Monthly Archives: December 2019

More Music of the Decade: Jazz, World & Classical

I’ve gone through the “Best Music – Year by Year” meta-lists from 2010-2019 and separated out the best in jazz, world music, and classical.  You can add these to the meta-lists of the best music (albums), best songs, best books, and best films of the 2010s decade.

Here are the links:

Best Jazz Albums of the 2010s
Best World Music of the 2010s
Best Classical Music of the 2010s



My Life at the Movies: 2010-2019

I spend so much time compiling other folks’ lists into meta-lists that sometimes I forget to have my own opinions. So here is a link to a list of my personal favorite movies of the 2010s decade. Please note that this list may grow as I see more movies in the coming years.

Favorite Movies of the 2010s

I haven’t seen that many 2019 movies, but here are my favorites so far:

The Souvenir (US/UK, 2019) Dir: Joanna Hogg
The Irishman (US, 2019) Dir: Martin Scorsese
Marriage Story
(US, 2019) Dir: Noah Baumbach
Parasite (South Korea, 2019) Dir: Bong Joon-ho
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (US, 2019) Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Atlantics (Senegal/France/Belgium, 2019) Dir: Mati Diop
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (US, 2019) Dir: Joe Talbot

Just in case you wanted to know my least favorite films of the decade, here is a list:

Inception (2010)
Source Code (2011)
House at the End of the Street (2012)
The Endless (2017)

The Best of the 2010s: A Decade in Review

As 2019 comes to a close, various publications and critics have put out their Best of the Decade lists in film, music and literature. As is my wont, I have collected these lists and compiled them into meta-lists for your convenience. Here are the links to the meta-lists for best movies, best books and best music (albums and songs) of the 2010s:

Best Films of the 2010s
Best Books of the 2010s
Best Music of the 2010s – Albums
Best Songs of the 2010s

Too busy to click on the links? Need some information right away? Here are some sneak peeks at the top items on the lists:

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Moonlight (2016)
Get Out (2017)
The Social Network (2010)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Lady Bird (2017)
Under the Skin (2013)
Inception (2010)
Boyhood (2014)
Parasite (2019)

THE NEAPOLITAN NOVELS (2011-2014). By Elena Ferrante. Translated by Ann Goldstein  
AMERICANAH (2013). By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
THE GOLDFINCH (2013). By Donna Tartt 
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (2016). By Colson Whitehead
 (2010). By Jennifer Egan 
STATION ELEVEN (2014). By Emily St. John Mandel   
THE SYMPATHIZER (2015). By Viet Thanh Nguyen 
HOMEGOING (2016). By Yaa Gyasi

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME (2015). By Ta Nehisi Coates
JUST KIDS (2010). By Patti Smith 
THE ARGONAUTS (2015). By Maggie Nelson 
THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES: A Biography of Cancer (2010). By Siddhartha Mukherjee 
THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (2010). By Isabel Wilkerson
WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012). By Cheryl Strayed 
BAD FEMINIST: Essays (2014). By Roxane Gay 
H IS FOR HAWK (2015). By Helen MacDonald    

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
 – Lemonade (2016)
Solange – A Seat at the Table (2016)
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
 – Body Talk (2010)
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (2012)
David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)
Rihanna – ANTI (2016)
Arcade Fire
 – The Suburbs (2010)
Frank Ocean – Blonde (2016)
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (2017)
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour (2018)

Dancing on My Own – Robyn (2010)
Royals – Lorde (2012)
Formation – Beyoncé (2016)
Hotline Bling – Drake (2015)
Alright – Kendrick Lamar (2015)
Runaway – Kanye West (ft. Pusha T) (2010)
We Found Love – Rihanna (ft. Calvin Harris) (2011)
Rolling in the Deep – Adele (2011)
Video Games – Lana Del Rey (2011)
Everything Is Embarrassing – Sky Ferreira (2012)
Oblivion – Grimes (2012)
Old Town Road (Billy Ray Cyrus remix) – Lil Nas X (2019)

The Best of 2019: Books, Music, Movies & TV

Every year in December, various publications and websites announce their best of the year lists in various categories, and every December I collect those lists and combine them into meta-lists.  Usually I make lists of best books, movies and music (albums), but this year I added TV shows, in acknowledgement that we are in a period of unprecedented quality in television.  Here are the meta-lists for 2019:

Best Films of 2019
Best Books of 2019
Best Music of 2019
Best TV Shows of 2019

Check, Please: The Arts Checklists

One of the reasons I started making lists was to figure out what movies to watch, music to listen to, and books to read.  There is so much out there and more gets produced every year.  How do you decide how to spend your limited time and energy?  My primary goal was to increase the likelihood that I would be getting high-quality material and reduce the chances that I would be wasting my time with dreck. I also wanted to avoid getting into a rut of sameness – I wanted to explore new artistic visions, not just those I was familiar with already.  I concluded that the best way to achieve my goals was to collect lists made by critics, academics and other experts of what they considered the best in each category.  I might disagree with any particular individual’s taste, but if a consensus of critical opinion formed around a book, movie, recording, or any other work of art, then there was a good chance it was worth spending my time and money on it. This process has worked very well for me for nearly 20 years now. I still have my disagreements with the critics and my own personal preferences, but going through the lists has given me huge rewards – intellectually and emotionally – and has exposed me to works of art that I never would have discovered on my own.

As I have made this journey through the arts, I found myself wanting to keep track of my progress through the meta-lists I had made. So I put together giant lists in four categories: (1) literature; (2) visual art and architecture; (3) music; and (4) film.  This lists are aggregations of various other meta-lists on the Make Lists, Not War website.  Then I began checking off the books, stories and poems I’d read, the works of visual art I’d seen, the music I’d listened to; and the movies I’d seen. I couldn’t figure out how to do an actual checklist, so instead I just highlight the items I’ve seen/heard/read in blue.  I keep a running tally at the bottom of each list.  The lists for books, movies and music get longer every year as I do my end-of-year meta-lists.  I don’t think I’ll ever finish any of these lists – that’s not the point – but it’s fun to keep track of what I’ve already checked off.

Here are the links to my checklists. I’ve also included the total number of items, the number I’ve checked off so far and the overall percentage:

My Checklists – Film  Total: 2,012.  Seen: 1,195.  Percentage: 59.3%
My Checklists – Music  Total: 2,001.  Listened to: 1,152.  Percentage: 57.5%
My Checklists – Literature  Total: 3,520.  Read: 1,427.  Percentage: 40.5%
My Checklists – Visual Art  Total: 2,897.  Seen: 391.  Percentage: 13.4%

You can use these lists too. All you have to do is cut and paste the list, get rid of all the blue highlighting and start to go through the list on your own.  Make sure to keep the items numbered to make it easier to do a tally of the ones you’ve checked off.

Know What I Like: My Five-Star Films, Books & Albums

One of the occasional challenges of running a meta-list website is having to explain to people that the rankings on the meta-lists are not my personal opinions.  I compile these meta-lists after collecting lists made by other people and combining them; the more original source lists an item is on, the higher it is on the meta-list ranking.  I do keep my own personal lists of favorites, but I don’t include them in the meta-lists, because I prefer to focus on lists created by academics, critics and other experts, not the average person.

But for those who are curious about my own personal opinions, I am providing the links to my lists of favorite movies, books and albums:

My Five-Star Films
My Five-Star Books
My Five-Star Albums

Why five stars instead of Top 100 or some other defined number? Well, if you love books, movies, and music as much as I do, and you’ve ever had to come up with a Top 10, Top 25 or even Top 100 list, you know how painful it can be to cut your list of favorites down to the required number.  Many years ago I decided that this pain is unnecessary. I have many more than 100 favorite books, albums and movies and I don’t see the point of eliminating items from the list just because of an arbitrary number.  My approach is to rate every film I see, book I read and album I listen to on a 1-5 or 1-10 basis.  Then the list of favorites makes itself, with no pain: every item that I rated five out of five (or 10 out of 10) stars goes on the list, with no numerical cutoff.  There is also no worrying about whether you like the number 1 item more than the number 2 item and so on.  Everything with five stars is a winner – there’s no competition among equals. The resulting lists, although considerably longer than Top 100 lists, depict my tastes and interest much more accurately than any arbitrary Top 10 or Top 100 list could ever do.