A&E: The Best & Worst of 2018

We asked our Arts & Entertainment section writers to pick their favorite media for 2018. Some pieces were loved by many, but a few picks surprised us! Check them out below, followed by the worst of 2018.

 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2

Salena Moran, Staff Writer

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2 continues to follow aspiring comedian Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) in her life at home and onstage as she competes to earn her spot in a primarily male-dominated career in 1959. The show’s vibrant set design, excellent script writing and character chemistry makes it one of the most enjoyable series currently on air.

After season 1 established the preliminary details, this season branches out to settings like Paris and the Catskills while thickening the plot with Midge’s love life and struggles with rival comedian, Sophie Lennon. As Midge’s secret career begins to emerge among her family and friends, the show’s writer Amy Sherman-Palladino (writer of Gilmore Girls) reveals enough saucy details without giving too much away.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2 left me yelling at my TV for more episodes, as it is equal parts witty and hilarious as it is emotional and real.

 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Season 5

Natalie Schroeder,  Staff Writer

This show, starring Melissa Fumero, Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews and Chelsea Peretti, ended its fifth season in 2018, only to be cancelled by Fox and picked up for a sixth season by NBC. The show started off with a bang of laughter and only got better as its characters developed and jokes became long-running. Every character brings their own humor and delivery to the screen, making every team-up entertaining, funny, unique and necessary. With each episode being roughly 20 minutes long, it is easy binge watch or watch regularly. The show tackles major social issues and stereotypes while also maintaining its easy-going and funny atmosphere. While there is romantic drama, there is always a humorous aspect that keeps the show moving forward on a realistic pace. This is a show that has deserved all its past awards and is sure to win more in the future.

 

Courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment

Spider-Man, PS4

Neil Runge, Staff Writer

The swinging is good. Repeat: the swinging is good. That’s one the greatest things about Spider-Man for the Playstation 4. After years of games with subpar swinging through New York City as photographer and superhero Spider-Man, Insomniac Games developed a game not only with web-swinging that felt just right, but a story that moved many players to tears and a set of costumes that included everyone’s favorite spidey getups.

Spider-Man is a beautiful game to look at, as the animations are smooth and never grow boring after seeing them hundreds of times. New York City is portrayed in meticulous detail and major landmarks are included and can be visited by the player during side quests or in between main story quests.

On top of a incredibly made game, there is story that involves Peter Parker who’s now older but still busy being a hero. He runs into a litany of villians from the comics, some familiar like Doc Ock and some that might not be as well known like Mister Negative.

There isn’t just a diverse cast of villians. The playable characters aren’t just limited to Peter and Spider-Man. Many missions in the game are devoted to playing as Miles Morales and Mary Jane, making this game not just a swinging filled action game but one with stealth and strategy.

 

Celeste

Griffin Sendek, Staff Writer

 Celeste is a game that completely and utterly kicked my butt this year, but one I could not put down. For those who are unaware, Celeste is a tough-as-nails 2D platformer in which you control a girl named Madeleine on her quest to make the dangerous climb to the top of Celeste mountain for no reason other than proving she can. Every step of the way, you are met by obstacles and people telling you that you will never make it. Madeleine perseveres, striving to make the treacherous climb higher and higher no matter how difficult it gets. Celeste has some of the tightest controls of any platformer I have ever played and filled with to the brim with gorgeous pixel art. Despite its difficulty, there was never a moment in the game that felt unfair; every mistake was my own, which was the exact reason why I could never put the game down. The whole time I was telling myself “just one more time and I’ll get it”. On its gameplay alone, Celeste is absolutely excellent and a must play. The game goes the extra mile though by touching on concepts regarding mental illness, a topic decisively missing within modern games and was a pleasant surprise to find in Celeste.

 

Love, Simon

Claire Neiberg, Staff Writer

Love, Simon centers around a closeted gay teenager, Simon Spier (Nick Robinson). Spier is a junior in high school, and from the outside, leads a completely normal life, as he appears to have healthy relationships with his family and friends. However, his biggest secret leads him to pursuing a relationship with another closeted gay teenager over email. When these emails are discovered by one of Spier’s peers, they are used against him, forcing Spier to choose between his friends and his secret.

While the film celebrates the LGBT+ community, Love, Simon is a film that anyone, no matter their sexuality, can connect to and find meaning in. The film is comprised of a racially diverse cast of characters as well, and focuses on issues that all high schoolers are faced with, mainly revolving around love and identity. The soundtrack is timeless as well, and compliments the plot perfectly without being a distraction. The overall message of the film is that “everyone deserves a great love story” leaving the audience filled with hope and a greater sense of acceptance.

 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Griffin Sendek, Staff Writer

One of these days, Tom Cruise is going to severely injure himself on a movie set and no longer be capable of doing all his own stunts. But until then, we get to enjoy his portrayal of Ethan Hunt in the fantastic, unwavering action of the Mission: Impossible series. By the time a series reaches its sixth entry, most often it begins losing steam, but Mission: Impossible – Fallout doesn’t slow down for a single moment. From director Christopher McQuarrie comes a masterclass on incorporating intense action while still telling a compelling story. The performances of all the returning members of the series are better than ever, with newcomer Henry Cavill, playing August Walker, truly stealing the show. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is not only the best of the series but the best action movie of 2018. With McQuarrie recently announced to be returning to direct two more Mission: Impossible movies back to back, I cannot wait to see what else is in store for Ethan Hunt.

 

RBG

Kailey Love, Editor-in-Chief

RBG delves into the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her rise beyond legal stardom into a nationwide household superhero as “The Great Dissenter” of the Supreme Court, or “Notorious RBG” more commonly. Through a series of interviews with Ginsburg herself and those close to her, the documentary provides a window into Ginsburg’s life: her stylish jabots, her lifelong love of Opera and her memeable workout routines all making appearances throughout. It also placed a spotlight on Ginsburg’s relationship with her husband Marty, which is a real life fairytale love story for the ages. “He was the first boy I ever knew who cared that I had a brain,” Ginsburg said of her husband in the documentary, making audiences swoon, teary-eyed. This equal partnership of support and love, paired with Ginsburg’s unwavering resolve as an intellectual powerhouse, make RBG a must-see.

 

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place

Natalie Schroeder, Staff Writer

This movie was released in April 2018, and followed a family in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by blind monsters with an acute sense of hearing. The film stars John Krasinski, alongside Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. While this wasn’t your typical horror movie, it did grab its audiences attention and surprise them in the opening scenes. This movie centers around what a mother and father do to keep their children alive. Because they have a daughter who is deaf, they have survived this long with their knowledge of sign language.

This is only one of the well thought out plot lines that differs this movie from other horror movies with plot holes, dumb decisions by characters and deaths that could be avoided. For example, one of the few supremely poor decisions was made by a young boy. The youngest of the siblings was playing with a toy plane that made sounds, drawing out the monsters. Even though his father, portrayed by John Krasinski, bravely tried to save him, the monster inevitably killed the young boy. Throughout the movie there are justified decisions, a score that moves the plot through suspense and a loving family that is easy to root for. John Krasinski definitely deserved that Critics Choice Award.

 

Courtesy of Sony Entertainment

Spider-Man:

Into the Spider-Verse

Sean Armstrong, Staff Writer

Spider-Man movies have become almost an annual event at this point, but this film finally tries something different and glosses over the details everyone should know by this point. This picture tries to blend together different animation styles in one of the most uniquely animated stories I have ever seen become a major motion picture. Furthermore, this film tries to take fringe comic book characters and bring them into the mainstream. All in all, this film takes plenty of risks, and while maybe not all of them were hits, they should be rewarded regardless.

 

Courtesy of Annapurna

Sorry to Bother You

Neil Runge, Staff Writer

An anti-capitalist science fiction extravaganza is the best way to describe Spike Lee’s movie Sorry to Bother You. Although it was just released last year, it has cemented its place in film history as not just a cult classic, but as testament that not every movie from Hollywood will be a sequel, reboot or adaptation. There’s still room and a demand for truly original stories.

This movie, from the posters to the actual film, is filled with color. It doesn’t opt for a darker color palette just because it happens to be about a less than light-hearted topic. Its use of bright colors and wild dialogue make the twists and turns of the plot hit even harder.

This doesn’t mean it looks like a rainbow was slapped across every frame. It means that every color just pops; the yellows are more yellow, the purple is more purple — everything is more saturated, but not to the point of being unbelievable.

The plot starts off calm (a broke man getting a telemarketing job) but quickly, the movie gets weirder and weirder in the best way possible. By the end, the plot has gone to an unforeseen place but it all works so well. Sorry to Bother You is something that feels completely original from start to end.

 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Kailey Love, Editor-in-Chief

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? focuses on beloved Pittsburgh native Fred Rogers, who hosted Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, produced at WQED. The film made history as the highest grossing documentary film of all time, making $22 million at the box office. It was also highly praised by critics, earning a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Invoking strong senses of nostalgia from a childhood hero who taught children across the nation that they mattered, and he loved them just the way they were, the doc served as a reminder of the impact that Rogers made on our generation. By delving into Roger’s methodology in creating educational episodes, his advocacy on behalf of the nation’s children and never shying away from difficult-to-discuss topics gave audiences a silver lining in the midst of sobering news cycles.

 

“I Did Something Bad”

Claire Neiberg, Staff Writer

In her latest album, Reputation, Taylor Swift continues to transform her image from the sweet country singer that quickly made the top charts over a decade ago to a fierce, electric popstar. While “Look What You Made Me Do” is the most well-known track from the album, Swift put out another song that is equally powerful and carries a strong message about narcissism. “I Did Something Bad” depicts Swift’s former relationship with a narcissist. The characteristics of a narcissist are often glorified in the media, as they are portrayed to be synonymous with self-love and empowerment. However, in Swift’s song, she highlights the dangers of a narcissist, reminding her fans that narcissism is usually not detected until it is too late. Through her lyrics, she expresses how critical it is to set boundaries in relationships, because narcissistic people will overstep them, turning the relationship toxic. Unfortunately, victims of narcissistic abuse often are blinded by manipulation, but Swift brings awareness to the toxicity of these relationships.

 

Broken Record Podcast

Sean Armstrong, Staff Writer

What makes this podcast special is that it combines the casual experience of sitting around discussing music with the very inquisitive nature of an interview. It almost feels like you’re with the interviewee hearing their thoughts live. In this way, the strength of this podcast is that the thoughts of the artist are directly from the artist and none of them are boring. There were some musicians I liked better than others. There was some music I didn’t like in the least. Yet, hearing each musician’s thoughts was still an experience worthy of listening to irrespective of the quality or type of music on hand. If you love music, this podcast will hold your interests.

 

“Thank U, Next” (Video)

Kevin Sheppard, Staff Writer

Thank you, Ariana Grande, for the “Thank U, Next” music video. We appreciate you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you clearly can’t sit with us. But for the pop queens and kings that love tea by the gallon, get your cups ready.

Ariana Grande came out with her music video “Thank U, Next” on Nov. 30. and honey, it broke records. The video currently has 255 million views … oh my. There is absolutely a reasonable explanation for why this video is so successful: the cameos, and the references, my darlings.

“Thank U, Next” contains Ariana’s own take on elements of the iconic movies; Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, Bring it On and 13 Going on 30. Not to mention the cameos, oh my my my, those cameos! Don’t worry, the cameos will be revealed. That’s a different flavor tea for a different kettle, patience is a virtue.

Let’s start in with these movies, shall we? Ariana portrayed a lot of iconic throwback movies.  The music video starts with Mean Girls, my personal favorite (no one cares). Ariana Grande plays Regina George, the Queen of Mean. You may have seen some familiar faces alongside. Ariana Grande’s former co-star from Victorious; Elizabeth Gillies, plays Lindsay Lohan’s character; Cady Heron. We love to see a Nickelodeon throwback reunion.

There is also a cameo made by some original Mean Girls cast members; we have the girl who loved the fact that Regina George punched her in the face. We love a fact checker occasionally, so I took the liberty to look up who played that lovely character. Turns out her name is Stefanie Drummond, and we love her, okay? Then we have Aaron Samuels, oh goodness gracious. There’s one more cameo that needs some attention: Amy Poehler’s character, Regina’s mom, is portrayed by…. Kris Jenner. Yes, I know!

The next movie is Legally Blonde. Reese Witherspoon, honey, what’s good? Ariana perfected her all pink look that all-too-well resembles Elle Woods from the movie Legally Blonde.  In all honesty, I would love to know where to get an outfit like that? Ariana (Elle Woods) is then seen in that all too familiar salon with our favorite beautician, Paulette, played by the same actress from the film: Jennifer Coolidge. Ariana Grande did so much right with this video. Slay, girl.

To wrap things up, Kris Jenner gets the last word for this music video, and it not only gave me life, it gave me immortality. So please watch the “Thank U, Next” music video, it’s so fetch.

Not going to lie, 2018 was a wrecked year for yours truly; this song medicated it greatly. Darlings, I haven’t been in a solid relationship since the discovery of the Americas, but “Thank U, Next” made me want to get right back into the dating world, just to feel heartbreak, just so I would vibe with this song on a cosmic level. 2018, you were certainly something, but Thank U, Next, hello 2019!

 

Courtesy of Awkwafina Records

In Fina We Trust

by Awkwafina

Sean Armstrong, Staff Writer

This album is unlike any album I’ve heard in a long time. It clearly had a ton of time dedicated to it from start to finish because of the interplay between songs, the comedic aspect instilled in the fabric of it and the storyline weaved into that same fabric. It may have only been seven tracks, but considering it was produced as well as written by the rapper turned actress herself, it deserves some attention and at least one half-hearted listen. I cannot recommend this album enough.

 

Isolation

by Kali Uchis

Evan Penrod, Staff Writer

In her debut album, Kali Uchis delivers not only a fantastic first albu, but what I consider the best album of 2018. Featuring well-known artists such as Tyler, The Creator, the Gorillaz, and Jorja Smith to name a few, this album is a powerhouse of soul and constant smooth hit sound. It would be easy to characterize this album and say that it sounds similar to early Amy Winehouse and Alicia Keys, but that does a complete disservice to Kali Uchis’s vocal talent and skill.

Overall, this album is nothing like anything that came out this year, blending a mix of soul, funk and R&B into one focused sound that many big name artists have failed to produce. Each song present on this album sounds individual yet fits into the main theme, giving a varied experience per tune all under the same feel. If this album is any indication on the future of Kali Uchis, then we should be expecting more great sounds and songs on this rising soul icon.

 

Courtesy of REMember Music / Warner Bros.

Swimming

by Mac Miller

Madison Pastrick, Layout Editor

This past summer Mac Miller released an album that gave a sophisticated swing to this rapper’s usually playful style. Emerging from a difficult time in this artist’s life, which included a breakup and problems of serious drug abuse, the album seemed to give his fans the impression that he was ready to start working on, as he would call it, “Self Care.”

Though this album seems to revolve around the many struggles of Mac Miller’s life, the overall message is actually quite inspiring. Songs such as “Ladders,” “Jet Fuel” and “Small Worlds” present listeners with philosophical rap lyrics touching on accepting the truth and finding peace of mind, all of which are carried over funk-inflicted beats, giving the album a comforting mix of mellow and motivational vibes.

The album still holds the same brilliantly composed hits that fans originally fell in love with, however, there’s no doubt that Mac Miller’s death just over a month after the album’s release has left a deeper imprint to his final lyrics. As both longtime and recent fans of Mac Miller’s mourn the loss of another gifted artist, it is no doubt that Swimming continues to serve as one of the best and most emotional albums of 2018.

 

And now, our writers’ picks for the worst of 2018…

 

Ready Player One

Neil Runge, Staff Writer

From the director of Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones came a movie released last year that tried its hardest to make viewers shocked that it could ever be made by Steven Spielberg.

Based on the novel by Ernest Cline, this movie was expected to be an action film about using virtual reality as an escape from the crowded cities in a world that rests on the edge of collapse and destruction.

Instead, what the movie did was cash in on an audience’s abundance of nostalgia. Filled to the brim with characters from mostly ‘80s and ‘90s movies, TV shows and video games, it was built upon references that came off as more of an embarrassing “only ‘90s kids remember” meme than a heartfelt look back at past media.

It may have been pretty to look at, but this movie lacked any substance other than gratuitous pop culture nods. There wasn’t any risk or threat for the characters that kept viewers in suspense.

 

Courtesy of Domino Recording Company

 

Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino

by Arctic Monkeys

Salena Moran, Staff Writer

The Arctic Monkeys did not score a hit with their latest album Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. I have been a fan of the Arctic Monkeys, and still am, but I was frankly disappointed at their attempt at a new sound after waiting five years. I usually love when artists experiment with their sound and evolve over time, but this was something totally off the path. Lead singer Alex Turner ditched the classic British rock sound with the electric guitar and seemed to make sleepy elevator music. This album is very piano heavy and creates a weird vibe of Elton John meets Pink Floyd throughout the tracklist. The two main songs with any real substance were “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino” and “Four Stars Out of Five,” but even those were a stretch. The album failed to produce any really upbeat or catchy singles and instead felt like a giant 40-minute lull.

 

Peppermint

Natalie Schroeder, Staff Writer

Peppermint was released in September and was given a 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Even though Jennifer Garner gave a great performance as a grieving vigilante, the story lacked originality. In the years following the death of her husband and daughter, Riley North gains strength as well as defensive and offensive strategies to take down the men who killed her family, and almost killed her, too. Having the protagonist be a woman and a mother makes sense to fuel her vengeance, but that is all it offered, since the story as as whole was predictable. The movie was also unbelievable at certain points. While they added a five-year gap and had a heart-wrenching scene near the end, one person taking down a dozen men in a drug cartel is questionable. This movie also did a great deal of telling instead of showing in regards to her transformation and sudden skills and abilities.

 

Courtesy of Netflix

Bird Box

Griffin Sendek, Staff Writer

The culture surrounding Bird Box is fascinating to say the least. How this Netflix original movie that, by all means, is not a good movie, gained so much love and praise completely boggles my mind. Bird Box exploded upon release, garnering views by 45 million accounts in its opening week alone, taking the title of the most successful opening week of any Netflix original.

The film’s success was partially thanks to the sudden and inevitable influx of Bird Box memes all across social media, working not only as free marketing for the movie, but also creating this sense of FOMO for anyone who had not seen it yet. This wouldn’t be anything of note if Bird Box was, in fact, good. All this buzz was generated from a film that has stale writing, was filmed in a way that is very generic and uncreative, with an overreliance on drone shots, a story that gives very little payoff, and acting performances that leave something to be desired. Bird Box is not Sandra Bullock’s best work by a long shot.

 

Riverdale

Season 3

Evan Penrod, Staff Writer

Even die-hard Riverdale fans have been utterly disappointed and pushed away by the progression of the third season of Riverdale. What started as a genuinely good and sometimes goofy teen mystery show in the first season transitioned into a complicated boring mess in the second season and eventually became a joke in the third. The second season was tacky but at least had an easy to digest plot, while the third season really deviates from the first making the show feel completely foreign to the original concept. This show has become predictably unpredictable, and personally, I don’t see how it can continue after this season. The characters have done things that are too far-fetched and require the viewer to suspend their disbelief further and further with each episode, and the season is only at its halfway point. Many scenes of the show feel as if they have been rewritten at the last minute or were written without any conscious thought of what else has happened in previous episodes, which makes this show one giant mess.

 

“BITCH I’M BELLA THORNE”

Claire Neiberg, Staff Writer

We get it, Bella Thorne, you’re not the 13-year-old little girl from Shake It Up, but did you too have to put out a gaudy track expressing your non-conformity just like every other former child star? In her process of reaching fame again, Thorne released “BITCH I’M BELLA THORNE.” The track has similarities to Miley Cyrus’ BANGERZ album, but lacks even more creativity and is painfully repetitive throughout. Since the majority of the song is Thorne restating her name, it is difficult for her fans to relate to it, which is what gives music its power to begin with. She is also not known for her singing voice, so she stumbles through the majority of it, making it especially unpleasant to listen to. It is obvious in her music and style choice that she takes pride in being a poor role model for her younger fans, as like Cyrus, she is obsessed with sculpting her new image as a rebellious “young adult.”

 

The Kissing Booth

Claire Neiberg, Staff Writer

Released as a Netflix Original, The Kissing Booth is based off of a Wattpad story and runs exactly as expected. The plot is not just poorly written, but is incredibly boring as well. The film begins by introducing the main protagonist, Elle Evans (Joey King), and her best friend, Lee Flynn (Joel Courtney). Elle and Lee are born on the same day at the same time and are raised like twins by their mothers, who also happen to be best friends. As they grow older, they develop a list of rules to keep their friendship intact, the most critical rule being that Elle is forbidden to date Lee’s older brother, Noah (Jacob Elordi). Every part of the film can be predicted from here on out, as in the first 10 minutes, it is evident Elle is developing feelings for Noah. As a school fundraiser, she and Lee set up a “kissing booth” and of course, she ends up blindly kissing Noah. This kiss sparks their relationship, forcing them to keep it undercover leading to a series of predictable and uncreative mishaps.

 

Ye

by Kanye West

Sean Armstrong, Staff Writer

Ye was not a particularly bad album, but it was one of the most overrated albums of the year. Kanye was at one time an artist on the cutting edge, making moves that opened up the rap genre to new possibilities, but lately, Kanye seems to do everything in a scatterbrained manner. Set aside his politics, his mental state or any other stigmatizing conditions the man has become synonymous with, his work is still not what it used to be. Every artist has their time and at the current moment, it appears Kanye is past his. I am not saying Kanye should stop making music or that he cannot come up with something fantastic in the future, but I am saying that Ye was judged to be a masterpiece by many before it arrived. In the weeks heading into its release, I heard plenty of hype around it. The album had almost this legendary status before it even dropped. It was almost in the too-big-to-fail category from the launch. When people are looking for the good they will find good, but when walking into a situation with few or no expectations, that is when true quality reveals itself.

 

Courtesy of Sony Pictures
Entertainment

Venom

Sean Armstrong, Staff Writer

I read the comic book long before the movie was even in production. The comic book centered on Flash Thompson, the high school bully of Peter Parker, who enters the armed forces after high school only to lose his legs in combat. Then, since he was a very skilled special forces operative he is offered the chance to serve again by merging with the symbiote used by Spider-Man himself. The catch is that he has to take it off every 48 hours or it can take over his body. This film opted for a less interesting storyline based on Eddie Brock, the journalist looking for truth. I get that Marvel updates superheroes’ stories to keep with the times, and the search for truth is the question of the moment while the horrors of war seem like a topic from yesteryear, but just because we ignore something does not make it any less relevant. I think Venom, as he was portrayed in the comics, covered an area of debate no other hero really can which made the character what he was. This movie was a simplification of the character and thus a suppression of the potential of the story.

 

 

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