Entertainment & Arts

Year in Review: Times critics look at entertainment and culture in 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, Los Angeles Times critics and writers consider the best and the aberrant of entertainment and culture in a more than usually weird time span. Explore our critics' lists and their more in-depth reflections here.

Kenneth Turan working from Cannes Film Festival in May 2014. (Patricia Williams / For The Times)

Crushed by December's film releases

Times film critic Kenneth Turan notes the problematic consequences of Hollywood's year-end flood of "best" pictures hopefuls, which cheats worthy films out of finding an audience and hurts audiences' chances of seeing worthy films.

Everyone loses in a December deluge of films

Kenneth Turan's best films of 2014

Olaf, in the movie "Frozen." (Disney)

'Frozen Hunger Left Behind Girl'

Marvel and DC Comics have unveiled their release schedules through 2020, sparking Times columnist Glenn Whipp to look ahead with his own suggestions for sequels.

A sequel, you say? Just imagine these blockbusters

Michael Keaton, left, and Edward Norton star in director Alejandro G. Iñarritu's "Birdman." (Allison Rosa / Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Singular film voices reach critical mass

With daring filmmakers like Ava DuVernay, Alejandro G. Iñarritu and Wes Anderson, 2014 was the year of the auteurs, says Times film critic Betsy Sharkey.

Daring films lifted the artform

Betsy Sharkey's best films of 2014

Elisabeth Moss in "Listen Up Philip." (Tribeca Film)

'The year of the follow-through'

According to Times staff writer Mark Olsen, this isn't so much the year of the breakthrough as it is the year of the follow-through. In films such as "Listen Up Philip" and "Inherent Vice," artists and filmmakers deliver new achievements, building on the talents and skills they've already revealed.

Artists and filmmakers make surprising leaps

Mark Olsen's best indie films of 2014

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) with one of her dragons in HBO's "Game of Thrones." (HBO)

TV's best? The choices, oh my

Times television critic Mary McNamara says she'll give you her "Top 10" list, but adds that small-screen shows have moved past legitimate rankability.

Compiling a 'best of' TV list proves tricky this year

Mary McNamara's best TV shows of 2014

A scene from "Too Many Cooks" by Adult Swim. (YouTube)

Web's prime time

This year, Times television critic Robert Lloyd has found himself excited by the small things. Little shows, he says, are making a mighty impression on the Internet.

Smaller Internet gems reign supreme in the year on TV

Robert Lloyd's best TV shows of 2014

"The Wolf Among Us" reverses the violent tone in gaming as Snow White makes a lasting impression. (Telltale Games)

Video game diversity may get a boost

While much of the past year in gaming was marred by the mostly violent, social-media-driven movement "gamergate," games like "The Wolf Among Us" and "Monument Valley" prove that diversity only makes the medium stronger, The Times' Todd Martens writes.

2014 games: There was ugliness, but diversity won

Todd Martens' best video games of 2014

DVD rentals are steady, showing consumers are set in their ways. (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Discs hold their own

This year, DVD and Blu-ray customers stayed loyal to their formats as the big media companies continued to try to figure out their markets.

DVD and Blu-ray formats are holding their own

Noel Murray's best DVDs of 2014

A rendering of the proposed LACMA redesign from Peter Zumthor. (LACMA)

In this culture, expect change

Arts and culture in the news in 2014: Times staff writer David Ng's list includes LACMA's coming makeover, the San Diego Opera's resurrection and more.

Top Southern California arts and culture headlines of 2014

A jogger strides past the One Santa Fe apartment building on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Old is now new again

Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne says that technology has pushed most mediums forward, but this year's digital upheaval has turned architects' attention towards basics and fundamentals.

The future is in the past: Architecture trends this year

Christopher Hawthorne's best of architecture in 2014

The Broad Collection, shown in a rendering, will have free admission. It plans a fall 2015 opening. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A big payoff to dropping fees

In Los Angeles, free entry to a museum is an uncommon experience. Only two prominent art museums in the city offer complimentary admission: UCLA's Hammer Museum and the Getty. Times art critic Christopher Knight says it's time for more art institutions to open their doors, sans entry fee.

Museum admission should be free: The state of art

Christopher Knight's best of art in 2014

"Luna Gale" paints a portrait of contemporary America in its tale of a baby taken from the custody of young, meth-addicted parents. (Craig Schwartz / Center Theatre Group)

Praising a strong year for drama

On the stage, 2014 was one in which tough questions were addressed, complexity was welcomed and the desire to understand occasionally trumped the need to condemn. Times theater critic Charles McNulty reflects on the productions that stood out.

The year in theater: Drama reigns

Charles McNulty's best stage shows of 2014

Dorothy Buffum Chandler used her social and media influence to push for creation of the Music Center. (Life Magazine / The Music Center)

Female classical music pioneers: An L.A. story

Los Angeles celebrated the 50th birthday of the Music Center in 2014, and also its benefactress, Dorothy Chandler. But she's not the only woman in this tale. Times music critic Mark Swed says that long before other American cities, Los Angeles had women at the head of music organizations.

Then and now, L.A. women get things done in classical music

Mark Swed's best classical moments of 2014

A$AP Ferg's "Talk It" responds to Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Mo., and the subsequent unrest. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for National YoungArts Foundation)

Songs become political art

As Times pop music critic Randall Roberts notes, music in 2014 by Rappers and hip-hop artists such as ASAP Ferg, T.I., the Game, Run the Jewels, Tef Poe and Turk underscored the calcified nature of relations between black communities and the police across America in 2014.

Hip hop takes a potent stand

Randall Roberts' best pop albums of 2014

Clockwise from left: Drummer Brian Blade, saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh, the "Gathering Call" album cover and the Mise en Abîme" album cover. (Lurah Blade; Pi Recordings; Palmetto Records; Sunnyside)

Raising spirits through jazz

At the end of a year seemingly marked by more tragedy and loss than usual, Times jazz critic Chris Barton rounds up 10 of the best jazz albums in 2014.

Chris Barton's best jazz albums of 2014

BalletBoyz had three performances in November 2014 at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center. (Panos / Ahmanson Theatre)

The daring to the dazzling

Garth Fagan's "Discipline Is Freedom" stands out in a season of same-sex duets and solid-gold works. But no dedicated dance theater? Lewis Segal explores.

Same-sex duets, solid performances and an unsure future

An image shot by street photographer Vivian Maier. (The Maloof Collection / Merry Karnowsky Gallery)

Life is lived by moments

Times book critic David Ulin reminds us of a prominent plot point this year: the significance of the everyday.

Small moments in which nothing, and everything, happened

David L. Ulin's best books of 2014

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