Your Favorite Pop Culture Moments of 2015

From McSweeney’s to Mortal Kombat.


Because you will embrace aging porn romcoms.


Nearly three years ago, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel became a surprise international hit, winning audiences over with its funny and moving story about a group of creaky old English strangers (played by some of Britain’s most respected winter chickens) who decide to live out their retirement in India. It was a joy to watch people in their twilight years find happiness, and an even bigger joy to learn that their story would continue in 2015. In addition to having what will likely be the best movie title of the year/decade, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel promises to continue the first film’s gentle ode to coming of age during old age.

From the looks of the trailer, Dev Patel will be opening a second location (perfect name: check), Maggie Smith will be managing the first one (book me a room, please), Dame Judi will continue her romance with Sir Nighy (he’s been knighted in my dreams), and Richard Gere will try and fail to be as charming as the English (I’ll pretend he’s not there). If as successful as its predecessor, Second Best might even make aging porn the new genre every studio scrambles to make. But I don’t want to dream too hard.

—Bobby Finger


Because nostalgia-lovers will have new loves.

I can’t wait to listen to new albums from Bleachers and Sleater-Kinney and read the new book by Miranda July. I’m kind of a nostalgia maniac, and all of those artists really hit my sweet spot.

Jenni Konner, executive producer of Girls


Because there’s another Mortal Kombat.

My range of interests is very narrow and basically includes computer games and TV and movies, and so I think 2015 is going to be one of the greatest years of all time, because we have Star Wars, we have Avengers, Mad Max, Jurassic Park, and we have a sequel to Mortal Kombat on the games side, so we have a lot of potentially fantastic things to look forward to, like loyal friends. People are always concerned about people trying to reach after the magic, reignite that relationship that’s a longstanding relationship, but I think people are excited and hopefully justifiably. And which Mortal Kombat is it? 10? I don’t even know what it is, but I think I will very likely play it — probably not as much as I might have back in the day.

Roy Price, vice president and head of Amazon Studios


Because there are tiny movies coming out, too.

Two of my favorite films from the 2014 festival circuit are getting American releases next year: the transcendent, sprawling, surprisingly moving EDM epic Eden, and Olivier Assayas’s strange, gorgeous Clouds of Sils Maria, which features beguiling performances by Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart. (Yes, Kristen Stewart.) I’m excited to watch them both again. I’m also dying to see Carol, Todd Haynes’s 1950s-set lesbian romance starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. How could that possibly go wrong? But now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to being nervous about Star Wars. It’s not going to be bad. Right?

Richard Lawson, columnist for Vanity Fair’s Hollywood


Because McSweeney’s has kicked off the next great battle in publishing.

Here is an overgeneralized, totally market-unspecific evaluation of the book industry: it’s fucked. In today’s world, in the current version of our capitalist society, there is little to no way for corporations to be both in the “making culture” business as well as in the business-business area. Basically, you can’t be an artist and still take meetings with ruthless MBA types and Silicon Valley algorithms sent by Amazon.

It hit me when I read McSweeney’s announcement last month that it would become a non-profit company. Exactly! The legal status grants the publisher as an entity all the freedom of providing for authors’ needs and carrying out the necessary deeds of being a publisher. Not being enslaved to profit maximization helps with priorities and generally attracts the kind of people that publishers need as potential employees. With that, I became a true believer that the only way the book publishing industry can survive the onslaught of Amazon & Co. is by collectively transforming itself to non-profits. Amen.

Igor Schwarzmann, founder of Third Wave, a business consultancy in Berlin


Because there will always be more One Direction news.

My friend Logan’s obsession with One Direction saved my life this year. That’s maybe an exaggeration, but I’m not sure. She emails me about them and chats me about them, and when she comes over she talks about them. At first I thought it was funny but a little weird, and then when her fascination ramped up to an almost constant state, I thought it was still funny but also a little almost-worrisome, and then it ramped up even more, and she finally got me to watch some videos made by one of her favorite Tumblr teens.

The videos are called “crack!vids” and they exist in many fandoms—for 1D fans, they consist of footage of interviews and concerts, cut tight and set to music or interspersed with clips from TV shows to make a joke. Like, Harry saying female as a trait in a partner is “not that important,” cut to: Hallelujah chorus. How long had this girl spent on this video? Hours? Days? For laughs, for fun. “I love her so much,” Logan said.

And that was when I realized that Logan wasn’t just obsessed with the band as simply a band, stripped down to the music, but that she’s obsessed with the 1D members as characters in a rich and vibrant fan world, and with their mysteries, and, especially, with the rest of the fandom’s obsession with those mysteries (are Harry and Louis a couple? Were they? Are Zayn and Liam? Was Harry’s relationship with Taylor Swift fake?? Are they happy??), and with the way that they get into it online — with their creativity, their hilariousness. I look forward to Logan’s updates on the fandom, on what they are talking about, what they are laughing about, what they are making. The 1D fandom, and Logan’s obsession with it, reminded me of why life is worth living, which is that everything is crazy and people are weird and amazing and can do amazing, strange, beautiful things simply because they want to, to bring themselves and others joy, out of curiosity and love.

Edith Zimmerman

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