“It’s rare for a children’s movie to star a girl, rarer still for that girl not to be a princess … And yet Pixar broke the record for best opening of an original film (not based on a book, TV show, etc.) with a movie about a girl’s emotions and thoughts in an industry that has repeatedly demonstrated to young girls that it doesn’t care what’s inside their heads.”

The Top 100 New York Times Stories of 2015, by Total Time Spent | The New York Times
“We ranked the top 100 favorite Times articles of 2015 in a new way — by the total combined time readers have spent looking at them. The result is a mix of ambitious investigative projects, big breaking news, features and service journalism. You can see the big themes of the year, like race, terrorism and technology—but also the things we all found captivating.”

The Best Television of 2015 | NPR
“Aziz Ansari nails modern love, modern families and cultural assimilation in a potent comedy that often camouflages its depth with Ansari’s quick wit and snappy patter. At a time when America is tempted to turn its back on immigrants, he uncorks an episode on the struggle pampered first generation kids can face connecting with their immigrant parents’ hardscrabble origins.”

Best of 2015: Essays and Criticism | Longreads
“ ‘There is no good answer to being a woman; the art may instead lie in how we refuse the question,’ writes Rebecca Solnit, neatly packaging a manifesto’s worth of logic into 20 words. She’s talking about the persistent idea that a woman’s life can be morally dictated, and I’ve never been one for slogans, but I would readily get that sentence tattooed.”

Top 10 Architecture and Design Trends of 2015 | Dezeen
“Ocean plastic, created by harvesting and melting down waste from the world's seas, was the breakthrough material of 2015. Sports brand Adidas created trainers from the recycled material, while Pharrell Williams’s third collection with fashion brand G-Star RAW included ocean plastic clothes.”