The A-List

The A List: January 2008

A guide to movies, CDs, DVDs, TV shows, and books that made the grade (A- or better) in EW during the past few weeks

The A-List: January 2008

MOVIES

THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano
(R) Director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) presents a classic story of ambition, greed, and the struggle over the American West. Day-Lewis is riveting as Daniel Plainview, a relentless oilman in the early 1900s faced with the cunning manipulations of a revival preacher (Dano). Their battle of wills is set to the backdrop of Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood's eerie, groundbreaking score.

PERSEPOLIS
Voiced by Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve
(PG-13) Based on Marjane Satrapi's beloved graphic novels, this animated gem recounts the story of her upbringing during the Islamic revolution in Iran. Drawn in a bold style, the film deftly paints the life of its spirited heroine.

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE
(R) A disturbing documentary about an Afghan taxi driver who was beaten to death while imprisoned by U.S. forces in 2002, Taxi rips open the Pandora's box of America's post-9/11 willingness to use torture as an instrument of war.

MUSIC

LUPE FIASCO
The Cool
Billed as a concept album, this sophomore effort finds the cerebral rapper exploring disparate themes and musical territory far beyond his 2006 debut. Check out the jazzy rhythms and rat-a-tat rhymes of ''Paris, Tokyo'' for proof.

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS
Distortion
These New York vets have won us over again with their delectable synth-pop. Frontman Stephin Merritt's poetic lyrics (''It's you, you heartless bastard/You're my one and only'') have never sounded as wry — or as sweet.

RAHEEM DEVAUGHN
Love Behind the Melody
Maryland's R&B crooner is back with a second album of smooth tenor vox and Motown flavor. His ''Friday (Shut the Club Down)'' — set to the tune of the Temptations' ''My Girl'' — will leave you daydreaming of the Gaye old days of soul.

THE WHIGS
Mission Control
Certified members of the 21st-century garage-rock revival, this trio has cleaned up the lo-fi production of its 2005 debut thanks to Beck producer Rob Schnapf. The result is a sonically sharper album with more driving, catchy rock beats.

SIA
some people have REAL problems
Her soothing vocals have become ubiquitous fare on TV dramas like Brothers & Sisters and Grey's Anatomy, but we hope this luscious album will cement the Aussie as more than just a Stateside soundtrack wonder.

DVDs

3:10 TO YUMA
Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster
(R) Glenn Ford's original Yuma turned 50 last year. So now's a great time to check out this remake of the classic Western, with Bale as a rancher aiming to deliver Crowe's vicious outlaw to justice. In his commentary, director James Mangold describes how he upped the original's ante with tightly choreographed shoot-outs and an even more sinister villain.

PAYDAY
Rip Torn
(R) In its DVD debut, this 1973 road-trip jaunt with country singer Maury Dann (Torn) offers a down-home slice of Americana with a jaded look at the '70s music scene through the eyes of one tough bumpkin.

SUNSHINE
Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis
(R) Director Danny Boyle's visually stunning sci-fi thriller follows eight astronauts on a mission to save the failing sun. Boyle provides an excellent commentary, and a second track — from film adviser and physicist Brian Cox — illuminates the science behind the cinematic sun.

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY...COLLECTOR'S EDITION
Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby
(R) Nearly 20 years after its release, this New York City-set romantic comedy about two exasperating friends who should be lovers (Crystal and Ryan) still sparkles. The collector's edition helps explain why in a relaxed, affectionate commentary with Crystal, director Rob Reiner, and writer Nora Ephron.

TV

THE WIRE
(HBO, Sundays, 9-10 p.m.) One of television's most admired dramas heads into its fifth and final season. This year highlights Baltimore's struggling newspaper, where a downtrodden editor (Clark Johnson) finds himself saddled with a cocky reporter. Meanwhile, life gets bleaker for familiar faces, as Det. Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) continues his quest to nail murderous crime lord Marlo Stanfield (Jamie Hector).

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: NO RESERVATIONS
(Travel Channel, Mondays, 10-11 p.m.) An hour with Bourdain, and you'll be eating out of his hand. This new batch of episodes kicked off with the foodie tasting his way through Singapore. (Shark's head, anyone?) Future jaunts will find him in the culinarily rich Greek islands and New Orleans.

TORCHWOOD
(BBC America, Saturdays, 9-10 p.m.) This Doctor Who spin-off may sound outlandish — bisexual Captain Jack (John Barrowman) time-travels to fight aliens — but that's why it's a ridiculously fun romp. Season 2 reveals where Jack disappeared to.

BOOKS

MY REVOLUTIONS
by Hari Kunzru
(Novel) The '60s still exert their irresistible pull in this masterful tome about a middle-class, suburban family man who tries to escape his violent past as a Vietnam War-era revolutionary while tracking down a former paramour.

BEGINNER'S GREEK
by James Collins
(Novel) This feel-good debut about a hopeless romantic who loses his dream girl's phone number is as charming as it is enthralling.

THE TELEPHONE GAMBIT
by Seth Shulman
(Nonfiction) Who knew that Alexander Graham Bell might've plagiarized a rival? Shulman explores the controversy behind the telephone's creation in this fascinating read.

GAS CITY
by Loren Estleman
(Mystery) A serial killer's spree disturbs the peace of a quiet oil-company town in this gritty thriller.

For more of our critic-certified, grade-A entertainment options, go to ew.com/alist

Originally posted Jan 29, 2008 Published in issue #976 Feb 01, 2008 Order article reprints
Advertisement

From Our Partners