I feel like there's been a backlash against top tens this year - especially because so many blogs are partaking. I don't see the reason for the hate. Either you read a top ten and get something out of it or you skip reading that post. Shucks, I didn't hear or see most of the albums/movies that came out this year. But I did catch a bunch of good ones and if you haven't caught wind of these and at all trust my taste, than you've made a netflix, torrent or acquisition discovery.
I wish I had a better discovery matrix for new music. I usually get to albums long after they've appeared - the exceptions being the odd rap albums which those more connected than I make available to me. It's not that I want to beat the rush and look more knowing. It's just that I find myself impressionable when it comes to music. When too many people shit on something, I find myself not really giving it my attention. I'm trying to cultivate the naive objectivity that makes for surprise and true analysis. Till then, I can best construct my list based on enjoyable repeat listening and pretend I can trust myself.
These are in order.
Top Ten 2007 Albums I heard
Kanye West – Graduation
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Pinback – Autumn of the Seraphs
Wu-Tang Clan – 8 Diagrams
X-Clan – Return from Mecca
Bishop Allen – Charm School
Prodigy – Return of the Mac
Jay-Z – American Gangster
Fountains of Wayne – Traffic & Weather
El-P – I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead
Blu & Exile – Below The Heavens
Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass
Ghostface – Big Doe Rehab
UGK – Underground Kingz
White Stripes – Icky Thump
Every year, people kill the past year for its short supply of quality films. I always fought this. That kind of thinking I generally chalk up to lazy, dare-you-to-impress-me viewing. I also hold that most people don't see enough movies to qualify the statement "a bad year for movies." Something like 500 movies come out of Hollywood or at least appear in genuine movie theaters every year. In a good year, I probably see 50 - 70. And that was back when I was multiplexing. This year, I probably went to the theater 30 times and didn't double-up even once.
Despite my dearth of real theater-going experience I found myself feeling the urge to say this was a bad year for movies. It was intoxicating to be so dismissive for the first time in my life. Luckily for my overall sense of self, the last few months provided a whole bunch of great movies with what looks like at least a few more gems (There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Chipmunks - psych!) and I feel no more desire to be so quit of this year's movies. It feels like years since Ratatouille came out but damn that movie alone should give 2007 a pass.
Also, when I went to the movies, I tried to ensure that every time I set foot in a theater would afford me a good use of my time. I don't like this attitude. Again, like the albums, it affords little surprise. And when the movie disappoints, it can feel really depressing. I'm Not There and I Am Legend (not the worst movie but a demoralizing overall picture) put me in bad moods I could still feel three days later. How do you alter your expectations? I think it has something to do with productivity. When I am producing my own shorts and finishing work, I feel like I've earned the right to roll the dice on a bad movie-going experience. When I'm being holiday lazy, a bad movie stings.
So for 2008, I resolve to lower my expectations, seek out more surprise and not mind the odd bad picture.
These are also in order.
Top Ten 2007 Movies I saw
Ratatouille – Brad Bird
The Savages – Tamara Jenkins
Juno – Jason Reitman
Once – John Carney
Michael Clayton – Tony Gilroy
You Kill Me – John Dahl
Eastern Promises – David Cronenberg
Sicko – Michael Moore
The Host – Bong Joon-ho
Knocked Up – Judd Apatow
Rescue Dawn - Werner Herzog
Sweeney Todd – Tim Burton
American Gangster – Ridley Scott
No Country For Old Men – Brothers Coen
Sunshine - Danny Boyle
I enjoyed No Country - especially the first two thirds. But it does grind you down like few movies. I really like what Andrew Sarris in the NY Observer had to say on the subject:
"IN CASE YOU were wondering, yes, I saw the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. This year it makes up my entire category of Movies Other People Liked and I Didn’t. It is simply too nihilistically evil-worshipping for my taste, though I can’t fault the sterling performances of Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson."
Nihilistically, evil-worshipping indeed. But still better than Oh Brother Where Art Thou. IMHO.