Saturday, April 20, 2024

Semester Recap: Our favorite movies, TV shows, books and podcasts this fall

December 13, 2022
Design by Madison Echlin.
Design by Madison Echlin. —
Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

The fall semester is drawing to a close and one thing is for sure – us culture reporters at The State News surely have not had any shortage of entertainment to discuss these last few months.

We watched and debated countless movies – and sometimes the drama that came alone with them. We enjoyed highly-anticipated books in the spare time we had between bringing you coverage of all things student life at Michigan State University. We stayed up late to listen to one of the biggest albums of the year. 

But at the end of the day, we have some favorites. So without further ado, here is what we've deemed the best entertainment of the semester. 

Movies 

  • "Nope"

This movie was a yep from us – a masterful renaissance of the horror genre, roping in charming humor and tension seen in dramas to a spooky alien film. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer gave the performances of their lives. The visual effects and cinematography were created to be seen on the biggest screen possible, making it one of the few films this year that held up to their high expectations. 

  • "Glass Onion"

Like it’s predecessor, it’s an all-star ensemble cast delivering a deceptively complex and deeply political twist on a classic murder-mystery formula. But for his second outing, writer and director Rian Johnson is pleasantly much more indulgent. The characters are more cartoonish, the twists and turns are sharper and more jarring, and the final reveal will leave you wanting a re-watch. 

  • "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"

This sequel was able to expand on its first story but it also created a new reputation. While this was a Marvel blockbuster, it amplified the stakes that many superhero movies have, moving away from the villain versus hero motif and exploring more themes. The film tackled grief, family and power in a way that we haven't seen mega producers tackle before. This movie was a great homage to the late Chadwick Boseman.

TV Shows

  • "The Rehearsal"

Nathan Fielder conducts a social experiment exploring the idea of people’s need to control the future in this docu-comedy. Created, written and directed by Fielder, "The Rehearsal" goes to extremes to build intricate sets and hire actors to role play every possible scenario to prepare people for their lives' moments. This deadpan comedy is hilarious while being simultaneously thought provoking. 

  • "Only Murders in the Building"

Selena Gomez joins Steve Martin and Martin Short for season two of this Hulu series. It follows the trio as they investigate mysterious deaths in their luxury New York Apartment building. As one character described their quest in season two’s premiere: “it’s murder, but it’s cozy murder.” Their friendship and the comfortable setting pack unexpected warmth into an otherwise bloody affair.

  • "White Lotus"

If there’s one thing this show does right, it's create characters. Coming off its success from season one, season two sets itself in Sicily and, with the exception of Jennifer Coolidge’s “Tanya," has a whole new set of characters that are easy to love and hate at the same time. It brings the right amount of awkward mystery that fans have grown to expect from the show and plenty of moments where one thinks, “I’m supposed to laugh at this, right?”

Books

  • “Carrie Soto is Back” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Reid didn’t disappoint with her heavily-anticipated most recent novel. The story of Soto, a retired female athlete reentering the tennis world to take back her title, is one that everyone can find inspiration in – even if you know nothing about the sport. Soto's grapple with love, grief and familial issues is tied beautifully into a story of a woman trying to prove herself victorious, even after the world has deemed her past her prime.

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

  • "I’m Glad my Mom Died" by Jennette McCurdy 

Jennette McCurdy’s memoir is one of the most discussed books of the year. McCurdy confronts her relationship with – and healing from – her abusive mother and recounts stories from growing up on the sets of Nickelodeon. Her story explores the consequences of childhood stardom, as a childhood icon for many. 

  • "Less is Lost" by Andrew Sean Greer

Less, this book’s Pulitzer Prize winning predecessor, was written by a 49 year-old gay author who lives in San Francisco, and is about a 49 year-old gay author who lives in San Francisco, who is also writing a book about a 49 year-old gay author who lives in San Francisco. Now, we find the titular Andrew Less five years later in an odyssey across the United States, attempting to answer the question: Is he a “bad gay?” This sequel is somehow wrapped in more layers of irony and parody than the first, and hasn’t lost the warmth and heart that somehow shines through all of them.

Music 

  • "Midnights" by Taylor Swift

“Midnights” wasn’t what most of us expected, but it proved to us, once again, that Taylor Swift can do just about anything. The synth-pop sound was surprising, but within a few listens, we were all hooked. As the album shattered records, we confidently decided it’s a no-skip album, and one that marks the beginning of an exciting new Swift era. 

  • "Mr Morale and The Big Steppers" by Kendrick Lamar

Lamar's album is deeply self-reflective. It explores personal themes throughout his life, including his childhood experiences, relationship with his father, relationship struggles and more through the lens of his journey with therapy. The album includes notable features from Kodak Black, Baby Keem and Taylour Paige, amongst others. 

  • "RENAISSANCE" by Beyonce 

Beyonce’s seventh studio album after an eight year hiatus, "RENAISSANCE" is the perfect dance album. It features upbeat hits such as "ALIEN SUPERSTAR" and "VIRGO’S GROOVE," suitable to dance to or for getting ready to go out. It is the ultimate album for inspiring confidence – nothing less is expected from Beyonce. 

Podcasts

  • "Dead End: a New Jersey political murder mystery"

Produced by WYNC, this podcast is as described: a murder mystery, in New Jersey, that is deeply political. However, the podcast packs depth and complexity that may surprise guilty-pleasure patrons of the genre. Host Nancy Solomon, a seasoned New Jersey investigative reporter, uses the mysterious death of John and Joyce Sheridan as a vessel for a broader interrogation of corruption across the garden state’s politics.

  • "Anything Goes" with Emma Chamberlain 

As the name suggests, anything goes on this podcast hosted by influencer Emma Chamberlain. Chamberlain discusses topics from her struggles with mental health to what current fashion trends she loves. Several of us found solace in Chamberlain's candid podcast this semester.

  • "You’re Wrong About"

“You’re Wrong About” is a podcast series hosted by Sarah Marshall that takes deep dives into popular topics, often ones that have been “miscast in the public imagination”. This year, Marshall explored topics from "The Donner Dinner Party" to "Martha Stewart’s rise to fame and domestic glory." Marshall and her weekly guest do a great job at treating sensitive topics the way they need to, but with enough humor that they never leave listeners feeling hopeless about the world. 

Discussion

Share and discuss “Semester Recap: Our favorite movies, TV shows, books and podcasts this fall ” on social media.