Super Bowl

All good things must come to an end, and it seems as if the Texans might be saying goodbye to possible Hall of Famer Andre Johnson. The 12-year veteran out of Miami has been through all the ups and downs of the Houston Texans and his patience appears to have finally run out.

The Texans were a popular pick as an early season Super Bowl contender last season. But after pulling out victories in their first two games, the Texans lost 14 consecutive games to finish the season 2-14. It is clear that those Super Bowl aspirations were quickly washed away.

Now, coming off a season in which they posted the worst record in the league, it is safe to say the Texans are in full rebuilding mode. Nobody around the franchise has a Super Bowl on their mind.

Which brings us to the crossroads between the Texans and Andre Johnson. Johnson is almost certainly the been franchise’s best player of all-time. However, the aging Johnson has no intention of being a part of the franchise’s rebuilding process that could send him into retirement.

At the age of 33 and heading into his 12th season in the league, Johnson’s body may only have two good years left. He wants to contend for a Super Bowl and at this point, the Texans should grant his trade request. Houston can dissect it any which way, but a Super Bowl is very unlikely in their near future. There is nothing appealing to keep Johnson a Texan at this point and Houston should realize that and give the man what he desrves.

Johnson has given so much to this franchise and city, both on and off the field. Now it's time the franchise does him the justice of trading him to a Super Bowl contender. It won’t be hard finding a suitor for a star wide receiver who is an asset in the locker room as well. Overall, Johnson had a great run with the Texans, but its time to let go. 

Celebration time is over for the Seattle Seahawks. The start to another Super Bowl run has begun.

Of course, the odds are against these Seahawks repeating. The last two Super Bowl champions have failed to even reach the playoffs following their championship season.

Seattle started training camp with a handful of starters returning on both sides of the ball. Led by third year quarterback Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and a healthy Percy Harvin, the offense should continue to build on last year’s solid season

But the key to the Seahawks Super Bowl run was their stellar defense in 2013. Seattle spent plenty of money to keep their defense intact, signing Pro Bowlers Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman to long-term deals and preserving what is arguably be the best defensive backfield in the business. Seattle also solidified their defensive line by resigning Michael Bennett to a long-term contract.

Based on what we’ve seen in mini-camp, the Seahawks definitely seem ready to get back to work. Just a few days into practices, the Seahawks have already demonstrated the intensity that lead them to a last year’s Super Bowl. Wide receiver Phillip Bates and Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman got into a heated argument, which led to punches being thrown between the teammates. Teammates blamed the fight on the Seahawks competitiveness but were quick to explain the fight will be quickly forgotten.

As it has been the last few years, the NFC will be incredibly competitive once again in 2014. Of course, the 49ers will be returning a good core to try to end the Seahawks reign. Led by Drew Brees, the Saints will also contend to win the conference. Green Bay and Carolina, led by solid quarterback play, also have the potential to make a Super Bowl run. Nonetheless, the Seahawks will be certainly be the favorite to return to the Super Bowl.

Undeclared freshman Grace Bellone (left) and public relations plan II freshman Caroline Read (right) watch the final minutes of Super Bowl XLVIII at Tower Pizza Bistro on Sunday evening. Bellone was frustrated to see the Seattle Seahawks dominate the Denver Broncos with a final score of 43-8. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

For many TV viewers, the Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 thrashing of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday night was a distraction from the real game going on — the ads.

At a yearly panel organized by the public affairs, advertising and public relations departments of the Moody College of Communication, seven advertising professors came together to discuss the Super Bowl’s ads via Twitter.

University professors and lecturers tweeted their opinions on the Super Bowl commercials under #SBAdJudge. University advertising and public relations students also tweeted under #AdGradBowl and #ADV378S.

Public relations junior Hugo Rojo said the Super Bowl is as much of an event for those interested in advertising as it is for football fans.

“It’s almost a national holiday for sports aficionados, so you can imagine what it’s like for us advertising and PR folk,” Rojo said.

Advertising professor Neal Burns said he thinks this year’s panel had a nice mix of perspectives, as each contributor focuses on different aspects of the ads.

“I’m interested in the brand,” Burns said. “And I’m interested in how well the spot supports the image I’ve got of the brand.”

Advertising assistant professor Carlos Hernandez said he looked for emotional appeals of the advertisements.

“It requires a lot of creativity and talent to create ads that can connect emotionally with their audience,” Hernandez said.

Advertisements with an emotional appeal dominated the airwaves this year. Advertising assistant professor Angeline Close said Coca-Cola’s “America Is Beautiful” ad was effective. 

“America as one is the theme behind the Coca-Cola spot. Superb use of music in advertising & multi-cultural branding. Pretty Ad.” Close tweeted.

The professors also commented on the strategies employed by the advertisements. Michael Mackert, an advertising and public relations associate professor, said he thought the RadioShack ad was especially clever. 

“Interesting from RadioShack, leaning into the idea that it’s old and outdated and needs to change. Loved that.” Mackert tweeted.

Burns said the Super Bowl commercials are important because they have the potential to not only reflect, but influence society.

“There’s a way in which advertising, on the one hand, reflects our culture, and other aspects where advertising helps create or articulate our culture,” Burns said.

While the audience numbers for Super Bowl XLVIII have not been released yet, last year’s event attracted about 108.7 million viewers. Becuase of the large audience size, a 30-second ad cost about $4 million.

Mackert said the ads would be a point of focus for him with or without an organized panel. 

“Since tweeting during the Super Bowl about ads is something I would have been doing anyway, it seemed like a fun way to engage with other faculty and students,” Mackert said.

The Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl Champions for the first time in their 38 years of existence.

The Seahawks defense suffocated the Denver Broncos number one scoring offense from the very start of the game leading to a 43-8 blowout.

“This is an amazing team,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “Took us four years to get to this point but they never have taken a step sideways. These guys would not take anything but winning this ballgame."

The Broncos played a horrendous game which started with a safety on the first offensive play of the game. The Broncos offense wasn’t able to recover. Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning threw two interceptions and fumbled once. Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas also had a fumble.

Seattle took advantage of those four Denver turnovers. The Seahawks scored 21 points off turnovers. Seven of those 21 points were off of a Michael Smith interception return which helped Smith win Super Bowl MVP honors.

After a disastrous first half, down 22-0, the Broncos had an opportunity to stage a comeback but Seattle’s Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown to extend the Seahawks lead to 29-0.

The Broncos’ offense finally scored at the end of the third quarter to close the gap to 36-8 but that would be the last time Denver would find the endzone.  

When the game ended, Carroll was showered with Gatorade, blue and green confetti streamed down and the Seahawks hoisted the Lombardi trophy as NFL Champions for the first time ever.

“We’ve been relentless all season. Having that mentality of having a championship day every day,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “At the end of the day, you want to play your best football and that is what we did today.”

Super Bowl XLVIII: Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks

Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV: FOX

Time: 5:25 p.m. CST

Spread: Denver (-3)


This year’s Super Bowl features the number one scoring and yards defense as well as the top-ranked offense in scoring and yards.

This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object; the offensive juggernaut Denver Broncos meet the stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in a Super Bowl matchup for the ages.

The Broncos make their first appearance in the Super Bowl since 1998 while the Seahawks make their second appearance, first since 2006.

This is only the second time in the past two decades that the top seeded teams in the AFC and NFC will meet in the super bowl.

The Seahawks will rely on their star-studded secondary to keep Peyton Manning in check. While Manning and the Broncos will try to exploit any possible mistakes made by the Seattle defense.

This game will be won by the team that can use their style to their advantage. Will the Seattle defense contain the Broncos high-scoring offense or will the Broncos offense be too much for the Seattle to handle?

 

Matchups


Quarterback

Advantage: Denver

Peyton Manning has had one of the best seasons any NFL quarterback in the history of the game. During the regular season, Manning threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, both NFL single-season records. Manning is a four-time MVP, a Super Bowl MVP and two super bowl appearances. While Seattle’s Russell Wilson has had success during his two years in the NFL, Manning’s experience gives the Broncos the advantage.


Running Backs
Advantage: Seattle
Known for his “Beast Mode” nickname, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored 12 touchdowns this year. Complimented by Robert Turbine, Lynch and the Seahawks have an advantage over Denver’s Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman.


Wide Receivers
Advantage: Denver
Denver has a trio of receivers - Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker that have scored 35 touchdowns and have accumulated over 3,400 receiving yards. Throw in tight end Julius Thomas, who had 12 touchdowns during the season, and the Broncos’ receivers clearly outshine Seattle.


Defensive Line
Advantage: Seattle
Seattle’s line has a slight advantage over Denver. Seattle has not lost any defensive lineman while Denver lost defensive end Derek Wolfe and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson.


Linebackers
Advantage: Denver
Denver lost Von Miller for the season in December; Miller was one of the Broncos’ best linebackers. The Broncos still have linebackers Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard. While Seattle has three solid linebackers - Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith and Bobby Wagner - Denver has a slightly better linebacker corps.


Secondary
Advantage: Seattle
Known as the Legion of Boom, Seattle’s secondary is the best in the NFL. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas anchor the secondary. Sherman and Thomas account for 13 of Seattle’s 28 interceptions. Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell are Seattle’s other secondary starters. Seattle’s starting secondary accounted for 204 tackles and four forced fumbles.


Prediction
Seattle 26
 Denver 24

Former Longhorn safety Earl Thomas will be suiting up for the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday as they face off against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

When Super Bowl XLVIII concludes on Sunday, at least one former Longhorn defensive player will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. 

This year’s game features Seattle’s Earl Thomas against Denver’s Michael Huff and Quentin Jammer, continuing a tradition in which a former Longhorn has made it to the Super Bowl every year since 2007. 

Texas junior cornerback Quandre Diggs, who is Jammer’s younger brother, is excited for the matchup and to see the trio represent Texas as “Defensive Back University.”

“It means a lot just to know that pretty much every year for a long time there has been a DB in that game,” Diggs said. ”No matter who wins, we know a DB will get the Super Bowl.”

 

Earl Thomas, safety:

Thomas was drafted No. 14 overall by the Seahawks in the 2010 NFL draft, following a sensational redshirt sophomore season in which he was a Jim Thorpe Award finalist.

Thomas is regarded by many to be the best safety in the NFL and is a crucial piece in the Seahawks’ secondary. If the Seahawks are going to win, they will need their defense to step up, which means Thomas playing at a high level. Though it wouldn’t be a surprise if he makes a game-changing play, Thomas is focused on just doing the little things right.

“You see a lot of guys that aren’t tackling as well; they’re not doing as well as they started,” Thomas said. “That’s what it’s all about — sticking to your core beliefs, sticking to who you are and everything else will take care of itself.”

Of the three Longhorns in the game, Thomas has the most potential to decide the game with a decisive interception or pass breakup.

 

Michael Huff, safety:

Huff was drafted seventh overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2006 NFL draft, following the 2005 season, in which he became Texas’ first Thorpe Award winner while helping the Longhorns to their first national title in 35 years.

Huff’s best season was in 2010 when he recorded career-highs in tackles, sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions en route to being named a second-team All-Pro safety. He spent his first seven seasons in Oakland before being cut in March 2013, he was later picked up by the Ravens before being cut again mid-season. Now Huff is on the verge of winning the Super Bowl, having been picked up by the Broncos in November. With the humbling experience of losing in Oakland behind him, he realizes the need to seize the moment now.

“Those years in Oakland, getting cut by two teams this year,” Huff said. “To know nothing but winning in college, struggle for seven years and never even get to the playoffs, all of those losing seasons, just makes what I’m feeling right now extra special.”

 

Quentin Jammer, cornerback:

Jammer was drafted fifth overall in 2002 by the San Diego Chargers, after being named a unanimous All-American in 2001.

In 2009, Jammer was named to the Chargers’ 50th anniversary team as a cornerback. After 11 seasons with San Diego, the Broncos picked him up and he is now primarily cornerback Champ Bailey’s backup. Like Huff, Jammer probably won’t have much impact in the game, though he should see some important playing time.

“I am excited to be able to share it with him and go up there and be by his side through the rest of the weekend and hope they go out and get the win,” Diggs said.

Russell Wilson

Stepping into the batter’s box used to be a part of Russell Wilson’s normal routine. The Colorado Rockies drafted Wilson in the fourth round of 2010 MLB Draft.

Wilson had two solid seasons in the Rockies farm system but he had an urge to play football that he couldn’t shake.

Wilson left the Rockies organization in the winter of 2011 and enrolled at Wisconsin to play football.

Wilson had a successful season for Wisconsin throwing for over 3,000 yards, 33 touchdowns and led the Badgers to the 2012 Rose Bowl.

In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks gambled on Wilson.

Many sources didn’t like the Seahawks decision to draft Wilson and Seattle was given an ‘F’ for the selection. At the time, drafting Wilson didn’t make sense, Seattle had just spent $25 million on free agent quarterback Matt Flynn.

But when Wilson stepped on the field, it was obvious why the Seahawks gambled on Wilson. Wilson has a strong arm, functional mobility and great downfield vision.

Those skills led Wilson to a stellar rookie season- 26 passing TDs, 4 rushing TDs, 3,118 passing yards and 489 rushing yards.

Unlike many NFL players, Wilson didn’t suffer through a sophomore slump, he followed his rookie season with an equally impressive 2013 season- 26 passing TDS, 1 rushing TD, 3,357 passing yards and 539 rushing yards.

As Wilson prepares for this weekend’s super bowl, the Seahawks can rest easy, their gamble paid off.

 

Peyton Manning

For Manning, it’s been a clear cut path to NFL success. Son of NFL great Archie Manning, Peyton has football in his genes.

Manning was a coveted high school recruit who chose to play for the Tennessee Volunteers. Manning played all four years for the Vols.

During his senior season, Manning threw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns. Manning was awarded the Davey O’Brien award and the Johnny Unitas Award.

Manning was picked first overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1998 NFL Draft.

During his 13 seasons with the Colts, Manning won four MVP Awards, appeared in two super bowls and won one.

Now, with the Denver Broncos, Manning has an opportunity to win his second Super Bowl in his third appearance.

 

Two Paths Collide

The 12-year gap between Manning and Wilson is the largest age gap between competing Super Bowl quarterbacks in the history of the game.

And while they may have taken different paths to get to this Super Bowl, they have one thing in common - work ethic.

Both quarterbacks are known for being the first ones into work and the last ones to leave.

Wilson has made an impression on the players and coaches in the Seahawks organization.

“Man, around 6:15 a.m. It's hard to beat (Wilson) here,” Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith said. “It rubs off on guys. You don't want to be slacking when you know he's in here getting better."

“Russell is fabulous in everything we have asked him to do. He's done a great job of managing all of the situations, and he's come up big just about every time," Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.

During his fifteen years in the NFL, Manning has been admired for his hard work.

“Peyton's attention to detail, that's probably what separates him from other guys and other people that have played this game," tight end Julius Thomas said. "Every day, I see how much he prepares, I see the little things that he does to make sure he's on top of his game.”

While Super Bowl XLVIII brings these quarterback’s paths together, this game will also send them in different directions.

For Wilson, his career is still young and with his skill set, this probably won’t be his only Super Bowl appearance. A win would put Wilson among the NFL’s elite.

Manning’s career is at its twilight. This Super Bowl is an opportunity for Manning to silence his critics and cement his place as one of the all-time best NFL quarterbacks. 

Denver defeats Patriots 26-16; Advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

Late in the third quarter, down 20-3 to the Denver Broncos, the New England Patriots had a decision to make-- go for it on a fourth and two at the Denver 30 or kick a 47-yard field goal down.

The Patriots rolled the dice and came up empty as Denver sent a well-timed blitz and sacked Tom Brady.

Whether New England wants to admit it or not, the game had been long decided before that moment. Peyton Manning and the Denver offense carved through the Patriots defense which lead to a 26-16 Broncos victory.

Manning outshined rival quarterback Tom Brady throwing for 400 yards and two touchdowns. Manning played a well-crafted game, completing an AFC championship game record tying 32 passes.

“It's very rewarding when you put a lot of hard work into the offseason and the regular season,” Manning said. “It pays dividends with a huge win.”

Meanwhile, New England was held in check for most of the game. It took the Patriots over 50 minutes to find the end zone by the time they scored it was already too late.

New England was able to score 13 points in the final ten minutes but fell short when they were unable to punch in a two-point conversion to make it a one possession game.

With the win, Denver will make their first super bowl appearance since 1998. For Manning, it will be his third appearance in the super bowl, his first with the Broncos.

“We kept our nose to the grindstone, kept persevering,” Manning said. “It’s gratifying to get this win today.”

Denver will matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at Metlife Stadium on February 2, 2014.

 

Late turnovers sink 49ers; Seahawks advance to Super Bowl XLVII with 23-17 win

49ers quarterback Collin Kaepernick launched a pass in to the end zone intended for Michael Crabtree, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman tipped the pass and it landed in the hands of linebacker Malcolm Smith.

The interception sealed a 23-17 victory for Seattle and a trip to the super bowl.

“I’m the best corner in the game,” exclaimed Sherman in a post-game interview with FOX’s Erin Andrews. In another interview, Sherman said that he “knew it would come down to (the defense) in the back end to win this thing.”

The game was a classic heavyweight fight, each team delivering and taking shots. The 49ers were first to strike with a strip-fumble on the first play of the game.

Kaepernick was key to the 49ers offense, he lead the 49ers with 130 rushing yards. But the Seahawks were able to take advantage of Kaepernick’s mistakes, he turned the ball over three times in the second half.

For the Seattle offense, momentum swung their way when Marshawn Lynch scored on a 40 yard run. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson managed the game with 215 yards passing and one touchdown.

The NFC championship game was defined by the defensive play by both teams. The 49ers made two fourth down stops and forced a turnover. But it was the Seattle that landed the last punch with three forced turnovers in the second half.

“This is as sweet as it gets,” Sherman said.

“This is really special,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll added, “It would really be a mistake to not remember the connection and the relationship between this football team and the 12th Man and these fans. It's unbelievable."

Seattle will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at Metlife Stadium on February 2, 2014.

Denver, Colo.

January 19, 2014 2 p.m.CST

TV: CBS

Spread: Denver -5 ½

When I originally started to write this, I tried hard to avoid the Brady vs. Manning narrative. However, the more research that was done, the more I realized that the Brady-Manning narrative defines this game.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady meet again for their fifteenth match-up against each other. Brady has dominated the head-to head series, leading with a 10-4 record. More importantly Brady is 2-1 against Manning in the playoffs.

However, this game will be much different than the previous fourteen. This is the chance for Manning to overcome his doubters. Although Manning has statistically had one of the best careers of all-time, Manning has been defined by his struggles in the playoffs.  Over the years, Manning has faltered in the postseason—only posting a 10-11 record.

Manning’s career has been defined by his head-to-head matchup against Brady. Brady has stood in Manning’s way throughout his career. The first, and only, time Manning beat Brady in the playoffs led to his only Super Bowl victory.

As Manning’s career comes to a close, this could be the final Brady vs. Manning playoff matchup. It is a chance for Manning to beat Brady one more time and lead his Broncos to a Super Bowl.

The narrative for Brady isn’t much different. Brady has made five super bowl appearances and won three.

But Brady hasn’t been able to hoist the Lombardi trophy since 2005. An AFC Championship win over Manning and a Super Bowl win will add to his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks of all-time.

As for the team matchups, the Broncos and Patriots represent two opposite offenses. 

The Broncos are a pass happy team. Manning threw for a NFL record 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards. Manning and the Broncos throw the ball because they have great receivers—Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas.

The Patriots are a team dedicated to running the ball. With a stable of solid running backs—Legarrette Blount, Steven Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden—the Patriots have had success pounding the rock. Blount showed the Patriots dedication to the run with a four touchdown performance against the Colts in the AFC Divisional round.

Both defenses are average but the Broncos have been ravaged with injuries. Denver will be without outside linebacker Von Miller, cornerback Chris Harris and defensive end Derek Wolfe.

With the narrative set, the winner of the AFC Championship game will be determined by which quarterback plays the best. Will Manning prevail over Brady or will it be Brady once again walking off a winner against Peyton Manning?

NFC Championship Game: San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle, Was.

January 19, 2014 5:30 p.m. CST

TV: FOX

Spread: Seattle -3 ½

The San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks will play their third game this season when the 49ers travel to Seattle to play in the NFC Championship game.

The 49ers will be playing in their third consecutive NFC Championship game and will look to advance their second Super Bowl in-a-row.

The Seahawks return for to the NFC Championship game for the first time since 2006.

The two teams split their regular season matchup. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers in Seattle 29-3 and the 49ers won in San Francisco 19-17.

The Seahawks and 49ers have equally great offensive and defensive units.

The Seahawks and 49ers possess top ten defenses. The 49ers rank fourth in total defense and the Seahawks in ninth.

The Seahawks arguably have the best secondary in the NFL led by Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman.

The 49ers boast one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL, Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowmen, Aldon Smith and Carlos Rogers lead the defense.

The Seahawks and 49ers offenses are led by two of the NFL’s rising stars—Russell Wilson and Collin Kaepernick, respectively.

The 49ers have a reliable running back in Frank Gore and Seahawks have a dominant back in Marshawn Lynch.

Although both teams mirror each other, the Seahawks have a clear home field advantage. Known for their rambunctious crowd, CenturyLink Field is one of the loudest stadiums in all of sports.

The key to the game will be the 49ers overcoming the Seahawks home-field advantage. The 49ers have lost their last two game in Seattle by a combined 71-16.

Will the Seahawks continue their home domination over the 49ers or will the 49ers defeat the Seahawks in Seattle and advance to their second consecutive super bowl?

From Beyonce’s Super Bowl extravaganza in January to last week’s debut of the “Bound 2” video, The Daily Texan Life & Arts staff fondly recounts some of the best pop culture moments, movies and music of the year. 

Best Films of 2013

“Short Term 12” — Brie Larson’s natural, warm performance as Grace, a supervisor in a halfway home for at-risk kids, is only the beginning of what’s great about “Short Term 12.” The film plays out with genuine emotion, bringing viewers into the lives of the kids Grace oversees and effortlessly breaking the audience’s hearts with something as simple as a character detail clicking into place. This film didn’t make much of a splash upon release, but it’s a quiet classic, simply waiting to be discovered.

“The Spectacular Now” — Teen romances are a well-worn genre, but “The Spectacular Now” is a surprise stunner, telling the story of borderline-alcoholic Sutter (Miles Teller) and good girl Aimee (Shailene Woodley). Teller and Woodley are both incredible in the film, and their chemistry gives way to an authentic, charming romance that perfectly captures the soaring highs and shattering lows of not only teen romance, but of growing up.

“Stories We Tell” — “Stories We Tell” marks director Sarah Polley’s first excursion into documentary, and she still manages to make the genre distinctly hers, in line with her artistic pursuits and in keeping with her personal, observant style. The film is equal parts memoir and mystery. Polley tells the story of her journey to find out who her real father is after her mother’s infidelities are revealed and never strays from playing in the messy emotional territory inherent to the subject matter.

— Alex Williams

“Gravity”  — A stellar movie about surviving catastrophe in space, Alfonso Cuaron’s epic is a visual masterpiece that uses 3-D so well it makes you believe that you are braving the elements of space. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney were praised for their excellent performances as astronauts struggling to get back to earth. While watching the film without 3-D or IMAX may lack a visual punch, the movie still deserves credit for a great plot and fantastic cinematography.

“Man of Steel” — Zack Snyder’s reimagining of Superman takes on a darker tone and delves into the psychology of one of the greatest superheroes ever created. A powerful movie that plays up intense action, the original story of Superman is given the similar face-lift that Batman received under Christopher Nolan, focusing on the angsty psychology of the protagonist. The result is a true blockbuster spectacle that shouldn’t disappoint fans of the comic.

“August: Osage County” — A depressing but great film about women facing a family tragedy, “August: Osage County” boasts outstanding performances from Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Director John Wells tells a bitter story about the escalation of family feuds and the somber fact that not all relationships, even between blood, can end well.

— Alex Pelham

Best Moments of 2013

Beyonce — Queen Bey had quite the year in 2013. She reunited Destiny’s Child at the Super Bowl, debuted her self-directed documentary on HBO, chopped her locks off into a sweet pixie cut — and who can forget that time her hair got caught in a fan? Too bad we are still waiting for a new album. 

“Orange is the New Black” — Admit it, we all went into a Netflix coma at some point this year to binge-watch “Orange is the New Black.” Now it’s time to go forth and prepare the microwave popcorn and candy in anticipation of season two.

Selfie — Like it or not, the word “selfie” is Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year, beating out other winners like “twerk” and “bitcoin.” These words and more were added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online, though “double denim” still has my vote for word of the year.

— Elizabeth Williams

Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature  — Munro, often referred to as the master of the American short story, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. The Canadian author is the 13th woman to win the prize. At 82, and after 14 published works, the award is well-deserved to a woman regarded for her brief, but deeply affecting tales. 

— Sarah-Grace Sweeney

Miley Cyrus at the VMAs — Miley’s twerking incident, broadcast to millions at the Video Music Awards, is easily one of the most popular and strangely controversial moments in 2013. “Me and Robin Thicke the whole time said, ‘we’re about to make history,’” the 21 year-old pop star said in an MTV clip. And Cyrus certainly did make history. Miley’s performance of “We Can’t Stop” was forever immortalized in almost every media platform, inspiring parodies and halloween costumes everywhere. 

Kanye West — Kanye West has once again managed to surprise and entertain with his annual antics, with this year perhaps being the most entertaining yet. The birth of his and Kim Kardashian’s baby girl, aptly named North West, along with the premiere of a new album, Yeezus, and the subsequent hit music video to his song “Bound 2” all make for yet another year of the rapper’s wild success.

— Lauren LAmie

Best Albums of 2013

Kanye West, Yeezus — Rather than build on the grandeur of his last album, West ruled 2013 with his harshest, most minimalistic and challenging record to date. Yeezus is an outburst of anger, a twisted representation of West’s inner psyche, and a complex masterpiece that stands amongst the best work the controversial superstar has ever made. 2013 belonged to Yeezus.

Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt — By mixing elements of pop-punk with influences like Liz Phair or early Cat Power, Katie Crutchfield has been putting out some of the most emotionally resonant music of 2013. For a 22-year-old, these tales of heartbreak, frustration, and uncertainty serve as a pitch-perfect soundtrack. 

— David Sackllah

Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires Of The City — The NYC band’s third album is also their best. Yet again combining undeniable pop hooks with intellectual themes, Modern Vampires of the City tackles love, life and religion in ways that no other band could do. It’s a pleasure to listen to, and fits perfectly with the college student psyche. 

Lorde, Pure Heroine — Perhaps the most important debut album from this year comes from Lorde. Pure Heroine is a notable introduction from the promising new artist, and her musicality and themes will only develop more as she matures. It’s a concise representation of her melancholic style and will keep filling radio waves for a long time to come.

— Kris Ohlendorf

The National, Trouble Will Find Me — We screamed with Matt Berninger on 2005’s Alligator, we took long and pensive drives to 2010’s High Violet and now we are both crying and dancing along to this year’s Trouble Will Find Me. Arguably The National’s best release to date, Trouble Will Find Me is a perfect addition to the band’s already spectacular discography. 

— Hannah Smothers