Barack Obama may be a couple of years removed from the Oval Office, but the president ex officio is continuing a tradition he started as commander-in-chief of sharing his year-end list of his favorite movies, music and books. He did not share his favorite shows and streaming series.
“It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books, movies, and music that I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved,” Obama wrote on social media. “It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors, artists, and storytellers — some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before.”
It’s a best-of list that boasts Oscar contenders and box office hits such as “Black Panther,” “Eighth Grade” and “Roma”; chart-toppers such as Leon Bridges’ “Bad Bad News” and Cardi B’s “I Like It”; and best-sellers such as Michael Ondaatje’s “Warlight” and David W. Blight’s “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.”
The former president also probably preserved domestic harmony with one of his picks, “Becoming,” the acclaimed memoir by his wife, Michelle Obama. Writing on Facebook, Obama said the book was “obviously my favorite!” Obama’s reading list includes a number of titles that comment on the fractious political moment, such as Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s “How Democracies Die” and “The World as It Is,” Ben Rhodes’ memoir about working for the 44th president. “Fear,” Bob Woodward’s look at dysfunction in Trump land, did not make the grade.
On the film front, the former president’s choices included a number of movies about race in America, such as “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Blindspotting” and Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.” The Obamas went to see “Do the Right Thing” on their first date and “BlacKkKlansman” has been hailed as a return to form for Lee. There were also several foreign-language films, including “Burning,” a South Korean thriller, and “Shoplifters,” a Japanese drama that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.
Obama’s musical choices were eclectic, including folk rock (Brandi Carlile’s “Every Time I Hear That Song”), rock (Kurt Vile’s “One Trick Ponies”) and rap (J. Cole’s “Kevin’s Heart). The Carters, friends of the Obama family, are also represented. The former president added “Apes••t,” the infectious trap anthem from the duo’s most recent album “Everything Is Love.”
As of press time, Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, has yet to reveal his own best-of list of pop culture. It seems more likely to include “Fox & Friends” than “If Beale Street Could Talk.”