Heather’s Favorite Pop Culture of 2015

2015-Year-in-Review

I think all bloggers are contractually obligated to do some sort of year end post and New Year’s Eve is as good a day as any to pause to take a moment and reflect on the pop culture that I consumed in 2015 (and I consumed a lot). Overall, I think that pop culture 2015 was pretty strong; there were lots of great movies, TV shows, concerts and Broadway shows out there if you knew where to look. I’ve developed a pretty good sense of what I’m going to like – and what I’m not – so while there were fewer pop culture items in 2015 that just blew me away, what I did consume was consistently enjoyable.

So in a year when I watched, listened and experienced a lot, these were my personal highlights for 2015.

Top movies of 2015 (in no particular order):

Mad Max: Fury Road

 

I had no previous experience with the Mad Max franchise, so I was slow to get around to seeing this. I’m sorry that I waited so long, as I really dug this movie. It was smarter and more enjoyable than I expected and I was a big fan of the film’s feminist tone. Most important – I couldn’t take my eye off the action. Plus how many other movies this year featured a guy shredding a guitar that spit out flames?

giphy

That’s reason alone to crack my best of list.

Ex Machina

 

This one was another pleasant surprise that I didn’t get around to seeing until it was available on demand. I’m a little skiddish when it comes to the sci-fi genre and more often than not, I just don’t like movies of this ilk. So I was a little wary when I read the description of Ex Machina as robots and artificial intelligence aren’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. But despite the sci-fi elements, Ex Machina was grounded enough in reality that I was instantly drawn in. Excellent performances from Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander kept me fully invested and the film took me in an unexpected direction. The dance sequence is just the icing on the cake:

tumblr_niryo6RMBR1rertyro3_400

 

Spotlight

 

This film about the team that uncovered the sex abuse scandal of the archdiocese of Boston boasts an incredible ensemble that created a story that stayed with me long after the movie was over. Even though everyone knows the ultimate outcome of their investigation, they told it in such a compelling way that you are totally invested. An emotional and important movie.

 

Creed

 

Thanks to fantastic performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, Creed completely reinvigorated the Rocky franchise. Smart writing and directing found interesting new facets to what could have been a retread of previous movies. Even though we’ve seen elements of Creed before, it somehow felt completely new and fresh.

 

The Hateful Eight

 

I plan to post a full review of the latest Quentin Tarantino film next week, but suffice to say that since I’ve seen it I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s perhaps his most violent and profane movie, yet also his simplest and most constrained. It clocks in at just under three hours, yet I can’t wait to watch it again.

 

Honorable mention: The Big Short, Brooklyn

 

Top Television Picks

Mad Men

mad-men-logo

All good things must come to an end and this year we said goodbye to Donald Draper and company in memorable fashion. I could have spent time with these characters for the rest of my life and probably wouldn’t have tired of them, but Matthew Weiner brought his series to an end in a fitting and satisfying manner. I’m sad that I don’t have Jon Hamm as a part of my life on a regular basis, but that’s what the DVDs are far. Easily one of the best shows not only this year, but in the history of television. Plus it gave us what is easily the greatest GIF of the year:

d17b39de9c36ec188232db73d9ae6adf

#Likeaboss

 

Inside Amy Schumer

 MTMwMDY3Njg0NzExNzM3OTg3

There’s no doubt that 2015 was Schumer’s year, but while the success of Trainwreck has certainly dominated the narrative I think her Comedy Central sketch show really found its stride in its third season. The show is not only hilarious but offers some pretty spot on social commentary. The standalone episode that is a parody of 12 Angry Men is nothing short of brilliant and was a risk to undertake. I’m guessing the days of this show are numbered, given the success she’s enjoyed on the big screen, but I’ll savor this show while we have it. So smart and so freaking funny at the same time.

 

Jessica Jones

index

I never got around to blogging about Netflix’s newest Marvel inspired show when I watched it, but I may still write about it as there was just so much about this series that I loved. This is easily the most adult treatment of Marvel characters that I’ve seen to date and it has a distinctively noir vibe. Jessica Jones dealt with some interesting issues, such as PTSD after domestic abuse. This is a superhero show for people who don’t really care about superheroes; Krysten Ritter is amazing and David Tennant’s Kilgrave is easily the most charismatic and terrifying villain to date in any Marvel property. And not for nothing – it’s nice to see women in the leads of these shows. Jessica Jones also did a nice job or piquing my interest for the forthcoming Luke Cage.

 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

SE_LastWeekTonightWJO-S2-L

John Oliver and his staff continue to put out one of the most intelligent comedy shows about current events. Because his show is only once week, rather than daily, they have the luxury of deliberating on news stories rather than quickly reacting to them. The show’s decision to focus on one issue in depth per episode has also been a smart one; this show has provided a public service in education its viewers on issues that are often overlooked by the mainstream news – especially issues that involve criminal justice reform – while also making you laugh. That’s a powerful combination and John Oliver is doing very strong work.

 

Game of Thrones

Game-of-Thrones-Season-4-Trailer

The fastest ten weeks of the year are when Game of Thrones is on; waiting for the show to return is excruciating.

Making a Murderer

 murderer

If you know me personally and have run into me in the last two weeks, you are more than aware that I’m obsessed with this Netflix docu-series. Like, I won’t shut up about it until you promise to watch it. This investigation of a man who was wrongly convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, only to be accused of murder under questionable circumstances shortly after his release is compelling and infuriating. I devoured all ten episodes in two days and then hounded everyone I knew to watch it so we could talk about it. If you’re a fan of Serial, this is right up your alley; Making a Murderer raises a lot of important questions about a criminal justice system that is obviously flawed. I consider this a must-watch series. Netflix brought their A-game this year.

Honorable mention: Mr. Robot, Master of None, The Americans, Spotless

 

Top Pop Culture Experiences

Hamilton

If I did nothing else this year but see Hamilton on Broadway, I think I still would have been happy. This has transformed what I thought a Broadway show could be and is easily the best pop culture moment that I had all year. I am so glad that I opted to tackle New York City with my sprained ankle to be able to see this show – and I can’t wait to see it again in 2016.

 

Madame Tussauds

Sometimes it is fun to do some cheesy touristy stuff and I had a blast spending the afternoon at the famous wax museum in New York City. Once you embrace the silliness of the whole endeavor, getting your picture taken with replicas of famous people is actually a fun way to kill some time. Plus it’s pretty amusing to see the figures that don’t quite do justice to the person that they are representing.

 

Comics Come Home XXI

Being on crutches knocked me out of commission for six long weeks; the only thing remotely fun that I attempted was the road trip to Boston to see Comics Come Home and it was totally worth all the anxiety that I had about it. A great night of comedy for a great cause; it’s now officially an annual tradition.

 

Foo Fighters Concert

Dave Grohl and I were finally breathing the same air. Enough said.

 

Seinfeld pop-up apartment

You wouldn’t think seeing the replica of a TV set would have been such an amazing day, but when you are as big a Seinfeld fan as I am it was sort of a spiritual experience. I fulfilled a dream that I didn’t even know I had. And I got to meet the Soup Nazi!

What are your picks for the best of 2015? Sound off in the comments below…..and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016!

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over Edition

I woke up to some very sad news this morning – Yankee great Yogi Berra had passed away at the age of 90. This wasn’t a total surprise – the fact that he was unable to attend the ceremony when his fellow catcher Jorge Posada’s number was retired was a clue that he wasn’t well – but it still hurts all the same. I’m too young to have ever seen Berra play live, but his legacy was well known to me. Not only did Berra earn 10 World Series rings and multiple MVP and All-Star game appearances, but he was just an adorable man known for his paradoxical quotes and sayings. I looked forward to seeing him at Old Timers Day and various other Yankee events and he always received standing ovations. It just makes me so sad to know that I won’t ever see him again riding around in a golf cart, waving to the fans. He was one of the greats – not just for the Yankees but in all of baseball. I’m sincerely going to miss him. Rest in peace, Yogi.

12010611_10153192610542781_543519419423418396_o

But the show must go on….as usual, I’ve searched the Internet high and low to curate for you the best that the world of pop culture has had to offer in the last week. So tip your cap to Yogi and then find some solace in this week’s pop culture round up.

  • Beyoncé dropped a new song with Naughty Boy:

 

  • Stephen Colbert and Steph Curry square off:

 

Time for some teasers and trailers….

  • The American Horror Story: Hotel teasers keep rolling out:

 

  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant:

 

  • Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs:

 

  • FX’s American Crime Story:

 

  • IFC’s Benders:

 

  • Freeheld with Julianne Moore and Ellen Page:

 

  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2:

 

  • Baskets with Zach Galifianakis on FX:

 

  • Kristen Wiig in Nasty Baby:

 

  • Netflix’s With Bob & David:

 

  • Season 3 of Nathan For You:

 

  • The Last Witch Hunter:

 

  • In the Heart of the Sea:

 

  • WWE 2K16:

 

  • Mariah Carey is a dragon slayer in this trailer for Game of War:

 

  • A new trailer for the Point Break reboot:

 

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Walk:

 

  • The Good Dinosaur international trailer:

 

  • Season 3 of The Originals:

 

  • Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell in The Big Short:

 

  • The Peanuts Movie:

 

  • CBS’ Supergirl:

 

 

  • Justin Timberlake attempts to write a sew theme for Seth Meyer’s Late Night (who knew Timberlake was allowed on other late night shows?:

 

  • CNN congratulates Jon Hamm on winning an Emmy by tweeting a photo of someone who is not Jon Hamm. Get your sh*t together, CNN.

 

  • Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen on the Superman TV show, has passed away.

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts….

  • The 1967 Jungle Book meets the 2016 remake:

 

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox raps some Blackalicious:

 

  • A mashup of 100 movie dance scenes to “Uptown Funk”:

 

  • A supercut of a single phone call across 57 films:

 

  • Yeezy for President:

 

  • Foo Fighters perform with HAIM and Stevie Nicks:

 

  • A compilation of Superman’s kill count in the movies:

 

  • Ryan Adams’s cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 is streaming track by track on YouTube:

 

 

  • Not to be outdone, Father John Misty covered “Blank Space” in the style of Velvet Underground:

 

  • A mash-up of Taylor Swift songs from YouTube star Todrick Hall:

 

  • The Tonight Show parodies Empire:

 

 

 

 

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Goodbye To You Edition

 

Pop culture goodbyes are never easy and it seems like they are happening with increasing frequency. This week we not only sad goodbye to Mad Men, but we’ll bid David Letterman an adieu from late night television. Both of these endings make me a little sad; Mad Men was one of my favorite shows of all time and I feel like I grew up with Letterman. So it’s been a rough couple of days for someone like me who doesn’t like change.

But the show must go on. Once again, I’ve searched far and wide on the Internet to bring you some of the pop culture news and highlights that you might have missed. There may be big changes to the landscape afoot, but that does nothing to slow down the pop culture machine. So sit back, relax and get yourself caught up on the world of pop.

  • Here’s Taylor Swift’s new star studded video:

 

  • I have no words for Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea’s new music video:

 

  • Here’s Peter Dinklage signing about the Game of Thrones characters that he’s outlasted:

 

Stop…..Trailer Time:

  • Minions (yay!):

 

  • A new look at Ant-Man, which I am hoping is this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy:

 

  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trial:

 

  • Pan:

 

  • Netflix’s Between:

 

  • Zac Efron in We Are Your Friends:

 

  • Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak:

 

  • Syfy’s The Magicians:

 

  • Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro on The Intern:

 

  • A teaser for Samantha Bee’s new talk show on TBS:

 

  • Masters of Sex, season 3:

 

  • Runoff:

 

  • A new trailer for Pixels:

 

  • American Heist:

 

  • Into the Grizzly Maze:

 

  • Al Pacino in Manglehorn:

 

  • Third Eye Blind covered Beyoncé:

 

  • Christina Hendricks dropped by Sesame Street:

 

  • Here’s Eddie Veddar singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at Wrigley Field:

 

  • Jaden Smith brought the albino Batman suit back for prom:

https://instagram.com/p/2w3uHUoFgp/

 

  • The Mountain from Game of Thrones took batting practice with the Phillies:

https://instagram.com/p/2tylvPLn3Z/

 

As always, we end with the supercuts and mashups….

  • Here are some fan generated opening credits for the Black Widow movie Marvel seems determined never to give us:

 

  • Daryl Dixon in LEGO form:

 

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the latest to get the 8-bit video game treatment:

 

  • If Anna Kendrick was the next Indiana Jones, I’d finally watch the franchise:

 

  • Breaking Bad scenes recreated in Grand Theft Auto V:

 

  • And finally, Mad Max meets Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: