2014 has been an interesting year for pop culture. It’s the year that made Chris Pratt a star, that almost saw North Korea dictate what we could watch, when comic book franchises decided they would never end, the Bible became the new hit with Hollywood, and diversity became the watchword. But like every other person does at this time of year, we felt the urge to distill the past year into just a few favorite highlights. Each day leading up to the new year, The Wannabes will be presenting their favorite pieces of pop culture from 2014. Up first: Movies.
Megan: Whiplash is about two unlikeable people being driven to madness, within the walls of a music school. But for everything great the movie is, I really loved what it wasn’t. It avoids teacher-student cliches, and it doesn’t have you rooting for the underdog, because although Miles Teller’s character is the student, he’s not a kind kid. He’s the protagonist, but the audience is never sure if he will or should succeed. The film also avoids unnecessary B plots, which was insanely refreshing. And the performances of Teller and J.K. Simmons are not to be understated. At times Whiplash had me covering my eyes—not because of violence or gore—because I truly felt the characters’ fear, hatred, annoyance, and desperation. It was almost too much to handle. It doesn’t matter if you know much about jazz or the songs played; the film itself is a masterpiece.
Amanda: The way I measure favorites is how much I want to be in the thing, and how much I think about the thing after it is over. And I’ll tell you this about Guardians of the Galaxy – I put silver beads in my hair like Gamora and have not stopped listening to the soundtrack yet. This movie had heart, wit and action scenes. Also: bald Karen Gillian! Marvel wisely took the risk on Chris Pratt and a talking raccoon, and I found myself totally delighted by the whole thing. I am Groot.
Andrew: I’ve also got to go with Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s just great on so many levels and everyone loves it.
Kate: For me it was a tie. Boyhood blew me away with the length of the project and the dedication of the actors. (Who would sign up to age 12 years on camera?) For more details see my previous post here. However, for pure enjoyment of a movie, Chef was such a winner. It was so light and fun and left me starving for food truck food by the end. Both films were completely different, but equally enjoyable.
Madeleine: The best film of 2014 was Chef — a charming, unexpected father-son story about food trucks. This unknown indie film made a surprising splash as a heartwarming yet not-too-sweet story. Go ahead and make a Cubano sandwich because you’ll have a major hankering for one after you watch.
Chelsey: My personal favorite film of 2014 was also Boyhood, but since Kate so expertly laid out why, I’m going to also mention my other favorite, The Lego Movie. Extremely clever, excessively funny, and exceedingly charming, I haven’t had as much fun and felt so many emotions with an animated film since Toy Story 3. In addition to the hilariously perfect animation (Lego ocean!), the twisty plot, nonstop jokes, and voice actors really helped bring this movie to life and pushed it past smart product placement into a legitimately brilliant franchise. Everything about this movie was, well, awesome.
Maricela: Weird, bombastic, and subtly heartbreaking, Snowpiercer illustrated just how successful action sci-fi genre films can be outside of the Hollywood system. Thank the Film Gods Harvey Weinstein didn’t get to chop up the American release like a butcher.
What were your favorite films of 2014? Let us know in the comments!
Up next: TV