19 of the Best Moments from 2019

The U.S. women's soccer team, the Keanussaince, and Mr. Rogers were some of the highlights of 2019.

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As we get deeper into December every year, we tend to look back at some of the best and worst moments the past 12 months brought us. And while 2019 certainly had its challenges, it was also a year with some genuinely wonderful highlights. Scientists unveiled 3D printing technology that's transforming the health world and we got to experience the new Star Wars-themed "Galaxy's Edge" at Disney World and Disneyland, for example.

While there were so many more innovations, big and small, that will stay with us into 2020 and beyond, some of what we savored in 2019 won't make the journey into the next calendar year. Here are 19 things from 2019 that we're a little emotional about having to part ways with—they made our lives better these past 365 days, and for that, we'll always be grateful.

1
The Bottle Cap Challenge

bottle cap challenge
House of Highlights via YouTube

The internet has given us so many terrible and dangerous "challenges," from swallowing Tide Pods to eating cinnamon without water. But the Bottle Cap Challenge was the first time it felt like the word "challenge" wasn't just a nicer way of saying "double dog dare." That's because it was actually a legitimate test, one that you needed the perfect mix of creativity and raw talent to succeed at it. Everyone from celebrities to teenagers attempted the impossible, unscrewing a bottle cap with only a swing kick or roundhouse kick. We cheered for every victory, thankful that sometimes the internet throws us a curve ball and brings out the best in people.

2
"Storm Area 51"

area 51 fence
Shutterstock

The "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" campaign started as a joke on Facebook, and then became real when 1.5 million alien enthusiasts RSVP'd that they were going to partake in the attempt to invade the government-guarded location and find out whether aliens are actually real. We were legitimately worried that it would turn bloody, especially when an Air Force representative warned that they were "ready to protect America and its assets," which saw the organizers respond with, "If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets." But you know what? It didn't end as badly as we anticipated. In fact, it turned into a party, or more accurately, into "Alien-Stock"—like Woodstock but with fewer hippies and more green ensembles.

3
Feeling safe when we got on a Boeing plane

boeing 737 in the sky
Shutterstock

It started with two major crashes in less than five months. And then in June, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded 300 Boeing 737 jets, claiming that almost 150 parts could be "susceptible to premature failure or cracks." If that wasn't already enough, in October it was announced that the aircraft had even more safety problems. All we're asking for in 2020 is that we can get on a Boeing plane with the confidence we are in good hands.

4
Greta Thunberg's U.N. speech

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Shutterstock

When 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the U.N.'s Climate Action Summit in September, she sure didn't act like a teenager out of her comfort zone. She was confident, accusatory, and downright angry. "I shouldn't be up here," she told the stunned crowd. "I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!" Her words inspired kids across the globe to stand up and take action as they walked out of school to put the spotlight on climate change. Thunberg is not done yet, but we'll never forget the goosebumps of hearing her speak for the first time.

5
The original Notre Dame Cathedral

notre dame cathedral
Shutterstock

Although most of this nearly 860-year-old Parisian landmark still stands after catching fire in mid-April, some of the original architecture of Notre Dame was damaged beyond repair—the cathedral's wood latticework roof and iconic spire included. We know that French president Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild the cathedral over the next five years and make it "more beautiful than before," but that doesn't make losing part of the historic structure any less devastating.

6
Watching the U.S. women's soccer team win the World Cup

us women's football team
Shutterstock

This wasn't the first year the U.S. women's national soccer team won the World Cup—they'd done so three times prior to 2019—but it was their sweetest victory yet. It was the year when the team sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, on the grounds that female players were paid less than male athletes, who didn't come close to matching the success of the women's team. This was the year when they proved their point, not that they had to. And in November, they had a major win on that front: The National Women's Soccer League announced rule changes that will increase player salaries and team salary caps for the 2020 season.

7
Star Wars

rise of skywalker
Lucasfilm via YouTube

We know there will be other Star Wars movies and TV shows—like the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series with Ewan McGregor on Disney+. But Rise of Skywalker, which will be released before the year's close, is the last in the "official" film series. The sci-fi saga that started in 1977 with George Lucas' original installment, now referred to as A New Hope, comes to an end with J.J. Abrams behind the camera for the beloved epic's final chapter. The Hollywood Reporter even called it "The End of Star Wars," which—we won't lie—made us a little teary-eyed.

8
Not knowing what a black hole looked like

Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al / via NASA

Prior to 2019, nobody could really conceive of what a black hole might actually look like. It was just an intangible concept, a vast darkness, something that couldn't be seen with the naked eye. But then everything changed, thanks to 29-year-old MIT student Katie Bouman, who helped create an algorithm that led to the Event Horizon Telescope capturing the very first image of an actual black hole (seen here). Does it kind of look like "Eye of Sauron" from the Lord of the Rings movies? Yes, yes, it kind of does. And somehow that just makes it all the more awesome.

9
TV that defined the last decade

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Chuck Lorre Productions/IMDB

There's no shortage of great TV to watch, but that doesn't make it easier to bid farewell to the shows we've fallen in love with in the last decade, the ones that've upped the standards and made television the medium of the moment.

Exhibit A: When it aired its last episode in May, The Big Bang Theory had been on for 12 years. That means, if you started watching it in kindergarten, you'd have been preparing for your high school graduation when you saw Sheldon sign off. That's an entire childhood in one series!

Some of us have such emotional attachments to brilliant shows like Veep and Orange Is the New Black, that it was devastating to say goodbye when they also left us this past summer.

10
Discovering Lizzo for the first time

lizzo
Shutterstock

Lizzo will always be awesome, but the first time you saw her perform will always be something special (especially if it was her incredible appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in August). Once you've seen a woman this gloriously talented and self-confident take the stage and proceed to play the flute, while twerking no less, well, that's not something you're going to forget anytime soon.

11
The Keanussaince

keanu reeves playing with puppies
Buzzfeed Celeb via YouTube

Of course, Keanu Reeves isn't going anywhere, but we doubt we'll ever have a year filled with as many heartwarming moments from the affable action star as we did in 2019. From playing with puppies to telling adoring fans that they're breathtaking, we can't get enough Keanu and his innate ability to charm our socks off. It truly was the Keanussaince, and 2020 will be hard-pressed to top such a magical era.

12
Snapchat's baby face filter

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Shutterstock

Newsweek said it best when they described the popular app, which transformed users' faces into adorable little babies, as "just what we needed." While the rest of the world seemed to be aging us faster than we could believe, thanks to a silly photo filter, we could, in a way, turn back the hands of time and laugh at our ridiculous infant selves. It was a welcome comedic relief and just what we needed, indeed.

13
Iron Man

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Shutterstock

Avengers: Endgame was probably one of the best superhero movies of the decade, but we're still in deep denial about Iron Man. (If you haven't seen the movie yet, stop reading NOW.)

This isn't the real world, right? Heroes aren't supposed to die! And superheroes with iron suits and families back home who depend on them, they're absolutely not permitted to leave this mortal coil! But Marvel broke the mold this spring when they did just that. We'll miss you, Iron Man. How dare you make us weep during an action-packed superhero movie.

14
Grumpy Cat

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Shutterstock

She was only seven years old when she left us, but it felt like she'd been a part of our lives for much, much longer. Grumpy Cat managed to make the internet a brighter and happier place, specifically by being the most hilariously unhappy-looking feline that ever walked on four paws. We hope Tardar Sauce (her real name) is in a better place now, but not too much better. We need that oddly comforting scowl to live on, wherever she is.

15
Mr. Rogers nostalgia

a beautiful day in the neighborhood
Big Beach Films/IMDB

We didn't realize how much we missed Fred Rogers until Tom Hanks reminded us with A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the movie most likely to make viewers succumb to an uncontrollable, but joyful, sob-fest. We still haven't fully recovered from the film, which was released in November and led to a slew of heartwarming moments (like the newborns dressed up as Rogers at a Philadelphia hospital). Thank you, 2019, for reminding us just how much we missed, and sincerely needed, our favorite neighbor's unconditional kindness.

16
Billy Ray Cyrus singing on a hip-hop song

old town road
Columbia Records via YouTube

The guy who gave us "Achy Breaky Heart" was back on the charts this year with a hip-hop song. And here's the really crazy part—the song, "Old Town Road," was infectiously catchy. So catchy, in fact, it broke Billboard records! The very idea that Billy Ray Cyrus would team up with openly gay rapper Lil Nas X to record a song about riding horses still sounds like something conjured in a fever dream. But it happened, right here in the year 2019, and it's something we can all say we lived to witness.

17
Billy Porter's red carpet reign

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Shutterstock

From his jeweled suit with a hot pink cape at the Golden Globes to his black tuxedo ball gown at the Academy Awards to his "gilded, winged Egyptian pharaoh" ensemble (as Harper's Bazaar described it) at the Met Gala, actor Billy Porter caused jaws to drop every time he walked down a red carpet in 2019, changing the rules of what fashion can be in the process. The pure creativity of his outfits, and the delight he took in wearing them, put a smile on the faces of everyone who watched him strut his stuff.

18
Natasha Lyonne's clapping at the 2019 Emmys

natasha lyonne
Fox via YouTube

The Russian Doll star didn't win at the 2019 Emmy Awards—she was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series—but she did have the entire Twitterverse talking after her peculiar attempts at applause during the ceremony. We're still not sure if she was being serious or trying to out-do Nicole Kidman's bizarre attempt at clapping during the 2017 Oscars. But whatever her intentions, it was the most memorable famous-person-trying-to-seem-normal moment of the year.

19
Random acts of kindness

jennifer brett tweet
Jennifer Brett / Twitter

If you worried that kindness was a lost art in today's world, there was plenty of evidence in 2019 that people are still capable of being decent to each other. Take those who showed up for the funeral of a Tennessee Air Force veteran with no friends or family in September, for example. Or the mailman in suburban Atlanta who retired after 35 years, and was surprised during his final route in May that over 300 people had come out to celebrate his last day on the job, decorating their mailboxes and throwing him a block party. We don't want to get our hopes up, but we wish for more of that in 2020.

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