This, Not That: Your January Guide to Pop Culture

Helloooo 2016! The new year is upon us, which means a few things: resolutions you’ve probably already ditched by now, everyone in your News Feed reflecting on how this year is gonna be better than the last, and of course, brand new entertainment in the world of pop culture.

We’re only eight days into the new year and people are already buzzing about must-watch Netflix releases (Making A Murderer anyone?), new flicks hitting the theaters and the latest album drops. How are you ever going to get through them all? By starting with this list of course. Here are our picks for the month:


Critics Roundup
Critics Roundup

Unfortunately for movie buffs, January is typically an underwhelming month at the box office since the film industry usually makes a big push around the holidays and wait till later in the year to make an Oscar dump. So here is what’s worth seeing:

The Revenant  (Jan. 8)

The Revenant is a biographical western film in which the protagonist is left for dead by his fellow hunters while exploring the uncharted wilderness. Critics call this movie “dark” and a “challenging exhaustive experience”, so if that’s how you want to start your year then go for it. The real question about this movie is: Will Leo get an Oscar?

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi  (Jan. 15)

I’ll admit that despite cringing at the tiniest amount of gore, I really love combat-action movies. Based on a novel of the same title, this action-drama tracks the book’s narrative closely and offers a glimpse at what really happened during the Libyan attacks, as well as the sense of abandonment felt by those men. If movies like Lone Survivor and American Sniper are of any indication, this is sure to be a box office hit.

Anomalisa  (Jan. 22)

No one will blame you for seeking out a “lighter” fare (action-wise, not emotionally), and if you are, then turn to Anomalisa for your cinematic pleasure this month. A stop-motion adult animated romantic comedy-drama, the film follows a man crippled by the mundanity of his life. People have said that “the work is so good that you soon forget you’re watching puppets” and that it is “a far more human story than most filmswith actual humans in them”.

Flops this month as told by Rotten Tomatoes: Point Break remake (DUH. Keanu forever), The Forest (I won’t even get into how culturally offensive this movie is given the history of the real forest), Anesthesia (said to be underwhelming despite big name cast)



Making A Murderer (Netflix)

Although technically released last year, Making A Murderer is the most talked about series in 2016. The Netflix Original documentary follows the story of Steven Avery, a man exonerated of sexual assault and attempted murder charges after 18 years in jail, only to be convicted of another murder, has been causing quite the controversy. Not only is the sage gripping, it also questions whether or not Avery, who is serving a life sentence without parole, was framed by law enforcement officials.

The Bachelor (ABC, Jan. 4)

ABC’s The Bachelor is the guilty pleasure of many, myself not included. But since people are already picking names for their Bachelor Fantasy League and redheads have already gone up in arms about the token redhead not receiving a rose the first night, I felt compelled to include this on the list. As for this season’s bachelor choice? Ben has a boyish face and seems like a sweet human being, meaning there’s not enough drama for my cup of tea.

American Idol (Fox, Jan.6)

It’s Idol‘s final season so you know they’re going all out. I’ve already spent the morning watching audition videos on YouTube and am putting my money on Ryan Gosling-lookalike Joshua Wicker and potential Disney princess Sonika Vaid. I’ve never watched an entire season of Idol but I may tune in for the finale, which is something I haven’t done in years.

Shadowhunters (Freeform – formerly ABC Family, Jan. 12)

Shadowhunters is the much anticipated television adaption of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments. After reading the first book in the series, I learned that they actually released a movie adaptation in 2013, which tanked. With so many books in the series, it seems like television would work far better as far as doing the books justice, so here’s to hoping that this version is much better than City of Bones.

The X-Files (Fox, Jan. 24)

My dad was a HUGE X-Files fan so growing up I had nightmares from the glimpses of episodes I caught. Well now that I’m less easy to scare, the news that Fox is bringing the beloved sci-fi horror drama franchise back for a mini series is super exciting. Mulder and Scully were OTP and if these six episodes excel, maybe there’s hope for more in the future.


Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone

David Bowie – Blackstar (Jan. 8)

As someone who’s never been afraid to push the boundaries, David Bowie remains true to his brand in his latest album. Blackstar plays with jazz sounds and is warped and trippy in that funky, dreamy David Bowie sort of way. Fans will without a doubt eat it up.

[UPDATE: Since this post was originally written, the legendary music icon has passed away. Like many others, we are deeply saddened by the news. His new album is a rare glimpse into the mind of a musical genius in his final hour and we hope that it resonates with old and new fans alike.]


HINDS – Leave Me Alone (Jan. 8)

In my research for this post, I gave a listen to HINDS’s Soundcloud and learned why people are raving about their debut album. Listening to the Spanish indie rock girl group is like taking a trip to the past. Their sound is unique. very retro and a little bit flawed. The tracks I listened to were contagious and upbeat, making me feel like I’m a 1960s lovechild jammin’ with my girlfriends in a garage, which, I think is exactly what they were going for.

Vivian Huang

Black coffee drinker. Adventurer. Fluent in sarcasm. Find me rambling about life and music at

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