“The Farthest: Voyager in Space” on Netflix: For all its promise, 2018 will surely bring more bad news, which is precisely what makes this documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Voyager I and II missions that approached Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and beyond so essential. Here to testify to all the distant wonders Voyager discovered are a few of the real, live humans who worked on the seemingly impossible mission and the images that were returned and interpreted right down the street at JPL in Pasadena. A couple of hours in their company and it feels like we might not be so bad after all.
Bing & Ruth’s “No Home of the Mind”: Though maybe not the ideal choice for a year-end party, this album led by the Kansas-born David Moore makes an ideal choice for greeting the new year with reflection and focus. Recorded at a church in Hudson Valley, N.Y., and released on the revered indie label 4AD, “No Home of the Mind” exists at a meeting point of between ambient music and minimalist classical, at various points recalling elements of Brian Eno and Terry Riley as lush electronic backdrops and cascading echoes of piano build something that should land on future soundtracks either in film, TV or your dreams.
“Twin Peaks,” the 18-part movie: There’s no disparaging David Lynch’s distinctly baffling return to his ’90s series, but a line must be drawn as some film people — the British Film Institute and Cahiers du Cinéma, to name two — have claimed the series by including it in year-end best-of lists. In addition to being simply wrong given that the show that aired on an actual TV network, this dated attitude smacks of a smug revisionism where a beloved director’s involvement somehow “elevates” the work above the common rabble of television. Until they also take ownership of “Vinyl” and “Crisis in Six Scenes,” this idea is a nonstarter.
Year-end party programming: Known as amateur night since celebrations were invented, New Year’s Eve also brings out the average in multiple networks, which celebrate with guest-heavy, midnight-adjacent programming. Whether you want to watch Anderson Cooper laugh with Andy Cohen or Ryan Seacrest remind everyone Camila Cabello and Charlie Puth still exist, each is designed to be just unobtrusive enough to air in the background if you’re entertaining. Here’s an idea: Turn them all off and count down yourself. 2017 is almost over — we made it. That’s a celebration that needs no prompting.
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