Welcome to my annual(ish) Best of the Year awards!
If you read something I wrote this year, including this, thank you. I hope you had as much fun reading these House of Burgess columns as I had writing them.
And, now, on to the awards for what I consider the best media I consumed in 2018.
BEST PODCAST: SERIAL, SEASON 3
This isn't technically a new podcast, but every season covers a different topic. This time, the crew headed to Cleveland for a year to record, as they put it, “the extraordinary stories of ordinary cases.” Having covered trials and crime stories for small local daily newspapers in the past, I was consistently impressed at what they were able to accomplish this season. They got into the details of trials even local media would never cover, and what they came back with was extraordinary. By the end, you'll be asking yourself if this is what happens in these small, ignored cases, then what's happening everywhere else?
BEST MOVIE (WINNER): SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
How do I describe Sorry To Bother You? Writer and director Boots Riley—who is also the leader of one of my favorite hip-hop bands, The Coup—consistently sells it in interviews as “absurdist dark comedy, with magical realism and science fiction, inspired by the world of telemarketing.” That's as tidy an explanation as one can expect, but there's so much more. There is a giant plot twist about halfway through. (I'm glad I didn't know it before I watched it, and I won't spoil it here.) A sort of twisted mix of the Mike Judge films Office Space and Idiocracy, The Twilight Zone, and last year's best movie, Get Out, this film is destined to be a late-night cult classic. I've been waiting for this movie since Riley finished the screenplay and released The Coup's 2012 album of the same name, and I was not disappointed.
BEST MOVIE (RUNNER UP): A QUIET PLACE
Who knew Jim from The Office had this in him? Not only did John Krasinski co-write and direct A Quiet Place, he also co-starred in it with his real wife, Emily Blunt. The great horror movies know that a viewer's terrified imagination will produce scarier monsters than any CGI could muster. Mostly a silent film, the tension is almost another character in the film in and of itself.
BEST BOOK (I HAVEN'T READ YET): BEASTIE BOYS BOOK BY MICHAEL DIAMOND AND ADAM HOROVITZ
I haven't read this book yet, so how do I know I will love it? After their 1992 album, Check Your Head, became the first hip-hop album I ever bought as a junior high school student, I was in for life on whatever Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, and Adam “MCA” Yauch decided to produce. From then on, I knew I would love every new Beastie Boys album before I heard it. Because of Yauch's death in 2012, there hasn't been a new album since 2011's Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, and I've been salivating for more. After I heard the two remaining members' appearance on Marc Maron's podcast, WTF, I read a few pages of the book in the store, and put a hold on it at the library. (I even put it on a Christmas list or two.) At nearly 600 colorful pages, it's as detailed as any fan could want. It even feels nice. I can't wait to “ch-check it out.”