This was a big year for me with music. Probably more than anything else (but now that I’ve looked at the movie list that is a lit) which is why I am mentioning it first. I think, at least as I start mentioning this, that there were far more albums that I loved this year than any other pieces of media. Let’s see. My best album of the year, shocking no one, is Arctic Monkey’s AM. It is the first perfect Arctic Monkeys album since their first release. While I definitely feel more strongly about some of these next albums than others I am just going to list them alphabetically.
Anamanaguchi – Endless Fantasy, Arcade Fire, Reflektor, Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe, Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still, Jim Guthrie – Takes Time, Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience pts. 1 & 2.
Anamanguchi’s album is transcendent. It is nearly perfect and there is so much of it. With 22 tracks it eclipses all of their previous work. It is quite dynamic and always a joy to listen to. Arcade Fire’s Reflektor was the first Arcade Fire album I’ve ever listened to an I quite enjoy it. I don’t think I’ll go back and listen to the others because I only listened to this one because James Murphy produced it. I wish I discovered Chvrches earlier but thanks to a co-worker I got to listen to this album plenty this year and I love it. Franz Ferdinand’s album was reliably good and quite a joy to listen to. The Head and the Heart’s album is incredible and they vastly improved upon everything they do. Jim Guthrie’s album was a glorious pop-folk explosion. Justin Timberlake’s album was incredible. Period.
Though it isn’t my favorite form of media, Cindy and I definitely consumed more movies this year than any other year that I recall. We saw something around 15 movies. I won’t mention them all here but I’ll mention the ones that stick out for me. Again, despite the fact that we saw so many most were just okay – enjoyable to watch but not something that I’ll view time and time again. For me that movie goes to Star Trek: Into Darkness. It was a joy to watch and maybe it doesn’t stick in my mind as perfectly as the Star Trek 2009 reboot but I know out of all the movies I watched this will be the one that gets repeated views. Honorable mentions go to: Now You See Me, Evil Dead, Catching Fire, and You’re Next.
It wasn’t a huge year for video games for me. I didn’t play most of the indie titles that everyone “should play” instead focusing on AAA titles and a bit of casual iPhone games. The indie games I did play didn’t resonate enough even to finish and I’m quite positive that with at least one of those games I didn’t play it according to the developers vision (that game was Monaco). There are more games that I played that I guess aren’t even worth mentioning even if they weren’t necessarily bad. So my top 7 games from 7.
7. BattleBlock Theater – This game was fun but it just didn’t strike the same chord as their previous releases. 6. Angry Birds Star Wars 2 – The first Angry Birds game I have spent this much time on since the original. Another solid from Rovio. 5. Runner 2 – Great game that wasn’t as punishing as the original iteration. Fun Fun Fun but with little story to speak of there was little to keep me coming back after I finished it. 4. Peggle 2 – This game is better than Peggle 1. There, I said it. It is so much more charming and polished. 3. Bioshock Infinite – I hated the combat at first. That is until I played it strategically on 1999 mode. Then I had a ball. The story was/is amazing and though it doesn’t strike the same resonance as the original Bioshock this is a game that will be talked about for years to come. 2. Battlefield 4 – I have spent so much time with this game (more than any other game here combined) and it is glorious. Even with this game being in basically a beta state for two months straight I couldn’t and still can’t stop coming back to it. Most fun I’ve had in BF since my first Battlefield experience: Bad Company 1. Tomb Raider – This besides being my favorite game of the year is probably my favorite form of media altogether this year (or maybe it is a tie between this and Arctic Monkey’s AM). This game made me love a character that I had only ever had a passing interest in before. I wanted to play more Tomb Raider when I was done so I booted up Tomb Raider Anniversary (a remake of Tomb Raider 1) and it just wasn’t the same. I want to see so much more of this new iteration of Lara Croft. I want to play the next generation version so badly just so I can play it again and have a reason to get a second set of achievements for this glorious game.
I’m not sure I have a favorite at all in this category but it was a good year for television (even for returning shows, though I won’t mention any but one here). Orange is the New Black was an amazing discovery. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an absolute riot. And Defiance. I can’t decide how to feel about this show but I’m interested to see where it goes. I do hope it gets better episode to episode in season 2. The one returning show I wanted to mention was Arrested Development. When viewed as a who this season is incredible and Netflix viewing worked perfectly for it. If you haven’t finished the season I highly recommend it.
I read three books that actually came out this year – two worth mentioning – and they are both my favorite books of the year. Stephen King’s Joyland and Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. In general I didn’t really a whole lot this year but some of the books that had been on my to-read list were disappointing. Those two were The Age of Miracles and Gone Girl. Some that I had on my to-read list were amazing: Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, and even This Book is Full of Spiders.