My favorite needles are......
INOX circular for socks... they are metal and slick... i tend to want to knit socks very tight and the stitches slide easier. also the cable part of the needle is soft and doesn't start acting like a slinky.
SWALLOW casin type needles for ribbon and cotton projects.. they have short points and are so smooth and pretty.
CLOVER BAMBOO for most other stuff... they seem smoother at the tip then others I've tried
SUSAN BATES alluminum for intricate patterns with yarn overs and pick up sts. They have the longest point which makes grabbing stitchs easy.
CIRCULAR NEEDLES for large heavy projects. the weight of the yarn is more to the center rather then the end of the needle for lest stress on my wrists.
but in times of need, I will use anything available