1 At a screening of “The Heat,” the guys were roaring louder than the women, proving that this buddy-cop movie is no pink-ghetto chick flick. Melissa McCarthy kills as a bawdy Boston detective with uptight FBI agent Sandra Bullock as her perfect foil. It’s another raunchy success for “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, master of good and dirty girlfriend fun.
2 Willie Nelson seems to have a TV tribute concert thrown in his honor every couple of years. But few have come off as fun and just plain cool as CMT’s “Crossroads: Willie Nelson & Friends From Third Man Records.” At his vintage Nashville record shop, Jack White hosted Willie for his 80th birthday and sang “The Red Headed Stranger.” Other guests included Neil Young, Norah Jones, Leon Russell, Jamey Johnson, Ashley Monroe and Sheryl Crow, who shared Kris Kristofferson’s sage advice: “Don’t try to sing with Willie. Try to sing louder than Willie.” www.cmt.com
3 Fast, furious and ferocious, “World War Z” proves there’s plenty of bite left in zombie cinema. With its megastar leading man, globe-spanning locations, state-of-the-art special effects and stratospheric budget, it’s the most ambitious, extravagant portrayal of holocaust horror to date. It’s a familiar story (mystery virus, social collapse, pitched battles with hideous, rotting, cannibal ghouls), but star/producer Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster treat their disaster epic with sinister grandeur. Think “Zombie Dark Thirty.”
4 The McKnight Foundation’s grant money was smartly spent on four ceramicists on display at Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. Brian Boldon’s gorgeous room-sized installation consists of elegant steel shafts threaded with ceramic tubes onto which he has transfer-printed nighttime photos of cattails and rice grass. They’re pure poetry in a midnight-blue gallery. Ursula Hargens’ colorful tile alphabets, Janet Williams’ 3-D maps and Edith Garcia’s enigmatic figures push ceramics into strange, always fascinating, new territory. www.northernclaycenter.org
5 Amanda Knox, whose murder conviction of her college roommate was reversed by a higher Italian court in 2011 after she spent four years in prison, has written “Waiting to Be Heard,” passionately arguing her innocence and positing her theories of why she and her Italian boyfriend were convicted. We can’t imagine anyone writing with such clarity, passion and detail if she were guilty. The kicker: The Italians want her back for a retrial.
Poll: Which most deserves a Grammy nomination for album of the year?