Arts and Entertainment staff top picks of the year
In commemoration of a great year in film, TV, music and pop culture, our arts and entertainment staff came up with some of their favorite arts and entertainment items of the year.
Nick Keeley (Arts and Entertainment Editor)
“Inside Llewyn Davis”: Limiting myself to just one film from last fall was nearly impossible (shout-outs to “Gravity” and “Her”), but this masterwork from the Coen Brothers was the best of the bunch. A brilliant, metaphorical and wholly relatable character study of a talented but stubborn musician trying to make it in the 1960s folk scene, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is storytelling at its finest. Featuring gorgeous cinematography, moving songs and a revelatory performance by Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is a film that only gets better with each new viewing. Much like Llewyn’s talent, this film should not go unappreciated.
“Veep”: “Veep” is the best and funniest show on television that you have probably never heard of. Full of brilliant one-liners, fantastic political satire and perhaps the best use of profanity ever (the show is very R-rated), “Veep,” which is currently in the middle of its third season on HBO, is one of TV’s best written and most underrated shows. Anchored by Emmy-winning performances from the magnificent Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale (formerly of “Arrested Development”), as well as a wonderful supporting cast, “Veep” is the perfect comedy for our times. It is not too late to start watching.
“The Lego Movie”: Not only is “The Lego Movie” the best film of the year so far (in a toss-up with “The Grand Budapest Hotel”), but it is also the best animated film since “Toy Story 3” and the best comedy in several years. Featuring beautiful animation, an incredible script and a fantastic voice cast (particularly Chris Pratt as the everyman Emmet, Liam Neeson in a dual role as a good and bad cop and Will Arnett as a sarcastic Batman), Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s love-letter to the nostalgia of playing with Legos is a heartwarming classic-in-the-making that is fit for audiences of all ages. It is a film that I cannot wait to watch over and over again.
Sierra Savela (Staff Writer)
“Breaking Bad” series finale: What I should really say is the entire fifth season, which continued to blow my mind episode after episode. But the ending was the best part. This was probably one of the most satisfying endings to one of the most brilliant shows on television. I still listen to “Baby Blue” by Badfinger and cry alone in my room sometimes. (Do not judge me.)
Beyonce’s self-titled visual album: The Queen released a surprise visual album in December with 17 beautiful music videos and some of her greatest songs yet. Beyonce’s career in general has been a highlight with the album release, her world tour, her documentary; this woman does it all. Can I please be Beyonce now?
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”: I am always in the mood to watch a Wes Anderson flick and now that I am thinking about it, I really want to watch this movie again. It was so entertaining with an amazing ensemble cast. It was fast-paced, witty and colorful. Classic Anderson but still fresh at the same time.
Christian Becker (Staff Writer)
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: If you know me, then it is no secret to you that I am a huge Jimmy Fallon fan. This past February, we got to see him back in his element and take his entertainment style to new heights as the brand new host of the legendary “Tonight Show.” The first episode was a true celebration of pop culture with guests like Will Smith and U2, along with a long list of notable cameos who came to support Fallon and this new step in his career. Since its premiere, the show has not slowed down and I do not think it ever will.
“Her”: “Her” was my favorite film of 2013, and even on its second viewing I got to appreciate it all the more. Spike Jonze has given us a beautiful love story that is both funny and heartbreaking at the same time. Of all the movies to have come out in the last year, this is the one that stuck with me the most and most likely will for years to come.
The Oscars: For a movie fan like me, the Oscars are like your Super Bowl. It is a chance to celebrate and be reminded of all the great work that had been done in cinema over the past year, and this year’s show brought on a lot of entertaining elements that put a smile on my face. Everything from Ellen’s now famous selfie to “12 Years A Slave” winning best picture was just how I wanted it and made me excited for what the movies in 2014 have in store for us.
Daniel Woodiwiss (Staff Writer)
“Parks and Recreation”: All in all, it was actually a fairly choppy year for the NBC comedy. A disjointed schedule (thanks, Olympics) and the departure of some cast members somewhat broke the show’s stride. However, post-Sochi, this hilarious mockumentary regained its footing, and ultimately ended in a season finale that ranks up among the greatest comedy episodes ever — like “Office”-level stuff.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”: I had high hopes for this new show, and I was not disappointed. “Saturday Night Live” alum Andy Samberg expertly leads a tremendous cast in this cop comedy. It takes the absurd humor of “30 Rock,” the ensemble dynamic of “Scrubs” and adds a nice touch of heart. If you do not believe my sales pitch, just look at this year’s Golden Globes: “Nine-Nine” took home the award for best comedy series, and Samberg won the Globe for best actor in a comedy series.
“Captain Phillips”: The downside of 2013 having so many incredible movies was that, come awards season, many great films got swept under the rug. “Captain Phillips” is the prime example of this, as it went home from the Oscars empty-handed. But seriously, folks, watch this movie. The intense true story of a ship hijacked by Somali pirates will have both your heart and mind racing throughout, and the last scene alone (the strongest scene in all of film this year, in my eyes) should have earned both Tom Hanks, and the movie as a whole, more accolades.