Coming January 1st: the Looking Closer Favorites of 2011

More than a month ago, they started appearing: Best of 2011 lists. …

By now, I’ve seen so many lists, I’m inclined to wonder what good it could possibly do to post my own.

But then I remember: I enjoy it. It’s a rare delight to discover a whole film, or a whole album, that makes me want to experience it again and again and again. To arrange all of those highlights on a table is a chance to acknowledge, share, and show gratitude for abundant blessings.

This New Yorker cartoon pretty much sums up how I’m feeling as I prepare my Favorites lists for 2011.

Now, I realize it’s kind of ridiculous to insist on posting my lists after 2011 is over. I mean, even though films and albums continue to arrive, and even though I still have plenty of time next week to discover worthwhile cinema and music that was released this year, why not join the rush?

Because I want my lists to represent 2011. In its entirety. And I don’t want the fact that others are posting lists to rush me. The period of rest, reflection, and celebration at the end of December is one of my favorite times to explore, and I want my lists to include some of the discoveries I make along the way.

I’m not saying these lists are terribly important, or that my lists are going to be in any way better. They’re just going to be mine: a personal account of things that inspired me, surprised me, challenged and moved me between the morning of January 1 and the end of December 31.

I hope you find a few things worth discovering, worth pondering and discussing there.

I’m already glad I waited to post my music list: My favorite musical discovery of the year so far happened just this week.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.