Now that Winter Break is over, reality is setting in for many students. For those who want to postpone reality a bit longer, here’s the top 10 best and worst things that happened over Winter Break, in no particular order.
BEST: “The Witcher” - Season 1
Andrzej Sapkowski surely had no idea how big his short story, “The Witcher," would become when it was originally published in Fantastyka magazine in 1986. Since the 1980s, Sapkowski’s stories have since been adapted into eight novels, four video games and now, one Netflix series.
Following the story of monster hunter Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) and Cintran princess Ciri (Freya Allan), the trio finds their complicated futures are connected.
This series has received much critical acclaim since its release, significantly higher than television shows based on video games usually receive. Its stellar casting, dark storylines and well balanced action sequences make it one of Netflix’s must-see new series.
BEST: “You” - Season 2
Based on Caroline Kepnes' book "Hidden Bodies," this series follows Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgle), a well-mannered book shop worker who has a bad habit of stalking the women with whom he falls in love. In season two of “You," Goldberg has moved from New York to Los Angeles in order to run away from his past. While attempting to let go of his old selfish ways, a new love interest catches his eye.
While season two still focuses on Goldberg’s creepily trustworthy facade, there is a newly added element of surprise. For the first time, the show depicts that Goldberg has an antagonist. An old flame has come back to haunt him and, for the first time, audiences can see that Joe is scared.
Fans of “Dexter” and “Bates Motel” should give “You” a watch. Its creepy but still humorous, and entertaining stories leave viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the entire new season.
BEST: "Little Women"
Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s book “Little Women" follows the story of the four March sisters, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy, as they face the difficulties that come with being a woman in the 1860’s post civil war.
This star-studded film has recognizable names such as Emma Watson and Laura Dern. Some recognizable faces in “Little Women” include Florence Pugh from “Midsommar,” Eliza Scanlen from “Sharp Objects" and Saoirse Ronan from "Lady Bird."
While the story of “Little Women” mostly focuses on the hardships, heartbreaks and losses the March girls face in their lives, the script still remains funny and heart-warming enough to be classified as a “feel good” movie.
Speaking of feel-good movies, Sergio Pablos’ animated movie “Klaus” is an instant holiday classic.
Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean audiences can’t enjoy an animated movie about the origin of Santa Claus.
“Klaus” is about Jesper Johanssen, voiced by Jason Schwartzman, the worst postman at his esteemed father’s postman academy, and how he is banished to the fictional town of Smeerensberg to learn how to properly deliver 6,000 letters within one year. Once there, the spoiled Jesper goes through amazing character development as he makes friends with and devises toy deliveries with the town recluse, Klaus, voiced by the legendary J.K. Simmons.
If holiday-themed stories aren’t desirable, the art style alone makes “Klaus” worth a watch. Instead of the common three dimmensional style of animation that films such as “Frozen” and “Toy Story” use, “Klaus” is instead animated using the two dimensional animation style that has existed since the late 1800’s.
Every single frame of "Klaus" is drawn by hand. The pure dedication that the animators had for this film alone should warrant a watch from everyone with a Netflix account.
BEST: “Rare” by Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez has taken the back seat in the music spotlight since announcing a hiatus after her 2015 album “Revival." Well, her album “Rare" has placed Gomez back in that spotlight.
Gomez has been very public with her recent struggles in life. Her worsening Lupus, kidney failure/transplant, mental health difficulties and highly publicized break-ups have taken a toll on the singer.
The trauma and growth that Gomez has experienced from these hardships are expressed beautifully in her newest album.
“Rare” is meant to make an “I’m back” statement from Gomez, which is does in a vulnerable yet wonderful way.
Her title song, “Rare," is upbeat and catchy. It's simple rhymes make it easy to sing along to after just one listen. It’s also a good self-esteem boost to both the singer and listeners alike as the lyrics describe how one doesn’t need anyone else to feel good about who they are, as they are a rarity.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Lose You to Love Me” is a very slow and sad yet empowering ballad about someone who needed to leave behind someone toxic in order to grow into who they are.
Overall, Gomez’s “Rare” is a feel-good but sympathetic album that can serve as relaxing background music or as good old fashioned music to cry to.
Director Tom Hooper should be ashamed of what he has done to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s beloved Broadway musical, “Cats."
Based on the 1939 poetry collection “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats” by T. S. Eliot, Weber originally debuted his musical in 1981 at the New London Theatre in the United Kingdom.
Oh how far the greats have fallen. While being responsible for directing instant classics such as “The Danish Girl” (2015), “Les Miserables” (2012) and “The King’s Speech” (2010), Hooper has left a permanent black mark on his reputation by also being responsible for the new “Cats” film.
While this movie contains a lot of star-studded power, with the likes of Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo, and Jennifer Hudson all appearing, it’s unintentionally horrifying and uncanny depictions of what are meant to be bipedal, humanoid cats is too much to overlook.
The only factor “Cats” can rely on for entertainment, besides its somewhat “Rocky Horror Picture Show” level of weirdness, are the songs that were originally composed by Weber.
The only way to get some semblance of entertainment by watching “Cats” is to go to the theatre, put a blindfold on and listen to the music without subjecting your eyes to the nightmare fuel that are the cats themselves.
WORST: Cancel Culture
This relatively new concept has stemmed from online social media platforms aiming to “cancel” anything and everything that the majorities do not agree with.
“Cancel culture” comes from a sense of groupthink and rejection of anything that brings discomfort and confusion to the masses. Rather than listening and respectfully debating viewpoints different from their own, people who subscribe to this ideology choose to shut down or “cancel” those who dare contradict those views.
In some cases, there are people, groups, and events that deserve to be “cancelled." Actors and directors whose careers that have been nullified due to illegal activity, such as with Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, deserve to be “cancelled”.
The problem with cancel-culture comes from the fact that pretty much anything and everything that the majority of society doesn’t agree with is argued to be cancelled.
Dave Chappelle’s recent “Sticks and Stones” Netflix special became the target of critics who deemed its jokes as offensive and and unabashed; therefore, cancelled.
This is an example of taking cancel-culture too far. Once a trend on the internet, even one that started as a joke, starts to impede on the right of free speech and other constitutional rights; that is when it is time to cancel cancel-culture.
WORST: Neil Peart (September 12, 1952 - January 7, 2020)
“Rush” is a progressive rock and roll band that consists of members Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart. The drummer, Peart, sadly passed away on January 7, 2020.
Rush has been described as equal parts Led Zeppelin and King Crimson when is comes to their music. Their heavy rock has earned them a cult following which spans over their 40 year career. Their 1976 magnum opus “2112” is still enjoyed by both long term and new fans over 44 years later.
Peart died Tuesday following a lengthy battle with brain cancer.
Multiple bands, including Rush and Metallica, have paid tribute to the incredible music that Peart helped create over the years.
Lars Ulrich, Metallica lead guitarist, wrote a heartfelt message to Peart on Instagram this past Friday.
“Thank you Neil,” Ulrich said. “Thank you for inspiring me and for all your help and advice along the way, especially in the early days when you took the time to talk to a young green Danish drummer about recording, gear and the possibilities that lay ahead…”
Peart will surely be missed by his fellow band members, other musicians and fans alike.
William Eubank’s “Underwater” has garnered, at best, mediocre reviews and box office numbers, and at worst, it has been deemed "hard to love."
“Underwater” is the story of cryptic creatures that hunt and terrorize crew members aboard a research station located seven miles deep in the ocean.
That’s about all there is to say about this film. It is a very cookie-cutter format of a creature-feature. Kristen Stewart as one of the main crew members does not help this film in any way. Similarly to her other appearances in the “Twilight” series, her performance is as wooden as ever.
One unique element of “Underwater” is exactly that: it takes place underwater. The location of the plot does add an element of both claustrophobia and thalassophobia that not every monster movie has.
Despite its silver linings, “Underwater” is a movie that easily flies under the audience's radars.
WORST: “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
J.J. Abrams concludes the most recent trilogy in the “Star Wars” universe on a disappointingly flat note.
While having a strong opening weekend in the box office, the following weekend housed a huge loss in ticket sales.
Within the first 48 hours of opening, “Rise of Skywalker” raked in $177.4 million in sales. This number dropped by over $100 million by the following weekend, which brought in only $72.4 million.
The significant drop in sales was most likely due to the news of its low quality traveling by word of mouth between fans.
The lack-luster script and character development in addition to the over reliance of nondescript action sequences are what sadly place “The Rise of Skywalker” into the mediocre-at-best category.