Go watch Beasts of a Southern Wild already, will you?
The documentary The Imposter blew my mind much in the same way that Catfish did three years ago. I’m still thinking about it.
Take this Waltz bewitched me. Michelle Williams is excellent, Toronto is gorgeous, the plot did what plots often do not (at least as concerns female desire).
Bill Cunningham New York. Do you like fashion? Old people? Anna Wintour passing judgment? Kooky New York street photography? I fell in love with this movie and, of course, Bill Cunningham himself. Streaming on Netflix.
It’s Christmas time, which means it’s time to put away Love Actually and watch the underrated Family Stone. Rachel McAdams just kills me in this movie, plus I cry like a small child.
Best horrible show: Arrow. So clunky, so obvious, so hot right now!
Did I mention that I really really like Nashville?
Emily Nussbaum, writing in The New Yorker, convinced me to give Switched at Birth a chance. I’m so glad she did.
Alex Ross, “Love on the March” — the best breakdown of the history of gay culture in America and its political implications I’ve read. Historical yet super compelling: a must read.
“On Connie Britton’s Hair” from Avidly — glorious.
John Seabrook, “Factory Girls” — BAAAAAAAH! K-Pop IS SO CRAZY AND FASCINATING. Get on this.
Kiese Laymon, “How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance” — the best essay I’ve read this year. Revelatory.
David Remnick, “We Are Alive” — Bruce Springsteen at 62. He’s still effing got it.
Maura Johnson, “Why the Ads for Engagement Rings Make Me Uncomfortable.” An oldie by goodie.
Jane Marie, “He’s So Unusual” — Jane’s uncle did Cyndi Lauper’s make-up! Everything about this essay is amazing.
John Jeremiah Sullivan, “Where is Cuba Going?” — if JJS writes it, I will always read it.
John Jeremiah Sullivan, “Venus and Serena Against the World” — see what I mean?
Ann Powers, “It Isn’t (Just) Ironic: In Defense of the Hipster” — more specifically, Macklemore.
Mallory Ortberg, “Have you Heard the One About the Religious Woman Who Stops Being Religious in College?” Damn that girl can write.
Everything — no seriously, everything — in the Columbia Journalism Review “Fame” Issue.
I’ve been rereading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and it is blowing my mind all over again.
I avoided Swamplandia! for a long time because it seemed too twee, or maybe too fantasyland. But it’s amazing, the writing is amazing, the voice is unlike any other I’ve read.
Louise Erdich just won the National Book Award for her new novel, which I’m obviously going to love, but if you’ve read her before, The Master Butcher’s Singing Club is preposterously good: sausage, German veterans, North Dakota, this book has everything! Breaks your heart and mends it.
Beautiful Ruins is what you should be reading re: Dick & Liz instead of watching the abomination that was Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor. It’s part historical fiction, part romance, part beautiful Italian pastoral — perfect beach read that’s actually well-written.
The new Sade, no question: Jessie Ware, Devotion. Would it be blasphemy to suggest she might be even better?
The Nashville soundtrack, available piecemeal via Spotify [search "Nashville Cast"]
Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself/Hands of Glory. Superb writing/working music.
Horse Feathers, House With No Name / Thistled Spring. Iron & Wine + Josh Ritter.
Explosions in the Sky, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. Any time I’m missing Friday Night Lights/Matt Saracen, here’s where I go.
I cannot adequately describe my love for the Sleep Cycle app. I’m obsessed with it. I’m always trying to up my “sleep quality” and looking at my sleep charts and really excited when I wake up in the morning and get to see the graph. Nerdily excellent.
I love Grantland, I love Grantland’s “Hollywood Prospectus,” but I love it the most when Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald talk about movies and television. (Go here, then search for the ones where it’s a conversation between the two of them). It’s a particular taste — a mix of Philly, indexical music/film/television knowledge, educated humor — but it tastes so good.
My friend Rebecca Onion runs Slate’s new history blog, The Vault. She is brilliant and it is brilliant; end of story. Wee stoves, giant babies!
Finally, make Cook’s Illustrated meticulously-stepped Vegetarian Chili. It takes all day, but it will change your life. I’m not even a vegetarian and I can honestly say it tastes better than meat. Explanation here; pirated recipe here.
As always, please feel free to add your own endorsements in the comments — and I’d love to hear back once/if you try any of the items listed above.