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Season five of "Downton Abbey" kicks off this month. Photo by Nick Briggs, copyright 2014, Carnival Films

WATCH LIST: January 2015

By Observer Staff

Downton Abbey: Season Five
CREATED BY JULIAN FELLOWES, STARRING HUGH BONNEVILLE, MICHELLE DOCKERY, ELIZABETH MCGOVERN AND MAGGIE SMITH
(PBS)


It’s 1924 at the Downton estate, and Lord Grantham and Mr. Carson continue to be dismayed by change, Lady Mary courts more suitors, Daisy turns her mind to mathematics, and Lady Edith faces enough misery for 10 houses as she is thwarted in her attempts to be a part of her daughter’s life. Jan. 4

Selma
DIRECTED BY AVA DUVERNAY, STARRING DAVID OYELOWO, CARMEN EJOGO AND TOM WILKINSON
(Plan B/Cloud Eight Films/Harpo Films)


Superstar producers Brad Pitt (12 Years a Slave) and Oprah Winfrey (The Butler) bring another civil rights story to the screen. In 1965, protesters marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. along the 54-mile highway from Selma, Ala., to the state capital Montgomery. The result was the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Jan. 9

Aloof: Figuring Out Life with a God Who Hides
BY TONY KRIZ
(W Publishing Group)

“God, are you there?”  That’s the question author Tony Kriz says we all crave an answer to in our pursuit of a tangible God. But instead, God is often elusive or shy. Through a series of short conversational narratives leading to moments of epiphany, Kriz shows the reader how God acts toward us in unsuspecting ways. Jan. 13

Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination
BY GREG GARRETT
(Oxford University Press)


While Christian scholarship has largely banished images of fluffy clouds and hellfire from discussions of the afterlife, popular culture seems less ready to relinquish its angels and demons. Novelist and cultural critic Greg Garrett teases out the theological undercurrents in heavy metal music, TV series and classic films like Ghost and Field of Dreams, revealing our collective hopes for what comes next. Jan. 15

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