Remember how, when Barack Obama was president, we'd all ooh and ahh over his great taste when he dropped his year-end lists? Well, his absence from the Oval Office doesn't mean he's stopped making those lists, and it sounds like Obama curated an A+ year in media for himself in 2018.
The former president posted his best of lists for movies, music, and books both old and new to share what he liked in 2018 and, of course, his picks are all on-point. There's something so thrilling about an (ex) president who dips into cool shit you missed, eh?
Let's start with his movie picks. In alphabetical order, Obama shouts out Annihilation, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Blindspotting, Burning, The Death of Stalin, Eighth Grade, If Beale Street Could Talk, Leave No Trace, Minding the Gap, The Rider, Roma, Shoplifters, Support the Girls, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor.
Just pursuing it, you can see two themes emerge: stories about the Black experience and stories about women. Obama knows that representation matters. In a world where most film directors, critics, and studio heads are white men, he takes the time to praise the stories told by directors, actors, and writers who are marginalized. Annihilation, Eighth Grade, Leave No Trace, and Support the Girls didn't break the box office, although at least a few of them probably should have. And it's great to see Beale Street (from the Oscar-winning director of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins) and Blindspotting next to a blockbuster like Black Panther.
As for his music picks, Obama continues to live somewhere off the beaten track. In a world dominated by Drake and Post Malone, we must stan for someone who is jamming artists as diverse as the experimental R&B of H.E.R. next to country music's new favorite daughter Ashley McBryde next to a feminist manifesto of a track from indie rocker Courtney Barnett. The most obvious songs here may come from the Carters, Janelle Monáe, and Chance the Rapper — all longtime Obama faves (and celebrity friends).
In fact, there's really only one universal bop on his list, Cardi B's "I Like It," a.k.a. the song you couldn't get away from all summer. There's no singular box to put his playlist in, other than "good music." Every year Obama's best songs list makes me want to know more about how he finds new music, and this one is no exception.
Also: he's right about going back to listen to the late, great Nancy Wilson. Her catalog isn't one that many younger generations are familiar with, but it's loaded with stunning and sultry gems that deserve more appreciation than being lost to the annals of history.