Their Favorite Things

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.

Alex Timbers, Co-Creator, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Smart, funny, more kinetic than a movie has a right to be. The perfect pop valentine for a generation weaned on Nintendo and Weezer.

Jesse Eisenberg, Actor, The Social Network
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.The humor is fresh and cutting, and about halfway through, it becomes startling as the reality of its subversive history lesson sets in.

Edgar Wright, Director, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Eastbound & Down, which elicits explosive laughter from me in every episode. I feel like a naughty 12-year-old watching it.

The Gregory Brothers, Virtual Juggernauts, “Double Rainbow Song”
FX’s Louie. The show seamlessly blends Louis C.K.’s shockingly funny stand-up routines with poignant stories about real life. There’s no shame in being silly and sentimental.

Ariel Schulman, Director, Catfish
The double-rainbow saga on YouTube. Hungry Bear made it okay to publicly like rainbows and cry in front of the world. But it was the Gregory Brothers in Brooklyn who made it into a dance hit. They define modern-culture jamming.

Danny McBride, Actor, Eastbound & Down
The Thieves of Manhattan, by Adam Langer. It’s a tight, funny, Hitchcockian thriller set in the world of book publishing. It makes you think twice about faking your life story. Which is something I contemplate every day.

Carlton Cuse, Co-Creator, Lost
Danny McBride. He’s just phenomenal! I love his character on Eastbound & Down—he’s scurrilous and vile and utterly compelling, and violates all the tenets of what network execs tell you you can and can’t do with a character.

Ann Temkin, MoMA Curator, “Ab Ex New York”
William Kentridge’s production of The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera—an amazing experience of looking and listening.

Archie Panjabi, Actress, The Good Wife
Eastbound & Down. It’s ridiculously funny, and it’s not something I would expect to find funny.

Aaron Paul, Actor, Breaking Bad
The Walking Dead on AMC. Absolutely addicted to it. And the finale of Lost. Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and J. J. Abrams and the actors created a world that consumed me. Absolutely the end of an era.

Susan Stroman, Director and Choreographer, The Scottsboro Boys
“Abstract Expressionist New York” at MoMA. Artists like Rothko, de Kooning, Pollock, and Krasner were reinventing art and challenging the masters. One only hopes to be that brave and innovative with his or her own art form.

Adam Langer, Author, The Thieves of Manhattan
Craig Wright’s Mistakes Were Made at the Barrow Street Theatre—but from Chicago, where so much great New York theater starts—and featuring another incendiary performance by Michael Shannon.

Jon Hamm, Actor, Mad Men
I’m a big fan of that Cee Lo song. Can you even print the name of it?

Michael Shannon, Actor, Mistakes Were Made and Boardwalk Empire
One of my favorite bands, Pavement, had their reunion tour this year. They performed in Williamsburg, on the waterfront. A beautiful night: They played all my favorites.

Parker Posey, Actress
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling in BlueValentine. They are such emotionally intelligent actors. I hope more directors allow for this kind of intense collaboration. I wish I could’ve been a neighbor of theirs to snap them out of their destructive behavior. I could’ve brought over some herbal tea.

Laurie Holden, Actress, The Walking Dead
Cee Lo Green, “Fuck You” (a.k.a. “Forget You”). Loved the song, chuckled at the video, and enjoyed Gwyneth’s interpretation on Glee. She rocked it!

Nev Schulman, Star of Catfish
I was at the City Ballet when Sara Mearns did the last movement of The Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. She was magnificent; I was totally on the edge of my seat. And maybe in the last 36 counts, she rolled over her ankle and you knew she had hurt herself. But she finished as strongly as she started. It blew me away!

Fran Lebowitz, Famously Blocked Author, subject of Public Speaking
The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg. She is alive, or at least she was last week. I usually prefer writers who are dead. Chip McGrath wrote that William Trevor and Alice Munro are the two greatest short-story writers working in English right now, but in fact he is incorrect. The two greatest writers in English are Mavis Gallant and Deborah Eisenberg, and no one is even close. Gallant is very old and lives in Paris but writes in English. Eisenberg lives here and is not very old, but I don’t hold that against her. She is too good for her era, I can say that. This era avoids subtlety. They avoid complication. Even though these things are a lot of fun.

Additional reporting by Rebecca Milzoff, Elizabeth Goodman, Boris Kachka, Bennett Marcus, Diana Scholl, and Ashley Hoffman.

Their Favorite Things