Best of 2021

By Leighah Beausoleil, Associate Editor

Telling a deep story about love, family, and the effects of intergenerational trauma through animation and song while honoring the traditions of magical realism, Disney’s “Encanto” has won the hearts of many.

The Madrigals family was given what they refer to as a “miracle,” where at the age of 5 every family member is granted the opportunity to open a magic door to a room that reflects the characteristics of their new powers.

From healing people through food to super strength to shapeshifting, the Madrigals seem to do it all.

Unfortunately, that was not the case for our main protagonist Mirabel whose magical door did not come to completion and therefore, did not receive powers.

Ten years later, Mirabel discovers the “miracle” is in danger and works to secure everyone’s powers and their beloved family home known as “Casita.”

The characters in this movie are fun and relatable, leaving viewers wanting more of the Madrigals.

The music, composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is entertaining and catchy, but be warned – it will be stuck in your head for days!

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” – a song about Mirabel’s estranged Tio Bruno – has become a major hit, topping “Let It Go” from “Frozen” as Disney’s biggest song from an animation in the past 26 years, according to Today.

“Encanto”’ is certainly one of Disney’s greatest animations and the first to feature an all Latinx cast to tell the story of a Colombian family still affected by the trauma of colonization. 

If you haven’t seen this hit already, what are you waiting for?

By Emily Rosenberg, Arts & Features Editor

Tears broke Taylor Swift’s 2014 Grammys performance of her then little known song “All Too Well” from her 2012 Album “Red.”

In 2021, she couldn’t hold back a grin as she mastered the longest guest performance in SNL history, rocking out with her red guitar as the short film she directed streamed behind her. 

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” broke the internet on Nov. 12, 2021 featuring 10 “From the Vault” songs. 

 “All Too Well (10 minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” immediately became the hottest topic of discussion, soaring to number 1 on Billboard Hot 100 – the longest song to earn that title. 

“All Too Well” has been a Swiftie essential since its 2012 release and we’ve been begging her to drop the 10-minute version ever since she hinted at its existence. 

The 10-minute version adds five new verses, delving deeper to the core of her short-lived relationship with a much older man – who is highly speculated to be actor Jake Gyllenhaal. 

The magic of “All To Well” is that though it’s ultimately a breakup song, its raw lyricism allows you to relate her stories to your own. 

The most impactful new lyric comes after the bridge when she belts “some actress asking me what happened/You/That’s what happened/ You,” showing her ex-love how he damaged her so badly, his partnership was more like a disease than a gift. 

Even if you’ve never left your scarf at your boyfriend’s sister’s house, Swift paints love so passionately you won’t be able to differentiate between pain and joy while listening because the song is dynamic – perfectly paced through lines of cruelty, happiness, and doubt. 

“All Too Well,” is a masterpiece. 

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s version) (From the Vault)” will go down as one of the greatest phenomenons of all time. 

By Sean Cabot, Multimedia Critic

Commonly referred to as “Marvel’s Batman,” Moon Knight is currently one of one of the company’s more obscure offerings. While that may change with his upcoming Disney+ series this March, a new chapter of his story began last year from writer Jed MacKay and artists Alessandro Capuccio and Rachelle Rosenberg. 

This installment of Marc Spector’s story follows from his rejection of his patron deity – the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. Not deterred by this development, he once again adopts the name Mr. Knight to run the Midnight Mission, offering protection to his neighborhood and creatures of the night.

From there, he resolves to continue the crusade Khonshu chose him for, while resisting the god’s adherents, and finding the time to sit down with a therapist and work out the baggage of his fractured mind.

In addition to a smartly penned story that sees Spector sort out his mental health issues and the rejection of his Jewish heritage, the art is drop-dead gorgeous. Moon Knight himself looks both majestic and haunting in every lovingly rendered panel where it appears.

If you’re interested at all in his upcoming series, make sure to keep an eye on this, and maybe pick up a classic “Moon Knight” collection to boot.

By Mark Haskell, Staff Writer

This instantaneous New York Times bestseller written by the award-winning actor and food obsessive Stanley Tucci, comes an endearing and warm memoir of life in and out of the kitchen.

Tucci grew up in an Italian-American family that spent every evening around the kitchen table. There was a certain magic in those meals, and those were shared in a few other of Tucci’s books.

Those other books are titled “The Tucci Cookbook” and “The Tucci Table.” In this book, Tucci takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the magic and stories behind them.

The novel “Taste” is a contemplation of the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes of Tucci’s life, such as growing up in upstate New York, preparing and shooting the foodie films “Big Night” and “Julie and Julia,” falling in love over dinner, and teaming up with his wife to generate meals for many children.

Each bite of this culinary quest through troubled times and the good, high-class foods and burned meals, is as heartfelt and so unbelievably delicious as the previous.

This novel was written with Tucci’s signature double-edged humor and for fans of Ruth Reichl, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Bill Buford – and anyone who knows and adores the power of a home cooked meal.

I recommend this novel if you or anyone in your lives treasures food, home cooked or not, as much as I do.

By Jack McLaughlin, Multimedia Critic

“An Evening With Silk Sonic” is the result of artists Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak coming together to create a beautiful fusion of current music with the smooth and funky sounds of the 1970s. 

The nine-track project features the Billboard #1 single “Leave The Door Open,” which is a romantic ballad with swooning lyrics like “We should be dancing, romancing in the east wing and the west wing of this mansion.” 

These lines create this elegant visual that’s been in my head since the single released last March. 

Despite its short length, “An Evening With Silk Sonic” manages to make a strong first impact and continues one-upping itself with one banger after another.

“Skate” continues the romantic influence, with such enchanting lines like “In a room full of dimes you would be a hundred dollars,” which affirmed my confidence that they perform some of the best love songs currently.

“Fly As Me” is my personal favorite from the album, proving to be the perfect song to play while driving around, making any trip to the store an absolute blast. 

Without any room for a slow point, Silk Sonic is able to set themselves apart as a duo with a unique style and flawless execution that let them stand out in the popular music landscape. 

By Ryan Schreiber, Multimedia Critic

Endgame and the death of Iron Man put the MCU in shambles but worse is when COVID-19 hit the outside world. COVID-19 opened the multiverse, changing all of Marvel’s plans and release dates, pushing many projects back to 2021. 

After what seemed like a decade, Marvel released its first project in its fourth phase on Jan. 15 2021. Marvel announced the show “WandaVision” was set to stream on Disney+ dropping episodes weekly.

“WandaVision” brought something new to Marvel by featuring the episodes in the form of multiple sitcoms such as “The Brady Bunch” and “I Love Lucy.” It also features new heroes and villains as well as bringing back some fan favorite characters.

The show opens up with Wanda and Vision living their happily-ever-after life when things start to take turns for the worst. Wanda realizes that the love of her life is dead and that this fantasy world that she created is not real. 

The show focuses on what grief can do to a person as well as what lengths people would go to just have more moments with people they love. With the loss of Vision, her grief formed a reality where she also created a version of The Vision. This way she can live the life that they both imagined having. She also created a family by having twin boys. 

We also get to explore Wanda’s traumatizing childhood.

With every story comes a villain, and what a villain Agatha Harkness is. She played a part as the nosy neighbor, but she also played a part in everything that was going on around Wanda and Vision like bringing Wanda’s dead brother back and also killing their dog.

This show really had a hold on me and made me excited for all of the other shows and movies to come, such as getting to see Wanda as the Scarlet Witch in Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and seeing Monica Rambeau with her new powers in The Marvels.

By Ryan O’Connell, Asst. Arts & Features Editor

With the third season of “Disenchantment” released on Netflix last January, and the fourth scheduled to release on Feb. 9, there’s no better time to remember my new favorite animated series. 

Alongside the quick-witted writing and outlandish plotlines expected from a project by Matt Groening, “Disenchantment” builds off that quality in season three.

Whether it’s through the exploration of a society entirely new to the main cast, the irreversible decisions that have permanent effects on the story, or an episode as simple as dealing with isolation on the open sea, “Disenchantment” kept me glued to the screen.

While the characters, setting, and large scope are all relatively unexplored elements compared to Groening’s other shows, the consistently sharp writing remains one of the strongest elements of the experience.

As with previous seasons of “Disenchantment,” a healthy amount of twists and action-packed moments are included in the newest season. But the third installment also seems content with developing smaller, more emotional plots.

“Last Splash,” the sixth episode of the third season, is a perfect example of what makes “Disenchantment” so engaging to follow. 

Taking place almost entirely on a picturesque and unmoving ocean, the episode kept me entirely interested through little more than a gorgeous backdrop, deep personal development for characters I truly cared about, and a few excellent jokes from our favorite elf. 

And if you haven’t seen the third season of “Disenchantment”… you’ve still got two weeks to catch up!

By Emma Lyons, Editorial Staff

“Ride the Eagle” is a movie that slipped under the radar in 2021. 

After all, watching some guy complete his dead mother’s to-do list isn’t the first thing I’d be itching to watch when I have down time. 

This film shines a comedic light on the grieving process as we watch Leif begrudgingly complete his mother’s tasks and eventually come to terms with his mother’s – Honey – passing. 

Jake Johnson carries the weight in this film – as a majority of the movie shows Leif in solitude. His comedic charm is what makes the movie what it is as some of the funniest scenes have him acting with no scene partner. 

Despite the other characters having little screen time, the cast of this film contains other popular actors, with Susan Sarandon portraying Honey, J.K Simmons as Carl, and D’Arcy Carden as Audrey. 

The comedy in this movie is contrasted well with serene scenes in nature and a bittersweet ending in which Leif finally opens himself up to his true feelings of his mother’s death. 

Leif follows an unconventional path with his grieving – playing the death off with jokes and expressing animosity toward his late mother – making the movie unique as the mood stays light and playful for the larger part of it.