My Favorites from 2010
Ellie Goulding: The singer/songwriter is just now starting to make inroads in the US, but she's a big star in the UK with a string of fab pop tunes – "Under the Sheets," "Starry Eyed," a cover of "Your Song" – from a fantastic album called Lights.
Robyn: The Swede released three albums this year – Body Talk 1, 2 and 3 – containing sophisticated dance and pop music.
Tracey Thorn: Everything but the Girl remains on mothballs, but Tracey Thorn released her third solo album of melancholy music, Love and Its Opposite.
Laurie Anderson: Her long-awaited Homeland concept album – rife with politics and social concerns – is not only her best record in years, but one of the best of 2010.
Massive Attack: A brilliant return to form for the trip hop pioneers on Heligoland. The song "Paradise Circus" featuring vocals by Hope Sandoval is a new Massive Attack classic.
Adele: Her new record isn't out until February, but if the fabulous single "Rolling in the Deep" is any indication of the album as a whole, then it's going to be a huge hit.
Kylie Minogue: Despite boring videos and her inability to pick the right single, Kylie's Aphrodite album is full of great dance songs, especially "Get Outta May Way." The album kept me grooving through the UK, France and back to the US this summer.
True Grit: The Coen Brothers re-imagine the John Wayne classic with Oscar-worthy results. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon are great, but young Hailee Steinfeld is the real star.
White Material: Isabelle Huppert is superb in Claire Denis' tension-filled story of a coffee farmer in Africa who refuses to give up her land in the face of civil war.
The King's Speech: Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter give excellent performances, but the Oscar goes to Geoffrey Rush for his portrayal of the teacher who helped King George overcome is speech impediment.
Black Swan: Natalie Portman's acting, dancing and transformation is the real star of the movie, which makes the The Turning Point and The Red Shoes seem downright quaint.
The Kids Are Alright: Annette Benning and Julianne Moore as lesbian parnters whose lives are rocked when their precocious kids seek out their sperm donor father.
Ashes to Ashes: The final season of the UK series wrapped up with a stunning, emotional storyline that was head and shoulders above anything else on television this year. Although you knew Detective Alex Drake was probably dead, the revelation about DCI Gene Hunt and his motivations in this series and its predecessor Life On Mars were mind-boggling and brilliant.
Doctor Who: My fear that the show would slip with David Tennant's departure were unfounded, because Matt Smith is a great Doctor.
Fringe: If The X-Files had kept up this kind of writing, acting and tension, it would have probably gone on for a few more seasons. Fringe's premise of invasion by a parallel Earth – where JFK was not assassinated and the World Trade Center still stands in New York – is one of the best sci-fi twists ever.
Glee: I'm not a fan of musicals, but the clever writing, song choice and acting (especially Jane Lynch an Chris Colfer) has made this must-see TV.
Earthquake Came to Harlem: Poems by Jackie Sheeler: Her second full-length poetry collection, Earthquake Came to Harlem, is raw, gritty and a harrowing journey through abuse, heartbreak and post-millennium tension.
Inheritance: Poems by Steven Reigns: Like Jackie Sheeler's collection, the poems in Reigns' Inheritance follow a dark trajectory of a young gay man coming of age during the AIDS crisis.
By Nightfall: A Novel by Michael Cunningham: No, it's not as good as The Hours, but this tale of a New York art dealer's midlife crisis and exploration of his sexuality is sensually written in Cunningham's unmistakable prose.
Tinkers: A Novel by Paul Harding: Released in 2009, this little book rocked the literary world when it unexpectedly won the Pulitzer Prize. The writing is sublime and the story of three men coming to terms with fatherhood, responsibility and death is simply beautiful.
The Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood: Atwood goes sci-fi again in this sequel to Oryx & Crake, which sees Earth transformed into a dystopian nightmare after a string of environmental disasters.