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Scene’s Top 22 Albums of 2022

22. ‘Cave World’ by Viagra Boys

“Cave World” is the third LP of punk rock band Viagra Boys, and it expands upon what made their previous records so great. The album is absolutely soaked in meta-irony and absurdist humor. Viagra Boys are simultaneously drawn to and repelled by the eclectic world of conspiracy theories, incels and the internet at large; they poke fun at this chaotic space from the inside. This isn’t even to mention the incredibly catchy riffs that permeate the album: “Troglodyte” and “Punk Rock Loser” are standouts. Overall, “Cave World” is Viagra Boys’ strongest and most interesting album to date. — Coby McKeown, Scene Writer

21. ‘Uncanny Valley’ by COIN

“Uncanny Valley,” released by COIN on March 25, is an album meant to be listened to from beginning to end. From the strong guitar twang of “Chapstick” to the piano chords and melancholic atmosphere created in “Plug Me In,” the album takes you on a musical journey that you won’t regret. Within the album’s strong futuristic concept, each song has something distinct for the listener to enjoy but flows from one song right into the next. Want to listen to something that sounds new and familiar all at once? Listen to “Uncanny Valley.” — Claire McKenna, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

20. ‘Hold the Girl’ by Rina Sawayama

https://open.spotify.com/album/0JO5WJ19NtFRtVYOnw24xS?si=N3ap-HkkRAOpbg4ADipk-Q

Sawayama’s second full-length release, “Hold the Girl,” is anything but a sophomore slump. She jumps from slay to sadness and from pensiveness to pop-rock. The album’s sonic and thematic tensions contradict at times, but it’s held together by Sawayama’s fantastic vocals and her unwavering commitment to satisfying her inner child. — Claire Lyons, Associate Scene Editor

Read the review here.

19. ‘Proof’ by BTS

“Proof” is a compilation album by popular K-pop band BTS that hosts a vast catalog of older hits in addition to introducing five new songs. After experimenting with different genres, “Proof” feels like concrete evidence of BTS’ unique sound. The new songs, especially “Run BTS,” are exactly the hip-hop and pop fusion that the group has been aiming for. With BTS on a long-term hiatus to complete their military service in South Korea, the compilation aspect of the album feels like a farewell and a celebration of their previous work. — Caitlin Brannigan, Scene Writer

18. ‘Unlimited Love’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers

John Frusciante is back! This album is one of their most dynamic albums since “Stadium Arcadium” (2006), nearly two decades later. “Unlimited Love” brings the band back together, literally and figuratively. Anthony Kiedis’s punchy lyrics coupled with Flea’s hard-hitting bass lines, backed by Chad Smith’s pounding drums are perfectly paired with Frusciante’s unique sound. Many would disagree, but “Poster Child” is on repeat and one of the most lyrically complex songs on the album. — Willoughby Thom, Scene Editor

17. ‘American Bollywood’ by Young the Giant

Standing at a Young the Giant concert while “American Bollywood” played is an experience I will forever hold on to. “American Bollywood” is Young the Giant’s fifth album and is by far the most intimate and epic album they have released so far. It tells the story of a wayward individual trying to find his place in a world of chaos, exploring themes of identity, belonging and immigration through the marriage of beautiful alternative rock and South Asian musical influences. “American Bollywood” is a musical triumph and masterpiece which pushes the boundaries of rock music to new heights. — Rachel Hartmann, Scene Writer

16. ‘It’s Almost Dry’ by Pusha T

https://open.spotify.com/album/6o38CdD7CUlZDCFhjZYLDH?si=146559edd75d4cd6

I was skeptical when this was effusively recommended to me in a dorm hallway. After all, isn’t this the guy who named his son Nigel Brixx? I had forgotten that he’s also the guy who rapped over the “Succession” theme. Produced half-and-half by Kanye (oof) and Pharrell, the No. 1 album reacquainted us with the quality of Pusha T’s flow, pop poetic lyricism (“Had a million answers, didn’t have a clue / Why Michael kissed Fredo in ‘Godfather II’”), storytelling and investigative reporting. Familiar references to Virginia Beach cocaine and rap industry rivalries are plentiful (not limited to his son’s name), but it’s a far more unique, catchy and supremely well-produced record. I’ll say it: Move aside, Kendrick. Go home, Drake. Rap album of the year. — Isa Sheikh, Associate News Editor

15. ‘Dawn FM’ by The Weekend

The Weeknd has been at the top of the pop pantheon for years now, but where does he go from here? How about teaming up with legendary chart-topping producer Max Martin and creating a concept-based synth-pop record that explores passion, love and the inevitable approach of death? By seamlessly combining his older and darker songwriting with his newer retro style, The Weeknd creates his most cohesive project to date. — Coby McKeown, Scene Writer

14. ‘Wet Leg’ by Wet Leg

Wet Leg is a force to be reckoned with. After releasing two debut singles in 2021, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers found themselves on charts all over the world almost instantly. The English duo has firmly established themselves on the scene, and we are not complaining. Their blend of indie, punk and disco is a mash-up we didn’t know we needed. Some instant favorites are “Chaise Longue,” “Angelica” and my personal favorite, “Oh No.” They are everything that the world needs: a band that makes “sad music for party people, and party music for sad people.” — Willoughby Thom, Scene Editor

13. ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ by Bad Bunny

“Un Verano Sin Ti” is Bad Bunny’s third album and diverges from his previous discography. Instead of boxing himself into the style of his previous releases, Bad Bunny embraced the album’s Caribbean musical influences, inspired by his childhood visits to the coasts of Puerto Rico. “Un Verano Sin Ti” is an exquisite reggaeton album that encapsulates fun, thrill and soul. — Rachel Hartmann, Scene Writer

12. ‘Gemini Rights’ by Steve Lacy

Released this summer, “Gemini Rights” was Steve Lacy’s second album. Lacy immediately saw internet fame with songs “Static” and “Bad Habit” going viral on Tik Tok. “Gemini Rights” takes the listener on a journey, with no two songs sounding like another. Lacy opens with the familiar “Static,” a short two-minute song that parallels the entire album. In this track, Lacy is calling out to an ex who self-medicates after their breakup. This contrasts beautifully with his final song, “Give You the World,” which also sees him begging for the forgiveness of a lover. — Olivia Schatz, Associate Sports Editor

11. ‘Surrender’ by Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers’ sophomore album bears the same name as her Harvard Divinity School thesis (“Surrender”) and it’s no surprise, as the singer-songwriter effortlessly inserts divinity school-worthy questions into a slate of pop-rock anthems. She wrote the album mid-pandemic in her family’s Maine home, and indeed the album’s intensity feels like a necessary catharsis after months in COVID isolation.

Rogers is “surrendering.” She commits fully to her desires on “Want, Want,” to feeling deeply on “Shatter” and to escapist fantasy on “Anywhere With You.” Her commitment pays off. As Rogers soared to the top of my Spotify Wrapped, I couldn’t help but surrender, like she did, to this beautiful album. — Katie Muchnick, Scene Writer

10. ‘Special’ by Lizzo

“Special,” Lizzo’s fresh new album, is a masterpiece about self-love and loving others. The twelve songs are a gorgeous mix of pop, R&B and hip-hop that invites listeners on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. After the massive commercial success of “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo had a high bar to live up to and she succeeded with this album. It is a raw, vulnerable and special work that proves Lizzo’s musicality and solidifies her place as one of the greats in the contemporary music industry. — Rachel Hartmann, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

9. ‘The Car’ by Arctic Monkeys

“The Car,” Arctic Monkeys’ seventh studio album, displays the British rockers’ perspectives on life, love, fame and more through the rearview mirror (or rather, through a mirrorball). It features copious orchestral components (similar to frontman Alex Turner’s side project, The Last Shadow Puppets), cinematic elements and an air of mystery and intrigue in both the instrumentation and lyricism. In “The Car,” the band progresses their sound’s sophistication and states their desire to make music for its own sake rather than the sake of their fans. — Anna Falk, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

8. ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ by the 1975

This year was rife with releases from many 2014 Tumblr favorites, most notably the 1975’s “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” (“BFIAFL”). This LP’s lyrics are as quirky, laughable, sincere and cutting as ever, and the sound is the most consistent from their discography. “BFIAFL” features vocals from Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast on “Part of the Band” and (as many TikTok users are aware of) guitarist Adam Hann’s wife, Carly Holt, on “About You.” Healy maintains his usual live performance antics, but this album remains one of the band’s most honest and coherent pieces yet. — Anna Falk, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

7. ‘RENAISSANCE’ by Beyoncé

https://open.spotify.com/album/6FJxoadUE4JNVwWHghBwnb?si=fbccc5cc440a4d77

It’s late summer, and I play “Plastic Off the Sofa” on repeat as I edit articles for my internship in a fever dream. Beyoncé’s silky vocals, the track’s blissed-out chords and sweet lyrics almost distract me from my task. Queen Bey’s seventh studio album, “Renaissance” feels like a return to her early 2000s R&B sound but still draws on unique influences like afrobeats, gospel and 1970s disco. — Angela Mathew, Manger of Talent & Inclusion

6. ‘Laurel Hell’ by Mitski

https://open.spotify.com/album/4rcinMUHEWOxpIwJo2sf22?si=e943579c3e7749df

Mitski’s sixth studio album marked a return to the industry after a four-year hiatus. After her 2018 album, “Be the Cowboy,” she took a break from music and the public eye. But now, she’s back with “Laurel Hell,” an ‘80s-inspired dance-pop tour through the tangles of interpersonal relationships and Mitski’s complex feelings toward her career. Sobering lyrics play against synthy electro-rock beats to weave a rich and layered tapestry of vulnerability, guilt, finality and forgiveness. I’ve written about “Laurel Hell” before, and I’ll continue writing about it as long as it continues wrecking me with each replay. — Natalie Allton, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

5. ‘Dance Fever’ by Florence + the Machine

In F+TM’s “Dance Fever,” Florence Welch resurrects like Jesus “in a beautiful dress” (“Choreomania”). Emerging from the pandemic, Welch’s new album uses mountainous harmonies to offer a characteristically witchy portrait of her life. She searingly defies gender expectations and challenges oppressive institutions in “Free” and “King.” She retrospectively explores all-too-universal battles with addiction and depression in “Daffodil” and “Girls Against God.” In “Dance Fever,” Welch explores trauma from COVID and the patriarchy through her innovative and gut-wrenching orchestral clashes. — Connor Marrott, Scene Writer

4. ‘Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers’ by Kendrick Lamar

https://open.spotify.com/album/79ONNoS4M9tfIA1mYLBYVX?si=b90db36685404d34

“I’ve been goin’ through somethin’ / 1,855 days / I’ve been goin’ through somethin’. / Be afraid.”

Wake up! It’s 2022, and Pulitzer Prize winner and rap legend Kendrick Lamar has just released his newest album since the chart-topping original “Black Panther” soundtrack. In “Mr. Morale,” Lamar reflects on the eventful past few years, on how the world has gone up in flames and on how he’s trying to put it out. The album’s complicated, but I’m a “Die Hard” fan of the production quality and Lamar’s lyrics. — Claire Lyons, Associate Scene Editor

Read the review here.

3. ‘Stick Season’ by Noah Kahan

Both of Noah Kahan’s singles in “Stick Season” went viral, making his “ode to New England” highly anticipated. Kahan fully encompasses the changing of seasons. The first half of the album is upbeat, with lyrics about love and memories accompanied by a cheerful acoustic guitar. At the midpoint, the album falls into the winter season where his tracks transition into a more solemn tone. He ends with “The View Between Villages,” a piece that fully encompasses the entire album, as well as the feeling of being displaced in your own home, something many college students can relate to. — Olivia Schatz, Associate Sports Editor

Read the review here.

2. ‘Harry’s House’ by Harry Styles

With the release of “Harry’s House” in May, Harry Styles leapt to a greater level of stardom than he had ever experienced before, including in his days with One Direction — something that surprised even Harry himself. The album captures the split desire to dance or cry your heart out. Here, you don’t have to decide; you can do both.

Recently someone asked me, “What color is Harry’s House?” Answer: the yellow of sunglasses, the green in eyes and fried rice, the grape juice blues and most of all, the gold of a shining star — because 2022 was Harry Styles’ year, and the world is his home. — Alysa Guffey, Editor-in-Chief

Read the review here.

1. ‘Midnights’ by Taylor Swift

On Oct. 21, when the clock struck midnight, a wonder was released across the world … Also known as “Midnights” by Taylor Swift. There was doubt lingering in all of our minds as we played the album: Could Taylor Swift do it again? Could she enchant us and have us screaming her lyrics for the days to follow? 

And, yes, she did.

“Midnights” captured the essence of thirteen sleepless nights with exciting pop songs and heart-wrenching slow tracks that kept listeners on their toes. The album captured our hearts as we pondered the meaning of Swift’s brilliant lyrics and related to her restless midnights. Swift succeeded once again, and “Midnights” is exactly the album that 2022 needed. — Rachel Hartmann, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

Some of our favorites didn’t make the top-22, but they still deserve an honorable mention: “Aethiopes” by Billy Woods, “MAN PLAYS THE HORN” by Cities Aviv, “And in The Darkness, Hearts Aglow” by Weyes Blood, “Emails I Can’t Send” by Sabrina Carpenter, “Stereotype” by Cole Swindell and “Sweet Tooth” by Mom Jeans.

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Best of 2022: Scene on the screen

Scene has voted. Here are the top 15 films of 2022, carefully selected and compiled by The Observer’s entertainment and culture section.

15. “Fire of Love” directed by Sara Dosa

Sara Dosa’s sizzling documentary chronicles the daring adventures (and untimely end) of two volcanologists in love. Katia and Maurice Krafft were French scientists who specialized in the study of volcanoes, making a name for themselves throughout the 1970s and 1980s with books, television appearances, speaking tours and travel films. Composed of Krafft’s own archival footage (restored in stunning high-definition) and finished off with a wistful narration by raspy filmmaker, Miranda July, “Fire of Love” is less a documentary than an elegy. Poetry is written in lava. — Aidan O’Malley, Managing Editor 

Read the full review here.

14. “The Northman” directed by Robert Eggers

Robert Eggers takes us back to the Viking Age as we follow a young Viking prince on his quest to reclaim his kingdom, kill his murderous uncle, avenge his father’s death and save his mother. If this sounds at all familiar, that’s because it’s basically “Hamlet” (well, actually it’s closer to “The Lion King”) but with Vikings. Interestingly, the plot of the film is based on an Icelandic saga that inspired Shakespeare to write “Hamlet,” so we’re actually watching one of the earliest versions of the classic royal revenge tale. That’s basically all you need to know about the plot. — Justin George (Notre Dame ’22), Scene Writer

Read the full review here.

13. “The Menu” directed by Mark Mylod

Have you ever watched “Hell’s Kitchen” and thought it could be even more intense?

If you answered yes, you’re insane and I hope you enjoy tonight’s “The Menu.” It-girl Anya Taylor-Joy plays Margot Mills, who is invited on an expensive dinner date that she cannot escape. The chef, Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), runs his kitchen with a vicious precision that would put even Gordon Ramsey to shame. But as the night goes on, it seems like Margot might be on the menu. 

“The Menu” is what every food service employee daydreams about, and it’s every Instagram foodie’s worst nightmare. But even with its unpredictable twists and turns, surprisingly, this black comedy horror film might have you leaving the theater thinking: “Hey, that was a lot like ‘Ratatouille.’” — Claire Lyons, Associate Scene Editor

12. “Morbius” directed by Daniel Espinosa

“Morbius” holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the last films me and my friends saw together during our senior year of high school. When my last birthday came, one of my friends gave me a Morbius poster. The film holds a lot of sentimental value to me. Is it good? Not really. I don’t know if it’s the fact that it is hard to buy Jared Leto’s Michael Morbius as threatening or morally ambiguous, or the absolutely hammy performance of Matt Smith as his adopted brother and the film’s villain, Milo. That’s not his name actually. Morbius calls him that because he had a friend named Milo who no longer lived near him, so he calls all his friends Milo. And everyone else calls Matt Smith’s character Milo too. No wonder he’s a villain. You can watch it on Netflix, but I don’t advise it. — Andy Ottone, Scene Writer

11. “Licorice Pizza” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Set in 1973, in Paul Thomas Anderson’s beloved San Fernando Valley, “Licorice Pizza,” takes the viewer to summer under the shadow of Hollywood and the weight of national tumult. On its face, “Licorice Pizza” is the tale of two complicated people, 15-year-old Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) — based on the teenage exploits of real-life producer and former child actor Gary Goetzman — and 25-year-old Alana Kane (Alana Haim), Gary’s down-to-earth friend who struggles with her direction. Hoffman and Haim, both in debut roles, are marvelous. With a laid-back story told over the course of two hours — from a water mattress installation gone wrong to a particularly memorable client seeking Gary’s advertising services, with characters based on Hollywood icons big and small — PTA’s ninth movie succeeds, much like Joan Didion’s “The White Album,” in comprehensively capturing the pervasive tones and dreams, the colors and confusion, of California (and adolescence) in the 70s.— Isa Sheikh, Associate News Editor

Read the full review here.

10. “All Quiet on the Western Front” directed by Edward Berger

“All Quiet on the Western Front” is Netflix’s best shot for the Oscars this year. Adapted from the book of a German WWI survivor, Erich Maria Remarque, this depiction of war finally answers the question “can one truly make an anti-war film?” The answer is a terrifying yes. The muddy trenches of the western front put the phrase “war is hell” to shame, as even hell itself is a spa resort compared to the corpse-riddled craters and barbed wire that coats this French countryside. No lives can be saved, and no innocents are spared. As a film, the cinematography is gorgeous with gruesome editing and a violent score; but as a depiction of war, it’s the closest we get without staining our hands. Please watch the German language version as its creators intended to tell this story in its true language. It is a creative freedom only Netflix would produce. — JP Spoonmore, Scene Writer

Read the full review here.

9. “Don’t Worry Darling” directed by Olivia Wilde

If you want serious social commentary with a virtual reality plot twist, you probably should’ve watched “The Matrix” or read “More Than This” instead of traipsing into the South Bend AMC to see “Don’t Worry Darling.” Scene knows what you’re here for, but even the combined star power of Florence Pugh and Harry Styles couldn’t save this movie from its strange directorial decisions and poorly-written screenplay. “Don’t Worry Darling” was the talk of movie fanatics everywhere, and not in a good way. It’s a plane crash nobody can look away from, and the behind-the-scenes carnage is even messier. — Claire Lyons, Associate Scene Editor

Read the full review here.

8. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” directed by Rian Johnson

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is a bizarre sequel to its surprise-hit predecessor, in that it wants nothing to do with that first film. Rian Johnson proves once again that his talent shines brightest when working alone to dissect the most delicious parodies put to screen. Moving on from the “Clue”-board shenanigans of “Knives Out,” Benoit Blanc takes an exotic vacation into political satire —where backstabbing is a cheap investment rather than an act of wit. The cast of rich friends he follows is much more memorable than the family in “Knives Out,” since every single one is characterized by unique backstories and running jokes. The colorful collection of new characters is always fun, but Benoit Blanc, Daniel Craig’s best character, once again steals the show. Filled with break-neck twists, perfectly timed reveals, and endless laughs, the adventures of Benoit Blanc might become the best original mystery series in cinema. — JP Spoonmore, Scene Writer

7. “Nope” directed by Jordan Peele

The third directorial work of Jordan Peele takes a new spin on the alien invasion movie, tying it to themes of spectacle, an appropriate theme for a horror blockbuster film to take. The film asks the question “How far would you go for the perfect entertainment?” with commentary on the exploitation of actors and animals within the film industry. Starring Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, portraying siblings within the film, and when an unnatural natural disaster heads their way, they try to take advantage of it in any way they can. For a thought-provoking, visually-stunning take on the “invasion” horror movie, you can’t go wrong with Jordan Peele’s “Nope.” — Andy Ottone, Scene Writer

6. “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp

A small, dainty shell with one googly eye who sports tiny pink sneakers.

Fleischer-Camp’s simplistic and unique stop-motion mockumentary has stolen the hearts of millions. Based on the director’s YouTube shorts with Jenny Slate of the same name, Marcel is now a household name. The film is a wholesome tale of life, community and the meaning of family. This film explores ordinary life through a magical lens, revealing the wonders and beauty of even the smallest things in life. “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is a film where you’ll find yourself laughing, crying and cheering for the pure love and innocence of a small fashionable shell. — Willoughby Thom, Scene Editor

Read the full review here.

5. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” directed by Ryan Coogler

Set six years after the first film and one year after T’Challa’s death, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” focuses on T’Challa’s sister Shuri as she tries to take on the mantle of the Black Panther while also having to combat a new foe and protect Wakanda. Better than its predecessor, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a massive blockbuster that is even bigger in its world-building, character development and impressive plot. The raw emotion is clearly shown in the film and is accompanied beautifully at the end credits with Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up.” The action in the film is also beautifully choreographed and very fast-paced. Shuri truly is the next Black Panther. — Nicole Bilyak, Scene Writer

Read the full review here.

4. “Elvis” directed by Baz Luhrmann

The moody, smoky world of “Elvis” is a dream of decay and a parable of the peculiar parasitic relationships we have with our celebrities. Austin Butler’s superlative performance as the King of Rock has no false notes while still maintaining a necessary distance from the audience for most of the movie, always suggesting emotional depths beyond sight. But it is Tom Hanks who serves as the anchor of the film, the repulsive Colonel Tom Parker, who is Elvis’ exploitative manager. The twisted affection the Colonel has for his host is reflective of how we all make celebrities the vessels for our aspirations, and how that inhuman pressure is destined to break a person. “Elvis” is the tragedy of a musician’s pure love for his craft and audience being poisoned by the pressures and base cravings of music celebrity, incarnated in his manager. — Ayden Kowalski, Scene Writer

Read the full review here.

3. “The Batman” directed by Matt Reeve

As someone who is not well-versed in the world of superheroes, I am surprised to say Matt Reeve’s “The Batman” was one of my favorite films this year. It was a refreshing take on a classic character whose story has been through countless iterations since 1939. Of course, the most well-known version of the caped crusader was envisioned by Christopher Nolan, but Reeve’s film breathed new life into Batman and the characters who populate Gotham: Catwoman, the Riddler, James Gordon, the Penguin, among others. This nearly three-hour film was almost completely enshrouded in darkness, sometimes completely hiding the action before launching you into the chaos. Robert Pattinson was the angsty protagonist the world needed, and he played the classic hero with grace and power. The director’s attention to detail was also remarkable, especially with the smearing of Batman’s eye makeup leading to the birth of “emo Batman.”Willoughby Thom, Scene Editor

Read the full review here.

2. “Top Gun: Maverick” directed by Joseph Kosinski

“Maverick” is a masterfully constructed movie, inspiring and exhilarating for all the right reasons. The flight sequences are seamless, and the audience believes — and more importantly, feels — each move of the planes. But the movie is smart enough to know that it is our pilots who make us care, and so it invests even more in constructing these characters. Maverick and Rooster’s relationship is the engine of this film, and it is the highlight as we understand, admonish and root for both characters. This makes their success and survival in the final mission paramount — they need to accomplish it and outlast it because we need them to heal their relationship. It isn’t that complicated. In the end, this is a cast and crew that makes us care, and once our hearts are secured, takes us for a ride. And that ride is Scene’s second-best film of the year. — Ayden Kowalski, Scene Writer

1. “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

“Get Sucked Into The Bagel …”

I can say with no embarrassment that this film made me cry like a newborn baby. I didn’t think a mom traveling between dimensions to fight a multi-dimensional entity would be such a funny and emotional rollercoaster. A Chinese-American immigrant (played by the amazing Michelle Yeoh) discovers that she must connect with versions of herself from infinite universes to prevent someone from destroying the multiverse. This film takes every “rule” of cinema and flips it upside down. From parodies of “Ratatouille” to the deepest conversation on what life really is being talked about between two rocks, this movie will catch you off guard for its entire runtime. If you have any kind of heart, this film will make you emotional, it’s just that beautiful. I hope that anyone who watched this will someday find the person they would love to do laundry and taxes with. — Gabriel Zarazua, Scene Writer

Read the reviews by Associate Scene Editor Claire Lyons and Scene Writer JP Spoonmore.

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Winter Scene Selections

The holiday season is in full swing! Here are some of Scene’s reflections and suggestions to begin this holiday season.

“Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” 

Rose Androwich, Scene Writer 

I’ve always loved the movie “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”Every season brings the essential films and TV episodes that you have to watch. Eventually, I wear down my Mom and my four siblings into watching that movie every year. Last year, my roommate Ari’s parents went out of town. Since she lives 30 minutes away, we decided to have a sleepover at her house. Everyone got to pick a movie, and it’s no surprise which one I picked. I loved the feeling of getting to share one of my favorite holiday traditions with my current roommates and my best friend Kayla. Bringing your traditions to college is pretty great, and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” is the best “Home Alone” movie for me.

Moral Utilitarianism and Disney’s The Santa Clause

Andy Ottone, Scene Writer

If you kill Santa, you become Santa. This simple rule was established in Disney’s “The Santa Clause.” But, murder is wrong. This simple rule was established by society and logic. However, in comes moral utilitarianism: morality is defined by how much good and positivity your actions bring into the world. I’ve never studied ethics. What does this have to do with Santa? Killing is bad. Killing Santa? Even worse. That’s depriving people of joy and happiness and Christmas magic. From a utilitarian standpoint, that’s an incredibly bad action. However, since you replace Santa Claus, you are maintaining an equal amount of good in the world as you are now tasked with his duties. Therefore, not only do your actions cancel out, you yourself are bringing more joy into the world, creating a net moral positive in your individual case. This is why, if given the opportunity, you should kill Santa Claus. 

Hot chocolate 

Sophia Michetti, Scene Writer

As we come into the full swing of the festive season, it’s time to break out the quintessential holiday drink: hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is the perfect accessory for your gloved hands in all settings, creating the perfect mood and keeping you warm as you look in awe at the Christmas lights set against the perma-cloud sky. Everyone’s favorite winter drink is also the perfect way to get that much-needed sugar rush as you prepare for finals in the library. If you’re feeling extra spirited, you can even start listening to Tom Hanks’ classic bop “Hot Chocolate” from “The Polar Express” to maximize the joy hot chocolate brings. Although South Bend’s unpredictable weather may not give us a white Christmas this year, we can always rely on 20-minute GrubHub lines to provide us with those warm, chocolatey feels. 

Pop Christmas music

Alysa Guffey, Editor-in-Chief

It’s finally after Thanksgiving, which means it’s acceptable to blast Christmas music from early in the morning to late at night. Let’s all agree – holiday classics like “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” always hit. But, what about when you want something a little fresh, a little different to jam to? Enter, the ultimate short list of modern Christmas pop songs: 

  • “Like It’s Christmas” by the Jonas Brothers
  • “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande
  • “Officially Christmas” by Dan + Shay
  • “Christmas Time” by Bryan Adams
  • “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Michael Buble
  • “Christmas Isn’t Canceled (Just You)” by Kelly Clarkson

“Once Upon a December”

Maggie Eastland, Assistant Managing Editor

Do yourself a favor and go listen to “Once Upon a December” by Christy Altomare right now. This is a slept-on song (and movie if you like watching those) that deserves to be relevant. Seriously, why aren’t we talking about Rasputin and the Romanov family more? But I digress. This wintry fairytale melds elements of your favorite princess movie with the history of Russian monarchs and a mysterious fantasy quest. Personally, I like to see a princess movie done well. Sorry Disney, but over-dramatic snow queens will never beat this 20th Century Fox masterpiece. It’s the perfect background music or movie that gives you all the elegance and magic of Christmas without the in-your-face Santa Clause.

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‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ is the most expensive fanfiction ever made

By Júlia Jorge and Matheus Herndl

When Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (ROP) was first announced, we, like many fans, were skeptical. This feeling worsened when the first trailer dropped, revealing how 1) most male elves had short hair and 2) no dwarven women had beards. Although these details seem small, they are consistent in Tolkien’s work, which shows that, as much as Amazon claimed they were respecting the source material, they weren’t actually paying attention to it.

Now that the first season of the show is completed, can Amazon disprove the skeptics?

In short — no. Set during some mysterious time period of the Second Age of Middle Earth, ROP — the most expensive TV show ever made — follows four simultaneous plotlines. The elf Galadriel is on a revenge mission against the mysterious Sauron, the Dark Lord who killed her brother. Her friend Elrond forges an alliance with the Dwarves to help the latest mysterious project of elven
smith Celebrimbor. The elf ranger Arondir investigates mysterious happenings in the Southlands with the help of Bronwyn, a human healer. Meanwhile, the Harfoot Nori discovers a mysterious stranger, whom she is determined to help. And, yes, we did use “mysterious” repeatedly for a reason.

But to provide a fair review of this season, we must approach it through two lenses: that of an independent fantasy show, and that of a Tolkien adaptation.

As a fantasy show, ROP suffers from slow pacing and fails to properly establish the main characters (with the exception of Nori, our lovable Harfoot, and most likely the best part of the entire show). Some of the plotlines are engaging, such as the Harfoots and their dealings with the
Stranger, and some relationships are better developed, such as the friendship between the elf Elrond and the dwarven prince Durin. The culmination of Arondir’s plotline in “Udûn” results in the best episode of the season. However, Galadriel and Arondir’s plotlines as a whole feel sluggish compared to those of Nori and Elrond. Overall, the writing is more inconsistent than that of “Supernatural” throughout its 15 seasons.

As an adaptation, ROP somehow manages to fail even harder. When the show is not actively contradicting Tolkien’s lore, it is too busy ruining complex and beloved characters such as Galadriel — who the show turns into a petulant teenage-like elf with anger issues that barely resembles her movie or book counterpart. The lore was butchered in an attempt to create conflicts that did not exist in the source material (which makes the entire show feel like fanfiction), and the timeline —which originally extended 3,441 years — has been compressed to the point that events that should take place over generations are taking place over less than a month, and characters that should have been born at the end of the Second Age are alive at the same time of climatic events of the start of that period. Additionally, ROP over-relies on mystery boxes to keep viewers coming back, which either don’t make sense or are so obvious that we question why they were made a mystery in the first place.

Sometimes, the dialogue tries to emulate the way characters speak in Tolkien, but it often feels forced and unnatural because the surrounding dialogue does not follow the same conventions. On the up hand, the show is gorgeous and truly depicts Middle Earth and some of its societies in their Golden Age, such as Númenor (when we can see it, for the show suffers from lighting problems in many of the nighttime scenes), giving a new glimpse into Tolkien’s universe that could not be seen in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, as such movies took place thousands of years afterward when these societies had crumpled.

It also depicts important historical moments that were never seen
on-screen before, such as the Two Trees of Valinor. The score is another highlight of the show, capturing the atmosphere of the original Peter Jackson movies, so it’s not all faults.

The positive points, however, cannot change the fact that, as an independent fantasy show, The Rings of Power is painfully average. And, as a Tolkien adaptation, it makes us wish Morgoth had
won in the first place.


Title: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Starring: Morfydd Clark, Robert Aramayo, Markella Kavenagh, Ismael Cruz Córdova

Favorite episodes: “Udûn”, “The Eye”

If you like: “House of the Dragon” (the other, superior fantasy prequel of 2022), “Wheel of Time” and pain

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Shamrocks: 2 out of 5 (1 of them is entirely for Nori).

Contact Júlia and Matheus at jandrad3@nd.edu and mherndl@nd.edu.

Categories
Scene

Spooky Scene Selections

Halloween is just around the corner, and Scene has chosen its favorite songs, films and haunting reflections to celebrate!

“Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge”

Rose Androwich, Scene Writer

The sequel to “Halloweentown” is better than the original. The first film relies too heavily on sheer shock factor. “Halloweentown II” broaches the idea of good versus evil. The 2000s nostalgia factor of “Halloweentown” makes it easy to return to every single year. Besides, who doesn’t love a good witch story? The good witch takes on the bad warlock, and it’s a Halloween must-have. Disney isn’t interested in scaring you, but their Halloween films are still great! 

Make Halloween ugly again

Gracie Eppler, Scene Writer

Perhaps the scariest thing about Halloween, to me, was when I discovered that costumes were meant to be cute. In Halloweens past, I have been a kayaker lugging around an orange boat made of cardboard strapped around my waist. I’ve become a glimmering silver robot with arms made out of dryer vent tubes. I have been transformed into (my personal favorite): Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece herself, the Mona Lisa, by sticking my face through a hole my dad carved in a large cardboard cut-out. I strongly believe that in lieu of dressing up as glamorized pirates, angels or bunnies, it’s time to bring back ugly costumes. This Halloween, I’m looking forward to seeing more Minions, Pitbull impersonators and Mona Lisas. 

The magnificent camp of “The Lost Boys”

Annie Brown, Scene Writer

As far as late ‘80s cult classics go, there’s no shortage of marginally terrible, very campy movies to choose from: “Cocktail,” “Spaceballs” and “Weird Science” come to mind. However, you’ve never seen a movie quite like 1987’s ”The Lost Boys.” From mullet-clad vampire gangs to saxophone raves to young Corey Feldman’s uncannily Rambo-esque vocal fry, it’s a sexy, dark and vaguely homoerotic delight that’s sure to change the way you think about both comedy and horror. After all, what could be a better activity on Halloween than watching some undead angst and incredibly corny one-liners? That’s easy: death by stereo.

“Skeletons” by Aja Volkman, “Breakfast” by Dove Cameron, “Heads Will Roll” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Maggie Eastland, Assistant Managing Editor

These three songs escalate in vibe.

The first is a chill, folksy number perfect for walking to class or around the lake during spooky season. It’s raw and emotional and reminds me of the Sunday scaries. “I make choices that I’m going to have to live with. I’ve been places that I shouldn’t have gone. And I know that you’ve got some skeletons, too.” Keep this one in your back pocket for the impending Halloweekend x Hangxiety crossover.

Next on the list, “Breakfast” by Dove Cameron, is best blasted in your dorm room under purple LED lights while applying your (sultry) vampire makeup before the Halloween festivities. Call it cringe if you want, this is the prime opportunity to play the siren you’ve always dreamed of becoming.

Finally, turn up the energy with “Heads Will Roll.” Again, Halloween only comes around once a year. Do not miss this opportunity to experience mid-2000s blockbuster euphoria. “Dance ’til you’re dead.”

An ode to the American Halloween 

Abigail Keaney, Scene Writer

Embarking on a transatlantic move at the tender age of nine was difficult for many reasons. But perhaps one of the most significant tragedies for my fourth grade self was the harsh realization that the Halloween I had celebrated in years past would not be matched by the holiday in my new home. Armed with hopes of trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving and costume contests, I was devastated to learn that the English, at least back in 2010, didn’t celebrate Halloween — or certainly not any version of it that I recognized. The vision of myself waiting at the door for the trick-or-treaters that would never come haunts me even now, my childhood delight crumbling in tandem with my love for Halloween. With that being said, I would like to proclaim an ode to the American Halloween. With its gaudy decorations, sickly sweet candy corn and general sense of indescribable madness, there really is nothing like the 31st of October in the good ole USA. For my nine-year-old self, I’m making this one count. 

Spooky, not scary

Andy Ottone, Scene Writer

Some horror movies are just a little too intense. That is why the difference between spooky and scary is so important. “Spooky” is plastic skeletons and paper ghosts. “Scary” is the ghosts you see in “The Omen” or “Paranormal Activity.” If you want something spooky, not scary, to watch this Halloween, here are some quick recommendations: “Over The Garden Wall” (streaming on HBO Max) is a miniseries about two brothers getting lost in a fantasy world, and “Gravity Falls” (on Disney+) has a fun mystery vibe while remaining goofy. Lastly, the “Goosebumps” movie (VOD) is a fun callback to the spooky book series by R.L. Stine and is a great Halloween flick for all audiences.

Better to be scared with others than by yourself

Gabriel Zarazua, Scene Writer

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re all watching classic movies with friends such as “Monster House,” “Frankenweenie” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” but we need a good scare once in a while, especially now, to release tension in the middle of the semester. I would recommend the second movie by Jordan Peele, “Us,” in which a family tries to escape from getting killed by clones of themselves. It’s a fun watch and starts great conversations with friends on how they would try and fight a better version of themselves. Me personally? I would just have my clone do my art homework for me — if he’s so much better at it.