1 It's the year of the weird, wild and woozy psychedelic R&B/hip-hop album. Unlike gems by D'Angelo, Miguel and Kendrick Lamar, though, the Weeknd's sophomore record, "Beauty Behind the Madness," could be as big of a commercial smash as it is critical, thanks to accessible dance-pop gems thrown into the madcap mix — such as the charting dance-pop gem "Can't Feel My Face." It also helps that the 25-year-old Canadian singer sounds like Michael Jackson at his most tender and heartbroken state throughout the album.
2 The Soap Factory is a gritty place where art has to muscle up to assert its significance, and "Superusted," its fourth Midwest Biennial, does that very smartly. The biennial features installations in a wild mix of media — wax, straw, porcelain, laser-cut plywood, 3-D photography. It's the best local biennial of recent memory — tautly focused, enormously varied, handsomely installed and full of memorable, thought-provoking art by seasoned professionals and recent grads. Ends Nov. 8, soapfactory.org
3 The bawdy comedy "Sleeping With Other People" gives us Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie meeting as undergrads who lose their virginity together. When they reconnect as white-collar adults in a sex addicts support group, they become friends — but they don't cure each other of monkeying around. This freewheeling alternative to the standard date movie emerges as one of the year's best surprises.
4 Sandbox Theatre's "The Little Pilot," an exploration of the life of French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ("The Little Prince"), is a stunning visual feast. Using little more than lights, three long pieces of silk and the bodies of its six actors, this production offers up image after image of unearthly beauty. The ensemble combines text and movement to explore his life and work. Evelyn Digirolamo's exquisitely choreographed aerials allow the performers literally to take flight. Ends Oct. 4, southern.ticketworks.com
5 For more than 30 years, Mary Norris has pondered and perfected proper usage of commas, hyphens and profanity as a copy editor at the New Yorker magazine. In "Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen," Norris validates the shrinking ranks of grammar sticklers — "It's whom, not who!" — losing ground in a world of spell check and autocorrect. The book is an accessible and delightful homage to proper English, for those of us who are holding on for dear life.