Arts & Entertainment | January 3, 2017 9:00 am

The Best Movies, TV, Music and Books of January

Erotic snake princesses? Tom Hardy? It’s a fascinating month.

Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important pop cultural happenings.

BINGE: Taboo
Tom Hardy and his dad “Chips” (yes, plural, and yes, best name ever) co-created this violent miniseries for F/X—with a little help from Ridley Scott and the creative forces behind The Killing and Peaky Blinders. Here, an early 19th century British explorer (Hardy) returns from Africa seeking vengeance, facing off against the East India Company … you know, the Google of their day. (Jan. 10)

WATCH: Split
January’s usually a dumping ground for bad flicks. But Split, ostensibly a low-budget kidnapping thriller, finds James McAvoy donning 23 different, conflicting personas (!). It’s a bold move, and proof that director M. Night Shyamalan is in the midst of a real creative comeback. (Jan. 20)

READ: Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi
Scalzi, who crafted one of the more grounded dystopian novels of the past few years in Lock In (if you were a fan of The Last Policeman or Wool, you’d dig it), returns with a collection of tiny tales of no more than 2300 words. Touching on artificial intelligence, alternate realities and interplanetary lawyers, he’s aiming for fun here. Witness the story title “The AI Are Absolutely Positively Without a Doubt Not Here to End Humanity, Honest.”  (Dec. 31)

LISTEN: Japandroids
This Vancouver duo certainly takes its time — in their decade of existence, they’ve survived one break-up and four-plus years between albums. But it’s worth it: new platter Near to the Wild is Heart of Life is the classic rock/garage-y punk singalong album that’ll make 2017 seem like it’s going to be ok. And what other band could unite Pitchfork readers and Springsteen fans? (Jan. 27)

LISTEN: Our monthly Spotify playlist
Any month that gives us new Japandroids, The xx (see the video for “On Hold” above) and Run the Jewels (who jumped the gun a bit early on their release, stealth launching it on Christmas Day) is fine by us. Also, new tracks by Born Cages, Wale, Ryan Adams and a couple of new stars on the way.

WATCH: Bruce Connor
If you don’t know Bruce Connor’s name, you’ve definitely seen the work of a filmmaker influenced by his experimental pieces, most famously recontextualizing the atomic tests at Bikini. Finally, the 50-year Bay Area resident has the comprehensive survey his work deserves. (Through Jan. 22)

LISTEN: Colson Whitehead
Buy tickets now for an evening with the National Book Award-winning author of the hugely imaginative The Underground Railroad, speaking at City Arts & Lectures with Alexis Madrigal. (Jan. 25)

SEE: PhotoFairs
The inaugural event in this photo series features top work from Europe and Asia. We don’t know what they’re bringing over, but we’re expecting the best of the best, since they think we have alllll the money. (Jan. 27-29)

ALSO: Resident Evil VII (the game, not the movie) trades in some of the gunplay for straight-up horror, and adds a creepy VR element (Jan. 24) … Ken Russell’s bizarro 80s erotic/horror flick Lair of the White Worm finally arrives on Blu-ray. It will make you feel all the wrong things in a good way (Jan. 31) … Decipher what exactly happened in Mr. Robot season 2 when it hits DVD/Blu-ray (Jan. 10) … Owen Wilson comedy! Turn off your brain, enjoy Bastards (1/27) … The best month of TV ever? Let’s count it down: Walt Goggins heads up a U.S. Navy SEAL team in Six (History Channel, Jan. 18) … Riverdale (The CW, Jan. 26) turns the old Archie comic book gang into teen Twin Peaks … And we welcome the much-needed return of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX, Jan. 4), Man Seeking Woman (FX, Jan. 4), Portlandia (IFC, Jan. 5), Teachers (TV Land, Jan. 17) and Baskets (FX, Jan. 29).