As we countdown to 2015, let’s take one last look at the best of 2014. Here are our favorites for popular entertainment, from movies to music and everything in between.
Best Film: Boyhood
If I could reach out and hug one film, it would be this one for sure. A touching coming-of-age movie by Richard Linklater, the groundbreaking film was shot over 11 years, from 2002 to 2013, following the trials and tribulations of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) as they grow up in Texas with their single mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette), and their weekends-only father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). Linklater, the brains behind the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, is known for his dialogue-driven films, and this one is no different. The film derives its authenticity not only from watching the actor age as his character does, but also in the pop-culture references and fashions that will define the childhoods of kids from the early 2000s. It’s kind of like watching a home video.
Best TV Show: Veep
Veep is most definitely the funniest show on television, and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me on that fact. Julia Louis Dreyfus plays narcissistic Vice President Selina Meyers, who is backed up by her sometimes incompetent, definitely overworked team. Season 3 is filled with absurd and cringe-worthy moments, from the arrival of her “over-involved” trainer (played brilliantly by Chris Meloni) to her disastrous haircut. And what would you give to have a Gary in your life?
Best Streaming Show: Transparent
This Amazon Prime original was one of the shows that I was most excited for this fall, and it did not disappoint. Jeffrey Tambor marvels as a father transitioning to become a woman, and his children each have their own dysfunctions. The dark comedy definitely has its teary moments, but Judith Light is comedic gold as his ex-wife.
Best Fiction: Station 11
Just when you thought the literary world was overcrowded with post-Apocalyptic novels, one more comes along. But Station 11, which jumps between pre- and post-collapse, has something the others don’t: Shakespeare. The central character in this Emily St. John Mandel work, a National Book Award finalist, is part of a Shakespearian troupe traveling around from town to town 20 years after a pandemic wipes out most of humanity. Her link to characters in the pre-flu world come to light in this beautiful and gripping story.
Best Non-Fiction: All Joy and No Fun
Parents and people wanting to be parents would be wise to read Jennifer Senior’s critical look at raising children in the 21st century—if they can find the time. Senior’s book offers no suggestions on how to be a better parent, instead laying out the challenges and issues modern moms and dads face. It’s an eye-opening read, broken down by different age groups.
Best Song: Blank Space
I dare anyone to listen to Taylor Swift’s catchy tune and not belt it out. (I can only imagine a group of college girls singing it before heading out to a party.) Equally enjoyable is the video, where she goes crazy and destroys a castle and very expensive car. We’re all in agreement she’s done that before, right?
Best Viral Campaign: The Ice Bucket Challenge
Hashtavism and social media campaigns reached their peak in 2014, but none captivated the world like the “Ice Bucket Challenge” which raised awareness and money for ALS. While many people criticized participants for doing the viral stunt without donating, the ALS Association actually made more than $100 million for their cause. (The group received $98.2 million between July 29 and August 28, the height of the campaign, as compared to $2.7 million in 2013.) And we got videos like this.