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This Is Not a Year-End List

Non-List by Matthew Webber

I wonít be writing a top-ten list this year. Itís not that I didnít hear ten songs, buy ten CDs, or watch ten movies in 2004 I liked more than others, itís that I know there are at least ten great works of art in each medium I missed.

ĖI donít get MTV anymore, and my hometown only has three non-talk or -country stations, so I know Iíve missed a glut of recent non-Maroon 5 singles.

ĖI didnít buy or hear every critically acclaimed album, or even all the albums by artists I already like Ė I just didnít have the money or enough cool friends with CD burners.

ĖHereís the one top-ten list Iíll allow myself to make, in no particular order, of Movies I Wanted to See In 2005 That Could Very Well Have Appeared on My Top-Ten List of Films If I Were to Make One, But I Live In a One-Theater Town That Pretty Much Only Shows Cartoons and Movies With Gore and/or Jesus In Them, So I Didnít, Which Sucks: Sideways, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Million Dollar Baby, Closer, Finding Neverland, I (Heart) Huckabees, Hotel Rwanda, Maria Full of Grace, The Aviator (The Aviator! A Martin Scorsese picture with the Titanic kid!), and Kinsey (which is now my theaterís lone artsy film). Thereís no way I could justify making a list of the top-ten movies of the year without being able to consider some of this yearís most praised films. Iím sure Iíd regret such a list a month later, after my theater has finally replaced all of its Christmas movies.

I tried to participate in the yearly critical tradition, I really did. But the week I e-mailed some tentative top-ten lists to friends was the week I finally bought Brian Wilsonís Smile and saw Richard Linklaterís Before Sunset, thereby rendering my Smile- and ¨Before Sunset-less lists moot. Smile is brilliant, by the way, and not just in a ďWell, itís not as bad I expectedĒ kind of way or with a ďThis Prince/Morrissey/David Bowie album isnít complete shitĒ sigh of relief. Itís the type of album a Pet Sounds fan should kill for. If you donít smile upon listening to it, you might have been killed. And the dialogue in Before Sunset seems more realistic than most actual conversations Iíve had. And Iím now in love with Julie Delpy.

But youíll never know where these works of art would rank on a list Ė only because I myself donít know yet. I do know theyíd rank high, though. Hell, with 20 more listens, Smile could be number one Ė or maybe Loretta Lynnís Van Lear Rose and Nellie McKayís Get Away From Me would continue duking it out; or Kanye West and Franz Ferdinand, the top two artists whose albums I havenít heard all the way through yet.

The one decision of which I am 100-percent certain is that no film could possibly budge Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind from its perch. I walked out of the theater, as I do maybe once every three years, feeling so emotionally wracked I must have just seen the Greatest Movie of All Time. These Great Films are always the right movie at the right time of my life, but the emotional honesty in Eternal Sunshine ensures I would have loved it even had I not suffered a breakup in the week prior.

Oh. My single of the year? Britney Spearsí ďToxic.Ē Donít try to argue.

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