The biggest winners and losers of 2017

Winner takes all - who came out on top in 2017?
Winner takes all - who came out on top in 2017? Photo credit: Newshub.

OPINION: You know it was a tough year when one of the best things you can say is that fewer of your favourite celebrities died.

It’s been a tumultuous 12 months both at home and abroad but now it’s finally over, we can look back and see who managed to come out on top in 2017.

Round One: NZ Politics

Winner: Jacinda Ardern

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Newshub.

Let's start with a massive understatement and call it a good year for Jacinda Ardern. The girl from Morrinsville is now the most powerful person in the country after a remarkable campaign effort against a well-entrenched National Government.

After taking the opposition reins from a flagging Andrew Little, Jacinda faced the Herculean task of taking on Bill English’s comfortable double-digit lead in the polls with only weeks until election day.

However Jacinda's charisma, energy and strong footing in policy combined to give her 'Let's do this' campaign created a 'Yes, we can' momentum. Helen Clark herself said Jacinda pulled off a near miracle being elected, and that’s hard to argue, considering she started the election race at a huge disadvantage and was comfortably beaten by National in overall votes on the day itself.

The overwhelming wave of enthusiasm Jacinda brought with her into the Beehive is undeniable. While the rosy glow of a new government fades and the practical reality of actual governance sets in, it's up to Jacinda and her team to prove that Labour can deliver on their lofty promises. 

Loser: Bill English

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Newshub.

Bill English and the National Party at large clearly had a tough time in 2017. He put in a strong showing against a surging Jacinda Ardern in the run up to the election, taking the largest portion of the party vote - despite the late onset of Jacindamania.

There were definitely highlights for Bill during the leaders’ debates, such his snappy rejoinder "People can't go shopping with your values", which managed to capture much of the two parties' differences in one quick quip.

But though he won some battles, Bill still lost the war. Winston Peters spelled the end of the National Government with his surprise coalition decision to pair with Labour, along with the Greens in a confidence and supply agreement.

So National takes its place in the opposition bench, with Bill still at the helm. The man labelled the "three time loser" by Mitch Harris is proving that if nothing else, he is resilient.

Round Two: Sport

Winner: Black Ferns

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Getty.

Claiming team of the year at the World Rugby Awards – the first time a women’s team has received the accolade - rounded out a perfect year for the best in New Zealand women’s rugby. A stunning fifth World Cup victory was coupled with an almost clean sweep at the awards, where the team took out team, coach and try of the year. They even managed to drop only a single game this season.

Portia Woodman was crowned women's player of the year while Michaela Blyde also won the women's sevens player of the year for her efforts in the World Series winning side.

Loser: Kiwis

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Getty.

The promise of 2017 for New Zealand Rugby League is hard to overstate. With the World Cup being hosted on our shores for the first time, the Kiwis had a chance to recapture the magic of 2008's victory, as well as help New Zealand to hold two rugby world cup trophies at once.

What we got instead was a shock exit after losing to Fiji in the semi-finals - but that was just the culmination of a long, bad run.

Issues started in 2016 with a change in leadership and a team that looked like it lacked cohesion. The Four Nations saw a narrow loss to Australia followed by a shock draw with Scotland, setting alarm bells ringing.

The problems persisted into this year with a grim 30-12 loss in Canberra in May for the Anzac test.

Issues off the field further marred the Kiwi's reputation, with two key players embroiled in a drug scandal in Canberra. Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor were decisively cut from the World Cup team after allegedly buying cocaine outside a nightclub.

The culmination of a shaky year was the disastrous eight day performance in the Cup, with crushing defeats against Fiji and Tonga knocking the Kiwis out before they even reached the finals.

Round Three: Entertainment

Winner: Marvel

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Marvel Studios.

The ever-hungry titan of pop culture that is Marvel Studios had another massive year, releasing Thor Ragnarok, a rebooted Spiderman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. All three were thundering successes, propelling Marvel well over the $1 billion box office mark for another year running.

Thor Ragnarok proved a particular hit both at home and abroad. Kiwi director Taika Waititi injected a welcome shot of self-effacing silliness into the Norse god's inherently ridiculous world, making it the most financially and critically successful Thor movie to date.

Just to rub a little extra salt into DC's wounds, the trailer for the monstrous Avengers: Infinity War which dropped to close out the year has already become the most viewed film trailer in Youtube's history.

Loser: DC

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

It's hard to remember a good year for DC at the movies. The glory days of The Dark Knight are long gone and instead the studio seems to stumble from one box-office catastrophe to another.

Yes, Wonder Woman was a breath of fresh air, but with the disastrous release of Justice League, it proved a blip in an otherwise uninterrupted downward spiral.

Justice League united Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman while introducing The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, and laid the groundwork for all the heroes' individual films to follow. However, following a dire reception, a radical shake-up was called for, that led to key leadership changes and the future of some DC projects being put into doubt.

The studio may have some of the most iconic superheroes of all time but this year showed that it has no idea what to do with them.

Round Four: World

Winner: President Donald Trump

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Reuters.

Despite a first year rocked by controversy, US President Donald J Trump still makes the list of 2017's biggest winners.

That's because every year as President of the United States is automatically a crushing victory for a 70 year-old real estate magnate with zero political experience, multiple failed business ventures and a host of bankruptcies under his belt.

Let us never forget that a man who bragged about the size of his penis during a presidential leader's debate now has the nuclear codes.

Whatever you think of the man, it's certain he's a raging ratings success. He's spent the entire year enjoying exponential growth of the one thing that seems to matter most to him - attention.

Loser: World peace

epa06015766 (FILE) - An undated photo made available by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea, shows the test-fire of a ballistic rocket equipped with precision guidance system, at an undisclosed location in North Korea (reissued 08 June 2017). According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, North Korea has fired several suspected land-to-sea ballistic missiles, early on 08 June 2017, from the Wonsan area of the Kangwon Province.  EPA/KCNA   EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Photo credit: AAP.

This year we have seen ballistic missile tests by North Korea which allegedly put the entirety of mainland USA - as well as the majority of New Zealand - in range, as well as increasingly violent rhetoric between world leaders.

From North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un just this week telling the US to abandon sanctions against his country "if they want to live safely", to Donald Trump promising "fire and fury like the world has never seen", back in August, there is currently a terrifyingly non-zero chance of nuclear catastrophe.

The Doomsday Clock, designed by an international community of scientists to illustrate how close the world is to a manmade Armageddon, currently sits at two and a half minutes to midnight.

Round Five: Environment

Winner: Global warming

The crew of the  U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, in the midst of their ICESCAPE mission, retrieves supplies in the Arctic Ocean in this July 12, 2011 NASA handout photo.  Kathryn Hansen/NASA via REUTERS/File Photo       ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.  - RTX2RRXE
Photo credit: Reuters.

Putting in another powerhouse performance in 2017, Global Warming has raised its own bar for dangerously heating the planet.

Outdoing records year by year, 2017 turned out to be the global catastrophe’s best ever effort, measuring as the hottest ever year not affected by an el Niño event.

Despite looking like it might be on the ropes after the Paris Climate accords were signed in 2016, US President Donald Trump came to the rescue by withdrawing America from international agreement.

The accord seeks to keep the global average temperature increase to less than 2degC, widely seen as the tipping point past which disastrous environmental effects will become inevitable and irreversible.  

Scientists now say staying beneath this threshold this looks increasingly unlikely.

This should worry New Zealanders particularly, as a recent climate report released by NIWA paints a grim picture of our readiness for the changing climate, saying there were "decades of urgent work" necessary to mitigate damages.

Loser: Planet Earth

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Getty.

Mother Earth has had a rough year and it shows.

Extreme weather is increasing across the planet, from record-breaking hurricanes in the US to flash flooding in Central Otago in early summer.

The rise of sea temperatures is causing the death of the Great Barrier Reef due to coral bleaching and, as the Arctic ice melts, seas are rising at their fastest rate in 2000 years. In July, a 5,800 square kilometre sheet of Antarctic ice fell into the ocean, creating an iceberg almost four times the size of London.

Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus on the impact human activity has on climate change (97% of the scientific community agrees, according to NASA), climate change scepticism has held the lead.

Six: Overall Champion for 2017

Winner: Blatant lies/'Alternative facts'

The biggest winners and losers of 2017
Photo credit: Getty.

'Post-truth' was 2016's phrase of the year, but 2017 was the year of ‘post-reality'.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway coined the winning phrase back in January when she presented a proven lie spoken by her office as an "alternative fact", unwittingly encapsulating a growing global idea that facts are now subordinate to feelings.

The fake news phenomenon, the White House's hostility to the media, and lethargic international responses to climate change all share a sense of distrust for provable truths.  

The hostility of the White House towards the institution traditionally charged with safeguarding truth, news media, isn't even metaphorical.

Take this gif of US President Donald Trump 'tackling CNN', which he tweeted to his 45 million followers.  

There can be no better example of how powerful 'alternative facts' have become than when one of the world’s most distinguished scientists, Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson, an award-winning astrophysicist, takes time out of his day to remind people that the world isn't flat.

When we can no longer agree on the shape of our own planet while planning a trip to Mars, we call that a win for alternate facts.