Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jenn's Year In Review: 2014 (Super Superlatives!)


Happy almost-2015, my dear friends! Wow, can you believe that an entire year has passed? I barely can. A lot has happened this year. We've fallen in love with new television shows, only to have them cancelled by networks. We've seen some amazing movies and had dance parties in our cars to catchy top 40 songs. Personally, I've had a whirlwind year. I ran two half-marathons in 2014, in addition to other races (I ran almost 50 miles in just races -- not even training runs -- alone this year). I've expanded the website to include the lovely and talented Ann, as well as numerous other guest contributors. I've gotten into new fandoms. I attended LeakyCon 2014 this summer in Orlando. I've watched friends get married and get engaged and get houses. I went on vacations to Anna Maria Island, FL and Los Angeles, CA. Not everything this year has been pleasant, though. I've struggled to keep my sanity at work. I lost my 91-year old grandmother and our family dog.

But if New Year's has taught me anything over my lifetime, it's that no matter how great or terrible your year may have been, a fresh start is just around the corner. And so, as I did at the end of 2012 and the end of 2013, I've compiled my yearly pop culture superlatives list! So grab those party hats and noisemakers, because we're going to review some of the best (and worst) in TV, movies, and music this year.

[You can find Ann's best/worst of 2014 list here!]

TELEVISION


 

Favorite Single Episode of a Television Show (Comedy): "Big News," New Girl

I know that a lot of people took issue with New Girl's third season (It was becoming a very fourth-season-of-Community debacle over on Tumblr), but I didn't hate it. Was it amazing? Not entirely. Was it perfect? Far from it. Do I think anything could have lived up to the perfection that was the show's sophomore season? Probably not. Nevertheless, I watched the third year of New Girl with a critical but affectionate eye. And that's why one if its episodes ranks as my favorite single episode of a television show (comedy-wise) this year. "Big News" literally contained everything that makes this show so special and so amazing: it featured heartfelt Nick/Jess moments; it contained one of the best loft group moments on this show, perhaps ever. It was sweet and endearing without being sappy. It was funny while still being in-character. And it was sad, but not so sad that it detracted from the overall message of the episode. It contained a great story and development for Winston and hilarious shenanigans for the rest of the gang.

Even if you didn't like New Girl's third season, go back and re-watch this episode. I promise you that it holds up.

Favorite Single Episode of a Television Show (Drama): "Mama," Sleepy Hollow

I admit that I've been a tad underwhelmed with Sleepy Hollow this season. Don't get me wrong: it's still a hilarious and delightful show to live-tweet. I enjoy watching Ichabod and Abbie banter. I like seeing Jenny take charge. I enjoy Henry as a villain. But this FOX mega-hit was like a speeding train and eventually it was bound to run out of energy. Part-way through this season, I found myself actually bored with the show and certain episodes, feeling like a lot of time was spent on filler and fluff. I was debating whether or not I even wanted to keep watching the show (or devote more time to writing and Netflix), but then "Mama" happened, which I think is the single best episode this season and ranks pretty high on the list of episodes this show has done.

What makes "Mama" such a stellar episode is that the writers didn't aim for the middle ground -- they shot high and they succeeded as a result. The emotional component of this episode was outstanding and sob-inducing. It's fine line to walk, in a show like Sleepy Hollow, where your main characters are -- at the moment -- a witch, a criminal, a thief, a colonial soldier, a modern cop, and the Horseman of War -- to make an episode emotional. You always risk stale cliches and trite moments whenever you interject real, raw, emotion into a show that never really takes itself too seriously. But what I loved about "Mama" was that it simultaneously removed us from the fantastical without really removing us from it. (Abbie and Jenny's mother, a ghost, is the main character of this episode.) In removing Ichabod and Hawley and Katrina throughout most of the episode, we were able to watch the heart of the show unfold. I love Ichabod and Abbie's relationship, but this episode proved that Abbie and JENNY contain the most power, emotionally, on Sleepy Hollow.

Nicole Beharie and Lyndie Greenwood were STELLAR throughout the episode. I cannot say enough about how beautiful and nuanced and gut-wrenching their acting was, especially in the scene where they say goodbye to their mother one last time. A lot of this show has been lukewarm for me this season, but this episode was anything but.

Best Television Show You’re Not Watching But Need To Be: Jane the Virgin

Are you in the market for a sweet, ambitious, endearing comedy? Do you enjoy romance and intrigue? Soap operas and strong female characters? Then Jane the Virgin is the show you need to be watching. Gina Rodriguez is a gem. She leads a stellar cast of nuanced, layered, and genuinely interesting characters. Admittedly, when I heard this show's title and saw the promos running on The CW, I scoffed. There was no way that I would watch that show. (I'm terrible, apparently, and even though I shouldn't judge a show by its title, I kind of do.)

But when I actually sat down to watch the pilot, I found myself falling for its endearing charm, its humor, its graphics, and its characters. Jane is the lead character of this series and if you don't fall in love with her... well, you're probably a robot. The thing is, most of the people on this show are morally ambiguous. They have hidden agendas and their instincts for self-preservation are on-point. But not Jane. Jane is a woman who has values and beliefs and she holds fast to them. She loves people and sees the best in others. She's a genuinely GOOD character who fights for goodness and happiness. And that doesn't mean she is faultless. Jane Villanueva makes mistakes. But she learns from them. And she continues to grow in hope.

Jane isn't the only reason you should watch the show. Everyone -- Rafael, Petra, Michael, Xo, Rogelio, etc. -- is compelling in their own ways. Rafael is a former playboy, but he's trying, really trying, to be a better person. He's trying to be the kind of man who deserves to raise a baby -- a better man to become a better father. Xo is protective of everyone and everything (her heart, Jane, etc.) but it's because she's got a lot of fear and baggage and just wants the best for the people she loves. Petra is calculating and manipulative in a lot of ways, but she's also still a woman who is sensitive and wants to be taken care of and cared for. Michael is sweet but very guarded, which is what drove Jane away. He lied and kept secrets in order to protect himself and shut Jane out of a part of his life. Michael is still a character I'm trying to read because he's not evil by any means, but he's also not trustworthy at this point. And Rogelio is hilarious, but also heartfelt. He cares about getting to know Jane and he remembers important things about Xo and her life. He may be shallow in a lot of ways, but he's selfless in a lot more. And he just keeps trying and failing and learning and trying again. (Also, Jane's grandmother is such a wonderful character on this show not just as a moral compass for others but as someone who genuinely loves and cares about Jane and Xo, too.)

Basically, marathon Jane the Virgin over Christmas holiday. You won't regret it.


Best Male Character: Barry Allen, The Flash

The characters that I've chosen for Best Male and Female character are similar in some ways and vastly different in others. Fundamentally, though, Barry Allen is a hopeful person. He's a hero. And that is why he makes this list. When I began watching The Flash, I knew that it would be different, tonally, from Arrow. And I was okay with that. Actually, I was MORE than okay with that. I love Arrow but it's a dark show. Its hero is brooding and can occasionally be gruff and angry and cynical. He needs reminders that life isn't just a series of near-death experiences, but an actual opportunity to LIVE.

Barry Allen (if you follow my live-tweets of The Flash) is a puppy dog. He's energetic. He's fun. He's adorable. He's endearing. And he's the kind of guy who just keeps believing in the best and fighting for hope for his city because that's what everyone deserves. He's special, but not just because he gained super speed. He's special because he keeps trying and keeps living and keeps believing that there are better things in the world than what he's currently being offered. He's an optimist and that is why I love him so much. He's also brave and occasionally stubborn and sometimes just a giant show-off.

But he cares deeply about the people who are in his life. He does his best to protect them, to care for them, to BE there for them. He's tragic in a way that Oliver Queen isn't and I love that about him. That is why I find him endearing and why he is my favorite male character of 2014.

Best Female Character: Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation

Look, imma let you finish, but Leslie Knope is the best female character on television in recent history and she deserves to win Best Female Character in 2014. Parks and Recreation is a feel-good comedy. It's, as my friend Sage used to say, "the comedy of optimism." The Parks department loves each other. Sure, they make fun of Jerry/Larry/Gary a lot, but they all really and truly love and support each other. Leslie Knope's life was shaken up in 2014. Her best friend had a baby and moved away. She became pregnant with triplets. TRIPLETS. And her town -- the thing she loved so deeply and wanted to make better -- turned against her.

But none of that brought Leslie Knope down. None of those experiences crumbled her character or her determination. We saw Leslie fight even HARDER to be the woman that Pawnee needed and deserved; to be the kind of wife that Ben deserved and mother that her children deserved. We saw her fight to be the friend that Ann, April, Ron, Chris. Donna, Tom, and Andy deserved. In Amy Poehler's book Yes Please, Mike Schur talks about Leslie Knope as he reflects on her journey from the first season to the final. He says this:
"[Leslie] believed that it only took one person to make a difference. She wanted to effect change, she wanted to someday be President, but most importantly, she wanted to turn an empty lot in her town into a park. [...] It's so interesting to think about it this way, now, as we near the end -- it was, at the beginning, really that simple: a woman who wanted to make something out of nothing."
That is who Leslie Knope is. That is what she does. She is a woman who takes nothing and turns it into something beautiful. Who turns empty lots -- blank canvases -- into places where kids can dream and play and BE. She takes normal people and, through her friendship, reminds them that they are extraordinary.

And she managed to take a small, insignificant town in Indiana and turn it into a home.



Show That Had So Much Potential This Year, But Lost It All: Doctor Who; Community (tie)

This year, the award for this category is a tie between Doctor Who and Community.

I don't want to repeat myself here, so in case you're wondering why I was severely disappointed in this season of Doctor Who, I already wrote about it. Oh, and in case you're wondering why Community has received this award for the second year in a row, look no further than this post.

Maybe next year will be a comeback for either series (or both)? (Honorable mention to How I Met Your Mother whose final moments were some of the worst and most expletive-earning in recent television history.)

Most Annoying Character on Television (Female): Rachel Zane, Suits

I always tried to play devil's advocate when it came to Rachel on the USA hit drama Suits but 2014 was the year where I could not stand her character. Not only was Rachel her grating, holier-than-thou self for the duration of the season, but then she cheated on Mike and hid her indiscretion from him (even when others, like Donna, told her to come clean). And then, Rachel had the audacity to beg for Mike's forgiveness and was offended when she couldn't earn his favor immediately. In addition to that all (as if it wasn't enough), Rachel then used Mike's relationship with Jenny, before she and he had ever dated, against him as reason to forgive her.

Rachel Zane was at her most interesting this year during her scenes with Louis. I loved their dynamic and how he protected and defended her. But the problem was that... Rachel didn't deserve any of that this year. She was brash and judgmental and a horrible friend and girlfriend throughout this entire season. And that is just a fact.

Most Annoying Character on Television (Male): Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother

You know, I used to love Ted Mosby. Yes, he was occasionally irritating and pompous, but he was also romantic and endearing. He was an optimist and a dreamer who was waiting for the love of his life to appear. And we cheered for him (some of us cheered for the duration of the series and some stopped when Ted began to annoy them) to find that love. Until the end of the series.

At the end of the series, no one was cheering for Ted anymore. He waffled between feelings for Robin and moving forward with his life. And then he met Tracy and they fell in love (and then the show, in a horrible move, promptly killed her off). And then Ted, after telling a really and truly long story to his kids, realized he was still in love with Robin and presumably ended the series in the exact same place he began it -- chasing a woman who wasn't his soulmate in hopes that, by chasing her, he could convince her to be his soulmate.

I hated the end of How I Met Your Mother. I hated what the writers chose to do in its final hour. And, to be honest, I was really and truly annoyed by Ted.

 

Television Show(s) That Left Us Too Soon: Selfie; The Crazy Ones

I'll mourn the loss of The Crazy Ones for a while. I was one of a few people on my Twitter timeline who watched the series religiously. And it truly was the best show that too few people were watching. The humor was impeccable and Robin Williams (R.I.P.) was absolutely stellar in it. The entire cast was so wonderful to watch and you could really see the joy that they had while making the show shine through in the episodes. If you get the chance to, watch the entire season. It ended on a high note and though it took a few episodes to really find its footing, it was so solid after that. Plus, "Sydney, Australia" is one of the best episodes of a comedy this year.

Additionally, a show with a horrible title but delightful cast and crew -- Selfie -- also left us too soon. While it, too, took a bit to find its humor and footing, I was enamored with the cast. Karen Gillan is hilarious. We're so used to (or at least I am) seeing her in serious roles that it was a bit jarring at first to watch her play the vapid, but well-meaning Eliza Dooley. But when Karen shone the most in this series was when she was able to tap into the more emotional parts of Eliza. Watching Eliza confront Henry, tearfully, in "Imperfect Harmony" was absolutely beautiful work by Karen. And John Cho is just as fantastic in this series. As Henry, he's a workaholic who is closed-off, emotionally, and terrified of feeling something -- anything -- real. And then he meets Eliza who challenges him on literally every single level. John Cho is a fantastic romantic lead. I never thought I would say that because I've never seen him in that kind of role before, but he excelled at facial nuances and expressions. You could see and feel, palpably, his pain. And it, as well as the show, was so beautiful not just because of John Cho and Karen Gillan, but because of its entire cast and because it was never afraid to be bold and loud, be funny, and be heartfelt at the same time.

(Honorable mention to Red Band Society, which was just starting to get really good.)

Show That Should Be Put Out of Its Misery (And Is): Glee

You know, if you just watch the first thirteen episodes of Glee and pretend that it ended after that, you'll be pleasantly surprised. I actually enjoyed the first season of the FOX musical comedy/drama. It wasn't revolutionary, but it wasn't BAD. The show had some great characters and stories and allowed them to breathe and exist and grow, slightly. And then... everything went downhill. Fast. And Glee became Ryan Murphy's greatest train wreck. I watched as characters like Quinn Fabray were assassinated. I watched absurd plots unfold. I listened as Ryan Murphy delivered week after week of PSA: everything from texting while driving to bullying to school shootings (don't get me started on that episode) to eating disorders and coming out were covered. But none of it was done with grace or poise. It was all hastily and shoddily thrown together like a toddler trying to recreate a Jackson Pollock painting.

I am so glad that Glee will finally be leaving the air this season so that its talented cast can move forward and act on television shows that treat characters and stories with respect, rather than as commodities or pawns to be used and abused and discarded whenever Ryan Murphy gets bored.



Best Performance in a Television Series (Male): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Arrow

Arrow has become one of my favorite network dramas this year. I know... weird, right? I don't usually watch shows on The CW. I watched Gossip Girl for a few years in college and then fell away from it. But this year, I decided to get over my prejudices about the quality of shows (soapy) I used to see on the network and gave Arrow a chance because so many people recommended it. And when a lot of people recommend something, they can't be wrong, right? What I wasn't expecting was to fall in love with this drama and into admiration of its lead actor, Stephen Amell. Stephen anchors this show. He's the main character, after all, and he's exuded such growth as an actor over the past three years playing this broken, scarred, and dark character. I won't lie -- the stunts are impressive. The fights are impressive. The salmon ladder is impressive. But what continues to astound me in regards to Stephen is the work he puts into the emotional aspects of the show. The quieter moments, in particular, are some of the most powerful ones.

In this season, Stephen has been given a lot to carry, emotionally, for the show. And make no mistake about it, the rest of the cast? Stellar. David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Colton Haynes, Katie Cassidy, Paul Blackthorne... they're all amazing actors and talented in their own rights. But Stephen has do to a lot of the heavy emotional lifting because he's intersecting nearly every story on the show every week. So in moments like the foundry scene between Oliver and Felicity during "Sara," I'm in awe of the way that Stephen played Oliver -- the intensity and pain with which he looked (or didn't look) at Felicity. And even in the GIF above, you can see the way that Stephen allows every emotion and thought that Oliver is having to flicker across his face. The simple things that Stephen does with this character are the most powerful, to me. Listen to the way he lowers his voice to a whisper. Or the way he stands in a certain scene. or what he does with his hands The best actors KNOW their characters so well that they know how they will respond to everything. And I think Stephen knows Oliver Queen so well, which is what makes him so exceptional as an actor.

Best Performance in a Television Series (Female): Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman, Parenthood

I started watching Parenthood because of my roommate and my sister influencing me. Both said that I would love the show. Both said that I would cry profusely. And I am pleased to say that they were correct. In a cast as large as Parenthood's is -- eighteen total actors, ranging from adult to teenager to infant -- it's often hard to pick a "favorite" or a "best" character. I love Adam's leadership. Amber is so complex and yet so strong. But the award for the most impressive performance in a television series this year belongs to Monica Potter who has done absolutely stellar work with Kristina Braverman on the series.

In 2012, the show centered around Kristina's discovery that she had cancer. It was a beautiful, realistic portrayal of someone undergoing treatment for that horrible disease. The silent moment she tells the entire family about her diagnosis was so poignant and gut-wrenching. And then, there was one episode -- just one -- in 2014 for which Monica Potter earns this award. In the fifth season finale, Kristina's friend Gwen passes away from cancer. And honestly, the scene with Kristina at Gwen's bedside and then later at home, enduring survivor's guilt, was so heartbreaking and absolutely stunning work by Monica. The thing about Kristina Braverman is that she's not just a fighter or a survivor -- she's a lover. She's a lover of things and people; a chaser of dreams and desires who wants the best life for herself and her family. She's tried to provide that for them in a career and in motherhood and as a cancer patient, she tried to do the same for Gwen. She was always encouraging, lending a listening ear when necessary, and always -- always -- hopeful.

But then, in "I'm Still Here," we see this completely unraveled side to Kristina because when she can't save people or give them hope, she crumbles. Monica Potter did some absolutely beautiful, realistic work with Kristina in season four and into season five and I would be remiss to name a best performance and not include her.



Best Series – Comedy: Enlisted

The most unjust cancellation of 2014 is the cancellation of Enlisted, FOX's brightest and best comedy in years. It tells the story of the Hill brothers who have three very different personalities and views on life and the military. Eldest brother Pete recently returned from Afghanistan to his home military base (where brothers Randy and Derrick reside) Fort McGee. This is a rear-detachment base. There's no combat here, and it's home to the families of soldiers who are off in foreign countries, fighting wars. Pete is resentful that he's landed back here, out of battle, and even more resentful that he's been assigned to lead a platoon akin to the island of misfit toys. What I loved so much about Enlisted was that it seamlessly wove heart and humor into its episodes. This wasn't a show that force-fed the audience a "message of the week." It wasn't a comedy that preferred hijinks to emotion. It was a show that found the balance between a character's quirks and their hurts. "Pete's Airstream" was one of the best episodes of this show (all of them were amazing and that's why I'm kind of glad, in a weird way, that there won't be any more episodes -- Enlisted can forever live in a perfect little untouched bubble of quality). The season/series finale "Alive Day" was absolutely perfect. It made me sob (like, sobbing, not just crying) and it made me cackle. And it gave me the warmest of fuzzy feelings to see the entire platoon together on that beach in the end.

That was the most impressive thing about Enlisted, really. We got to know these characters really deeply in a short amount of time. And we felt pain when they hurt. We were happy when they succeeded. We understood their motivations and their fears and their joys. The show never expected us to be able to relate, perfectly, to them, but all it ever asked us to do was care about them. And I did. I cared about every single person on that platoon. I cared about the Hill brothers. And I really cared about Enlisted.

(If you can find a way to watch all of the episodes in the correct order, please do. You seriously won't regret it. I promise.)

Best Series – Drama: The Flash

It's weird that in 2013, I watched zero shows on The CW and in 2014, I'm now dedicated to watching three. Two of those shows are about superheroes. One is dark, the other a bit brighter and optimistic. The best drama series of 2014, in my opinion, is The Flash. I watched a lot of dramas in 2014 (The Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow, Pretty Little Liars, Arrow, Once Upon A Time, Suits, Scorpion, Doctor Who, etc. etc.) but I found none as endearing and wonderful as The Flash. It's a new series, but it began with a bang and the reason why it's so successful, in my opinion, is because it's so self-assured and self-aware. It KNOWS who it is. And the reason freshmen series usually struggle on television is because they take a few episodes to find their voice; to figure out who their characters really are and what they want. The problem, of course, is that television networks are fickle and often new shows don't get the chance to explore those ideas before they're prematurely cancelled.

But The Flash is a gem. I love every single person in its cast and think that they are all exceptionally talented. It's a show that rarely takes itself too seriously -- that excels at its special effects, delivers some real and genuine laughs, and also emotionally punches us when necessary. It has something for everyone, truly, even if you're not a fan of comics or superheroes. I'm excited for the back half of this first season and to see how it will continue to impress me.

Actor I’ve Grown to Love A Lot More in 2014: Chris Messina, The Mindy Project

The Mindy Project isn't my favorite comedy on television at the moment, its third season being a bit hit-or-miss depending on the episode, but one person in the cast continues to shine and that is Chris Messina. He's hilarious, truly, in the comedic aspects of the show. I love that he can absolutely sell a line that would sound absurd coming from any other character on the series. But where Chris excels on this series is when he has the opportunity to deliver on the really emotional moments. Chris Messina just has a face -- this FACE -- where you can see heartbreak etched into it so clearly. He is absolutely perfect whenever he gets the opportunity to be dramatic and I've grown to love him a whole lot more this year because of it.



Actress I’ve Grown to Love a Lot More in 2014: Troian Bellisario, Pretty Little Liars

In a show like Pretty Little Liars, I expected the acting to be sub-par or average. It's a soapy teenage drama that airs on ABC Family, after all. (I don't know why I'm so prejudiced when it comes to networks -- I really shouldn't be). But one actress on PLL has consistently astounded me with her committment to her character and her stories: Troian Bellisario. Spencer Hastings is such a layered and complex and utterly enjoyable character to watch each week. She's witty and extremely clever; she's emotional and damaged but not broken. She's a leader and a fighter and probably one of the best female characters on television. I love her a lot and I have really grown to appreciate Troian this year, after marathoning the entire series. She is so committed to delivering her best work every single episode, whether she's breaking down at Radley (which was an absolutely unprecedented level of acting on this show) or lightly making fun of Hanna, and I truly admire her for it. In a show where it would be fine to coast, Troian utterly shines and brings it every single week. And for that, I am truly thankful.

Television Show Everyone Really Hopes Get Can-Can-Cancelled: The Mysteries of Laura

No.


Just... no. I'm really sad that this show is actually still on the air while so many other amazing comedies were cancelled this year. Why are you the worst, NBC?

Television Show I Keep Meaning to Catch Up On: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I tried to get into Brooklyn Nine-Nine last year and I got two episodes into the series before I bailed. It wasn't as funny, to me, as other series. And with so many television shows to watch, I couldn't commit myself to a show that was just okay. But I've been told by many friends that the series got better and funnier (and it is produced by Mike Schur, after all), so I'm hoping that 2015 is the year I'm able to catch up on some good television that I missed out on.



Television Show I Wanted to Like, But Didn’t Get There: Marry Me; A to Z

Romantic comedies were not really a hit this year on television, as I only was sold on one (Selfie) out of the entire lot. Manhattan Love Story was a hot mess, and Marry Me and A to Z were just okay. I wanted to like both for different reasons (Casey Wilson and Ken Marino in the former, Cristin Milioti in the latter). I watched the pilots of both and felt... meh. They weren't absurdly terrible, but they also weren't spectacular or compelling or funny enough to earn my eyes live each week.

And so, I bid adieu to rom-com television series (for one reason or another) this year.

Television Show That Was Sacrificed Thanks to Television Scheduling: Scorpion

I actually really liked the pilot of CBS's newest hit drama and I really liked the episodes that followed. The show has gotten progressively better and more interesting, and the characters have surprised me. Critics jokingly compared Scorpion to The Big Bang Theory, but I don't -- having watched almost all of the episodes that have aired thus far -- feel the same way. It's got a lot of heart to it, and actually made me tear up with a few episodes. The characters are dynamic and already beginning to grow and change in their relationships with each other and -- consequently -- the world.

But since Scorpion airs opposite Sleepy Hollow, I pledged my allegiance to Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie this year and relegated Scorpion to On-Demand viewing over the weekends.

Television Show I’m Most Anxious to Marathon in 2015: Ugly Betty

I'm already over half-way through my Ugly Betty marathon on Netflix and I'm completely in love with this comedy. I'm also sad that I never watched it when it was airing, but that was during my CSI:NY kick. (I kid not.) I'm really excited to completely watch the series this coming year and then start on another show.

MOVIES



Best Movie Adaptation of a Book: The Fault in Our Stars

I love John Green and not just because he's from where I live. I love him because he's talented and writes great stories that occasionally get turned into movies (like Paper Towns will be, in 2015!). I really do think that the success of The Fault in Our Stars as a movie was due, in part, to John's involvement in it. When authors are a part of the movie-making process and when their work is treated with care and consideration, audiences are happy. Obviously, two-hour movies can only contain so much material -- inevitably, a 300-page book, condensed, will need to eliminate extraneous parts when translated to screen and may need to add others. But I was truly impressed with how TFIOS was handled, as a movie. It made me weep multiple times, and I found that it stuck generally close to its novel counterpart.

The most important thing to get right was the heart of the book and the narrative voice of Hazel Grace. I definitely think that TFIOS succeeded in this and it's one of my favorite movies in 2014 because of that.

Best Movie I Saw in 2014: Frozen

SHUT UP, I LOVED FROZEN AND I OWN IT ON BLU-RAY AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND GORGEOUS AND THE SNOW SPARKLES AND I'LL TWIRL AROUND MY APARTMENT SINGING "LET IT GO" ALL I WANT.

Actor I Wasn't Surprised to Find Myself Loving: Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy

So, I watched Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time (I know) on the plane ride home from Los Angeles. And I absolutely loved it. My roommate, Leah, kept looking over at me because I was actually laughing out loud. But what impressed me most wasn't the humor, though it was impeccable, but Chris Pratt's acting. I love Chris on Parks and Recreation and knew he would do an exceptional job as the witty, sarcastic hero Peter Quill. What I didn't expect was for him to tug at my heart, as well, during some lovely emotional moments in the film. Chris Pratt was such an underrated actor. His comedic timing and delivery? Flawless and hilarious. But he made me tear up toward the end of the movie and honestly? I'm so glad Chris is getting the recognition that he deserves because he is super talented and a genuinely good person.


Actress I Wasn’t Surprised to Find Myself Loving: Chloe Grace Moretz, If I Stay

I watched two films on the plane ride home from Los Angeles and sobbed during my second one which was, as you might surmise, If I Stay. I devoured the Gayle Foreman novel and meant to see the movie in theratres but never had the chance to do so. The movie was really quite impressive. It was a bit slow in parts, but the absolute star of the film was Chloe Grace Moretz. There is one scene in the movie that utterly broke me, and it's the moment that Mia finds out about Teddy. Chloe is just chilling in the scene as she screams and collapses onto the floor in the hospital hallway. I was so impressed with her in this film, honestly.

Best Movie of 2014 That I Won’t See Until 2015: Divergent

I've made a commitment to not see a movie version of a book until I've read the book itself. It's why I haven't seen Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close yet, even though that movie is years old. I've been told that the Divergent series is a pretty good read and the film is quite good as well. But until I read the book, my movie-viewing will have to be put on hold!

Most Talked-About Movie of 2014 That I Have Not and Will Likely Not See: Interstellar

I mean, I love me some Christopher Nolan. Inception is one of the best films I've seen but I have absolutely no desire to see Interstellar and it's partially for the same reason I had no desire to see Gravity. I'm not a huge fan of the outer space movies, y'all, and when I spend $10 to see a movie, I want it to be something that I'm interested in.



Movie I Really Did Mean to See in 2014: Gone Girl

I never got a chance to see Gone Girl, but was really compelled by the book. It's such an engrossing read. Nick and Amy are both terrible characters and in a weird, warped way, I kind of loved that. This wasn't a book I would have normally read, but our social media book club selected it and I'm glad we did. I was so interested by the story and the characters and the mystery of it all. Amy Dunne is such an utterly fascinating character and though I spent a vast majority of the book absolutely loathing Nick, I found myself decidedly not loathing him at the end.

I heard that the movie adaptation of the book was really quite good so hopefully I'll get the opportunity to see it in 2015.

Movie I Will Get Yelled At For Not Wanting to See: The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

*ducks for cover* I read The Hobbit when I was in seventh grade and I have not read it since. I've fallen asleep during all of the Lord of the Rings movies and haven't seen any of The Hobbit ones, nor do I plan to (at least in the foreseeable future).

I KNOW, I KNOW.

MUSIC

Singer I Just Wish Would Go Away (Male): Jason Derulo

WHY IS JASON DERULO STILL A THING? Ugh, I absolutely abhor "Talk Dirty to Me." I don't know why he is still relevant but thank goodness Jordin Sparks came to her senses and they broke up. She's way too good for him.


Singer I Just Wish Would Go Away (Female): Ariana Grande

I really like "Problem." I really like "Bang Bang." But Ariana Grande annoys me. She's like a baby Mariah Carey and I just can't get over the fact that she looks like she's sixteen. I remember when she was on Victorious and I just can't listen to her during interviews with her annoying breathy little child voice and perpetual baby-deer-in-headlights look.

Artist/Band I Was Surprised to Find Myself Enjoying As Much as I Did: Iggy Azaela

Don't hate me, Ann, but I've got an Iggy problem and it's actually mostly due to the fact that all of her songs are perfect to run to. I was moderately obsessed with "Fancy" and "Black Widow" this year. "Beg For It" will be put onto my playlist soon, too.


Best Album: "1989," Taylor Swift

BOW DOWN TO THE QUEEN, Y'ALL. I'm a Taylor Swift-loving blogger and I was (and still am) obsessed with her latest pop album. I can't even express how much I love it. Oh, wait, I wrote a track-by-track review so I guess I can! Seriously though, T-Swizzle is the queen and everyone else is just living in her kingdom.

That One Song That You Belted To Everyone and Didn’t Know Why: "All of Me," John Legend

This song really gets overplayed but it's just one of those ones that you randomly belt to others. I don't even know why, but it is.

That One Song That Was Annoyingly Catchy: "All About That Bass," Meghan Trainor

This was another song that made it onto my running playlist. What can I say? It's dang catchy.

The Song That Was Good… Until It Was Overplayed: "Don't," Ed Sheeran

I love Ed Sheeran, I really do, but the fact that "Don't" is pretty much every other song being played on every other station this year was really annoying. Like I did with any Adele song, I had to turn the station to ensure I would still love Ed Sheeran after the year was over.


That Song That Was Good… Even When It’s Overplayed: "Happy," Pharell Williams

CLAP ALONG IF YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPINESS IS TO YOU.

That Emotionally-Charged Song You Can’t Help But Sing in Your Car: "Stay With Me," Sam Smith

If you didn't belt this to your empty car at least once this year, you're lying.

The Song You’ll Never Admit to Liking (But Secretly Know All The Words To): "The Heart Wants What It Wants," Selena Gomez

I LIKE SELENA GOMEZ, SUE ME. (Her taste in men is questionable, but she's not the worst singer in the world and I am borderline ashamed to like this song.)



That One Song You Couldn’t Get Out of Your Head All Year: "Let It Go," Frozen

Let's all be honest for a moment, here: in 2014 you listened to at least one cover of "Let It Go," plus the original version so many times you probably now have minor PTSD from it. It's okay. I do too.

There you have it, guys! 2014 is drawing to a close and 2015 is around the corner. Make those resolutions (or try to complete the ones you didn't get to finish in 2014) and come back here next year for more television reviews, more pop culture discussions, and more analyzing. Thank you all for being such a huge and important part of my life this year, especially to all of the new readers. I love you guys. :)

1 comment:

  1. I like your blog! I found it while looking for lists of sad Doctor Who moments.

    I still miss our Ugly Betty Days. I hope you enjoy the rest of it. It took us a long time to find another show that we loved as much.

    I hope we like season eight of Doctor Who more than you did. We're halfway through season 7. Tonight we're watching Angels in Manhattan : (

    I agree about How I Met Your Mother. Shameful ending! Good that they made an attempt to fix it though. Have you watched that?

    ReplyDelete