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The 2007 Culture Awards

It was a year in which the culture industry faced striking stagehands, picketing writers, and the pesky little fact that unless you’re Kanye West it’s kind of impossible to sell records. Yet for cultural consumers it was hard not to feel blessed: There was a glorious new wing at the Met, George Clooney as a Manhattan lawyer, and the New York debut of Gustavo Dudamel. What’s more, we’re about to behold the rarest of all hopeful monsters in entertainment’s evolution: a brilliant film adaptation of a musical. Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, starring the other guy on our cover, opens December 21. To celebrate such bounty, we asked our critics to pick their top tens of 2007: Best Movie and Album, of course, but also Most Mathematical Use of Lentil Beans and to single out a few things that just weren’t up to snuff. Finally, we surveyed a wide range of culture types on such burning questions as Was Tony really whacked? Well, what do you think? Scorn (or high praise) of the opinions herein is most welcome.

Green roofs sprouted in the South Bronx, the Glass House opened wide, bus shelters got chic, Frank Gehry finally built something in New York, Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs kissed and made up (after a fashion), and a gauzy aluminum museum rose shimmering over the Bowery.
Matthew Barney walked around with a dog on his head, Kara Walker terrified, Richard Prince tanked, things looked up at the Whitney, and the Lower East Side came into its own. Meanwhile, as the sixth borough beckoned, the Met once again reminded us why it reigns supreme.
Roberto Bolaño became literature’s new patron saint, Joshua Ferris goosed cubicle culture, Michael Chabon compared many things to many other things, Edwidge Danticat delivered a memoir of shocking loss, and one writer made the novel’s survival seem inevitable.
Classical & Dance
Tristan was reinvented, Michiganders showed up to perform Steve Reich, Berlin seemed almost as interesting as New York, and a spirited 26-year-old Venezuelan woke everyone up.
Johnny Depp slashed throats and Javier Bardem got freaky with a cattle stun gun, Julie Christie astonished, rats mingled with Ayn Rand, and we came to an infinitely greater understanding of what can happen in the blink of an eye.
Radiohead rediscovered their instincts, Rihanna’s great summer hit was all about rain, LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire made it cool to be a geek, Jay-Z made it cool to be cool, Dan Deacon sounded like the Muppets on crack, and Björk somehow made a bad record with Timbaland.
Liev Schreiber was smoking onstage, Boyd Gaines played just about everyone, and ten Scotsmen in Brooklyn starred in the best drama yet about the Iraq war.
Angie Harmon renewed our faith in the cop show, Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver blew up the class divide, Queen Latifah doled out condoms, and Michael Keaton self-imploded. Rory Kennedy chastised our democracy, while Frederick Wiseman paid it uncommon attention. And Fred Thompson was one lousy president.
Culture Apocalypse 2008
If the past year in culture taught us anything, it’s that next year might totally suck. Every writer in Hollywood is on strike; the entertainment companies are mismanaging themselves into oblivion; and popular taste has declined to the point that Perez Hilton has a TV show and it’s okay to unironically enjoy Sanjaya Malakar. The editors of New York’s Vulture blog offer a preview of 2008.
Year End Matrix
Our deliberately oversimplified guide to the year in culture.
The Culturati Caucus
We polled 153 people—actors, musicians, museum directors, even a columnist or two—on what they loved, hated, and avoided in 2007. Think of this as a mini Oscars/Tonys/Grammys/Pulitzers. Or at least the Golden Globes.

The Best Comics in 2007
Dance Moments of the Year

Attend the Tale: Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd