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Their Favorite Things

We asked some of 2010’s culturati to pick what they loved most this year. Then we phoned the artists responsible, and so on, and so on, until we dead-ended. Then we started again.

Jonathan Ames, Creator, HBO’s Bored To Death
True Blood. I like all the characters that turn into dogs. Because I’d like to turn into a dog.

Joe Manganiello, Hot Werewolf, True Blood
Mad Men. If you don’t have a guttural, visceral response when you watch it, then you don’t have a pulse.

Matthew Weiner, Creator, AMC’s Mad Men
Jackass 3D. The ridiculousness and scatological antics made this homoerotic thriller the apex of a new technology. AndJust Kids by Patti Smith—poetically written and vividly remembered. She reminded me of the idealism of art.

Steve-O, Actor, Jackass 3D
Who Am I? Why Am I Here?, by Patricia Diane Cota-Robles. It’s about global-consciousness. It’s time to fix this world, and this is about that.

Patti Smith, Author, Just Kids
I was heartsick when the brilliant Vincent d’Onofrio was obliged to turn in his badge on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Luckily, I discovered the sister show Law & Order: SVU. Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni are another intense, human team.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Actor, Love & Other Drugs
“Sigh No More” by Mumford & Sons. Even in its sadness it’s life-affirming.

Marcus Mumford Musician, Mumford & Sons,“Sigh No More”
Winter’s Bone.Debra Granik directed it so beautifully. Everything about it was compelling and uncompromising. It was a film that knew exactly what it wanted to do and did it. The acting was amazing, and John Hawkes, in particular, was spellbinding.

John Hawkes, Actor, Winter’s Bone
Real Time With Bill Maher. It’s the only TV show I make an effort to watch. He welcomes smart people with opposing views, and that makes for a really rich back and forth. It’s the lamp in the cave for me.

Mary J. Blige, Singer, “Music Saved My Life” tour
The ballad “Can’t Be Friends,” by Trey Songz. The lyrics are so true.

Aaron Sorkin, Screenwriter, The Social Network
Jon Stewart’s closing speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity. A beautiful piece of writing and oratory that served as a desperately needed reminder that conflict, when used as a device, makes for good television and bad journalism.

Laura Benanti, Actress, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Modern Family. An absolutely phenomenal show—particularly Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who manages to be both hilarious and heartfelt.

Trey Songz, Singer-Songwriter, “Can’t Be Friends”
The Social Network. It’s a perfect representation of my generation and a reminder that anything that ever became great began in one mind. It made me feel like I need to—and can—be doing even more.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Actor, Modern Family
The Kids Are All Right. I loved the natural humor Julianne Moore and Annette Bening brought to their roles.

Charles Ferguson, Director, Inside Job
127 Hours is, on the one hand, a great depiction of ingenuity and courage under extreme pressure, and at the same time incredibly cool filmmaking and acting from James Franco. The first fifteen minutes of the film is the most beautiful rock video ever made.

Annette Bening, Actress, The Kids Are All Right
Please Give. I’ve been following the work of director Nicole Holofcener—her characters are so well drawn. And Oliver Platt was really sexy!

Oliver Platt, Actor, Please Give
Sufjan Stevens’s All Delighted People.He makes achingly beautiful music. The songs I really respond to are simple, like “The Owl and the Tanager,” which is haunting. Suffy is very private, and I like that. I’m really happy to find out about him through his music.

Gary Shteyngart, Author, Super Sad True Love Story
Inside Job.The real criminals aren’t on Facebook or the Intertube. They’re the cast of this documentary, one of the best I’ve seen. I think I have a man-crush on Eliot Spitzer.

Sufjan Stevens, Musician, All Delighted People
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present at MoMA.

Melissa Leo, Actress, The Fighter
I don’t have any favorite cultural moments because I live very much in a bubble of my work or my own creation. I don’t read books or newspapers or watch TV. I don’t like what’s going on in the real world, so I don’t pay attention to it.

Davis Guggenheim, Director, Waiting for “Superman”
The Fighter. That Batman guy [Christian Bale] is unbelievable. And oh my God, Melissa Leo is amazing!

Christina Hendricks, Actress, Mad Men
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. It was just sort of … an orgy of sensory overload. It was so unexpected—I’m still reeling from it.

Patricia Clarkson, Actress, Cairo Time
Fran Lebowitz is my hero of 2010. She articulated in a really elegant, eloquent, often hilarious way everything I think about politics, computers, and New York but am not smart enough to say.

Sara Mearns, Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet
Seeing Fran Lebowitz in the Martin Scorsese documentary Public Speaking. The film is 90 minutes of her witty, hilarious, sometimes brutal insights into herself and the world we live in.

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