Movie of the Year
Generally speaking, if a sequel to a great movie comes out boasting more baddies, more laughs and more action it is a pretty safe bet that said sequel is going to be a disjointed, incoherent mess. So major kudos to James Cameron for taking over the reins from Ridley Scott and steering the series in a different (but equally awesome) direction. Never one for subtlety, Cameron's vision of the Alien franchise is way more over-the-top than the original, particularly in the nature of the action scenes and Ripley's supporting crew this time around. I mean, Paxton's rendition of Hudson is about as unsubtle as you can get ("Game over, man!") but it is impossible to deny how memorable and downright entertaining that performance is as he steals scene after scene. Despite the move toward a more action-oriented experience, the film doesn't lose sight of what made the original great and there is still palpable tension and a strong atmosphere of dread. One of the few sequels that arguably surpasses the original - I still maintain that Alien is the better of the two, but I'd say that's just a matter of genre preference. (Just don't let me catch you claiming that there were any more Alien movies made after this.)
Runner Up: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Honorable Mention: Platoon
Album of the Year
Megadeth - Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?
1986 was pretty definitively the "Year of Thrash" - my Top 10 for all music and my Top 10 for thrash would look eerily similar, if not entirely identical. With an entire genre of bands peaking at the same time, who reigns supreme? I'm throwing in with Dave this year, Lars - sorry. Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? maintains the speed and ferocity of Megadeth's debut album but is also infinitely more polished and sports much more interesting song structures. This evolution is obvious from the very opening of the album - the almost-instrumental "Wake Up Dead" features radical tempo changes, a sampler of killer riffs and two absolutely incredible solos. And that was just your appetizer - there's still a full meal being prepared for your pleasure. Whether it be the awesome bass lines and catchy sing-along chorus of the title track or the furious attack of a song like "Good Mourning / Black Friday," these courses are prepared from only the finest hand-picked thrash ingredients and prepared by master chefs trained in the finest Bay-area concert venues. A meal fit for the gods!
Runner Up: Metallica - Master of Puppets
Honorable Mention: Kreator - Pleasure to Kill