James Halcomb presents his favorites (and not so favs) from this last year.
I never felt that I am entrenched in the minutiae of popular culture, or expert enough about film, television or music to deem anything “best”. However, I can tell you my favorites.
Favorite New Show:
“The Flash”: currently finishing up the opening half of its first season, this show continues to be the best superhero event out there. Eclipsing, at times, even the show it was spun off from “Arrow.” Grant Gustin brings the fun and the quirkiness as the titular hero and his CSI alter ego, Barry Allen. The heavy lifting of the show comes from the duplicitous Dr. Harrison Wells, played by Tom Cavanagh and the always impressive Jessie L. Martin as Barry’s former guardian and boss, Detective Joe West. It is a “can’t miss” show and a lot fun.
Best Ongoing Show:
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D”: Anyone who truly has followed a Joss Whedon show knows that for whatever reason, his shows never really start until season two and S.H.E.I.L.D is a prime example. The first season was so cheesy that it seemed doomed to become the first “failure” in Marvel’s cinematic universe, but spending a season in deconstructing the team and rebuilding everything from the ground up, the show has become a darker, better show, filled with plot twists that are either fantastic or gritty beyond belief. The first season is not streaming on Netflix and once you get past the first 10 episodes of cornball spy-adventures, you end with some great television.
“Art Official Age,” Prince: Thirty three studio albums’ to his credit, Prince is still not only one of the most prolific artists of our time and generation, but arguably the best. This thirteen track wonder gives you the bizarre pop sensibilities, the driving guitar rock and, at the mid-point of the album, his usual sexy R&B greatness with “Breakfast Can Wait.” His performance on Saturday Night Live earlier this year, put every other artist to shame with eight minutes of sonic glory.
“Love Never Felt So Good”- Michael Jackson/Justin Timberlake: Say what you will about repurposing or rehashing old and unused tracks, but if anything out there is half this good, we should all be so lucky. Using track made during an early 80’s collaboration between Jackson and Paul Anka, this gem was lost to time (only being used by Johnny Mathis in 1984… Google that!) Timberlake has added is contemporary pop sheen and created a groove worthy of standing along anything from Jackson’s masterpiece “Off The Wall”. The song can jump start my day without hesitation. It can be found on the posthumous album “XSCAPE” and is a blast.
Favorite non-franchise, sequel related film: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a masterpiece deconstruction of New York Theater, a wicked evisceration of critics, and a slap at Hollywood and its desire to create billion dollar mega-film franchises, all the while the film stars three of the very stars who have been a part of that very same system. Keaton, Norton and Stone are all Oscar-bait and at the same time performances that are beautifully grounded and Oscar-worthy.
Worst film of 2014:
Transformers: Age of Extinction, just a terribly acted, terribly directed, bloated mess. The less said the better.