Best bops, blockbusters and binges of 2018

To celebrate the best of 2018, the staff picked entertainment highlights of the year.

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Movies:

“Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again”

   After 10 years, the sequel to “Mamma Mia” was released with the original cast along with some new cast members including Lily James, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner and Cher. The plot follows Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) who opens her mother’s dream hotel in Greece. The film features flashbacks featuring young Donna’s (Lily James) summer flings which eventually lead to her dream to open up a hotel on the Greek island. The mix of famous cast members and famous hits from Swedish pop band, ABBA, lead to an entertaining film suitable for all ages.

“Black Panther”

   The highest-grossing film of the year in the United States, Marvel’s “Black Panther,” has something to offer every movie viewer. With an all-star cast including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, and an original soundtrack produced by Kendrick Lamar, “Black Panther” was sure to be a hit. The film follows T’Challa, who is crowned king following his father’s death. However, his position is soon challenged by former black-ops soldier Killmonger, resulting in a global conflict. The award-winning superhero movie is as equally entertaining and action-packed as it is culturally relevant. With its predominantly black cast and themes of black empowerment and Afrofuturism, “Black Panther” not only addresses serious political issues, but inspires a generation of youth across the globe.

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

   Queen fans have waited 30 years to relive the excitement of Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon. Rami Malek delivers a standout performance as Freddie Mercury. His ability to encompass Mercury in the highest and lowest points in his life makes the film feel real and less like a biopic. This is a marvelously complex performance that captures Mercury’s emotional fragility as well as his magnificent, beyond-the-rainbow swagger. What ties the movie together is the remake of Queen’s legendary 1985 Live Aid performance. All four members on stage are aware that the end was coming for Mercury, but they still sing the band into immortality with every rapturous, electric note.

 

Albums:

Ariana Grande “Sweetener”

   There’s not much Ariana Grande hasn’t gone through in the past year: a bombing during her concert, heartbreak, the death of her ex-boyfriend and a called off the engagement. However, Grande’s album “Sweetener” produces edgy hip-hop, R&B pop songs that promote the message of self-love and care. The leading popular tracks are “God is a woman” and “no tears left to cry,” which were popular hits throughout the summer and fall months. She even wrote a song about her ex-fiance “pete davidson.” The album is filled with tracks that are easy to listen to while studying, driving or even hanging out with friends.

Skip to “breathin.” The track talks about Grande’s struggle with anxiety and panic attacks after the bombing of her Manchester concert.

 

Roo Panes – “A Quiet Man”

   English singer-songwriter Roo Panes burst onto the music scene in 2012, but Panes’s third album renders him a force in the contemporary-folk genre of Bon Iver and Ben Howard. Between his deep, tender voice and thoughtful themes, Panes ultimately produces an album packed with feel-good, peaceful and uplifting music. From his blissful ode to summer “Sketches of Summer” to the titular “A Quiet Man,” Panes entices the listener to take a step back, lie in the grass and become one with nature. The coming-of-age piece “Cub” and fight song “Warrior” both inspire confidence and empower. Rich in religious and nature motifs, “A Quiet Man” provides the listener with a humble escape from the chaos and materialism of the modern world. The album is perfect to play on a rainy day or at a chill picnic with friends.

Skip to “Ophelia:” This is a song of encouragement and hope for those who have forgotten their inner beauty, inspired by the tragedy of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Drake “Scorpion”

   Drake’s fifth studio album “Scorpion” was released in June and started off the list of summer hits. Drake’s song, “In My Feelings,” was popularized over the summer with the “In My Feelings challenge” created by Shiggy. The challenge involved people jumping out of their car while it was moving and dancing to the song. Although dangerous, the challenge brought entertainment to the rest of the country. Some of his other notable songs on his album are “God’s Plan” and ”Nice For What.” Both songs debut as number one on the top charts, and both song’s popularity still stands today.

Skip to “Don’t Matter to Me:” In this song, Drake features the late Michael Jackson to give off “sad boi” vibes similar to the Weeknd’s “My Dear Melancholy.”

 

TV Shows:

“The Good Place” Season 3  

   “The Good Place,” a primetime comedy show created by Michael Schur, is a widely popular show that has been given a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The critically acclaimed television show follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who enters the afterlife and tries to become a better person by compensating for previous immoral actions. Season three continues to keep the twisted plot interesting to viewers while always adding a new spin to the story. Seasons one through two can be found on Netflix and Hulu, and season three can be viewed on Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC or on Hulu.

“Love Island” Season 4

   Rarely known to anyone who lives outside of the British Isles, the hottest reality show in the United Kingdom was back in full force for its fourth season this past summer. “Love Island” features a dozen singles living together in a luxurious villa in Mallorca for seven weeks. These participants couple up with each other each week in order to stay in the villa, causing drama, intrigue and loads of binge-worthy moments. Couples are voted off periodically using public polls, allowing fans of the show to dump their least favorite stars and root on their favorite ones. Seasons one through four are available for streaming on Hulu.

 

“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

   Netflix’s new series “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” brings chills, scares and an intriguing spin on the 90’s favorite “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” The retro “Riverdale” aesthetic mixed with supernatural elements of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creates a show that will keep you wanting more. Sabrina, portrayed by Kiernan Shipka, is a spunky half-witch, half-mortal teen girl with a loving boyfriend and two eccentric witchy aunts, Hilda and Zelda. When she turns 16, she is forced to choose between the human world of Baxter High and the witchy world of the Church of Night, the devil-worshipping faith of her family. “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is available on Netflix.

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