There’s something about staring down the barrel of a brand new year that activates a crazed desire in our lizard brains to rank, order, quantify, and list our favorite things of the year that was. So far on Nerdist, we’ve rounded up everything from the best video games to the best comic books to the best nerd movies of 2014, but we’re not quite done yet. It wouldn’t be a year-end here at Nerdist if we didn’t celebrate the top 5 of anything. That’s right, I said “anything.”
A tradition started by our own Perry Michael Simon (check out 2012’s and 2013’s list), this annual list isn’t dedicated to a single subject — hence the top 5 of “anything”. These aren’t just the top 5 books or movies or TV shows that blew us away in 2014; rather, these are the most memorable things of the year, be they life experiences, important events, life-changing sandwiches, or simply enjoyable burritos.
So, without further ado, here is the top 5 of anything for 2014. Please be sure to let us know your favorite things of 2014 in the comments below too because we wouldn’t be here without you guys and we want to hear what made your years special too.
1) Launching the Nerdist Twitch channel: Last spring while in Reykjavik, Iceland for work (which, how cool is that sentence?), I spent a lot of time with one of our producers, Jesse McKeil, talking about plans for an official Nerdist Twitch channel. After many months of beta testing, scoping out equipment, and learning the ins and outs of the platform, we managed to bring the idea from concept to reality (largely thanks to Jesse’s tireless efforts). Now, after a few short months of existence, we have developed a small, but dedicated international community of some of the raddest people I’ve had the pleasure of digitally meeting. Here’s to the #WhitePantsIlluminati continuing to take over the world well into 2015.
2) Whiplash: Scarier than any horror movie I’ve seen this year, Whiplash is a tour-de-force of modern filmmaking. From the word “go”, Damien Chazelle’s story of a young drummer’s quest for perfection and his tense, thrilling relationship with his fearsome conductor had me gripping my armrest so hard, my knuckles turned a shade of white as yet unknown to the likes of Benjamin Moore. If you haven’t seen it, avail yourself of this tremendous film as soon as humanly possible.
3) The Dan Cave: When Nerdist told me they were giving me my own weekly show, I was f–king terrified. I knew that I knew the material I wanted to talk about, but the prospect of writing, producing, and turning out a brand new show each week in addition to everything else going on was daunting. Now, some twenty episodes later, it is one of the highlights of my week and I relish spending time answering viewers in the comment section…even when they’re telling me just how wrong I am.
4) Todd Terje’s It’s Album Time: I’m not sure how I stumbled across Norwegian DJ and producer Todd Terje’s It’s Album Time, but it has become one of my favorite albums of the year, if not ever. It’s swirling synth lines, blissed out disco sensibilities, and kitschy spirit make it the perfect soundtrack to a dinner party or a late night car ride in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t matter what time you think it is because, with this album, It’s Album Time all the time.
5) Silverlake Ramen: Having spent a fair amount of time in Japan, I have developed an unhealthy affection (and snobbery) for authentic Japanese ramen. I’m not talking about the asbestos-looking 99¢ noodle packs you lived off of in college; I’m talking about sixteen-hour boiled broth with complex flavors, tender slices of chashu pork, and steaming hot noodles. It’s like manna from heaven and this year I moved into a neighborhood that had it 5 minutes away from my apartment for just $9. Add on a frosty mug of Asahi and I’ve found my happy place. Itadakimasu!
Dan Casey is the associate editor of Nerdist, the host of The Dan Cave, and co-host of the Today We Learned podcast. He hates writing in the third person, but he loves talking to you in first person on Twitter at @Osteoferocious.
In no particular order:
1) Dragon Age: Inquisition: This was the first title I played on the new systems to really make me feel like I was playing something next (now, current)-gen. It is the PERFECT successor to Dragon Age: Origins, and the integration with the Dragon Age Keep added a fun bit of additional depth during gameplay downtime. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
2) Guardians of the Galaxy: Just when I had reached my “why the hell do I keep going to these stupid superhero flicks” zenith, Guardians came out and was the breath of fresh air the genre needed. Action-packed, quirky and full of heart, Guardians knocked it out of the park and has me looking forward to the rest of Marvel’s theatrical roll-out.
3) The first official Hello Kitty Con in the US: Held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown LA, Hello Kitty celebrated her 40th anniversary in style! The joy and kawaii-ness of it all was only slightly tainted by the confusion caused when, earlier in the year, Sanrio reminded everyone that Hello Kitty was, in fact, NOT a cat (although she has a pet cat named, Charmmy Kitty) and is actually British.
4) P.T. on the PlayStation 4: OH MY EFFIN’ GGGGGAAAAWWWWDDDD! As a MASSIVE fan of the Silent Hill franchise (Ver. 1-4) and, in particular, Silent Hill 2 (it ranks in my top 5 personal fave video games of all time), seeing Silent Hill potentially stepping back into its glory was absolutely amazing. With the subtle release of P.T. (short for “playable trailer”), gamers were led through a first-person horror-fest of epic proportions. It wasn’t until puzzles were solved, ghosts defeated and blood wiped from the walls that it was revealed in the end credits that P.T. was actually Silent Hills, with Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro teaming up on the project. While this powerhouse partnership certainly is no guarantee of success, it does fill fans of the genre with hope. Plus, it’s just nice to see Hollywood and the games industry working together in a way that might actually pay off.
5) The one year anniversary of Nerdist News: It blows my mind that it has already been a year since we started the show. It’s been an incredible amount of fun and I love how Nerdist has given me the freedom to have more of a personality and be my wacky self on the show. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a group of wonderful people and can’t wait to see what other kick-ass content we can bring viewers and readers of Nerdist in 2015.
1) The SleepyCast: What started as an off-hand comment to mega-Hollywood writer/producer Roberto Orci on the set of El Rey’s Matador, “By the way, I love Sleepy Hollow…,” turned into a project that has been not only incredibly exciting but a tremendous learning experience. From riding on a bus with the cast at San Diego Comic-Con to speaking to essentially every cast member, writer and producer (I’ll get you soon enough, Tom Mison!), every week I have the pleasure of creating the official podcast for one of my favorite television shows. What more could a fangirl want?
2) The Guest: The Terminator meets Halloween, The Guest is my favorite movie of 2014, hands down. I love it so much. A hot goth rock soundtrack plus tension that simmers through the whole film, and director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett finally acing their signature off-beat tone to make a movie that is lean, exciting, funny and a total f*cking blast. Plus, Dan Stevens. I mean, he’s just perfect.
3) Penny Dreadful: Holy Hell. After what I believed was a generic trailer and a “meh” pilot episode, what unfolded over the course of the next seven episodes was, as far as I am concerned, some of the most intense, sexy, smart, classy, passionate and devastating pieces of horror I’ve seen in a long time. Brilliant acting, heartfelt and fearless writing, and it is as gorgeous as it is scary. I liked it better than Hannibal. Yes, really.
4) Interviewing Jennifer Kent, writer/director of The Babadook: That was one of the highlights of all of the interviews that I’ve done EVER. As a woman and as a horror fan, it meant the world to me to ask her questions and have a real dialogue about filmmaking, the genre, the Mister Babadook creature and the character of Amelia.
5) Working for Nerdist: No, really. I mean it. I’ve been a fan of Nerdist for so long, to get to write for them, cover carpets and junkets, interview Optimus Prime and and launch the SleepyCast on their behalf has been a dream come true. Plus, this time last year, I had no clue any of it was right around the corner. What a treat.
Clarke Wolfe writes about film, TV, horror, and more for Nerdist.com and is the host of SleepyCast: The Official Sleepy Hollow Podcast. Tell her your theories for season three on Twitter at @ClarkeWolfe.
1) CW’s The Flash — the first truly successful live-action adaptation of a Silver Age comic book hero to TV.
3) Batman’s 75th Anniversary — including the resulting Warner Bros. Studio Tour exhibit (which continues into 2015) and Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s continued excellence on the Batman comic.
4) AMC’s The Walking Dead — aired its best episodes yet.
5) Nerdist.com — In 2014, I was fortunate enough to begin working with the best damn editorial staff online.
Joseph McCabe is a writer for Nerdist.com covering film, TV, comics, horror, and more. Ask him all about the Silver Age of comics on Twitter at @JMaCabre.
1) St. Vincent’s “St. Vincent”: This year, for me, was all about coming to terms with stuff — particularly the insidious ways in which our culture sometimes takes more away from us than it gives. Nowhere was that more well-stated and artistically rendered than in St. Vincent’s self-titled album. Hands-down my favorite of the year (like, no question), Annie Clark’s album has searing lyrics and soaring orchestrations that are subversive, overt, exciting, thought-provoking, sad, and so much more. It is the sum of all of its parts and then some. We are not worthy of your greatness, Annie, but we’ll gleefully take it anyway.
2.) Outrage: You know how people have been very upset this year? Stick with me — I think that’s sort of a good thing! Is it awful and shitty and terrible that there’s so much to get mad about in the world right now? Yes, of course. It’s completely unacceptable. But that’s the beauty of the outrage we all felt and expounded upon this year: people are no longer willing to just taking things lying down, chalking it all up to “the way things are” or “have always been.” No, we’re all finally growing up a bit and calling bullshit out for what it is: unjust tomfoolery and/or super-backwards business. And even though it is exhausting how much we’ve all had to rage this year — the world is sorta terrible right now, no? — at least people are getting angry. Right? We’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. We’re all looking beyond ourselves, seeing our own privileges and contributions to things (or lack thereof) and trying to help affect change by showing the world what’s up. Considering how much BS we let happen these last 14 years without getting upset about it like we did this year? It’s about damn time. It’s hard, frustrating, oftentimes fruitless work, but it’s a step; it’s something, at least.
3.) My sweet ‘KALE’ sweatshirt: Not ONLY do I get to pretend I’m Beyoncé every time I put it on, but it’s as soft as a puppy’s floppy ear, and as someone who grew up in New Haven, Connecticut (home of Yale University — where many of my classmates went to college, but I did not get in and yes I’m over it, now, finally, stop asking.), it’s a cheeky li’l reminder of home. Plus kale’s just hilarious as a thing. So, y’know, it’s working on multiple levels here.
4.) Putting honey in your Coffee: You guys. YOU GUYS! I was one of those assholes that tried to eat better this year — growing up is the actual dumbest — and that meant trying to cut back on my refined sugar intake (which is awful because, y’know, sugar is a gift). So what’s a girl to do when she likes a bit o’ sweet in her morning go-go fuel but doesn’t want to suffer any diabetic consequences (please don’t tell me what bad things honey might do to my body: let me live in this world)? Well, my friend, it’s called putting honey in your coffee. AND THAT ISH IS DELICIOUS. I’ve converted many a friend and enemy to this brave new world of bee droppings in yo’ drank, so trust me on this — I live in the literal land of milk and honey now and lemme tell you: IT IS SO SWEET HERE. GAME-CHANGER.
5.) THIS GIF:
Alicia Lutes writes about television for Nerdist.com and is our resident Game of Thrones guru. Talk to her about when exactly winter is coming on Twitter at @AliciaLutes.
1) Women are ruling horror: This year, three of the best horror films (possibly THE best) were small independent films, written and directed by women. The Babadook by Jennifer Kent is a deeply disturbing, chilling film about a mother slowly being influenced by a (or her) demon; A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night by Ana Lily Amirpour is something I never thought would exist: an Iranian vampire western. It’s one of the coolest movies I’ve seen in a long time, and very haunting; and Honeymoon by Leigh Janiak isn’t quite as balls-out impressive as the other two, but it’s still impossibly effective and creepy as hell for only having two characters and a cabin to work with. I hope this ushers in more women making their mark on the genre, which has been painfully male-driven for decades.
2) Television was good, for the most part: While there’s always a pile of garbage that gets put on television, and for some reason is watched by a lot of people, there were some beyond excellent programs, mainly in the springtime. True Detective, Mad Men, Girls and Game of Thrones basically made Sundays the most important day for television of the week, and were all must-see zeitgeist shows. And they were all great. It’s becoming more and more apparent that a 22-ish episode season is not what makes good TV. Lot more room for filler when you go too far beyond 13 episodes.
3) The Summer of Good Sci-Fi: This summer, five truly excellent science fiction films came out in cinemas. X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow, Snowpiercer, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Guardians of the Galaxy all proved that big-budget, high-concept science fiction is not only possible but necessary. Granted, three of the films were franchise blockbusters, but they were still smart and didn’t talk down to their audiences at all. The best sci-fi reflects on society on Earth while taking you away to new places, and all five of these movies did that. They’d all have been big hits if not for audiences not liking one specific star, but that’s neither here nor there.
4) I got to go on really fantastic set visits: Being such a fan of film and television as I am, I love to see how the sausage is made, as it were, and being in Los Angeles the business is all around me, but it’s actually not as easy to just go see production. BUT as a function of my job here at Nerdist, I’ve been afforded the ability to go and spend some time on sets for things I love. Avengers: Age of Ultron was one of the coolest and largest sets I’ve ever seen to the point where I forgot it was inside a sound stage and I just thought I was in that particular building. It doesn’t take me out of the movie when I see it; it actually puts me in it more.
5) Spending time with great people: This is the cheesiest one of all, but I got to meet, get to know, and spend time with some really wonderful people who are very important in my life now. L.A. can be a pretty isolating place, given its size and overall pace, so finding people who make it less like that is of the utmost importance. Nothing good that happened this year, on a personal level, could have happened if not for these fine folks and I am forever grateful to them for that. Yeah, I told you it would be cheesy.
1. Clashist’s Lena Dunham Birthday Suit tee: I’m usually not one to wear provocative ensembles or controversial garments, but I couldn’t resist buying this amazing tee from Clashist featuring the Girls star au natural. While the shirt makes most of my besties uncomfortable, I think the most awesome reaction was from one of my boyfriend’s friends. We were grabbing dumplings for my BF’s birthday and the guy—who’s only 32—said my attire was “inappropriate.” Yet another way I like to keep it real on the daily—assuming I actually put on pants, leave the house and interact with other human beings.
2. The comeback of The Comeback: I cancelled my cable in January and have been subsisting on a steady TV diet of Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo and Showtime Anytime. While I miss channels like Bravo and HGTV, I’ve been able to revisit some seminal shows I missed the first time they aired, like The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie and, of course, The Comeback. Lisa Kudrow is so brilliant as Valerie Cherish that I’m hoping some creative genius will be able to turn back time and actually produce four seasons of the imaginary sitcom I’m It! because I totally want to see that!
3. Jimmy Johns opening in Los Angeles: Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I love Jimmy Johns almost as much (if not more) than I love my closest friends and a few relatives. Sadly, for the past five years, I’ve only been able to indulge in my favorite sandwich chain when I go back to the Midwest. (My order consists of a Turkey Tom, no tomato, light mayo. Bon appetite!) However, a couple months back, some franchise owner had the brilliant idea to open a store on Beverly Drive, which is 10 minutes away from my house. My stomach hasn’t been this happy since that one time I chugged a bag of Cheetos and chased it with Diet Cherry Coke. (Needless to say, I got SUPER sick afterwards, but we don’t need to talk about that.)
4. Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989: There is no shame in my Tay-loving game. While in Ohio for Thanksgiving with my family, I sat at brunch with my 16-year-old cousin and proceeded to sing “Blank Space” word for word. It was one of my proudest moments and, though my parents gave me some serious side-eye, I rocked that jam like a boss.
5. The opportunity to write for Nerdist.com: My first year as a full-time freelancer is coming to a close and I’m so proud to be a part of the Nerdist editorial team. To everyone who’s read my stuff over the past couple months, thanks a bunch and I can’t wait to scribble more post next year!
In addition to writing about music for Nerdist.com, Leslie is the author of Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World. If you pictures of coffee mugs and Gilmore Girls screen shots, follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @redpatterndress.
1) LA Podfest: This year, I moved to Los Angeles. Being a New York native for all of the last 24 ½ years of my life, the trek was something I was dreading. Getting used to the cultural happenings of a new city 3,000 miles away from your old one is a terrifying endeavor, but there was always one thing on the horizon that I knew would make the whole trip worth it: LA Podfest. By moving, I had a chance to attend the third annual event that placed some of the world’s top comedy podcasters in the same building for a weekend in order to deliver one of the best three-day experiences of my life. There were laughs, there were tears, and most importantly, there were podcasts. In fact, even if you weren’t a performing show, the festival still sectioned off an area for you to record episodes of your own show, as I did myself on two occasions for Artist Alley. If you ever have a chance to attend, I can’t recommend it enough.
2) The Legend of Korra: In a year full of major television finales, there were none perhaps more satisfying than that of Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra – and it didn’t even air on television! Yes, after two years of ups and down from the business side of things, Nickelodeon finally brought its Last Airbender sequel to a close in a fashion that not only satisfied the story, but the wishes of fans as well. Open-ended interpretation aside, that final shot’s going to live on in many hearts just as any great one should, and it’s well deserved after what the show did over the last four years.
Well done, Team Korra. Well done.
3) Walking The Room: Of course we may now be sitting back and praising the work of Serial and what it did for the medium of podcasting, but as we do, we should also take a moment to acknowledge the conclusion of a long-running series that’s remained annoyingly under the radar since 2010, Walking The Room.
Hosted by comedians Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony, Walking The Room had us listening week in and week out as these two long time friends worked to undo the unsuccessful nature of their careers. The long road has seen Greg pen a new hit relationship book out while crafting a brand new one man show, and Dave co-founding the aforementioned LA Podfest while starting a brand new series, The Dollop (which is also amazing) in addition to crafting a one-man show of his own.
Thanks for all the laughs, guys. There was nothing like what you did.
4) Video Game High School: While Korra was indeed the most satisfying series finale of 2014, Video Game High School was the most game-changing. Thanks to Freddie Wong, Matt Arnold, and the rest of the RocketJump crew, a brand new door was opened this year for potential television writers, an indie road that could completely change the landscape of the small screen. However, in addition to being game changing, VGHS also proved the narrative capability of micro-budget, long-form storytelling online. It indeed can be done, and it will be done again.
5) Mid-budget action cinema: For a long time, it has felt like the world of action movies was taking a back seat to over-the-top superhero and franchise fare. Even though some of it is great, it has become depressing to see so many potentially great action films get pushed to the side in favor of more Captain Americas and Transformers. However, there were some films in 2014, including John Wick and Stretch, that proved there’s still hope. One a major IMAX release, the other an unfortunately VOD-distributed flick, both examples (among others) proved there’s still a market for these types of films, and hopefully they won’t be standing alone in the years to come.
Merrill Barr writes about film and TV for Nerdist.com. Talk to him about your undying love of Mythbusters on Twitter at @MerrillBarr.
1) Comic book and my first Comic-Con: I tried really hard to choose one comic book I really liked this year and couldn’t so I decided comic books as a whole deserve a spot! There have been so many amazing books and story arcs that started and ended this year. Saga from Brian K. Vaughn has taken the comics world by storm and is the book that I’m always most excited for. Jonathan Hickman’s run on Avengers and New Avengers has been everything I want from an Avengers book and MUST be read together — no choosing just one. Scott Snyder is a true master of horror with one of the most amazing runs on Batman I’ve ever read along with The Wake and Wytches. Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and Babs Tarr’s redesign of Batgirl should deserve their own spot on this top 5 because it’s so incredible! I’m a huge fan of Becky Cloonan and am so happy with Gotham Academy.
Everything Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips touch turns to gold. Tom Neely’s Henry & Glenn Forever is the funniest thing to happen to comics, punk, and metal! Keenan Marshall Keller’s The Humans is the most bad ass thing you could ever read. Johnny Ryan and Prison Pit, HOLY F–K READ IT NOW! I love Liz Prince’s TOMBOY and you should too! I am a huge fan of Sina Grace; especially after reading Self Obsessed which is my favorite single issue of anything ever. AND THE RETURN OF LIL’ DEPRESSED BOY!! Such a great year for comics and there’s still so much I don’t have space for. And no big deal but I also got to go to MY FIRST COMIC-CON this year!
2) Godzilla: Pacific Rim is one of my all-time favorite movies. It was exactly what I wanted it to be. My kaiju love stretches far beyond the miracle mile. So to get Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla the following year was a blessing sent over from Monster Island. After watching Edwards’ first movie, Monsters, I knew what to expect with Godzilla, which made me more excited than I already was. I think it fits nicely with Ishiro Honda’s original Gojira, has some of the coolest monster fight scenes I’ve ever seen, and now holds a special place in my heart.
3) Golden Road Brewery: As a vegan, this place is amazing. As a consumer of alcohol, this place is amazing. Golden Road’s Hefeweizen has since become my favorite beer and goes amazingly with The Classic Vegan burger. The pub is in a warehouse at the brewery and is extremely well decorated. If you live in LA or plan on visiting, I HIGHLY recommend giving this place a visit.
4) The Meltdown TV show taping: I spend a lot of time at Meltdown Comics and there’s always something cool going on but there has never been more excitement in the air than when The Meltdown was taping. The theater at Meltdown was completely transformed into a gorgeous TV-ready space with cool lights and the walls were covered in art done by Dave Kloc. I got to see Weird Al perform “Dare to be Stupid” live with a small orchestra. I got to have one of the coolest moments of my life: Todd Glass getting a store filled with people to chant my name for no reason. LETS GET A SEASON 2!!!
5) Waxworks Records: I am huge a record collector/enthusiast/addict. There are so many great labels putting out really cool things (Mondo, cough cough) but none of them excite me me quite as much as when Waxworks announces what their next release will be. They go above and beyond what other labels are doing in terms of packaging and quality. The records are always gorgeously colored; the covers are always amazing, and the extras! OH THE EXTRAS! They truly killed it this year with the releases of the soundtracks to Rosemary’s Baby, Creepshow, Chopping Mall, Trick ‘R Treat and their most sought after release yet…BLOOD FILLED VINYL SOUNDTRACK TO FRIDAY THE 13TH!!!
1. Twin Peaks announced for a Showtime return: If you told me my favorite television series of all time was returning to the small screen, and via Showtime no less, I’d have called you crazy. But it’s actually happening, and the news made my entire year.
2. Day of the Tentacle is coming to PlayStation 4 and Vita: This game meant so much to me growing up. I’ve even got a Purple Tentacle tattoo on my left forearm, so hearing the news that it’s going to come back and in a big way is infinitely exciting to me. “Am I upstairs? I got lost.”
3. Bayonetta 2: I waited for a sequel to one of the greatest action games of all time and thought time and time again it would never happen. Luckily, I was wrong. I hungrily devoured the Wii U-exclusive sequel, and I have seen perfection in game form.
4. Discovering Japanese curry: Though I had seen it many times in my favorite anime series, I had never committed to trying authentic Japanese curry. Indian curry had left me feeling cold, so I finally took the plunge. I may very well have discovered one of my favorite new foods in the process. Probably a mistake too, since I’m not usually one for cooking. But it’s so delicious, I must have more.
5. Meeting and interviewing Jesse Hughes: I was able to interview Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes, and it was one of the defining moments of my time as a writer. I can’t wait to share the piece, and I’ve amassed so much respect for the man that it’s outrageous.
1) Pry: the iPad novella: OK, this is the year I finally embraced The Future, and Pry is probably the best argument in favor. The brainchild of two LA-based artists who released the iPad novella in the app store earlier this year, this thing is NOT an e-book, neither the future or reading or the death knell therein. It’s something different entirely. This is a book whose prose was written with the iPad in mind and the way we intake information on a tablet. The story of a Gulf War veteran who’s slowly going blind, Pry is like a book that had an affair with a movie and gave birth to a bastard video game. Lines of text can be pried apart to reveal further, deeper subtext until you’ve literally pried open the eye of your narrator and entered a POV movie. There’s sound, there’s video, there’s digital Braille. Just seriously, this thing is cool.
2. The Old Woman: Russian absurdist experimental theater. Four words you never thought you’d want to hear, and yet here we are. This touring production, directed by immaculate genius Robert Wilson and starring only – I’m not kidding – Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe was straight up the best piece of art I’ve seen all year, probably ever. Based on a short story by an obscure Russian writer who is now my favorite, the play featured its two stars done up in sad clown whiteface moving, forcing, dancing, screaming, and cackling their way through vaudevillian vignettes dripping with dark, Kafka-esque, Communist comedy/tragedy (it’s the same thing with these Russian guys).
3. Internet Conspiracy Theory: The Future, OK? I did A LOT of googling this year only to find out someone was probably watching me google after some pretty strong cases were made in Citizenfour and The Internet’s Own Boy (also, honorable mention to The New Yorker, for David Kushner’s “The Masked Avengers,” about Anonymous, and “Embrace the Irony,” which put me on the scent of the Aaron Swartz story). After many, many conversations with my skeptical smart friends (lawyers) where we just couldn’t feel anything about NSA spying, I finally feel something about NSA spying: something approaching righteous angst/outright terror. This is the Communism of our time! (Adjusts tin foil hat.)
4. The Magician’s Land: I’ve been raving like a lunatic since 2009 about Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, and the fandom reached fever pitch this year when the final installment came out AND I interviewed the man himself about the book for this website. (In which I don’t admit, no, I have not read and reread Mrs. Dalloway.) I’ve always been a little overly defensive of my love for books about magic, but there’s no reason to mount a defense here, the books are just so effing awesome.
5. Taxidermy: Pretty standard story: I met a taxidermist on Twitter, she took me to her lab at the Museum, I taxidermied a bird, and we ended up on the cover of LA Weekly. Cut to six months later and my roommate is mailing me a frozen juvenile porcupine from the family farm in Montana. There’s something intoxicating about taking a scalpel to a freshly thawed bird breast, using a “brain scoop” for exactly its stated purpose, and grooming a recently mounted specimen. Not to mention the taxidermy community seems to be comprised entirely of smart, awesome women with great taste in wine who just want to hang out and skin things. It’s the new book club.
1) New Star Wars: Between the premiere of Star Wars Rebels and the first teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s a fun time to be a Star Wars fan. The entire fandom has been infused with energy.
2) Epcot Food & Wine Festival: Epcot plays host to the International Food & Wine Festival every fall, and I attended for the first time this year. There were a couple dozen pavilions with cuisine and beverages from around the world, and I stuffed my face for five days. It was beautiful.
3) Outlander: The Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander captured my heart with its sweeping Scottish landscapes, compelling performances, and wonderful writing. I haven’t fallen so hard for a television series since the first episode of Game of Thrones.
4) Baymax: Big Hero 6 was a delightful film, but Baymax will be remembered for years to come. I mean, did you see that fist bump scene?
5) The Silmarillion: After many years of procrastination, I finally read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion and some of you joined me for the journey (and helped me get through it!). It was satisfying to cross the title off my list, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the history of Middle-earth was entertaining.
Amy Ratcliffe covers everything from Star Wars to cosplay on Nerdist.com. Tell her your crazy theories about The Force Awakens’ new tri-saber on Twitter at @amy_geek.
2) Florida State Football: I rooted against them almost every game, but always got a little thrill when they’d inevitably come back from behind and devastate opponents. They were the Little Undefeated Powerhouse That Could, and earned my begrudging respect. I won’t even be mad if they beat Oregon… Maybe a little mad.
3) Hans Fex’s Mini Museum: The coolest Kickstarter in history provided the opportunity for your average Joe to own little slivers of dino bones, meteorites, even Apollo 11, all safely Han Solo’d in epoxy resin.
4) The Staircase: The Serial podcast craze has finally provided me a platform to convince people to watch this gripping, 10-year-old documentary by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, which follows the bizarre murder trial of author Michael Peterson. Stop complaining that Serial is over and GO WATCH THE STAIRCASE ALREADY.
5) Hacking: Between “The Fappening,” the SnapChat leak, and the Sony Hack, you gotta admit, whether we like it or not, hackers pretty much pwned 2014.
Abel Charrow writes about music for Nerdist.com. Ask him how to get the perfectly lustrous beard on his website.
What were your favorite things of 2014? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image courtesy of DeviantART // Artist: Casivona