The Dark Knight. Between writing my initial and embarassingly glowing review of The Dark Knight and seeing it again this holiday season, a number of criticisms grew in my mind. The movie was too long; it betrayed subtle story-telling; it was a bit too cartoony in some of its more extreme elements. The second viewing, however, though it didn't completely erase those criticisms, eclipsed whatever objections I had to the point that they didn't really matter. It is a great movie. Runner Up: My Winnipeg. (Due to a variety of factors, I missed a lot this year. Synecdoche, New York, Man on Wire, and Let the Right One In are all movies that I still want to catch up with).
FAVOURITE TELEVISION SERIES
Dexter. Season three is a wrap and it was brilliant. Nothing really compares with the first season of this serial killer drama, but season three comes close. Michael C. Hall can still make anything, any small and mundane activity, seem menacing, ironic, and chilling. Runner's Up: Battlestar Galactica, The Shield.
FAVOURITE MOVIE THAT I SHOULD HAVE WATCHED LONG AGO BUT DIDN'T
L'Armee des Ombres (Army of Shadows). Jean-Pierre Melville's 1969 film about the French resistence during WWII is breathtaking. It, along with several of Melville's other films, such as Le Samourai and Le Cercle Rouge, completely transformed the way I watch movies and what I expect from the medium. Runner Up: the films of Mario Bava.
FAVOURITE VIDEO GAME
Braid. I can't so more than I already have about this game. It still blows my mind. Runner Up: Dead Space.
FAVOURITE BOOK THAT I RE-READ
Gravity's Rainbow. Okay, I didn't really read the whole thing again in 2008, but I did go back and re-read many, many passages. It's bizarre, grotesque, hilarious, morbid, ironic, irreverent, terrifying, and obscene. It's also brilliant. I don't really know what the term "postmodern" means (and I suspect no one does) but if it means anything than that definition comes alive in Gravity's Rainbow.
FAVOURITE BOOK/AUTHOR THAT I FINALLY READ
The poetry of William Butler Yeats. Being a student often means that you end up reading things you don't want to read and not reading things you want to read. I finally got to spend some time with Yeats, however, and I'm damn happy that I did. Runner Up: Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Silent Hill 2. Yeah, it's that good.
The Slip and Ghosts I-IV by Nine Inch Nails. Yes, a tie. It was a good year for NIN fans. Runner Up: Vida La Vida by Coldplay.
FAVOURITE BAND THAT I JUST NOW DISCOVERED BUT WHO HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE
Sigur Ros. Icelandic rock, post-rock, alt-rock, emo, whatever. Their music is beautiful and haunting and for weeks I was transfixed by the song "Milano." Sometimes, purely by accident, you discover things that you end up really loving. This is one of those things. Runner Up: Coheed and Cambria.
So there it is. The highlights of an entire year's worth of watching, listening, reading, and playing summed up, dissected, and delivered in neat little, bloodless packages. There is a sort of butchery involved in making lists. It assumes that anything in life can be decontextualized, anatomized, and isolated. A list is an autopsy. How, for instance, can I talk about Sigur Ros without darkening the discussion with how I felt at the time and the emotional affinities it created? How can I evaluate the sadness that I felt playing Silent Hill 2? I can't. I don't want to. A list is just taking a step back, re-evaluating. It assumes the largely fictional detached vantage point, which is probably something we need at the end of the year.