First up with The Hatter’s Dozen is media. When I use the word “media” here, I mean movies, shows, books and music. Why not break it down into separate categories? I don’t have the time I use to take in so many movies or books where I could come up enough entries in the categories. I don’t want some book that I thought was okay to be on a list because I need to fill it out.

This list is comprised of media that I experienced this year. Granted, the year isn’t quite over yet, but I don’t think there will be any starting and finishing of books or shows. I’m not planning on getting any new music. And, the only movie I plan on seeing soon is Tron Legacy. If Tron Legacy is better than expected, then it might crack this list and I’ll update the post accordingly.

There are things in the list that were released before 2010. Like I said, this is due to not having the time I once did to catch everything when it is initially released. I have a stack of books that is always waiting, and the stack only grows. Also, I don’t just jump on every new release. I like to see what bubbles to the surface. Some things I wouldn’t have known about, but people kept raving about them despite the public-at-large moving onto something else.

12. Inception (soundtrack)

I listened to this album more than any other this past year. Hans Zimmer could be my favorite musical artist right now.* Listening to the score takes me back to the film. It’s a great ride, and the songs flow well into one another. I like how he will explore notes and themes, giving them new expressions even though at the core the notes are still the same. Lately, if you see me at work and I have my headphones on, there’s a good chance I’m listening to this album.

*He also helped compose personal faves Gladiator, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

11. Rework

Even though I heard Jason Fried share a number of the book’s points at Big Omaha 2009, I still enjoyed reading it. A common sense and modern approach to business. However, many of the points can also be applied to other areas of life. What’s been interesting is seeing a number of people in the church world refer to the book as an important read.

10. Avatar

I have read and heard a lot of the hate and animosity toward this two and a half billion dollar grossing film. It still doesn’t take away how groundbreaking it was in cinema. Watching the film in 3D was amazing. I felt transported to another world because the visuals were that good, the story was better than people give it credit for, and it was crafted with 3D in mind.

9. Blankets

One of the best stories I have ever read. I read this almost 600 page graphic novel in one sitting. Craig Thompson raised the bar with this memoir of his upbringing and high school life in a small town with Christian fundamentalist parents. It shows how he works through family relationships, school, youth group, sexuality, calling, and of course God. Some have issue with it because of some of the panels that deal with sex. I can understand that. Putting that aside, the story is real, the art is great, and it’s an unfortunate reminder of the stereotype of the church and Christians doing more harm than good.

8. The Two Escobars

I’ve enjoyed watching ESPN’s 30 For 30 series. There are still a few more 30 For 30 films I want to see, but I doubt anything will top The Two Escobars. Centering around Colombian soccer in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this documentary tells the stories of Pablo Escobar and Andres Escobar. Pablo was a Colombian drug lord, while Andres was captain of the Colombian soccer team. They film shows their lives in the lead-up to the 1994 World Cup, where Colombia was a favorite to win the Cup, and how they are forever linked.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

The beginning of the end for the Harry Potter series. The Harry Potter movies have always had a ridiculously high standard to reach. The books are so rich that it’s near impossible to encapsulate the book into a two hour film. With the final story, it appears it will be possible for the film to reflect the book as best as it can. This is only due to the film being broken up into two parts. After seeing the part 1 of Deathly Hallows, I wished every Harry Potter film could have been in two parts.

6. Up In The Air

After watching this film with Jana at the theater, we drove around for an hour talking about the film, our current place in life, and what we want to be doing in the near future. Jason Reitman has directed three feature films. Two of them, Thank You For Smoking and Up In The Air, are all-time favorites of mine.

5. Eating The Dinosaur

When I pulled this book off of my stack of books and started reading it, I was mad at myself that I hadn’t started reading it sooner. I like Chuck Klosterman’s work. When I find a podcast that he’s a guest on, it brings me joy to listen to. I thought this collection of essays was his best writing, particularly “Oh the Guilt” and “Football”. (To read an excerpt, click here.)

4. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters

The best Christian book I’ve read in some time. Actually, I first listened to it over the course of one week while commuting to and from work. I then read the book, reread specific chapters, and then listened to parts of it again while driving. I’ve helped lead two different lunch studies centered around the book this past year. Yeah, I like this book.

3. Inception (film)

Hollywood doesn’t make movies like this anymore. A big-budget, intellectual thriller that is an original story. CGI was eschewed as much as possible. No shortcuts, which drove up costs on the film. It also drove up the quality. The first time I saw the film I thought there might be holes with the story. The second time I saw it, I realized how airtight the story was. Christopher Nolan is amazing.

2. Friday Night Lights (Season 1)

I may have written 75,000 words about the final season of Lost, but season one of Friday Night Lights is better. And I don’t think it’s close. Friday Night Lights was one of those shows I kept hearing great things about. It was on my list of shows to try at some point. I think it was during the summer, iTunes was offering the Pilot episode for free. I downloaded it, watched it, and got hooked. It’s more than football. It’s family, it’s school, it’s culture, it’s life. It’s not just me saying that, but also my wife Jana. She’s not a football fan, but loves the show as well. I bought season one off iTunes and we tore through it, sometimes watching three episodes at night. While I have minor quibbles with some of the supporting cast and how their personality changes from episode to episode, it was great to follow Coach Eric Taylor and his family. I found it fascinating how my work and experiences had me relating to Coach Taylor.

1. Toy Story 3

I wasn’t sure how this third installment could top Toy Story 2, but it did. I thought it was a pitch perfect ending to the story. The expectations were high for this film, and it still exceeded them. I consider the Toy Story trilogy the best movie story of all-time.

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