THE WORD: Hopepunk

“The opposite of grimdark is hopepunk,” declared novelist Alexandra Rowland in a July 2017 post on the microblogging platform Tumblr. “Pass it on.” And passed on it was, birthing a literary genre marked by characters who stand up and fight for positive change no matter the cost. As much a mood as a movement, and as relevant now as it was five years ago – or more, perhaps – today we dust off this neologism to highlight the impact of radical resistance in the face of monolithic forces, and to encourage a fuller appreciation of kindness and positivity, despite highly uncertain outcomes. Rather than resigning oneself to the bleak scenarios that sometimes seem to be closing in, choose hopepunk. To embrace the hopepunk approach to life is to believe that a positive mindset is what shapes our future – not the other way around – and that failure is just a temporary setback to the success that, sooner or later, will reward our perseverance. But only if we hold on, fight together and persist.

Perfect If: You’re getting tired of the word ‘resilience’, and you’re looking for another way to see the glass half full.

THE TV BLOCKBUSTER: House of the Dragon

Few TV shows have been as highly anticipated as House of the Dragon, the prequel series to Game of Thrones, and lucky for dedicated fans, it delivered – chock full of politics, treason, blood and, yes, dragons. Set hundreds of years before Daenerys’ attempt to reclaim the Iron Throne, this story will follow the Greens and the Blacks (two sides of the Targaryen dynasty) as they fight for the throne in what is called the Dance of Dragons. With incredible performances by an ensemble cast, which includes Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen, Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent, Matt Smith as Daemon “The Rogue Prince” Targaryen, and Paddy Considine as King Viserys, we’re betting this show will reach legend status by season two – if it hasn’t already.

Perfect If: You understand there’s no such thing as black and white in the world of George R.R. Martin.


What if your job required you to undergo a procedure that spatially separates your memories: at the office, you would have no knowledge of who you are in your private life, and at home, you would remember nothing of work. In this unsettling tale of work/life balance gone horribly wrong, that’s exactly what’s required in certain departments at the mysterious Lumon Industries, where protagonist Mark Scout (Adam Scott) has undergone the controversial procedure called ‘severance’. He plugs away at a job he doesn’t understand and goes home to an empty house, never questioning the nature of his work or his decision to ‘sever’ – that is, until a beloved coworker disappears and is replaced by an employee who’s decidedly unhappy with her new situation, and is determined to lift the veil on the inhumanity of severance. Visually stylish, compellingly written, expertly paced, masterfully acted and undeniably original, this Emmy-winning show was a welcome surprise in a TV landscape dominated by franchise heavyweights and CGI headliners. We can’t wait for Season 2.

Perfect If: You’re not always entirely sure what you do all day, either.


Scroll through any ‘best sequels’ list, and an older, more fearless Pete “Maverick” will show up. The beloved original 1986 film that made Tom Cruise a movie star was, in a nutshell, everything that contemporary cinema-goers would love. Now, Director Joseph Kosinski has revived the formula for a new generation – and made it even better. Joining Cruise is a fresh new batch of naval aviators, a more thrilling plot, impeccable action sequences, beautiful aerial photography, a clever sense of self-awareness, and a returning Val Kilmer, making this the perfect combo of a modern-day blockbuster with retro cinema. Still sceptical? Just trust us on this.

Perfect If: You feel the need for speed, from the comfort of your couch.

THE SLEEPER HIT: Everything Everywhere All At Once

With all the repetitive storylines and predictable endings plaguing cinema lately, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a breath of fresh air – but it’s also literally what the title suggests, and the result is weird. The best kind of weird. The directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert created an ambitious multiverse concept and delivered a thrilling rollercoaster of imaginative scenes, including one in which Jamie Lee Curtis plays the piano with her toes. But beneath the absurdity, there’s a clear message of kindness and hope, and Michelle Yeoh’s performance – a contender for the upcoming Oscars – is the perfect cherry on top. Such a masterpiece can’t be explained, so there’s only one thing to do: watch it. Several times, if possible.

Perfect If: You’re in the mood for some sci-fi action, elements of dark comedy, flawless martial arts, emotional drama and an uplifting message, all at once.


Katia and Maurice Krafft had a love that burned brighter than most. A love for each other, yes, but also a love for the study of active volcanoes. The daring duo of French volcanologists travelled the world for 20 years, hot on the trail of spectacular eruptions that they documented and filmed with fearless enthusiasm until 1991, when their passion would lead to their tragic deaths. The pair left behind a formidable legacy in the field of volcanology, as well as some of the most captivating volcanic images ever committed to celluloid. Director Sara Dosa weaves this footage into a breathtaking documentary that tells the story of Katia and Maurice’s lives, their love and their dedication to going where no human has gone before, in a quest to better understand one of the most fascinating and destructive forces on our planet. The film is available for streaming on Disney+.

Perfect If: You know that, ultimately, every love story ends the same way.

THE MUSIC DOCUMENTARY: Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues

Few artists tower over a genre as much as Louis Armstrong and jazz. So much so that fans of the great man would likely suggest that if the word ‘jazz’ had never existed, it could equally well have been replaced with a word like Satchmo or Pops – both nicknames of the legendary trumpeter and singer. However, this remarkable Apple TV+ documentary from director Sacha Jenkins takes viewers on a journey beyond the myth and reveals the man through his own words.

Perfect If: You want to discover the true musical, cultural and social importance of Louis Armstrong – the man who took humanity to the stars and beyond long before Neil Armstrong.

THE BOOK (FICTION): How Not to Drown in a Glass Of Water

You might have missed Angie Cruz’s How Not to Drown in a Glass Of Water, one of the best novels we came across this year, but there’s still time to remedy such a calamity. This hilarious book follows protagonist Cara Romero as she navigates a rocky spell after losing her job during a recession in her mid-50s. She begins to share her life story with her new job counsellor, and so the tale unfolds. Difficult relationships, funny encounters and challenging money troubles all make for an exciting read. If you’re looking for a book to brighten up dark winter days, this might be just the thing.

Perfect If: You’re a fan of Fleabag-style humour (in other words: it’s funny, but it also might make you cry).

THE BOOK (NON-FICTION): Dickens & Prince

The jump from purple prose to purple rain is already intriguing enough, but what is it exactly that makes this unlikely pairing of Charles Dickens and Prince Nelson Rogers so similar in their artistic approaches? This is the focus of Nick Hornby’s surprising and oh-so smart exploration of the renowned novelist and beloved musician’s creative genius. The short, but compelling non-fiction work was sparked by photos of the pair on Hornby’s office wall and illuminates the source of creativity in general – not only in the case of the titular twosome.

Perfect If: You love Hornby’s previous works such as Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About a Boy, and are curious to dig deeper than the book’s insanely memorable title.

THE SOUND (English Language): Taylor Swift’s Midnights

You don’t have to be a die-hard Swiftie. You don’t have to be part of the Easter egg-hunting fan base. You don’t have to follow her media battles, but you could still very much enjoy Taylor Swift’s best songwriting to date. Don’t believe us? Her record-breaking global charts position might prove us right. The constant crossover between love stories and revenge plots is and will always be part of Swift’s narrative, Midnights included, but in this, her tenth album, there’s so much more: new vocal effects, vintage synths, misty sounds, compelling lyrics and a very relatable storytelling, to name a few. Bonus points are in order for her closest co-writing with Jack Antonoff and a stunning collaboration with Lana Del Rey. A true master at work. 

Perfect If: You’d like to see Swift not reinvent, but redefine herself – and pop culture.

THE SOUND (Spanish Language): Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti

Who’d have thought a reggaeton album would ever chart as high as Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti? Then again, few musical acts have made as many waves (and in such a short time) as Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio. From performing with Shakira at the Super Bowl to charting hit after hit, winning the Latin Grammys and selling out stadiums across the globe with his highly acclaimed tour, there just seems to be no milestone the Puerto Rican artist can’t reach. The album features an array of Latin rhythms, including reggaeton, yes, but also trap, merengue, dembow, dancehall and cumbia, among others. There’s a little bit of everything, making Bad Bunny’s fourth studio album appealing to nearly any type of listener. If you haven’t already, check out the genre-defying album, and let us know how long it takes for you to try your hand at perreo

Perfect If: You never thought you’d be a fan of reggaeton, but here you are. Also perfect if you’re throwing a New Year’ party and want people to actually get up and dance. 

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