Choose Your Own McConaughey Adventure
A year ago we were on the cusp of the McConnaissance and now look at us, buying unlimited passes to puzzle out Interstellar, wondering if we’re all late bloomers just like him. To search for early signs of transcendence amidst romantic cliches, take a rom-com romp through Failure to Launch, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Fool’s Gold. Or, go Texas forever (OMG, is Taylor Kitsch the McConaughey in waiting?) with We Are Marshall, Dazed and Confused, Mudd and Dallas Buyer’s Club. Or, watch Contact and then try to imagine a conversation between his character in that movie, and Coop, his Interstellar role. Make it a crowd and add Rust Cohle to the mix–you might just break your mind and the space-time continuum. Finally, if you hate the holidays and just want to hole up, maybe now is the time to binge watch True Detective by yourself, while drinking tall boys, chain smoking and eating a cold turkey sandwich. How’s that for an immersive character study? –A.G.
80s Comedy Immersion
Comedies now all seem to be predicated on the idea that if normal looking dudes behave outlandishly together they’ll be cool bros forevers, and, as a secondary bonus, super hot women will fall in love with them. The comedies of the 1980s were often just as ridiculous in terms of premise and hijinks, but reflected deeper, more adult concerns. For example, Ghostbusters, which is pretty much the most successful comedy of all time, is all about urban decay. Mr. Mom and Gung Ho deal with middle- and working-class anxieties about making ends meet and balancing work and family life. Thumbs up to Trading Places, What About Bob, Groundhog’s Day (ok, those last two are from the early ’90s and betray my Bill Murray bias) and Coming to America as well. –A.G.
Reveling in Another Family’s Dysfunction
If you didn’t spend Thanksgiving with your family and need that choice to be vindicated with a reminder of just how dysfunctional family dynamics can be, now is the perfect time to binge on Transparent. Hailed by many as the best new TV show of the season (even though it wasn’t actually on TV), Amazon’s dramedy about a middle-aged father baring his secret identity to his adult children is deeply affecting, especially if you’ve been through the experience of realizing later in life that your family is more flawed and complicated than your seemingly happy childhood led you to believe. I haven’t seen a show that nailed the entire messy spectrum of what it is to be a sibling this well since Six Feet Under, which makes sense since the series creator, Jill Soloway, cut her teeth writing for that show. Available on Amazon, free with Prime. –Kate Hooker
Have a Good Cry
Has it been a rough year? Do you need a little catharsis? Go holiday weeper. The Big Chill is one of my favorite movies to watch over Thanksgiving weekend. The Family Stone was pretty much engineered to plunge you deep into sentiment. If you have siblings You Can Count on Me is almost impossible to watch without weeping your eyes out. And if you have the weekend, watch the first season of Friday Night Lights (available on Netflix) and just lose your goddamn mind over all those good looking teenagers ma’am and sir-ing adults, struggling and triumphing. Clear eyes, full heart–can’t lose. –A.G.
Box Office Rebellion
It’s Oscar-bait season and there are all these huge movies about Important Things coming to the box office over the next six weeks. And you know, The Hobbit, Part 37. I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced by a lot of it. I love the idea of Black Hat, but since when do world class hackers also look like paleo-loving Crossfit disciples who are as at home doing handstand pushups as breaking into an FBI database? Watch Heat to remind yourself of director Michael Mann’s obsession with making beautiful people look like dirtbags, plus how could you say no to spending the holidays with De Niro and Pacino? Interstellar was plenty fun to watch, but Inception is still the better movie, for my money. And The Hobbit? Watching the extended version of all three Fellowship of the Ring movies feels like less time spent in front of the screen than a single installment of the latest franchise from Middle Earth. –A.G.
Procedural Guilty Pleasure
As someone who hasn’t gotten hooked on a network TV drama, well, like, ever, I was surprised to get caught up in How to Get Away With Murder. But Alessandra Stanley’s poorly worded Shonda Rhimes profile put Viola Davis on my radar, and she’s the reason I initially tuned in. As Annaliese Keating, a tough defense attorney/ law professor, Davis plays a surprisingly complex role for network television, unflappable and cunning in her public life, vulnerable and hypocritical behind closed doors. It’s the college setting, though, that really seals the deal–there’s nothing more fun than watching students fall in and out of bed and bathroom stalls together, particularly ones who are trying to cover up a murder. The fact that these classmates work in Keating’s practice, which is in her house, where she shares a bed with a husband who may or may have not killed a student himself, does stretch the believability of the show to its breaking point. But the multiple flashbacks in each episode make you constantly reexamine your first impressions, and the mid-season finale leaves you hanging on a delightfully unexpected note. Available on Hulu and ABC.com. –Nicole Davis