In my former career as an arts editor at a daily newspaper, the year-end best-of lists were a standard. And now that I’ve change jobs this year, and I’m reading so many other journalists’ best-of lists, I am impressed by how many cultural things they (and my past me) have been able to experience in a year. Now I also know how people who aren’t paid to experience so many things can find such lists to be impossible recommendations, a bunch of things that most people will never have the time to get around to. Though arts journalists try to present as complete as possible summaries, I think readers of such lists may only be looking for one thing that might inspire them to go out and experience that cultural thing for themselves.
So here’s a lean look back at 2014.
Best book: Every year, I never read as many books as I want to, and so I’m always catching up. So in that catch-up category is Urusla Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, from 1974. A classic.
Best movie: I also have a long list of movies I’d like to see, and a lot of the Oscar bait hasn’t come out yet where I live, so Ida tops my list as the best movie I’ve seen of 2014. It’s on Netflix, so go watch it now.
Best TV show: It’s hard to think of anything that is consistently good and a must watch, but I did my best to watch as much Colbert Report and This Week Tonight with John Oliver, and all of Veep, Game of Thrones, True Detective, Happy Valley, Orphan Black, Continuum, Sherlock, and Walking Dead with, perhaps, the Season 5 premiere of Walking Dead being one of the best episodes of any dramatic TV show
Best song: This year, I started streaming more with iTunes radio (on my iPhone and iPad) and though I listened a lot to stations for The Clash, The Smiths, and New Order, I mostly listened to the Elvis Costello station and the song I most heard on that station was Elvis’ Veronica.
Best art exhibit: I suppose this is a conflict of interest, but It happened, but not to you, an exhibition of new work by Deborah Zlotsky at Kathryn Markel Gallery in September was the best exhibition I saw in 2014