Welcome to the second annual Tabbies, a completely improvised and highly experimental attempt by Tablet magazine to salvage awards season from its own weight. We claim no right to judge, so The Tabbies are not a “Best Of” nor “Top 10.” Instead, The Tabbies are given to the fun, weird, surprising, heartening, generative, and ultimately altruistic efforts by humans in the past year—things that moved us, changed us, opened our eyes, made us say “wow,” and filled us with gratitude.
Here, then, in no particular order, and with great (or some) humility, are this year’s winners. Congratulations to them, with thanks from all of us at Tablet for enriching our year.
A film by Lizzie Gottlieb
A friend told me to watch this, and warned that I would get emotional at a certain point. I did, but not when he thought I would—in part because there are so many soaring, poignant moments in this beautiful film. An inspiring if anxious paean to two towering figures, and a requiem for the world they came from—which is already dead.
—Alana Newhouse, Editor in Chief
An album by Kendrick Lamar
Once a rapper becomes the favorite of every middle school Jewish kid and Pulitzer Prize judge it’s usually lame to admit he remains your own favorite rapper and musician and cultural icon in America. But enough people found Kendrick’s new album offensive or impenetrable that I don’t feel the need to pretend I loved any artistic release more this year. As Armin Rosen wrote, “The many invitations to outrage are a key to unlocking the most challenging record in Lamar’s discography, the one that sounds the least like Stevie Wonder or Sly Stone, a string quartet- and choir-filled sonic and thematic U-turn in which he silences most of his populist instincts and looks the furthest inward.”
—Jeremy Stern, Deputy Editor
A film by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Best use of a bagel since the invention of lox.
—Wayne Hoffman, Executive Editor
A TV series by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg
The basic premise of this show is pretty straightforward: It’s like “The Sopranos,” but instead of having a mob boss in therapy IT’S A SERIAL KILLER! What makes the show noteworthy from my perspective is not the main storyline but a sub plot. The killer’s therapist, Alan Strauss (a bearded Steve Carell) is a widower whose wife was a Reform cantor. Their son, meanwhile, is a ba’al teshuva who dismisses his parents’ Judaism as meaningless and hollow. Never before has the gulf between Reform and Orthodox family members been depicted on TV with such sensitivity. Hollywood is notorious for flubbing Jewish storylines. In this case, the show’s creators hit the mark.
—Gabriel Sanders, Senior Editor & Director, Audience & Community
Reporting on Hasidic education in New York City
For covering a charged subject with care and rigor
—Matthew Fishbane, Creative Director
Adam Sandler’s baby girl becomes a woman
Nothing like an in-your-face, over-the-top, star-studded, shamelessly proud celebration of Jewish identity to inspire us this year, and Adam Sandler’s daughter Sunny Sandler’s bat mitzvah did not disappoint. From the oversize plush candy decor to a guest list featuring A-listers like Jennifer Aniston and a set list including performances by Halsey and Charlie Puth, this was a coming-of-age rite to remember. It’s no surprise that this is what a Sandler family simcha looks like: Adam Sandler has, at every turn, reminded us of his Jewishness and refused to conform to celebrity etiquette—or upgrade his schlubby-chic wardrobe—even as he’s ascended to the highest echelons of Hollywood. Hopefully next time we’ll get an invite.
—Stephanie Butnick, Director, Tablet Studios
The Spanish tennis star currently ranked best in the world
With brilliance to squander, and pure, brutal power strokes that would be mistaken for violence outside of a tennis court, the performance this year by 19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz was the definite announcement that a new era in men’s tennis had begun. Redefining what an all-court style of play could mean, every tournament this year saw the kid from the foothills of La Cadena produce another deliriously impossible drop shot or laser-blast winner up the line to add to his highlight reel—all while he piled on accolades to his list of Youngest Ever To: win the Miami Open, defeat Djokovic, defeat Nadal, win the US Open championship in 32 years, and become the No. 1 player in the world.
—Sean Cooper, Senior Writer
The climax of White Lotus’ second season
Nuanced sexual and class politics, Michael Imperioli (the silver fox), and a murderous troupe of globetrotting aristocrats. The second season of White Lotus is worth all the hype—actually, the fact that everyone is watching it is part of the fun in an age of solo streaming binges.
—Ani Wilcenski, Engagement Director
A survey of two years of American art
An exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum showcasing work that, as Alan Solomon, the museum’s extraordinary curator during this period put it, inspires an “optimistic belief that richness and heightened meaning can be found anywhere in the world, even in refuse found in the street.”
—David Sugarman, Deputy News Editor
From the editors of Tablet Magazine.