Another year come and gone! Sometimes, looking back, it feels like three or four years folded into one. It seems like only yesterday we were ringing in 2021, and at the same time – damn, it’s only been a year?
As much as the year had its dark spots, it had some great highlights. Pop culture and entertainment keeps us all going when we’re down, so we’re here to pay tribute to some of 2021’s finest creations. Here are the things our community team loved most about 2021.
Favorite New Video Game
I may be a little biased since Steven and I played this on stream but this game was a blast. A lot of gamers are hating on it and calling it “Left4Dead” 2.0. But I’m totally fine with that because I loved the Left4Dead! Couch co-op and co-op campaigns have been very hard to come by in the last decade of gaming. Everything is single player campaigns or PvP. Then you add in your friend having a PC, you having a Playstation, and your other friend having an Xbox. Back4Blood is in fact…CROSSPLAY! Sure the premise is simple, kill zombies with buds before zombies kill you. But hey, don’t try and fix what ain’t broke.
I feel like this game got overlooked a little in the “of The Year” discussions, since it came out all the way back in March. Everhood is a masterpiece in music and story telling. I’m a little bias towards indie games, but this one really stood out to me. The battle system is like fighting on a Guitar Hero fret board, The music rivals Undertale, and the art style can be cute, strange, and at points epic. The story takes you to meet interesting characters with some awesome mini games as well. I remember the way I felt when I finished the game, and all I could think was, “Man, I wish I could experience that for the first time again.
Brittney: It Takes Two
Let’s be real people: prior to June, I had little to no gaming experience. The only console games I’d ever finished were Harry Potter games and Super Monkey Ball 2. I had a lot to learn, and I genuinely feel so grateful to have come as far as I have with this community.
When I was first getting my bearings, I spent a lot of time on Twitch watching the best of the best do what they do best. I absolutely adored all the play-throughs I watched of It Takes Two. It’s a funny game with gorgeous graphics, a heartwarming story, and puzzles to solve with friends. And if there’s anything I love, it’s a game with puzzles. I was psyched to see it win Game of the Year, and I’m even more psyched to play it with my friends.
Favorite New Movie
Leslie: Tampopo (1985)
This choice is kind of cheating since this film came out in the 80s BUT I did watch it in 2021. If I had to describe it for the modern film watcher, Tampopo feels like a mix of Kubrick, Tarantino, and Bong Joon-ho rolled into one. The premise is pretty simple. Two truck drivers stop at a ramen restaurant run by a female chef who is terrible at cooking ramen. So what do they do? They help her find the best ramen recipe to keep her restaurant afloat. Now that is the main storyline with the film veering off into these mini storylines that are food-themed. Some are hilarious and some are just…indescribable. Trust me, when you see it for yourself you’ll understand. Nonetheless, the movie will make you have a hankering for ramen by the end.
Steven: The Mitchells vs. The Machines
So, this is actually a strange choice for anyone that knows me. I’m not traditionally a fan of kids movies. I never really have been. The Mitchells vs. The Machines, however, caught my attention because of its premise being more set in a robo-pocalypse, which is eerily possible. Once I started watching, I realized it was still going to be a silly kids’ movie, but I was committed. I’m glad I stuck around, because it was cool seeing Danny McBride in a different type of role. It was really refreshing! The family dynamic was solid, and the pug was the star of the show. There were some moments with progressive points included that added depth and realism to the characters.
Brittney: Netflix’s Fear Street Trilogy
I’ll admit, it takes a lot to impress me with films these days. While I watched a lot of movies that were new to me, I only watched about a dozen that came out this year. One of the highlights was the three-week, three-movie special that Netflix ran in October. Fear Street is an adaptation of an R.L. Stine story, but it’s a bit more intense than your average Goosebumps episode. All three movies had incredible cinematography, some great casting, and a few kills that made even my horror-loving heart stop dead.
The series was also unique in that it moved backward through time, rather than progressing the story forward: Fear Street 1994, Fear Street 1978, and Fear Street 1666. It did make the story a little clunky at times, but I appreciated the new angle of story telling. Of all three movies, I’d have to say that Fear Street Part Two: 1978 was my favorite. It had some of the best characters, and also, I just love the powerhouse that is Sadie Sink.
Favorite New Album
Leslie: Montero by Lil Nas X
Yeah this might be kind of basic favorite, but I don’t care. I love Lil Nas X. Almost every song on this album is a freakin’ banger and showed that he was never gonna be a one hit wonder. In fact with this album, he’s like a 5 hit platinum wonder and keeps growing. The album covers Nas’s life from before his stardom including the struggles had with this family, his sexuality, then finally into his newfound life of fame. His confidence and fearlessness are bigger than ever and it’s infectious when you’re listening along.
Steven: Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2 by Ice Nine Kills
Okay, this is for the metalcore and horror movie fans out there. I was a MASSIVE fan of Ice Nine Kills’ The Silver Scream, which was an album in which every song was based around a certain horror movie franchise. Well, I was cautiously optimistic. Let’s face facts, horror sequels don’t have the best track record. WTH came out swinging though with the lead single Hip to Be Scared, a song about American Psycho. It showed promise, then the album dropped, and it blew me away! Some of the movies on this roster of tracks include: The Evil Dead, Candyman, Child’s Play, and Hellraiser. If you like horror and rock music, you have to check out this album! I’m still getting headaches headbanging to it!
Brittney: SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo
Listen, am I an adult? Yes. Did I listen to this album three times in a row the day it came out? Also yes. Did I cry? Mind your business.
I’m far removed from the tumultuous world of teenage heartbreak, but this album had some really great songs and–even more impressively–a lot of different takes on the same situation. A lot of albums take one direction, but SOUR shows the insecurity, the anger, the guilt, and the longing that all coexist after a break up. And that’s on top of bops like “brutal” that just talk about what hell it is to be a young girl in the industry.
Call me basic, but “good 4 u” was my top song on Spotify this year, and I will happily scream-sing it into 2022.
Favorite New Television Series/Season
Leslie: Netflix’s Arcane
Bruh….this show. THIS SHOW! I honestly was not a League of Legends fan before seeing this but boy am I a fan now. There aren’t enough great things I could say about this show. The art style is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The music is out of the this world. The voice acting is phenomenal. And the writing takes some real unexpected dark turns. The world of Arcane is reminiscent of Bioshock with a mix of fantasy and Metropolis level politics. This really set a new bar for video game adaptations and I don’t imagine it’ll be matched anytime soon.
Steven: Netflix’s Hellbound
Netflix really hit it out of the park this year in terms of shows. The one that really stole the spotlight for me was Hellbound. I found it as a recommendation after finishing Squid Game. It follows a world where people get these declarations that they’re going to hell then proceed to get the ever-loving hell beat out of them. The story evolves into a highly dramatic fast paced supernatural thriller. One big twist happens that turns the whole series on it’s head.
Brittney: Netflix’s Midnight Mass
I cannot sing enough praises about the newest Mike Flannigan series. All that time I didn’t spend watching 2021 movies was dedicated to watching this show, and then rewatching it three more times. All of the Flannigan horror shows have been artful, detailed, and poetic. I loved The Haunting of Bly Manor and I absolutely adore The Haunting of Hill House. But even knowing and loving those shows, you can tell that Midnight Mass was a passion project for Flannigan, and one that he put his whole heart into.
I won’t say too much about the plot of the series, if only because it’s such a great take that somehow seems simple looking back on it. This is a show about religion and faith, what it means both for better and for worse. It’s a show about what it means to be a good person versus a faithful one, making up for your mistakes, and being taken in by a crowd that blinds your better judgment. I binged this in one day, sat on it for a week, and then decided that I really loved it. Flannigan knows how to take horror to its highest form, and make the audiences as scared of themselves as they are of the monsters.
That all sounded very poetic, but this series will do that to ya. Cannot recommend it highly enough.