We sort of wanted to end this solar circuit with a ten best list or two. But 2008 stands alone as the only year in history without ten best things in any category. Six at most. Worse, the ever-popular Ten Best Movies list proved impossible to compile because 2008 saw the release of not even the minimum of two good movies needed to make a list.
So, we must skip ahead to 2009, which has already given us the Best Movie of the Year:
The Best Movie of 2009 is Hotel for Dogs. The title refers to an animal refuge and is not, as you might have thought, yet another disparaging Islamic term for the United States. Hotel for Dogs will be available to the hoi polloi no sooner than January 16th. As one of those polloi, I haven’t been allowed in to any advance screenings, but I still declare it Best Movie of 2009 because I have faith in Thor.
That is, Thor Freudenthal, the Germanic director. Faith also in the leads, Emma Robert and Jake Austin, who, in their capacity as professional actors, pretend to be a couple of kids who rescue stray dogs and house them in an abandoned hotel. In the picture above, the white dog under the toe of the photographer’s right bicycle shoe is a rough-coated Jack Russell Terrier named Friday. The Beauceron under the left toe answers to the name Henry.
It’s sort of a shame 2009 peaked so earlier. The prospect of eleven months of inferior movies following Hotel for Dogs chills the heart. True, we can always fill our idle hours with the Joy of Reading, but the Best Book (adult fiction category) of 2009, Dog On It: a Chet and Bernie Mystery, by Spencer Quinn, will come out in February. That still leaves ten months of undistinguished entertainment. No escapism to ease our impending slide into barbarism. Maybe as society crumbles throughout the year and a new Dark Ages settles in and people reorganize their embattled lives around tribal leaders, there will arise a new breed of itinerant entertainer, wandering from armed camp to armed camp, bringing news in the form of rhymes, riddles and songs; bringing dance, juggling, acrobatics, much-needed merriment, and perhaps a little barter on the side. Maybe we will soon be offering you a list of the Ten Best Troubabours of 2009.
Dog on It, A Chet and Bernie Mystery By Spencer Quinn
(Atria Books, Hardcover, 305pp.)