1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer -TV-(WB/UPN):
In the fifth season of Joss Whedon’s brilliant comic-book, crime-fighting drama, Buffy Summers’ arch-enemy was a goddess from a demon dimension named Glory. Buffy’s enemy, though, wasn’t just a goddess, but God in general.
The most risk-taking show on television took even more by pummeling Buffy with abstract enemies she couldn’t deal with by use of pointy sticks. How does a protector of man protect her mom from cancer? How can she deal with being brought back from the grave by her best friends?
She does, and she saves the day, and in the end more questions are raised than answered. And we all watch: an eerily quiet episode named The Body, Buffy’s final encounter with Glory, ending with Buffy’s death in The Gift; Buffy and her friends singing the emotions they couldn’t express with mere words in Once More, With Feeling.
It becomes apparent, as this show grows stronger and stronger with each season, and as reruns on FX help show, how premeditated the characters’ paths have been. Perhaps it could be considered one of the best TV shows of all time.
2) Hedwig and the Angry Inch-Film-:
In a jumbled year for film, in which no movie collectively stole the critics’ hearts , a transsexual glam-rock, post-punk musical about a flamboyant boy/girl’s quest for love stole, at least, this critic’s heart. It takes a kind of self-aware camp factor to be able to pull the kind of stops John Cameron Mitchell pulls off without seeming pretentious or obnoxiously self-conscious.
Mitchell realizes he needs a character as over-the-top as his sets and musical sequences in order to not seem ridiculously garish, and Hedwig is most definitely the perfect character. Vain yet self-loathing, s/he’s the most fun character to come out of film all year. Plus, the movie bodes the most killer outfits and soundtrack
3) Get Your Freak On-Song- Missy Misdemeanor Elliot:
More than any Strokes CD or pop diva tour, Missy Elliot’s killer track is not just the freakiest song of the year, but also the best thing about music to come out all year. With killer beats and mile-a-minute lyric spouting, Elliot created a hip-hopping, pulse-pounding, heart racer. The remix with Nelly Furtado and the African jungle-d video add to the bonuses that this song kept popping up with all year long.
4) Wit -TV-(HBO):
A TV movie about a woman with ovarian cancer becomes one of the best movies of the year? Sounds a little like “disease of the week,” but the wonderful thing about Wit is just how much it rises above and acknowledges the much rivaled genre. Literary and humane, Wit’s best asset is Emma Thompson. Thompson’s graceful performance teaches us about her character’s love of words, and makes us cry over her life-long loneliness as she faces imminent death. It’s the only movie I’ve cried so hard and so long at, and not just because she dies. The film is much more affecting than that.
5.) Primetime Glick -TV-(Comedy Central):
From the despairing to the joyous. And yes, Martin Short’s fat suit is incredibly offensive. And yes, all of the fat jokes are extremely dumb and offensive also. But that’s not what had me hooked all year. I was hooked on the satiric, circularly confusing interviews with people like Regis Philbin or Jeanane Garofalo. The complete and utter development of the silly, weird Jimminy Glick (from his interactions with his wife, to his voice fireworks). No other character on Comedy Central has ever made me laugh as hard or as long as Jimminy Glick.
The most underrated movie of the year. Critics were expecting a Silence of the Lambs II-and got instead a neatly observed, grisly character study on the very interesting Hannibal Lecter. Yes, there are holes in the story – but the one thing one has to remember is that Hannibal Lecter is smarter than everybody else in the world. His daring feats are believable because he is the smartest man alive, and once one accepts that (which Anthony Hopkins makes very convincing), then one can enjoy the movie as much as it should be enjoyed.
7.) Is this it?-CD- The Strokes:
After the hype, the backlash, and the backlash to the backlash, we’re left with a snappy, quick, energetic CD. Despite the fact that The Strokes are brats posing as street kids, and that every time I saw the CD on a top ten list this year I rolled my eyes, I must admit the music is splendid.
8.) Gosford Park -Film-:
A classic “Clue”-like whodunit with undertones of Upstairs, Downstairs. Robert Altman’s story of the wealthy British elite and their servants’ non-lives is at times both touching and funny. The audience is dropped into the many lives staying at a mansion for a couple days where the murder of an unpopular man takes place. There’s plenty of gossip, and most of the time you feel as though you’re a part of all the dirty talk and backstabbing (literally).
9.) You Can Count on Me -DVD-:
The multiple Academy Award- nominated film about a brother-sister relationship worked even better on the small screen. Dialogue has never sounded as good as it does in this movie, with characters who actually talk like real people. Two smart performances, a clever, well-developed script, and unpretentious directing make this a DVD to watch over and over again.
10.) The Sopranos – TV- (HBO):
While not as interesting and whacked out as season two, and missing the very wonderful Nancy Marchand, season three of David Chase’s wildly popular gangster hit kept popping up with great scenes and plot all year long. Most note-worthy is the scene in which Tony and Gloria have it out all Fatal Attraction-style, making Michael Douglas and Glenn Close look like Harry and Sally.