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The Year in Culture

All that shimmered in 2006.

This year, when YouTube could broadcast the culture’s every laudable, laughable move, we were delighted to see the brilliant (Helen Mirren, Spike Lee, the cancellation of O.J.) make such a valiant stand against the despicable (“I mean, what if they had done it?”). And it’s in that celebratory spirit that we present the top ten things we loved—or were deeply, deeply in favor of—in movies and art, pop and classical, books and theater.

These lists, which go from the great (No. 10) to the greatest (No. 1), are as eclectic as they are impassioned. We found ourselves enthralled by Ryan Gosling and Maggie Gyllenhaal and Beyoncé (her record anyway), as well as by Sir Norman Foster, the “sound of swoosh,” and a book on mathematics and destiny. We also asked a few notable New Yorkers to tell us about their cultural high points, and we singled out people in the culture businesses who had exceptionally good years. We looked at what people will be saying about the Oscars race—and what you should say right back at them. And because the good rarely comes without the bad, we paid unloving tribute to a number of bona fide cultural stinkers. As for our own choices? Get ready to pounce.

Iraq docs, Maggie Gyllenhaal, highly addictive actors...

Carpetbaggers, Christine Ebersole, hip-hop Aeschylus...

Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Alison Bechdel, effective political novels...

Katrina doc, The Closer, Emmitt Smith...

Local gems the Hold Steady, Jay-Z's comeback, Sonic Youth rocks the free world...

Dada, a $135 million Klimt, still-charming Morgan Library...

Classical & Dance
Un-cheesy Kings of the Dance, Ainadamar, a "choice" Audra McDonald...

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, a Spike Lee box set, Criterion restorations...

Video Games
Wii versus PlayStation, Guitar Hero II, the new Legend of Zelda...

Year-End Mega-Matrix
Our deliberately oversimplified guide to 2006.

My Year in Culture
Frank Rich, Mary Louise Parker, Michael Stipe, Diane Von Furstenberg, Tom Wolfe, and others on what they loved (and a few things they hated).

Overheard: Culture Awards Edition
Snap opinions from New Yorkers flagged down at the multiplex and other venues.

Oscar-Season Chatter
What everyone will be saying about the Academy Awards—and what you should say in response.


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