Looking back on 2001, I think that Whitney and I saw about 25 movies in the theatre. Seemed like a pretty good year in film to me, although some people seem to be lamenting the lack of a "Titantic"-type of film. Pearl Harbor tried, but I heard it didn't work out so well.

I picked 8 favorites. 10 seemed like too many seeing as how I only have 25 to pick from. I originally tried to make a list of ten, but after the first eight the quality seemed to drop off pretty dramatically. Here they are...

8) Ghost World. Terry Zwigoff made a good little movie here, with Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi both giving hearty performances as a couple of losers. Buscemi is really great in this type of role, but I think it might be time for him to diversify.

7) Amelie. Cute french film. Incredibly cheesy but it sends you away happy.

6) One Day in September. Documentary about the murder of Israeli athletes during the Olympics in 1972. Whitney and I decided that we're old enough this year to admit to liking documentaries.

5) The Deep End. I absolutely loved the mood that was created by this movie. The acting - particularly Tilda Swinton - was fantastic, and the story was compelling if a little improbable. Incredibly similar to "In the Bedroom" in terms of plot, but far better executed (I saw both).

4) Moulin Rouge. So much fun to watch, period.

3) Memento. Any movie that forces you to discuss it for hours afterwards has to be good. Memento was a total rush. Sure, the whole thing was a gimmick and the story was pretty pedestrian, but somehow it worked incredibly effectively. Guy Pierce was awesome.

2) The Royal Tenenbaums. More of a drama than I expected after seeing Wes Anderson's last two movies (Bottle Rocket and Rushmore), the absurb story of the Tenenbaum family really engaged me. The costumes, cinematography, soundtrack, and overall feel of the film were moving, and the actors (besides out-of-placers Bill Murray and Danny Glover) carried off their parts beautifully. An "art-house" movie for the masses, maybe?

1) Waking Life. Richard Linklater's experiment with animation works perfectly. Fascinating, rambling dialog, beautifully painted scenes; the whole movie was completely fresh. I'm almost definitely influenced by the fact that when we saw it, Richard Linklater was there to introduce it beforehand and talk about it afterwards. Hearing about the process of conceiving and executing made me appreciate it even more. Maybe if I'd been able to hear Peter Jackson rattle on about how tough it was to make "The Lord of the Rings", I wouldn't have hated it so much.


I'm not sure whether I watch a lot of TV or not. TV viewing time is something that everyone downplays when you ask them because our culture has decided that TV is less of an art form than the most others. I agree that the overall quality is low, but maybe its just because TV simply has too much time to fill. All those channels, all day long. Its bound to be pretty inferior for the most part.

Anyways, I've been trying to watch more TV recently because I don't have any desire to be a "i never watch tv" person. Turns out there are some good shows if you watch carefully (thanks, ReplayTV). This is a list of my favorite six shows of 2001.

6) Madonna concert, HBO. I didn't expect myself to be able to sit through an entire televised concert on TV, but Madonna kept me captivated. Her show was divided into four themes and was incredibly theatrical. Madonna can dance and sing live brilliantly, something that Britney and J-Lo couldn't pull off in their TV concert debuts this year.

5) The Sopranos, HB0. Same reasons everyone else likes it. I probably would have this higher on my list, but I can barely remember how good it is since the most recent season ended so early in 2001. New episodes coming soon...

4) Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO. At this point you're wondering if we watch anything besides HBO. CYE can be frustrating and annoying, yes. But when its good, its right on, matching wits with some of Seinfeld's classic moments.

3) SportsCenter, ESPN. I don't care about baseball or hockey, but I'll still watch any highlights on SportsCenter because of the writing and the delivery. These sportscasters are talented. They drop pop culture references like the USA drops bombs. Quickly and with little regard for hit-or-miss. Fortunately (in both cases), most are hits. Some favorites: "Tim-may" Brown/Hardaway/Couch. Chuck "New Kids On" Knoblauch. SportsCenter: that's levitation, homes.

2) The Daily Show, Comedy Central. Before 9/11, The Daily Show called themselves "the most important television show ... ever". They dropped that moniker out of respect (???), but its still the most important show to me. Cynical in all the right places and always hilarious. Jon Stewart gives the best interviews on TV. Pitifully, this American gets his news from Comedy Central, not NBC.

1) Six Feet Under, HB0. Have you seen this show? Watching is a privilege, like seeing your favorite movie continue to develop week after week. The characters are incredibly well conceived, the acting is fantastic, and the stories are, well, strange. But haunting and very real. If you don't like the first one you see, watch another episode. I guarantee you'll be obsessed in no time.