I always think I will have some new kind of introduction to this post, but how can I? The year is the year it is, and was, and so in an otherwise really not terribly great year in so many ways, as opposed to a merely not terribly great year in so many ways, such as last year or the one before that, and for so many people at that, there was still good, because there is always good. There were books, television, music, podcasts, art, comedy and movies. Though even then, it's not enough, never enough, of any of it. But we do what we can and I did what I could do. And here we are, ignoring so much of the year, if only for a moment, to look back, and share what there is, and what there was, with you, now, totally, and yes somewhat belatedly. There was work, travel, family, crafting a "These Things I loved in the 2010s Will Change Your Life" post and I'm happy to blame all of that for the delay. Well, all of that, and this, there is a guest blogger this year: none other than pop culture consumer and son extraordinaire Myles Tanzer.
Cultural criticism and memoirs that read like personal essays and personal essay collections that read like memoir and cultural criticism. That sing. And explore sickness, art, nostalgia, pop culture, social issues, literature, the present, past and future, and everything in between.
Relief by Execution - A Visit to Mauthausen/Gint Aras, This Never Happened/Liz Scott, Go Ahead In The Rain/Hanif Abdurraqib, On Being Human/Jennifer Pastiloff, Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Bookmarked/Brian Evenson, So Sad Today/Melissa Broder, How To Write An Autobiographical Novel/Alexander Chee and Death Valley Superstars/Duke Haney
A Memoir That (#humblebrag alert) I offered consultation on in its most earliest stages and now it's out in the world and I couldn't be prouder.
Leaving: One Woman's Story of Verbal Abuse/Marguerite Morris
The essay collection that was my favorite read of the year and I'm not sure how I didn't know it existed before now.
Slow Days, Fast Company - The World, The Flesh, and L.A./Eve Babitz.
Kick-ass short story collections by kick ass writers who, you know, kick ass.
For Other Ghosts/Donald Quist and Funhouse/Robert Vaughan,
Books from the terrific Tortoise Books.
Adult Teeth/Jeremy T. Wilson and Jenny in Corona/Stuart Ross
And one more, that gets To stand alone, because, you know, Joseph G. Peterson.
Books from the splendid 7.13 Books.
Besotted/Melissa Duclos and Not Everyone is Special/Josh Denslow
And books by the equally splendid founder of 7.13 Books.
No Good Very Bad Asian/Leland Cheuk
Not to mention absolutely kick-ass books that I was honored to promote and strategize around, which most definitely changed my life, all of which were releases by the quite wonderful, awesome to partner with, Green Writers Press.
Old New Worlds/Judith Krummeck, Dancing with Langston/Sharyn Skeeter, The Coffeehouse Resistance/Sarina Prabasi, Today My Name is Billie/Neile Parisi, Victoria Falls/James Hornor, Lifeforce/Annie Rodriguez, Offline/Brian Adams, Love, Sex & Mushrooms/Cardy Raper, PhD
Novels too. Substantive. And wonderful. By substantive and wonderful writers.
The Heart Crossways/James Claffey, on earth we're briefly gorgeous/Ocean Vuong, The Butterfly Girl/Rene Denfeld, Black Card/Chris L. Terry
And poetry. Never enough, really not, and so much more next year, promise (and I know, I promised that next year), but what I read, really fucking good this year.
The movies I was happy I got to see during a year where I did even better than last year, though still didn't see enough to satisfy my movie Jones.
Good Boys, Knives Out, Britanny Runs a Marathon
Movies I was happy I got to see because my children said it must be so, but also because Netflix definitely wanted us to.
Always Be My Maybe
And a movie I really enjoyed, but only went to because one of my children really loves WWE.
Fighting with My Family
Superhero movies good.
Spiderman: Far from Home and Avengers: End Game
Superhero movies that are not superhero movies, more origin stories and which I remain conflicted about in terms of quality, but the lead was pretty mesmerizing.
Sequels and reboots that were more than fine enough, but it doesn't matter, because the goodness is baked-in.
Zombieland: Double Tap and John Wicke 3: Parabellum
Well-crafted movies I really liked.
The Irishman, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, Ad Astra, Us
The best crafted movies of the year that weren't quite my favorite movie of the year.
Booksmart, Little Women, Marriage Story, The Farewell, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
The quite well-crafted movie that is probably the best movie of the year.
But the movie that is ultimately, probably, my favorite.
Movies I still hope to see.
Midsommar, Waves, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Queen & Slim, Dolemite is My Name, Captain Marvel, Honey Boy
New music which I yet again listened to not much of this year, but I still listened to these. Okay, not true, I'm still really not sure what to do in this post-CD universe, or how to listen, or even how to talk about what I liked this year, but maybe I'll figure it out in 2020. Maybe.
Music I got to listen to live, which was not enough, and I always somehow fall way short on year after year.
Sharon Van Etten, Billy Bragg, Steve Miller Band
Music I got to listen to live that was amazingly joyous and made me happy, jealous and elevated all at once.
Matt & Kim
Television shows I kept on watching, finshed watching or caught-up on, that were actually, mostly, usually very good, and got in the way of reading, thinking, getting work done and sometimes sleeping, but ultimately made me very happy.
Stranger Things 3, GLOW, Handmaid's Tale, Westworld, Daredevil, BoJack Horseman, Black Mirror, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I'm Sorry, Barry, Better Things, Succession
Television shows that rebounded nicely from earlier missteps.
Television shows that rebounded nicely from earlier missteps that I'm going to miss.
Television shows that ended, regardless of steps, mis- or otherwise, that I'm going to miss.
Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Affair, Crashing, Jessica Jones, Punisher, Casual, Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies
Television shows that ended, regardless of steps, mis- or otherwise, that I'm going to really miss.
Catastrophe, Fleabag, You're The Worst, Lodge 49
Television shows I would have continued to lovingly re-consume, again, and again, summer after summer, because my children say it must be so, and annually at that.
Freaks and Geeks
(Though do note, Netflix dropped Freaks and Geeks from its line-up and we we're scared and confused heading into 2019, again, first world problems, I know, and so we went with All Night. Yup.)
Television shows I lovingly consumed, or continued to consume, because my at least one, or both, of my children said it must be so.
Black-ish, American Housewife, The Goldbergs, Single Parents, The End of the F***ing World, Bigmouth, F is for Family
Also, shows I tried to catch-up on and mostly did, with children, and not, and mostly, really liked.
Insecure, Party Down, Killing Eve, The Carmichael Show, The Bodyguard, Sharp Objects
New shows, and mostly quite good.
Russian Doll, Sex Education, The Other Two, Dead to Me, Shrill, Watchmen
And limited run series that were shocking in their audacity, quality, sadness and triumph.
Chernobyl, Unbelievable, When They See Us
Theater, none, horrible, tragic, stupid, but stand-up comedy, yes.
Christina P, Chris D'Elia, Jen Kirkman
Art exhibits, way too little, and less than last year, so there's that. And that's terrible.
Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech | Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Manet and Modern Beauty | The Art Institute of Chicago
Podcasts I still listen to again and again, if sometimes inconsistently at that.
WTF with Marc Maron, Other People with Brad Listi, The Slate Culture Gabfest, Heavyweight, Serial
And one-off podcasts, for now, apparently, that just mostly killed.
To Live and Die in L.A., Running from COPS, Dolly Parton's America
Books I just didn't quite read, or finish, by year's end. But I will. Soon. Promise.
Hunger/Roxane Gay, Walk in the Fire/Steph Post, Coyote Songs/Gabino Iglesias, White Girls/Hilton Als, Pax Americana/Kurt Baumeister, no good for digging/dustin m. hoffman, The Man They Wanted Me To Be/Jared Yates Sexton, Friday Afternoon and other stories/T.D. Johnston
And now for my guest blogger, the Myles Tanzer, the best of the year and the decade.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
BEST OF THE YEAR
TOP 10 FILMS
- Knives Out
- Little Women
- Marriage Story
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Uncut Gems
Zombieland: Double Tap
TOP 10 TV SHOWS
- The Act
- Big Mouth
- The Good Place
- On My Block
- The Politician
High School Musical: The Musical- The Series
One Day at a Time
TOP 10 ALBUMS
- Cuz I Love You- Lizzo
- Dedicated- Carly Rae Jepsen
- Happiness Begins- Jonas Brothers
- Head Above Water- Avril Lavigne
- Homecoming: The Live Album- Beyonce
- K Bye for Now (SWT Live)- Ariana Grande
- Lover- Taylor Swift
- Six- Cast Recording
- Thank U, Next- Ariana Grande
- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?- Billie Ellish
Fine Line- Harry Styles
Hot Pink- Doja Cat
K-12- Melanie Martinez
No.6 Collaborations- Ed Sheeran
SHE IS COMING- Miley Cyrus
BEST OF THE DECADE
TOP 25 FILMS
- A Star Is Born (2018)
- Blockers (2018)
- Booksmart (2019)
- Bridesmaids (2011)
- Brooklyn (2015)
- Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
- Crazy Stupid Love (2011)
- Flower (2017)
- Frozen (2013)
- Girls Trip (2017)
- Hidden Figures (2016)
- Hunger Games Series(2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015)
- I, Tonya (2017)
- Ingrid Goes West (2017)
- Inside Out (2015)
- Into the Woods (2014)
- Knives Out (2019)
- Little Women (2019)
- Parasite (2019)
- Pitch Perfect Series (2012, 2015, and 2017)
- Searching (2018)
- Selma (2014)
- The Help (2011)
- Wreck It Ralph (2012)
- Zootopia (2016)
TOP 25 TV SHOWS
- The Act
- American Horror Story
- Big Mouth
- Black Mirror
- Bob’s Burgers
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- The Goldbergs
- The Good Place
- The Office
- On My Block
- One Day at a Time
- Parks and Rec
- The Politician
- Pretty Little Liars
- Raising Hope
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
*COMPETITION SHOWS: Amazing Race, America’s Got Talent, Face Off, Glow Up, Next Food Network Star, Skin Wars, and Top Chef*
*REALITY SHOWS: 19 Kids and Counting, Cake Boss, Dance Moms, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians*
*OCEANIA SHOWS: Back with the Ex, Dance Academy, H2o: Just Add Water, Little Lunch, and Yummy Mummies*
TOP 25 ALBUMS
- 1989- Taylor Swift (2014)
- 21- Adele (2011)
- 8 Letters- Why Don’t We (2018)
- A Star Is Born- Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (2018)
- Cry Baby- Melanie Martinez (2015)
- Cuz I Love You- Lizzo (2019)
- Dedicated- Carly Rae Jepsen (2019)
- Electric Light- James Bay (2018)
- Ella Mai- Ella Mai (2018)
- Expectations- Hayley Kiyoko (2018)
- Glory Days- Little Mix (2017)
- Golden Hour- Kacey Musgraves (2018)
- Happiness Begins- Jonas Brothers (2019)
- Lemonade- Beyonce (2016)
- Lover- Taylor Swift (2019)
- Nation of Two- Vance Joy (2018)
- Phoenix- Rita Ora (2018)
- Prism- Katy Perry (2013)
- Rainbow- Kesha (2017)
- Sweetener- Ariana Grande (2018)
- Teenage Dream- Katy Perry (2010)
- Tell Me You Love Me- Demi Lovato (2017)
- Thank U, Next- Ariana Grande (2019)
- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?- Billie Eilish (2019)
- Youngblood- 5 Seconds of Summer (2018)
Most finally, there are many people to thank for making this a good year or just rule in general) in spite of all that has been going on and feels like still will be. And I'm most definitely overlooking some, a lot maybe, and I apologize for that, but there you go.
Matt Rowan, Jacob S. Knabb, Jason Behrends, Jason Pettus, Moeses Soulright, Ryan W. Bradley, Steve Lafler, Lavinia Ludlow, Rob Funderburk, Greg Olear, John Barrios, Joseph G. Peterson, Michael Seidlinger, Gabino Iglesias, Adam Lawrence, Dave McNamara, Mike Smolarek, Beth Gilstrap, Duncan MacKenzie, Andrew Keating, Matty Byloos, Brad Listi, Michael Czyzniejewski, Ken Wohlrob, Myles and Noah Tanzer, Leza Cantoral, David Masciotra, Clayton Smith, Bryanna Tartt, Mel Bosworth, Paul Cohen, Todd Summar, Eric Vaubel, Megan Stielstra, Hosho McCreesh, W. Todd Kaneko, Jim Warner, Mathieu Cailler, David S. Atkinson, Debbie Pritzker, BL Pawelek, James Yates, Kristin Fouquet, Clayton Smith, Seth Berg, Maggie Manoyan, Amber Sparks, Mike McClelland, Lori Jakiela, Robert Vaughan, Michael Gillan Maxwell, Meg Tuite, Robert Duffer, Brian Alan Ellis, Keir Graff, Emma Irving, Joanna Topor MacKenzie, Jeff Linkenback, Anthony Michael Morena, Brad Wolff, Bob Hartley, Joanna Shroeder, Johnny Misfit, Greg Gerding, Victor David Giron, The Book Cellar, Gretchen Kalwinski, Michael Paige Glover, Jennifer Banash, City Lit Books, Marilyn Atlas, Matt Fitzpatrick, Art Edwards, Judith Tanzer, Kimberly Ann Southwick, Erika T. Wurth, Leesa Cross-Smith, Brian Gresko, Garret Schuelke, Shaindel Beers, Chris L. Terry, Kara Vernor, Adam Tanzer, Patricia Ann McNair, Sean Beaudoin, Sean H. Doyle, Ken Sherman, John Reed, Jerry Brennan, Serena Makofsky, Callie Nelson, Lauren Becker, Marisa Siegel, Brad Listi, Robert James Russell, Melissa Duclos, Brian Gresko, Lori Hettler, Sharyn Skeeter, Tobias Carroll, Christian Winn, Charita Cole Brown, Spencer Dew, Glen Binger, Neile Parisi, Steve Karas, Aubrey Cox Warner, Sarina Prabasi, Barry Graham, Jennifer Steele, Wendy C. Ortiz, Dave Newman, Jeremy T. Wilson, Steve Eisner, Donald Quist, Christine Maul Rice, D. Foy, Ben Drevlow, JH Palmer, Cari Luna, Amber Griffin, Elaine Soloway, Duke Haney, Dede Cummings, Rachel Slotnick, Judith Krummeck, Behn Reza, Alex Rhodes, Largehearted Boy, Cyn Vargas, Greg Santos, Allison Joseph, Alan Heathcock, Tony Brunelli, Keith Lesmeister, Sara Lippmann, Mikaela Shea Fowler, Ariel Rudolph, Giano Cromley, Zoe Zolbrod, Kali VanBaale, Tom Williams, Jennifer Pastiloff, Joshua Mohr, Amy Danzer, Patrick Wensink, Nicholas Barron, Stuart Ross, Alice Kaltman, Paul Cohen, Susan Messing, James Hornor, Rick Kogan, Amy Guth, Khloe Karova, Andie Lorch, Jeff Pfaller, Shaindel Beers, Christine Eberle, Volumes Bookcafe, Susan Messing, Leland Cheuk, Rebecca George, Robert James Russell, Donald G. Evans, Davis Schneiderman, Ray Charbonneau, Sam Slaughter, Gina Frangello, Steph Post, Rachel Hyman, Nick Ostdick, Len Kuntz, Pete Anderson, Terry Hiner, Alicia Del Real, Pam Hoadley, the Tomaloff's, Paula Bomer, Brandon Will, Melissa Faliveno, J. Bradley, Jason Fisk, Gint Aras, Yogi Roth, Eric Spitznagle, Beth Gilstrap, Ryan Ridge, Lisa Fay Coutley, Jeffrey Pfaller, Lee L. Krecklow, Keidra Chaney, Christopher Bowen, Liz Mason, Chris Tarry, David Olimpio, Jessica Kashiwabara, Micah Philbrook, Christoph Paul, Ines Bellina