1. The Queen’s Gambit
Netflix’s smash-hit scripted limited series follows Beth Harmon, an enigmatic chess prodigy. The twist? Harmon has had a tranquilizer addiction since she was child, a plot point that carries both her chess career and the binge-worthy nature of the show itself.
2. Normal People
Based on Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel of the same name, the limited series revolves around the complex romantic relationship between university students Marianne and Connell. Teeming with captivating chemistry, tension, and a bittersweet, coming-of-age tone, the show sharply sheds light on the messy and emotional nature of relationships and social identity.
Betty follows a group of Gen Z gals infiltrating a male-dominated skateboarding scene in New York City. Based on the 2018 film Skate Kitchen, Betty captures the spirit of friendship, skating, and style. Betty is a joyful and vibrant series with in-depth character development that allows each cast member to shine.
4. The Crown
Following the most entertainingly controversial royal family from 1977-1990, Season 4 of The Crown adds two dynamic characters—Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Diana Spencer—to the mix.
5. The Mandalorian
The second season of The Mandalorian continues to follow the adventures of The Mandalorian and his adorable, meme-able friend, Baby Yoda, as the two adventure through the Star Wars universe.
Worst TV Show: Emily in Paris
Emily, an overeager girlboss-to-be from Chicago, moves to a clichéd version of Paris to assist a PR firm with her American perspective. The show desperately tries to be campy, but the result is just cringeworthy.
1. “WAP” by Cardi B, feat. Megan Thee Stallion
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion emphasize their erotic desirability in a love song that favours lustful sexuality over etiquette or gentility.
2. “XS” by Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama brings rich vocals and a mix of nu-metal and Y2K pop production to this stunning bop—and its message against consumerism and capitalism in the face of climate change is the cherry on top.
3. “hand crushed by a mallet” (Remix) by 100 gecs, feat. Fall Out Boy, Craig Owens, Nicole Dollanganger
100 gec’s absurd and beautifully chaotic “hand crushed” remix is an emo-pop-punk revolution for our times.
4. “Moon Song” by Phoebe Bridgers
Bridgers’s soft yet powerful vocals combined with lulling guitar chords produce a dreamlike quality to this hit from her latest album, Punisher. “Moon Song” is a must-add for all playlists pertaining to “chill,” “falling asleep,” “getting over them,” and “songs about the moon”—if that’s your thing.
5. “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles
In this unbelievably catchy, Grammy-nominated song, Harry Styles sings about lustful, sticky summer desire represented through the use of multiple fruit metaphors. Perhaps fruit wasn’t the only thing Styles was checking out at the farmer’s market.
Worst Song: “Yummy” by Justin Bieber
Pairing his lifeless vocals with the lyrical genius of a fifth grader, Bieber gives us a mind-numbing track about that “yummy yum”… whatever that means.
1. Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple
Sparsely produced with GarageBand, Fiona Apple’s latest album is a percussive and dissonant look at the confinement of our times.
2. folklore by Taylor Swift
Diving into indie-folk, Taylor Swift astounds with her tour-de-force album, folklore, which features a patchwork of delicate, vulnerable songs coinciding with the rise of Gen Z “cottagecore” subculture on social media.
3. Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers’ sophomore album blends somber lyricism and haunting instrumentals, making it the perfect album to listen to in a melancholic state on a rainy day. Punisher is Bridgers’ personal diary made public, reflecting feelings of inner turmoil with candid vulnerability.
4. Set My Heart on Fire Immediately by Perfume Genius
Ranging from upbeat pop songs to slow, contemplative melodies to explore themes of memory, anxiety, and sexuality, Perfume Genius’ newest album is a unique and multifaceted take on the body and its experiences.
5. SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama’s debut LP recreates early 2000’s pop music with stellar production, eclectic vocal mixing and occasional, well-placed irony.
Worst Album: Changes by Justin Bieber
2020 had a slew of R&B-inspired pop albums, but none have been as forgettable as Justin Bieber’s Changes. Intended to be his comeback album, it instead gave us Bieber’s terrible moustache and some clumsy lyrics thanking Hailey Bieber’s parents for “making” her.
Another decade, another brilliant adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s most famous novels. With stunningly detailed sets and costumes, Emma. successfully flaunts all the novel’s famous, silly sentiments of love, making for a delightful and lighthearted film.
2. Palm Springs
Two strangers (Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti) meet at a wedding in Palm Springs and get stuck in a time loop—think Forgetting Sarah Marshall meets Groundhog Day. It’s the perfect blend of rom-com and sci-fi.
3. Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee’s latest follows a group of aging Black Vietnam War veterans who return to Vietnam in search of their fallen squad leader and the treasure they buried while serving. Da 5 Bloods is a touching sendoff to the late Chadwick Boseman, who gives a stellar performance.
4. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Back with his imaginative cinematography and meta-surrealism, director Charlie Kaufman confused and dazzled viewers with his new time-bending thriller, I’m Thinking Of Ending Things. With a more existentially nihilistic take on the nature of relationships and time than his previous films, Kaufman once again leaves a stately mark on the cinematic landscape of the year.
5. The Invisible Man
Elizabeth Moss attempts to escape her crazed ex-boyfriend—who is invisible—in the 2020 adaptation of the 1897 H.G. Wells novel. The film retains its classic sci-fi roots while revamping its horror for a modern take.
Worst Movie: Hillbilly Elegy
Directed by Ron Howard, Hollywood’s worst former child actor, Hillbilly Elegy features truly egregious accent and wigwork, on top of being patronizing poverty porn. It is offensive to any one with a moral center or good taste.