Entertainment trends of 2014 in movies, tv, music, theater and books

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The biggest entertainment trends of 2014 as selected by our critics Rafer Guzmán (film), Verne Gay (television), Glenn Gamboa (music), theater (Linda Winer) and books (Marion Winick).

HOLLYWOOD GETS RELIGIOUS

The year was flooded with religious-themed movies, each
(Credit: AP / Allen Fraser)

The year was flooded with religious-themed movies, each with its own agenda. "Son of God" preached mainly to the converted. "Heaven Is for Real" (pictured) proved the unprovable. "The Identical" envisioned Elvis Presley as a symbol of Israel (yes, really). Nicolas Cage's "Left Behind" bombed almost as badly as Kirk Cameron's in 2000. None were hits. Conversely, the big-budget films "Noah" and "Exodus: Gods and Kings" were blasted for straying from Scripture. The lesson: When God and movies mix, results vary. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

NEW VOICES IN FILMMAKING

This year was one of the best in
(Credit: Tribeca Film)

This year was one of the best in recent memory for first-time and fledgling filmmakers. Alex Ross Perry, 30, delivered the year's wisest and most woeful comedy, "Listen Up Philip" (pictured). Damien Chazelle, 29, and Justin Simien, 31, used their own lives as inspiration for a music-driven drama, "Whiplash," and a racially charged comedy, "Dear White People." Screenwriter Dan Gilroy, 55, made his directorial debut with the media satire "Nightcrawler." And an Australian horror movie, "The Babadook," was crowned best first film by the New York Film Critics Circle. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

A FOCUS ON REVOLUTION

Maybe it's just a fad, but class consciousness
(Credit: TNS / Murray Close)

Maybe it's just a fad, but class consciousness is all the rage at the movies. Along from the latest "Hunger Games" episode (pictured), we saw a remarkably similar dystopia in "Divergent." The critical hit "Snowpiercer" was a massive train-metaphor in which the steerage-class passengers try to take over the engine. The most extreme example, though, was "The Purge: Anarchy," an action flick that culminates in blood-spattered revolt. Who'd have thought Marx would sell at the multiplex? -- RAFER GUZMÁN

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STREAMING TV

Streaming, as a subset of
(Credit: AP)

Streaming, as a subset of "viewing," has been around for years, or at least as long as there's been fast Internet connections, but that subset pulled closer to parity with regular TV viewing in 2014, and the ramifications -- both now and in the future -- are profound. HBO announced plans to offer its popular HBO Go portal to the public next year, while CBS launched its own in 2014 (CBS All Access, pictured above). Streaming popularity also has enticed a major and well-endowed newcomer into original programming -- Amazon -- and Netflix, which really built the fire under the raging TV streaming trend, is just getting started. -- VERNE GAY

DIVERSITY DRIVES MAJOR ROLES

The topic of race and casting on TV
(Credit: AP / Nicole Rivelli)

The topic of race and casting on TV has long been a rankling one, with TV (occasionally) accused of tokenism or (more often) of doing nothing at all to diversify casts or add black or Latino leads. But with Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder," pictured), Halle Berry ("Extant") and Alfre Woodard ("State of Affairs") in lead or major roles ... with "Saturday Night Live" initiating the biggest diversity drive in its history, adding Michael Che, Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones as cast members ... with "Cristela" and "Jane the Virgin" both new shows featuring Latina leads ... with the launch of "black-ish," the most successful new fall comedy ... and with Larry Wilmore appointed host of a new Comedy Central show to replace "The Colbert Report" ... the topic didn't rankle quite as much this past year, when TV did something about the diversity shortfall. -- VERNE GAY

JIMMY FALLON 'TONIGHT' TAKEOVER

Fallon could head anyone's top TV list in
(Credit: AP)

Fallon could head anyone's top TV list in 2014, as performer or host, or at least Guy who Changed Late Night. But as part of a trend list? Well, he took over "Tonight" from Jay Leno in February, and not only kept Leno's audience but built from there. Fallon's "Tonight" -- funny, hip, lively and musically savvy, thanks to legendary house band The Roots -- then forced changes elsewhere. Because of its resounding success, David Letterman announced his retirement from "Late Show" in April, with Stephen Colbert later named his replacement, thus ending one of TV's best-loved fake news satires. Fallon was simply the most important TV figure of 2014, who forced big changes elsewhere. -- VERNE GAY

LEAVING SPOTIFY

When Taylor Swift decided to pull all her
(Credit: Getty Images)

When Taylor Swift decided to pull all her music from Spotify because she felt the streaming service didn't value it enough to pay her a fair rate, she sparked a debate about the site and a mini-exodus, as Jason Aldean and her label mates Justin Moore and Brantley Gilbert pulled their latest albums. Judging how passionately musicians and tech developers argued about the issue, no one will be able to shake it off. -- GLENN GAMBOA

THE BOOTY

In 2014, the behind was front-and-center. Between Meghan
(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Winter)

In 2014, the behind was front-and-center. Between Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass," Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" and Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's "Booty," backsides took the lead in discussions of self-acceptance in a way that had never been seen before in pop music or even pop culture. Sir Mix-a-Lot, you must be very proud. -- GLENN GAMBOA

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ELABORATE ALBUM ROLLOUTS

Given 2014's dismal album sales figures, it's no
(Credit: AP)

Given 2014's dismal album sales figures, it's no wonder artists are thinking outside the box to let people know about their new projects. Some had good ideas: Foo Fighters launched a documentary series on HBO to explain how each song on "Sonic Highways" (pictured) was born. Some bad: U2 gave everyone on iTunes its "Songs of Innocence" album, whether they wanted it or not. Expect the new approaches to keep coming. -- GLENN GAMBOA

A CHANGE IN CURTAIN TIMES

In a simpler era, maybe yesterday, theatergoers could
(Credit: Newsday / Jin Lee)

In a simpler era, maybe yesterday, theatergoers could depend on most shows starting at 8 p.m., with Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Now, nothing can be assumed. First came Tuesdays at 7, except when it's Tuesdays at 7:30 or Wednesdays at 7. Then, a few high-profile, long-running shows changed Wednesday matinees to Thursday, while some too-hip-for-midweek productions doubled up on the weekends and too-hip-for-the-daylight shows offer late shows. In other words, check and double check. -- LINDA WINER

FREAKY BROADWAY

The appeal / revulsion / romanticism of physical
(Credit: AP / Joan Marcus)

The appeal / revulsion / romanticism of physical anomalies has returned to Broadway in a big way. In both "Side Show" and "The Elephant Man" (pictured), we are asked to step right up and gawk at freak shows, which were a hugely popular entertainment for centuries, until science taught us to know better. Or not. -- LINDA WINER

AN INCREASE IN PAGES

Looking for some bicep work along with your
(Credit: AP)

Looking for some bicep work along with your literary entertainment? Pump it up with Robert Coover's "The Brunist Day of Wrath" (1,005 pages) Or try "The Kills" by Richard House (1,024 pages). If your doctor wants you to start slow, there's "Red or Dead" by David Pearce (736 pages) or "The Natchez" by Greg Iles, pictured, (794 pages). But work your way up! Some people are already deadlifting "The Collected Stories of T.C. Boyle" (945 pages). -- MARION WINIK

DIALOGUE TITLE TRENDS

(Credit: Colin Lane)

"Let Me Be Frank With You" about this: Many 2014 book covers bear phrases that appear to be stray snippets of dialogue. But no, it's the title: "We Are Not Ourselves," "You Should Have Known," "I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You," (author Courtney Maum pictured above) "Everything I Never Told You." But title trends come and go. "It Won't Always Be This Great." "Yes Please." -- MARION WINIK

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UNUSUAL HOLOCAUST TALES

Several authors took a new look at one
(Credit: Knopf)

Several authors took a new look at one of the darkest parts of our history. In "The Zone of Interest," Martin Amis explored love behind the scenes of a concentration camp (pictured); the late Peter Mattheissen's "In Paradise" took contemporary characters on retreat to the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau. In "Motherland," Maria Hummel imagined the difficulties of an ordinary middle-class German family in the last days of the Reich, a brave if unsettling project. -- MARION WINIK

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