“And what a decade it was”

From Alex X.:

With the decade coming to a close, I would be curious on everyone’s favorite of the decade [gives list of categories]:

Without too much pondering, here is what comes to mind right away:

Film: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, or A Touch of Sin.  Might Winter Sleep by next?  It was probably the best decade ever for foreign movies, the worst decade ever for Hollywood movies (NYT).

Blockbuster/action film: Transformers 4?  Big screen only, live or die by CGI!

Album: Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Single: I don’t see an obvious, non-derivative pick here that really stands out.  Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” probably is the mainstream choice, but do I ever go over to the stereo to put it on?  Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel” is another option, but is it such a big step beyond Prince?  Lorde or Beyonce?  LCD Soundsystem seems more about the entire album, same for Frank Ocean.  Something from Kanye’s Yeezus?  To pull a dark horse option out of the hat, how about Gillian Welch, “The Way It Goes“?  Or Death Grips “Giving Bad People Good Ideas“?  I’ve spent enough time on Twitter that I have to opt for that one.

TV Show: Srugim, Borgen, The Americans.

Single Season: Selections from same, you know which seasons.

Book Fiction: The Ferrante quadrology and Houllebecq’s Submission.

Book Non Fiction: Knausgaard, volumes I and II.

Athlete of the Decade: Stephen Curry or Lebron James.

What are your picks?


Athlete: Simone Biles.


Lebron and Steph are both great. But come on the best player ever in *by far* the world's biggest sport (Messi) should be an easy choice.

Funny that the sport of socialists is football/soccer but Messi is paid almost 100M in salary while the NBA from capitalist America has a salary cap which limits Lebron to a relatively paltry 36M. Basketball has a more grueling schedule too. 82 games without playoffs! Lebron makes more in endorsements though.


Funny that people still say things like this. Apart from the capitalist salaries and buying and selling of players the socialist football leagues relegate the bottom three teams every season while the capitalist american leagues reward the worst performers to the point where tanking is a serious thing.

Relegation is a nice idea, but are you really getting the balance and big competitive effort at the low end of the league that is supposed to be its justification? Or are you just getting low-end clubs with no hope of competing flitting in and out of existence? The actual outcome doesn't look too different from the baseball outcome, with the top spending clubs mostly being the top winning clubs.

I read the post and it looked like a bunch of foreign words connected by English words. For example what is: "Srugim, Borgen, The Americans."? It said TV shows, so is Srugim a TV show? I did recognize "Lebron James" the asshole who disrespects our flag. Then there was: "Selections from same, you know which seasons." What does that mean? Summer Fall Winter Spring?? What? Then there was "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives". WTF is that? is it a movie? Never heard of it or the other one on the same line. Seriously are any of these things relevant?

Srugim is an Israeli TV show and I'm shocked that he thinks it's the best of the decade, up there with "The Americans." I thought it was sort of hokey and trashy, despite loving every minute of it b/c it was about my life.

Leicester City won the premier league 1 year after being promoted.

Relegated teams face a huge financial penalty for being relegated, there is fierce competition, people really care and (this is significant) the teams actually try to win.

In America teams try to tank to be rewarded...

Actually, there is nomreason to believe Señor Messi is the best of all time. He never won anything for the Argentinian team. Compare and contrast with real aces such as Pelé, Neymar, Ronaldo, Romário Friedenreich and even Maradona.

Also, the discussion is about sports, and he plays Third World Kickball.

Actually, football (soccer) is played in many rich countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Denmark among many, many others. Football is not like kickball at all. Quite the opposite: football is a subtle game and relies in the best faculties of human soul. Football is a school of honor, courage, cicism and public spirit.

Futbol has the worst dives in the history of all sports. The amount of acting is Oscar worthy. Scorsese will tell you it's cinema.

There is some exaggeration, I am sure, but the average player is honorable and truthful.

if the dives are the worst why would they get an Oscar?

Evidently, there may be a few rotten apples here and there, but the essential gentlemanly character of the average football fan is pretty unassailable.

The reason Messi did so well for a club is that he is an amplifier of the talent around him, and he spent his entire career in one of the most talented teams we've ever seen. If your requirement is to make a team win regardless of their quality, even Cristiano is better, but then you will never pick anyone that wasn't wearing a number 9 or 10 in their shirt.

What really happened in soccer is that international teams got so much better since the time of Maradona, El Pelusa's Argentina would look foolish vs, say, the winning teams from Spain or Germany. Both teams would improve with Maradona in them, but his World Cup winning team would not be favored if they played against Spain's 2010 benchwarmers.

Spain and Germany are not favored by the hand of God.

That is my point. Messi is a great team player, but not the greatest player by far.

Pele. Laughable. Quantity is not quality. Brazil has only produced second (top) tier players: Pele, Garrincha, Zico, Socrates, Ronaldo, Neymar.

Argentina has produced two top tier greats, Maradona and Messi.

You lie, boy. Pelé won three World Cups and score more than 1,000 goals. He was elected the Century Sportsman!! Brazil has produced more first tier football players than all the rest of the world put together!

Messi scored 71% more goals than the second placed scorer in la liga and also jointly led the league in assists.

lol Ronaldo the famously unselfish team player toiling away at minnows like Man U, Real Madrid and Juventus...

The world's biggest sport doesn't have the best athletes. They tend to be undersized men running in those fields. Rugby or American football has better athletes. Lebron is easily 10 times the athlete as Messi.

If LeBron's evil twin suddenly appeared tomorrow and it was established that he was exactly the same height, was as strong, fast and could jump as high but lacked the coordination and could only shoot 5% from the field, would he still be as good an athlete as non-evil LeBron?

Football (soccer) is about the old ideal of "Mens sana in corpore sano". It is about skill, intelligence, shrewdness and nobleness.

During his NBA basketball career Michael Jordan was considered by many to be the world's best athlete. As a minor-league baseball player for the Birmingham Barons in the Southern League he was a tall, skinny right-fielder with a weak throwing arm who couldn't hit.

I don't see how people can look at Jordan and Tebow, who spent, what, months practicing another sport and proceeded to play acceptably as a high-level minor pro and think that's not evidence of how awesome they are as athletes and how little this whole practice thing really matters.

Not that they were "great" baseball players or that they deserved more of a look than they got, it's just that most people don't realize how rarefied that level of competition really is.

His accomplishment in baseball was actually extraordinary


Soccer is kind of like ping-pong. It's impressive in some sense, but it's hard to call it "athletic."

Still, it's so popular in poor parts of the world that you kind of have to include it. It is filtering on a very large population of potential athletes.

There's a weak argument for Lebron as an athlete, but not Curry, who mostly benefited from strategic thinking in a sport where that's historically not been considered important. Also, basketball has such a "skinny and tall" filter that it's throwing away a large fraction of the athletic population. Football or rugby are better bets for finding all-around athletes.

If you want to accept sports that come with prominent physical filters I throw out Louis Hamilton as a candidate for best athlete. If you really want to take a flyer, consider Brian Shaw.

Ugg, I have to suggest looking to Crossfit, too.

People who think football is like ping pong or not athletic are clueless.

This is why the participants in high-level soccer look like middle-distance runners and not like athletes. I don't see how this is a counterargument.

I feel like that response was too inflammatory.

I’ll put it more softly. Drop Messi in almost any other sport and he’d struggle to compete with high school kids. Do the same with JJ Watt and he’d dominate. Lebron is perhaps too tall for this to work so well, but still, he’d be in the ballpark.

Messi is susceptible to the same critique as Hamilton, who is probably the most statistically dominant athlete of the decade. He's just too specialized, and specialized in something that doesn't match traditional measures of athleticism well. To be sure, he's really good at it, but that doesn't seem like enough.

So the guy would dominate (I assume you mean high school kids) in gymnastics (goodbye Simone Biles!), basketball, tennis, golf, association football?

Gymnastics would be an issue. But how much prep do you think he'd need for anything else on your list? He'd be the fastest, strongest, best coordinated guy in any collection of 18u people. I'm not putting forward Watt as athlete of the decade, I'm just saying that some measure of roundedness seems important.

Messi couldn't do it though, right? With the exception of soccer. He's tiny and lacks any upper body. We have no evidence he has hands. If you saw him on the beach, you'd never suspect he was a professional athlete.

Had to look up JJ Watt. He's unknown outside the US.

Europe and the rest of the world have plenty of huge fit men as well. The interesting thing about football is that these sorts of men don't feature at the top level, the parochial view of some Anglo Saxons that their X would be better at football flies in the face of easily ponderable statistics. Skill is far more important.

Film: Mad Max: Fury Road
Album: They still make these?
Single: They still make singles?
TV Show: Now I know you are pulling my leg. I'm going to write "Bethesda walk around and stab/shoot things" here. As if people still watch TV!
Single Season: Not quite yet, but with just a bit more warming here we will have a single season.
Book Fiction: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
TV Show: Wait! Wait! Years ago there was this American show called Rick and Morty. It was great! Was that this century?
Book Satire: The Year of The Angry Rabbit. It was published in 1964 but it was so ahead of its time I'm putting it here.

Wikipedia: "Oryx and Crake is a 2003 novel". Long decade!

Oh. Well. I read it this decade. Does that count.

It's OK. The 2010's are just arriving in your time zone.

I watched Fury Road & Road Warrior the same weekend with my son. Thereby convinced myself - although not the younger generation - that Road Warrior was far superior

Hope you watched the Road Warrior with its original Australian soundtrack.

I hope the subtext wasn't too obvious. The bad guys, who represent barbarism and the destruction of civilization, want to burn the juice to keep their violent rampage going while the good guys want to protect the juice to rebuild civilization. The most powerful fighter, the Road Warrior, at first doesn't care about the fate of the juice and is only interested in trade. But then, after a devastating surprise attack, the Road Warrior destroys the bad guys with a massive war machine and saves the juice, even though his main motivation was the destruction of his enemies.

Funny. The categories do suggest someone a little out of touch. Someone who formed their tastes in 1982.

My vote for best single season is "Fall/Autumn."

Non-fiction: Carrere's The Kingdom, Patrick Phillips' Blood at the Root, Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Fiction: Narrow Road to the Deep North, Season of Crimson Blossoms, maybe His Bloody Project
Best short story collection: Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others (I mean, golems as AI...)
TV: many of the first seasons of Netflix's Marvel Shows, The Leftovers, The Good Place
Documentary series: Making a Murderer; Wild, Wild Country; Ken Burns Vietnam series
Athlete: Tom Brady, that guy who ran the 2-hour marathon, is there someone dominant in cricket (if so, he should probably be on the list)
Blockbuster: Inception

President: Trump

Sure -- but he'll be even better next decade.

Athlete: Lewis Hamilton. In a different zone than his competitors.
Album: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Great album.
Tv show. Don't watch.

I'm a big fan of F-1, and Hamilton dominates it like no other driver. For those who might claim that driving a car is not being an athlete, the G- forces on the driver in F-1 require the drivers to be in top shape. That helps explain why they are in such great physical condition; they are small because the cockpit is small. As for bravery, driving over 200 mph on a narrow road with sharp turns and with other cars within inches, well, I wouldn't do it. Are F-1 drivers the world's greatest athletes? My vote is for road cyclists (the Tour de France, etc.), a sport not so popular here (the Tour of California was cancelled for 2020 for lack of sponsors). Then again, F-1 isn't so popular here either. That might be because the two top teams are Mercedes (Hamilton drives for Mercedes) and Ferrari. By the way, Hamilton is mixed-race: his mother is white British, his father black British. [An aside, F-1 is an international sport, with races all over the world. That hasn't diminished the popularity of the sport in Europe where F-1 had its genesis. It remains to be seen whether the NBA can maintain its popularity in the U.S. as the league expands globally. I have my doubts.]

Racing is not a sport. Neither is bull fighting. They are both games. Sorry Ernest Hemingway!

+1 for Hamilton. Has another sport seen that kind of dominance? And it's a big, high-dollar sport and not something obscure.

I think Usain Bolt just misses the decade.

Not Hamilton. Formula 1 is not an equal playing field as so much depends on your car/team.
Plus nico rosberg having the same car and team as hamilton beat hamilton in 2016!

Ferrari has had a better car the last two years and still Hamilton prevailed.

A lot of luck was involved in Rosberg's victory: https://www.skysports.com/f1/news/24181/10604387/f1-2016-just-how-unlucky-has-lewis-hamilton-been-this-season

How about non-fiction, non-biographical book? Knausgaard is in the same genre as Ferrante to me.

Love your site - will share our uncommon viewpoints.

Film/Action Film: We no longer watch movies.

Album/Single(s): Nothing mainstream - but have always loved Beck and Radiohead. Also discovered a phenomenal band from overseas De Staat. Refreshing as heck.

Television: No TV whatsoever for a decade.

Books (all non-fiction): Collected Letters of Alan Watts (incredible insight into a brilliant man). Plus, I discovered Robert Anton Wilson... on my third book now. We like reading people who were "shunned" overall. Good stuff.

Athlete: We also don't participate (passively) in any commercial sport anymore. "Bread and Circuses!"

Just throwing our viewpoint out there.

The irony of arrogantly dismissing all of sport and two separate art forms, then saying that Beck and Radiohead, of all bands, some of the most popular alternative rock celebrities ever, are ‘not mainstream.’ The lack of self-awareness is astonishing.

It’s what makes the MR comment section so good!!

I enjoyed the royal pronoun.

Hoboken411 is obviously stuck in a NJ cultural bubble feeding on old tapes of WFMU.

Notwithstanding the few exceptions, this is a list of favorite things in America. The title should say so.

Athletes of the Decade: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Yes. I know Tyler loves the NBA but this should still be the obvious call

It's hard to pick a soccer player as athlete of the decade.

If you're going to pick "that kind of sport" you probably need to go with Louis Hamilton, as others have mentioned up-thread.

I guess I'd argue that the athlete of the decade shouldn't be someone I could beat in a fistfight.

This, by far, the best way to convince all of us you couldn't win a fight with anyone.

I'm not sure I understand. Messi is the size of a child.

I think Mr. Neymar is a much superior athlete, who won the greatest titles (Olympic Games, South American Cup, Champions League, etc.).

I dont see how stephen curry is more "athletic" than cristiano ronaldo

Could not relate with any of the guy's picks, but this: "Death Grips - Giving Bad People Good Ideas" - YouTube video demonstrates a common problem with modern shoes: despite the faux stitches, the uppers are glued to the lower soles, and if you don't wear the shoe for a while, it becomes unglued due to lack of use. Very common problem, just had an expensive Kenneth Cole shoe fall apart like that since I hadn't worn them in a year. Now I'm stuck with a old Reebok tennis shoe that also had the lower part drop off, but, due to superior design, it's actually still water proof and usable, it just doesn't have a tread. Sorry if you read this and think I don't have a soul. I do, it's just that I don't watch TV and am too busy doing stuff that interests me, rather than following trends in pop culture like most of you. And making money. Just made about $600k in a month improving my real estate here in GR. Spent $100k, worth it.

Ooh! Ooh! Buy a Tesla! They're really cool! American made as well!

Welcome back! Now we're just missing Msgkings!

Roy - is the hot humid climate in that part of Asia that does the damage to shoes. Same shoes that fell apart after a year in Indonesia lasts decades in Europe. I had a pair of expensive ski boots do this as well. I guess the epoxy glue is only rated for a certain temperature. If you go up a price band though you can get stitched soles, which last forever as well regardless of the climate.

@ChrisA - I'll try and remember to go up a notch in price next time, though the shoes in question were stored for several years in a basement in Washington DC not the tropics. However, it's true in the tropics everything rots fast; all paper books, concrete, even people (over 60 is like over 80 in the West). Ah, youth!

Fiction: Trump Dossier and Mueller Report. It's a toss up.

I mean do I look like a guy that needs to pay for women?

You sound like a guy who needs to pay to have his mouth wired shut.

At this point it's really the most cost effective thing you could do.

Will there be a debate among the digitally assembled regarding the supremacy of Kanye West's, um, artistry? Didn't think so. Does Tyler really listen to him, or is this just more of that anti rationalist (in the Scott Alexander/slatestarcodex sense of the term 'rationalist') wherein he gives up, what was it? 10% of his thought to 'irrational' agreement with the herd? Didn't even know albums were still a thing. Also...love the NBA but gotta give it up for Messi, though even in remote African villages they now know Lebron, which wasn't true a decade ago. If they had actual hoops, netless or whatever, to play with, as opposed to dusty fields this might be close. But they don't so it isn't. Houellebecq's best book is the one choice I go along with here...

Single: Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars. That will stick around for a long time, it is catchy as all hell.
Album: Agreed, that is Kanye West at his finest.
Athlete: Tyson Fury. What a story and it's not over yet. Long Live the Gypsy King!

We can look at the full quote of course - https://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/murray-n-rothbard/mafia-movies/

"The key to The Godfathers and to success in the Mafia genre is the realization and dramatic portrayal of the fact that the Mafia, although leading a life outside the law, is, at its best, simply entrepreneurs and businessmen supplying the consumers with goods and services of which they have been unaccountably deprived by a Puritan WASP culture ... Organized crime is essentially anarcho-capitalist, a productive industry struggling to govern itself; apart from attempts to monopolize and injure competitors, it is productive and non-aggressive. Unorganized, or street, crime, in contrast, is random, punkish, viciously aggressive against the innocent, and has no redeeming social feature"

Which is, like many things Libertarian, fairly close to what mainstream left-liberals think on organized crime; economically rational, even brilliantly intelligent, individuals forced by racist structures into a black market economy which itself is created by irrational social conservatism (or if not forced by racism, by some equivalent oppression). Though they would diverge from Rothbard on disorganized crime (even the street thugs are misunderstood heroes, to them).

In a pop culture reference, memorably articulated as a defense of her father's business by Meadow Soprano, the Woke (for the 2000s) daughter of one of TV's great bad men (as much as for many left-liberals, his depravities never seemed to register much until he was racist to her daughter's mixed-race boyfriend), and a member of the core cast for a TV show that did a decent job of melding the business-like and clown-bully-psychotic-like aspects of the mafia (or the Godfather vs Goodfellas).

Marxists could probably of course also accede to this economically driven view of organized crime, with organized criminals as agents with a fundamentally capitalistic motive. The only ones who would clearly have dissented to all this Derp are probably old school paleo-conservatives...

(Also prior, were you so impressed with that exact wording good you copy-pasted it from this person's tweet- https://twitter.com/raylehmann/status/1161279554863976448 ?)

The term "black market economy" is racist.

+1 for slight humor, if you hyphenate "black-market", maybe it won't sound so egregious ;-)

Films: Only Lovers Left Alive, Baby Driver, The Wolf of Wall Street, Drive. Agree with Mad Max mentioned above. That's cinema =)

Best foreign and action films: The Raid, The Raid 2

Animation/TV Show: Attack on Titan

Music: on this decade I fell for stoner & psych rock. So, Album: All Them Witches - Dying Surfer Meets his Maker, https://youtu.be/Vc6boofkkM8 Albums : Steven Wilson - The Raven that Refused to Sing, Grace for Drowning, Hand. Cannot . Erase, To The bone. Single/Oddity/YouTube : https://youtu.be/w-iBgr-4EfI Barro tal vez - Cande Buasso & Paulo Carrizo

Book : Nellie Campobello - Cartucho. The book is not new, first published on 1931 and read it like 3 or 4 years ago. Violence makes sense now, it has always been there.

Book non-fiction: W. Dreybrodt, F. Gabrovsek, D. Romanov - Processes or Speleogenesis. I made my PhD in hydrogeology from 2012-2016. This book was my guide into the unknown =)

Athlete : it should be clear by now that I love cars. Lewis Hamilton comes to mind, or Alex Zanardi? Being a fan of him since the Indy years, his unbreakeable spirit, para-lympic golds, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters... https://youtu.be/SJOp0pfEuXI I'm driving an M4 now, not a MB, Zanardi won =)


Half the posts from Tyler are scientific or newspaper articles, we discuss all the time about them, can we show a bit of appreciation?

- Scientific research : the findings about how the Jet Stream is slowing down in response to a faster warming of the North Pole. A brief explanation here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/weather/reference/jet-stream/

- Journalism (article/coverage) : a) NYT investigation by David Barstow of Walmart corruption in Mexico, b) WSJ investigation by John Carreyrou of Elizabeth Holmes fraud with Theranos.
A final category for the people that think that truth is more important than their lives:

- Whistleblower of the decade : Hervé Falciani blowing the whistle on all the sh*t of HSBC in Genève. He was judged in absentia in the freedom -loving Switzerland on 2014 for violating bank secrecy laws.

Boonmee? Srugim? Curry? who are these people. I seem to have missed this decade.

I'm with you here. Other than seeing one or two names in news headlines, I have no idea - who or what...
I did buy "Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott's" DVD about 8 years ago but it was released in 2008.

What a horrible list! Nothing here gets me even remotely excited and most I didn't even know. They're all so serious as well. Wheres the fun? Will anybody care about any of these in 20 years? Knausgaard maybe? I'm more cinvinced than ever we're living in a cultural wasteland at the moment. Don't see it getting better either in the 2020s.

Film: Incendies.
Blockbuster/action film: The Shape of Water.
Album: Stupeflip, Stup Virus.
Single: Trombone shorty, Neph.
TV Show: Community (technically started late 2009).
Single Season: ?
Book Fiction: Foenkinos, La Delicatesse (2009 again).
Book Non Fiction: Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence.
Athlete of the Decade: ?

Book Non Fiction: The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World, by David Deutsch.

A great book indeed. Certainly overlooked.

No mention of Magnus Carlsen? Best chess player in history, where else did we see a best of history this decade?

Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps come to mind immediately, both extremely dominant.

What about Lance Armstrong, best con-job in sports history?

Athletes: Adam Ondra, Siya Kolisi

TV Series: Broadchurch, Luther, Sherlock

But not Alex Honnold?


Yep. Didn't think of him at first, but that's so obviously the right answer. Free Solo also belongs in my favorite film list. That said -- don't ever do that again (Honnold or anybody else).

Film : Melancholia , The Tree of Life , Blue / Adèle (Kechiche) , P'tit Quinquin , A Touch of Sin (Zhanke), Cosmopolis (Cronenberg), Inherent Vice .

Athlete: Usain Bolt

TV Series: Fauda. A French Village. Babylon Berlin. Borgen and The Americans also rightly on this list.

Tyler - The Americans was good first season, but then rapidly dropped off, basically into the trope of ballsy chick beating up much bigger men, along with incredibly drawn out story lines.

Andy Weir's The Martian must be the book of the decade, again not my favorite, but self published on the internet capturing the zeitgeist of the decade. For non-fiction - Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach.

Like others above - Mad Max: Fury Road has to be up there for blockbuster. But how about Black Panther or Django for a film that aptly sums up the obsessions of this decade at least in the US?

Best single - it has to be Rolling in the Deep by Adele, again not my favorite, but it must be the most played and listened to.

Breaking bad was surely the TV show of the decade, even though it started in 2008, it continued and had its strongest seasons post 2010. If that is not allowed, then I am going for the BBC Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell for fiction and Planet Earth 2 as non-fiction.

On music, since this is the decade of Youtube (will there be a second decade I wonder) we have to select Justin Bieber. Yes I hate him too, just that he will be the act remembered that made it big this decade.

+1, some excellent answers. Even if one is not a fan of Adele (I never really go out of my way to listen to her), hearing her perform on live radio in the Netherlands in this video here has to convince anyone that she's an incredible talent. To add a bit of my own miscellany:

TV: Worth mentioning are True Detective, season 1 only, and even then in many ways it's better without the last episode-and-a-half or so. Game of Thrones 2-4 is also very solid stuff. Still, gonna have to give it to Breaking Bad.

For film, I'm going to come out of left field with Jagten. For action/blockbuster specifically, I'm going with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol for being what the modern Bond films should have been.

Thanks for the video link. Very bracing and something of an implicit judgment in itself, on so much of what is praised, though I too have never much liked Adele's other singles since.

Yep for strongest single season hard to beat True Detective season 1.

The Martian was certainly the most memorable book of the decade. And it's grass roots origin story is very contemporary.

If grassroots origin is the criteria, then Fifty Shades of Grey certainly beats out The Martian.

Ha! I'd argue it shouldn't be the _only_ criteria.

Haha. Certainly true. I always get a chuckle when I remember 50 Shades started as fanfiction based on the Twilight book series.

Single: No way is it Rolling in the Deep, Uptown Funk absolutely blows that out the water in terms of listens, sales, and frequency it is still heard. When was the last time you heard Rolling in the Deep on the radio or in a club? I would also say Shape of You by Ed Sheeran would smash it in sales and listens as well.

Artist of the decade wouldn't be Justin Bieber either, although he would be a contender I think it would have to go to Ed Sheeran as well.

I won't lie. The idea of hard Stalinist Corbyn rising to power scares me. Will the Kingdom fall under the jackboots of a new NKVD made more sinister, and perhaps more powerful, by the lights of perverted science?

Film: Interstellar, Arrival, Hell or High Water

TV show: The Americans

Single season: Fargo, Season 2

Fiction: Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Nonfiction: Ian Toll’s WW2 trilogy

And thank you Tyler for your list

Fiction: Sally Rooney, author of Conversations with Friends (2017) and Normal People (2018), is the talk of the book world. She is Irish in her late 20s. Cowen had a favorable blog post about her. Her books and short stories supposedly speak to her generation. Are millennials that different from my generation? Here's what I think: Ms. Rooney was an accomplished debater before she became an award winning writer. I have watched several of her interviews. It shows. She is captivating as a speaker. Is her popularity as a writer a function of her skills as a speaker? She does have an interesting style. For example, she doesn't use quotation marks in dialogue. It's not always clear where the conversation ends and the inner voice begins. Anyway, I am not a literary critic, and I do find her to be highly impressive in interviews. Is it possible for a book of fiction to be the best over a decade, with so many speaking to different generations?

Books : Lovely, Dark, Deep Stories (JC Oates) , The Testament (M Atwood), Dear Life (A Munro), Quichotte (Rushdie)

TV: Breaking Bad

Memoir/Autobiographical : Knausgaard NO! NO NO! South and West (Joan Didion 2011 , unpublished essays from the 70s)

The relentless and pointless ranking of everything. It's quite juvenile.

Tyler has a lot of time to fill between binges at the strip mall Schichuan restaurant.

No, it is not. "And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

Also, it's symptomatic of persons whose life experiences contain over-many hours with their noses jammed in text books and/or web surfing from their mothers' basements.

I felt my gorge rising with the music recs - should music not be even remotely memorable in the echo, the singing, the possible transmission outside of the recording studio? - as I knew the links would be to poetry slam stuff, however hard to do: on a first pass it's Eddie Murphy's "C-I-L-L My Landlord" but unfunny, obviously, with bigger words and brand names.

But my music guru isn't home to explain* why Kanye and Lamar stand out - I'm sure they do, if I'm much less sure their genre does. I'll leave the foregoing paragraph though as a window into the mind of a Philistine.

Then the vexed feeling turned to admiration, not of T.C.'s choices, which may well be duds, but of his bravery in wishing to so thoroughly immerse himself in what's out there ... because for me the happy receptivity of youth has been replaced by intimidation at the muchly-much of it, not to mention the vaguely-contaminating "nasty things are so much nicer than nice ones" spirit that predominates. There is not unlimited time now ...

I considered simply noting the precisely five TV series we have binge-watched in the last ten years: my beloved Justified, Homeland, The Americans, most recently Billions, and some of "Documentary Now" before a free subscription ran out, in proud middlebrow defiance of the rules of this game, but then was seized by an urge to speed-consume everything mentioned on this page.

So, in the last half hour, I tried to listen to Kendrick Lamar but abandoned it and read some lyrics, ditto Kanye and a performance called "Dark Fantasy"; enjoyed Adele's total control of her material; listened to the Gillian Welch song and didn't hear in it what Tyler did, wondered if he chose a weak country-bluegrass song on purpose; smiled hard at four or five scenes of something called "Rick and Morty", proposed, in earnest or in jest I do not know, by a commenter above, particularly "Let's Get Schwifty," but felt content with that amount of exposure; skimmed the Herve Falciani wikipedia entry; also, absurdly sticking with text as faster, the entry on the movie "Uncle Boonmee", was intrigued but also a little worried about whether I would have the attention to sit long enough for it, lazily decided it was best not to seek it at the library and put that to the test; first skipped and then watched some of, the second time it appeared, Joyce Carol Oates' "Masterclass" youtube ad that popped up while I was trying to gain this cultural education the quck-and-dirty way; then raised a puzzled eyebrow at one of the commenters really liking her story collection, glanced at the Amazon reviews, opened another browser to read free the negative NYT review referenced therein; wished briefly to hear the story "that will give you chills," but knew I probably never would; thought about rising to rayward's bait and checking out Sally Rooney's speaking style ... and gave up.

Does no one else feel a certain self-protective desire to shield oneself from the onslaught? Retreat into one's little monastic mind? Or at most judiciously bear away one little nugget only? For me: probably Boonmee.


Most popular culture these days is hot garbage. So yes, I pretty much agree with you, but I'm more judgmental about it. My attitude is that if people quite consuming junk, maybe content producers would reward us with something better? But instead we get aging academics trying to stay hip by expressing their admiration for talentless morons like Kendrick Lamar.

"... but I'm more judgmental about it."

Oh, I'm plenty judgmental. So relentlessly judgmental that I start and end by judging my own judgment. Anyway, where something like TV is concerned, all I am trying to do is curate an occasional evening's entertainment for my husband (who in these 27 years of marriage I have never observed to turn on a television), to take his mind off work for awhile. I just remembered how much we enjoyed "American Vandal" (which someone on MR led me to, I'm pretty sure, you know who you are) ... so admittedly neither "challenging" nor "edifying" ever enters into my TV selections.

As a preface, I'm going to say that the purpose of creating lists like this is not to decide what the true ultimate, ordinal rank of things is. It's an opportunity to think back on what you like and for others to learn about things that might be of interest to them. With that being said...

Fiction: I like sci-fi, so I'm going Annihilation, Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang,
Non-Fiction: Thinking fast and Slow (I'm surprised no one put this up yet), The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Origins of Political Order, Bad Blood, The Mind is Flat
Films: American: Grand Budapest Hotel (or Black Swan); Big Budget: Inception (or Arrival); Foreign: The Handmaiden (or Wild Tales); Horror: Hereditary (or Mandy); Animated: Your Name (or Inside/Out); Slightly obscure: The Endless (or Predestination)
Athletes: Djokavic, Tom Brady, Lebron James
I don't want to talk about music or TV because it's too hard, so I'll do video games instead: Persona 5, BioShock Infinite, What Remains of Edith Finch, Portal 2, Grand Theft Auto V, The Stanley Parable, Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Film: Mad Max Fury Road

Nonfic: Bourgeoise Virtues or Energy and the English Industrial Revolution or Chinese Lessons or The Wizard and the Prophet

Athlete: Tyson Fury

Single Season: Castlevania season 1 (really just episodes 2-4)

Music: I’m only allowed to listen to Disney movie soundtracks. So, Moana or Trolls or Coco. Srsly I agree Gillian Welch The Way It Goes is awesome: “Though the brightest ones of all/early in October fall...while the dark ones go to bed/with good whiskey in their heads...”

wow. you just made me realize that if this decade had not even existed, i wouldn’t have noticed.

now get off my lawn

It was a great decade for TV: Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones (despite the last two seasons), Man in the High Castle, The Expanse, Narcos, Occupied, Babylon Berlin, the first seasons of True Detective and Westworld. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Chernobyl, Borgen. And there were many more that might not make the top 10, but were still fine entertainment: Mozart in the Jungle, Counterpart, Berlin Station, Secret City, Stranger Things, The Leftovers, Les Revenants.1983, Charité, The Same Sky, Deadwind.

Right now, my wife and I are in the midst of A French Village and Undone. Both recommended.

For films, we don't do Star Wars or superhero movies, so my list is a bit random: Grand Budapest Hotel (and Moonrise Kingdom), The Martian, Death of Stalin, Ida, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Edge of Tomorrow, They Shall Not Grow Old. Others will probably be added as we get around to streaming some of the 2010s movies during the 2020s.

Non-fiction: I'll go with Charles C Mann's 1493, which was every bit as great as 1491.

As for fiction and music -- sad to say, but I really can't think of anything from the last decade I feel strongly about.

Lots of my favourites there Slocum.

Film: Arrival
Book - Fiction: Dark Matter, The Three Body Problem series
Book - NonFiction: The Better Angels of Our Nature
Athlete: Messi
TV: Sherlock, Narcos, The Vietnam War (Ken Burns)

Good call with Arrival, but 3-body? I've heard the English translation is good, but I couldn't get past the first chapter in Chinese, the writing seems clunky and amateurish even to a non-native like myself.

You are correct in your assessment of 3-body: atrocious.

There's definitely may be some availability bias sneaking in on my part... I just finished the series a few weeks ago. I will totally admit that the writing wasn't superb and didn't always move at a great pace. What made it come to mind as a personal favourite for the past decade was the questions it raised and got me thinking about.

A "best of" list for the decade. Another example of the modern fascination with numerology. A book from 2008 isn't eligible nor is a movie from 2009. The arbitrary divisions by decade, marked by a January 1 cut-off date, are examples of the fixation with the elapse of time, April 15 for filing taxes, 21st birthday to legally knock back a beer, 20th year of service to file for a pension.

Films: My Joy, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Raid
Albums: Purple Mountains, Gon' Boogaloo
Books: Submission
TV: Community, Letterkenny, Toast of London, Fleabag, Too Old to Die Young.

Honorable TV mentions: Broen/Bron, Forbrydelsen (last series was this decade, so I'll allow it).

Athletes: Federer/Nadal/Djokovic, Serena Williams, Messi, Bolt.

Yes, Thank you! FINALLY somebody mentions Fleabag, which really comes together in its second season (perfect IMO). You don't get better writing, not an ounce of fat in this show compared to all the other streaming bloat. It earned every single Emmy.

Just so you know, Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Crashing is on Netflix. Not as good; but I assume you are a fellow completist.

I have! It was funny; Fleabag is her best (so far). Killing Eve season 1 is also good.

How could I forget these movies: Valhalla Rising, Bone Tomahawk & Dragged Across Concrete, Like Father Like Son.

Another: Oslo, August 31st.

And I still can't decide if Spring Breakers is a masterpiece or just a diverting piece of trash.

Film: Kaili Blues, or Parasite, depending on my mood

Blockbuster/action film: I would say "Joker" for blockbuster and "Snowpiercer" for Action

Album: mewithoutyou: Ten Stories; Pianos Become the Teeth: Keep You.

Single: Genuinely couldn't name any except those I hate.

TV Show: Kantaro the Sweet Toothed Salaryman: The only saving grace of the scourge that is Netflix. Perhaps Black Mirror too.

Single Season: Spring 2011

Book Fiction: R. Scott Bakker: The Aspect Emperor Trilogy; insane and glorious fantasy epic. I enjoyed Mo Yan's 'Wa/Frog' as well.

Book Non Fiction: The Art of Not Being Governed: James C. Scott, Poor Economics: Duflo and Bannerjee; or maybe Homo Deus.

Athlete of the Decade: Probably Messi

Just realizing so many of my options have a 'non-mainstream' and mainstream option, signalling that I have excellent, distinctive and refined taste, but that I'm actually very down-to-earth. And I'm also working out that almost everything I like came out over 10 years ago.

The last paragraph above might be in the running for MR comment of the decade!!

I am the only acceptable answer to athlete of the decade.

It really has been a grim decade.

Can you add a category for highest-quality head of government? Who was the Churchill of this decade?

I noticed you didn't have a category for best painter, or best new "classical music" composition, or best new opera.

Architecture? What was the best new building of the fading decade.

For fiction TV, I want to nominate "Homeland." The paranoia and conspiracy seem to well reflect the temper of the times to a greater extent than did "The Americans."

For nonfiction TV, I want to nominate the just released Ken Burns "Country Music."

For film, we might as well be commercial and capitalist about it all, and nominate the broad Marvel Cinematic Universe as the most successful movie endeavor of all time, in terms of tickets sold and revenue generated and perhaps in culture significance. Profit is the measure, is it not? Snobby opinions don't, well, trump profit.

Best nonfiction book? Well, it is a toss-up between "The Great Stagnation" and "Average Is Over". Right?

Athlete of the decade. No one suggested Tom Brady.

I'd call this decade anything but grim. Leaders like Churchill are very rare and in a decade that was relatively peaceful, there's less opportunity for a leader to stand out as he did.

Paintings, classical music and opera are art forms that have lost popularity to new forms, so I'm not surprised that they didn't make the list.

Architecture: Burj Khalifa, One World Trade Center, Shanghai Tower, MahaNakhon

This decade has seen extensive economic growth, technological innovations (smart phones, CRISPR gene editing, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing), absolute decrease in poverty, stronger LGBT rights, increase climate awareness, no major wars, and more. I'd say these outweigh the lack of great leaders and painters to make the '10s a pretty sunny decade!

Geez, Looeez, this leadership thing is pretty goofy. First of all, for leaders to exist there must be many more acquiescent followers, dopes that are willing to go along with the dear leader's program while forgetting about their own. Second, leadership simply implies the ability to convince others to believe or do what the leader wishes. It doesn't mean that the leader is actually correct or wise or even intelligent. The never-to-be-forgotten Hitler was a leader and look what happened to his followers. "Great leaders" are simply bosses that ended up on the winning side.

Risks from climate change have been greatly exaggerated by the media and the usual politicians. Smart phones have been out since 2007 if not earlier. Advanced autonomous vehicles aren't available yet. The first health pills, NR and NMN have been sold for several years. Virtual reality has been a consumer product since 2014.

The 2020s are when automation, autonomous vehicles, stem cell therapies, gene therapies, cancer therapies, health pills, virtual reality/augmented reality and 3D printing really take off.

And Uncle Ray reminds that A.I. will pass a Turing test in 2029...

The highest quality public officials were either tempted into getting blackmailed or corrupted, assassinated, shoved aide by psychopaths, ridiculed by the public for trivialities, or wisely refused to throw their hat in the ring beyond a local scale.

Plenty of superb candidates for athlete of the decade, but it would be hard to go wrong with either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal. What those two accomplished in men's tennis, in the era of Federer as well as of "mere" three-Slam winners such as Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, is incredible.

Video games: Probably Witcher 3 for sheer quality.

Maybe The Last of Us?

Picking a best TV show seems so wrong. It's been a terrible decade for TV. The Americans and Game of Thrones are just high-budget Buffy the Vampire Slayer in faux grown-up clothes.

Best non-fiction book: a tie between Kevin Mitchell's Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are and Randolf Nesse's Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry. They both point toward solutions of very old mysteries and--surprise!--are both well-written.

Culture and society are so fragmented now. A post like this just leads to stillborn discussions where people talk past each other.

Science fiction novel: Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer.

Way too much of a slog to be the best of a very strong decade in SciFi. I can understand why she chose to write like she did but it made it a pain in the arse to read.

I have different tastes in art than Tyler does.

The lack of a best computer game category is disappointing.

Best movie and best blockbuster is Avengers. The first one, the Joss Whedon one. Joss's literary chops are pretty well established at this point. Plus it was the foundation for the biggest blockbuster franchise of the decade.

> Plus it was the foundation for the biggest blockbuster franchise of the decade of all time.

They've made four live-action superhero films so far with the word "Avengers" in their title. All four of them are in the top ten lifetime-grossing films internationally. And three of them in the top ten domestically.

And that doesn't even include the cumulative take of all the single-character-focused films without the word in their titles.

Film: In This Corner of the World (by far)
Blockbuster film: Mad Max: Fury Road (not particularly great but other blockbusters have been very mediocre)
TV Show: From the New World & Made in Abyss
Book Fiction: Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction
Book Non Fiction: Why the West Rules—For Now

o yeah, forgot about music
Album: Time I by Wintersun (symphonic melodic death metal is the frontier of music, this is the only album of the decade that I gave 5 stars out of 5)
Single: serious people listen to albums

Blockbuster/action film: Transformers 4? Big screen only, live or die by CGI!

Album: Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Kind of ironic juxtapostion. Kanye West is the Transformers 4 of pop music.

I'm not a huge baseball fan, but Mike Trout should get at least a mention in the greatest athlete conversation.

As for the other categories, my interests trend towards the niche, so I never feel comfortable contributing to the "greatest X" cultural conversation. Unless we want to talk about the best technical death metal album of the 2010s or something (Archspire's "Relentless Mutation", btw).

The Best Album of 2010's: Little Machines by Lights.

"Lights" is a Canadian synth-pop female artist, who combines the strong production of Taylor Swift, with the edge of Grimes. First album I’ve heard in over a decade, where every song was radio-ready and not intentionally dumbed down for NAM’s. Better than anything released in the US.

Film: Whiplash

Blockbuster/action film: Mad Max Fury Road

Album: Shinyribs, Well After A while

Single: Turnpike Troubadors, Every Girl

TV Show: Breaking Bad

Single Season: Season 2

Book Fiction: Singer & Cole, Ghost Fleet

Book Non Fiction: Martin Gurri, Revolt of the Public & the Crisis of Authority

Athlete of the Decade: Serena Williams


Mostly Movies (because I'm far too uncultured to have a serious opinion on modern music and literature, but there will be more than enough words):

Nightcrawler, First Reformed, Whiplash and Hell or High Water seem to stand out as probably the US/Hollywood big hitters in the '10s. Real "State of Society" films without being lame, forgettable message movies. Bladerunner 2049 is a significant achievement in cinematography, FX, its mood and vision in evoking a world, but a passable film only on a narrative level (compromised fatally by messianic superheroic tropes), and it's of course derivative.

There's plenty of other stuff I enjoyed and is excellent but which probably doesn't have the substance of greatness (La La Land, Mad Max:Fury Road, The Nice Guys, Kubo and the Two Strings, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Tangerine, Chef all spring to mind as enjoyable experiences that I am not sure are actually "great").

For East Asian movies: Touch of Sin is certainly greatness (it gives an impression of freedom, fluidity and substance), and The Wailing too - incredibly accomplished and creative and Na Hong Jin is a consistent huge talent. A Hard Day and Manhunt are probably up there in terms of fun Asian action-movies which feel impassioned and creative rather than merely perfunctory and ostentatious. Your Name and The Wind Rises are the strongest anime features of the 10s - though the latter is not on balance even the best Miyazaki, and there is a general lack of anything of substance creatively in the adult sci-fi space in Japanimation in the 10s, far from the case in '80s through '00s.

Within decade, movies are probably generally stronger before 2017, even if I think it's a weak crop compared to the 2000s, particulary the pre-Recession period. I am not sure the 10s have anything that has as much of an impact as Love Exposure or Enter the Void or Wild Grass.

More generally if what you want in cinema is visually innovative, high concept works of fantastic-imagination, tempered with real human storytelling, the 10s are seem a relatively poor period for that. The major beats are dominated by corporate Marvel and the visual equivalent of "a more mature sound" (boring, polished works, aimed to display maturity and impress other artists by aging artists who who feel embarrassed in the rear view mirror by the raw messy creativity of their earlier work).

TV: Being UK-centric, probably Line of Duty (still a bit BBC but what can you do) and Blue Planet.

Being US-centric - Parts Unknown and fairly easily at that. Lots of stand-alone documentaries which are worthwhile. But few dramas that are tied closely to the US "prestige TV" format - the US HBO series thing didn't produce a The Wire or The Sopranos in the 10s. The Deuce is good but far from complete, Better Call Saul is excellently performed and written but feels ephemeral and again is incomplete, Westworld had an appalling second season and doesn't really engage creatively with the logic of its premises. Narcos is the best of a fairly poor bunch. Saul aside you won't see a convincing drawn human being in whole multi-season series of big TV dramas (Tokyo Midnight Diner, a Japanese kind of gentle comedy-drama, packs more relatable, nuanced, adult human character into a set of 20 minute low budget slices than big US dramas do into whole long hours of programming!).

Video Game of Decade: Tough call because it has been an extremely competitive decade, but XCom 2 and Total War Warhammer will be classics in the strategy genre for many years to come. In terms of impact, maybe Fortnite, League of Legends, or Dota 2? WoW is still chugging along but in my opinion the big rise this decade has been MOBAs rather than MMOs.

Anime/Cartoon of the Decade: One Punch Man is excellent, and Rick and Morty has an enormous following of fairly devoted fans.

Tyler, tell us what you think of Kanye West’s serious conversion to Christianity. Might the 3rd Great Awakening be upon us?!

Dude, just two posts away this blog is allowing Ted Gioia to promote the highly sexualized music of Frank Sinantra. Christ has never been further from the nation.

Note: The word "Christ" only refers to a limited subset of conservative views and has nothing to do with humanism.

Movie Frances ha or shame
Tv Game of Thrones
Blockbuster Captin America Winter Soldier
FICTION A little life
Album 1984
Athlete Conner McGregor

Downer of the decade: Hollywood-grade produced slaughtering of humans just to get clicks, as perfected by ISIS (historically just “minutes” away until deep-fakes will make those videos obsolete)

Comedians: Louie CK

Series: Narcos, Mr. Robot, Louie, Master of None, Breaking Bad

Music: Kanye, Tyler the Creator, A$AP, Diplo, wooden spoon goes to Kendrick Lamar, although he’s a racist

Athlete: Clearly, Messi (prove: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/lionel-messi-is-impossible/)

Books fiction: Submission

Books non-fiction: Zero to One

Movies: Star Wars. Shallow that choice may be but it’s an unrepentant bombastic celebration of cinematic experience.

Events, political: Trump winning in 2016
Events, sports: Germany - Brazil 1:7. At a World Cup. In Brazil.
(Both events qualify for the “downer” and movies category as well)

Musician: Vijay Iyer

An interesting pick for the athlete of decade would be Bill Belichick because he is not really and athlete but he is most likely the force behind the most successful team is sports for the decade

Film: Tie between The Raid Part 2, Dark Knight Rises and Fury Road.

Blockbuster/action film: Godzilla - King Of The Monsters.

Album: Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Agreed.

Single: Sunflower by Post Malone

TV Show: Game of Thrones, Line Of Duty, Voltron.

Single Season: Selections from same, you know which seasons.

Book Fiction: The Sell-out by Paul Beatty. The best satire of American society since Bonfire of the Vanities.

Book Non Fiction: The Rise and Fall of Nations by Ruchir Sharma. Learned a lot.

Athlete of the Decade: Roger Federer, Kenny Omega.

Video game: The Witcher 3.

best Single?:
Stoicism by Sheena Ringo
Whatever the hell that song is. I mean.... it's probably derivative from something Japanese, but since most of their songs are in those strange pictographs, I wouldn't know.

Film: Ex Machina

Blockbuster/action film: Fury Road and Thor: Ragnarok

Album: Alabama Shakes, Light and Color, but a million of these. So much great music this decade, always happens after a disaster like 2008.

Single: ???

TV Show: The Americans, Big Mouth, The Good Place (Breaking Bad would go here but it started in '08.)

Single Season: Breaking Bad, Season Four, Westworld, Season One, Game of Thrones, Seasons One to Three, True Detective, Season One.

Book Fiction: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Astonishing.

Book Non Fiction: Stubborn Attachments was pretty amazing!

Athlete of the Decade: Alex Honnold, who completed the single greatest athletic feat in human history with his free solo ascent of El Cap.

wondering why nobody mentioned Djokovic yet. 15 Grandslams and 4 world tour finals

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