Happy holidays everyone! If you and your family run out of things to talk about this week, do not fear: We’ve rounded up 10 slices of pop culture goodness to provide some festive entertainment.
1. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU FANCY A CHRISTMAS DAY ADVENTURE (BUT DON’T WANT TO LEAVE YOUR COUCH)
With Deadpool even managing to snag a couple of Golden Globe nominations last week, Hollywood’s superhero boom looks set to continue. Now the sci-fi institution Doctor Who is getting in on the act. This festive special sees the Doctor, portrayed by Peter Capaldi, join forces with the mysterious superhero called “The Ghost” (Justin Chatwin) in a bid to save New York City from floating alien heads. It airs Christmas Day (December 25) on BBC America at 9/8c, so pour yourself an eggnog and settle down for the exciting ride.
2. WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST IF YOU WANT TO DANCE OFF THOSE HOLIDAY COOKIES
One Direction became a global sensation by serving us straight up pop, but since the group went on hiatus the band members have kept us guessing. Zayn Malik released an album of cool R&B tunes in March; then Niall Horan dropped a folky debut single in September. Now Louis Tomlinson has teamed up with DJ-producer Steve Aoki for this catchy and very on-trend EDM (electronic dance music) anthem. Its lyrics are made poignant by the death of Tomlinson’s mother shortly before the track debuted last week. “The world it turns no matter what,” he sings affectingly on the chorus. “If it all goes wrong, darling just hold on…”
3. WHAT TO READ IF YOU’RE A TOTAL ANIMATION FANATIC
Though less well-known than the likes of The Simpsons and Family Guy, animated spy series Archer has built a cult fan base (and collected several Emmy awards) since debuting in 2010. This 240-page companion book is described as a “fully illustrated and highly visual guide to everything Archer” including storyboards, costume designs, reference photographs and interviews with the voice cast. It even has a foreword written by Christian Slater, who appears regularly in the series as himself. If you heart Archer, it’s pretty much essential; if you haven’t watched the show yet, give it a go.
4. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU PREFER AN ALTERNATIVE KIND OF HOLIDAY SPECIAL
When it debuted on Netflix last year, this ambitious sci-fi series from the directors of The Matrix failed to win over some critics. However, many viewers were seduced by its lavish visuals, LGBT-inclusive themes and emotionally sensitivity. This two-hour special premiering Friday (December 23) surely won’t feature any chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but should be pretty heartwarming anyway as we catch up with the show’s compelling cast of mentally connected strangers. It’s a neat introduction to the world of Sense8 before season two arrives in May.
5. WHO TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM AS HOLLYWOOD’S AWARDS SEASON HEATS UP
Though the Oscar nominations aren’t announced until January 24, we have a feeling Viola Davis could be a lock for Best Supporting Actress. She’s never won before and her stirring performance in the classy period drama Fences has already been called “unbeatable” by Entertainment Weekly. If you don’t follow her already, add her account now for an insight into the glamour and madness of awards season, an endurance test which Davis will navigate with grace and good humor.
6. WHAT TO WATCH TO ADD A SPLASH OF VIBRANT SPANISH COLOR TO YOUR WEEK
With films like All About My Mother and Talk to Her, Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar has built a reputation as a formidable chronicler of the female experience. This elegant drama based on three of Alice Munro’s short stories demonstrates why the credibility of his work is unshakeable as it explores a devastating rift that develops between a once close mother and daughter. Opening in select theaters Wednesday (December 21), Julieta is bright, stylish and ultimately very powerful.
7. WHOSE FAB HOLIDAY SWAG TO CHECK OUT
This year, Beyoncé Knowles arguably had the best merch range of any pop star around, and her special festive items are definitely a cut above. Can’t decide between a Bey-themed onesie or her signature print holiday wrapping paper? Then why not try a T-shirt with a cute festive pun: “I Came To Sleigh.” Oh Santa, is it too late to add to our wish list?
8. WHAT TO BINGE-WATCH IF YOU HAVE KIDS TO KEEP HAPPY OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD
Created by Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro, DreamWorks’ new fantasy animated series walks a similar line to the studio’s best movies: It’s lighthearted enough for younger viewers to enjoy, but throws in enough knowing jokes to keep grown ups hooked too. The voice cast includes Kelsey Grammer, Ron Perlman and the late Anton Yelchin, who recorded his voice parts shortly before his untimely death in June. Handily, Netflix premieres season one Friday, just in time to fend off festive boredom.
9. WHOSE INSTAGRAM AND TWITTER FEEDS TO KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON
Last week, a year to the day that he told fans he was “taking a break from social media,” Ed Sheeran returned to Twitter and Instagram. His comeback post was the same on both accounts, with a simple picture of a plain turquoise square. Is this his cryptic way of telling us new music is coming? We’re definitely allowed to feel cautiously optimistic. After all, Sheeran’s frequent songwriting partner Amy Wadge has recently said his new album will be arriving “very soon.”
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU FANCY JOINING THE CONTROVERSIAL CONVERSATION (SPOILER ALERT)
Who didn’t want this glossy sci-fi flick to be good? Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt have been such fun on their press tour – he keeps cropping her out of selfies; she held her own though by “touching up” a giant poster of him in New York City. (SPOILERS AHEAD) But sadly, the film’s trailers didn’t reveal a plot twist that critics are calling ethically challenging. Pratt plays a man who wakes up early from an induced hibernation while traveling on a spaceship bound for a new planet, and then wakes up Lawrence’s character so he has a companion. It’s a tough sell that even these super-likeable actors could struggle with.
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