The Best of 2014
I may still be writing the wrong year on everything, but it is indeed 2015. That’s right; the 1990s started 25 years ago.
But with the beginning of a new year, it’s always nice to be able to comfortably look back at the last year and fondly remember all of the good things while forgetting about all the awkward, depressing and awful stuff that befell you. So, that’s exactly what we are doing! The NerdSpeak crew (Cody, Jordan and Wesley) have come together to share a few of our favorite things of 2014, ranging from video games, to television, to movies. Actually, it’s probably only going to be those three things. Hey, we are men of simple tastes.
But, without further ado, here is NerdSpeak’s Best of 2014.
A Batman show without Batman sounds like a failure waiting to happen, but somehow it’s one of the most exciting shows on television. Ben McKenzie is fantastic as Jim Gordon, but the biggest standout has been Robin Lord Taylor. His portrayal of a young Oswald Cobblepot is charmingly sinister and gets more impressive with each episode. Look out, Danny DeVito! Gotham also provides the most in depth look at Bruce Wayne’s childhood that we’ve ever seen onscreen. I never thought I’d care about Batman getting his first kiss, but for some reason, I do.
Guardians of the Galaxy
How did this happen? Marvel took a comic book that only 12 people have heard of and turned it into the highest grossing movie of the year. On top of that, it actually got really good reviews! We’re talking about a movie where one of the characters is a talking raccoon. We’re talking about a movie where the sexy leading male is the chubby guy from Parks and Recreation. We are talking about a movie where one of the main characters is played by a professional wrestler and he doesn’t suck! It could have and probably should have been a disaster, but it ended up being genius.
There were a lot of big action movies in 2014, but one of the best managed to stay relatively under the radar. Snowpiercer takes the “futuristic dystopian”genre, flips it on its head and puts it on a train. The wealthy people live in the front of the train, while the people in the back are forced to live in poverty. Chris Evans leads a ragtag bunch on a mission to get to the front of the train and there’s no telling what lies within each car. There’s almost nonstop action, yet it never seems mindless. In fact, it might be one of the more thought-provoking movies of the year. It’s both disturbing and bizarre at times, but it’s impossible to look away. It may be underrated now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie develops a cult following in the not-so-distant future. Also, it’s probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to a gritty Thomas the Tank Engine adaptation.
Nathan for You
The premise behind Nathan for You is fairly simple. Nathan Fielder visits struggling business owners and tries to help them succeed. Easy, right? Not exactly. Let’s just say Nathan’s business tactics are a little unique. Remember the Dumb Starbucks story that made national headlines awhile back? Someone had opened up an exact replica of Starbucks, but put the word “dumb” in front of it to avoid copyright infringement. That was Nathan. He also has the ability to create some of the most excruciatingly awkward situations, but you can’t help but laugh uncomfortably. It’s dry humor at its best and there’s no other show like it. Luckily, Comedy Central has already ordered a third season.
There’s no denying that Marvel had the upper hand with movies this year, but DC may have them beat when it comes to TV. I was not expecting to love this show as much as I do. Most shows start off slow or take awhile to get really involved in, but not this one. It’s been strong from the very first episode and just keeps getting better. A lot of this success can be credited to Grant Gustin, who is ridiculously likable as Barry Allen. The one bad thing? Each episode goes by too fast! (Get it? I’m sorry.)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Remember a time when nobody really liked or cared about Captain America? Yeah, unfortunately, so do I. It’s a sad day when the superhero that represents our country’s greatness is the Avenger that people care about the least, but for a couple years, this was the case. Then, Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out earlier this year and blew the minds of/silenced the mouths of every critic Cap has ever had. “Holy shit, who knew Cap was so cool?” essentially summed up the reactions of the general public. The writing was fantastic, the action was beyond intense, it was well-directed and just in general proved to be one of the best movies of the year, and in my humble opinion, the greatest comic book film ever made. Yeah. It was that good.
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
I’ve made no effort to keep my love of Pokemon a secret. Far from it. When any new Pokemon game gets announced, I get incredibly excited. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were different, though. Ruby and Sapphire were the first Pokemon games that I spent far, far too much time with as a child. Now, I’m not saying they’re the best Pokemon games or even necessarily that they’re my favorites, but they have always held a special place in my heart as the games that really got me into the series. Not only did these remakes not disappoint, they surpassed even my astronomical expectations and delivered possibly the best Pokemon remakes to date. With tons of amazing new features, updates of old favorites, and more nostalgia than you could shake a Poke Ball at, these games really left a lasting impression on me this year.
Destiny has been drawing hype and causing nerds to change their underwear for years. A massive, open-world shooter from the guys who made Halo? What the hell is there not to like? When it finally released this year, it split the fan community in two. Many fans felt the game did not deliver on a lot of the promises that Bungie made, while others embraced the world they created and had a blast with it. I fell into the latter category. While of course it was far from perfect, there were few games I spent as much time with this past year as Destiny. It was always just one more bounty, just one more story mission, just had to find that one last piece of equipment… Bungie’s beautiful world pulled me in and didn’t let go for months. While it’s not without its flaws, there were few games in 2014 I had more fun with than Destiny.
Let’s not mince words: Arrow kicked some serious ass this year. While it has always been an entertaining show, 2014 proved to be a banner year for the television incarnation of the Emerald Archer. The second half of season 2 and the first half of season 3 brought with them some truly amazing things (both good and bad), like (SPOILER ALERT) Ollie’s showdown with Slade, the flashbacks leaving the island, Oliver and Felicity finally succumbing to the loooooooove, the death of Sara Lance, Thea becoming a badass, a crossover with The Flash, Roy becoming Arsenal, and many more that would take too long to write about. On top of all that, 2014 left us with the cliffhanger of (again, SPOILER ALERT) Oliver getting stabbed through the chest by Ra’s Al Ghul. It’s moments like this that show how much Arrow shined this year.
There are two things that my friends know about me: I love Christopher Nolan movies and I nerd out over science. What could be better than a combination of those two things? Well, not much. Nolan’s Interstellar was, if not my absolute favorite, one of my top three favorite films of 2014. A perfect combination of hardcore science/ science-fiction, emotional resonance and just enough McConaughey, Interstellar had me on the edge of my seat for almost the entirety of its nearly three hour run time. With the Batman franchise behind him, I’m excited to see what else Nolan has up his sleeves after he pulled this baby out.
137 hours. That’s not the number of hours I spent volunteering feeding the homeless or volunteering at The Boys and Girls Club. That’s how many hours I spent this year playing DayZ. Now I know DayZ was released in December of 2013, but let’s be honest: the game was barely playable until 2014. And even then, real content for the game didn’t start rolling out until mid-summer. Everyone loves to hate on the game and its developers, but all I know is I spent more time on DayZ than I have any other game. It probably has something to do with the fact that there is nothing more satisfying than stalking a guy, killing him with an ax and finding out that you ruined all of the loot you so desperately crave.
NASA’s Orion Test Flight
Did I mention that I love science? Because I love science. And it’s not every year that I get both an awesome science movie and a real life awesome science landmark. This year, the science gods (that’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever seen one) were kind. You see, this was the big year that NASA decided to take their first big, public steps towards the eventual goal of putting a man on Mars. Of course, that goal is set for some time in the 2030s, but it is still incredibly exciting to see NASA making moves to finally put a human being on a planet other than our pretty sweet Earth. And it will be in my lifetime no less! And waking up to see the Orion test flight (a flight that would test the capabilities and effectiveness of the spacecraft that will eventually carry astronauts to Mars) at 7 AM was totally worth it! Science is awesome!
The Emergence of the Newest Generation of Consoles
Let’s face it: if we were writing this article at this time last year, we might be wondering if dropping hundreds of dollars on the newest gaming console was really such a good idea. There was a serious shortage of games, the features we were promised were still missing, and the future was uncertain. But now, one year later, the consoles have hit their stride and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end anytime soon. A bevy of strong AAA titles and surprising indie hits have really bolstered my confidence in this generation. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous amount of awesome games that are releasing this year. The future looks bright, my friends.