The Best Of The Century

  • Best Children's Book
    Charlotte's Web
    by E.B. White (1952)
    The most lovable spider in literature befriends a hapless barnyard pig named Wilbur and launches a campaign to save him from becoming someone's meal. The webs Charlotte weaves are tangled and enchanting.

    RUNNERS-UP The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis;A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

    Best TV Show
    The Simpsons, created by Matt Groening (1989- )
    Dazzlingly intelligent and unapologetically vulgar, the Simpsons have surpassed the humor, topicality and, yes, humanity of past TV greats.

    RUNNERS-UP The Mary Tyler Moore Show; The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite

    Best Dance
    The Four Temperaments by George Balanchine (1946)
    No plot, no set, no Look-Ma-I'm-a-swan costumes--just a stageful of virtuoso dancers who hurtle through angular steps and abstract poses that evoke a limitless universe of emotions.

    RUNNERS-UPEsplanade by Paul Taylor; Jardin aux Lilas by Antony Tudor

    Best Film
    Citizen Kane, directed by and starring Orson Welles (1941)
    Its power--a compound of rebel cheekiness, stylistic innovation and a tragicomic vision of media power--has never waned. It remains a work that seduces the young and inspires the old with thoughts of what the medium can achieve.

    RUNNERS-UP Day for Night by Francois Truffaut; Chinatown by Roman Polanski

    Best Novel
    Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
    Exhaustively portraying the events of a single day, June 16, 1904, in Dublin, it has comic exuberance, encyclopedic inclusiveness and a virtuoso display of diverse narrative styles that make most subsequent novels look like spin-offs.

    RUNNERS-UP One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    Best Nonfiction Book
    The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1974)
    This scalding and historic expose of the vast Soviet prison network set up for dissidents made international headlines when it first appeared in the West. It also got its author kicked out of his homeland.

    RUNNERS-UP The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank; The Double Helix by James Watson

    Best Opera
    Peter Grimes
    by Benjamin Britten (1945)
    This tale of a troubled fisherman's fatal encounter with the bigoted residents of his seaside village is told with emotion and all-encompassing humanity by Britain's foremost composer.

    RUNNERS-UP Wozzeck by Alban Berg; Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini

    Best Comedy Routine
    "Who's on First?"
    by Abbott and Costello (1938)
    It's such a simple premise, and Abbott and Costello drive it about 20 ft. into the ground, but "Who's on First?" is not only the century's most famous comedy bit; it's also the best. It's absurdism mixed with the easy pleasure of confusion, and Bud Abbott plays the perfect cool logician to Lou Costello's frustrated inquisitor in this Beckettian farce.

    RUNNERS-UP "Dead Parrot," Monty Python; "Rope Tricks," Will Rogers

    Best Design
    The Eames molded plywood chair,
    designed by Charles Eames (1946)
    Eames took technology created to meet a wartime need (for splints) and used it to make something elegant, light and comfortable. Much copied but never bettered.
    RUNNERS-UP The S-1 steam locomotive by Raymond Loewy; the Swatch watch

    Best Building
    The chapel at Ronchamp, France by Le Corbusier (1955)
    How do you create space for sacred ritual in a secular age? It's hard to do better than this erratically shaped church.
    RUNNERS-UP The Seagram Building by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright

    Best Album
    Exodus by Bob Marley & the Wailers (1977)
    Every song is a classic, from the messages of love to the anthems of revolution. But more than that, the album is a political and cultural nexus, drawing inspiration from the Third World and then giving voice to it the world over.
    RUNNERS-UP Kind of Blue by Miles Davis; Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix

    Best Classical Composition
    Symphony of Psalms
    by Igor Stravinsky (1930)
    This reaffirmation of the glory of God begins in astringent lamentation and ends in radiant certitude.
    RUNNERS-UP String Quartet in F Major by Maurice Ravel; Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland

    Best Play
    Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello (1921)
    It crystallizes the century's chief concerns of life and art: man's existential predicament, the line between illusion and reality. And it's more fun than Waiting for Godot.
    RUNNERS-UP Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw; Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill

    Best Poem
    The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot (1922)
    Filled with post-World War I disillusionment and despair, this allusive, fragmented epic became a touchstone of modern sensibility, and its haunting, haunted language sang the passing of old certainties in a century adrift.
    RUNNERS-UP The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats; Home Burial by Robert Frost

    Best Painting
    The Red Studio
    by Henri Matisse (1911)
    Matisse's great poem to the art of painting shows how, in a space brimming with red and punctuated by renderings of his own pictures, the visual becomes the lord of all the senses.
    RUNNERS-UPStill-Life with Chair Caning by Pablo Picasso; Dog Barking at the Moon by Joan Miro

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