Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

I've been far too quiet on this blog, since I got distracted by the blue/white glare of Facebook. I plan to remedy that in the coming year, posting more links and essays here. So before we look ahead, I am taking a look back at the past year's people, events, and popcultural phenomena that impressed me:

Best Book I read this year:
The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
Possibly the best book I read this decade
NYT review here

Most Interesting Film I saw this year:
Agora, directed and co-written by Alejandro Amenabar
based on the life of Hypatia of Alexandria, 4th Century A.D. philosopher/astronomer/atheist
NYT review here

Most Entertaining Film I saw this year:
The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, script by Aaron Sorkin.
Riveting writing by Sorkin, unusually understated direction by Fincher, and terrific performance by Jesse Eisenberg

Best Independent Film I saw this year:
Winter's Bone, writen and directed by Debra Granik

Best Impersonation I saw this year:
James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in Howl
I wanted to love the film more (it's still quite strong) but Franco does give a stand-out performance.

Best Performance of the Year (male or female) in a film unfortunately almost nobody saw this year:
Patricia Clarkson in Cairo Time
Clarkson is the most reliable actor working in any medium. She must contain the stem-cells of subtext. She doesn't peform, she inhabits.

Best TV show I caught up with:
Yes, Edie, we agree, it's probably not a comedy, or a dramedy; it's just unclassifiably good. And we disagree with you, You are funny.

Best magazine I read this year:
Consistently the best in-depth coverage of different ideas, issues, and people. I swear it keeps me sane.

Loveliest book of poetry
A Strain of Laughter by Robert Patrick
(Disclosure: I designed the cover)

Most unusual photography book of the year:
(Disclosure: I helped produce and posed for this book)

Most Undeservedly Venerated Person:

Overhyped/disappointment of the year, movie: Tron: Legacy

Overhyped/disappointment of the year, television: (tie)
Betty White on SNL
The LOST Finale

Best song use in a movie trailer
“Creep” by Scala & Kolacny Brothers

Most chilling online animation:
“1945 – 1998” by Isao Hashimoto

Surprising Revelation of the year:

Least Surprising Revelation of the year:
In the text of his final speech as President, Eisenhower originally referred to the “Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex.”

Favorite Outcomes:
Washington Senator Patty Murray’s re-election, and keeping the WA state legislature fully blue.

Least Favorite Outcome:
Vermont Senator Russ Feingold’s loss.

Biggest Canard of the year: “Gay Inc”
If you want change, be specific about who and what needs to change; don’t bandy about an amorphous pejorative. Enough of this cannibalistic Lavender McCarthyism; do your homework, propose specifc actions about specific people and organizations; be positive and constructive.

Dumbest Idea of the year:
“Close the gAy-TM”
Do we really need any more bullets to fire into our feet? If you liked the 2010 Lame-Duck session, remember it well, because starving the Congress of Democrats isn’t going to give you those kind of results again.

Silliest Facebook Phenom: changing profile pics to cartoon characters to “cause awareness” about child abuse. Slacktivism as its most obvious.

Cultural Phenomenon I still have yet to see a minute of:

Saddest Shock of the year:
The sudden death of good friend and great culture-warrior, Cary Toland

Important Concepts of the Year:
Victim privilege, failure fetishists, Obama-Derrangement-Syndrome (ODS) and Obamessiah Syndrome.