After four seasons of Veep, the American people know full well that every detail of the President’s public persona has been carefully calibrated to maximize his relatability and voter appeal. It doesn’t matter how harmlessly minor a detail might seem to the layman; to the President’s image team, it’s an opportunity to show that Barack Hussein Obama is a man of the people, and it must be properly handled. If someone asks the President of the United States what his favorite flavor of ice cream is, he can’t just shrug and cop to loving rum raisin. Imagine the headlines! “President Takes Dessert Treats With Booze — Alcoholism Far Behind?”

So when we relay that the President confided in People Magazine that his pick for the best film of 2015 would be The Martian, keep in mind that this pick has been carefully calculated by the sharpest strategic minds in politics. For all we know, maybe Barry O. was big into Carol or The Duke of Burgundy, but his advisors feared that a lesbian narrative might be seen as too partisan and alienate his voter base. Perhaps the President has thrown his weight behind Team Spotlight in private, but he knows that officials in the church might not take too kindly to that pick. So we end up with the roundly inoffensive (except to, like, artistic sensibilities or standards of quality for entertainment) sci-fi adventure from Ridley Scott, a selection that represents good ol’ American values like resilience, determination, ingenuity, and the drive to go places we very clearly do not belong.

It’s hard enough for film critics without Barry O. snatching up our freelance gigs, but First Lady Michelle Obama also weighed in with her choice for 2015’s greatest film. Another populist choice, Pixar’s insatiably imaginative Inside Out captured the First Lady’s attentions this year — even American royalty isn’t immune to the emotional ruination of Bing Bong. The First Couple also offered their favorite songs (Barack is down with Kendrick Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost,” Michelle couldn’t resist “Uptown Funk”) and books (Barack: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, Michelle: The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander) of the year as well. See? The leader of the free world is a regular guy, in that his picks for the best film of the year do not align with mine and are, consequently, wrong.

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