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The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

Horizon 2024
Thomas Murphy, Co-Webmaster & Photographer • Feb 20, 2024

A&E’s favorites of 2023

With the start of the new year, our A&E writers look back at some of their favorite movies, music, and TV shows from a long list of greats in 2023

Wishing 2023 Roses with “Red Moon in Venus” 

March of 2023 started off strong with Kali Uchis releasing yet another strong and cohesive album: “Red Moon In Venus.” This album features 15 songs, including two in Spanish, all showing consistency in the quality of her music with her signature sound and melodies she uses throughout the album. Uchis had three iconic features: Omar Apollo, Don Toliver, and Summer Walker, who each added their own flair to the tracks while still staying true to Kali’s signature enchanting R&B sound. Her song “Love Between…” is a stand-out song that is perfect for a summer night drive and encapsulates who Uchis is as an artist: soulful, seductive, and fantastical. 

Her album explores the R&B genre and produced hit songs that stayed in the mainstream for a good portion of 2023. Her album was followed by a successful tour with reviews that hold promising excitement for the next album and subsequent tour. With Uchis’s recent rise in popularity, 2023 was definitely her year with such a successful album that I still play on repeat to this day. I can only imagine what 2024 will bring with her new album, which is set to be released on Jan. 12. 

– Yamile Peel, Staff Writer

Image courtesy of UDiscoverMusic

“The Rise and Fall of a Midwestern Princess” by Chappell Roan

When Chappell Roan stepped in to open for Olivia Rodrigo’s rescheduled San Francisco show, she had only released a few singles with poppy tunes like “Naked in Manhattan” and “Pink Pony Club,” which garnered the most attention. Since then, Roan has quickly found her place in the spotlight. In her debut album, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwestern Princess,” she sings unabashedly about almost everything that comes with being in one’s twenties: dancing into the night, queerness and sexuality, situationships, self-discovery, and missing home. 

While upbeat anthems are clearly Roan’s strong suit, slower tracks like “Kaleidoscope” and “California” showcase her vocal talent and display a range of emotions. Roan has also released spunky music videos with costumes and sets inspired by drag performances. In music videos like “My Kink is Karma,” Roan wears elaborate blue makeup while dressed in bedazzled bodysuits and sparkly red capes hand-decorated by a group of friends; with all the spectacle, it is hard not to be amazed by her presence, even through a screen. Riding the recent trend of reclaiming girlhood, with coquette ribbons and “girl math,” Roan brings the perfect storm of girl pop to carry the wave of unfiltered femininity into 2024. Preparing to accompany Olivia Rodrigo on her “GUTS” tour in addition to touring for “The Rise and Fall of a Midwestern Princess,” Chappell Roan is positioned to take over the pop world. 

– Xuan Ly, A&E Co-Editor

Image courtesy of UDiscoverMusic

“Past Lives” 

Celine Song’s debut film “Past Lives” strikes a chord with any viewer who has lost touch with a childhood friend, whether platonic or more. What could we have done together? How would that person have fit into my life now? Song open-endedly addresses these questions in a film loosely based on her own life, centering around the Korean philosophy of “inyeon,” the belief that any single connection one creates is derived from connections from one’s past lives and, therefore, is fated to occur in this life and the next. “Inyeon” can explain interactions as small as the accidental brush of clothing to lives intertwined in marriage. 

In the beginning, we meet Na-Young (Greta Lee) and Hae-Sung (Teo Yoo) at a crowded bar, talking with each other as if no one else exists; the chemistry is undeniable even without knowing their topic of conversation. As the story unfolds, we learn that after growing up in South Korea alongside her first love Hae-Sung, Na Young and her family immigrate to Toronto. Years later, Na-Young, who eventually changes her name to Nora, finds herself in New York City pursuing a writing career when she stumbles across Hae-Sung’s Facebook account. The two reconnect over Skype and spend hours catching up, calling in the early morning or late at night due to the time difference. As the two get to know each other once more, an underlying connection that goes beyond their present lives becomes clear. Then, Nora attends a writers’ retreat where she meets her husband, someone who is almost the antithesis of Hae-Sung. After another decade of silence, Hae-Sung comes to New York, and the two spend the perfect day together. Time and time again, “inyeon” brings Nora both comfort and doubt. 

Song wonderfully explores the impossible, yet all-too-human, desire to know all the possible pathways for our singular life. She allows her characters to spiral, taking the viewers alongside them, but catches us right before our overthinking becomes all-consuming. 

– Xuan Ly, A&E Co-Editor

Image courtesy of IMDb

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves”

A bard, a barbarian, a sorcerer, a druid, and a paladin walk into a tavern. I know that sounds like the setup to a joke, but that is just what I assume dungeon masters sound like when they begin a campaign. Having gone into “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” with little to no knowledge of the roleplaying game that it is based on (I have created one character sheet that has not been used), I had no expectations. By the time the credits started rolling, I knew I had just watched one of my favorite movies of the year. 

 Even though I don’t know much about D&D, I was able to enjoy the film, which follows a bard (Chris Pine) who leads a group of thieves as they set out on a quest to rescue his daughter from an evil lord (Hugh Grant). It seems like we don’t see many fantasy adventures on the big screen anymore, so “Honor Among Thieves” was a breath of fresh air for me. The balance between action and humor was only part of the reason this stood out. Most of my appreciation for this film lies in the practical effects used. Unlike many recent CGI-filled films, the filmmakers made a point of using as many practical effects as possible to make each fantastical scene feel more real. The cast’s chemistry with each other feels natural and makes for hilarious moments. But the standout role was Regé-Jean Page’s portrayal of Xenk, the paladin. His earnest righteousness, mixed with the frivolousness of the band of thieves, is fun to watch.

Since its release in March 2023, many have let this lively film fall under their radar, and I hope more people take the time to watch it in 2024. Fans of the game will love the references sprinkled throughout, and those unfamiliar will still have a great time.

– Kamiah Johnson, A&E Co-editor

Image courtesy of Dicebreaker

“The Fall of the House of Usher” 

“You know the golden rule? Whoever has the gold makes the rules!” 

Mike Flanagan has struck horror gold again with his latest Netflix series, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Loosely based on gothic writer Edgar Allen Poe’s short story of the same name, Flanagan’s series follows Roderick and Madeleine Usher, a ruthless pair of twins who rise from the bottom of the barrel to build the largest pharmaceutical empire in the world. For decades, they have evaded all legal consequences and capitalized on corporate greed and human addiction. Now old with seven direct descendants, all of the Ushers will reap what Roderick and Madeleine have sown, that is, the deaths of millions at their hands. The point of the story is less of a mystery to be solved and more of a slow unraveling to behold. The family’s individual and collective self-preservation breeds unsalvageable relationships and isolation, which leads to its ultimate downfall. Don’t be fooled by the intricate storyline, though; Flanagan indulges in equally deep scares and horrific displays of violence. Each episode references one of Poe’s short stories or poems, lending to a chilling and bravely original narrative by Flanagan.

As a sucker for large, generational character casts, I was completely hooked after the first episode. Each of Flanagan’s Ushers shows and owns their depravity rather than shying from it. I found the dialogue especially riveting because it serves to cement the characters in their treachery or to further obscure their intentions or self-awareness. Should people be held accountable for their ancestors’ wrongdoings? And whose decision is it to condemn them? A truly phenomenal series of 2023, “The Fall of the House of Usher” keeps your mind and heart racing in sync, erratic from the terror or hushed in the silence of doom. 

– Gabbi Basa, Staff Writer

Image courtesy of IGN

Season 2 of “The Bear” 

In June 2023, I wrote a review for Season 4 of HBO’s “Succession,” a show I have deemed the best of the year. However, I also want to shine a spotlight on my second favorite show, which has a chance to take “Succession”’s drama spot in awards season. FX’s “The Bear” started with a bang in its first season, knocking the socks off everyone who watched it. After binging Season 1 over the summer, I didn’t think the second season could top it, but I was proved wrong. 

Season 2 brings us back to Chicago as Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), and the rest of the staff struggle to turn their hole-in-the-wall food joint into a Michelin-star restaurant. While the show is being campaigned for comedy awards, the drama this season was just as brilliant. As Carmy and Syd’s work relationship strains under the pressure of opening, we see other characters flourish. Stand-out episodes were “Honeydew” and “Forks,” which followed Marcus (Lionel Boyce) and Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), respectively, as they honed their crafts. These episodes are gorgeously shot — following Marcus around beautiful Copenhagen — and provide insight and depth to characters you might not have liked very much before. Richie makes a gratifying 180-degree life change for the better in his episode “Forks,” and it is the highlight of the season (and the highest-rated episode on IMDb as of now). And we can’t talk about Season 2 without talking about the star-studded episode “Fishes” that takes place years prior at a tense Christmas dinner with the Berzatto family. Guest stars such as Jaime Lee Curtis, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, and John Mulaney are featured in this riveting episode, where everyone — including the audience — is kept on edge. 

If you haven’t seen Season 1 of “The Bear,” I highly recommend you watch it. Not just because Season 2 is worth getting to — because Season 1 is also great — but because watching the characters grow and learn with one another is just as heartwarming as it is stressful watching them all yell at each other. 

– Kamiah Johnson, A&E Co-editor

Image courtesy of Espinof

 

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About the Contributors
Yamile Peel, Staff Writer
Yamile is a 2nd year Linguistics major and Art History minor who is obsessed with watching Gilmore Girls on repeat and movie analysis videos
Gabbi Basa, Staff Writer
Gabbi is a 1st year neurobiology student, hungry reader, and metalhead. Talk to her about anything Stephen King or peruse her blog, The Geeky Gauntlet.
Xuan Ly, A&E Co-Editor
Xuan is a third-year global health major and art history minor. She loves seahorses, laying on the grass, and anything by Ocean Vuong.

Kamiah Johnson, A&E Co-Editor
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