Video Game: Overwatch
By Andrew Willoughby
Arts & Features Editor
With a growing roster of 23 playable characters and 15 maps, “Overwatch” is not only the best game of 2016, but also a breath of fresh air in a genre packed with calls of duty and battlefields.
Like many, I was hopeful yet apprehensive when Blizzard announced its first foray into the online FPS genre. But after playing one round back in May during the game’s open beta, I was instantly hooked.
“Overwatch” is a fast-paced online shooter with a strong emphasis on teamwork. Unlike many of its contemporaries, if you don’t work as a team and coordinate attacks, flanks and defense strategies, your team is sure to lose.
No matter their play style, each player is sure to find a character or two that they like playing as, so experiment – play a round or two with each character and keep at it with the ones that stick.
The game is the most rewarding when you and a couple friends hop online and experiment with new strategies and team compositions.
“Overwatch” bursts with charm. The art style and animated shorts that tell the game’s story are on par with Pixar. Each character in the diverse cast has their own personality – from the quirky and energetic Tracer to the grim and comically stoic Reaper to the absolutely insane pyromaniac Junkrat.
“Overwatch” is sure to remain popular years into the future as Blizzard regularly updates the game with new maps, game modes and characters, so it’ll never be too late to pick it up.
T.V. Show: Designated Survivor
By Shayna Yacyshyn
Only airing three months ago, “Designated Survivor” is already the greatest T.V. series of 2016.
The plot of “Designated Survivor” is exactly what it sounds like. Low-level cabinet member, Tom Kirkman, is rapidly sworn into office after an unexpected terrorist attack on the night of the State of the Union address. The traumatic attack wiped out the entire presidential staff, including most of the Cabinet.
In the case of such an event, a designated survivor is named the president.
Kirkman, the designated survivor for the night, never imagined his life would turn so quickly. In a single second he was catapulted into the oval office, leaving his old life behind and taking on immeasurable tasks he had never foreseen.
Not only was he now the President of the United States, but he was also responsible for finding the world’s most wanted terrorist.
What sets “Designated Survivor” apart from other thriller shows is the element of reality. The fact that a semi-random designated survivor, who is 19th in line to becoming president, could be sworn into office in the blink of an eye, is crazy! The suspenseful narrative and constant jaw-drop work perfectly to captivate the viewer.
It is not too late to hop on the “Designated Survivor” train – go catch up on OnDemand now!
Netflix original: The Crown
By Erin Fitzmaurice
Queen Elizabeth II has been the reigning monarch of England for over 60 years.
Through all of the publicity, it can be hard to view her as a real person. When her father’s lungs start failing, it is clear that she needs to get ready to become the new sovereign.
“The Crown” walks viewers through Elizabeth’s rise to the throne and the difficulties she goes through becoming not only a wife and mother, but also the ruler of multiple nations.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the rest of Cabinet have to adjust to their new Queen and guide her through the life of politics.
Drama fills this historical fiction piece as the new Queen strives to deal with her new position and keeping her family and country both happy and free from public humiliation.
“The Crown” is the perfect T.V. show for any history buff.
From the first episode to the end, the writers stay true to the background of the Royal family’s lives and what happened in England during the first year of Elizabeth’s reign.
The costume and set design really brings the viewer into 1950s royal life. The differences in style and appearance between nobles and regular citizens give a helpful reminder to how different the two classes were even just a few decades ago.
The Crown is genuinely a pristine Netflix viewing experience.
Makeup product: Tartelette in Bloom
By Bailey Morrison
The Tartelette in Bloom palette was released in early 2016 from the cult-favorite brand Tarte. The palette has 12 shades – nine matte and three luster. The four neutral shades are perfect for creating an everyday eye look and the five darker shades for creating a classic smoky eye.
Each shadow is infused with Amazonian clay – this ingredient isn’t just used to create the creamy texture to the powder shades, it is also good for your skin.
If you are looking for one palette to wear every day – I recommend this one. The neutral shades in this palette are perfect for the subtle look many people implement into their everyday makeup routine.
Tartelette in Bloom is my favorite eyeshadow palette of the year because the shades are not only vibrant and pigmented, but the formula makes the application of the shadows easy as well. This palette is good for beginners because of the lighter shades and workability of the shadows and more experienced makeup artists can have fun with the variety of shades. The ingredients in this palette are vegan-friendly and the brand Tarte formulates all their makeup without Parabens or Phthalates.
My favorite feature of this palette is the range in the shades that work together to create seamless shadow combinations.
Bonus: It smells like vanilla!
EP: Wriggle by Clipping
By Andrew Willoughby
Arts & Features Editor
“Wriggle” is the first of two projects released by Clipping this year. The hip-hop trio fronted by Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs also released a highly conceptual full-length record in September. “Splendor and Misery” was quite the departure from Clipping’s signature sound of harsh noise and heavy sampling of field recordings.
However, we have “Wriggle” to balance the things out.
The EP kicks off with usual Clipping fare – Diggs’ blazing fast bars with no accompanied instrumental until the final line followed by a blast of static. Clipping has started almost all previous projects with similar intros and they never fail to impress.
From here we have “Shooter,” a song that comments on the countless shootings that have occurred in the U.S. in recent years. Diggs’ verses are accompanied by one of Clipping’s catchiest beats to date. According to the band, the chorus is made up of audio of actual firearms they recorded themselves.
The title track on this EP is by far Clipping’s best work. Featuring samples of the vocals from industrial music legends Whitehouse’s “Wriggle like a Fucking Eel,” which start out recognizable, but once the chorus hits they become their own instrument that plays along with the energetic and stuttering beat.
I haven’t even touched upon the fantastic features from S.B. the Moor and Nailah Middleton, so give this EP a listen, you’ll not be let down.
Album: Nonagon Infinity
By Andrew Willoughby
Arts & Features Editor
One of the busiest bands of the decade, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – along with having the greatest band name of all time – have put out the most ambitious album of 2016.
“Nonagon Infinity” technically has nine tracks and is 42 minutes long, but it could be argued that it’s one never-ending song. When played on repeat, the last track, “Road Train” transitions seamlessly into the album’s opener, “Robot Stop.” While it may seem like a gimmick at first, the album is an absolute pleasure to listen to on repeat.
“Nonagon Infinity” is a literal nonstop ride of psychedelic progressive rock that flows flawlessly from hard-rock to metal to funk. King Gizzard doesn’t stay on one idea for too long, they know exactly when to switch up the sound to make sure there isn’t one dull moment on the record.
With some of the catchiest and most hard-hitting guitar and bass work of the year, the seven-piece band creates a record that throws back to the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s while respecting their influences and adding enough to still feel fresh.
Whether you listen to this record just once all the way through or on a loop, you’re guaranteed to have some fun.
King Gizzard has already announced they plan to put out five studio albums in 2017. So, at least for the foreseeable future, the fun doesn’t look like it’s going to stop.
Single: Frankie Sinatra
By Phil McMullin
“The Avalanches” released the best single of the year. Although it boasted two big name features and a catchy chorus which would be well received at any party – it received very little attention, at least in the U.S.
Rappers Danny Brown and MF Doom were recruited to the project, which was an unlikely pairing of rappers. Brown’s obnoxiously crass vocals are contrasted by Doom’s more reserved and clever lyricism.
The combination was a success, and the two keep the energy alive throughout the track. Their rhymes and delivery sound particularly enthusiastic, especially for another band’s song. Each of the iconic rappers seem to try to match the skill of the other, feeding off the mutual energy.
Hailing from Australia, “The Avalanches are known for their electronic music. On this track, they decided to make heavy use of a sample from a calypso record called “Brains.” The sample lends an unusual but welcome rhythmic quality not typically found in bass heavy rap tunes.
The chorus, “Ah, Frankie Sinatra … Frankie me boy you don’t know / You have the perfect voice to sing calypso,” is so bizarre and random it is difficult to avoid getting it stuck in your head.
I like to think Frank Sinatra would jam to this tune if he could. Either that, or he would turn over in his grave to hear his name in the same song as MF Doom’s line, “Come with that headbanger boogie for that ass/ Villain gave a bully ten noogies for the cash.”
I guess we’ll never know.
Performance: Selena Gomez
By Tessa Jillson
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
On May 28 Selena Gomez performed her heart out on the TD Garden stage and had the crowd roaring.
Recently diagnosed with Lupus, Gomez appeared stronger than ever, spreading the message of hope and love, while praising God’s grace.
The concert started at 7:30 with performances by Bea Miller and DNCE. Gomez took the stage at 9:30.
According to fashionista.com, she wore six different outfits – my favorite being a multi-colored sequined halter bodysuit with a denim jacket and Louis Vuitton boots. Among her other outfits, Gomez wore a catsuit covered in 60,000 Swarovski crystals and a dress embroidered with 12,000 pearls and sequins, accessorized with black vinyl leggings.
Her newest album, “Revival,” debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was certified aplatinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Gomez sang her hit singles, “Good for You,” “Same Old Love” and “Hands to Myself.” She even included her song “Who Says,” which went certified platinum in 2011.
Gomez also passionately sang Hillsong Worship’s “Transfiguration” while playing the piano. “Transfiguration” then segued into Gomez’s song, “Nobody,” which is written about her faith and connection with God. At one moment during the performance she stopped singing and looked up at the ceiling almost in tears.
The night was immaculate and Gomez truly showed us what she meant by “this is my revival.”
Movie: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By Cass Doherty
Arts & Features Editor
For even the most skeptical, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” proves there’s more to the world than what meets the eye.
The movie follows Jake, a teen reeling from the loss of his grandfather, played by Asa Butterfield, who travels to find the children’s home where his grandfather grew up in Wales.
What ensues is a chaotic world-saving adventure of self-discovery.
A visually stunning piece from the genius of Tim Burton, it is appropriately dream-like. The film is an adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ 2011 novel of the same name, and though it differs from the novel’s original narrative, it creates a fascinating story that even viewers who haven’t read the book can follow.
The film’s supporting characters are developed, each having a background that makes them unique and vital to the plot. They aren’t cast aside for the sake of preserving Jake’s image as the hero, and all of the children are instrumental in his journey.
A wildly mesmerizing adventure that draws you in at every twist, the film stands apart from the novel in the best way. Burton doesn’t fail to astonish, and Jake’s journey of self-discovery is a lesson to all – no one is just plain ordinary.
Topping other Burton movies, such as “Through the Looking Glass” and “Dark Shadows,” “Miss Peregrine’s” is one of the best movies of 2016.
Animated Movie: Moana
By Alexandra Gomes
Disney’s newest movie “Moana” delivers another much-needed princess of color with a feminist message.
The film follows Moana, the defiant ocean-loving daughter of the chief, on her journey to find Maui, an egocentric demigod, and force him to break the curse that has befallen her island and threatened her tribe’s way of life.
With captivating digital imagery of the ocean, night sky and rolling green islands, and quirky secondary characters such as adorable coconut pirates and a simpleminded chicken, there is not a dull second to be found in this film.
One of the more refreshing aspects of the movie is the complete lack of a love interest, which gives the film room to fully explore the character and her journey toward becoming a heroine.
Additionally, Disney cast a young Hawaiian girl, Auli’i Cravalho, to voice Moana. While Disney has recently caught a lot of flack for their casting choices, such as Rooney Mara’s role as Tiger Lily, Cravalho’s casting as Moana gives the film a sense of authenticity and authority.
The turning point of this film takes place during one of the many surprises, and sends the message to young girls that not only can they do anything they set their mind to – they can also do anything men can do.
Beating out “Zooptopia” and “Finding Dory,” “Moana” is not only Disney’s best film this year, but of all time.
Documentary: The White Helmets
By Allison Wharton
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
A group of men sit in a circle and eat a meal together, when the sound of a bomb goes off. These men are members of The White Helmets, which is a group of volunteer citizens who risk their lives to save civilians from the daily bombings across Syria.
“The White Helmets” is a Netflix documentary that follows a section of the organization based in Aleppo.
While the movie is subtitled, there is a heavy amount of emotion displayed in the 40-minute documentary, showing that empathy does not have a language.
The audience follows The White Helmets during rescue missions. Those scenes are the most difficult to watch.
Houses are destroyed, families are separated by death and the men sacrifice their lives to save those who faced devestation.
Individual members of The White Helmets share not only their success stories, but also their devastating ones. However, the group still has an indescribable amount of hope, love and faith.
What is really inspiring is the group still prays for the regime that causes these bombings. There is so much to learn from the group.
Every person interviewed believes each life is precious, and they have a duty to save everyone harmed. They strive to treat every civilian as a member of their family.
The amount of selflessness is unparalleled. I was hypnotized by the amount of genuine empathy. We should strive to be like them.
The White Helmets are truly the unspoken heroes.
Fantasy Novel: Heartless
By Erin Fitzmaurice
Everyone knows who the Queen of Hearts is – the evil monarch of Wonderland who beheads anyone that displeases her.
However, before she was this heartless ruler, she was Catherine Pinkerton, a girl desperately wanting to open a bakery with her best friend Maryann.
Her parents have different plans. She is to marry the King.
Since the Jabberwocky is on the loose, everyone in the Kingdom of Hearts is on edge, and desperate for a Queen.
On the night of her engagement, she runs from the King’s ball and falls into the arms of the court joker, Jest.
Little does she know that will be the beginning of the longest journey of her life.
Trying to balance her secret love affair and keeping her family name clean catches up with her in several twists and turns that leave her heart broken and desperate for revenge.
“Heartless” is an amazing novel that will warm the hearts of any fantasy junky. With romance, suspense and anger, there won’t be a single emotion left unfelt.
Not only is it the origin story of the Queen of Hearts, but it gives insightful background to some of the other favorite Alice in Wonderland characters.
Marissa Meyer writes the novel in such a way that the reader is immersed once again in the beautifully bizarre world of Wonderland.
You will not want to put the book down.