We’re inching ever closer to the end of the 2014 and this has rightfully sent you into a panic. “What was cool this year?!” you ask, unable to decide for yourself. It’s for you, we do this. It is not always easy to suss out the objective truth in a year of culture — it’s not like we casually cranked out these paragraphs this past Sunday afternoon — but we’re intelligent, brave, and most of all good-looking enough to take up this responsibility.
Best film portrayal of a 1930’s Hotel Magnate
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Without buying into the Academy Award hype (who am I kidding, I, without fail, follow the awards closely every year) it should be said that Ray Fiennes deserves Best Actor for his role as Gustave H. In perhaps the most charmingly serious role writer/director Wes Anderson has conjured up yet, Fiennes carries the enormous ensemble cast in Andersen’s contemporary masterpiece. What makes Fiennes’ performance stand out from nearly any other performance in 2014 is his incomparable level of aptitude when inhabiting a character. While viewing the film there is absolutely zero doubt that Fiennes is anything else than the fictional overseer of the illustrious Grand Budapest, down to his wildly charismatic intonations and facial expressions.
The film itself is an absolute wonder, however, without Fiennes it may have been a forgettable entry in Andersen’s catalogue alongside Darjeeling Limited. See the film regardless, but know that Fiennes’ performance alone is worth the viewing. – Jake Tully
Most Elaborate Skit Proving Girls Actually Poop
Broad City S1E7: “Hurricane Wanda”
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer were the newcomers on Comedy Central’s mega line up but these two queens will be finishing the year off on top. Jacobson and Glazer are comedic masterminds proving their wit and grit in episode 7 of Broad City (created and written by the duo). In “Hurricane Wanda” a national storm leaves the girls cooped up in Abbi’s apartment with a random slew of guests including the adorably annoying Bevers (John Gemberling) and an unwelcome visit from his sister. Party games, wine and dozens of candles are in place during the citywide blackout. A knock on the door introduces Abbi’s neighbor, Jeremy (Stephen Schneider), her walking wet dream. The unexpected visit causes the nervous Abbi to rush to the bathroom but can’t flush her bowel movement. In a brilliant display of true friendship Ilana declares herself the “doo doo ninja” and handles the situation with cat like reflexes. Broad City is one of those rare shows that can make your sides hurt from how brilliantly raw these two women are. Season two airs next month and I can’t wait to see what kind of fuckery these troublemakers get themselves into. – Tamara Syed
Best Album To Set Your Alarm To
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
I started to wonder if people forgot this album came out earlier this year because it was fucking fantastic. Salad Days is a silky, light blues guitar album that instantly puts you in a relaxed, but morose, state. A stoned melancholy. I frequently set the album as my MP3 alarm, and there’s just something peaceful and bittersweet about hearing a song like “Brother” be the sound that brings you into the world. It’s out of a dream and into another. I frequently listened to this album this year, thinking, “this is what I want life to sound like.” I’m still working on it.– Justin Pansacola
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
When Laura Jane Grace was known as Tom Gabel, she never shied away from the complex issues of identity and world politics. After announcing that she was transgender, Grace suddenly became a central figure and advocate for transgender rights and understanding. Since that time the band went through a couple of lineup changes, with talk now that the group may continue under a new name. If this does prove to be Against Me!’s final record, it is the perfect capstone to a wonderful body work. It’s Grace’s most personal record, giving the rest of the albums context and solidifying the band’s place as one of the most important groups of the modern era. – Ben Levine
GROUNDBREAKING WORK IN SUPERPOWERED ORGASM SCI-FI
Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
Published by Image Comics, the Sub Pop of the comics industry, Sex Criminals is the best ongoing comic book on the market, bringing together two of the funniest people working in comics to make a sex-centric book that is constantly hilarious and sometimes even moving. The premise is classic: Suzie discovers at a young age that her orgasms give her the ability to stop time. Living with this for years, she hooks up with Jon who also has the same power. Together they decide to rob banks.
That’s just the beginning, of course. The joke isn’t even that the premise is “wacky” — there’s a lot of frequently inventive satire and comedy to be found that blows your favorite teen movie out of the water. It’s also fertile ground for exploring how we deal with relationship baggage, sexual discovery, and navigating all that is scary and wonderful about intimacy. Sometimes it’s Airplane!, sometimes it’s Blue Valentine. It is the best comic of the year, period.