Basically my favorite thing about December (besides Christmas, the end of school, snow, Christmas cookies, and like… a bunch of other things) is end of year lists. What fun! What is better than arbitrary, highly subjective rating things you like? Nothing I can think of!
The only problem with end of year lists for me is that I am very often behind on popular culture things. Something may be new to me, but everyone else in the known pop culture universe has already read/seen/heard it. I am often very behind on the times. So, in that sense, my definition of things that happened in 2014 will be very loose. It is also hard to compile a list for this particular year, because it was filled with such ABSOLUTE GARBAGE. The news cycle this year was horrifying, a bunch of people died, ebola continued to happen, Ariana Grande’s second album came out- things were pretty grim. But now is not the time to focus on all that negativity. Now is the time to focus on the things I liked best (which seemed to involve mostly women this year. Way to go women!), so, HERE WE GO. My best of film/books/music/TV/movies for 2014.
(Note: This is list is incredibly biased. It is my list deal with it.)
1. Bury Me At Make-out Creek, Mitski
This album is SO DOPE you guys. Mitski is so dope. She is this cool Japanese girl who plays bass and has an amazingly beautiful singing voice, and this album is my everything. Voice=awesome. Lyrics=awesome. Instrumentation=awesome. This album combines my love of female singer/songwriters with my love of guitar distortion, and it is my everything.
2. Acid Rap, Chance The Rapper
Technically this a mixtape, and it technically came out in 2013 (on my birthday!) but I didn’t listen to it until this year so whatever its going on this list. “Cocoa Butter Kisses” is a great song. Chance the Rapper is also dope, his cover of the Arthur theme song came out in 2014 and it was super awesome. Listen to it and remember that time is a flat circle and so technically I’m not wrong. I can put an internet released single out as a best album of 2014 because this is America.
3. Are We There, Sharon Von Etten
She is beautiful and her voice is beautiful, and this album makes me cry. It is also super badass. Also fun fact: Sharn Von Etten is from NJ, and is related to my friend James, who is also very gifted musically. Crazy.
That is it that is the end of my best albums of 2014 (only 2 of which were actually albums released in 2014) honestly I didn’t listen to that much new music in 2014, and apparently the only things I liked were by female vocalists (which is actually unusual for me.) I ended this list here because if I kept going I would have had to include Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey and 1989 by Taylor Swift which I really wasn’t comfortable doing.
1. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell
I love David Mitchell, so this is probably biased, but I thought The Bone Clocks was excellent. I liked the interconnected stories, as I always do, because sometimes sticking with one character’s POV the whole time can get dull. I think Mitchell is a nuanced and talented writer, and I thought will Holly he created a great protagonist. I also like how Mitchell brings back characters from his other books as supporting players- it is a nice treat for the reader to see familiar faces thrown in- it feels like a reward for paying attention.
2. Yes, Please Amy Poehler
HELL yes (please)
As I have previously mentioned, I really really liked this book. Since I already wrote a whole post about it, rehashing why I think this book is awesome is probably unnecessary. I know celebrity memoirs are considered low-rent by most of the literary public, but try it! Its a fun, insightful, and interesting read.
3. Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay
As someone who is constantly struggling with what it means to be a “feminist” I really liked this book, and based on its popularity, it seems like a lot of other people do as well. All Gay’s essays were well written, insightful, and took a hard look at race, gender, sexuality and other difficult topics. In the world of political correctness and internet backlash in which we currently live, I appreciated Gay’s candor and honesty, and her ideas on what it means to be a “bad feminist” will continue to resonate with me.
This is kind of a weird category, cause, I generally have a hard time separating season/series. Still, I think all three of these shows had particularly strong years, as well as being some of my favorite shows in general. I also want to note it took a lot of self restraint to not include Top Chef, which I love even though it is mostly garbage.
1. Mad Men
Mad Men is always forever number one on my TV show list, because it is amazing and perfect. Even if you disregard my bias though, I still think this (half) season qualifies as a year’s best. Following what was perhaps my least favorite season of the show, I thought both the plot lines and the acting this season was amazing. Things got increasingly desperate for Don and co. but Weiner handled their slow downfall with nuance, and it made for engaging, depressing, beautiful television. The fact that this is the last (half) season makes me want to weep, and I know I am doomed to be disappointed by the ending, but nonetheless, I can’t wait for Mad Men to start up again this winter.
2. New Girl
Watching New Girl and Mindy Project together every Tuesday night has become something a tradition for me and my roommates, as is endlessly binge-watching it on Netflix. The show is joyful and hilarious, and it is my personal opinion that Lamone Morris is a national treasure. This is one of the most consistently funny shows on television, at least in my opinion, and this year it has been killin’ it.
3. Parks and Recreation
Oh, Parks. This show is heartfelt and beautiful and hilarious and the best. It continues to be the best. The way NBC is handling the airing of the final season is making me very sad, as does the thought of my life without new episodes of Parks and Rec in it, but I am trying to soldier on. I will miss all our friends.
Yeah I barely watched any movies this year, so this is hardly an objective category. I really want to see Top Five, Birdman and Obvious Child, but I haven’t so those don’t count. Regardless…
This movie was amazing, and beautiful, and made me nostalgic for things I didn’t even realize I missed. I am generally against romanticizing childhood- it seems cheap- but I thought this movie was a gorgeous story of growing up, and should be considered a best-of even without considering the incredible way in which it was made. Also, the soundtrack is really really great. I would have put in the “best albums” category except that would be very cheap- soundtracks aren’t albums.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
I am a huge Wes Anderson fan, and a person who considers The Royal Tenenbaums to be on their top 5 movies of all time list. So the fact that I liked this movie is not exactly a surprise, even if I wasn’t a huge fan of Moonrise Kingdom. Still, I think Grand Budapest was the rare Anderson film that manages to be aesthetically beautiful, emotionally powerful, and very funny. It is definitely one of my favorite films of the year, and probably my third favorite Anderson film of all time.
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past
This is kind of a weird choice, mostly because if I was going to pick a superhero movie, the obvious choice is Guardians of the Galaxy starring my true love Chris Pratt. But I am going with X-Men, because it was a movie that was very poignant, considering the subject matter, and that made me nostalgic for the X-Men movies of my youth. I was obsessed with X-Men and X2 when they came out, loved them, but have just been disappointed by most of them since them (I consider X-Men: Last Stand to be a personal crime against me, committed by Brett Ratner.) Days of Futures Past was a return to form, however, and I thought the integration of the two casts was really well done. Plus, James McAvoy is an amazing actor, so much so that he can make a film about mutants very emotional for me. Not sure why I am justifying this so hard, but do to lack of better choices, X-Men is my 3rd favorite.