Yashar Pirasteh's Top 5 of 2014
As 2014 comes to a close, I'd like to take a chance and look back at my five favorite things that helped shape my year. Be it a film, album, TV show, or anything else that moved me, the following list contains the essence of 2014 for me:
Endlessly bleak and relentlessly tragic, HBO's The Leftovers was my favorite new show from last year (with apologies to The Knick). Starring Justin Thereoux as a small town police chief who is barely able to keep his own life together, much less his town, after a mysterious event causing 2% of the world's population to disappear in an instant, this show had me hooked from the first episode. There are no happy endings or hopeful moments, but it is one of the most beautiful shows I've ever seen, with the an incredibly memorable score. Damon Lindleof is showing that perhaps Lost wasn't his magnum opus after all.
Quite possibly the most deserving film of a "WTF" as the credits roll, David Fincher's newest film about the disappearance of Amy Elliott-Dunne (by an Oscar worthy turn from Rosamund Pike), the first half of the film is an enganging but relatively unoriginal whodunnit, while the second half takes everything you know and destroys it. Creating one of the most immersive and interesting films of 2014, Fincher makes you really examine relationships in a most uncomfortable way. Do we give up who we truly are to be who others want us to be? What cost would you give to seen as your "best" self? These are just some of the questions Gone Girl poses in possibly my favorite film of last year.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Not that Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't a surprisingly enjoyable film, given its odd source material, but the best comic film of 2014 was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Breaking away from the narrative weight of The Avengers, this film allowed its characters to grow and give the audience a Marvel film, unlike anything we'd seen before. More spy thriller than a "hero beats bad guy", The Winter Soldier turned the Marvel Cinematic Universe on its head, while providing some of the most intense and entertaining action sequences in recent memory. Coupled with one of the more memorable villains in the titular role, I'd argue that this is the best Marvel film yet.
Probably a film that most of the general public doesn't even know exists, I, Origins presents a protagonist in the classic faith vs. science debate who clearly leans towards the latter but some truly heartbreaking and fascinating events cause him to question the basis of everything he has worked towards. Seemingly small in scope, the movie deals with universal issues. Directed by relatively new director Mike Cahill and starring the always entertaining Michael Pitt and Brit Marling, this was the most moving film I saw this year. It has an understated profundity that almost brought me to tears as the final scene comes to a close. Truly one of the gems of 2014, don't miss out on this if you can.
Who is Moon Knight? Imagine if Batman suffered from dissociative personality disorder and was the human embodiment of an Egyptian god. If that doesn't sound interesting to you, then you probably won't dig the character. The new volume of Moon Knight launched by Marvel Comics this year crafted supremely interesting and oftentimes disturbing self contained issues, the first six of which were written Warren Ellis who doesn't shy away from the character's crazy behavior and unorthodox crime fighting techniques. If you want someone who is both an Avenger yet reads nothing like anything you have ever read, Moon Knight is the book for you and my new comic series of 2014.