Saturday, February 1, 2014

2014 | January Favourites

movie - Gravity. With the Academy Awards coming up in a little over a month, I've spent January catching up on some of the nominees. Gravity was my favourite visually. It's a gripping thriller of an astronaut fighting to stay alive after being trapped in space with limited resources. While the storyline was engaging, it was its visual appeal that really hooked me. The effects were entirely believable, a fact that I better appreciated when I learned that the director, Alfonso CuarĂ³n, waited several years for the technology to catch up with his vision for the film before starting production. I also loved the uncommon way that long scenes were shot -- the opening sequence is an uninterrupted 12-minute long section. Gravity has been nominated for Oscar nominations in a wide variety of categories (it's tied with American Hustle with 10 nominations each) alongside 80 other awards and nominations, proving it to be a truly spectacular piece of film.
TV show - Sherlock, Series 3. After being on hiatus for two years, the third series of Sherlock was met with frantic anticipation and plenty of tears from the Tumblr fandom. And it didn't disappoint. Although it was vastly different from the previous two series, it was a good change. There was more character development in nearly every character and we were able to better see what makes Sherlock the way he is -- we get glimpses into his childhood and more family moments with Mycroft and their parents. Molly grows more of a spine around Sherlock, Anderson is made likable, John gets married to Mary (a fantastic new character), Lestrade's name is mixed up on more occasions, and most importantly, a certain famous somebody returns. There were lots of surprises and comical moments and sad moments and overall it was a fantastic season.

TV show, honourable mention - Being Human (UK), Series 5. Netflix put up the 5th series of Being Human in December and I finally got around to watching it this past month. It was a fantastic way to end an amazing show; I love when producers know it's the final season and so they can tie up all the loose knots and give the show a satisfactory ending. The thing I always loved about Being Human was that each season was completely unique and different from each other, so they could take this final season in a new direction and give the characters a happier ending than the original characters received. I wasn't too sure at first when they introduced the devil as the season's villain, but they surprisingly pulled it off really well and kept him unlikeable and creepy (yes I'm looking at you, Supernatural). The new trio was completely different from the original set but were just as loveable.
book - Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I've never read any of Adichie's books before this one, but if Americanah is anything to judge by, I may have found my new favourite author. Americanah is one of the most thought-provoking and beautifully written novels I've ever read. Despite it being work of fiction, the author wove in her own Nigerian background to tackle issues of race and relationships in the modern world. Other reviewers have wrote that they didn't feel Adichie completely addressed each of these topics and while I agree, I preferred it this way. Each section of the book showed which area the main character, Ifemula, struggled with the most at that point in her life, which gave the narrative a realistic feel.

album/artist - Warpaint by Warpaint. I'm surprising myself by putting this on here as I've never been a Warpaint fan, but the release of their sophomore, self-titled album was enough to sway me over to their side. I enjoy the atmosphere the album provides more than the actual music itself, but their soft rock sound has a way of growing on me. Warpaint has joined my ever-growing collection of study music. Favourite track: Biggy.

album/artist, honourable mention #1 - Tribute by John Newman. Newman's debut album released in the US this month and it's been getting plenty of airtime on my computer. His 60s-esque blend of soul and pop is highly addicting and the songs get stuck in my head all the time. There's nothing truly groundbreaking with this album, but if you want something that's fun to listen to, I highly recommend this one. Favourite track(s): Losing Sleep and Gold Dust.
album/artist, honourable mention #2 - All This Bad Blood by Bastille. This is more a quick mention since I've already talked about this album in an earlier post, but I just wanted to briefly share that it released in the US this month and I've been listening to it constantly. Favourite track: The Draw.

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