To give

Boyhood, Richard Linklater’s epic of everyday life, lingers long after one has seen it. Filmed on a few days every year for 12 years, the story follows a young boy as he grows from age six to 18. In part a coming-of-age story, in part a meditation on time and the shaping of human character and memory, Boyhood is a masterpiece.

In the postapocalyptic thriller Snow­piercer, Earth is an icy wasteland and surviving humans circle the globe on a high-speed train. The train is divided into compartments: the poor live in squalor, the rich are swaddled in luxury and escapist drugs. Religious mythology and violence keep the social order intact until a young man leads a revolution. Joon-ho Bong’s film is a moral indictment of contemporary social ills and a dystopic Noah story packaged in stunning visuals and camera work.

Earlier this year the complete five-season DVD boxed set of the television drama Breaking Bad was released (directed by Vince Gilligan). This story of a high school chemistry teacher who is also a regional meth-cooking drug lord gets my vote. Like a Russian novel, the show explores the nooks and crannies of the human soul and the ways that sin corrupts and twists our best intentions.

To receive

A love story about a blind French girl and an orphaned Nazi technician during WWII does not sound like inspiring reading, but by all accounts the book All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, is a marvel of observation, sympathy, and lyricism.

Contemporary fiction seldom captures the texture and feel of digitally mediated life. Even Aaron Sor­kin’s film The Social Network was a conventional story about the rise of a tech corporation and not about what it means to live life on Facebook. Although it re­ceived mixed reviews, Jason Reitman’s Men, Women, & Children is one of the first films to explore the possibilities and pitfalls of navigating life through our screens.

In their sketch comedy show, Key and Peele irreverently tackle a range of topics “born from their experiences growing up biracial in a not-quite-post-racial world.” Jordan Peele’s impersonation of Obama is reason enough to put the third season of Key & Peele on my list.


Kathryn Reklis

Kathryn Reklis teaches theology at Fordham University and is codirector of the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice.

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