November 17, 2014 12:00 PM

A DOZEN COOL THINGS TO SEE, HEAR, READ AND DOWNLOAD THIS WEEK

FOR ADDITIONAL REVIEWS OF MOVIES, TV SHOWS, MUSIC AND BOOKS, GO TO PEOPLE.COM/PICKS

No.1 Interstellar

Earth’s dying, a mysterious wormhole has opened near Saturn, and the race is on to begin anew

MOVIE

SCI-FI

Director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception) thinks big—really big—but even by his standards Interstellar is a whopper of a tall tale, using our extinction (Earth starves as crops fail) as a springboard for a space fantasy about the hunt for a new home. Or maybe it’s not fantasy at all. Nolan anchors this quest in the rules that govern quantum physics, and the story’s built on the findings of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. But some-thing unexpected happens amid this cold cosmology: As the astronauts (an intense McConaughey and Hathaway) hunt, we return to their loved ones, who wait, age and despair—and the laws of physics buckle under the laws of human nature. Hope and love rage against the blackness of space, and the result is a blockbuster molded not just by a big mind but by an even bigger heart. (PG-13, Nov. 7)

No. 2 New Fall Cookbooks

This season’s harvest has something for everyone: ambitious kids (and tired parents), pizza lovers and all cooks who want to up their kitchen game BY ALLISON ADATO

Heritage

Sean Brock

The Virginia native, who owns restaurants (Husk, McCrady’s) in Charleston, S.C., and Nashville, elevates the homey (see: Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder with Tomato Gravy, Creamed Corn and Roasted Baby Vidalias) and talks straight about basics, such as not messing up your grits.

Dinner: The Playbook
Jenny Rosenstrach

The blogger behind Dinner: A Love Story presents a smart strategy for sitting down to a cooked meal as a family, even when picky eaters, long workdays and chicken fatigue get in the way. Includes monthly menus and appealing ideas like Chicken Parm Meatballs.

We ♥ Cooking!
Lilly and Audrey Andrews

In a unified voice, these 12-year-old twins speak to young chefs, enthusing over not- your-average kiddie fare such as Kale Caesar Salad, Chicken Curry and Sole in Parchment. But they’re still little girls: A “Royal Tea Party” menu leads off the entertaining chapter.

The Pizza Bible
Tony Gemignani

This San Francisco pizza guru is ecumenical in his tastes. He includes how-tos on a variety of pies, including classic New York, Napoletana, fancied-up California-style and Chicago deep-dish. (Is that last kind really pizza? Debate.)

Make It Ahead
Ina Garten

This time the Barefoot Contessa star turns to dishes—from Maple Vanilla Cream of Wheat to Lamb Tagine, roast turkey and even dog biscuits—that can be assembled, partly or wholly, before serving. That means hosts can relax and enjoy Garten’s (pre-prepped) Cranberry Martini.

Prune
Gabrielle Hamilton

You want foodie anecdotes? Get Hamilton’s memoir Blood, Bones & Butter. This book is all recipes, beginning with a nervy classic from her New York City restaurant Prune, called Canned Sardines with Triscuits, Dijon Mustard and Cornichons. (She adds an exhortation not to crisscross the sardines or “otherwise make ‘restauranty.’ “) Try Chicken Braised in Hard Cider and Broiled Grapefruit with Wheat Chex Streusel.

Good Fat Cooking
Franklin Becker and Peter Kaminsky

Don’t get too excited: Deep-fried Snickers bars are not a good fat. But as Becker (of New York’s Little Beet) knows, our bodies need fat as much as they crave it. Salmon Avocado Caponata with Pistachios and Black Olive Oil (above) has five essential fats and a lot of flavor.

Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen Dana Cowin

Is the editor of FOOD & WINE (like PEOPLE, a Time Inc. magazine) secretly a bad cook? “I’ve messed up literally every type of food,” writes Cowin, who gets help (and teaches us) by consulting 65 top chefs. Béchamel sauce too thin for your Baked Ziti Arrabbiata? Mario Batali is there to advise: “Mix cold butter with flour and whisk it in.”

No. 3 The Newsroom
TV

DRAMA

The final season is shorter (six episodes) but smarter—and a lot more exciting. Creator Aaron Sorkin sharpens the stakes and suspense in the premiere, as Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) confronts a trio of dramas: the flawed social media firestorm sparked by the Boston Marathon bombing, a corporate takeover of Will’s parent company and a free-speech showdown pitting his journalists against the FBI. (HBO, Nov. 9, 9 p.m.)

No. 4 Little Big Town, Pain Killer

MUSIC

COUNTRY

On their sixth studio album, the quartet take a daring, rock-infused turn without leaving behind their sweet harmonies. With standouts like “Quit Breaking Up with Me” and the fabulously clever “Girl Crush” (wait for the twist), it’s one of the year’s top country releases. And Karen Fairchild, lead singer on many of the tunes, has never sounded stronger.

No. 5 Reno 911! The Complete Series

On the beat with the odd squad

DVD

COMEDY

This Cops send-up, which ran six seasons on Comedy Central, ranks with Curb Your Enthusiasm as one of the great pioneers of TV mockumentary—largely improvised and ignoring all forms of correctness, it hasn’t aged. It was also a launching pad for some very funny people, including Niecy Nash and Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs) as a deputy who loves nothing more than to arrest men with her bedroom eyes. (Nov. 4)

No. 6 Bob Dylan and the Band, The Basement Tapes Complete

MUSIC

FOLK ROCK

The 1975 release, a casual, ragtag classic culled from informal recording sessions from 1967, is amplified with dozens of unreleased tracks and alternate takes. It’s like going into the attic, opening the old toy chest and discovering that, over the years, the inhabitants have raised entire families: strange and enchanting. (Nov. 4)

No. 7 Big Hero 6
In this Disney cartoon, a robot rescues his young owner from one scrape after another

MOVIE

ANIMATED

Baymax, an inflatable robot with a clumsy but meringue-light step, is programmed to provide basic medical care: He’ll read your vitals and, depending on your needs, give you a squirt of antibacterial spray or even a warmth-dispensing hug—like an engineered abstract of Mrs. Doubtfire. Baymax becomes the nurturing, oversolicitous shadow of Hiro, a young tech wizard who stumbles into trouble after his invention, a nail-size robot with huge potential for both good and harm, is stolen. Hiro has to toughen up to superhero standards, but Baymax is wired to stay a big softie. He’s the movie’s heart. (Nov. 7, PG)

No. 8 The Theory of Everything
Stephen Hawking’s brilliant, impermanent marriage

MOVIE

DRAMA

In the years in which he suffered the progressive debilitations of motor neuron disease and wrote A Brief History of Time, British cosmologist Stephen Hawking was cared for and deeply loved by wife Jane. This touching movie is about their marriage, which ended in divorce in 1995—as a result of exhaustion (hers) and, perhaps like so many romances, time. Both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are excellent, but she’s the one who stays with you: Jane’s radiant beauty fades, and—unlike the genius, with his giant intellectual goals—she seems diminished in her own life. (Nov. 7, PG-13)

No. 9 The Comeback
TV

COMEDY

Lisa Kudrow’s satire about an aging sitcom star reborn on reality TV is back for season 2—nine years later. The original, which followed Valerie Cherish as she accepted whatever indignity was required to relaunch her career, is a classic. This one? The edge is off. But Kudrow’s performance is a matchless study in actorly perversion: masochism as the height of vanity. (HBO, Nov. 9, 10 p.m.)

No. 10 MasterChef Junior
TV

REALITY

It easily could have been Lord of the Flies with spatulas: young chefs battling for the top prize. But in its second season, the show continues its successful formula of bright-eyed (and brilliant!) contestants pulling off Michelin-looking fare with a child’s flair (think jelly beans on pie). Watching the kids root for each other is inspiring, and their food will leave you awestruck—and hungry! (FOX, Tuesdays, 8:00 p.m.)

No. 11 Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways

MUSIC

ROCK

Has it really been 20 years since their debut album? For both their anniversary and eighth studio album, Dave Grohl and Co. decided to do something a little different. While the songs sound like typical Foos, with fuzzy guitar riffs and Grohl’s hard-charged vocals, each of the eight songs was recorded in a different city, at a different legendary studio, with local iconic guests like KISS’s Paul Stanley, Zac Brown and Joan Jett. The entire process was filmed for an HBO docuseries, airing now, which Grohl hosted, directed and produced. (Nov. 10)

No. 12 Pelican Dreams
A fascinating odd-duck bird

MOVIE

DOCUMENTARY

Focusing on two pelicans that haven’t had much luck in the wild, this simple, affectionate movie is a far cry from a high-def Discovery nature special, but there’s something poetic in the way director-narrator Judy Irving identifies with the birds’ need to fly or, barring that, accept the care of kind landlubbers. (Nov. 7, G)

THIS WEEK’S LOSERS & MUST-AVOIDS

Benched
TV

COMEDY

An attorney flames out and winds up public defender. This just doesn’t jell, leaving Eliza Coupe more stranded than benched. (USA, Tuesdays, 10:30 p.m.)

Life After Beth
DVD

COMEDY-HORROR

Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza is a nice, perfectly ordinary dead girl who morphs into an awful zombie. Much more depressing than funny.

Selfie
TV

COMEDY

Eliza (Karen Gillan) finds an office mentor in Henry (John Cho). So far this isn’t My Fair Lady, and they aren’t Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina. (ABC, Tuesdays, 8 p.m.)

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