While the A.V. Club staff gets to weigh in about what movies, TV, music, and more we liked this year, we’d be fools to think that anyone really cares what we think. After all, we’re not famous. That’s why we asked a bunch of our favorite actors, musicians, podcasters, comedians, actors, and showrunners what piece of pop culture they liked the most this year. This is the second half of all the responses we got. The first half ran yesterday and is here.
Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul
Graveyard’s Hisingen Blues! It fucking rocks! My makeup girl on Better Call Saul recommended it and I was wary—she has tats!! Then I heard it and my first thought was, “It’s too much like Black Sabbath—how come I like it so damn much?” Oh well, it’s a damn mystery. It’s so good. I also liked Tim And Eric’s Totino’s commercial. “I AM pizza Totino’s boy.”
I can’t shut up about how good Captain America: The Winter Soldier was. And Ed Brubaker, who wrote the Cap comics the movie is based on, introduced a seriously solid, old Hollywood noir comic called The Fade Out. What else? Oh, in that Scarlett Johansson movie Under The Skin—when they left that baby on the beach, that fucked me up.
Run The Jewels 2—best hip-hop album in 10 years.
I have to admit I haven’t seen hardly any of the big year-end Oscar-bait movies yet (with the exception of Whiplash, which I absolutely loved), because I’m in the DGA and I’m still waiting for screeners to show up in my mailbox. Having said that, if I’m being honest, I think my favorite film of the year was probably The Lego Movie. It was just unabashedly joyous—funny and clever without being too snarky or overly hip. It’s a brilliantly crafted piece of entertainment that everybody can enjoy—nothing wrong with that!
My favorite pop culture thing in 2014 was Fargo, the TV series. Every single television show produced from here on out should have Billy Bob Thornton playing a shitbag murderer. You could add that character to Bad Judge and I would watch. (Note: I would not actually watch.) Also shout-out to Hampton Sides’ new book. It had people dying in the Arctic. The best books are about people dying in the Arctic.
Boyhood hit me so hard, for a week after I couldn’t even think about it without crying. I’ve always been way too fascinated with the mundane details of life, and no one gives those little moments their due like Richard Linklater.
The Americans is probably my favorite show I’ve seen this year. I knew I’d like it even before I saw it, because I’m a Cold War geek, but I love its objectivity, and I think Philip and Elizabeth have an ideal marriage, aside from all the murdering.
If you’re including stuff from other years, my friend Rachel Millman reintroduced me to Huell Howser and California’s Gold. We both think it is one of the most hilarious shows ever. He was so amazed with everything! So sincere and enthusiastic! The “dog eating an avocado” clip has become my test to see if someone shares my sense of humor. Rest in peace, Huell.
My favorite movie was The One I Love. It combines my two shameful loves of sci-fi and rom-coms. It is a powerful, surprising film. The Duplass brothers do it again. Man, fuck those guys. They’re too good.
My favorite album was Luck by Tom Vek. I had never heard of Tom before this year. And I’m so happy I found him. The single “Sherman (Animals In The Jungle)” was the catchiest rock song played on NPR-affiliate stations this year.
Cameron Esposito, comedian and A.V. Club contributor
The movie Obvious Child blew me away. It’s honest and important and provided some of the best sex ed I’ve seen in any bit of pop culture, but still completely relatable and hilarious. Jenny Slate’s performance particularly is not to be missed—Jesus, she’s great. Did I mention it’s a film about abortion? A comedy about abortion? Stop reading this and just go watch it.
The release of Dragon Age: Inquisition by BioWare. I cannot stress enough how much I love this video game. I was a huge fan of Dragon Age: Origins and have been waiting for a spiritual successor and this is it. The amount of content found within totally justifies the price point. I’ve already invested 70-plus hours of game play and still haven’t even come close to scratching the surface of what this title offers. In fact, just last night, I remade my character into a two-handed warrior with a focus on DPS and chose the Reaver specialization. If you know what I just wrote means, then you absolutely need to pick up this game. You won’t be disappointed.
That video where the girl hit the other girl in the head with the shovel. It made me laugh the hardest I ever have as an adult. If you haven’t seen it, it sounds way worse than it really is. Watch it and then you’ll understand. These girls were fighting in a yard and it escalated really quick. It was just so perfect. Nobody got super hurt which makes it okay, I think? If you think I’m dumb for saying that’s the best piece of pop culture of the last year, you’re probably right. The correct answer was Last Week Tonight.
I absolutely loved Ritesh Batra’s film Dabba (The Lunchbox) starring Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur. It’s about a widowed man and a housewife in a bad marriage who start exchanging notes to each other when the widower accidentally gets the wrong lunchbox sent to him. They talk about their lives, hopes, anxieties, and pain. A brilliant piece of art.
A close second, because I’m an egomaniac, is my incredible appearance on The A.V. Club’s Taste Test.
Bleachers’ Strange Desire. I cannot get enough of this album. I have listened to some part of it pretty much every day for the past several months. It’s very upbeat and anthem-y and then super emotional and raw in other ways. Like me.
I really loved Birdman. I thought it was beautiful to watch, inspiring, clever, and remarkably well executed for such an odd and ambitious concept. It existed in the present without coming off as too heavy-handed, and was shrewdly self-aware without distracting from the premise or one’s ability to care for the characters. It was beautifully shot, everyone in it kicked ass—what more do you want? I had to pee 30 minutes into this two hour film, and at one point I actually considered pissing my pants rather than missing a scene. Two Dasani water bottles full of piss way up for Birdman.
My favorite piece of pop culture was Gotham the TV show. At first I hated it, then it slowly grew on me, re-kindling my love for all things Batman. I love the Penguin’s big nose and other hideous features, I love Jim Gordon being the white knight, I love the crude writing, and it makes me miss The Sopranos.
The backlash during New York Comic Con from Matt Klickstein’s Flavorwire interview—dropping as it did in the aftermath of Ferguson and Eric Garner’s death, along with Gamergate—really revealed an ugly fusion of rape culture and white supremacy culture that we all have to take a stand against in 2014 in our lives. Not just in our consumption of pop culture—but it’s important nonetheless that people who previously felt isolated shared their experiences on big and small screens, on air, in your ear, on the stage, and on the street.
I’ve toured the whole fucking year and I’ve done a terrible job keeping up with most culture. Come to think of it, the deeper I get into music, the less cultured I’ve become. If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago, I could have listed off all that sweet stuff. Now all I have time for is music, both playing and listening. So yeah, it’s Ryan Adams’ newest record. It’s everything I’ve always wanted out of a record. Or perhaps the perfect record for this time in my life. Being in a band is the only thing that makes sense in my life right now, the rest of my life is pretty fucked. Ryan Adams weirdly made me feel fine about that.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t actually finished reading Will Not Attend: Lively Stories Of Detachment And Isolation yet. Get A Life co-creator Adam Resnick’s book of essays is so astoundingly funny I just don’t want it to end. And though I encourage you to purchase Will Not Attend, steer clear of reading “Blue Yodel No. 13”—the chapter where Resnick recounts a date gone awry with a ne’er-do-well high school classmate—while getting your oil changed. Seconds after taking in, “She was suspended once for calling Miss Gladfelter a dyke bitch and another time for telling Mr. Lutz to suck her balls,” I was fast-walking out of a silent, crowded Jiffy Lube waiting room, tears streaming down my face, in search of a dumpster to howl behind.
Also, every time I see Ex Hex perform live I’m reminded of what made me first want to play music when I was a kid. Mary, Betsy, and Laura cut loose with such joy and passion it’s near impossible to come away from their shows not wanting to start a band, or at the very least, smash a couple mailboxes. Ex Hex’s debut album, Rips, is an unbeatable slab of hooky prog/garage rock worthy of anyone’s Christmas stocking. Hey Merge, here’s a sticker-ready quote courtesy of yours truly: “R.I.P., rip-off rock, Rips rips!!”
My favorite piece of pop culture is Hotel Impossible with Anthony Melchiorri. I would like a public request that James Adomian do an impersonation of him. “I carry pubic hair in my pockets! I’m a hotel manager!” It makes me want to upgrade my Grey Gardens “oh my God look at this” home to a boutique hotel with full amenities that give each guest a unique and memorable experience.
Birdman hit all the right notes for me. Film geek? Check out the insanely intricate camerawork. Theater nerd? Every actor kills it. Hell, they even convinced Michael Keaton to get back into a superhero costume. That alone deserves all our respect.
No! This is so hard. There was a lot. Serial, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” video, The Walking Dead bathtub scene, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Posehn and Duggan’s Deadpool, Letterman’s last year—but the one thing that I’ve watched more than any of that is The Howard Stern Birthday Bash. This was an amazing event that assembled the most diverse audience ever—Letterman, Lena Dunham, Barbara Walters, Chris Christie, Rob Zombie, Bryan Cranston, Andy Cohen, Ryan Phillippe, and dozens more with videotaped birthday wishes from Sir Paul, Schwarzenegger, Clooney, and a foul-mouthed Kathie Lee Gifford. It was all helmed by one of my favorite performers, Jimmy Kimmel. Find this online, watch and listen to it. It’s what an award show should be but never is: fun, funny, and a once-in-a-lifetime event. Also I sat a table away from George Takei, so there is that!
A British anthology TV series called Black Mirror. The first two seasons are on Netflix. It’s sort of a Twilight Zone gone berserk. It’s satire that you have to take seriously—dark, intense, and totally absurd. I often didn’t know whether to laugh or cringe.