021 is nearing its end. Defined by the gradual reappearance of in-person activities, this year marks continuous global efforts to return to everyday life. For the first time in nearly two years, musicians performed to roaring concert crowds once more; live audiences replaced laugh tracks as they returned to television sets; and folks once again stepped foot in theaters to partake in one of the all-time great pastimes: going to the movies.
Art this year flourished. Previously delayed films made their way back to silver screen, giving us highly anticipated moviegoing experiences such as Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune.” On the music front, Olivia Rodrigo seemingly took over the world in a matter of hours, while reigning songwriter queen Taylor Swift released rerecordings of her timeless albums that we remember all too well. Television in 2021 saw limited series blossoming with the outrageous murder-mystery “The White Lotus,” the return of stars such as Selena Gomez in “Only Murders in the Building” and Netflix’s unexpected “Squid Game” emerging as the media giant’s most popular series of all time.
While there was no shortage of things to love, still some highlights outshined the rest. So, without further ado, here are The Daily Californian’s picks for the best in film, music and television in an outstanding year for arts and entertainment.
— Vincent Tran, arts & entertainment editor
Shiva Baby” is not a film particularly interested in pushing cinematic boundaries. Instead, it’s a work of micro-budget brilliance, developed with hints of writer-director Emma Seligman’s own background. — Dominic Marziali, film beat reporter
“C’mon C’mon” captures characters’ emotions subtly throughout, avoiding expository writing as a crutch to convey these nuances; instead, much of the responsibility falls on acting. — Joy Diamond, film beat reporter
As director, Lowery leverages the power of the cinematic apparatus to translate the literary tale into one driven by captivating imagery. — Neil Haeems, video game beat reporter
Written on the heels of her father’s release from prison, Daddy’s Home never shies away from the grit and grime paired with the lives of those who are incarcerated, broken or simply down and out downtown. — Ian Fredrickson, music beat reporter
Brevity and versatility have always been Doja Cat’s strengths, but she perfects the formula in Planet Her, her third and best studio album to date. — Asha Pruitt
People may have christened Rodrigo a Gen Z icon, but her effortless sincerity transcends generations. As she intimately captures pangs of the past, Rodrigo dazzles as a visionary of the future. — Taila Lee, arts & entertainment deputy editor
Not only a trailblazer for transgender actresses of color on television throughout their time on “Pose,” Moore’s contributions to “Pose” solidify them as one of the show’s biggest breakout stars.— Caitlin Keller, television beat reporter
It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Kendall Roy — near impossible, even. Strong has taken a brilliantly written character and elevated it to legend, and long may he continue to reign. — Lauren Sheehan-Clark
And it’s this quality of “Ted Lasso” that generates a devoted viewership. Sudeikis’ performance is so honest and heartwarming that viewers just can’t help but want to be a little bit more like Ted Lasso. — Sarah Runyan
Vincent Tran is the arts & entertainment editor. Maya Thompson is a deputy arts & entertainment editor. Taila Lee is a deputy arts & entertainment editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Contact her at [email protected]. Contact her at [email protected].