Best of 2011: Editors’ Picks (part 1)

We polled our editors and asked them each to pick a few of their favorite things from 2011.  Make sure to weigh in with your own in the comments section!


Editor-in-Chief Matt Erspamer: The Tree of Life– Seeing this in the theater was the best movie-going experience for me since I saw The Dark Knight. It’s pretty infamous now for its 20-minute sequence that depicts — among other things — the beginning of life, but most of it focuses on the life of a family in the 1950s in Texas (the location of director Terrence Malick’s childhood). The Tree of Life has some of the most beautifully filmed sequences in movie history, and the delicate way it walks the line between the way of nature and the way of grace without condescending to either is admirable. Even if you hate it, you’ll never forget it.

Managing Editor Paul Young: Hobo with a Shotgun Homeless and hungry, a man who earns $49.99 is forced to decide between purchasing a lawnmower to start his life over as a landscaper, or a shotgun to rid the streets of “Scum City” from evil. He chooses the shotgun. (Directed by Jason Eisener, this film is available on instant watch through Netflix… you’re welcome.)

A&E Editor Sara Wiseman: BridesmaidsDirty jokes. Farts. Cuss words. Puke. It’s not your typical chick flick. And that’s what makes Bridesmaids awesome. It follows the planning of a wedding with a re-imagining of certain details. In the male-dominated comedy world, audiences seemed shocked that a genuinely funny raunchy movie with a nearly all-lady lineup could even exist. Bridesmaids co-writer and star Kristen Wiig — a Saturday Night Live veteran — isn’t the first female comedian shaped by stars like Carol Burnett and Gilda Radner, nor will she be the last. But Wiig’s witty approach to an ordinary scenario certainly got people to recognize that ladies can get the laughs too. Bridesmaids is definitely one of the best movies of the year.

Sports Editor Alek Frost: Drive

Food Editor Catey Traylor & PR Representative Kayla Rusin : Limitless

Greek Life Editor Allison Totten: The Lincoln Lawyer

Multimedia Editor Ryan Nielsen: Bridesmaids

Social Media Guru Jake Freeland: Our Idiot Brother

TV Show

Matt:  Breaking Bad– Because Mad Men was delayed this year, AMC’s other hit got to hog the spotlight. With the continued presence of the villainous Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), Walt (Bryan Cranston) continues his descent to the dark side while cooking meth for the Cartel. This is one of the best overall seasons of television that I’ve ever watched, with each episode finding an almost unbearable amount of suspense and intensity. Walt’s maniacal laughter at the end of the episode “Crawl Space” when he realizes how hopeless the situation has become will burn into your memory for days.

Paul: Beavis and ButtheadThe boys are back!  Beavis and Butthead have returned to airwaves with new T-shirts and the same terrible attitudes. The cartoon premiered in March 1993 and ended in November 1997 and helped to set the stage for future adult comedies (including spin-offs King of the Hill and Daria). The heavy metal loving duo set new standards of stupidity in an uncomfortable series of misadventures, while leading segments commentating the era’s popular MTV music videos. On October 27, 2011, new episodes of Beavis and Butthead began with a commentary of Michigan’s own viral sensation, “It’s So Cold in the D.” Mike Judge, the creative mastermind behind this cultural staple, has reinvented a long-missed element of MTV by targeting Youtube videos, reality television and contemporary pop culture.

Sara: The Walking DeadWho knew the (inevitable) zombie apocalypse could be so … awesome? Admittedly, zombies are a little been there, done that, but AMC’s The Walking Dead takes life after the living to a whole new level. It’s more than just the challenge of survival; more than just rounds of ammunition left. The Walking Dead challenges the audience to think about what it does/would mean to be human. The show portrays its characters wrestling with existentialism and the emotional loss of loved ones that are still physically present and ever ready to feast on their flesh. It shows what paths different kinds of people take in a world now forsaken. The Walking Dead is 2011’s best TV show with plenty of sweat and tears to fulfill the drama junkie with a dash of gunpowder to satisfy the action heroes.

Ryan: Sons of Anarchy

Alek & Jake: The Walking Dead

Catey: Modern Family

Allison: Parenthood


Matt: Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen- This in-depth analysis of what actually goes on at Area 51 is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in years. Dispelled are the rumors of UFOs and alien experiments, which are replaced by Soviet conspiracies and spy plane prototypes. Using interviews with dozens of former employees, Jacobsen weaves a grand, engaging narrative out of the military’s most infamous and still denied secret.

Paul: Bossypants by Tina Fey- Tina Fey, mastermind of the popular TV series 30 Rock and former star of Saturday Night Live, released her comedy-driven autobiography in April 2011. Witty writing and brutally honest anecdotes make this a laugh-out-loud tale of ridicule, awkwardness and success. A large slice of profits from Bossypants are donated to the Books for Kids Foundation of New York, and the text’s audio-book version was nominated for a Grammy award, selling more than 150,000 copies on Readers who need a crash course in being able to laugh at themselves can take a valuable lesson from this humble testament of comedy genius.

Catey: Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Jake: A Dance With DragonsGeorge R.R. Martin

Video Game

Matt: Batman: Arkham City– This sequel to the hit Batman: Arkham Asylum showcased just how talented the people at Rocksteady Studios are at creating the true Dark Knight experience. By creating an entire city instead of the cramped confines of a mental institution, Batman is allowed to spread his wings and take on a variety of memorable villains like Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze and, my personal favorite, The Riddler. With more than 400 unique trophies scattered around the city, taking on Riddler is by far the most daunting and fun task in the game. Oh, did I mention you can also play as Catwoman?

Paul: WWE ’12-  WWE ’12 is almost exactly what you would expect. This game has been revered by critics as a huge improvement over WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, and is the first game of the “WWE” series (number 14 overall). If you like a good-ole-fashioned TLC match (Tables, Ladders and Chairs), and are ready for a polished makeover of a classic series, this is your game. No new languages need to be learned to play, nor will gamers be immersed into new environments for days at a time. The developers offer several playable story lines, with names such as Rey Mysterio, John Cena and Chris Jericho, while also allowing up to 15 created characters — all with their own career choices and interactions. This game is, for the most part, about two things: juicing up and kicking ass.

Jake: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Alek: NBA 2K12

Ryan: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Stay tuned for part 2, which will feature our editors picking and talking about their favorite albums, songs, food and drinks of the year!