Why hello there, faithful Filthy Dreams readers! What’s that? You’re in the mood to rank moments from the past year with no real basis except for your own fervently subjective but strongly felt opinions? Me too! I’m ready to get zealous and list, wrap-up and rank anything and everything that happened in 2018 with fanatical glee.
And what a long year it’s been. With the chaos of the Trump administration, every week feels like its own month (or year), doesn’t it? This is all to say, if I’ve overlooked some bests, tough titties as a hero from one of our favorites would say. You’ll notice that I’ve also avoided ranking art moments on here. Why? Because I find it too difficult to choose (also been there done that). It’s also way less fun than gushing about pop culture and political dumpster fires. Many of these choices are cultural touchstones I wanted to write about this year, but never found the time. So why not make up for it in listicle form?
Grab yourself a glass of champagne to lift to these bests or just swig from your water bottle full of vodka like Sharp Objects’ Camille Preaker, and let’s get to listing:
Best TV Show: Sharp Objects
Don’t tell Mama, but I’m still completely obsessed with HBO’s interpretation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Sharp Objects. Maybe it’s Amy Adams’s terminally fucked-up journalist Camille Preaker’s return to her Missouri hometown, investigating murders of young girls found with their teeth ripped out as she guzzles water bottle after water bottle of vodka. Or maybe it’s Patricia Clarkson who plays Camille’s mom, Adora Crellin as the best and most terrifying mother figure since Mommy Dearest. Adora is basically the overbearing, passive aggressive, Munchausen syndrome by proxy-suffering, poison-wielding mother that I never had. A girl can dream! And if Adora is my mom, then Jackie O’Neill (Elizabeth Perkins), the perpetually drunk, pill-popping town gossip, is my ideal best friend. I’d gladly drink Jackie’s bad Bloody Mary’s while admiring her gaudy décor, which included a portrait of herself over her mantle. And sure, some female journalists took offense at Camille’s portrayal as a wasted basket case who boinked both a lead detective and the main suspect, but isn’t that why we got into this business?
Best Documentary About Cults: Wild Wild Country
A group of goofy, red-sporting, dead-eyed smiling cult members flit around and unroll a red carpet. One dude starts playing a flute as their guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, otherwise known as Osho, appears in one of his many Rolls Royces. Before the first ten minutes of Netflix’s serial documentary Wild Wild Country, I already rewatched this scene several times. It’s a sublime example of the bizarrely captivating cult behavior that Wild Wild Country delivers. The doc is a roller coaster ride through the Rajneeshees, the devotees of Osho as they build Rasjneeshpuram, a shining city on a hill in 1980s Wasco Country, Oregon to the horror of the mostly white town folk who willingly suspend long held democratic norms in order to prevent the Rajneeshees from taking over. What was their problem?! Was it the loud free love sex sounds? Or maybe it was that little poisoning incident at salad bars in order to keep people from voting. Details. Ultimately, the gift that the series gave us is that feminist role model figure: Ma Anand Sheela, the unrepentant spokesperson of the Rajneesh movement who would go on media blitzes telling newspeople that the Rajneeshees have the best sex. Not only a television star, she was also Osho’s paranoid personal secretary and is now a convicted attempted murderer, none of which she feels sorry for. In short, Sheela doesn’t give a fuck. Not a single one. In fact, she thinks the townspeople in Oregon should be grateful that she brought all that drama to them! I know I sure am!
Best Documentary About Elvis: The Searcher
Are you looking for trouble? You’ve come to the right place…With that curled lip and leather jacket from his 1968 comeback special, opening the HBO documentary The Searcher, I transformed into one of those screaming, squealing hysterical fans, ripping out my hair and tearing off my clothing, all for him–the King! The Searcher is an in-depth documentary on Elvis, from Tupelo (“The King will walk on Tupelo!”) to his rhinestone-flecked late recordings in the forest green, shag carpet-covered Jungle Room. The film poses Elvis as a type of Odysseus figure on a trip through Memphis’s Beale Street (including footage of Howlin’ Wolf who also makes me shriek) to his bloated stint in Vegas. This is reflected by the repeated image of a boy on a bicycle riding through Mississippi backcountry roads, an image of that endless highway that still haunts my dreams. Dreams! The film finishes with Elvis’s “If I Can Dream,” a Lynchian ode to what Elvis still represents: the American Dream, in both its possibilities and dissolute trappings. There must be lights burning brighter somewhere…
Best Book That’ll Make You Dream: David Lynch’s Room To Dream
What better way to write an autobiography than letting someone else do the heavy lifting of interviewing everyone else in your life, while you ramble on about weirdly idiosyncratic memories related to, say, mud puddles? Well, that’s exactly what David Lynch achieves with his auto/biography Room to Dream, written with Kristine McKenna, which alternates between Lynch musing about his life and work, and McKenna’s more conventional biographic material on the filmmaker. And do you think I’m kidding about the mud puddles? Lynch writes, “…the only thing I remember about Sandpoint is sitting in this mud puddle with little Dicky Smith. It was like a hole under a tree they filled with water from the hose, and I remember squeezing mud in that puddle and it was heaven.” As if you couldn’t tell from this passage, Lynch’s chapters are so infused with his particular and peculiar speech patterns and inflections, including his storytelling quirk of relaying unsettlingly precise details, that you actually hear his voice in your head as you’re reading. Don’t be worried if you start wiggling your fingers along with him.
Best Movie That Everyone Else Hates, But I Don’t Care: Bohemian Rhapsody
Ok, not everybody hates Bohemian Rhapsody as it is now the highest grossing musical biopic, but a lot of the queer crowd has been very loud in its dismissal. And I know, I know, I know…I know director Bryan Singer is a nasty creep. I know the film isn’t accurate. I know it handles Freddie Mercury’s sexuality poorly and confronts AIDS like a hokey TV movie. However, can’t we still enjoy over-the-top campy bad movies? Maybe it’s just me, but I’m sick of criticizing everything including cheesy Hollywood biopic schmaltz. While I’ll probably write a longer defense of Bohemian Rhapsody’s absolute ridiculousness (plus Rami Malek’s fantastic performance as Freddie), I’ll just say I loved it all: I loved the teeth, the cats, the fictionalization of Freddie’s life and Queen’s musical career, and I especially adored Paul, the gay villain feeding Freddie drugs and booze, and their breakup in the pouring rain. So dramatic! I’ll be your friend, Paul! Plus, isn’t an overblown theatrical mess exactly the right way to honor Freddie Mercury’s legacy, the man who belted “Fat-Bottom Girls” and “Killer Queen”? Frankly, I would only hope for the same.
Best Music Videos: SSION
From Cody Critcheloe and Ariel Pink as Liza and Liz Taylor respectively in “At Least The Sky Is Blue” to the blue-sequined fantasy and cow-patterned chaos of “Comeback” to the terrorized teenage audience in “Heaven Is My Thing Again” to the “Deeper and Deeper” vibes in the glamour and grotesquery of “Inherit,” SSION’s music videos from their 2018 album O are often inexplicable and always a completely mesmerizing trip. Meaning they require repeated viewing and often theorizing, which I have been doing all year. I mean, who doesn’t want to get lost in the cathartic flames raging in the finale of the “Heaven Is My Thing Again” or Daniel DiCriscio’s platinum blonde hair flip in “At Least The Sky Is Blue”? I know I do.
Best Album: Blood Orange’s Negro Swan
“First kiss was the floor,” sings Blood Orange‘s Dev Hynes in “Orlando,” the first track on his phenomenal 2018 album Negro Swan, immediately announcing his continued investigation of the duality of precariousness and violence, and love and community that is the intersectional experience of blackness and queerness. In all honesty, all of Blood Orange’s albums could top every list for me since 2011’s Coastal Grooves so this isn’t too much of a surprise. Also Negro Swan is the only album this year that made me choke up (it was the gospel choir-inspired vocals in “Holy Will”). Like 2016’s Freetown Sound, certain tropes repeat, and tie the album and its thematics together, including clips of conversations with trans activist, author and now, director Janet Mock, speaking on everything from “doing the most” to chosen family. In addition to Mock’s more uplifting sentiments, siren sounds occur throughout the album, which recall both Jamaican dancehall air horns, and an underlying sense of emergency and instability.
Best Newsletter: Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files
I never thought I’d see the day when Nick Cave, an artist so invested in myth making, directly and openly answers his fans’ questions in a newsletter format, But here we are, with Nick’s Red Hand Files (though the newsletter is still named after his song about the devil, so it’s not completely out of character). When I first heard about the idea, I shook my head, remembering Nick’s 2013 Twitter Q&A fiasco, which saw him tweeting out: “I am hating this…beyond measure and I haven’t even started yet.” More recently, though, Nick has been attempting to reach his fans in more intimate settings, including a series of free-form Q&A’s this year. While his moving musing on the nature of grief in newsletter #6 went viral (“It seems to me, that if we love we grieve. That’s the deal), the Red Hand Files are always a fascinating read. He’s covered topics from the intersection of writing and dreaming (“Even when I am not at my desk writing and am going about my ‘normal’ life, the residual trails of the words I’ve been working on still weave around me like dreams”), the use of nature in his songs (“the natural world in my songs is less about the destruction of the environment, and is more concerned with the biblical notion of paradise, within which I can set my human dramas of suffering and transcendence”), belief in God (“I am a believer–in both God’s presence and His absence. I am a believer in the inquiry itself, more so than the result of that inquiry”), and what he would do if the world was ending (“I’d freak the fuck out”). It’s personal, generous and unexpectedly sweet, but Nick hasn’t answered my question yet (on Elvis and role models) so on second thought, fuck that newsletter.
Best Audition For A Tennessee Williams Play: Grand Dame Lindsey Graham
Nobody worked harder for a standing ovation (or a Cabinet position) this year than Grand Dame Lindsey Graham, rivaling Tallulah Bankhead in his performance of outraged Southern fried right wing hysteria worthy of a Tennessee Williams play. While I previously laughed at Graham’s tour de force–his teeth-bearing, red-faced performance during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, shouting, “This is HELL!”, this wasn’t the only moment that Senator Graham’s star shined bright this year. Whether chiding the press for treating now Supreme Court Justice and major drunk bro Kavanaugh like a “slut whore drunk,” yelling “Boo yourselves!” at a heckling audience or shouting, “If you don’t like me working with President Trump to make the world a better place, I don’t give a shit” on CNN, Graham seemed as if he was polishing his acting skills for a regional theater production. Naturally, I wasn’t the only one to wonder what the hell happened with Lindsey. The Washington Post hilariously investigated in an article entitled “Why Is Lindsey Graham Acting Like This?” But, I think I know the answer: After the death of his friend, colleague and apparent gatekeeper, Big Daddy John McCain, Dame Lindsey decided to let his queeny flag fly high without McCain’s overbearing, judgmental masculine presence. And while, more recently, Graham seems to have calmed himself down a bit, perhaps just in comparison to the walking shit storm that is our president, I’m looking forward to Lindsey’s upcoming star turn as Blanche DuBois.
Best Interior Decorator: Melania Trump
Christmas decorations should be frightening, shouldn’t they? They should either overwhelm with overbearing maniacal Christmas cheer or terrify with their ominous seasonal madness. I’m clearly not the only one who thinks so if Melania Trump’s White House Christmas decorations are any indication. Her first year in the White House, Melania came out with a bang, going for Blair Witch-themed décor with shadow-casting white sticks that strikingly resembled bleached bones. This year, not to disappoint, Melania went with Suspiria as her aesthetic inspiration with blood red trees. It’s as if Melania is working out her psychic trauma (and I bet she has a lot given the nightmare in a person suit that is her husband) through the medium of trees. I love to imagine Don in the residence shouting at the TV, while Melania is setting up her own version of the Overlook Hotel. Speaking of, I can’t wait to see what she does for 2019. Maybe the hedge maze from The Shining? Or a tribute to the Black Lodge? A version of the Evolution of the Arm covered in lights would be a beautiful addition. When you see me again, it won’t be me…
Best Golden Age Of Gossip Comeback Moment: Lindsay Lohan
From Azealia Banks dragging Elon Musk about his “pork skin” and “froggy eyelids” in his own home while waiting for Grimes, to Kanye West and Trump’s short-lived mutual admiration society to most recently, Kevin Spacey’s pancake makeup-slathered, deeply psychotic comeback video that nobody asked for, the golden age of gossip is back in 2018, baby! It feels just like those halcyon days of the late 2000s. No reflection of the gossip in 2018 would be complete without giving a nod to our girl–the original gossip girl–Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay really topped herself this fall when she tried to kidnap refugee children and filmed it all on Instagram live. I was lucky enough to catch the entire film, yes, film. Give Lindsay an Oscar nod for this performance! She even put on a bizarre and inexplicable accent that was somewhere between Greek, Russian, Turkish and just generically Middle Eastern, which is quite far from her native Long Island. What a talent! Early in the footage, Lohan offers to take these refugee children to her hotel room so they can watch movies. What do you think she was going to make them watch? The Canyons? I Know Who Killed Me? After this offer wasn’t accepted, Lohan raced after the family yelling “Don’t fuck with the Pakistan!” and eventually, gets hit, with good reason, by the children’s mother. But even though she may have deserved getting knocked down, let’s have some sympathy for the girl. Can you imagine the hangover the day after trying to kidnap children? Yeeee-ouch!
Best Billionaire Breakdown: Elon Musk
Before 2018, I don’t think I ever even thought about Elon Musk at all. But during 2018, Elon took up a lot of my mental bandwidth. When he wasn’t planning on blasting people to the moon, shooting rockets into space, running Tesla, digging tunnels or selling flamethrowers, Elon’s Icarus-like flight took such a shit show of a turn that he flew right into my crazy-loving orbit. Elon had such a year that it’s hard to even wrap-up here, from calling one of the divers who assisted with Thai cave rescue “pedo guy” (and subsequently getting sued), smoking weed on Joe Rogan’s podcast while rambling about the simulation or appearing at the Met Costume Institute Gala with his equally strange girlfriend Grimes looking like, as I said in a previous article, the weirdest Goth couple from your high school. And then there was the tweeting–sending out random thoughts into the abyss in the middle of the night such as “I remember when I was a sponge. Simpler times they were,” “Reality is hard,” or simply, “Send me your dankest memes!!” Perhaps my favorite Elon moment, though, occurred during the period when Azealia Banks was stuck in his home, watching this madness unfold firsthand. While everybody knows about the possibly acid-and definitely pot-inspired 420 tweet “Funding secured,” it was coupled with another Twitter spew about creating Tesla short shorts with “thigh high socks with pockets for lipliner & cards.” S3xy!
Best Tweet/Best Use Of A Double Negative: Lana Del Rey
While it’s probably not worth rehashing the debate between Azealia Banks and Lana…well, really it was between Lana and Kanye about his love of Trump and Azealia had to horn in, calling out Lana as a performative white lady ally, all I care about is Lana’s eventual answer to Miss Banks’s criticisms days after the fact. Even though I do love Azealia, in all her soap-producing (and butthole posting), Christmas EP-making 2018 glory, I will lay my life down for Lana. Thankfully I didn’t have to, as Lana can defend herself. Though Lana can come off as dreamy, twirling around like Audrey Horne in a diner, she won this round with her short and sweet IDGAF tweet to Azealia, made so forcefully and matter-of-fact that I wanted to call her “Daddy.” The tweet recalled Lana’s earlier social media presence when she’d tweet gems like: “You’re boring me to death and I’m already dead.” I hope she typed out her come-at-me, pull-up tweet and then went back to recording songs like “Happiness is a Butterfly” for her new album Norman Fucking Rockwell. Legend.
Best Reason To Live Till 2019: Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell