Staff Picks: Best of 2014, by Zombievictim

We're now in the second half of Staff Picks Week (with a big surprise coming up), and up now is Zombievictim. He actually wrote his favorites in every medium, the scamp.


Movies

I'm not sure if this is much of a surprise given my absolute love of all things David Fincher but Gone Girl easily found its place as my favorite movie of the year. The dark humor, social commentary, and that signature depth of field all blended into a dream come true. Affleck deserves a lot of credit but the real star of the show is Rosamund Pyke. So many Oscars in her future. The entire pace of the film is based around the performances that inhabit it, no line too much or too few. Fincher continues to show why he's at a whole other level when it comes to filmmaking.

Its hard to be a guy and not somehow relate to Boyhood.  Richard Linklater is always thinking outside of the box and it's amazing to even fathom someone taking on this 12 year challenge.  The fact that it manages to connect -- no matter what the age or gender -- speaks to his genius. I know I felt like I had gone through a lot of the same experiences as a boy. It's terrifying to relive them and means the film packs an emotional punch. 


It's hard to say anything about Guardians of the Galaxy that hasn't already been said.  It has instantly been launched into the pantheon of pop culture by way of great characters and quotability.  Chris Pratt has been destined for stardom the moment he stepped onto the scene but he cements this further the moment he walks on screen.  I wish James Gunn was in control of all outcasts.  They'd be in good hands.

I remember hearing about Under the Skin way back when they were covertly filming over in Scotland but it fell off my radar shortly after.  The trailers didn't do it much good so it went into my ignore list.  Then a friend said it was his favorite film of the year.  That made me reevaluate and I'm glad I did.  Beautifully shot with several cerebral moments.  The violence is visceral yet classy.  It still falls into an indie art house groove so it's not for everyone (and the beach scene isn't for ANYONE period) but those that can handle the lack of dialogue and slow build will be heavily rewarded with one of the most unique films ever made.

TV


It's hard to be a self respecting TV watcher and not be watching Game of Thrones.  The unconventional storytelling and downright horrific moments make for one of the best TV shows ever.  The Red Wedding may have affected people but the Mountain vs. the Viper will echo through viewers minds during any fight scene from here on out.  This show is unpredictable in all the best of ways, affecting viewers like few other shows.

While I love Workaholics, the quality certainly dipped this past season.  I would be upset except that the mantle had already been taken by the girls of Broad City.  Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are two of the funniest women on TV and they continue to impress with each episode. After seeing what they did with their debut season, I can wait to see what they do in their sophomore follow up.


Last year, Arrow was good.  This year, Arrow has been fucking fantastic.  Killing off main characters, bringing in classic villains, and more exciting flashbacks than before, 2014 has been damn good for this CW hit.  The crossover event with The Flash brought back some excitement from having network wide crossovers (remember the big blackout on a bunch of NBC shows in the 90s).  Also, Oliver and Felicity just need to get together already. Don't Ross and Rachel us.  The midseason finale left this show in complete disarray and, while its hard to imagine how it could surpass this past year, 2015 should be the best one yet.

All other sketch shows need to stop what they're doing because no matter what, they'll never be as good as Key and Peele. Both the range of characters and social commentary make it one of the best skit shows ever produced. This last season was the best yet, creating interesting new characters and taking social structures to task.  They're not afraid to tackle any subject and that unflinching attitude is what adds to the shows appeal.

Videogames


I was never huge into Tell Tale games until recently. I tried out episode of Walking Dead and was hooked.  So when I remembered they had a Game of Thrones, I was ready to dive in.  Be ready because no matter how much you think you're prepared for Thrones-brand treachery, you're not.  This game is amazing in all the ways you'd expect from a game based on the surreal TV show.  And Cersei is the most intimidating character I've ever encountered.  It makes the decision-making process a stressful one with seemingly no satisfying answer for the Queen Regent.  God I hate her.

This game was one of my favorites last year and yet, with the next gen remaster, I felt it appropriate to name it again.  Grand Theft Auto V is the epitome of what an open world game should be. It's engaging, fun, and intense.  There's a lot of times that it feels just like a tv show, the moments playing out entertainingly yet unpredictable.  Rockstar pushes the graphics to the limit, with some shots easily passed off as real life. Gotta love that lighting.


Another remaster in a world of disappointing new releases, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a gift to gamers everywhere.  Being able to play Halo 2 online again is a nostalgia trip like no other, and one I'm grateful for.  Being able to switch between remastered and old school graphics at the press of a button is awesome as well.  Getting an upgraded version of these classics means I'll be able to replay them for years to come and that's a blessing.

Destiny is proof that Bungie is one of the best in the video game industry.  They make games that fully utilize the systems they're on with gameplay that feels fresh.  The new Halo looks like it lifts a lot from Destiny because like Halo 1 before it, Bungie sets the standards for FPS.  Adding the MMO aspect to an FPS was a genius move and one I'm sure will be adopted by Call of Duty soon.  Isn't that usually how these things work?

Comic Books



It's hard to not love Blackmon and Del Mundo's Elektra. The art is some of the best in all of comics, with many trippy splash pages and unique framing. The oil based colors make for such a unique look, everything looks like a dream. I had never cared much for the character before this series started but I'm glad I gave it a shot. Otherwise I'd be missing out on the most interesting iteration of the character to date. Here's hoping they do her character justice with her inevitable appearance on Netflix's Daredevil.

Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love Superior Foes of Spiderman. It's honestly my favorite comic and I'm sad to see it end. The 17 issues that makeup its run are some of the best storytelling in any form.  Absolutely brilliant dialogue with unpredictable twists and turns, this is always the first thing I recommend to anyone wanting to get into comics.  Spoiler alert (butnotreally): you're going to really love Boomerang.  And Shocker.  And Beetle.  God dammit, you'll enjoy everyone.


I started reading Green Arrow after getting into the TV show.  Before, I thought the character was just a lame Robin Hood.  Had the show not convinced me, this certainly would have done the job.  Sorrentino may be my favorite artist working, with the imaginative layouts and brilliant panels in every issue.  The Outsiders storyline was complex and revealing to all the characters, bringing in old enemies and friends throughout.

Is it really that big of a shocker that Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, came out with a new series this year and it fucking rocks?  Good, it shouldn't be.  Outcast is unlike anything before it yet familiar at the same time.  Right when it starts to feel like The Exorcist, it starts going in a different direction.  The artwork is some of the most interesting and horrifying and the story continues to engage.  I look forward to the eventual TV series and hope that they keep to the source material because it's just so damn good.

Music



I haven't listened to much music this past year that's current (hello 90's, your music has encompassed my year) but one stood out above the rest. Jack White's Lazaretto packs a punch in medley and Rick.  The piano and guitar solos are face-melting, with nearly every song hitting the right spot.  It's vinyl of the year for a reason.  Go get yourself a copy.

Another album that left an impression on me was Weezer's Everything Will Be Alright In The End.  I did a review of it so I'll save you from a repeat, but essentially the CD is Weezer at their best.  The music connects with honest lyrics and kickass guitar.  As someone who went through a period of disliking the band, I can safely say that the Red Album.  Isn't that enough?

You can follow Zombievictim on Twitter for more of his stuff. Also, check out his own blog so you can read his progress on "Crimson Summer", an epic horror novel.

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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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