Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in the Arts: My Favorites

I tend to prefer "favorites" lists over "best of" lists. In fact, both are subjective, but the latter poses as something authoritive. My favorites are the things that resonate with me emotionally, things that touch the heart as well as the mind and the spirit.

So, in keeping with the theme of this blog, here are some of my favorite things from the world of the arts in 2011.

Adele, "21" - CD. The young Brit soul songstress, who made a memorable debut a couple of years ago with her album "19", conquered the world with her electrifying sophomore CD. If CDs had grooves, I would have worn them off this bold, brave, heartbreaking work of art. With her unique sound and powerful vocals, Adele has risen to the top of my favorite female vocalists list.

Clay Aiken, "Bring Back My Love" - single. And here's Adele's male counterpart, the most distinctive and versatile voice among the men in pop music. Clay Aiken continues to defy all attempts to categorize him. He just doesn't fit into any box - or into any era, for that matter. "Bring Back My Love" is both retro and timeless, and Clay can find the heart of a lyric with the best of the song stylists. Released at year's end, look for this one to peak in 2012.

"The Descendants" - motion picture. Another strong, layered, interesting performance by George Clooney, the Cary Grant of the new millenium. As the head of a family dealing with personal tragedy while deciding on the sale of a land trust in Hawaii, he's strong, handsome, goofy, broken and always more than he seems. Director Alexander Payne leds a fine cast through this comic tragedy of family, love, loss, tradition and starting over.

"Drop Dead Diva" - television series, Lifetime. Charming, funny and wearing its heart on its sleeve, "Diva" ended its strong third season with its core characters more interesting than ever, and with a great list of guest actors adding to the fun. Catch up online before season four!

"Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson - biography. I was saddened by the loss of the visionary co-founder of Apple Computer, but after his death I realized I knew next to nothing about him. I'm grateful for this detailed biography which reveals the man in all of his complexities and shortcomings. Jobs was brilliant, and the products he invented and inspired are thoroughly integrated into my life, making it better. Thanks, Steve.

"The Mountaintop" - theatrical drama written by Katori Hall (pictured above). A riveting imagining of the last night in the life of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King (Samuel L. Jackson) and a stranger who brings him some surprising news (Angela Bassett). Ms. Hall's play, which premiered in London, won the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play. This one has been lighting up Broadway, selling out night after night and receiving rave reviews. Don't miss it. Note: "The Mountaintop" will play the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in NYC through January 22, 2012.

And a special valentine for "The Artist", which proves that a brand new silent, black-and-white film, made in the classic style, can be as
entertaining and engaging as any Imax 3D extravaganza - or more so. See this film!

Thanks to all of the artists who brought joy to my life in 2011, and for them and my readers, a Happy New Year in the arts - and all aspects of your life - in 2012!

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