People Picks


No. 1 The Age of Adaline

Blake Lively shows depth and vulnerability as a woman who stays forever young


Most of us would need magic to live to 109, much less look as good as medical miracle Adaline (Lively). But the 29-forever beauty behaves as if she’s cursed, shunning love. Then she meets Ellis (Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman), and The Age of Adaline blooms into an enveloping romance. Lively is winning and wise as a gal who’s been around a long, long time. She not only has classic diction and a vintage wardrobe that would make any fashionista’s heart flutter, she’s picked up several languages and is quite a savvy investor. Meanwhile the fine supporting cast, including Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker as Huisman’s parents, grounds the fanciful story, making it feel, well, ageless. The divine Ellen Burstyn sets the emotional stakes even higher as Adaline’s elderly daughter Flemming. (April 24, PG-13)

No. 2 Happyish

The pursuit of bliss gets harder (and funnier) with age


Grown-ups inevitably grow down and then out. That may not be shocking news, but the theme still feels fresh in this whimsical series, which follows married couple Thom (Steve Coogan) and Lee (Kathryn Hahn) as they navigate a world full of hard decisions: Work meeting or family dinner? Viagra or Prozac? Happyish has a lot of fun with these daily downers, thanks to guest stars like Ellen Barkin and dream sequences featuring suicidal (and frisky) Keebler elves. (Showtime, April 26, 9:30 p.m.)

No. 3 Josh Groban, Stages


The American treasure flaunts his rich baritone on his sixth full-length album. This collection of musical showstoppers and warhorses ranges across the classics, from Carousel to Sunday in the Park with George, but Groban’s voice is timeless. He arguably cheats a little, tossing in standards that were first sung on the movie screen, including “Pure Imagination” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, of course, “Somewhere over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz—but come on: This is a guy who knows how to make happy little bluebirds fly. Then there are the duets. When he teams with Kelly Clarkson for “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera, you’ll wonder why neither of them has yet graced the Great White Way.

No. 4 Valley Uprising


From the bitter rivalries of rock climbing’s golden age to the free-climbing Stone Masters of the 1970s and ’80s to the boundary-pushing Stone Monkeys of the next generation, this visually stunning doc chronicles the surprisingly dramatic history of the daredevil sport in Yosemite National Park. (Discovery, April 25, 8 p.m.)

No. 5 The Casual Vacancy

No wizards but plenty of drama in this adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s political tale


The opening images of this three-part miniseries, based on J.K. Rowling’s grim 2012 novel, conjure England at its most chocolate-box enchanting: emerald hills, trickling waterfalls, stone archways. But it’s cracked, all of it. Set in the fictional village of Pagford, the story is about a local election and the contemporary economic, social and class issues churning beneath the charm. Michael Gambon—farther than a Hogwarts Express ride away from his role as Professor Dumbledore in that other Rowling project—tops a stellar British cast. It’s a surprisingly gripping production that makes for thoughtful pre-election-year viewing. (HBO, April 29, 8 p.m.)

No. 6 Tales of the Grim Sleeper


For 25 years South Central Los Angeles was a playground for Lonnie Franklin Jr., who is formally suspected of killing 10 women and believed by many to have killed up to 20 more. Filmmaker Nick Broomfield investigates Franklin (who was also the subject of a 2014 Lifetime movie centered on a reporter character based on People’s Christine Pelisek, inset), but the doc is most riveting when exploring the plight of those struggling to survive in the impoverished neighborhood where Franklin roamed. (HBO, April 27, 9 p.m.)

No. 7 Adult Beginners

Nick Kroll plays the sad clown in a messy family


After his personal dot-com bubble bursts, Jake (Kroll) tucks in his tail and goes home—well, someone’s home, anyway. His sister Justine (Rose Byrne) and her husband, Danny (Bobby Cannavale), let him stay in exchange for nanny services. You know where this is headed, but see Beginners for the strength of its cast, not the novelty of its plot. Cannavale and Byrne always elevate their material, while Kroll flexes dramatic muscles even Kroll Show fans may not know he had. Together they’re awkward but warm, like a group hug. (April 24, R)

No. 8 Shawn Mendes, Handwritten


Canadian cutie Mendes went viral seemingly overnight in 2013, posting six-second covers on Vine. Fast-forward two years, and he’s releasing his first full-length album on the heels of last year’s radio hit “Life of the Party.” The super-personal Handwritten is full of earnest ballads (“Never Be Alone”), tracks of lost love (the hand-clap-riddled “Stitches” is a must-listen) and unadulterated, innocent infatuation (“I Don’t Even Know Your Name”). Between an army of teen fans and a score of tour dates as an opener for one Ms. Taylor Swift, the 16-year-old heartthrob is poised to take the title of Next Justin Bieber.

No. 9 The Best New Books

Toni Morrison and Jon Krakauer return in fine form, and a modern ‘spinster’ explains why she’s proud to own the name

Jon Krakauer



After learning that a friend was raped by a man she trusted, the Into the Wild author channeled his outrage into this expertly researched tome that centers on a rash of sexual assaults in the college town from which the book derives its name. Equal parts riveting and horrifying, it’s a hell of a read—and a necessary one.

Kate Bolick



Awakened and inspired by the lives of five historical women, Bolick revels in her own singledom in this blazingly smart memoir, which argues that “spinster” should be a coveted destination, not a dirty word. Her eloquent, provocative story illustrates how charting a unique course can make any life truly singular.


Toni Morrison God Help the Child


She’s 84 and she’s won the Nobel Prize, but Toni Morrison is not done. In these masterful pages, she tells the story of Bride, a beautiful woman born so blue-black that her “high yellow” mother withholds her affection. That early wound leads Bride into often-troubling choices. The themes here can be brutal—abuse, murder, neglect—but the voices and fierce emotions will win your heart. Seductive or raging, bewildered or heartbroken, they are all, in the end, hopeful.


Bruce Eric Kaplan

I Was a Child

Remember how other kids’ houses each had a smell, but you couldn’t smell your own? If you do, cartoonist (and Girls producer) Kaplan’s wry, sharply observed memoir is for you.

Elizabeth Bard

Picnic in Provence

Dotted with tasty recipes (Lavender Honey and Thyme Ice Cream!), this memoir about a young couple’s adventures opening an ice cream shop in Provence is a treat.

Alexandra Robbins

The Nurses

The unsung heroes of the medical world get their own full opera here in a funny, intimate and often jaw-dropping account of life behind the scenes on the harried hospital floor.

No. 10 Lake Placid vs. Anaconda

Two ’90s franchises collide


Crocodiles + giant snakes = a deliciously campy good time. A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Robert Englund is outfitted with a hook hand, a fake leg and eye patch in this Sharknado-esque TV movie, which is full of enough decidedly cheap special effects, scares and laughs to make even the harshest of horror critics crack a smile while watching the carnage from between their fingers. (Syfy, April 25, 9 p.m.)

No. 11 Queens of Drama


If the Real Housewives decided to overthrow their maker (a scenario that surely haunts Andy Cohen), the result would look something like this new series, which follows former soap stars as they attempt to write and produce their own show. The main draw is ’80s grandes dames Donna Mills and Joan Collins preening and purring their way across the screen like Disney’s Siamese cats. (Pop, April 26, 10 p.m.)

No. 12 Passion Pit, Kindred


Indie act Passion Pit (fronted by Michael Angelakos) stole the hearts of hipsters with the ’09 debut Manners, then earned mainstream airplay with “Take a Walk,” the breakout single from 2012’s Gossamer. This album rocks the same vibe: synth pop complemented by driving guitars. What’s different is the deeply personal lyrics, which address the singer’s rocky past (depression, a suicide attempt and substance abuse). In “Whole Life Story,” he sings about the mixed blessings of fame: “Sorry, darling,” Angelakos sings to his wife, Kristina Mucci. “How could you forgive me when our life’s some story out for them to buy?”

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