Best book: I really loved the novel Black Swan Green [by David Mitchell]. And Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. Particularly at this horrendous moment when we’ve got this gutless, mindless boob in the White House, it’s really staggering to read about Abraham Lincoln.
Best movie: I loved The Queen, but I have to say I also loved The Devil Wears Prada.
Best book: Mark Strand’s Man and Camel. My favorite poet. I felt it was about coming to a certain point in your life and being retrospective. It’s a really interesting, acute perspective on aging.
general manager, the Metropolitan Opera
Best movie: The Departed.
Best TV show: The Sopranos.
Best play: Le Projet Andersen, the one-man show by Robert Lepage at the Barbican Theater (London): a brilliant synthesis of eighteenth-century stage techniques and modern technology in service of great storytelling.
Best actor: Richard Griffiths, in The History Boys (the play); Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, in The Departed; and Helen Mirren, in The Queen.
chief editorial director, American Media
Best movie: Marie Antoinette, for the done-up Versailles, the clothes, the shoes, and the soundtrack.
Best TV show: 24.
Cultural high point: Seeing “Picasso: Tradition and Avant-Garde” at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid.
director of MoMA
Best art exhibition: “Tradición y Vanguardia,” at the Prado and Reina Sofía.
Diane Von Furstenberg
Best movie: Volver and Marie Antoinette.
Best book: Snow, by Orhan Pamuk, who just received the Nobel prize.
Best TV show: I hate to admit it, but my favorite is [still] Desperate Housewives.
Best book: Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro [now out in paperback].
Best play: Director Bartlett Sher’s productions of Clifford Odets’s Awake and Sing and The Barber of Seville at the Metropolitan Opera.
Best TV show: Dexter.
Best museum show: “Robert Rauschenberg: Combines” at the Met (but don’t miss the “Vollard” and “Glitter and Doom” shows).
Cultural low point: The Supreme Court deliberating the “imminent danger” of global warming on a 73-degree December 1 in Washington.
Best movie: The Queen. But Man of the Year was maligned. There was a kind of negative gang bang of that movie. I found it amusing, and the subject of voting fraud is explored in an up-to-the-minute fashion. No one bothered to write about that.
playwright and actor
Best movie: The Queen and Shortbus, together. Picture it.
Best TV show: I mostly watch the late-night reruns since I only have a tiny TV with rabbit ears, which is why my ex-girlfriend refers to my house as “Lisa bin Laden’s cave.” She also informs me that the answer to this question is Battlestar Galactica.
Best movie: Borat.
Best book: Suite Française, by Irène Némirovsky.
Cultural high point: May 28—Manhattan solstice (Manhattanhenge), when the sun is in perfect alignment with Manhattan’s “grid” street pattern. You can stand on any street that runs perfectly east-west and see a magnificent sunset.
Best book: Suite Française.
Best TV show: Every minute of C-span.
Best play: The Drowsy Chaperone. It’s a particular talent of Canadians to be able to poke fun at something and pay tribute to it at the same time.
Best movie: Babel and Shortbus. It’s a difficult thing to take Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt and put them with normal people and have it work. And Shortbus just felt like a fantasy New York that the rest of the world would want to live in, though I’ve already lived it.
Cultural low point: Habeas corpus disappearing kind of sucked.
André Leon Talley
Best book: Gore Vidal’s memoir, Point to Point Navigation.
Best TV show: The McLaughlin Group.
editor-in-chief, Men’s Health
Best book: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. We all ought to think more about what we put in our mouths. Everything we eat is a moral choice.
Best play: The Pajama Game. Who knew Harry Connick Jr. was a sex god with abs?
Cultural low point: Barbra Streisand’s mondo-stupid attempt at political satire.
artistic director, Lincoln Center Theatre
Best movie: Infamous. Wonderfully real and touching. Should still be running.
international co-head, postwar and contemporary art, Christie’s
Best movie: The Last King of Scotland. Forest Whitaker is truly a genius.
Best TV show: Still watching The L Word in reruns.
Best art exhibition: “Los Angeles 1955–1985,” at the Pompidou in Paris. Leave it to outsiders to tell the story better than Americans can.
Cultural high point: The triumph of the art market, but I am speaking very personally here.
Cultural low point: Anything having to do with Britney Spears—her lovers, children, music, real estate, body, or opinions.
Best CD: The new Who album, their first in 24 years. It rivals their other stuff.
Best TV show: Friday Night Lights. When is the last time you looked over and saw grown men moved to tears by a television show?
Cultural high point: Anyone who didn’t see “Tango Fire” at Town Hall on November 12, with the troupe of Carolina Soler dancing to the music of the greatest composer of the twentieth century, Astor Piazzolla, missed out on the most important music and dance event all century. I could explain why, but you really had to be there.
George C. Wolfe
Best book: Oh, my God! That’s hard, what have I seen? I’ve been holed up doing my work! Oh, my God, oh, my God … what have I even read?
Best movie: Well, I saw The Queen on the plane. That was good. What the hell else have I seen? This is frightening! I’m a snob and a hermit.