Scholars in the middle ages were superstitious about the 14th year of a century, as it was perceived wisdom that misfortunes occur more frequently in any year ending in 14. The Moors took Spain in 714, Charlemagne died in 814 (he was quite important back then), 914 saw various famines throughout medieval Europe, and the years 1014, 1114, 1214 and 1314 all saw various military and natural catastrophes that dug deep into the medieval psyche but don’t really seem bad these days (unless The Hungarian Invasion, the loss of Brittany and the Battle of Bouvines mean anything to you). The superstition hasn’t really stood the test of time, probably due to the fact that not many people have lived through two 14’s, and thus interest in the topic is muted.
More recently, 1914 saw the start of World War One, which can be said to have unleashed a three decade period of carnage and destruction that has never been seen before and hopefully will never be seen again. How does 2014 rank in this illustrious company? It was a year that saw the first real threat to the borders of a European country for almost half a century, and also one that saw the European Space Agency succeed in the greatest chase in history, as the Rosetta team managed to catch and colonise Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after a decade long pursuit. It was a year when One Direction finally overcame the might of Justin Bieber to become the true kings of pre-teen pop merchandising, and ultimately it was the year that the whole world fell in love with Matthew McConnaughey. In this end of year summary I pay tribute to all those that made this year memorable, mostly through the world of entertainment and inconsequence, but always in search of truth, justice, and the American Way.
THE YEAR IN MOVIES!
Movies of the Year (unranked, but really Boyhood is movie of the year): A Most Wanted Man, Boyhood, Interstellar, Nightcrawler, Locke. They’re all terribly male-centred, you may note.
Biggest Let-Down: Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For. 9 years waiting, for that.
Guilty Pleasure of the Year: Begin Again. Absolute nonsense, but watchable nonetheless. About Time is another one.
Best Movie About A Doppelganger Taking Over Your Life: The Double was ok, but I’m going to have to give this one to Enemy. At this rate, by this time next year I will be able to spell Gyllendhaal without googling, copying and pasting. Your time will come Jake, it’s only this year that we all nailed down the correct version of McConnaughey.
Megafranchise Movie of the Year: Guardians of the Galaxy. Definitely the funniest blockbuster ever, but I would imagine further sequels will see this independent franchise absorbed into, and ultimately sacrificed at the altar of, the Avengers, who rule the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
THE YEAR IN TELEVISION!
TV Show of the Year: True Detective. This show opened up a new dimension of what a TV show could be. Most shows (even Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos etc) relied on plot to maintain and fascinate the viewer. In True Detective, the plot is just a sideline to the mood created by the directors, cinematographers, actors and soundtrack curators. True Detective has a mood and atmosphere that unsettles and hypnotises the viewer, rather than just merely entertaining them. Also, it has THAT six minute take.
TV Discovery of the Year: Rectified. Now moving onto its third season, Rectified is the perfect antidote to binge-watching, as each episode is so emotionally draining that it’s physically impossible to watch two in a row.
Sitcom of the Year: Silicon Valley
Returning TV Disappointment of the Year: The Walking Dead. 42 minutes in an episode, but only about 3 minutes of actual plot development in each one. The first 30 minutes are so devoid of tension, it has gotten to the point where I only pay attention to the last ten minutes of any episode, just to be informed of the inevitable revelation/plot twist/death-of-a-minor-character that they have supposedly been guiding us towards.
THE YEAR IN MUSIC*!
*Disclaimer: I don’t know much about music.
Song of the Year: I wasn’t really impressed by much in 2014, but to settle the argument, I’ll go with “Under The Pressure” by War on Drugs.
Playlist of the Year: My favourite songs of the year. Possibly including songs from last year, but sure, you know.
Here’s a link to what I was actually listening to on Spotify this year, not just that modern stuff.
Music Video of the Year: Nicki Minaj (Anaconda). I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t watched this video so many times that it’s starting to seriously affect my YouTube recommendations.
Performance of the Year: Poland in the Eurovision. It’s tempting to give this to Conchita, but her song was terrible and she’s more of a symbol than anything else. Anyway, I’m giving this to Poland’s Eurovision entry. While the world was distracted by the Bearded Lady, they did this in a live family TV event.
My Musical Achievement of the Year: Getting in trouble with the feminists by embedding two videos of boobs and arses in this category instead of anything with actual musical integrity.
THE YEAR IN SPORTS!
Game of the Year: Brazil 1-7 Germany . Anyone from my generation or older would agree that this was a truly historic result in world football. It’ll take a while for Brazil to be respected in the international game again.
Goal of the Year: James Rodriguez, Uruguay v Colombia. A perfectly crafted wonder goal in a tightly contested World Cup game. Sorry Stephanie Roche, but context matters.
Football Shirt of the Year: Mexico ( away). The modern era isn’t great for classic jerseys, but the Mexico World Cup Team were onto something with this.
Transfer of the Century: David Luiz, Chelsea-PSG, €50m. Chelsea sold Luiz to Paris Saint Germain just before the World Cup for a world record fee (for a defender) of€ 50m. Playing for Brazil in that tournament, he was one of the chief architects of Brazils ineptitude, and after the 7-1 hammering by Germany, it was unclear whether he would ever have the confidence to play professionally again. Chelsea’s sale of David Luiz reminds me of the last act of the 2010 film Margin Call. Set in 2007 about an investment bank that are the first to realise most of their assets are toxic, they then spend a frantic mornings work selling on their entire inventory of toxic portfolios to other investment banks for as much as possible, before news of their true value becomes apparent later in the day.
Sportsman of the Year: That Aussie Rules player who got fired for posting a picture of himself pissing in his own mouth. This PR damage control interview is a must watch, and a true masterclass in modern Australian journalism..
THE YEAR IN “TECHNOLOGY”!
Video Game of the Year: FIFA 15. It’s the only game I bought, so it was literally peerless.
Real Life Players I Have Never Seen Play, But Will Forever Assume Are Great Just Because of Playing As Them In FIFA 15: Cerci, Nainggolan, Çalhanoğlu, Rossi (a perennial addition to this list, he’s been knocking in the goals for me since FIFA 11)
App of the Year: Tinder. If you have single friends, it’s more than likely that you ended up talking about Tinder at some point during the year. It’s like GrindR, but here the gayness is optional.
Meme of the Year: It’s hard to look past the Ice Bucket Challenge, where last August/September, every mad bastard you know proved what a mad bastard they were by dumping cold water on themselves in order to avoid giving money to charity. A worthy cause.
“Grandpa Award” in recognition of a Youth Trend That I Don’t Understand: Snapchat. The only logical use I can see for this app is for people who don’t know how to delete photos from their phone.
THE YEAR IN EVERYTHING ELSE!
Thing of the Year: Rosetta. Spend a while playing around with this and you will see how amazing this achievement really was.
Idiots of the Year: The United Nations. 2014 finally saw the UN descend into a complete parody of itself, as in September Harry Potter actress Emma Watson was deemed worthy to reignite the feminist movement at the General Assembly, while later in the year scientific consultant Leonardo Di Caprio was drafted in to lecture diplomats, policy makers and the scientific community about climate change. It is obvious that someone senior at the UN sees YouTube Views, Facebook likes and retweets as being desirable components in repositioning the UN at the centre of multiple global dialogues. In a year that saw the integrity of European borders threatened for the first time in a generation, the UN, the peacekeepers of our time and institutional zenith of civil society were firmly in the business of maximising their shareable content. No going back from here lads, the last drop of credibility is gone.
Unlucky Bastards of the Year: Malaysia Airlines.
Man of the Year: Vladimir Putin. Why not, sure the whole world’s gone to shite anyway?
This is all nonsense of course. Trivia, miscellany and instantly perishable pop culture does not a year describe. Those 525,600* minutes that made up your 2014 won’t correlate much with what’s written here, or what anyone writes in similar end-of year articles. The passing of time is subjective, and to take a line from Indiana Jones: it’s not the years, it’s the mileage that counts. At various, often overlapping, points throughout this year I was a PhD student, an unemployment benefit recipient, a casual worker, a YouTube sensation and a full-time employee. At one stage I was a part-time English teacher, and a few months later I was a full-time student of German. In the space of a few short weeks at the end of summer I was a new uncle, a Best Man, and dealt with my first adult experience with loss. In 2014 I signed legal contracts with the Irish government, the Austrian state, the European Union, a private consultancy firm, and my best friends Portuguese wedding license (which I hope is valid in Ireland). 2014 was quite the year, one that I’ll remember, and overall one that I’m glad is at an end. Now on to 2015, and the constant memes referencing the broken promises of Back To The Future Part II! If you disagree with any of the awards given here, or want to pour shame on me for the Nicki Minaj video, please don’t hesitate to comment, here, on Facebook, on Twitter or to my cynical Irish face. Happy 2015 to all!