Best pop culture moments that got us through 2021

Taylour Paige in “Zola”

Long live the Taylour Paige side eye.
Upset, confused, scared, disgusted — Paige’s eyes speak volumes about the scaries of driving around main Florida with a computing brand-new good friend and her enormous, er, “roommate.” Whether the Academy will truly provide Paige what’s hers stays to be seen, however we at CNN’s Culture group are thrilled to provide her with an area on this similarly revered and not ridiculous list.

Finest 10-minute efficiency in a movie

Zendaya appeared more in sand beneficiary Timothée Chalamet’s hallucinations than she performed in plot-relevant series of “Dune,” however she maximized those intense blue contacts for the handful of minutes she was onscreen. As Chani, she had the very first and last words of the movie — take that, Timmy! — and nailed a searing takedown of Chalamet’s Paul when she provides him her treasured crysknife. Induce Sequel, Denis Villeneuve, and put our gal front and center next time.

Finest unanticipated celeb couple

Zoë Kravtiz and Channing Tatum

Kravitz and Tatum are just the current in a long tradition of lovely Black ladies with males who do not reach their levels of hotness (see likewise: Jodie Turner-Smith and Joshua Jackson, Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian, uh Zoë Kravitz and her ex-husband). History aside, Tatum and Kravitz were our preferred hipster Brooklyn couple this year, looking glamorously unglamorous as they rode bikes, got groceries and simply walked — making us simple mortals shake. Even if it was simply all a paparazzi tactic, we consumed it up.

Best-worst reason for not getting the Covid-19 vaccine

Nicki Minaj

Who else could develop worldwide havoc over Covid-19 vaccine false information? None aside from Nicki, whose claim — based upon the surely unerring account of a pal of a cousin of a… we’ll stop — that the vaccine triggered inflamed testicles and impotency led to numerous nationwide leaders actioning in. False information is constantly a celebration nasty, however thanks for the memes, Nicki.

Finest factor not to cancel cable television

The Oprah/Meghan/Harry interview

"What? WHAT??" - Oprah
This was primetime visit seeing the similarity which we have not seen in years. An excellent old made bombshell treasure trove. It likewise offered us this best action to the astounding.

Finest early 2000s revival

Britney Spears, post-conservatorship

In a congested field that consisted of the return of Tony Soprano, Ben Affleck and JLo’s reunion, the “Gossip Girl” reboot and the low-rise denims renaissance, it was Ms. Britney Jean Spears who had possibly the most eventful 2021 — and the happiest ending. Not just is the “Toxic” songstress devoid of a 13-year conservatorship that by all accounts was significantly limiting, she’s now engaged to a man that when played a wordless “Sexy Santa” in an HBO Max initial series. Bravo, Ms. Spears, for taking what’s yours!

Finest superhero motion picture sweetheart

Tony Leung in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

Marvel’s “Shang-Chi” might have been most significant for showcasing the very first Asian American superhero in the MCU, however who might forget the one, the ONLY, Tony Leung, taking the program (and our hearts) in every scene. Versus his piercing look and ripped lower arms, we were helpless. Thank you, Tony, for your service.

Finest Instagram heartbreak

Alex Rodriguez

When Alex Rodriguez required to Instagram following his separate with Jennifer Lopez, it was bound to be ravaging. As the previous baseball star turned soft boi panned through delighted images of him and J.Lo, with unfortunate anthem “Fix You” by Coldplay spinning in the background (among lots of warnings), he set a brand-new bar for public grieving and heartbreak. Unfortunate individuals all over, remember.

Runner Up: Ben Affleck getting rid of his life-sized Ana de Armas cutout in front of paparazzi. We enjoy a scene!

Finest red carpet-to-sleepover fit

A$AP Rocky, AKA Mr. Rihanna

A$AP Rocky gets it.
Rocky understood this year’s Met Gala was going to be middling at best, so, in deciding to cover himself in this piece by Cali-cool brand name ERL, he came gotten ready for a snooze needs to he require one. Convenience over design any day.

Finest accent work

Kate Winslet in “Mare of Easttown”

Winslet, a born Brit, flawlessly slipped into the voice of a vaping Pennsylvanian with brassy roots and adequate psychological luggage to power her to an Emmy, possibly. Even if she does not win the leading reward, we’ll constantly have her phrase “wurtur” and “hewgie.”

Finest Adele tune to grieve your ex to

“Love is a Game”

In her very first album considering that 2015, Adele lastly returned this year, all set to soundtrack all our late-night sob sessions with “30.” The album, which in part narrates the vocalist’s divorce and the occurring discoveries, is ripe with unfortunate tunes, however the very best one might be the almost 7-minute long more detailed. “Love is a game for fools to play,” Adele croons, leaving us to get the pieces of a heart we didn’t even recognize was broken. Adele, why need to you harm us so?!

Finest drama queen

The ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal

The Ever Provided offered till it might provide no longer. For some factor, we were all glued to the drama of the exhausted ship that got lodged in among the world’s most considerable trade paths for nearly a week and would not budge. “Would today be the day the Ever Given finally gives in and allows 400 other ships to pass?” we mused. “Why do I identify with this ship who just gave up on its work and disrupted an entire global economy?”

Finest ‘stache

Ted Lasso

The stache in question
From his wacky expressions to his unbelievable tennis shoe collection, Coach Ted Lasso (of the hit Apple television program “Ted Lasso,” and played by Jason Sudeikis) is an icon. However there are couple of things more admirable than his epochal mustache, a luscious chevron ripped directly from the ’80s. You understand he hydrates. Bravo, Coach.

Finest age barometer

The return of Steve from “Blue’s Clues”

Keep In Mind when Steve — now bald however still worn his signature green striped rugby t-shirt — visited our Twitter feeds with a little message on how pleased with us he was considering that his abrupt departure from the program in 2001? Your response to it offered the rest people a great concept of how old you were. Touched and teary? You were either a moms and dad of a kid who liked “Blue’s Clues” or stated kid. Untouched and sneaked out? Either too young or too old to delight in Steve’s operate on the program.

Finest cooking area home appliance you’ll utilize, like, possibly two times

Air fryers

Your mommy has one. Your next-door neighbor has one. Heck, even your roomie who does not prepare has one. Air fryers have actually been around considering that 2010, however have actually in some way ended up being common in the in 2015, understood for making anything — from Brussels sprouts to frozen chicken nuggets — taste crisp and newly fried, without all the work. Naturally, a comparable impact can be accomplished with a basic oven, however we digress.

Finest factor to still view ‘SNL’

Bowen Yang

Bowen Yang as the iceberg that sank the Titanic, left, and Colin Jost, blessed to be in the presence of genius.
Yang is the type of once-in-a-generation skill who can land an area amongst Individuals’s “Sexiest Men Alive ” and play the iceberg that sank the Titanic with such conviction that you’re rooting against the boat. May he continue to grace us with his TITANIC talents for years to come.

Best superstars who will make you feel old

TIE: Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X

Oh, to be young and successful.
She had some of the most streams on Spotify, visited the White House, and broke Ticketmaster when her tour went on sale. He has a cosign from Dolly Parton, trolls Drake, and created one of the most memorable music videos of all time. And neither of them are older than 25 — Rodrigo is only 18 (and just got her driver’s license, who could forget), while Lil Nas X is just 22. And yet, these babies are running the music industry — and soon, maybe, the world.

Best couple we couldn’t look away from no matter how hard we tried

Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly

It’s the age-old story: Boy (rapper, associate of Pete Davidson) meets girl (gifted deadpan actress and mother of three), girl tells boy he smells like weed, boy says “I am weed,” they go their separate ways only to cross paths on a film set years later and dive headfirst into a very public, very PDA-packed relationship that you either cringe at or wholeheartedly support or a blend of both. Even if their love doesn’t last, we’ll always have their delightfully unhinged British GQ interview. You know the one.

Best android-witch love story

Wanda & Vision in Disney+’s “WandaVision”
Theirs is a love story for the ages. And the multiverse, probably.

We all deal with heartache in different ways. And for Wanda, when her android-boyfriend Vision is killed by an alien dictator (not cool, Thanos), she creates an alternate reality to prevent herself from dealing with the grief of a love gone too soon. We can all relate! From their quirky eating habits to their literal magic shows, Wanda and Vision were a delight on our screens. We’ll be sobbing over “What is sorrow, if not enjoy standing firm?” permanently.

Finest politics and teen culture collab

Sen. Richard Blumenthal asking Facebook to “stop finsta”
Antigone Davis, the head of international security for Facebook, genuinely kept attempting to discuss that “finsta” is actually just a slang term for the private “phony Instagram” accounts many use — not actually something the social media company controls. Nevertheless, the 75-year-old Connecticut senator persisted, asking Davis “Will you devote to ending finsta?” during the Facebook trial. Blumenthal, though he tried, simply didn’t get it. The whole thing is a mirror to modern societal issues, and it would be funny if it wasn’t so grim.

Best time to be a Swiftie

Fall 2021

While neither author of this piece can attest to being a Taylor Swift stan, we know 2021 was a good time to be one — especially November, with the release of the 10-minute version of the song that turned a legion of young people against Jake Gyllenhaal. Taylor was also nominated — again, for like the 40th time — for Album of the Year at the Grammys, a category she won at the last ceremony. Congrats to Swifties everywhere — every year is your year.

Best villain

Red light, green light doll from “Squid Video Game”

Netflix’s “Squid Video game,” a South Korean anti-capitalist thriller, captured the world’s imaginations, becoming the streaming service’s most popular show at launch — with more than 111 million accounts watching in less than a month. Though lots of moments gave us the heebie-jeebies, none as much as the killer child-like doll from the Red Light, Green Light game. We had nightmares for weeks.

Best meme your mom liked

Bernie Sanders at the inauguration
Sen. Bernie Sanders had places to go and people to see.
The mittens! The casual Burton coat! The sassy crossed legs! Listen, the installment of a new head of state is great and all, but some of us (mainly, it seems, Sen. Bernie Sanders) had a busy Wednesday planned. Can we please wrap this up? The post office closes at 6.

Best buzzword to identify annoying people by

Spending millions on an NFT of, say, Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, when you could just Google “jack dorsey’s very first tweet” if you wanted to see it, is something we don’t fully understand. But we’re not here to yuck anyone’s yum, and NFTs have become ubiquitous in 2021. From NFTs of a LeBron James dunk video clip to a decade-old “Nyan Feline” GIF, people are spending thousands, sometimes more, to claim ownership of these digital assets. It’s almost like art collecting, but in the metaverse? Regardless of your NFT opinion, the fact is, you probably have one.

Best accessory


Best onscreen ‘death’

Natasha Rothwell as Kelli, “Insecure”

Let it be known that Kelli, joyously depicted by Natasha Rothwell, is one of our faves on HBO’s “Insecure.” And when a mix-up led to everyone at her college reunion thinking she was dead, we couldn’t stop laughing. “She had the very best Stanky Legg,” one person eulogized, and Kelli shows us it’s true. Though the incident wasn’t all fun and games, the group does later give our girl a proper eulogy over pancakes — the way all eulogies should be, if you ask us.

Best celeb-food mashup

Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hottie Sauce” at Popeyes

Only Megan could one-up Popeye's chicken sandwich.
Fast food has apparently replaced fine dining for all the hottest celebs — as Saweetie, Jack Harlow, and Lil Nas X all, for some reason, spent 2021 endorsing their favorite purveyors of chicken nuggets and tiny hamburgers. But Megan’s “Hottie Sauce,” delightfully sweet with a sneaky kick, takes the proverbial cake, if only for the name. Don’t we all, ultimately, just want to be hotties?

Best private information celebrities willingly offered against our wishes

Celebs don’t shower

Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kristen Bell — please, for the love of all things sacred and clean, stop. We didn’t need to know.

Best Zendaya look

Personally, we believe Zendaya’s look in “Area Jam” as the animated Lola Bunny, playing sidekick to LeBron, was the best the starlet has ever looked. Buuuut we’ll note that Zendaya has truly never missed, and the custom nude leather dress she wore to the Venice Film Festival, complete with an emerald necklace the size of a baby’s fist, is a close second.

[CNN, HBO/HBO Max series such as “Mare of Easttown” and “Insecure,” and “Dune” movie studio Warner Bros. are all part of WarnerMedia.]

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.