Posted in Pop Culture

Best of 2014

It is that time again. I didn’t get to watch as many movies and read as much as I would have liked to in 2014. But I was still able to come up with a list of my favorites and I want to share them with you. I have also added television shows to the mix this year because there were a couple of standouts that I will talk to anybody and everybody about. Drumroll please….

Books

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: A young adult novel set in space with a Romeo and Juliet plot that has a few twists you don’t expect. I really enjoyed the story and the twist still haunts me.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: The first of the two Neil Gaiman books on my list for 2014 is as unconventional as it gets. An 18 month old baby boy crawls out the front door of his house in the middle of the night while a murderer is upstairs killing his family. He ends up in a graveyard where the resident ghosts become his guardians. Yes, it sounds gruesome. But Gaiman has an imagination like no other and will give you the warm and fuzzies with this tale of Nobody Owens.

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman: Mr. Gaiman gave a commencement speech in May of 2012 and this book documents it. It is exactly the companion I need when I sit down to write. It gives inspiration, pep talks, and laughs. Neil Gaiman shows once again that he is King with just 80 short pages.

Movies

Enough Said: This movie came out in 2013 but I was able to catch it on HBO this year. And I am so glad that I did. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini make the perfect on screen couple. Their story isn’t a fairy tale and still comes across as a sweet romance. I have watched it countless times since my first viewing, even making my husband sit down and watch it with me. It makes me incredibly sad that James Gandolfini passed before this came out as he showed such a different side to his acting ability with this character. Enough Said is definitely in my top 10.

Snow Piercer: All I have to say is thank goodness for On Demand. Snow Piercer starring Chris Evans (Captain America himself) is a movie that is right up my husband and mine’s alley but something we couldn’t take our kids to. Enter: On Demand. It was released in theaters over the summer and then On Demand a couple of weeks later. It is set in the future where global warming has destroyed the world. It is winter year round and the only acceptable living is on a train that is constantly circling the earth. The rich occupy the front, the poor occupy the back. When the poor have had enough of the back and their living conditions, Chris Evans leads them to fight for what they want. It is violent, graphic, and Tilda Swinton is the most hilarious/scary ass leader I have seen in a long time. It carries a strong statement on society and does not have a happy ending. And that is what makes it an awesome film.

The Lego Movie: When I saw the first trailer for this movie, I couldn’t have been more horrified. I thought it looked awful. But when my husband kept predicting how great it was going to be and my kids kept getting more and more excited, I caved and we saw it. And I was 100% wrong. The Lego Movie not only delighted my kids, it made my husband and I laugh out loud throughout. I don’t want to give away a lot of the plot (for those five people that haven’t seen it yet) but it is clever, outlandish, and heartwarming. All I can say is: TACO TUESDAY.

The Babadook: The older I get, the more I find myself drawn to horror movies. Not slasher films with a lot of gore, but ones that really make me jump. It used to be that I would find a ton to watch during the month of October. But when I continue to see a particular movie pop up on best of lists, I am obligated to track it down. Such is the case with The Babadook. An Australian film that is in limited release in the States, it was also released On Demand (Thank you, Movie Gods). With a 98% Rotten Tomatoes rating, hubby was in no position to argue. And all I can say is, OMG. It is definitely a scary ghost story, the kind you would tell around the campfire. But as a parent, it spoke to me on a deeper level. The lack of sleep and the frustration you feel either when they are newborns or even when they are 5, it takes you to a place you didn’t think was possible. And that is where The Babadook scores.

Chef: A small film that was a passion project for director/actor Jon Favreau, Chef is a fun movie that has a great cast (Favreau, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, etc.), a story about a boy and his dad, and mouth watering food that will leave you starving. If you don’t make it your mission to find a worthy food truck after finishing Chef (or want to visit any of the places they travel to), you have missed the point.

Under the Skin: The husband and I watched this New Year’s Eve and there are so many things I don’t understand about this Scarlett Johansson movie. It could be classified as an arthouse film. It could be listed as science fiction or even just a thriller. Johansson plays a woman that drives around Scotland finding men to seduce. Once she takes them home with her, these men disappear. We are never given much information about this woman and she is not a heroine. But halfway through the story she tries to stray from her mission and I found myself rooting for her. I still have many questions that warrant a repeat viewing of Under the Skin. But without a doubt I really, really liked it.

New Television Shows

Black-ish: I grew up on The Cosby Show. And even with all the controversy surrounding its main star these days, the show still has a place in my heart. But when Black-ish premiered this fall to rave reviews and great ratings, I didn’t set up the DVR to record. But after a couple of months of hearing how funny it is, I decided to give it a try. And I have a new favorite. I describe it to anybody that will listen as a new generation of The Cosby Show. It is SO FUNNY. Everybody on the show is hilarious but Rainbow (Traccee Ellis Ross) is my favorite. I have only seen a few episodes so far, but I see my own family every time I do.

You’re the Worst: FX has the best programming. Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, Justified, and The Americans are/were all great shows. So when they debuted You’re the Worst and Married last summer, I couldn’t wait to watch both. And even though Married should have been more relatable to my husband and I, we couldn’t get enough of You’re the Worst. It revolves around two self absorbed LA people and their best friend/roommate. Jimmy and Gretchen are terrible people on their own who find themselves becoming better people when they are together. The show is crass, offensive, and shock worthy. And I couldn’t love it more.

I hope that you can at least find one book/movie/show on my best of 2014 and give it a chance. And if you have anything that you can recommend from this past year, please let me know. I am always on the hunt for my new obsession.

Credit to http://philanthropyfactory.com/2013/07/08/make-good-art/
Credit to http://philanthropyfactory.com/2013/07/08/make-good-art/
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I'm Stephanie, a California girl who is moving forward and not looking back.

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