Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason in Boyhood, was 6 years old when director Richard Linklater picked him for the role. Made over the course of 12 years, the film is David Edelstein's favorite of the year. Courtesy of Matt Lankes hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Matt Lankes

Movie Reviews

In A 'Depressing' Year For Films, Edelstein Finds Some Greats

Film critic David Edelstein says in 2014 none of the great material came from Hollywood studios. But, he says, it was a "wonderful year" for indie films. He names Boyhood as the best of the year.

Donna Giron wheels through the halls of the nursing home she's lived in since May. Finding an affordable home of her own has been difficult. Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN hide caption

itoggle caption Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN

Shots - Health News

When Home And Health Are Just Out Of Reach WCPN

Health insurance doesn't pay for housing, but sometimes that is what a patient needs most. A Medicaid experiment helps some elderly and disabled people move out of institutions and into their own homes.

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WCPN

Every year, David DeBoy and The Hons (Wendy Savelle, center, and Karen Fitze) perform a live — and often sold-out — show in the upstairs cabaret of a Baltimore restaurant. Courtesy of David DeBoy hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of David DeBoy

Around the Nation

'Crabs For Christmas': A Tuneful Baltimore Tradition (Really!)

More than 30 years ago, David DeBoy wrote a hit holiday song about a local delicacy. Its success led to other Baltimore-themed Christmas songs, then to albums and finally to a live show.

Tiny Desk Concerts

On The Day Before Christmas, NPR Gives To You: 2 Hamsters Rocking

Watch our favorite hamsters, Joni and Nash, rip up the floors of the Tiny Desk and play their twee-as-all-get-out holiday pop-punk song, "Snow Day."

Need a gift for a 20-something kid about to age out of the family's health plan? Juana Rivera (left) discusses insurance options with Fabrizzio Russi, an agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, at the Mall of the Americas in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Shots - Health News

Would You Like Health Insurance With Those Stocking Stuffers? KQED

While shoppers rush to the mall to pick up the last neckties and Transformers for Christmas, health officials are trying to pitch them on an unconventional gift this holiday season: health insurance.

From member station

KQED

Surveillance video shows a scene leading up to a police officer shooting and killing an armed man at a gas station in Berkeley, Mo. The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating the case, in which an 18-year-old man died. Reuters/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters/Landov

The Two-Way - News Blog

'It's Not What People Portray,' Mayor Says About Police Shooting In Mo.

Police say a black 18-year-old had a gun when he was shot at a gas station in a St. Louis suburb that's just 2 miles west of Ferguson. Police have released a video of the incident.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, shown here in July, appeared to be in a tough position at the beginning of the year. But many analysts say his hold on power grew stronger over the course of 2014, due in part to the U.S. bombing campaign against the Islamic State. SANA/AP hide caption

itoggle caption SANA/AP

Parallels - World News

For Syria's President, The Year Ends Better Than It Began

The civil war is still raging with no end in sight, but Bashar Assad remains entrenched in Damascus. Many argue his position improved over the year as the U.S. began bombing Islamic State militants.

Third grade teacher Nikki Bollerman, 26, won a contest that gave her students books for the holidays. When she also won $150,000, she decided it should go to her school. YouTube hide caption

itoggle caption YouTube

The Two-Way - News Blog

Teacher Wins $150,000 Prize — And Donates It All To Her School

Nikki Bollerman recently won a contest that gave books to her students. The third-grade teacher, 26, decided the cash that came with it should also go to her school.

Turkey's new presidential palace in the capital, Ankara— has an official price tag of $615 million and more than 1,000 rooms. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ak Saray, or the White Palace, is not his palace, but that of Turkey. But not everyone is so sure. Aykut Unlupinar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Aykut Unlupinar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Parallels - World News

Turkey's President And His 1,100-Room 'White Palace'

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the massive presidential complex is a symbol of Turkey's growing importance. But as one opposition politician puts it: Only dictators want to live in palaces.

Pepperpot, a traditional Guyanese Christmas dish, is basically a stew of aromatics and tough meat parts like shanks, trotters and tails that benefit from a long cooking. Courtesy of Cynthia Nelson Photography hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Cynthia Nelson Photography

The Salt

Guyanese Christmas Gives A Whole New Meaning To Slow Food

Two classic Christmas dishes beloved by the people of Guyana are pepperpot and garlic pork. To get the flavors just right, you have to cook them and let them sit out for weeks.

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