Mitski, Laurel Hell – Ella Buckingham
Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski’s sixth studio album, Laurel Hell, comes off the back of her three-year hiatus and is an artful collection of head-bopping pop numbers and slow, narrative ballads. Though veering more toward the mainstream than her previous albums, throughout this record, Mitski tackles her discomfort with her role as an indie-rock icon and the hardships of staying true to oneself in the music industry. Despite critiques that Mitski has become a “mainstream sellout” with her turn to conventional sounds such as bright 80s pop beats, Laurel Hell manages to wow with tracks such as “Heat Lightning” and still impresses self-proclaimed cool kids everywhere.
Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers – Yash Zodgekar
Kendrick Lamar’s latest release finds him at his most confessional, reflecting on themes like fatherhood, sexual addiction, and celebrity worship through the lens of his experiences in therapy. The result is a record of great emotional poignance, once again demonstrating Lamar’s remarkable poetic skill. Sonically, the 18 tracks presented are remarkably diverse, melding jazz samples, trap beats, and orchestral arrangements, sounding like no one else in the process. Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is an essential record for any hip-hop fan this year.
Harry Styles, Harry’s House – Dana Prather
The May release of Harry Styles’ Harry’s House kicked off a summer of supreme new music, taking listeners on a leisurely stroll through the pop star’s daydreams and reflections on love. Standout track “Late Night Talking” infuses its 80s-inspired beat with the singer’s characteristic charm, while the woefully-neglected B-side, “Satellite,” supplies some of the album’s best sonic moments. While the lyrics can leave something to be desired (looking at you, “Cinema”), the former One Direction star’s much-anticipated third solo album provided enough blissful beats to keep us moving and grooving all year long.
Beyoncé, Renaissance – Suzanna Graham
Queen Bey reaffirmed her reign on the music industry with her chart-topping seventh studio album Renaissance. The album revives a disco era, encouraging uninhibited sweaty dance party vibes that the Bey-hive was missing during the height of the pandemic. Beyoncé strives for the future, especially in “Alien Superstar,” a utopian track that mixes poetry and singing while oozing confidence. Beyoncé’s bops are better than ever with her raspy vocals, club beats, and self-love lyrics.
Everything Everywhere All at Once – Dana Prather
Both a fan-favourite and critical darling, A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once is a rare piece of media that everyone seems to agree on: This film is a messy, mind-bending masterpiece. Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively, ‘Daniels’), the film blends sci-fi, action, comedy, and domestic drama to offer a fresh take on the multiverse concept. In a career-best performance, Michelle Yeoh portrays an immigrant mother attempting to do her family business’ taxes while battling bizarre, otherworldly enemies. Everything Everywhere All At Once will make you laugh, cry, and philosophize––sometimes all at once––for its entire 140-minute runtime.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Yash Zodgekar
Dean Fleischer Camp’s directorial debut tells the story of Marcel (Jenny Slate), an anthropomorphic one-inch-tall shell. When filmmaker Dean discovers Marcel, who has innocuously been looking after his grandmother in an empty Airbnb, he becomes an internet sensation and must confront the wonders and woes of the vast outer world. Presented in a mockumentary format that deftly combines animation and live action, the film is characterized by its whimsicality and tenderness, conveying much about the human condition from the unique outsider perspective of its premise.
Triangle of Sadness – Suzanna Graham
Ruben Östlund’s film Triangle of Sadness, Cannes’s 2022 Palme d’Or winner, could have been rightfully named The White Floatus. Sigh in frustration at the ultimate will-they-won’t-they (break up) influencer couple Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), who would rather continuously bicker about who paid on a previous date than enjoy their free tropical vacation. Of course, with the perpetually drunk Captain Thomas (Woody Harrelson) at the helm—who always slays in his chaotic roles—it’s no surprise that the cruise gets derailed. So sit back, relax, and get ready to use your promotional barf bag.
Top Gun: Maverick – Charlotte Hayes
Tom Cruise is back, reprising one of his most iconic roles in this summer’s Top Gun: Maverick. Set 30 years after the original film, the film follows Maverick as he is called back to his alma mater to train a whole new generation of elite fighter pilots. Although returning cast members Cruise and Val Kilmer give commendable performances, the next class of Top Gun pilots, including Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, and Miles Teller, outshine them in their breakthrough performances. With action-packed training montages, motorcycle rides, and musical callbacks (shout out to Kenny Loggins), the movie walks the line perfectly between nostalgia and a new era.
The White Lotus (Season 2) – Charlotte Hayes
Bodies are in the water and theWhite Lotus has opened its doors again—but this time in Sicily! The HBO critical darling is back for its second season with an almost brand-new cast (except for Emmy winner and pop culture icon Jennifer Coolidge) and a gorgeous new locale. Once again, creator Mike White wrote a season with the same electric energy as reality TV while simultaneously delivering some of the most interesting class commentary currently on television. The White Lotus delivers an edgier take on the format we came to know and love last season.
The Bear – Ella Buckingham
In a lead role that is casting Shameless’ Jeremy Allen White to new celebrity heights, the dramedy The Bear revolves around a young chef (White) who, in the wake of his brother’s death, leaves the coveted world of fine dining to rescue his family’s Italian beef sandwich shop. Raw, sarcastic, and nail-biting at moments, this series takes an unabashed look at the reality of the restaurant business and the struggle to stay afloat—both financially and emotionally—amidst the devastation of loss.
Stranger Things (Season 4)- Yash Zodgekar
Stranger Things’ fourth season elevates the show to another scale, boasting gorgeous special effects, feature-length episodes, and settings from California to Russia. What makes this season the best yet are the human relationships at its centre. Showrunners the Duffer Brothers also use Vecna, a new villain with a more complex and nuanced backstory than those of previous seasons, as a means to delve deeper into the nuances of their young protagonists, exploring more mature themes as they enter high school. Season five cannot come soon enough!
Wednesday – Suzanna Graham
Funny, fierce, and a little freaky, Wednesday puts a new spin on the whimsical Addams Family, in which the titular daughter, Wednesday (Jenna Ortega), joins Nevermore Academy to hopefully fit in with her fellow outcasts. The show subverts the expected family-oriented plot, allowing Ortega to shine as a surprisingly complex angsty teen who somehow smiles more than she blinks. With plot lines involving American witch-trial lore and bug-eyed serial killing monsters, Wednesday is Netflix’s newest binge-able hit. And for enjoyers of the iconic movie Addams Family Values, make sure to catch Christina Ricci’s whimsical cameo as Mrs. Thornhill.
Machine Gun Kelly, mainstream sellout – Ella Buckingham
The McGill Tribune’s Worst Album of 2022 by a whopping 32 per cent vote (oof), this 16-track album by Machine Gun Kelly was unfortunately released 20 years too late. Heavily inspired by early 2000s pop-punk beats and tackling all subjects from sex to drugs to war, this collection is reminiscent of a pissed-off Avril Lavigne, but in a disingenuous, lacklustre way (his track “emo girl (feat. WILLOW)” and “Sk8er Boi” are just a touch too similar). If you’re looking for mindless cliched bangers, however, or want to time-travel back to the release of Mean Girls, then this album fulfills that role scrumptiously.
Don’t Worry Darling – Charlotte Hayes
Don’t Worry Darling was one of 2022’s most highly anticipated films but somehow also its biggest flop. With a star-studded cast, high-concept script, and broad anticipation for Olivia Wilde’s sophomore directorial effort, it felt like a surefire recipe for success. Instead, the film delivered some half-baked insights on second-wave feminism packaged in a blatant ripoff of the Stepford Wives. The most interesting thing about this movie was its absolutely chaotic press junket, but even the endless tabloid fodder couldn’t save this trainwreck.
Dahmer – Dana Prather
In an age where true crime documentaries, movies, and podcasts have gained rapid but questionable popularity, it’s no surprise that Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has been a commercial success with mixed critical reception. Indeed, the Netflix limited series, which presents a dramatic retelling of the life and crimes of the infamous serial killer, garnered an astounding 192.6 million watches in its first week alone. Still, it’s important to recognize the very real danger posed by shows like Dahmer: They romanticize abhorrent criminals and retraumatize the families and friends of real-life victims.