Top Travel of 2014

Full List

  • Germany
    • Berlin
    • Potsdam
    • Dresden
    • Bochum
    • Essen
    • Frankfurt
    • Munich
  • Denmark
    • Copenhagen
  • Switzerland
    • Geneva
    • Chateaux-D’Oex
  • Italy
    • Milan
    • Florence
    • Venice
    • Pisa
    • Rome
    • Trieste
  • Poland
    • Wroclaw
    • Warsaw
    • Lodz
    • Auschwitz
  • Netherlands
    • Amsterdam
  • Belgium
    • Brussels
    • Bruges
  • Austria
    • Vienna
    • Alpbach
    • Klagenfurt
  • Slovenia
    • Ljubljana
    • Ljutomer
    • Kamnik
    • Kranj
    • Postojna
  • Croatia
    • Lovran
    • Zagreb
    • Split
    • Dubrovnik
    • Plitvice
  • Czech Republic
    • Prague
  • Serbia
    • Belgrade
  • Bosnia & Herzogovina
    • Sarajevo
    • Mostar
  • Montenegro
    • Kotor
    • Budva
  • Albania
    • Tirana
  • Kosovo
    • Prizren
  • Macedonia
    • Skopje
  • Bulgaria
    • Sofia
    • Plovdiv
  • Turkey
    • Istanbul
  • UK
    • London
    • Oxford
  • France
    • Paris
    • Avignon
    • Nice
  • Spain
    • Barcelona
  • Sweden
    • Malmo
    • Lund
    • Stockholm
  • Chile
    • Santiago
  • USA
    • Monument Valley
    • Horseshoe Bend
    • Antelope Canyon
    • New York City
    • Boston
    • Seattle

 

Top 10 Cities in Europe

  1. Berlin, Germany
  2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  3. Istanbul, Turkey
  4. Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. London, United Kingdom
  6. Florence, Italy
  7. Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  8. Ljubljana, Slovenia
  9. Vienna, Austria
  10. Venice, Italy

 

Top 10 Landmarks in Europe

  1. Pantheon, Rome, Italy
  2. Duomo, Florence, Italy
  3. Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey
  4. Plitvice National Park, Croatia
  5. Auschwitz, Poland
  6. Postojna Cave, Slovenia
  7. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
  8. Catacombs, Paris, France
  9. Olympic Luge, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  10. Spreepark, Berlin

Top Books of 2014

Full List

  • Colum McCann, Fishing the Sloe-Black River
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, Tree of Codes
  • Philipp Meyer, The Son
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
  • Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code
  • Jack Kerouac, On the Road
  • Philipp Meyer, American Rust
  • John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
  • Antoine de Saint Exupery, The Little Prince
  • Khaled Hosseini, And The Mountains Echoed
  • Mitch Albom, The First Phone Call from Heaven
  • Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
  • Amy Tan, The Valley of Amazement
  • Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
  • Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
  • Haruki Murakami, Dance, Dance, Dance
  • Haruki Murakami, Hear the Wind Sing
  • Haruki Murakami, Pinball 1973
  • Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
  • Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase
  • Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
  • John Scalzi, Old Man’s War
  • Donna Tartt, The Secret History
  • Tana French, The Likeness

 

Top 10

  1. Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
  2. Khaled Hosseini, And The Mountains Echoed
  3. Philipp Meyer, The Son
  4. John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
  5. Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
  6. Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
  7. Jonathan Safran Foer, Tree of Codes
  8. Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
  9. Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
  10. Donna Tartt, The Secret History

Top Movies of 2014

Full list:

  • Rush
  • Blue is the Warmest Color
  • Blackfish
  • The Act of Killing
  • Dallas Buyer’s Club
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Don Jon
  • Waking Life
  • Fargo
  • Nebraska
  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Nymphomaniac Part 1
  • Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
  • Snowpiercer
  • The Better Angels
  • Boyhood
  • The Circle
  • Blind
  • God Help the Girl
  • The Spectacular Now
  • World War Z
  • Short Term 12
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Spiderman 2
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Frank
  • The Wind Rises
  • Locke
  • The Two Faces of January
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Greenberg
  • Frances Ha
  • The Lego Movie
  • Interstellar
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Nightcrawler
  • Big Hero 6
  • Birdman
  • Gone Girl
  • Whiplash
  • Wild
  • Foxcatcher
  • Citizenfour
  • Inherent Vice
  • The Imitation Game
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Frozen
  • The Cabin in the Woods

 

Top 10

  1. Boyhood
  2. Birdman
  3. Interstellar
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Citizenfour
  6. The Act of Killing
  7. Foxcatcher
  8. Whiplash
  9. God Help the Girl
  10. Waking Life

 

Top 10 Scenes

  1. Boyhood – Patricia Arquette breakdown scene
  2. Nymphomaniac Part 1 – Uma Thurman’s breakdown scene
  3. Birdman – THE WHOLE MOVIE WAS ONE LONG SCENE
  4. Interstellar – The Tesseract scene
  5. Whiplash – The ending scene
  6. Foxcatcher – Mark Ruffalo’s interview scene
  7. God Help the Girl – I’ll Have to Dance with Cassie scene
  8. The Act of Killing – Confession scene
  9. Nightcrawler – Final car chase
  10. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Ralph Fiennes’s final scene

1. Looper

Title: Looper
Director: Rian Johnson
Release: September 28, 2012

Hands down the best sci-fi film of 2012, and possibly the best sci-fi film I have ever seen. I went to see Looper out of respect for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is on fire these days, and left with respect for extraordinary vision of Rian Johnson. This is a film that consistently delivers suspense and thrill by interweaving layers of conceptual depth with well-paced plot progression and universal character development. There are no loopholes here. It breathes with the life of a filmmaker and lead actor who don’t see this as science fiction — they see it as a reinvention of reality, a lens through which to see our humanity for what it really is. But at the end of the day, you’ll still lose your shit over how awesome time travelling is.

I have to admit — I have a weak spot for time travel stories. The concept here of a futuristic mafia sending their victims back in time to be executed seems contrived and outlandish at first. As the story unfolds, you discover that this one of the most inventive ideas every conceived in film (way more intriguing than that dream layering thing in Inception). It is a futuristic vision that is completely detailed through, from the solar panel patches on old rusted cars to the flying machines that spray pesticide over agricultural fields. Uncanny is one way to describe it — cautionary is perhaps even better. But within this rich environment, the real heart is in the four main characters — Joe the Looper, Joe in 30-years come back to save his future whatever the cost, Sara the farming mother, and Cid the emotionally damaged son. The thing about sci-fi is, you gravitate towards human emotion because that’s the only thing that feels safe in an unfamiliar world. It’s the best genre for intimacy. The ending will blow you off your feet and throw you back into reality with a new-found appreciation for the human condition.

Bravo to Joseph Gordon-Levitt for an incredible performance, and bravo to the makeup artists for an even more unbelievable makeover. This film is perfect from start to finish and back.

Honorable Mentions

Skyfall: The best Bond Film ever, but more importantly, the hottest Bond Girl ever.
The Other Dream Team: A fantastic documentary from Sundance about the 1992 Lithuanian national basketball team, a masterful tale of history and sport.
Wreck-It Ralph: A treat for gamers and geeks and, in my humble opinion, one of the best Disney films ever made.
Celeste and Jesse Forever: A film written by Rashida Jones that follows her divorce and  fall-out with Andy Samberg’s character. She is a tour de force in this role, and the film rivals 500 Days of Summer in indie-romantic effect.
The Master: A film by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be Blood) that is loosely based on Scientology. Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are incredible and both Oscar contenders, but the film itself is just a little bit over my head.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: The book is one of my favorites, and this film is one of the best book adaptations I have ever seen. Full of life and energy, mostly thanks to the endearing performances by Emma Watson and Ezra Miller.
Teddy Bear: Another surprise from Sundance, a Danish film about a shy bodybuilder who finds love in Thailand. A moving picture of love and compassion.
Life of Pi: Another great book adaptation, possibly even better than the book. Ang Lee uses the magical realism of the tale to really tout his film-making ability, to awe-inspiring effect.
Cloud Atlas: After reading the novel, I am even more impressed by the incredible craftsmanship and direction of the Wachowski Brothers. A real cinematic experience.
Silver Linings Playbook: This almost made the top 10 but I watched it a bit too recently. Career performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, a difficult thematic subject converted into a heart-warming experience.

2. Moonrise Kingdom

Title: Moonrise Kingdom
Director: Wes Anderson
Release: May 25, 2012

For a very long time, Wes Anderson has been my favorite director. His sense of theatricality and almost dioramic detail turns my own creative spirit into film. And while in the past few years I have really delved into film and seen many great masterpieces from other acclaimed directors, Anderson came back this year with a movie so adorably hilarious and masterfully crafted, it very well may be his best yet.

Moonrise Kingdom centers on the story of two children, runaways from home who are out to start their life of love. Doesn’t this sound like the perfect story for Anderson, a kind of world where innocence is king? He brings back some of his finest, most trusted actors: Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. The newcomers are even more fabulous: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and the frightening Tilda Swinton. But the real stars are the two kids, Jared Gilmam and Kara Hayward. Jared is the little boy-scouting, gadget-touting, letter-writing white boy I always dreamed of being. Kara Hayward is a young Emma Watson, which basically means she’s the perfect girl. Their chemistry is outstanding, simultaneously matching the absurdity of Anderson’s plot twists and life-or-death scenarios, and being about the most down-to-earth, humble love story of 2012.

If you love Wes Anderson, you will agree that a year in which he puts out another masterpiece is a good year.

3. Young & Wild

Title: Young & Wild
Director: Marialy Rivas
Release: November 30, 2012

The real gem of Sundance 2012 — a film which, sadly, I think few will ever get to experience. I watched it as a wildcard at midnight, at the Egyptian Theater in Park City, Utah. All I knew was that there was lots of sex and would probably be great night entertainment. The theater was completely packed — it would be the film’s last showing at Sundance. Young & Wild is based on a real teenage blogger and blogsite from Chile, and her raunchy explorations of her own bisexuality out of sight of her devoutly religious family, but in the wide open for her Internet audience. From the very beginning this film delights — the Chilean music is hip and indie, the typography is hot pink Courier font, and the director uses webcam-style shots of Daniela’s fans, with online chat written directly on the screen and random images of colorful dicks and flaming vaginas (in the style of a female Michael Cera). Then comes the sex — the rumors were right, there’s a lot of it. This protagonist is a self-proclaimed sex addict who gets herself in a whole world of trouble with her parents, with the church, and with a personal moral compass which is turning out to be much more complicated than she could imagine. Alicia Rodriguez, the 18-year-old actress who portrays the real-life Camila Gutierrez, is spectacular in this role, with just the perfect blend of an everyday face and a heart (and body) that just explode on screen. She’s the embodiment of every sexually frustrated boy or girl who’s ever imagined their life taking a cinematic turn. And the relationships depicted here are full of life and warmth.

This is unlike any film I have ever seen, and something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. The pacing is fantastic (dare I say almost like sex?), and the climactic double-break-up is both funny and painfully tragic — depending on what you’ve been focusing on, the sex or the love. Luckily there are both to frightening heights, as well as painfully real coming-of-age for both the actors and the audience.

The cherry on top was when, after the film, in Sundance fashion, the director came on stage to answer questions. What nobody was expecting was for both the lead actress AND the real-life Camila to come on stage as well. What I got to witness and hear (in translation) was director, actress, and inspiration having the most intimate conversation about the intersection between film, art, and life. And both girls are adorably hilarious in their perspectives on family and sex. I almost went up to talk to the director and ask her for some tunes from the film — but alas I was forced to exit in a rush to catch a cab, and just like a high the experience was gone in an instant. Young & Wild is the most daring, provocative, and youthful movie I’ve ever seen, and one I hope will make it to the states.