Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living-room space to DVD sets of The Wire and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to MSNBC.com, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

At the movies, 2018 was the year of Black Panther, the year of more Incredibles and Avengers, more Star Wars and Mission: Impossible. But it was also the year of intimate stories of youth and love. It was the year of period pieces and fantasies, crushing tragedies and raucous comedies. Bob Mondello, Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon would never agree on a single list of best movies of the year. But here are 15 of the movies we admired and will remember.

Black Panther

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Two days - that is how long it took for comedian Kevin Hart to accept the invitation to host the Oscars and then decline. This follows swift social media criticism of his past homophobic comments. Initially Hart had taken to Instagram and said this.

Are the Golden Globes an awards milestone that sometimes suggests where the season might be going? A genuine opportunity to recognize a fresher batch of shows and films than sometimes dominate the Emmys and Oscars? A boost that has legitimately helped some good but under-the-radar projects raise their profiles? A special chance to acknowledge talent that doesn't get recognized enough?

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It is one of the oldest and most sexist tropes of all that husbands make messes and wives clean them up. Widows, directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave) and co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), spins that idea in a new direction.

The new documentary series Shut Up and Dribble, which premiered the first of its three parts this weekend on Showtime, is a response to commentator Laura Ingraham's dismissive February 2018 sneer in the direction of LeBron James, one of the series' executive producers.

Television has been asking this question a lot: What should we do with terrible memories?

Should we resign ourselves to being stalked by them, like the family in Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House? Should we just acknowledge that we will walk with apparitions and that the ghosts of our own mistakes will snuggle into our beds and put their cold fingers on our bellies while we sleep?

I never really thought about Dunk Fatigue until I saw Hasan Minhaj, on his new Netflix show Patriot Act, masterfully working around it.

You know about A Star Is Born, right? One enormously famous and successful celebrity fades; one rises. But here's a question: What percentage of creative people will ever get to be either of those? What percentage will experience a great rise or a great fall? How many will simply work, often undervalued and insulted, sometimes praised, for a moment, before being shoved aside? What about the invisibility that follows even fleeting encounters with modest success?

Two groups of people don't care at all about how the first episode of The ConnersRoseanne without Roseanne — was. The first group doesn't care because they found Roseanne Barr the real person so personally and/or politically noxious that avoiding this project, made as it is by a network and a team willing to work with her until relatively recently, is a matter of principle.

What if you were trapped in the middle of a traditional addiction narrative forever?

In a traditional fictional addiction narrative, the person with the addiction begins the story able to coexist with it, if indeed it even has emerged. The addiction deepens, loved ones discover it and there is a single lowest point. Then there is a surrender by the person suffering and a willingness to get help. Or, sometimes, there is not, or there is another fall and then there is death.

"You're bouncing off the atmosphere."

Early in director Damien Chazelle's First Man, this is one of the cautions given to Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) during his pilot training, years before he walked on the moon. That idea of the barrier between Earth and space, the violence of making the journey through it and the almost mystical experience of being on the other side of it forms the spine of the film.

It's hard to make a show about high school football in 2018, even seven-plus years after the end of Friday Night Lights. FNL was so revered, so satisfying, so good, that a show that asks us to care about 17-year-old running backs faces a steep climb.

Fall is often the most intense movie season of all. Awards contenders begin to come into focus after the Toronto International Film Festival, while comedies and thrillers continue to hit screens. We got to see a lot of upcoming films at TIFF — below you'll find write-ups of 15 movies we really enjoyed and a heads-up about nearly 40 notable releases.

A Star Is Born begins with Bradley Cooper, as successful country-rock singer Jackson Maine, doing his uninspired but high-octane brand of guitar work in front of a screaming audience of fans. When he's done, drunk and exhausted, he pours himself into a big black SUV, now alone with his nearly empty bottle, his flushed face, and his lungs that sound like they're filled with ash. He is in rough shape.

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