Whether you’re already feeling festive or more of a holiday humbug, this week’s On the Beat surely has you covered – we promise we’ll save the Christmas songs until next week.
1. WHAT TO GO SEE FOR CLASSY HIGH-STAKES DRAMA
Writer-director Barry Jenkins‘ follow-up to the Oscar-winning Moonlight is this adaptation of James Baldwin‘s 1974 romantic novel If Beale Street Could Talk. Rising stars KiKi Layne and Stephan James play a young couple whose relationship is severely tested when he is falsely accused of rape. Soon afterwards, she discovers that they are expecting a child and embarks on a quest to prove his innocence. It’s a story of love, justice, and racial prejudice performed by a quality ensemble cast that includes an Oscar-tipped Regina King. If Beale Street Could Talk just received three 2019 Golden Globe nominations, for Drama Motion Picture, Screenplay of a Motion Picture and Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Regina King).
2. WHICH PODCAST TO TRY IF YOU’RE A DYED-IN-THE-WOOL POTTERPHILE
Binge Mode hosts Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion specialize in pop culture deep dives, so taking on J.K. Rowling‘s super-expansive ‘Wizarding World’ feels like a no-brainer. In recent months, they’ve been recapping Rowling’s six original Potter novels on a chapter-by-chapter basis, analyzing their watertight plotting and exploring how themes of inclusivity and tolerance remain resonant more than a decade after the final book was published. It’s an endeavor so in-depth and impassioned, Hermione Granger herself would surely approve.
3. WHAT TO PLAY WHEN YOU’RE FEELING WISTFUL
Last time this British music producer released an album of his own, it yielded one of the biggest hits in recent memory: 2014’s Grammy-winning Bruno Mars collab “Uptown Funk.” Ronson’s new country-disco team-up with Miley Cyrus isn’t quite as undeniable, but it’s still a terrific tune that suggests his forthcoming album of “sad bangers” – currently untitled, but due in 2019 – is worth getting excited about. You can look for Mark and Miley on The Graham Norton Show this coming Friday at 11/10c.
4. WHICH ICONIC POP GROUP TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER
This year, fans of Swedish pop legends Abba have enjoyed Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in theaters and Cher‘s super-fun covers album, Dancing Queen. Next year will bring two new songs from the group – their first since the early ’80s – and a hologram tour featuring the four members as they looked in their jumpsuit-wearing heyday. So, why not whet your appetite for an Abba-solutely fabulous 2019 by checking out this just-launched Twitter account?
5. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU’RE AN ANIMATION FANATIC
As co-founder of celebrated animation house Studio Ghibli and director of award-winning pictures including Spirited Away and Ponyo, Hayao Miyazaki is a genuine legend in his field. This feature-length doc opening in select theaters Thursday (having aired on Japanese TV in 2016) follows him as he makes his final short film. Don’t expect anything like a cozy swansong, though, as it shows Miyazaki trying to master CGI animation for the first time after a career dedicated to classic, hand-drawn techniques.
6. WHICH INSTAGRAM TO CHECK OUT WHILE YOU WAIT ON THE MOVIE
Production wrapped on the long-awaited Downton Abbey movie last month, but we’ll have to wait until September 2019 to see it. In the meantime, this official Instagram account should tide us over nicely with clips, stills, and interesting tidbits about the show. Did you know, for example, that Dame Maggie Smith‘s character, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, was actually based on the great-aunt of Downton Abbey’s creator Julian Fellowes? If your feed could use a touch of class right now, this account is well worth a follow.
7. WHAT TO CONSIDER ADDING TO YOUR PARTY PLAYLIST
Who says it’s too late in the year to drop a dance-pop smash? Following collaborations with Demi Lovato and rising stars Raye, Mabel, and Ina Wroldsen, British DJ-producer Jax Jones has teamed up with electro trio Years & Years for this catchy club tune. Singer Olly Alexander‘s yearning vocals sound terrific over Jones’ shuffling beats, which owe a debt to London-honed genre U.K. garage. The result is an infectious party track with a subtly British flavor.
8. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU FANCY SOMETHING LOW-KEY AND SURPRISING
This indie film opening in select theaters Thursday takes place on the Appalachian Trail which stretches from Georgia to Maine, hence its title. Former BAFTA nominee Laia Costa stars as a married Spanish woman who forms a friendship with a young American man (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’s Thomas Mann) while hiking along the trail to find peace of mind. It might sound like an obvious set-up, but pre-release buzz suggests writer-director Matthew Brown avoids anything too conventional here.
9. WHAT TO CONSIDER READING IF YOU’RE INTO SCI-FI MOVIES
This hardcover book published Tuesday explores how typography and design have been used to make movies set in the future look, well, suitably futuristic. Writer Dave Addey focuses on seven genre classics made from the ’60s onwards (2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, Blade Runner, Total Recall, WALL·E, and Moon), and includes stills and concept art alongside original interviews with the likes of director Paul Verhoeven and art director Craig Foster. For film buffs, it sounds like fascinating stuff.
10. WHICH ALBUM TO DIVE INTO WHEN YOU HAVE SOME FREE TIME
Zayn Malik swiftly put his boyband past behind him after quitting One Direction in 2015, reaching number one with both debut album Mind of Mine and its powerful lead single “Pillowtalk.” Dropping Friday, this sophomore effort sees the 25-year-old branch out even more confidently: Icarus Falls is a 27-track opus featuring collaborations with Nicki Minaj and Timbaland, plus tracks leaning into funk rock (“Sour Diesel”), slinky pop (“Let Me”), and slow-jam R&B (“Fingers”). It’s definitely a long way from 1D’s perky signature hit “What Makes You Beautiful.”
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