The year in review. It's a media tradition. Why? Because we're a list-making species. It doesn't take a doctorate in sociology to figure out why every media outlet in the free world, from staid old Rolling Stone and VH1 to Pitchfork, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, all produce variations on The Year's Best [Fill in the Blank]. Media folks love making lists of all the good and bad shit that comes out in a 12-month period, and using those lists to assess the relative value of any given year.
Here's a little secret: You love it, too. Go ahead, admit it: you scarf up lists like leftover holiday candy. You may not relish every piece, but you'll chew on 'em anyway, savoring the tasty ones and bitching about those sprinkled with cheap coconut flakes. If nothing else, you like to argue with our lists and tell us why your list is superior. So, this week, we invite you to argue with CL's picks for the best and (in some cases) worst movies, music, books and restaurants of 2012.
Some of you have already dragged film critic Matt Brunson over the coals for his severe assessment of Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie last year. Hurray! You get to drag him over the coals again for his thoughts on that turkey as well as nine others. Matt also checks in with his 10 best movies, but he warns us in his intro that 2012 was not the stellar film year that some other critics have suggested it was.
As for food in Charlotte, Tricia Childress looks back on her favorite 2012 dining experiences. Notice I used the word "favorite" for Tricia. That's because in her year-end appraisal, she prefers "favorite" to "best," and she tells us why. Another of our critics, John Grooms, also uses "favorite" instead of "best" in writing about the books that made the biggest impact on him in 2012.
My favorite year-end list is music. That's because I'm a music geek who gets off on hunting, gathering, listing and ranking collections of songs for any reason whatsoever, whether it's a year-end list or just something like "all-time greatest hip-hop tracks with cello." For me, the year-end list is a dysfunctional, love/hate relationship I've been in for the past, oh, 30 or so years. I listen to so many different kinds of music — mainstream country to experimental jazz, indie rock to Afro-pop, old-time fiddle tunes to newfangled retro-funk — that it's impossible to represent everything that blows my mind in a simple Top 10 list. (I have a hard enough time whittling my lists down to 100.) But that's the challenge. You can see my pick for last year's No. 1 album, along with the picks of other CL music critics, including music editor Jeff Hahne, here.
And now, the arguing begins ...