Thursday, January 01, 2009

Annual Book and Movie Ratings

Here are my annual book and movie ratings. The ratings are based on five stars being the highest, with the occasional exceptional book and movie that makes me say, "Wow!" at the end getting five plus stars. The books are ones I have read or listened to this year, some of them for the second or third time. I read (or listened to) a record number of books this year, 61, which is really remarkable for me, considering how slowly I read. I can't account for it; several of the books were quite lengthy. Twenty-nine of the books were ones I listened to in the car, so maybe I traveled more this year. As you can see, all but six of the books were rated average (three stars) or above, so I did a good job of picking books to read this year. There was only one, Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, that I considered a complete waste of time. Thirty-seven of the books were fictional. Four were theological or religious.

I saw 44 movies. The movies are ones I have seen in theaters this year. They include several classics that were shown at our local classic film series.


Five Plus

A Bird in the House, Margaret Lawrence

Five Stars

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and other short stories, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
When the Emperor Was Divine, Julie Otsuka
Missing Mom, Joyce Carol Oates
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
The Innocent Man, John Grisham
Light in August, William Faulkner
Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Home, Marilynne Robinson
The Anatomy Lesson, Philip Roth
The White Album, Joan Didion
On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwen
Main Street, Sinclair Lewis

Four Stars

Grant and Lee: A Dual Biography, Gene Smith
Cider With Rosie, Laurie Lee
The Goldbug Variations, Richard Powers
A Writer's Life, Gay Talese
The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama
The Death of Ivan Ilyitch, Leo Tolstoy
Morality for Beautiful Girls, Alexander McCall
Against All Enemies, Richard A. Clarke
The Price of Loyalty, Ron Susskind
Tempting Faith, David Kuo
Truth and Beauty, Ann Patchett
What Happened, Scott McClelland
The Coldest Winter, David Halberstam
Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones
That Old Ace In A Hole, Annie Proulx
I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron
The Man Without Qualities (Part I), Robert Musil
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver
Miami, Joan Didion
Blue Diary, Alice Hoffman

Three Stars

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
New Land, New Lives, Janet Rasmussen
Casting the First Stone, Kimberla Lawson Roby
Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
Jane and the Man of the Cloth, Stepahnie Barron
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
Is It Okay to Call God Mother, Paul Smith
The Amish of Illinois' Heartland, Rebecca Mabry
Wiser in Battle, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez
State of Denial, Bob Woodward
Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare
Look Me In the Eye, John Robinson
Death Comes to the Archbishop, Willa Cather
Jungfrau and Other Short Stories, Caine Prize for African Writers
The River Between, Ngugi wa Thiong'i
Salvador, Joan Didion
Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Two Stars

The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder
Operation Wandering Soul, Richard Powers
Sideways, Rex Pickett
Personal Memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

One Star

The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren


Five Stars

No Country for Old Men
The Savages
Shotgun Stories
Romance and Cigarettes
The Visitor
Burn After Reading
The Big Lebowski

Four Stars

There Will Be Blood
The Treasure of Sierra Madre
Young At Heart
The Band's Visit
Vicki Christina Barcelona
Man On Wire
Hamlet 2
Righteous Kill
Train Man
Josee, The Tiger and the Fish
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Three Stars

What Would Jesus Buy?
The Great Debaters
The Bucket List
Citizen Kane
The Bunk Job
The Real Dirt on Farmer John
The Taste of Tea
The Secret Life of Bees
Slumdog Millionaire

Two Stars

Charlie Wilson's War
The Fall
Get Smart
Mama Mia
Tropic Thunder
Happy Go Lucky


Catch Her in the Wry said...

I hated The Shipping News. Too many sentence fragments. ;-)

Crockhead said...

Everyone is entitled to her opinions. (Even if they're wrong. ;-))

Crockhead said...

I would never be so presumptuous as to proclaim that my reaction to a book or movie is a standard to be used as an evaluation for any other person's taste in the universe. My opinions are my opinions, just as any critic at the New York Times has his or her own opinions. Mere mortals can make no absolute judgment on the merits of a work. Only God can make absolute judgments. In my opinion, Citizen Kane is not that great a movie, about on a par with The Bucket List, which also is not that great a movie.

Anonymous said...

How come Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem gets both three and five stars?

Lydia said...

Heh, I, too, loathed The Shipping News. Proulx's writing can be jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but she so loves to torture her characters. I adore some of her short stories, though!

On the other hand, you gave me the brilliant idea to read Light in August. How have I never read it before? *drops her old Bill Bryson like a hot potato*

Heh, and while I, too, might disagree with some of your ratings (I'd have given Religulous a 2 and There Will Be Blood a 5 - hey, opinions differ :D), I saw Slumdog Millionaire last night and Completely agree with your rating!

PS - Have I mentioned that your christmas letter was about the only one I Actively looked forward to? The recommendations were the best part! They lead me to hope that some day I could consume as much media! (unlikely, it turns out :D)

Debra Hope said...

I guess you didn't see Milk yet.

Crockhead said...

Anonymous, thanks for pointing out the mistake. I don't know what happened. Must have been a transcription mistake. So, I've corrected it.

Crockhead said...

PG, I didn't find John Howard Yoder hard to read, and I don't care about the scandals. I thought he makes simplistic assumptions, airily dismisses objections to his view, and takes almost a whole chapter from another work (although giving credit for it, that doesn't say much for original thought.) The seminal Mennonite theologian, in my opinion, is Gordon Kauffman.