It’s the end of the year and so it’s time for me to give my picks for what I liked the most in the year. This is not the “best” of 2014, just what I particularly liked. Also, a few of these things were from earlier than 2014, but I just got around to seeing them.
First, let me just thank all of you who read my blog this year. Copyrights and Wrongs had over 25,000 page views this year, a 20% increase from the prior year. I really appreciate that people are reading and engaging with the blog and sharing posts with their friends. Sometimes, I will check my site traffic and see that I got a huge spike in page views for the day and I can tell it’s because someone shared a post on Facebook or Twitter. That’s always great and, if you think your friends would appreciate the thoughts in the blog, please feel free to send it on.
I hope everyone has a safe, healthy and prosperous 2015. Now, on to the list.
FAVORITE MOVIE OF THE YEAR
This one was pretty easy. When I go to the movie, one of the most important things that i want is to be surprised and Whiplash delivered that in spades. This story of a young drummer (Miles Teller) looking to be the next Buddy Rich going up against the drill instructor conductor (J.K. Simmons) kept me on my toes and had lots to say about the nature of art and the lengths that people will go to achieve success. If Simmons doesn’t win the Oscar for Supporting Actor, I will eat my hat.
Other favorite movies – The Grand Budapest Hotel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Birdman, Selma
Most underrated performance of the year. Essie Davis in The Babadook. I liked, but didn’t love the movie, but Davis’ performance as a mother going unhinged was truly great. If Naomi Watts or Nicole Kidman had given the same performance, their would be no question they would be nominated, but because Davis is unknown outside of Australia, she is certain to be overlooked for this tremendous work.
FAVORITE THEATER OF THE YEAR
I got to do one of my favorite things in 2014 and that is go to New York to see theater (six shows in five days). And, although I saw some great stuff (even Rocky: The Musical was fantastic), the best thing I saw was back at the Pantages in Los Angeles, and that was the revival of Pippin.
I have seen Pippin a few times over the years and think it’s a good, but not great musical. But this revival, directed by Diane Paulus (who also directed the great revival of Hair a few years back) made the show fantastic. Changing the musical into a circus added great pizazz to all the musical numbers. And Andrea Martin, who won the Tony for Best Featured Performance in a Musical was jaw-dropping although she was really only in the show for about 10 minutes. The revival just closed on Broadway but is still touring the country. Go see it.
Favorite Theater Moment of the Year
The other great musical I saw in 2014 was 2012’s Best Musical “Once.” And no moment in theater got me happier than the number “Gold.” Check it out from the 2012 Tony Awards.
Bonus fun fact: The older man in the lower left of the screen is David Patrick Kelly, better known as Luther (“Warriors, come out and play-a-ay!”) in the film The Warriors.
FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
FICTION – The Martian
I’m a big fan of science fiction and The Martian by Andy Weir is one of the best sci-fi novels in recent years. An (almost) completely plausible story of an astronaut trapped alone on Mars and trying to survive and escape, the book is full of fascinating science and great characters. Weir self-published the book on Kindle and now it’s going to be a movie starring Matt Damon. You will not be disappointed.
This book is actually from 2010, but I only discovered it this year. Peter Doggett tells the story of the Beatles breakup from the perspective of the various lawsuits that took place both among the band members and with third parties. As an entertainment lawyer, I found the behind-the-scenes machinations fascinating and if you, like me, are interested in both the Beatles and entertainment law, you will love this book.
FAVORITE MUSIC OF THE YEAR
This was an easy one for me because there was only album that came out this year that I listened to over and over again. That album was Forever For Now by LP. LP is the stage name of Linda Pergolizzi and I really don’t know why her album is not getting more attention. Great songs, a fantastic voice, and a great presence, LP is my new favorite artist. I’m really looking forward to see what she’s going to do in 2015.
Favorite Performance of the Year
Another easy one. Future Islands performance of Seasons on the David Letterman show was the best 3:50 on television in 2014. Check it out and tell me if you agree.
FAVORITE TELEVISION OF THE YEAR
This was the toughest category because there was so much great television this year. I loved Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, The Newsroom, Transparent, Orange is the New Black, and House of Cards. But for my favorite, I have a tie between Fargo and The Leftovers.
Fargo was just a fantastic story with incredible acting, led by Billy Bob Thorton as the evil but charming Lorne Malvo, and Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard, the show just got better and better, week after week.
The Leftovers was something entirely different. The first two episodes were kind of weak as they set up the strange plot of a world where 2% of the population has disappeared and how the remaining people deal with it. But, starting with the third episode, the shows got more introspective and turned into perfect short stories on flawed people dealing with a horrible situation. Episode 6 – “Guest” was my favorite, which follows Nora (the amazing Carrie Coon) as she travels to New York for a conference. Always unpredictable, this show really moved me in ways that few other shows have.