In no particular order, here is my meta-list of my favorite music, films, books, and whatevers, from a year in which we really needed good music, films, books, and whatevers.
1. Twin Peaks, on Showtime. Because of a broken knee, I missed the community viewing parties and was forced to watch this show by myself at home, where it was a punch in the gut that haunted me for weeks after. Especially that last episode, and of course episode 8, maybe the weirdest thing ever on broadcast TV, eclipsing the White Lodge sequences from the original series.
2. Legion, on FX. A psychedelic and surreal superhero show with a nonlinear plot. An example of the kind of bonkers WTF TV that owes a lot to Lynch, but this show was a lot more fun.
3. Anna Meredith at Baby’s All Right, Brooklyn. A British composer bringing a giddy experimental sensibility to pop music. The live version of this song was one of the most heart-stoppingly fun performances I’ve ever seen from a band.
4. Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest, at New Museum.
5. Borne, Jeff Vandermeer. To my shame, I hardly ever read novels anymore. Part of it is my lousy time management, but the other is failing to find an author or book series that I really love. That ended this year, as I found sci-fi writer Vandermeer, whose Southern Reach trilogy I plowed through (just in time for it to hit the big screen), and whose 2017 novel about a talking blob that falls off of a 3-story high flying bear I couldn’t put down.
6. LCD Soundsystem, American Dream. Not the album of the year – maybe not even in the top 10 or 20 albums of the year. It just feels good that they’re back.
7. That Darth Vader scene from Rogue One. Who knew that this character’s most memorable film moment would come in an unnecessary prequel 40 years after his first?
8. Lady Bird. I was expecting a quirky mumblecore kind of film, and then 3/4 of the way through realized how perfect the writing and acting were – and also how moving. The most satisfying movie of the year for me, by far.
9. Song Exploder. Just when I’d grown weary of 90-minute chatterfests, this refreshingly short podcast (actually from 2016) featured artists simply breaking down the writing and recording of a single song of theirs.
10. Can football be art? Well, yeah – when it’s this Super Bowl catch by Julian Edelman.