This series of favorites articles contains my opinions, so here's mine on the subject of brushes.
I only have three brushes at the present time, though many years ago I used the cheapest of those available at the local drug store. That old brush was not terribly good, though it actually worked acceptably. Of my current stable of three brushes, my second runner up is....
The Van Der Hagen (VDH) boar brush. Available at retail stores for under US$10, it's just a little bigger than necessary but works fine. A good value. The bristles soften with time and are dense and have good backbone.
My second-place preference is the Omega Syntex. More appropriately sized than the VDH (the Omega is smaller), it doesn't use any animal-based components, and works fine. It has a tight, rather vertical knot, and the synthetic bristles don't soften with use. It dries quickly. It cost me around US$10 (I don't remember exactly), but is another good value.
My favorite brush is my Tweezerman badger, for which I overpaid at about US$18. It can currently be purchase for less than US$15 under both the Tweezerman, Escali, and (sometimes) other brands. It's soft, appropriately compact without being too small, and lacks great backbone for face lathering. However, since I stopped rinsing this brush after my shaves -- just letting the lather dry in it -- the backbone has improved a bit due to the accumulated dried soap. This brush is soft and gentle, and works just fine, as do all my brushes.
Do I like this brush a lot more than the others? No. I have three brushes because I wanted to try them. All work just fine. If I were an animal-rights zealot (no judgement is implied in this characterization), then I would have bought the Syntex and happily used that. If I were on a tight budget, I would have bought the VDH and happily used that. If my skin were terribly sensitive (it's not that sensitive), I would have gotten the Tweezerman/Escali/other and happily used that.
On the subject of brushes (yawn), well.... whatever. If you love throwing money around and it makes you feel good to pay stupid prices for "luxury" items, then spend $50, $60, or more and enjoy. I'm happy with my value brushes.