The Best of 2015

As we sit here looking outside our office windows, it’s hard to see anything but dreary shades of gray. With weeks of winter still stretching ahead of us, it’s hard to get excited about anything other than cozying up on the couch with a bowl of soup and the TV remote. The very thought of venturing outside the house seems as daunting as ascending the Himalayas (unless of course you’re below the equator, in which case we’re too jealous to even speak to you).

Fortunately, as we look to the year ahead, there are plenty of things capable of getting us excited. Around the world in 2015, there’s so much to do, see, hear, read, and watch---we can barely contain ourselves.

Here’s a look at a few of our favorites…

The Place: SRI LANKA

Now that the country is at peace and genuinely stable, Sri Lanka offers tremendous value and a bounty of amazing treasures. The main draw is the incredible wildlife: elusive leopards, wild elephants, boar, sloth bears and dazzling bird life from peacocks to hornbills roam this surprisingly diverse island. The newly reopened Wilpattu National Park, which had been closed for years due to the civil war is one of several parks where many guests are able to enjoy their safari in private. Other options include the 40-room Cape Weligama, opened on a 12-acre site overlooking the Indian Ocean, and TRI, a new 10-suite hotel will also offer a boutique option on the banks of Lake Koggala, with a cantilevered pool and treetop yoga studio.

The TV Show: BETTER CALL SAUL

Sometimes a TV spin-off show is as good if not better than the original. Who could forget that Cheers begat Frasier, or that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart begat The Colbert Report? But sometimes, of course, it isn’t. Who could forget that Friends begat Joey, or that The X-Files begat The Lone Gunmen? (That’s right, most of us.) Nevertheless we remain optimistic about Better Call Saul, the new show that follows the exploits of lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) from Breaking Bad. The good news is that creator Vince Gilligan is still at the helm; the bad news is Mr. Gilligan was also responsible for The Lone Gunmen. But who’s keeping track.

Begins February 8th on AMC. bettercallsaul.com

The ExhibitionBJORK AT MOMA, NYC

 

The Icelandic singer Björk has lived more lives than most; indeed, to describe her simply as a “singer” does a disservice to her enormous contributions to music, film and art in general (not forgetting her collaboration with naturalist Sir David Attenborough in a 2013 documentary film). The Museum of Modern Art in New York has decided that it is high time her achievements as a composer, musician, and artist be recognized and is launching a major retrospective of her work in March. The exhibition draws from more than 20 years of the artist’s daring and adventurous projects and her seven full-length albums—from Debut (1993) to Biophilia (2011)—to chronicle her career through sound, film, visuals, instruments, objects, costumes, and performance.

From March 7-June 7, MoMA, 11 W53rd St, New York moma.org

The AlbumUPTOWN SPECIAL by MARK RONSON

Super-producer Mark Ronson’s love of the musical past is both unabashed and unquenched if his new album is anything to go by, in which he goes to Herculean lengths to introduce feel-good funk to a new audience. Of course, he hasn’t forgotten his love for hip-hop and brass (see “Feel Right” featuring rapper Mystikal), and as usual Mr Ronson has recruited a high-caliber cabal of collaborators including Bruno Mars, Tame Impala’s Mr Kevin Parker, and, the legendary Stevie Wonder, whose harmonica drifts elegantly over the opening track “Crack in the Pearl”.

Out on 26 January (Columbia Records)

The Film: PAN

Pan is the latest live-action fairy tale movie that reimagines a beloved children’s classic into a would-be blockbuster epic. This formula has been decidedly mixed in the past with disappointments like Snow White and the Huntsman and Maleficent muddling through 90-minute running times to box office glory. However, Pan seems like one that could break the mold since it’s the first in a long-while that is helmed by a genuine talent instead of a first-time director. Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, Anna Karenina) has made a series of diverse, superb dramas in the past. The inspiring Hugh Jackman plays a villainous Blackbeard with an impressive cast rounded out by Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, and Amanda Seyfried. 

Opening July 24

The BookPURITY by JONATHAN FRANZEN

We were as surprised as the next person to hear that American author Jonathan Franzen has a novel, called Purity, coming out in 2015, a mere five years since his last, Freedom (and not counting two books of essays in between). Mr Franzen famously has taken around a decade to produce his most celebrated fiction works, particularly the aforementioned Freedom and The Corrections of 2001; could it be that the speed of the internet age has finally caught up with the legendary technophobe? Certainly it has affected his subject matter: the novel is a being hailed as a multi-generational American epic centered around a young woman, Purity “Pip” Tyler, and her relationship with a charismatic hacker. Publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux says, “There’s a kind of fabulist quality to it. It’s not strict realism. There’s a mythic undertone to the story.”

Out in September

The Food: RAMEN 2.0

Ramen has long since moved beyond the realm of dorm cooking. Ever since David Chang, the famous New York chef and restaurateur, introduced the concept of a high-end noodle shop to America at his restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2004, the Asian noodle bar concept has spread across America. While a new generation of noodle shops like Ivan Ramen in New York City and Ken Ken Ramen in San Francisco have staked out a claim to fame, the ramen renaissance in the U.S. has only just begun. While ramen shops serving traditional Chinese-style wheat noodles are becoming a dime a dozen, other types of Asian and Asian-inspired noodles are expected to be featured in a big way. Will ramen become as ubiquitously American as the burger? We hope so!

The 14 Best Ramen Shops in America.