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10 Best Everything of 2014

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(Clockwise from top-left): Beyonce, Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood, Nick Jonas, Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, J.K. Simmons in Whiplash, Carrie Coon in The Leftovers, Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, Lana Del Rey, Matthew McConaughey in True Detective set on artwork for This is All Yours by alt-J

The Battle: Whiplash
A tug of war match between professor and pupil, Damien Chazelle’s riveting story of a budding drum student learning from one of the most esteemed and feared jazz band conductors in the country not only cemented J.K. Simmons as a truly powerful character actor but catapulted Miles Teller into the eye of movie goers and critics alike. You may want to look away from the cruelty and humiliation done unto these students by Simmons but you may find that you simply can not.
The Wife: Rosamund Pike
A stunning product of moody, sweeping British cinema, Pike deftly exploded onto the world’s screen in David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl with a more-than-pleasing portrayal of one of the 21st centuries most complex and terrifying literary women. Both cynically hilarious and cringingly disturbing, Pike transformed not only herself but her career with a malicious plan, a dimwitted husband and one bloody good sex scene.
The Boy: Boyhood
A product of 12 years of focused and dedicated filmmaking, Richard Linklater’s tale of a boy growing up just like the rest of us, is nothing short of a cinematic achievement in every meaning of the term. Simple, resonant, affecting and truly unique, Boyhood is the film that directors wish to have made and movie goers desire to see.
The Performance: Beyoncé at the VMAs
If we really needed any further evidence, that world dominating pop sensation fully cemented her title “Queen Bey” with a marathon medley performance of songs off of her chart topping (and miraculously surprising) self titled release. Strong, sexy, tender and, yes, flawless, it was the one thing that could have saved a rather limp VMAs telecast, and it did much more than just that.
The Actress: Carrie Coon
Unless you were following recent Tony nominated theater, you were probably one of the millions that would have shrugged off the name “Carrie Coon” as if it were a complete stranger. That’s because before this year she pretty much was. Then she landed a compelling turn as Nora Durst in HBO’s polarized-but-mostly-hated grief study The Leftovers and in David Fincher’s grim Gone Girl as the witty and dedicated sister, Margo, to Ben Affleck’s less-than-affable Nick Dunne, and she showed what real dramatic strength looks like.
The Eye Candy: Nick Jonas
2014 saw Nick Jonas stripping away more than just his image as a Disney teeny bopper. This fall saw Jonas pose for a “Marky Mark” inspired photoshoot for Flaunt magazine’s October issue that made the country’s jaws drop and November saw the release of his self titled album that made us fall to the ground panting for more. With infectious beats and a “i’ll be the best night of your life” attitude, the release is packed with songs listeners can enjoy in the most intimate of moments. The singer/songwriter/actor/philanthropist even wishes for that himself.
The Songstress: Lana Del Rey
If there was ever an artist so scrutinized and hated as Justin Bieber (can one even call him an artist?) it would be Lana Del Rey. Swoony, spacey and downright weird, the sex-ed up product of self-doubt, botox and countless failed endeavors showed the world what she is truly capable of in 2014. With the release of Ultraviolence, Del Rey, in typical moody and sedated fashion, employed listeners to take her seriously with a stripped down record expressing themes of love, hate, sex and sadness.
The Trio: alt-J
One of the most intriguing aspects of British based trio alt-J’s second release, This is All Yours, is that there really is no one genre that they can easily find their way into. Both electronic and folk, rock-ish and pop-y, hard and soft, the music is definitely not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary to try. From the hot and heavy “Every Other Freckle” to the calm and beautiful “Choice Kingdom”, here’s hoping this release is only a preview of what is to come for these three.
The Scene: A gang war explodes on True Detective
How many times can you recall a single scene that left you breathless, heartpounding and excited for more? If you were one of the many rabid followers of HBO’s anthology detective drama, the impressive 6-minute tracking shot in episode four of the love it/loathe it series is one of those scenes. Anchored by Matthew McConaughey’s stoic and cryptic Rust Cohle, the shot leads you through a suburban gun fight that grabs you by the neck and doesn’t let go.
The Villain: Jake Gyllenhaal
The best villains are the one’s you love to watch. In Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, a twisted story of a man hellbent on capturing the perfect shot, Jake Gyllenhaal gives the best performance of his career with a charming yet delirious portrayal of a man so terrifying, you’re even scared to turn away.
HONORABLE MENTIONS:
The Imp: Tyrion’s speech in episode 36 of Game of Thrones
The Head-trip: Interstellar
The Comedy: The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Madness: Birdman
The Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

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