Paul Wellman

With another year all but behind us and 2009 rearing its head in our collective direction, it seems like the perfect time to reflect upon all that ’08 had to offer. On the national scale, the past year has brought milestones of all kinds-a new president-elect, economic crises, innumerable technological and environmental discoveries. Closer to home, we Santa Barbarans have survived two devastating fires, turned out for an extremely important election, and watched our community ban together in ways many thought unimaginable. But retrospectives needn’t always be so serious and the value of entertainment should never be overlooked, which is why we’ve gathered our favorite (and most artistically inclined) staffers and contributors to dish on what made their 2008s so great.

The assignment was simple enough: compile a list of “Top Fives” of your choosing. Writers were allowed to create their own categories and give props to anything and everything they thought especially spectacular. The result was a laundry list of startling cinematic events, unforgettable concerts, and eye-opening works of visual art, all cherished for their own special quirks and exemplars of creative genius. And what did we learn? That we’re lucky to live in a town so small in mileage and so large in artistic might. We encourage you to read our picks, disagree wholeheartedly, and then think back and create your own. After all, what better time than now to resolve to see more movies, appreciate more paintings, and rock out at more live shows in ’09?

Aly Comingore – Associate Arts Editor (Pop & Rock, Film)

Best album: Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes

Best big deal concert: Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl [photo gallery of the concert]

Best under-the-radar concert: Beach House at Muddy Waters Cafe

Best trailers: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Best photo exhibit: Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation at SBMA

Brett Leigh Dicks – Contributing Writer

Best use of a vintage Gibson guitar: Devon Sproule at Stateside

Best children’s song about radiation sickness: Glen Phillips, “Solar Flare”

Best radio program to wake up to: KTYD’s Go to Hale Hour

Best documentary screening turned book-signing: Bill Carter’s Miss Sarajevo (film) and Fools Rush In (book) at Los Olivos Grange Hall and The Book Loft

Best live rendition of my favorite song (tie): Grant-Lee Phillips, “Honey Don’t Think” at SOhO; The Gin Club, “Drug Flowers” at Stateside

Charles Donelan- Arts Editor

Los Angeles Philharmonic
David Bazemore

Best orchestral concert: Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Granada

Best chamber concert: Christian Tetzlaff, Bach for Unaccompanied Violin at the Lobero Theatre

Best new classical music event: The Met Live in HD at Hahn Hall

Best jazz album: SFJAZZ Collective, Live 2008: 5th Annual Concert Tour: Original Compositions & Works by Wayne Shorter

Best world music album: Hector Zazou and Swara, In the House of Mirrors

Roger Durling – Executive Director, Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss delivered a splendid collection of duets and solos to a packed Bowl crowd last Wednesday.
Paul Wellman

Best place to see a movie: Arlington Theatre

Best popcorn: Riviera Theatre

Best film: The Dark Knight

Best concert: Alison Krauss and Robert Plant at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Best album: Robin Thicke, Something Else

Lisa Engelbrektson – Contributing Writer

Best dance album: Midnight Juggernauts, Dystopia

Pixar's WALL-E visually enchants and entertains.

Best film: WALL-E

Best novel: Armageddon in Retrospect, by Kurt Vonnegut

Best concert: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Best band reunion: My Bloody Valentine

Palmer Gibbs – Copy Chief

Best album: City and Colour, Bring Me Your Love

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk.

Best concert: Death Cab for Cutie at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Best film: Milk

Best interview: AFI’s Hunter Burgan on reunion tour with The Force

Best DVD release: Tootsie, 25th Anniversary Edition

Heather Jeno – Contributing Writer

David Byrne
Paul Wellman

Best concert with dancers: David Byrne at the Arlington Theatre

Best place to see art in an unconventional setting: Loop & Leaf

Best live recording of a radio show: Wait, Wait : Don’t Tell Me! at the Granada

Best performance art show: My Barbarian at the Contemporary Arts Forum

Best art gallery: Gallery Ocho

Matt Kettmann – Senior Editor

Best indoor concert: David Byrne at the Arlington Theatre

George Clinton
Paul Wellman

Best outdoor concert: Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Best film: Slumdog Millionaire

Best interview: George Clinton

Best paperback: Duck Duck Wally, by Gabe Rotter

D.J. Palladino – Contributing Writer

Best movie: In Bruges

Paul Wellman

Best CD: No Age, Nouns

Best concert: Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Best S.B. boy makes good appearance at a concert: Jeff Foskett (formerly of The Pranks) playing with Brian Wilson at the Lobero Theatre

Best local boy writes good: The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, by Pico Iyer

Elizabeth Schwyzer – Associate Arts Editor (Visual Art, Dance, Books & Lectures)

Eiko and Koma in "Mourning."
David Bazemore

Best book: The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, by Pico Iyer

Best dance performance: Eiko and Koma’s Mourning

Best classical music performance: Philip Glass: An Evening of Chamber Music

Best surprise indie rock visitation: Datarock at the Sandbar

Best Santa Barbara theater production: UCSB Theater and Dance Department in The Winter’s Tale, directed by Irwin Appel

Joe Woodard – Contributing Writer

Christian Tetzlaff
David Bazemore

Best cultural event: Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Best classical concert: Christian Tetzlaff, Bach for Unaccompanied Violin at the Lobero Theatre

Jazz show of the year: SFJAZZ Collective at the Lobero Theatre

Best film: Happy-Go-Lucky

Best TV moment: Kristin Wiig in SNL‘s “Virgania Horsen’s Pony Express”


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