Master and Commander

It's Gothamist's second favorite Times Arts & Leisure feature of the year (after the Fall Preview, which, even though "Fall" is less of an event in film and TV, just seems to be an exciting way to ring in the best season), when all the critics give their favorites and hateds of the year. The film critics list their best, with Elvis Mitchell calling Pirates of the Caribbean his top movie (Merry Christmas, Jerry Bruckheimer), A.O. Scott naming Master and Commander his, and Stephen Holden picking Angels in America (technically a film made for cable, but considering its ten month shoot, $60 million price tag, and ultimate 6 hour running time, it's certainly an event, so why quibble?). Then the critics have a discussion about the worst things in movies this past year (roles for women, children's movies); Scott reveals that when critics tell their children some movies are bad, the consequences are dire: Yeah, but it's a terrible thing, I think, to have a film critic for a dad. My son — like some of our readers — didn't trust me when I told him "Cat in the Hat" was no good. I was with another critic, who tried to explain to his daughter why it was a bad movie. She just burst into tears, as if he'd taken away one of her toys. [Also Scott on the year in general and Dave Kehr on the Year of the Documetary.]

And on the TV side, Alessandra Stanley and Virginia Heffernan gives their picks (The Daily Show, The Office, Angels in America, The O.C., Queer Eye); Heffernan also takes the time to single out the MTV Video Music Awards: Whatever the blasé pretended, the small thrill of Britney and Madonna's kiss was real. Madonna's predatory jaws snapped as persuasively as any opera villain's. And Ms. Spears — maiden or maiden no more — can play gravely endangered innocence like no other girl. Chris Rock also closed his case: Award-show hosts can tell good jokes. Heh, endangered innocence; endangered career is more like it. But Gothamist does love us some Chris Rock hosting any awards shows – have him host the Oscars and shake it up!

More from The High and Lows of the year, as deemed by the NY Times arts critics in music, architecture, and theater.