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Fanbase Press’ Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Movies and TV

Amidst the chaos of decorating the house, booking flights, or planning a holiday feast, deciding on gifts for friends and family is liable to be the last thing on your mind this December. Fanbase Press is here to help with the best recommendations for the must-watch movies and TV shows from the year as suggested by our staff and contributors. Whether you prefer to binge-watch on Netflix or like the look of Blu-ray sets on a shelf, the following TV shows and films are perfect to share with the geeks in your life this holiday season.

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The Leftovers, Full Series
Recommended by Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor

The HBO series, The Leftovers, might be my favorite TV show of all time. There are a lot of reasons for this, most of which would involve my spoiling the story for people who haven’t watched it yet. The IMDb show synopsis is deceptively straightforward: “Three years after the disappearance of two percent of the global population, a group of people struggle to continue their lives, while they cope with the tragedy of the unexplained nature of the event.” I can say if you’re a fan of reality-bending, edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, thought-provoking narratives, this is the show for you.  

Oh, and the ensemble cast will knock your socks off…Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Amy Brenneman, Ann Dowd, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Scott Glenn, and Regina King, just to name a few.

This is a series that belongs on your Blu-ray shelf, because as soon as you’ve finished watching that final episode, you’re going to want to start all over again at the beginning.

Cost:  $20 – 22 per title
The Leftovers on Amazon: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3

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Solo: A Star Wars Story (Blu-ray + Digital Code)
Recommended by Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President

While readers most likely know the character of Han Solo (made famous by actor Harrison Ford’s iconic performance) and the fact that LucasFilm released a prequel film based on the character’s early years (this time portrayed by actor Alden Ehrenreich), there’s a reasonable chance, given the box office totals, that those reading know someone who hasn’t had the chance to view Solo: A Star Wars Story yet. The tale of how Han became “Han Solo,” met his Wookie best friend Chewbacca, and ended up in the cockpit of his beloved Millennium Falcon is still not favored by all, but the tide does seem to be turning with the youngest Star Wars film, with many who are just now seeing the film on Blu-Ray finding that they enjoy Solo far more than they initially expected.

In addition to the Blu-Ray and digital version of the film, this edition of the Solo includes a number of insightful and enjoyable special features, including the “so awesome it’s beyond description” deleted scene of Han and Chewie having a snowball fight.

Cost: $16.99
Click here to purchase.

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Batman: The Complete Animated Series Deluxe Limited Edition (Blu-ray Set)
Recommended by Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President

Very few young souls grew up in the 1990s without Batman: The Animated Series leaving a distinct and powerful impression. Legendary among fans of the Dark Knight and animation, the Emmy-winning series continues to be regarded by many to this day as containing the best depictions of all time in regards to multiple characters, including Kevin Conroy’s Batman, Mark Hamill’s Joker, Mr. Freeze, and more. This Deluxe Limited Edition set includes 10 discs covering all 109 episodes of the classic series and a number of fantastic extras, including several in-depth documentaries covering the making and impact of the series.

Not only is this set sure to thrill the Batman fan on your list, but it also pairs incredibly well with The Arkham Sessions podcast (available free of charge here at Fanbase Press). Don’t forget to mention that friendly recommendation!

Cost: $112.99
Click here to purchase.

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Night of the Living Dead (The Criterion Collection)
Recommended by Michele Brittany, Fanbase Press Editorials Manager

This past October marked the 50th anniversary of the seminal modern zombie film, Night of the Living Dead, directed George A. Romero.  The story opens with siblings traveling to a rural Pennsylvania cemetery to visit their father’s grave. Johnny is killed trying to defend Barbra.  She runs off and takes refuge with a small group of people in a farmhouse, where they barricade themselves against the menacing people outside.  The movie is hailed as one of the finest horror films of all time and, as a result, has been given the “criterion” treatment. The shoestring-budgeted movie has been restored by the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation, and The Criterion Collection release includes over a dozen special features.  While all of those facets should sway any horror fan, at the heart of the recommendation is, of course, the film itself.  The black-and-white film stock gives the film an air of simplicity and starkness, while the straightforward story stands the test of time, even fifty years on.  

Cost: $31.96 (Blu-ray or DVD version)
Click here to purchase.

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Castlevania, Season 1 – 2 (Netflix Original)
Recommended by Michele Brittany, Fanbase Press Editorials Manager

Castlevania is an animated series that premiered on Netflix in July 2017.  Based on the Konami video game that originated in the late 1980s, the animated version introduced viewers to Count Dracula, vampire hunter Trevor Belmont, and young magician Sypha Belnades.  While a viewer’s enjoyment might be heightened by having played through the video games, it is not a prerequisite for being entertained by this series.  The story is written by powerhouse writer Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, James Bond) who injects character complexity as well as dramatic urgency amongst the people of Wallachia.  The voice actors are superb and truly bring their respective characters to life: Richard Armitage (Trevor Belmont), James Callis (Alucard), Graham McTavish (Vlad Dracula), and Alejandra Reynoso (Sypha).  And, Powerhouse Animation Studios delivered incredible visuals.  The only complaint with season one is that there were only four episodes, but season two just recently dropped with eight episodes, and a third season has been announced.  Now is the time to do some binge watching!

Cost: Requires Netflix membership
Click here to visit the website.

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The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell (Netflix Original)
Recommended by Michele Brittany, Fanbase Press Editorials Manager

Move over, The Great British Bake Off and The Great British Baking Show: Masterclass, there is a new baker in town.  A model, artist, and baker extraordinaire, Christine McConnell was an Instagram sensation when her six-episode first season show, The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell, was streamed by Netflix this past October.  If you thought the British signature bakes were something, then be prepared to be totally blown away by McConnell’s creations.  Although there’s an overarching narrative – a young woman living in a Victorian mansion that’s a haven for her monster friends (Muppets curtesy of Brian Henson) – that provides the charm element to the show, it’s the three horror-inspired McConnell recipes that add the real magic and will leave viewers in awe of her skill and artistry.  I know that I am, and while I lack the skill to attempt any of her recipes, I still thoroughly enjoy her show.  And, happily, it has been picked up for a second season.  In the meantime, check out her first season on Netflix.

Cost: Requires Netflix membership
Click here to visit the website.




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