Sean Moeller Illustration by Dave Leiberg for the Time & The Mystery Podcast

I’m a glutton for these year-end wrap ups. They’re fascinating and ultimately demoralizing because as you’re reading all of them – taking that finger down the rankings – it doesn’t take you very long at all to see a pattern, and you wonder why everyone’s lying. You know damned well that there can be no consensus for this activity – especially across so many publications and outlets. But there is almost always a consensus, and I call BS on it. Don’t fall for these lists. Each one should be startlingly different and ranging. They should be the result of tightening the beautiful shambles that music does to you and your daily life.

Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon in Hot PursuitHOT PURSUIT

All movies provide at least one reason to feel grateful, because even the worst movies eventually, mercifully end. Director Anne Fletcher's action comedy Hot Pursuit provides exactly one reason to feel grateful.

Channing Tatum in Magic MikeMAGIC MIKE

Walking into the auditorium for a nearly sold-out, mid-afternoon screening of Magic Mike - "nearly sold-out" and "mid-afternoon" being phrases that rarely go together at the cineplex - I gauged the audience of obviously ecstatic patrons and said to my friend, "This is gonna be fun." Man, we had no idea.

Best Actress Meryl StreepThe first trophy handed out at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony was for Best Cinematography, a prize that I predicted would go to The Tree of Life but that instead went to Hugo. (Seriously, after his undeserved losses for 2006's Children of Men and now the Terrence Malick film, exactly whom does Emmanuel Lubezki have to do to win an Oscar?) But that was actually my second incorrect assumption of the evening, because as soon as host Billy Crystal stepped on stage, I said to the others at my viewing party, "Here comes the standing ovation," and the audience - despite giving the man a warm reception - remained seated. Did the crowd have a collective premonition of just how spectacularly Crystal would bomb last night?