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Marquee’s 2014 End of the Year Spectacular

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Martin Scorcese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is one of the most raunchy and entertaining films of the school year. Photo via thewolfofwallstreet.com

Martin Scorcese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is one of the most raunchy and entertaining films of the school year. Photo via thewolfofwallstreet.com

As the semester draws to a close, so does another exciting, vibrant year of arts & entertainment achievements. And so, Marquee presents to you, our loyal readers, entertainment’s best of the best in albums, concerts and movies of the school year.

Best Concert

Mumford and Sons

With beards, banjos and beers, Mumford and Sons was certainly one of the best concerts in Milwaukee this past school year. On Sept. 3, the folk-rock band exceeded all expectations at the sold-out Marcus Amphitheater on the Summerfest grounds. They delivered on their most famous hits like “Little Lion Man” and “Babel” (of course), but they also blew the crowd away with renditions of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” as well as The Beatles’ “Come Together.”  The band also knew how to connect with the Wisconsin audience. Banjo player Winston Marshall sported a vintage Packers jersey, and Marcus Mumford shot-gunned a PBR on stage. Mumford and Sons had the crowd on their feet from start to finish and displayed a glorious music performance that everyone should experience. – Kevin Ward

Fall Out Boy
As a high school student living near Milwaukee, I practically lived at The Rave. My sister and I lined up hours before showtime – without skipping class … most of the time – so we could get as close to the stage as possible. Seeing Fall Out Boy perform in the Eagle’s Ballroom last December was nothing like that. I came unaccompanied, stood in the back of the room and still had an unbelievable night. Lead singer and guitarist Patrick Stump had a contagious energy that kept the audience dancing for the whole show with a mix of classics like “Thnks fr th mmrs” and new tunes like “Phoenix.” If you missed the boys in December, don’t worry. They’re headlining the Marcus Amphitheater with Paramore July 5. – Claire Nowak

Queens of the Stone Age 

The best concert of the year hasn’t happened yet, but next week, American rock band Queens of the Stone Age is coming to the Riverside Theater. The band has been touring since its latest album “…Like Clockwork” came out almost a year ago this June.

Founder and frontman Josh Homme is at the top of his game in the band’s latest album, especially on songs such as “Smooth Sailing,” “I Sat by the Ocean” and “Fairweather Friends.” Expect pounding riffs and the alternative rock/metal sound that makes Queens of the Stone Age stand out, but also power ballads like “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” from its newest album. – Brian Keogh

Volcano Choir 
Take one of Milwaukee’s best concert venues – the Pabst Theater. Now add a supergroup of some of the most talented Milwaukee and Wisconsin-based musicians thrilled to play for a sold-out hometown crowd. Last, but certainly not least, add the acclaim and talent of Wisconsin music poster boy, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, the group’s de facto front man. When you put that all together, Volcano Choir delivered a moving performance of the entirety of its excellent sophomore release, “Repave.” With Vernon mostly stepping back behind his violet-lit podium like a falsetto-nailing master of ceremonies, the rest of the band stepped into the spotlight to show that Volcano Choir was a true collaborative effort between some great musicians that make Milwaukee proud. – Erin Heffernan

Best Album

The Electric Lady by Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe made her mainstream breakthrough in 2008, when her single “Many Moons” earned her the first Grammy nomination of her career. She slowly gained recognition as a guest vocalist on fun.’s hit, “We Are Young.” Now, her latest album, “The Electric Lady,” keeps her signature electro-funk sound alive and thriving, mixing her old school soul vocals with modern techno beats. Like her previous album, “The ArchAndroid,” “The Electric Lady” includes overtures for each of the album’s suites, or sections of tracks and explores the imaginary world of Metropolis. The gem of the album, though, is her collaboration with Prince, “Givin’ Em What They Love.” Their complimentary sensual tones definitely give listeners what they love: Janelle in her natural funk element. – Claire Nowak

AM by Arctic Monkeys

Look no further than the Arctic Monkey’s “AM” for my favorite album of the year. Since it came out in September, the album quietly sat in the Billboard Top 40. It continued to build the band’s sound and is a far cry from its 2006 debut album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.” “AM” channels decades of rock with evident influences from both heavy metal and glam rock. The band gets better and better with each album and will be headlining at Lollapalooza in Chicago this summer. – Brian Keogh

San Fermin by San Fermin
San Fermin’s debut album grabbed my attention immediately with its powerful sound. The album is full of beautiful arrangements from classically trained pianist and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone that never fail to interest with intensity. Add the fact that one of its three talented singers calls Milwaukee home, and this became one of my go-to records to add a bit of drama to my paper-writing or homework time. – Erin Heffernan

Pure Heroine by Lorde 

Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, otherwise known by her stage name, Lorde, took the pop culture world by storm with her first album, “Pure Heroine.” Released in September, Lorde’s music is smart, edgy and, best of all, different. With such addictive songs, Lorde should have cut to the chase and titled her album “Pure Heroin” instead, namely in regards to the album’s hit single, “Royals,” which alone won Lorde two Grammys. Aside from the Grammys, Lorde received praise from Kanye West; Bruce Springsteen made a cover of one of her songs; and she even received kudos from the Queen of England. It’s safe to say the 17-year-old has a lot to look forward to in her career and deserves thanks for gracing us with one of the best albums of the school year. – Kevin Ward

 

Best Film

Wings of Desire

There were a lot of excellent movies at the Milwaukee Film Festival, but for me, the one that still stands out months after the fact is German director Wim Wender’s film full of magical realism from 1987: “Wings of Desire.”

Angels walk the streets of a divided Berlin unseen, hearing mankind’s thoughts but unable to take part in what they see. Two angels, Damiel and Cassiel, watch and discuss the going ons of human beings until Damiel falls in love with a trapeze artist and falls to earth to become human. – Brian Keogh

The Lego Movie
I could choose the film I consider the most important this school year (“12 Years a Slave”), I could list the one that makes me sound really sophisticated (“After Midnight,” maybe?), or I could go with the movie that gave me the most honest-to-God joy: “The Lego Movie.”
Much like the toy building blocks that inspired it, the movie has at least one part that everyone can appreciate. There’s a super catchy theme song. There are layers of hilarious meta humor commenting both on the characters’ toy-status and countless movie conventions (good-cop/bad-cop, the “chosen one” trope, the all-knowing mentor who must – by the rules of the universe – be played by Morgan Freeman, just to name a few). As if just to show off, “The Lego Movie” even throws in a “Star Wars” cameo, tapping into Lord Lucas’ intellectual property rights through the power of legoization. Fortunately for all of humanity, a sequel is already in the works. – Erin Heffernan
Her
The fascination and outright obsession with technology has snuck its way into countless film plots over the past few years. But none have taken that story as far as Spike Jonze’s “Her.” The Best Picture nominee follows Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely writer who finds an unlikely romance with his new OS, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Critics call it unorthodox, but Jonze’s script is nothing short of poetry. It turns the relationship between Theodore and Samantha into a sincere, compassionate love, one that couldn’t have effectively come to life without the strong performances from both Phoenix and Johansson. “Her” is available on Blu-Ray and DVD, but I’m still waiting for Jonze to publish the script as a book so I can get a daily dose of literary genius. – Claire Nowak

The Wolf of Wall Street

“The Wolf of Wall Street” can only be described in one word – bold. Martin Scorsese delivers on all accounts as he tells the true story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort who lives a life filled with drugs, prostitutes and more drugs. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Belfort is extremely impressive, as is supporting actor Jonah Hill’s performance as Belfort’s partner in crime, Donnie Azoff. The three-hour movie is raunchy, funny and one you should definitely not watch with your parents – but watch it anyway. It gives the audience a satirical glimpse into the lives of the rich and corrupt and is truly one of the best and boldest movies from this past school year. – Kevin Ward

 

Summer Preview

Dave Matthews Band

Summerfest always has an exceptional line up that attracts music fans from all over the world to Milwaukee, but this year, one band may beat out the rest. Dave Matthews Band will play a headlining show at the Marcus Amphitheater July 2 for the World’s Biggest Music Festival. It is the perfect band for this outdoor venue, accompanied by its upbeat music that will get any crowd on their feet. We can only hope that they will play some of their past classics like “Ants Marching” and “Crash Into Me,” but regardless of the setlist, this will definitely be a concert to add on your summer bucket list. – Kevin Ward

Superhero Movies
With the recent release of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” we can’t expect any more updates from the Avengers for a few years. Luckily, the 2014 summer movie releases should satisfy any craving for theatrical action and flashy costumes. Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” debuting May 2, brings Andrew Garfield back for a sequel to the Marvel series reboot. The hero will need to balance his relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) while confronting new villain Electro (Jamie Foxx). James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” takes on a story in an entirely different frontier – space. American pilot Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) teams up with a band of galactic heroes to save the world from an evil orb. Intrigued? Confused? See for yourself when it comes out Aug. 1. – Claire Nowak
Orange is the New Black Season 2 
Orange is the New BACK. This summer, that is. Okay, I’ll leave now.
But actually, “Orange is the New Black,” Netflix’s superb original series set in a women’s prison, is coming back for its second season, and I couldn’t be more excited. The season will be released all at once and, based off trailers and the quality of its debut, promises more poignant looks into the lives of its diverse cast, more prison bullshit, terrible guards and (hopefully) more fist-fights over King Cones in the prison cafeteria. – Erin Heffernan

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