Time for a little end of the year best of!
Movie of the Year
Federico Fellini's 8½
This movie absolutely stunned me. A brilliant meditation on one man's struggle with his art, his relationships and his own ego.
The film drifts seamlessly between the present (such as it exists), reverie, dream and fantasy. Now I know how much something like Todd Hayes's I'm Not There (last year's movie of the year and soundtrack of the year) owes to 8½. In fact, the scene where Cate Blanchett's Dylan is flying like a balloon on a string (you catch a glimpse of it in the trailer)and the opening scene in the car seems to be taken directly from the opening dream sequence of 8½.
Runner Up: Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl
Book of the Year
Peter Leithart, Against Christianity
A fabulous "theological bricolage" (Leithart's description) that asks us to re-examine where the faith is at in the twenty first century. Leithart definitely owes a debt to others like Bishop N.T. Wright and Stanley Hauerwas, but brings his own spin as a Reformed (CRE) thinker who really is willing to engage history, theology and other traditions.
Leithart has helped further my thinking about the intimate relationships between cosmology, theology, Scripture, history, politics, culture and literacy.
Furthermore, he puts his thoughts into easy to digest small nuggets. This is also true of his excellent blog.
Runner-up: Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos
Album of the Year
Bob Dylan's Tell Tale Signs: Bootleg Series Vol. VIII
A fabulous collection of rare, unreleased or live versions, including my favorite on the album, "Across the Green Mountain" from the soundtrack to Gods and Generals.
As Dylan ages his voice becomes increasingly pleasing matched with the roots music to which he has returned.
The only irritating thing about this release was the 3CD set that was released at the same time. The third CD even includes an alternate version of one of my all time favorite songs, "Ring Them Bells" from Oh Mercy!. You just can't have too many versions of this song.
Alas, It almost tempts one to really bootleg.
Runner Up: All the other Bob Dylan albums I listened to this year.
Photograph of the Year
Columbia Gorge, Oregon
Bamboo Stand, Huntington Botanical Gardens
San Marino, CA