Not too long ago, I watched the Oprah show and saw her giveaway "O's Favorite Things." Now, I may not have the money to give a roomful of people all kinds of expensive gifts, but I can at least recommend some good titles that people might enjoy, all the things within the past year that I have come to love and want to share with the world. Yes, you can call this M's Favorite things, and they're movies, music and books that I think are the best of 2007.
THE MOVIES: For someone who sees hundreds of movies a year, it's hard not to get a little jaded and cynical, but I must admit, this was a banner year for movies. We had a lot of great ones.
Sadly, all of the hype surrounding all the so-called political films dealing with the war on terror and Iraq fell flat in the box office and in a lot of critical opinions.
However, what took off this year were the musicals. From "Dreamgirls" to "Sweeney Todd," we have had an assortment of singing-driven films, from the highly visual "Across the Universe" to the simple and sentimental "Once" that have all done very well. This also has been a great year for adult comedies. "Knocked Up" was a huge hit and has once again cemented Judd Apatow as a great comedic filmmaker. Clever satires like "Death Proof" and "The TV Set" were also well done.
Even this year, we saw a slate of really cool westerns both on film and TV, from beautiful pictures like "Seraphim Falls" and "The Assassination of Jesse James" to raw dramas like "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" and "3:10 to Yuma."
Crime dramas in most of their carnations like "Zodiac" and "No Country for Old Men" also were very excellent.
Yes, this year has been a banner one for movies.
THE MUSIC: I'm sorry, but I was not that impressed with R&B music this year. Yes, it's my favorite style, and yes it's what I was raised on, but this year I moved away from R&B more than any other genre.
I'm not a hard rock or country music fan. I don't know why. I just can't groove to their sounds. Even though my favorite album last year was that of the Dixie Chicks, I feel like I liked it only because most of the country music scene shunned it.
I'm a fan of the underdogs, and don't get me started with hard rock. Yes, there are some Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails songs that I think are cool, but most of it sounds like noise to me. But, I have nothing against rock myself. In fact, I have to agree with the Associated Press when they say this year was a great year for indie rock bands. I did find myself going onto MySpace more often than not just to listen to some really great indie rock bands.
I actually was really impressed with folk music this year as well. I'm not all of a sudden going to become a Bob Dylan fan, but the number of folk music albums in my collection did increase substantially this year. Big props to Patti Griffin! Her mixing of folk, country and gospel music was perfect. You rule, Patti!
THE BOOKS: I am also sad to say that I did not do as much reading this year, as I should have and really wanted to do, so I really had to cherry pick the books that are on my best of 2007 list.
I wasn't really into any political books and most major nonfiction books were off my radar. I have and always will enjoy novels and literary books more than anything. I gravitate to them the most.
I'm not really into mystery stories, although I have enjoyed a few on occasion. I just get sick of ones where that's the main focus. I don't necessarily want to read about yet another detective trying to solve yet another crime. I get enough CSI and Law & Order for that.
I will say that I did really get into books by authors writing about immigration, people of different cultures having to supplant themselves in strange lands, and sometimes lands not too far from where they started.
Early in the year, I got into it when I read of Mohsin Hamid who wrote this year about a young Pakistani who comes to New York and it continued for me with Khaled Housseini who wrote this year about two Afghan women removed from what they had held dear because of war and oppressive cultural regimes, both stories ending with the tragedy on September 11.