We are 23+ days apart from the year that was 2014. Another year is now just a memory. Personally, it's increasingly difficult to differentiate which memory belongs to which year. A way for me to remember is to look at books, movies, sporting events, albums, games, etc. that have set-in-stone dates. Naturally, I have memories that relate to each of my favorite games, movies, songs, etc. I can listen to a song and it brings back memories of when it first came out and when I first heard it. I can look at a game on my shelf, place a finger on when it came out, and remember what was going on in my life at the time I was playing it. I am a nostalgic person.
2014 went by in a flash for me, despite being pretty eventful. There are plenty of good memories just as well as a few bad memories. The movies, albums, and TV series/seasons listed in this blog are my favorites from 2014. I have memories of events in my life associated with each of these and thanks to their specific dates, I'll always know that those memories happened in 2014. Here's my favorite stuff from 2014:
*Note: My annual GOTY Awards will probably be posted sometime in February, so I've kept games off of this particular blog.
(I consider The Wind Rises a 2013 movie, otherwise it would be at the top)
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
After mixed reactions to "Thor: The Dark World" and "Iron Man 3", I was wondering if the Marvel Cinematic Universe was past its prime and more importantly, if they had any other good stories to tell. After all, I loved everything they had done pre-2013. 2014 saw the return to greatness for the quietly aging saga. One movie featured the darkest tone yet and the other had the goofiest. The thing is, they both worked. With Cap 2, the unlikely directing duo of "You, Me and Dupree" (a personal cult favorite of mine) took the character of Steve Rogers and did something really special with him. While "The Avengers" took his adjustment to the new world jokingly, "The Winter Soldier" focused on the struggles he now faces. Think about it, everything he knew and cared about is either dead or ancient. To keep himself busy, he becomes S.H.I.E.L.D.'s top agent for missions. Spoilers aside, everything in both his life and his new employer is turned inside out. The result is a hybrid between a modern action movie and an 80's political thriller. And it's a blast from start to finish.
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
From the first trailer, I knew this movie was going to be special. Unlike most awesome trailers, this one did not let me down. It took both generations of X-Men, threw them into two interesting settings for these characters, and pit them against a threat that seemed new for a franchise that's more than a decade old. I loved the high stakes tension the movie had, its comedy was used sparingly and was well timed (unlike say, "Iron Man 3") resulting in some good laughs, it featured by far the best action scenes the series has seen yet, and it had some truly amazing shots that I think will become iconic with age.
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dawn of the Apes had one of the worst trailers I've seen in a long while. It looks so bad that I was unsure if I even wanted to see it, with Rise of the Apes being one of my favorite movies in recent years. It looked like a cheap action flick that lacked the thematic brilliance of its predecessor. I was completely wrong. The action was over the top at some points, but it was somehow even more thematically brilliant. I've talked about its message to great extents before on here and am hesitant to go on and on again, but basically, it all comes down to that the world is a beautiful place full of all kinds of different life that can learn to respect each other. But something as pointless as war tears relationships apart for trivial reasons speared by a couple of bad eggs. Even looking past its message, DOTPOTA was just a perfect movie for me. I loved everything about it. The flashbacks/references to the first movie were incredibly moving.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
There weren't many "Award-type" movies that I enjoyed this year (although I still have to see Foxcatcher, Birdman, and Nightcrawler). But Wes Anderson's latest and perhaps best (better than The Royal Tenenbaums I daresay) is a strong exception. I really got the feeling that a lot of passion and love went into this movie. The small details like the changing aspect ratios, the sets, make-up and costumes, etc. I also loved how the movie in general was so over-the-top in a self-aware way. The two main characters were great, but I especially enjoyed how there were only two main characters who ran into several minor characters who were played by an all-star lineup of Wes Anderson favorites like Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray. I can't remember if Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, or Adrien Brody were in a Wes Anderson movie before, but they were exceptional among a great cast. The whole movie reminded me of some of my favorite short stories or novellas in that it wasn't overstuffed with filler, but just a great story with memorable characters.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
Like I said before, Marvel avoided retreading their characters and stories as they did in 2013 by offering completely fresh experiences. Where "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" was a dark and gritty level of fun, Guardians was lighthearted (with more than a few raunchy jokes, don't get me wrong) and adventurous. The characters of Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot were relatively unknown before this movie (I consider myself a fan of comics and I only new of them to a small degree), but after this movie, they are among everybody's favorites in the MCU. I for one miss them already. I have to watch it for a second time to make sure, but Guardians of the Galaxy might be my favorite movie in the franchise yet.
*Without lengthy write-ups to avoid any spoilers. It is impossible to talk/write about TV series without spoiling anything.
4. House of Cards
3. The Legend of Korra
I will say something about Korra, though. A few years ago, I watched Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time after I had missed out when I was a kid. In short, I LOVED it. It was a story about friendship, adversity, burden, and adventure. If you haven't seen it, you must. With The Legend of Korra, it is mostly about the same themes but in a more mature way, since Korra is a young adult avatar. Because of this, (and it still has plenty of laughs and a ton of heart) it goes into deeper, darker places. Where almost every Avatar: TLA dark moment was immediately followed up by a cheap laugh to break the tension and not scare children, The Legend of Korra goes all the way. There are many deep, emotional scenes to be found, some dark and menacing (the first season is about full-on terrorism and includes death), others relatable and sincere. Some episodes end on an absolutely gut-wrenching note. So yeah, LoK gets dark and sad, but for every one of these moments, there are three moments of pure fun and adventure. By the end of the series (like Avatar: TLA), I felt personally connected to the characters. But with LoK, I feel the Avatar creators had mastered their craft to make a masterpiece of a series. If you haven't gotten on board the Avatar train, I'd highly suggest giving it a shot, or a second shot.
2. True Detective
1. Game of Thrones
(A lot of indie rock, alternative rock)
5. Broncho - Just Enough Hip to Be Woman
- Best Song: Class Historian
4. Royal Blood - Royal Blood
- Best Song: Figure It Out
3. Bad Suns - Language & Perspective
- Best Song: Cardiac Arrest
2. Broods - Evergreen
- Best Song: Mother & Father
1. St. Vincent - St. Vincent
(This is one of those rare masterpiece albums, I highly recommend it.)
- Best Song: Digital Witness
Again, I have like four blogs coming up to go over my favorite gaming stuff from 2014. It's hard to believe it is going to be my fifth annual GOTY Awards! So keep a lookout for those some time in February. But yeah, those 15 movies/TV series/Albums were my jams for 2014. Thanks for reading and please comment with your favorite stuff from 2014 :)