MAC MACLAMORE’S BEST & WORST OF 2014

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With the end of the year right around the corner, it’s time to once again put together my Best & Worst list of the year! If you were here last year, you’ll recall, almost a year ago to the day, I posted my 2013 list covering all things scripts, film, tv, comics, books, video games, and anticipations. This year I’m going to replicate that, but also add a few notes on some of my misses from last year, and some of the things I just high-fived myself over in still think gin were awesome!

So, lets start at the top…

MAC MACLAMORE’S BEST & WORST OF 2014

Top 10 Script Experiences
Catherine the Great – Kristina Lauren Anderson
In the Morning Blood – Elijah Bynum
Wedding for One – Kari Granlund
Cooties – Frank Longo
Napoleon – Jeremy Doner
Ready Player One – Zak Penn
Steve Jobs – Aaron Sorkin
The Babysitter – Brian Duffield
Paradise City – Sean Costello
Sub Rosa – Phil Graziadei & Leigh Janiak

From period pieces to -esque, biopics and just damned funny comedies, my 2014 reading list had a great variety, and stretched pretty equally between film and television, but I only really fell in love with two pilots this year, and only one of those is even being made. 

10 Best Film Experiences
BIRDMAN – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
NIGHTCRAWLER – Dan Gilroy
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – James Gunn
THE BABADOOK – Jennifer Kent
WHIPLASH – Damien Chazelle
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Wes Anderson
LOCKE – Steven Knight
THE LEGO MOVIE – Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT – Ana Lily Amirpour
EDGE OF TOMORROW – Doug Liman

To be honest, number ten on my list was really a toss up between Edge of Tomorrow, Big Hero 6, Captain America 2 and The Raid 2. I felt like 2014 didn’t have nearly as many “powerhouse” films as years past, and I found myself enjoying some of the big Summer blockbusters a lot more than the end of year offerings for awards bait. In truth, I think this is the least memorable year for late season awards contenders I can recall in a long time. I’d even go so far to say that figuring out my least like ten films of 2014 was a heck of a lot easier. 

10 Worst Film Experiences
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION – Michael Bay
TRANSCENDENCE – Wally Pfister
NOAH – Darren Aronofsky
HORNS – Alex Aja
NEED FOR SPEED – Scott Waugh
THE NUT JOB – Peter Lepeniotis
UNDER THE SKIN – Jonathan Glazer
WINTER’S TALE – Akiva Goldsman
A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST – Seth MacFarlane
ANNABELLE – John Leonetti

Other contenders include Sin City 2, That Awkward Moment, Pompeii, but I expected less of those at the onset, whereas those that made my top ten worst this year, all had major potential at one point or another to be a breakout hit. I mean, Transformers – we’re over it, but if it’s something Wahlberg is coming in, maybe it’s to revitalize it (nope). Transcendence was one of my most anticipated of 2014, and that was one of the most painful to sit through this year. The pedigree behind Noah and Winter’s Tale left me expecting much more, and Need for Speed, A Million Ways, Under the Skin were just a mess. Lastly, The Nut Job and Annabelle just didn’t deliver, leaving one an unfunny comedy, and the other a scoreless horror.

10 Best TV Experiences
HOUSE OF CARDS (S2) –
GAME OF THRONES (S4) – HBO
TRUE DETECTIVE (S1) – HBO
JANE THE VIRGIN (S1) – CW
THE GOLDBERGS (S2) – ABC
BROAD CITY (S1) – Comedy Central
BLACK MIRROR (S1, S2) – (via Channel 4)
THE WALKING DEAD (S4.5, S5) – AMC
THE KNICK (S1) – Cinemax
BLACKISH (S1) – ABC

TV was very, very good this year. Whereas I had trouble picking ten films to even make a top ten, this year I had a hell of a time trying to decide between about ten TV projects I loved that didn’t make my top 10. The contenders include, Fargo, Orphan Black, Alpha House, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bob’s Burgers, and even the new seasons of SNL and The Simpsons (both some of the best they’ve seen in years). Television expanded in ways almost unimaginable just a few years ago, as digital and online platforms exploded with awards, and consistent ad revenues, and for the most part, content got better everywhere. Good has become the bottom rung on the ladder now, whereas greatness has become an expectation. Who lost the most this year? Anyone stuck watching old-fashioned network TV this Fall, as the majors ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS all picked up an alarming number of duds for a season that will end with little to none of the new shows coming back in the Spring, let alone next Fall. With an incredibly weak lineup of midseason replacements in store, look for digital and cable to make huge strides to match the bigs in every way. 

10 Worst TV Experiences
ALMOST EVERY NEW SHOW ON THE MAJORS (True, but that’s too easy)
MIXOLOGY (S1) – ABC
BAD JUDGE (S1) – NBC
MANHATTAN LOVE STORY (S1) – ABC
FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES (S1) – CBS
CROSSBONES (S1) – NBC
THE NEWSROOM (S3) – HBO
THE LEFTOVERS (S1) – HBO
MARCO POLO (S1) –
CONSTANTINE (S1) – NBC
GOTHAM (S1) – FOX

TV continues to take the chances in content film abandoned long ago. However, with all of those shots at making hits, we’re also in line for a few duds along the way. Broadcast networks released one of the most uninspiring Fall rollouts I remember in my life (let alone in a few years), and several of those shows have already been mercifully put down for the season. Shows that were contenders here also included A to Z, Marry Me and New Girl, all because I expected more from them, and the team behind them. Wheres almost all of those in my ten worst were duds right out of the gate, the surprising additions to the list come in the form of Gotham, Constantine and Marco Polo because they had strong pedigree, and smart minds behind them, but each has delivered instantly forgettable television.

10 Best Comic Books & Graphic Novels of 2014
The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Fatale by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
The Hinterkind by Ian Edginton & Francesco Trifogli
Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue Deconnick & Emma Rios
Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna & Sara Vaughn
Unwritten: Apocalypse by Mike Carey & Peter Gross
Sex by Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski
Powers: The Bureau by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Oeming

2014 was a strong year for new titles, strengthening titles, and mini-series runs. Contenders that were hard to leave off my top 5 list this year include newcomers Trees, Low, Trillium, Coffin Hill, Southern Bastards, seasoned rookies The Massive, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and quality long-running vets or spinoffs of vets The Walking Dead, Astro City, Fairest and 100 Bullets: Brother Lono.

5 Best Video Game Experiences
Titanfall – Respawn Entertainment
The Walking Dead (Season 2) – Telltale Games
Game of Thrones (Season 1) – Telltale Games
Grand Theft Auto 5 – Rockstar Games
Far Cry 4 – Ubisoft

With The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, Telltale Games continues to add incredibly rich storytelling with fun and somewhat casual gameplay, offering up 4-hour episodes that let you feel as though you are creating the story, world, and series’ yourself. The only downfall of their design is the lengthy time between episode releases, which often leave you forgetful of your previous choices (even though they do have clever recaps). Titanfall meanwhile seems to be the only AAA title in 2014 that actually lived up to the hype and expectation of a console launching game. Meanwhile, both Far Cry 4 and Grand Theft Auto 5 both delivered everything returning franchise players wanted and continued to add more exciting gameplay, story and characters to their already rich worlds!

5 Worst Video Game Experiences
Watch Dogs – Ubisoft
Destiny – Bungie
Assassins Creed Unity-  Ubisoft
Rambo – Teyon
Alien Isolation – The Creative Assembly

This years list, was hard to find five titles I thought were terrible, as I don’t play nearly enough to spend too much time with a bad title. Whereas Watch Dogs, Assasins and Rambo were all complete messes, Destiny is on hear for releasing 1/10th of a video game as a full game, and Alien Isolation for the repetitiveness of the gameplay.

5 Best Books of 2014
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
Cabinet of Curiosities by Guillermo Del Toro

Lots of reading this year, but spent a majority of the year playing catch up from previous years, so this list is short and to the point with my 2014 picks. I still have the Questlove bio Mo Meta Blues to get through, as well as  apocalyptic-isn tale Station Eleven and the WW2 drama All the Light We Cannot See, so I’ll have to save those for 2015.

5 Most Anticipated Films of 2015
AVENGERS 2: AGE OF ULTRON – Joss Whedon
JURASSIC WORLD – Colin Trevorrow
KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE – Matthew Vaughn
CHAPPIE – Neil Blomkamp
STAR WARS EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS – J.J. Abrams

One of my most anticipated films (Transcendence) from last year made it on to my least liked of 2014, and I’m hoping none of these do the same. With a mix of new and original in Chappie and Kingsman, and tried and true franchising with Avengers, Jurassic World and Star Wars, 2015 is looking to be a very welcome rebound from the down year 2014 ended as. There are several other films I’m equally eager to see in 2015, including Spectre, Ant-Man, The Walk, Tomorrowland, Fantastic Four, The Martian and Vacation, but these 5 are my midnight Thursday night musts. 

5 Least Anticipated Films of 2014 (though I will still see them all)
JUPITER ASCENDING – The Wachowskis
TERMINATOR GENISYS – Alan Taylor
TAKEN 3 – Olivier Megaton
PEANUTS – Steve Martino
VICE – Brian Miller

As excited as I am for a run of good films in 2015, I’m equally worried about the seemingly obvious flops that are going to hit next year as well. Jupiter Ascending is a film I just don’t get. Who greenlit that? Who convinced that cast to star in it? And who is the film even for? Even the little hope I had for Terminator went south quick as soon as that trailer was released. Will I see it? Sure. Have I already thrown up a little from how bad I’m already prepped for it to be? Yep. Taken 3? The only thing that movie is taking anymore is international dollars, and future FX tv releases. Peanuts? Why on earth do we need this film? I guess after Smurfs, Garfield, and every other nostalgic item from our youth was destroyed, we’re just running out of things to ruin. Lastly, Vice was hard for me to put on this list, because I want to believe Bruce Willis is going to make this work, but having read the train wreck of a script, I can’t see how they went into production and filmed this as fast as they did after the spec buy, and are going to have something amazing in the end. I want so bad to be wrong, but I just don’t see it.

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