2004: The best in entertainment

The books, the films, the soundtracks of Table Talk's year.

Published December 29, 2004 6:54PM (EST)

Keith Chaffee - 06:13 pm Pacific Time - Dec 6, 2004

Best novel I read this year was a kid's book from last year, Kate DiCamillo's "The Tale of Despereaux," a funny, romantic epic about a heroic mouse which would appeal to anyone who enjoyed "The Princess Bride."

Best novel meant for adults: John Searles' "Strange But True," which mixes thriller with domestic drama in unexpected ways, and never goes where you think it will.

The rest of my top 10 novels (in no particular order):

Steve Kluger, "Almost Like Being in Love"

Chris Bohjalian, "Before You Know Kindness"

Howard Frank Mosher, "Waiting for Teddy Williams"

Wayne Johnston, "Human Amusements"

David Sosnowski, "Vamped"

David Maine, "The Preservationist"

Joseph Finder, "Paranoia"

Julia Spencer-Fleming, "Out of the Deep I Cry"

Best nonfiction (and favorite book of the year): Mark Obmascik's "The Big Year," about three birders and their separate quests to break the North American record for most species seen in a calendar year.

Didn't read lots of nonfiction this year, but also liked Steve Almond's "Candyfreak."

Brian Stokle - 10:47 am Pacific Time - Dec 9, 2004

For indie films I'd back "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" with "Maria Full of Grace" close behind. For big movies "The Incredibles" had me smiling and gleeful all the way through. I have a soft spot for anything that is related to James Bond. "The Incredibles" paid great hommage to 007. Craig T. Nelson -- this guy needs more exposure.

DeLarme Landes - 11:01 am Pacific Time - Dec 9, 2004

"Maria Full of Grace" was one of the best movies of the year IMO. I really liked Cuaron's take on Harry Potter too -- I liked the darker tone and look -- although it suffers in comparison with the source material.

It seems to me that a lot of the best writing this year was for TV: I can't think of a film character as gleefully wicked as Al Swearingen (from HBO's "Deadwood").

Maneki Neko - 01:06 pm Pacific Time - Dec 21, 2004

My soundtrack this year, more or less: The Concretes, Camera Obscura, Modest Mouse, Lamb, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth (yep, this one actually was good), TV on the Radio, Mclusky, A.C. Newman, Tegan & Sara, Sons & Daughters, Neko Case, Elliott Smith, and of course those man-hating radical lesbian separatists, the Fiery Furnaces (although their second album wasn't anywhere near as good as the debut, which I still listen to a lot). Belle and Sebastian's "Your Cover's Blown" was probably my favorite song of the year. Scissor Sisters' cover of "Comfortably Numb" is pretty brilliant. The rest of their stuff, eh.

Pit Viper - 01:42 pm Pacific Time - Dec 22, 2004

Chip and Kim winning the "Amazing Race," and the kick-ass photography and all the great sites we got to see along the way. The Sphinx and the Pyramids at night, Russian folk dancing with vodka shots, Colin and his Ox, climbing the Sydney Harbor bridge. The "Sopranos" episode "Long Term Parking." I'm not sure I breathed for that hour. Rulon Gardner's final match at the Olympics, and all those athletes who went and maybe didn't medal, but did better than they ever expected to do. "Interpol Investigates." A geeky crime show about cases Interpol has solved, or not solved, such as the robbery at the Isabella Garner museum. The Formula One Speedvision announcing crew. Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett and David Hobbs are the best sports announcing team currently out there, for any sport. As boring as this season was (ugh, Ferrari), their commentary was hilarious, informative and just plain fun, and made me tune in week after week, even after the championship had been won well before the last race. Varsha had better write a book someday. I think he's announced everything, including volleyball, figure skating, boxing, horse racing and auto sports.

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