Best New Album: Steve Lukather Ever Changing Times
Lukather shows what he's capable outside the confines of being a studio musician and frontman/founding member of Toto.
Honorable mentions: Bill Champlin No Place Left to Fall
Champlin is one of the most respected session vocalists in the industry. This album was a family affair as it also features his wife, Tamara, and son, Will, guesting on a handful of tracks. It also shows off Champlin's love of the B3 with a serious soulful funky edge. His new arrangement of Chicago's hit, Look Away actually restores some semblance of passion and emotional conviction to the song that Chicago had overproduced to the point of sterility. And if the man can give a vapid, dime-a-dozen Diane Warren song conviction, well THAT'S talent.
Best Book I Read This Year: The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater
This book should be required reading for all Republicans seeking office. This is what the party was and is supposed to stand for not the mess it's turned into in recent years. Much of it is just as true today as it was when the book was initially written in 1959.
Best debut Novel: The Little Book by Selden Edwards
The book took Edwards over 30 years to write. It's an excellent well-woven time travel tale that I'd recommend to anyone.
Biggest Surprise(s): Guns 'n' Roses Chinese Democracy
After several years, several missteps, and millions of dollars the surprise is two-fold... One that the album was actually finally released and two that the album was actually pretty damned good. Axl has successfully shown the world that he still has some tricks up his sleeve.
Best Film: The Dark Knight
It's not often that a movie villain overshadows the hero to the extent Heath Ledger's Joker did to Christian Bale's Batman. I'd also argue that Aaron Eckhart's portrayal of Harvey Dent/Two-Face was excellent (although was still no match for Ledger's Joker). Also Maggie Gyllenhaal's portrayal of Rachel blew Katie Holmes portrayal of the same character in Batman Begins out of the water (not difficult to do).
Honorable mentions: Iron Man - Robert Downey Jr. did an exceptional job in the title role making this a thoroughly enjoyable super-hero romp. Definitely, Maybe - I'd argue this was the best date movie of the year. It doesn't hurt that Isla Fisher is easy on the eyes nor that Ryan Reynolds had excellent chemistry with all 4 leading ladies (counting Abigail Breslin as well as Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks, and Isla Fisher).
Best Moment: The election of Barack Obama on November 4, 2008
Even though, I'm ideologically nearly his polar opposite I respect what his election means to this country and hope that his election goes a long way towards improving race relations in this country. I believe Will Smith put it best "No more excuses." Obama's election proves that anyone of any race is capable of becoming anything he/she wants that no door is closed-- not even the presidency. His cabinet choices thus far have given me plenty of reason for optimism that he'll rule from the center and not from the far left.
Worst Moment: The arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on December 9, 2008
His corruption is only surpassed by his pig-headedness and unwillingness to do what is best for the state of Illinois and resign. He's cast a negative pall on what should have been/should be a smooth and celebratory transition for Obama into the White House. I mean it's pretty bad when even former NY governor, Eliot Spitzer looks good by comparison (see below).
(Dis)Honorable Mentions: NY governor Eliot Spitzer being charged with transporting a prostitute across state lines (at least he had the decency to throw in the towel and go quietly), Governor Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris to Obama's vacant senate seat despite stiff opposition from everyone except Blagojevich and Burris (and the hits just keep on coming... this has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous to the sublimely ridiculous).
Now playing: Tommy Shaw - Ever Since The World Began (LP Version)