Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fourth Annual Best and Worst of the Year: 2008

Every December, I find myself reflecting on the high and low points of the 12 months gone by. It’s hard to believe I’ve been putting my choices here on the blog for four years now.

But enough about me and more about my picks. As in my other annual lists, I’m only including things I’ve actually experienced directly. Thus, in the categories that follow you won’t find any mention of campaign documentary films, children’s books, or American Idol singers.

And the winners (and losers) are …

Best movie of 2008: The Dark Knight. It didn’t match the glory of Batman Begins, but it was still a stunning visual experience. It would have been more appropriate to call it Urban Psychotic Terror because the focus was more on the Joker than on the Caped Crusader—and I’m OK with that.

Best movie of 2008, runners-up: (1) Wanted. A great idea with a good presentation. And the direction was very David Fincher-esque, which made it awesome in my eyes. (2) Iron Man. Fun, fun, fun. Please Robert Downey, Jr.: Stay off the drugs and keep your talent on the big screen for us.

Worst movie of 2008: Burn After Reading. This wasn’t a truly horrible movie. But I’m giving it this stinky turd award anyway because I expected it to be amazing and it just fizzled. It had what seemed to be a perfect mix—the Coen brothers, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, George Clooney, a spy spoof—but the pieces never quite fit together. A missed opportunity to produce an all-time classic.

Best TV show of 2008: House. Sure, every episode was pretty much the same. Misanthropic doc takes case, then abuses colleagues and subordinates, then abuses patient, then solves case on a whim. Rinse and repeat. But the rapid-fire barbs were still fun enough to keep me interested in a television show—no easy feat.

Best TV show of 2008, runner-up: The Universe. The History Channel is not my favorite channel right now for putting schlock like UFO sightings and ghost hunting on the airwaves. But this astronomy series remains the best overview of out-of-this-world topics since Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. It ventured too far into pop explanations, unfortunately, but it had to reach a wide audience so I’ll forgive its excesses.

Worst TV show of 2008: American Idol. Enough said. Please, finally, get rid of this crap.

Best blog of 2008 (general): Lisa B in Da City. Two years in a row. Lisa’s fun take on love and life still put a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

Best blog of 2008 (music): Layla’s Classic Rock. From a fan, from the heart—Barbara has kept it real (and brief) for another year, showing us the joy of blogging.

Best album of 2008: Metallica’s Death Magnetic. A solid album from one of metal’s most maligned groups. This was partially a sympathy vote; I’m no fan of the past 10+ years of Metallica’s catalog, but it’s horrible the way “fans” have attacked this group for standing up proudly and loudly for copyright enforcement instead of theft. Thankfully, the entire package here—from the music to the cover art—was impressive enough to justify the pick anyway.

Best album of 2008, runners-up: (1) Lindsey Buckingham’s Gift of Screws. Although I’m not a big fan of light rock, this dude is a master craftsman of guitar-based pop; his latest effort exemplified thoughtful production. (2) The Sword, Gods of the Earth. I love me some good power metal, and it doesn’t get much better than this. Bonus points for including a song based on George R.R. Martin’s ongoing Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series.

Most catchy song of 2008: Metro Station’s “Shake It.” When this song comes on, I do.

Worst song of 2008: Britney Spears’s “Womanizer.” She had most of the elements for a great party track. Sadly, no one took an extra three minutes to improve the inane chorus:

“Womanizer, woman-womanizer/You’re a womanizer/Oh Womanizer/Oh You’re a Womanizer/You, you you are/You, you you are/Womanizer, womanizer, womanizer.”

Best book of 2008: Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded. I’ve been slow to come around to the topic of global climate change, finding it easier to hide my head in the sand than give it any serious thought. Friedman’s research and presentation, however, grabbed me. Now let’s see if the new administration considers his ideas.

Dumbest moment of 2008: John McCain blaming “greed” for the financial crisis during the peak of election season. The fundamentals of the crisis are clear—and have much more to do with liberalized home ownership goals than with human nature.

My Prediction for 2009: A shocking writing revelation from David Amulet.

Happy New Year!


At December 31, 2008 6:42 AM, Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. replied to my musings ...

Dark Knight was a very wise pick. I have Iron Man for Christmas on tap and can't wait to watch it

At December 31, 2008 9:07 AM, Blogger Jeff replied to my musings ...

Good to see that you picked Metallica for top album of the year. I agree, fans have trashed them way too much. Considering the success they had back in the 80s they really don't have anything else to prove, but fans attack them anyway.

At December 31, 2008 9:43 AM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I'd add "Biggest Surprise of the Year" and award it to GnR's Chinese Democracy-- not just because it was finally released but because it was actually not that bad.

One would think an album as plagued with delays and missteps as that one was would have been a total dud. But Axl surprised us all by showing us he still had/has some tricks up his sleeve.

At December 31, 2008 1:49 PM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

Dark Knight was really well done. It kind of made the viewer frustrated how the Joker couldn't be corraled, and I love the lack of a truly warm and fuzzy ending.

I sadly have paid little attention to music, lately. Kind of enjoying some old favorites and refinding older favorites.

My short list of 2008 good stuff (because I'm too lazy to categorize)

House, Mariska Hargitay on Law and Order SVU, BBC America. Dark Knight, not much else. Groovelilly had some good stuff come out musicwise. The whole financial crisis. Yes, it's a good thing. Musings of David Amulet. I may not be here as often as I like, but like a favorite place or vacation home, it always brings a smile to my face and is worth the effort to get there.

Happy New Year!!

At January 01, 2009 12:01 PM, Blogger Lee Ann replied to my musings ...

Happy New Year David!
Lee Ann

At January 01, 2009 3:21 PM, Blogger Janet replied to my musings ...

Some interesting choices here. I have to agree that Burn After Reading was quite a disappointment. I still have to watch The Dark Knight though. I feel like it's required watching at this point.

At January 01, 2009 3:34 PM, Blogger Seano replied to my musings ...

David, We agree on Gods of the Earth, The Dark Knight, Gift of Screws,etc. what are ya, my long lost pal or something? Happy 2009 to you and yours. I'll be keeping in touch...seano

At January 01, 2009 8:38 PM, Blogger Gyrobo replied to my musings ...

Superjail was totally the greatest TV show of 2008.

Or at least the best animated TV show.

At January 02, 2009 11:51 AM, Blogger Jessica replied to my musings ...

Happy New Year!

I agree with The Dark Knight, but I really liked Burn After Reading. It was a lot better than I thought.

At January 02, 2009 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

Ooooh a shocking writing revelation from David Amulet? How long must one wait for it?

At January 03, 2009 12:58 AM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

Agree with you on "House". Yes, it's formulaic, but it works in this case. I think the last two episodes of the strike season were some of the best TV all year. "LOST" came back very strong last year, and I think it's only going to get better, especially with a specific end date in the offing. As far as network shows go, NBC 's "Chuck" and "Life" were, and still are, very underrated. Both are excellent shows.
When I moved in June, I had to switch cable companies(no more Comcast!), and in signing up for service with my new provider, I started getting the premium channrels again. HBO's "Generation Kill" was an excellent mini-series.

At January 06, 2009 8:44 AM, Anonymous LisaBinDaCity replied to my musings ...

Awwww! Will you marry me?

Oops, forgot about your wife, and my significant other. Details, shmetails ;-)

Kidding, Mrs. A!!!

I'm honored and flattered beyond belief. Thank you very much.

Hope you have a wonderful 2009!

At January 06, 2009 8:47 AM, Anonymous LisaBinDaCity replied to my musings ...

Forgot to mention how much I love "House" as well. I just received the first 3 seasons on dvd for Xmas. HCFG is about to run screaming as I also watch the reruns on USA Network ;-)

At January 08, 2009 5:45 AM, Blogger DaBich replied to my musings ...

I love all your favorite movies. I love House. I like Metallica. AC/DC Black Ice is better :)
Happy New Year, David!

At January 08, 2009 11:22 PM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

Sorry but I love American Idol!! I don't watch House, I know a lot of people that do, just never got into it.

I can't get womanizer out of my head now thanks a lot

Haven't seen one of those movies sorry

At May 13, 2009 6:39 PM, Anonymous Scott replied to my musings ...

I'm eccentric--always have been! I don't go to theaters anymore, just watch movies on DVD. And I don't rent them, I buy them.

When "The Dark Knight" was released on DVD (as if he'd been jailed, in the first place) I didn't get around to buying the DVD before I encountered the CD of its filmscore. I was just browsing Barnes & Noble for new music, and happened to notice it.
It looked cool, so I tested it on the in-store headphones. I was hooked!

Ever since I bought the CD, I've played it more times than any other, before it. I just can't get tired of it!

When I listen to music, scenes go through my head--scenes that just come up spontaneously. Such is the case with "The Dark Knight" score--wonderful, fantastic images my subconscious creates--which of course have nothing to do with the movie, since I haven't seen it.

If I were to watch the movie now, there would be a clash between the scenes in it and those in my head. So I can't watch the movie, "The Dark Knight", until I get tired of its filmscore!

Like I said, I'm eccentric!


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