Every once in a while, I discover a show that really sits with me in a way unlike any other. I watch a lot of television shows, so it takes a lot to really blow me away, but “The Leftovers” managed to do just that. I decided to binge the three-season HBO series back in January, and I was fully engrossed by the gripping and emotional narrative. Helmed by “LOST” co-creator Damon Lindelof, the series dives into the deep mysteries of human existence, religion and the afterlife, all the while continually keeping the viewers guessing. The musical score and cinematography, along with the powerful performances from the cast, most notably Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon, make this one of the most stunningly beautiful shows to air on television in recent memory. “The Leftovers” has this ability to really make you question why you’re here and what life actually means. That is precisely what I want from my entertainment and this series delivers wholly.
“In Memoriam A.H.H.” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson is a poem, or epitaph, rather, that encompasses several things that I “discovered” this year: the great poet Tennyson, Victorian literature and poetry. Obviously I was aware of all these things separately before, but I wasn’t a fan of any of them. I thought Victorian literature would be as dull and stiff as the era’s mannerisms; I counted poetry out as worth exploring sometime in middle school; and Tennyson’s works were far too long and complex for me to even consider. However, this poem was on the syllabus for one of my classes, and upon reading it, I immediately fell in love. Written after the loss of his best friend, Tennyson mourns his loss and begins to question his faith in relation to science, only to realize that both can exist within one another. I am the type to get sentimental about human existence, and I think that this poem is one of the most powerful, raw expressions of that humanity.
February’s vastly-acclaimed “Black Panther” was already a standout feature, even before I heard the vibrant and methodical soundtrack that accompanied it. Curated by rapper/songwriter Kendrick Lamar, probably the biggest name in hip-hop today, the mixtape inspired by the Marvel powerhouse easily became the hottest collaboration of the year so far. Infused with the same cultural awareness and electricity of the film, the album featured some of the biggest stars in the genre delivering exciting and emotionally-charged melodies to the ground-breaking story of “Black Panther.” From pop hits like “All the Stars” by SZA and Lamar to more mellowed ballads like Khalid and Swae Lee’s “The Ways,” “Black Panther: The Album” defined the debut feature of T’Challa in a phenomenal and iconic collaboration.
The biggest discovery I made this school year was the Tyler, the Creator album “Flower Boy.” Technically, this came out in the summer of 2017, but I got into this album around spring break. This album hit me by surprise, Tyler really matured here and contains some stellar tracks like “911/Mr. Lonely” and “Boredom.” I had picked my album of 2017 (Lorde’s “Melodrama”), but “Flower Boy” just took my breath away every time I listen to it and now it’s my Album of 2017. I’m often reminded of spring break when listening to “Flower Boy” and it shows that my pick for Album of 2017 will change long after the year passes by.
If you have never played “Fortnite,” you have probably at least seen its presence somewhere on social media, whether it’s a clip on Twitter or someone posting their ‘Victory Royale’ to their Snapchat story. Dropping into a giant map with an enclosing storm against 99 other people is a blast with friends, especially when the tension rises once you reach the top ten in match. With the amount of new content every week and the solid gameplay, it does not feel like a game that should be free-to-play, especially when compared to what other studios put out for free. What really solidified the game’s popularity was a live stream which casually came about between the biggest “Fortnite” streamer Ninja and Drake himself, with rapper Travis Scott and JuJu Smith, WR for the Steelers, joining in as well. This stream to no surprise shattered Twitch’s records, and helped to further break down the stereotype for who plays video games. While it may not be critically the best game to come out this school year, it is certainly the most popular and rightfully so, with fun gameplay and a price point that’s hard to ignore.
Rarely does a film (and I see a lot of films) hit me as hard as Alex Garland’s “Annihilation” did. Following a group of five female scientists as they enter a mysterious glowing barrier on the coast, the film chronicles their mind-bending journey into madness as they discover the origin of the ever-growing barrier. With wonderful performances all around, but especially from Natalie Portman, some absolutely insane visuals and perhaps the most cerebrally stimulating sci-fi plot in years, “Annihilation” is the type of film that keeps you awake at night for weeks on end.