2014 has been an incredible year for entertainment, there have been some amazing cinema and DVD releases and one of my favourite albums of all time was released. So I thought I'd round-up the year with some of my top picks from this year and hopefully give you a couple of recommendations.
Considering I'm a bit of a superhero geek and a huge Marvel fan, it's surprising that my top pick for cinema in 2014 isn't one of the four new releases from Marvel. The stand out film for me this year has been Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I really enjoyed the first film of this new re-boot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but quite frankly it pales into comparison to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Set 10 years after the first film, the majority of the population has been wiped out by the Simian Flu, and the apes are in control of huge areas of San Francisco, USA. The film revolves around Cesar, the ape that we saw become almost human-like in the first film, and the army that he's managed to put together. The film has everything; tension, anger, love, loss, action and emotion. I left the cinema feeling a bit worn out from feeling so many emotions. It's beautifully shot, edited and acted, I'd happily give this 5 stars if I was reviewing it.
DVD (link to trailer)
For the first few months of the year I didn't make it to the cinema once, so had to wait until the DVD release of a few films, I was most eager for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it didn't disappoint. Set after The Battle of New York in The Avengers, this sequel is more grown up and mature than the first Captain America, and has more than a hint of a political thriller about it. Full of plot twists, intrigue and of course lots of action, The Winter Soldier is definitely my top pick for DVD releases this year.
TV / Netflix (link to trailer)
As you probably know by now, I'm a bit of a Netflix addict, so coming up with just one 'best of' from the entire year has been almost impossible. I decided to go with Chuck because I watched nothing but that until I finished the entirety of it, I got through all 5 seasons in a little over two weeks and was really upset when it finished. Chuck is about a man who, in the first episode, has a super computer downloaded into his brain, making him a target by all of the bad guys and very important to the CIA. Thanks to the information that downloaded into his brain he knows things that no-one else does, so becomes a CIA spy, whilst still keeping his job as an I.T. expert. It's a comedy drama that also has some really touching moments, and while I'm pretty sure it's not going to come back (it ended in January 2012) I'm still hoping it might in the future.
I've always been a lover of ballet, so when I saw that Ballet Cymru were performing Beauty and the Beast not too far from my home I knew I had to get the best tickets I could. Luckily I managed to get 2 for the second row, so in November I surprised my Mum and we had a great night. The performance lasted for approximately 2 hours and it was superb. I'm not really familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast, but I found it easy to follow and I knew exactly what was going on without any words being spoken. The ballerinas were all excellent and the choreography was outstanding, I wouldn't think twice about recommending Ballet Cymru to you and really hope I get another chance to see them in the future.
There have been a few really great albums released this year, so this was a hard one to decide, but after going back and forth I've decided on Lykke Li's I Never Learn. I first fell in love with Lykke Li's voice whilst watching Twilight: New Moon in 2009, she is the beautiful voice behind the song 'Possibilities', and as soon as the film was over I went on the hunt for her album. I Never Learn is her third studio album, and is just as good as, if not better than, her previous two. Full of angst, pain, beauty and soothing melodies, I Never Learn is one of the few albums I've had on repeat ever since it was released in May.
I've read a few books this year, but the one that stands out to me, for a few reasons, is Nicobobinus by Terry Jones. Nicobobinus is a children's book that I first fell in love with when I was 9 or 10 years old, but I re-read it this year as part of the 30 Day Blog Challenge I completed in June. I loved it when I was young because of the action and great stories, but also because the girl in the book, Rosie, is the one that does all of the rescuing instead of needing rescuing herself, like almost every other book I read as a child. Little did I know that even at 10 years of age I was becoming a feminist. That's why I've never been a fan of Disney stories, because the female was also needing to be rescued by a man, but there was none of that with this book. This book has everything you could want as a child; great writing, imagination and the odd naughty word, though these are very mild. This is a book I'd certainly recommend to either read to your children or to buy as a gift.
I really could have made this post super long and written a top 10 of each category, so I hope that the choices I've made are helpful to some of you. If you have anything that you think I should have included here, please feel free to let me know in the comments.
Links to the entertainment mentioned:
I've written this post partly to enter a competition, but I was planning a similar post anyway. If you have a blog and would like to enter or know more, you can find the details here.