En español | It's been a crazy year trying to get to our favorite cultural touchstones — movies, theater, concerts and lectures. So, give family and friends on your Christmas list a much-needed booster of culture that will get them through the pandemic winter (and beyond!). From the ultimate Fellini film collection to Golden Girls bingo, from a hand-poured vinyl from the Stones to a directing class with Spike Lee, see if you don't find the perfect something to put under their virtual tree.
For Movie and TV Fans: Classic Series, Directors’ Collections, Master Classes and Coasters!
Criterion Collection: Essential Fellini
If your film buff doesn't love Fellini, they're not a true film buff. So give them Criterion's new 15 Blu-ray collection of genius director's oeuvre: new 4K restorations of 11 theatrical features, a buffet of documentaries, audio interviews with Fellini stars including Marcello Mastroianni, Sandra Milo, Anouk Aimée, and Fellini's friends and family. Also inside: two lavishly illustrated books with film notes, essays and criticism. The format is Blu-ray, so if you don't have a player (or gave yours away), you can pick one up for around $80 or less secondhand.
Buy it here: Criterion Collection: Essential Fellini ($174.99), criterion.com
National Theatre at Home
Theater lovers, your ship has come in! The Crown obsessives, so has yours. The National Theatre's productions of plays for classic and contemporary often include some of Britain's biggest stars (we see you there, Olivia Colman). So, this new subscription allows the lucky viewer to dip into NTLive productions ongoing, as well as archival productions. Already available: Shakespeare's Coriolanus (starring Tom Hiddleston) and Julius Caesar (starring Ben Whishaw), and Lucy Kirkwood's Mosquitoes (starring Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams). Gift subscriptions can be for as little as a month ($12.99) or as much as a year ($129.99).
Buy it here: National Theatre at Home Subscription (price varies), ntathome.com
A Virtual Ticket to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival
This is the year to GO to Sundance, the famed film festival held in Park City, Utah, because everyone will be attending virtually! While Sundance will be holding some screenings at theaters around the country, it will be offering a robust live subscription package for online streamers. Which means you can put on your aprés ski boots or not, but put up your feet and screen more than 70 of the most exciting new films of the year in the comfort of your living room from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3. Tickets for the full run, single day or single screening will become available to the public online beginning Jan. 7, so create a gift card to let your giftee know you'll be signing them up then!
Buy it here: Sundance Film Festival 2021 (prices vary), festival.sundance.org
Join today and get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life.
Mad Men: The Complete Collection
Now that Mad Men has left Netflix for AMC+, true devotees might really appreciate not having to sign up for yet another streaming platform and instead having the remarkable seven-season series at hand whenever they want it. All the special features from previous releases are here, plus commentaries on every episode and more than four hours of new exclusive features, including a one-on-one with showrunner Matthew Weiner. Released originally in 2015, the 32-DVD/Blu-Ray set also comes with two cool low-ball tumblers and four themed cork coasters. Because it's always Happy Hour on Madison Avenue.
Buy it here: Mad Men: The Complete Collection (DVD $112.49, Blu-Ray $138.99), amazon.com
It's a Wonderful Life SteelBook
Never intended to be a Christmas movie, the 1946 classic has become tied to the holiday season with a bow that not even Mr. Potter can snarl. Give the romantic (or Jimmy Stewart superfan) on your list this newly released SteelBook package from Paramount Home Entertainment, which features the black-and-white film in 4K Ultra HD, as well as a colorized version on Blu-ray, along with three special features: “Restoring a Beloved Classic,” “Secrets From the Vault” and “It's a Wonderful Wrap Party.” Merry Christmas, movie house!
Buy it here: It's a Wonderful Life SteelBook ($29.99), amazon.com
Filmmaking and Acting MasterClasses
If your favorite movie and TV buff hasn't yet fallen in love with the online MasterClass platform, where a membership gives them access to the more than 90 (and growing!) high-profile expert courses, now might be the time to take advantage of a holiday 2-for-1 offer ($180 for two annual subscriptions) and learn together. That membership allows subscribers unlimited access to “master classes” recorded on video in generally 20 10-minute segments (making them superbly easy to dip in and out of), accompanied by detailed workbooks. What could be better? How about these “professors": Spike Lee, Martin Scorcese, Helen Mirren, Shonda Rhimes, Natalie Portman, Ron Howard and Aaron Sorkin, among 60 or so arts and entertainment luminaries.
Buy it here: MasterClass Membership ($180; holiday BOGO special offers two for that price), masterclass.com
Alfred Hitchcock Coasters
Here's the stocking stuffer you've been dreaming of. This smart quartet of laser-embellished walnut coasters features silhouettes of the Master of Suspense with a graphic clue to match four of his best-known films: The Birds, Psycho, Rear Window and Vertigo).
Buy it here: Alfred Hitchcock classic silhouette with Legendary Films Coaster Set of Four ($24), etsy.com
For Music Lovers: Collectible LPs and CDs They'll Treasure!
Elton John, Elton: Jewel Box
While you were learning how to bake sourdough bread, Elton John spent his lockdown looking back through the immense catalog of his collaboration with Bernie Taupin to fuel this extraordinary, career-spanning eight-CD (or two-, three- and four-LP) set. “The songs just poured out of us and the band were just unbelievable in the studio,” John writes. “I always want to push forward with everything I do and look to the future, but having time during lockdown to take stock and pull these moments from my memory from each era has been a joy. As a devout record collector myself, this project has really excited me and I couldn't be happier with the level of craft involved in such a carefully curated, lovingly constructed box set. I'm sure my fans will enjoy it as much as I have.” This thrilling collection of unreleased songs recorded between 1965 and ‘71 also includes lesser-known album tracks and two disks of B-sides (with a beautiful book with John's notes and visual ephemera).
The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed (Collector's Version)
Here's the ideal gift for your Stones fan who only pours artisanal maple syrup on their pancakes. This “hand-poured” multi-colored vinyl of this 1969 barnstormer of an album was released on Black Friday with only 900 pressings, so to the fan go the limited edition spoils. The best way to find this truly unique LP is to check with your local independent record store, or use Record Store Day's locator (linked below) to order online. Because it turns out you can always get what you want.
Buy it here: Let It Bleed (Collector's Version) ($99.99), recordstoreday.com
Joni Mitchell, Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963 to 1967)
Return to the legendary singer's roots in this sprawling, five-CD set featuring nearly six hours of unreleased home, live and radio recordings, plus a full three-set show from 1967, all of which paint a portrait of the artist as a young woman. The 40-page booklet contains photos from Mitchell's personal collection and new liner notes that feature her conversations with filmmaker Cameron Crowe from a couple of Sunday afternoons the two spent discussing her archives. This is the first of a series that will be released by Rhino, so get in on the ground floor.
Buy it here: Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963 to 1967) ($48.71), amazon.com
John Prine, Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums (1971-1980)
Following the tragic COVID-related death of the singer-songwriter last spring, fans rushed to buy out a boxed set of five LPs, The Atlantic Years, issued on Record Store Day in September. Another LP drop is coming, but meanwhile, this CD boxed set of all eight albums the artist did for both Atlantic and Asylum records is a music-lover's must.
Buy it here: Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums (1971-1980) ($54.98 list), amazon.com
Prince, Sign ‘O’ the Times
"I feel that we're on the brink of something. It is going to be strict and wild and pretty.” Prince said this in 1986. The next year he did just that, releasing his landmark album. Now, this Super Deluxe Edition (in CD and LP formats) brings the whole story together for fans, including all the audio material that he officially released that year along with 45 previously unissued studio songs recorded between May 1979 and July 1987. Live cuts include a New Year's Eve benefit concert at Paisley Park, which was Prince's final performance of the Sign ‘O’ the Times Tour stage show and his only on-stage collaboration with jazz legend Miles Davis. A 120-page hardcover book features Prince's previously unseen handwritten lyrics for many of the songs, and brand-new liner notes from peers and friends including Dave Chappelle (in conversation with photographer Mathieu Bitton) and Lenny Kravitz.
Buy it here: Sign ‘O’ the Times (Super Deluxe Edition) ($159.98 list), amazon.com
Elvis Costello, Armed Forces, Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set
Personally curated by Costello himself, this is a fan's super deluxe treasure chest. Herein lies nine pieces of vinyl, seven custom notebooks with updated liner notes from the artist and facsimiles of his handwritten lyrics from the time. The songs themselves have gotten a new remaster with fidelity matching the original 1979 pressing in the UK. More? Three concerts and 23 never-before-released live songs. And the art! Your collector will receive the vintage grenade and gun poster and the quartet of original postcards of each band member, plus commissioned pulp-novel style “covers” of each song by artist Todd Alcott.
Buy it here: Armed Forces, Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set ($199.98), udiscovermusic.com
Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers
One of the most popular and ubiquitous “power pop” or “Midwest Rock” albums of all and it's never been on vinyl before. Crazy right? Many may only know the single “Stacy's Mom” but Fountains of Wayne is far from a one-hit wonder and all of these songs are great. The release of this album on vinyl for the first time is made all the more poignant by the passing of Adam Schlesinger back in April due to complications from COVID-19.
Buy it here: Welcome Interstate Managers in Blue Vinyl (38.97 pre-order), bullmoose.com
For Players: Board Games and Jigsaw Puzzles!
Boom Again Trivia Game
Remember when we all played Trivial Pursuit? Boomers, this new game built on that model is here for you, complete with tokens that vibe the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, from a skate key to a roach clip. Play the board or just have fun asking each other questions from two thick boxes full of cards. Want to play it with friends or family while social distanced? The company even has guides on how to do it (and a fun video of a Zoom celebrity version where Gilbert Gottfried attempts to sing snippets of six Beach Boys hits).
Buy it here: Boom Again ($45 with free shipping), boomagain.com
Monopoly Friends Edition
Do not pass Central Perk, do not collect $200! The beloved sitcom informs a new spin on classic Monopoly that features unforgettable situations and locations from the show. Will you move around the board with a dinosaur, a sweater vest, a pizza or a chef's hat? What's going to happen when you hit “All the Candy” or “Ross's Teeth?” Put the show on in the background and party like it's the 1990s.
Buy it here: Monopoly: Friends The TV Series Edition Board Game ($24.99), amazon.com
Golden Girls Bingo
"Sophia's Handbag!” “Blanche's Slipper!” “Florida!” Bingo! Double down on the nostalgia by playing a classic game inspired by one of America's favorite sitcoms. Your giftee can play inside their pandemic pod or on Zoom with their favorite fellow fans (perhaps including you?). No matter what, it's surefire, sassy fun.
Buy it here: Golden Girls Deluxe Bingo Party Game for 16 ($21.99), primeparty.com
Movie Lovers 500-Piece Puzzle
Winter and jigsaw puzzles go together, and this colorful put-together features 30 iconic titles, from Psycho to Godzilla. Half the fun will be discussing the films as their mini posters come together in the grid.
Buy it here: Movie Lovers 500-Piece Puzzle ($18), urbanoutfitters.com