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!