Top 10 season is upon us. List-o-mania strikes every year at this time, as all the critics at every newspaper, magazine, and website deliver their best-ofs.
And I am a big fan of them, unironically.
It’s easy to dismiss Top 10s as filler, as a holiday time-kill for the media until the new year arrives with its barrage of fresh TV shows, albums, movies, and books. And, you know, that’s probably true to some extent; I’ll ask my editor.
But the endless Top 10s do have their value (I say this as a writer who loves sharing his annual list, which will be out shortly). Part of the value is for the critic, obviously; I get to catalog a year of work and reassess. I get to review my reviews and check myself, to see if I was rash or hyperbolic. At the end of the year, do I still think FX’s “Pose” is a superior drama, or has it faded from my senses? Was I out of my mind when I thought that “Homecoming” evoked “The Manchurian Candidate”?
For readers, though, the Top 10 lists offer opportunities. I get so many of my best suggestions — of what to watch, or listen to, or read — in the final weeks of December, browsing the critics’ favorites and sampling. Music and the book Top 10s are both of special interest to me, since I find the number of annual releases overwhelming and appreciate having someone curate them for me.
These lists are particularly valuable nowadays, as more content than ever rains down on our poor little heads. In the old days, lists often had the same titles on them, but these days they tend to include oft-overlooked niche favorites. They’re gems someone else dug up.Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.