List of the Week: Happy Thanksgiving!

Gugu Mbata-Raw Beyond the Lights

It’s been a breakthrough year for Gugu Mbatha-Raw, star of ‘Beyond the Lights’.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! If you are a cultured human being, then you must know that there is no celebrating Thanksgiving without Linda Belcher’s holiday classic, but after you’ve heard that magnificent tune, well, I’ve decided to use this moment to talk about some of the pop-culture things I’m thankful for right now.

The Top Ten Pop-Culture Things I’m Thankful For Right Now
(In No Particular Order)

1. Movie Podcasts.
I just started this new feature in which I recommend podcasts that I found particularly fun or interesting each week, and that has a lot to do with the fact that there is an abundance of amazing podcasts dedicated to having deep talks about movies, movie starts, and filmmakers. Battleship Pretension, Fighting in the War Room, The Film Experience Podcast… I don’t know what my life would be without them.

2. You Must Remember This
Talking about Podcasts, my current obsession is this fantastic show about, in the words of its creator and host, “the secret and/or forgotten stories of Hollywood’s first century”. Karina Longworth is the woman responsible for this jewel of a podcast. There’s only been 23 episodes so far, so you can easily catch up. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend episode 20, about the heartbreaking relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.

3. The Holiday Movie Season
…which is upon us! I haven’t loved everything I’ve seen so far, but part of the appeal is that we finally get to see idiosyncratic movies, with interesting and unique points of view. What I am looking for this year? Well, this week sees the release of Australian horror movie The Babadookand December will bring such promising movies as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent ViceMike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, and Ava DuVernay’s Selma

4. The Songs from ‘Over the Garden Wall’
I wrote about how much I love this show, and boy do I love the soundtrack. I’ve been listening to it constantly. I just wish they would release an official version of the soundtrack (perhaps with extended versions of some of the songs?). Cartoon Network, if you’re reading this, why don’t you make my Christmas dream come true?

5. Elijah Wood
I’m a little surprised, but he has had a great year. He, of course, lend his voice to the aforementioned Over the Garden Wall, but he’s also the star of one of the most entertaining movies of the year in Grand Pianoand he executive-produced A Girl Walks Home Alone at Nightthe feature debut of Iranian filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, a Persian vampire-western filmed in the California desert. It’s not a flawless movie, but it promises an interesting career for Amirpour, and a good eye for talent on Wood’s part.

6. Studio Ghibli Movies
…and the fact that I get to rewatch so many of them and write about them for the Studio Ghibli series!

7. Laika Studios Movies
…and since we’re on the topic of animation, I would like to throw a bone to Laika. I might not have loved their latest movie, but there is no doubt they are the most original and exciting American animation studio working today. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

8. Beyond the Lights
I didn’t write about this movie by Gine Prince-Bythewood (director of Love & Basketball), but I’m SO happy it exists. It’s fantastic popular filmmaking, a well-crafted romantic melodrama that puts such nonsense as The Fault in Our Stars and Begin Again to shame, and with a complex black female protagonist to boost!

9. Rising Stars
I’m also delighted by the talent and seeming rising career of so many talented black women. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who stars in Beyond the Lights, and Tessa Thompson, from Dear White Peopleboth gave amazing performances that will hopefully kick-start an amazing career, while director Ava DuVernay seems to be poised for a huge career-boost when Selma opens later this year. Here’s for more diversity in our stars and our directors!

10. You!
Yes, that’s right! I’m extremely grateful to everyone who reads this blog. I hope you enjoy it!

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