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Taking a glance at the biggest achievements in music and film of 2011

WE’VE RUNG IN the new year and welcomed 2012 with open arms, but let’s not forget the past year. With rioting, Occupy-the-world protests, and provincial and federal elections, 2011 was one politically charged year. But in the world of arts, there were just as many front-page-worthy events. So, in an ode to 2011, here’s Fulcrum’s list of the top five best albums and movies.

Top five albums of 2011

5. Lady Gaga, Born This Way

Favourite tracks: “Born This Way”, “You & I”, and “Edge of Glory”.

Born This Way has become an anthem of acceptance of both self and others in 2011. Tracks like “You & I” offer a classic rock version of the pop icon.

4. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues

Favourite tracks: “Battery Kinzie”, “Helplessness Blues”, and “The Shrine/An Argument”.

Stripped-down vocals and acoustics propel this indie darling onto the list. Fleet Foxes offer psychedelic music in a new format, with “The Shrine/An Argument” invoking memories of The Who’s greatest hits.

3. Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch The Throne

Favourite tracks: “Niggas In Paris”, “Lift Off”, and “Otis”.

“Doctors say I’m the illest / cause I suffer from realness,” proclaims hip-hop royal Kanye West. How much smoother can a rapper get? Jay-Z and West combine to create an album that has so much swagger they simply want you to watch as they show why they are the very best at what they do.

2. Foo Fighters, Wasting Light

Favourite tracks:Rope”, “Walk”, and “I Should Have Known”.

Dave Grohl continues to prove he is one of our generation’s greatest frontmen. Wasting Light, which was produced on tape in Grohl’s garage, is a force of nature and showcases the band’s ability to play infinite styles. With the sadness of “I Should Have Known” and the screaming guitars of “White Limo”, the Foo Fighters transition to each style seamlessly and incredibly. This album is a must-buy.

1. Adele, 21

Favourite tracks: “Rolling in the Deep”, “Someone Like You”, and “Set Fire to the Rain”.

How is it that a woman who is just now entering her prime has already released two critically acclaimed albums? Adele channels her problems into her music, and what comes out is an amazing collection of songs on love and loss. Her smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics have made her  a household name and catapulted her to international recognition.

Andrew Ikeman

Top five Canadian movies of 2011

5. Afghan Luke

Premiering at the Toronto Institute Film Festival just a few short months ago, this movie follows a war correspondent (the eponymous Luke, played by Nick Stahl) as he tries to find out whether a Canadian sniper is taking trophies from his kills. From the creators of Trailer Park Boys, it’s both hilarious and thoughtful.

4. Take this Waltz 

Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen star in this movie about a wife who finds herself falling for her rickshaw-pulling neighbour, while her hapless husband doesn’t realize what’s going on. The film was beautifully shot by Canadian director Sarah Polley, with fantastic attention to detail and emotion.

3. Café de Flore

Jean-Marc Vallée proved with C.R.A.Z.Y. that he is a master of fitting music onto cinema, and he does so again by linking two stories across time and space with a single song. Chronicling the love life of a boy with Down syndrome and a Montreal DJ dealing with leaving his wife and kids for another woman, the movie uses music to express how it feels to fall in love and be abandoned.

2. Starbuck 

David Wozniak (Patrick Huard) needed some cash a few years back, so he made a few donations to the local sperm bank. Thanks to a mishap at the clinic, he finds out years later that he has fathered over 500 children, and that 142 of them want to know his identity. Chronically a screw up, David has to hide this fact from his family and girlfriend, while debating whether he’s ready to be a dad.

1. A Dangerous Method 

Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen)’s student, Karl Jung (Michael Fassbender), has an affair with his patient, Sabina Spielrien (Keira Knightley), whose case history helped develop the psychiatric theory that would make the two men famous.

Eleni Armenakis