The Best of Everything in 2002 - films, music, television and gastronomy
by Jill Goodheart
1. The Good Girl
Jennifer Aniston proves that she can indeed act in this film about an unsatisfied small town Texan. Her two love interests John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal (!) give stellar performances as always. The excellent acting combined with a simple story of a woman trapped in a meaningless job and unfulfilling marriage conveys feelings (if not actions) that most likely strike home for more women in America than we'd like to admit.
2. 13 Conversations About One Thing
Though I'm a sucker for a multi-layered story with an ensemble cast, Jill Sprecher's film draws on human emotions in a way that sets it apart from similar attempts. Her examination of humans' attempt at happiness as they go about their daily lives, including incredible ups (a lottery win) and downs (a car accident) is insightful and, at times, moving.
3. Rilo Kiley - The Execution of All Things
This album is immediately enjoyable, but the strong voices, touching, somewhat quirky lyrics, and pop-rock sound make it nearly impossible to turn off 50 listens later.
4. Bowling for Columbine
Michael Moore sets out to make a film about Americans' obsession with guns and manages to go beyond the obvious to probe into the minds of Americans themselves. Why are we so scared of everything? Humor, intelligence, and only a couple of forced poignant moments come together to leaving you wondering what our problem is.
5. Bright Eyes - Lifted
Conor Oberst's powerfully straightforward lyrics and wonderfully untrained voice combine with a slew of instruments not previously heard on Bright Eyes' albums. The result is a depth of sound that helps bring out the raw emotions of the lyrics.
6. Y Tu Mama Tambien
The acting, colors, and landscapes make this film beautiful and enjoyable. The script, however, makes it exceptional, with its commentary on the state of the Mexican people and politics a la Jean-Luc Godard.
7. Wicked Hot Chocolate - Jacques Torres - Brooklyn, NY
This spicy and (very) rich hot chocolate is like drinking happiness.
8. Spirited Away
This complex, beautiful film combines humor and sweetness without being cutesy. The animation is quite amazing (and primarily hand-drawn), and the story is filled with fabulously weird characters.
9. crème brulee 'gas' - restaurant villegas - Okemos, Mich.
Creamy, crunchy, with specks of vanilla bean; a perfect execution of a classic.
10. The Amazing Race 3 (CBS)
This series transcends its 'reality' television genre; the focus is not on silly, contrived relationships, but on an exhilarating race around the world. Adrenaline combined with beautiful photography from all over the globe (and the occasional feeling of vicarious traveling) makes for a show worth watching.