Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hello, everybody! Yes, it's been months since saying those words, and why? I've been mega-busy with tons of things (work), including ending my annual Sexiest Woman of the Year poll after 15 years. 

But enough babbling; we begin first up with the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, in which streaks ended and history was made. HBO's "Game of Thrones" got its first Outstanding Drama, beating out AMC's "Mad Men", which went out on such a high note as Jon Hamm finally copped Lead Actor-Drama. And "How To Get Away With Murder's" Viola Davis became the first-ever African-American Lead Actress-Drama winner, and this passage from her speech summed it up very well: "'In my mind I see a line, and over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can't seem to get there no how. I can't seem to get over that line.' That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s."

"Modern Family's" five-year Emmy reign came to an end as "Veep" dethroned them for Comedy Series; star Julia Louis-Dreyfus picked up her fourth straight Lead Actress (seventh overall) while Jeffrey Tambor got Lead Actor for Amazon Prime's "Transparent." Other winners include: "The Voice" (Reality-Competition Program), "Inside Amy Schumer" (Variety Sketch Series; Schumer herself will be part of the Oddball Comedy Festival here in Atlanta on October 4), Uzo Aduba ("Orange Is The New Black"; she is the second person after Ed Asner to win for playing the same character in a comedy and drama series), "Olive Kitteridge" (Miniseries-Movie, plus acting honors for Frances McDormand and Bill Murray), and, for the final time, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (Variety Talk Series).

Host Andy Samberg was "smooth, saucy, purposely goofy and self-assured", raves the Associated Press, especially when he gave out a functioning login/password to the HBO Now streaming service to 11.9 million viewers (making it the least-watched Emmycast ever). But I thought the highlight of the night belonged to Tracy Morgan, making his first public appearance on the Emmy stage to a rousing ovation since last year's near-fatal car crash.

The other highlight was the red carpet, and man, was it sizzling! No, not the fashions, but the weather, as temperatures soared up to 100 degrees! Even though she graciously lost to Viola Davis, "Empire's" Taraji P. Henson was very scorching in her Alexander Wang, making her my best dressed followed by Kerry Washington (Marc Jacobs). As for Heidi Klum? Sure, she may still be a 10, but her Alterier Versace reeked Big Bird and my score: 0! That same score should also be given to the reigning -- and our last -- Sexiest Woman winner Julianne Hough (Marchesa); no offense to her male fans, but her butt is flat as a pancake.

From television's biggest night comes this news just in as far as the presidential race is concerned: Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is the second Republican candidate after Rick Perry to throw in the towel.

Now this comes almost a week after Walker and others including, of course, Donald Trump, clashed in the second debate which garnered a record 23 million viewers for CNN. But Walker got only less than half a percentage point among Republican voters, while numbers for Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have been increasing over the last couple of weeks.

On the Democratic front, Hillary Clinton has been losing some steam to Bernie Sanders, but the big question is: Will Vice President Joe Biden crash the party? Rumors have been swirling about him making a play to get promoted, but as of right now, Biden is still pondering.

Last month, we got quite a jolt as there was a surprise contender from out of nowhere: Deez Nuts! It turns out that that was the work of 15-year-old Brady Olson of Iowa, who decided to drop out when he realized one thing he learned in history class: To run for President, you must be at least 35 years or older!!! No is, ands, or buts; the constitution put it in writing over 225 years ago. Oh well, at least Deez Nuts would've been the worst president since...I would say Jimmy Carter.

But in the end, I think the battle for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be Clinton-Bush II. Trump may be taking his race very seriously for now, but...when was the last time we had an entrepreneur as president? Probably never, but hey, we once elected lawyers, a World War II general, even a Hollywood actor. Make no mistake: when things get down to the nitty gritty, Trump will have had enough, and it'll be the public saying to him, "You're fired." So long, stay strong, and God bless.

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Birdman" flies away with Oscar Gold!

Hello, everybody. "Boyhood" was coming into the 87th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday as the odds-on favorite; but in the end, Best Picture of 2014 belonged to "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" which, along with "The Grand Budapest Hotel", walked out of the Dolby Theatre with four Oscars apiece. "Birdman's" other wins were for Cinematography, Original Screenplay, and Director (Alejandro G. Innaritu); while "Budapest Hotel" collected Original Score, Production Design, Makeup, and Costume Design.

"Boyhood" did get a rightfully deserved Supporting Actress win in Patricia Arquette (its only award of the night), while J.K. Simmons easily earned Supporting Actor for "Whiplash". Best Actor was awarded to Eddie Redmayne, and after four previous tries...Julianne Moore finally claims her first Oscar: Best Actress for "Still Alice." Other winners include: "Big Hero 6" (Animated Feature), "Ida" (Foreign Language Film), and "Selma" (Original Song, and how about the performance that left everybody in tears?)

Neil Patrick Harris left us entertained all throughout in his first stint as host, shedding light to the lack of diversity as far as the acting nominees were concerned calling the Oscars "Hollywood's brightest and whitest night." There were a lot of standout moments during the show such as Lady Gaga paying tribute to "The Sound of Music", Arquette standing up for women's equality, Graham Moore's "Stay weird, stay different" speech, Joan Rivers omitted from the In Memoriam montage, and Oprah Winfrey being given a Lego Oscar during the "Everything Is Awesome" performance. Oh yeah, and Harris in his tighty whities.

Not even a downpour prevented the stars from displaying their ultimate Sunday best on the red carpet. Dakota Johnson, still riding high from the success of the uber-steamy "Fifty Shades of Grey", was in a shade of Yves Saint Laurent red; we also had Scarlett Johansson in Versace; last year's Supporting Actress Lupita Nyong'o in Calvin Klein; Lady Gaga (designer unknown); and Margot Robbie in Van Cleef & Arpels.

Overall, I thought Julianne Moore outshone them all in Chanel couture; as for Reese Witherspoon? One of the sexiest Oscar winners ever was unsexy in her Tom Ford.

Now the ubiquitous suck-up: Once upon a time, we started seeing her not once, but twice as Frannie and Sabrina Hughes on "As The World Turns", earning her an Emmy. The late Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" would put her on the map, followed by "Nine Months", "The Lost World: Jurassic Park", "Boogie Nights", "The Big Lebowski", and channeling Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling in "Hannibal." 

She really made a name for herself with "The Forgotten" followed by her turn as Sarah Palin in "Game Change" and recently, alongside Jennifer Lawrence in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay". But in the end, it was her performance as a college professor stricken with early Alzheimer's Disease that would earn her the praise she's been waiting for. At long last, after 30 years with four previous attempts along the way, Julianne Moore finally got the ultimate reward: Oscar gold!

Everything was truly awesome at the 87th Academy Awards...except that we never got to Best Original Sauce. But whatever; it was legen -- wait for it -- dary. So long, stay strong, and God bless.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hello, everybody. Well...Punxsutawney Phil is right again: Winter is halfway over, and there's still proof in many parts of the country, especially here in the South.

For the last few weeks in a row, we've been pelted with a deep freeze that made us wish we were in Hawaii by now; wind chills even went to as low as -20 in the Midwest areas. One Minnesota town even hit a temperature that I was always accustomed to in Alaska: -41F!!! The Siberian Express, which is responsible for all those record-breakers, have claimed 15 lives so far; and we're not done as heavy snow is expected in the Great Lakes and Northeast and yet another snowstorm about to hammer Boston sometime next week.

Of course, we all need a break from that, and that will be on Sunday with one of the biggest events in auto racing: the Daytona 500. But as soon as the checkered flag is raised and the winner makes his (or her, if you're Danica Patrick) way to the winners' circle, it's over to Hollywood for the biggest event in entertainment: the 87th Academy Awards!

Last year's show with host Ellen DeGeneres and the selfie that originally broke the Internet drew the highest ratings in four years. That was when Neil Patrick Harris opened the show with a rousing musical number before handing things over to Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin; this time, he's handling the festivities. 

In addition to producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, director Hamish Hamilton is back for his third show; in the last few years, veteran TV directors like Louis J. Horvitz (who himself did the Oscars for a dozen of years) and Glenn Weiss have been learning from him, especially Weiss. The video of him working the 2013 Tony Awards like a boss is probably why he beat Hamilton for the Emmy last year, while Horvitz for the Golden Globes got the close-ups of the winners during their speeches -- another Hamilton technique -- down pat.

Okay, enough with the technical stuff and on to what the Oscars are really all about: the films and nominees. Of the eight up for Best Picture, "Boyhood" stands a chance at being the favorite followed by "Birdman"; "American Sniper" (despite its box office success and an ongoing trial), "The Grand Budapest Hotel", "The Imitation Game", "Selma", "The Theory of Everything", and "Whiplash" all at least got a nomination certificate. For the first time ever this year, all of the categories were announced with J.J. Abrams and last year's Director Alfonso Cuaron reading the first half and Academy president Cheryl Davis and Chris Pine handling the second and most important half.

At first, Michael Keaton with his Golden Globe and Critics' Choice wins for Best Actor seemed to be the front-runner, but the momentum would immediately tip in Eddie Redmayne's favor. If I were Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper, or Benedict Cumberbatch (who got married just recently), I would just stay home. The same should go for 2007 winner Marion Cotillard, newcomers Felicity Jones and Rosamund Pike, and 2005 winner Reese Witherspoon, as Best Actress is all about Julianne Moore.

I'm leaving Supporting Actor/Actress alone since they will ultimately go to J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette respectively (despite the presences of returnees Edward Norton, Keira Knightley and Ethan Hawke, newcomer Emma Stone, and past winners Robert Duvall and three-timer Meryl Streep), so here's who else I think will be the happiest people on Earth the moment the words "And the Oscar goes to..." are read and the envelopes opened on Sunday:

Best Actor: Like I said, it's been the tightest race between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne, but remember: Keaton was Batman and one of his successors, George Clooney, already owns two Oscars. Michael has two, Eddie has two himself (Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA); since the latter two really count, I'll have to go with Eddie Redmayne.
Best Actress: She has literally swept the board all during awards season with her performance as a college educator suffering with Alzheimer's, and...nah, who am I kidding; it's Julianne Moore all the way!
Director: Richard Linklater ("Boyhood")
Best Picture: "Boyhood"

We'll see how I fare with the rest of the world when the 87th Annual Academy Awards will be handed out this Sunday on ABC. So long, stay strong, and God bless.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Patriots deflate the Seahawks!

Hello, everybody. Not even the fallout of "Deflategate" couldn't stop the New England Patriots, as they put that controversy to bed as only they could: by doing their job and dethrone defending champions the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX Sunday. Seattle was on the verge of hoisting their second straight Vince Lombardi Trophy with a last-minute touchdown and 20 seconds left in the game, but an interception by New England's Malcolm Butler in the end zone sealed the deal for them, giving head coach Pete Carroll a shellacking. That dramatic ending -- and everything else -- was viewed by a record 114.4 million viewers, as for the sixth year in a row now, the Super Bowl remains the most-watched television event ever!

Social media erupted over the call that cost the Seahawks the game; Dwight Clark (who made "The Catch" that sent his San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XVI) said it was "The dumbest catch in the HISTORY of NFL football", while Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith called it the "Worst call I've ever seen in the history of football."

The festivities kicked off with John Legend performing "America the Beautiful" followed by Idina Menzel with the national anthem. But those two were only a warmup to the real non-game highlight: Katy Perry setting off fireworks at halftime! Accompanied by Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott (whom we've not seen in about 15 years), it had all the makings of a halftime extravaganza for ages, from Katy on top of a lion to her on a shooting star that screams out, "The More You Know."

As for the commercials? They had a touchy-feely vibe this time around, and here were my top five favorites:

5. Snickers' "The Brady Bunch" (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! This ain't "Sons of Anarchy"!)

4. Nationwide's "Invisible Mindy" (if Mindy Kaling really wanted to be invisible, she should've contacted Harry Potter)

3. Mercedes-Benz's "Fable" (Slow, steady, and yes, a new set of wheel does win you the race alright!)

2. Bud Light's "Real Life Pac-Man" (next up, "Real Life Donkey Kong", "Real Life Q*Bert", etc.)

And I already have my #1 favorite ad already locked in already in days before the game, which was also tops in "USA Today's" Ad Meter:

1. Budweiser's "Lost Dog"
(nothing to say about it; just let this ad speak for itself)

Most of us were rooting for Seattle to claim back-to-back Super Bowls, but let's face it: the last two times New England were in, they fell victim to the New York Giants--twice (especially in that quest for perfection). But sports in Boston is picking up the pace again after that Boston Marathon terrorist attack and the Red Sox's 2013 World Series win, and the Patriots' fourth championship should help the city in their ultimate quest: the 2024 Olympics, as they're now in contention to bring those games back to America. So long, stay strong, and God bless.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

As I'm doing this, 2015 has already arrived in Australia and Japan, so let's get to this before it heads our way. It's...
The Top 15 Things That Were Trending in 2014

15. Abigail Breslin attempting to sing (Hey, Rebecca Black called. She wants her gimmick back.)
14. "Utopia" (Hey, "Big Brother" called. They want their gimmick back.)
13. Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker's winning streak at Wrestlemania XXX (and who says wrestling isn't fake...oh, wait, it is?)
12. Joe Namath's fur coat at Super Bowl XLVIII (apparently, he didn't get the memo that it was unseasonably warm!)
11. Maitland Ward (for the love of God, please stop teasing us and get naked already!)
10 (and making her 16th consecutive appearance!). Britney Spears (still with her Las Vegas show and now a lingerie line to boot...you really think I was going to exclude her?)
9. Idina Menzel (yep, Adele Dazeem had a pretty good year herself)
8. Ben Affleck's penis in "Gone Girl" (paging Seth MacFarlane!)
7. Apple CEO Tim Cook coming out of the closet (followed by reverting to the old Apple logo)
6. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (the whole world took part...why wasn't I called out?!)
5. Sony Pictures hacking scandal (the North Koreans demand deleted nude scenes to be released)
4. Weddings of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (and I didn't receive invitations for any of them!)
3. TIE: Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande (the two unstoppable forces in music)/Arthur Chu and Julia Collins (two of "Jeopardy's" unstoppable contestants)
2. The Fappening (which saw sales of Kleenex and lubricant rise by 629%)

And the #1 thing that was trending all throughout 2014, which there was lots of visual proof...

1. The butt (we saw Nicki Minaj's and Jennifer Lopez's, but if I see Kim Kardashian's one more time...)

And that's the AllenBlog's 2014 Year in Review. So long, stay strong, God bless, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Year in Pop Culture

A major movie studio's hacked e-mails forcing a controversial film about killing the North Korean dictator being temporarily pulled...George Clooney officially off the market while Brangelina finally marries...the late night landscape continuing to shift on both coasts...Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj paying ode to the backside while Kim Kardashian bared hers...one of America's most beloved comedians the epicenter of a sex scandal...megabytes of hacked celebrity photos causing an explosion of Kleenex and hand lotion sales...we shook it all off and let ourselves go all during the course of 2014.

The 86th Academy Awards may have been headlined by "Gravity" taking seven Oscars including Best Director for Alfonso Curano, but the main honors were saved for "12 Years A Slave" as it nabbed Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o), Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett were easily honored Best Actor/Actress, while host Ellen DeGeneres bunched up as many stars as she could for the selife of all selfies. Now that was very SFW, as opposed to the dozens of NSFW selfies that were leaked to the whole world, which I'll get to later.

"Breaking Bad" wrapped up their run with their second Outstanding Drama Series at the 66th Primetime Emmys, followed by "Modern Family" continuing their Outstanding Comedy Series streak (tying with "Frasier" with five apiece). But despite the ever growing onslaught of Netflix and other streaming services, there were a lot of outstanding DVR-worthy moments all throughout television this year, brought to us by "True Detective" (and Alexandra Daddario's boobs), Shonda Rhimes's Thursday night trilogy (completed with "How To Get Away With Murder"), "Gotham", "NCIS: New Orleans", "Masters of Sex", and "Game of Thrones." Then there were those that were not DVR-worthy: "Gracepoint", "Utopia", "Manhattan Love Story", "The McCarthy's", "Red Band Society" (despite all the critical buzz), and "Bad Judge."

The biggest TV highlight was the ever changing late night landscape. It started with Jay Leno bowing out of "The Tonight Show" after 22 years with Jimmy Fallon taking the reins and the show back home to New York, leaving Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien high and dry in Los Angeles. Then David Letterman announced he's hanging it up next year, passing the torch to Stephen Colbert (who just wrapped up his "Colbert Report"). Craig Ferguson already finished his last "Late Late Show" before turning everything over to James Corden, but there was already one casualty: Arsenio Hall, whose revival failed after only one season. And on the cable side, Chelsea Handler said goodbye to E! and hello to Netflix.

"Interstellar" was, well...interstellar as far as movies were concerned, as were "Guardians of the Galaxy", "Lucy", "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies", and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1)." Shailene Woodley had a breakout year with "Divergent" and "The Fault in our Stars"; "Boyhood's" acclaim has won the hearts of critics (and maybe Oscar voters); and "Let's Be Cops", "Robocop", and "Dumb and Dumber To?" It too won the hearts...of pissed-off moviegoers.

Who rocked it this year? Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" became our summer anthem; pint-sized Ariana Grande became a huge powerhouse; Pharrell Williams made us "Happy", Taylor Swift took us back to "1989"; Weird Al was...well, still Weird Al; Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga made the unlikeliest duet ever; former Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande left everything behind to "Break Free"; and it was all about the rear end thanks to Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, and Iggy Azalea. And my advice to Abigail Breslin: Please stick to acting; don't be another Rebecca Black or Don Johnson (yes, I'm old enough to remember "Heartbeat")!

Speaking of rear end...the most famous one of all, Kim Kardashian, bared hers in "Paper" magazine in an attempt to #breaktheinternet. Apple, on the other hand, broke record sales with their new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus; and when temperatures soared this summer, there was one charitable way to cool off: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Scandals? Yeah, there were many! Justin Bieber provided the bulk of them includng his smiling mugshot in Miami, but that was nothing compared to Orlando Bloom giving Biebs a taste of his own medicine in Spain. One other elevator video besides Ray Rice that made headlines featured Solange Knowles attacking Jay-Z outside the Met Ball gala, though cooler heads really prevailed in the end. "Modern Family's" Sarah Hyland put out a restraining order against ex-boyfriend Matt Prokop because of his abusive ways against her, "7th Heaven" star Stephen Collins's admission to molesting teenage girls while he was younger, and the continuation of Miley Cyrus's wild adventures ranging from her "Bangerz" tour to going nearly topless at public parties...while new boyfriend Patrick Schwarzenegger's enjoying all this!

It was also a year of A-list celebrity weddings worldwide. The biggie, of course, was George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, who tied the knot in Venice, Italy; that would be followed by the other no one saw coming: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at a private ceremony in France. Other "I Do's" include: Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg, Stacy Keibler and Jared Pobre (baby daughter Ava Grace would follow months later), Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade, Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo, Katie Couric and John Molner, Jodie Foster and Alexandra Hedison, Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting, Adam Brody and Leighton Meester, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, Elton John and David Furnish, and Scarlett Johansson and Romain Dauriac. Oh yeah, and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

As for the "I Don't's": Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin (who would later date and call it quits with Jennifer Lawrence), Kris and Bruce Jenner, Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn, Ricki Lake and Christian Evans, Heidi Klum and Seal (divorce finally finalized in October), Jason Deluro and Jordin Sparks, and Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon. Meanwhile

There were three major entertainment stories this year: First of course, were the hundreds of leaked nude photos featuring Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Rihanna, and a dozen other celebrities that exploded onto the Internet in what was called "The Fappening." While the makers of Kleenex and KY Jelly were high-fiving themselves over all this, the FBI however, wasn't celebrating and they're trying to pinpoint the mastermind behind, in Lawrence's words, a "sex crime".

That would be later followed by the sex scandal targeting Bill Cosby, as dozens of ladies including models Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson stepped forward claiming the comic legend sexually assaulted them decades ago. Cosby has vehemently denied those allegations with wife Camille standing by him every step of the way, while TV Land, Netflix, and NBC pulled the plugs on upcoming projects involving him.

Another that was still developing at publish time: Leaked emails by Sony Pictures targeting Angelina Jolie, Aaron Sorkin, and even President Obama which led to the pulling of their upcoming movie "The Interview" a week before its Christmas Day release. The film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, was a satire about North Korean president Kim Jong Un; the FBI has confirmed that North Korea was behind all this and Obama said the studio made a big mistake in 86'ing the movie. Now, Sony has rectified that decision and the film was out on Christmas after all in only a handful of theaters as well as online.

There's only one more bit of business left to do, and that is to name my Entertainer of the Year: Disney's "Frozen." Now I originally announced on Twitter that it was going to be Taylor Swift, but even though her "1989" album sold like hotcakes and that tickets to her upcoming world tour next year were the ultimate stocking stuffer this Christmas, her alone was no match to the power of the most successful animated movie of all time. It may have came out in late 2013, but "Frozen's" popularity was carried over into 2014, with Oscar wins for Animated Feature and Song ("Let It Go") and of course, John Travolta bumbling Idina Menzel's name as "Adele Dazeem".

But that's only a movie, so my second Entertainer of the Year is a human: Steve Harvey! From his radio show in the morning, to his talk show in the afternoon, to "Family Feud" at night he has been deactivating mute buttons on remotes everywhere because just like Oprah Winfrey, Steve was a one-man dynamo all throughout 2014. His Emmy wins this year (especially for "Feud", which is continuing to run circles around "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!" in the ratings) cemented his stature.

What's in the cards for 2015? We could be expecting quite an Oscar showdown between Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon thanks to their respective stellar performances in "Cake" and "Wild." The theatrical version of "Fifty Shades of Grey" is expected to steam up screens everywhere; Hilary Duff is returning to TV with "Younger", which has gotten immense buzz on social media; Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge will be welcoming another baby at the royal nursery; and who knows what Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus have up their sleeves this year? What we do know is starting January 1, we'll all find out together.

Next time: We conclude our Year in Review with the Top 20 Trends of 2014; where will Britney Spears rank this time?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

It was the year when the whole world faced fears of a virus you couldn't get from a computer.

The year when terrorism got a whole new crISIS of its own.

The year when police unrests in the East and West had Rodney King turning in his grave.

The year when the public voted the Republicans back in the Senate and Honey Boo Boo out of our lives.

The year when "Guardians of the Galaxy" and the "Captain America" sequel were #fawesome, while "Hercules", "Sex Tape", and "Winter's Tale" were #fails.

The year when one singer "shook off" her country roots, while booties were shaking everywhere from J.Lo to Nicki.

The year when a pint-sized powerhouse "broke free", while someone else broke the Internet.

The year when fighting a battle against a hot disease required a nice, cold dousing.

And yes...it was the year that we did get to see Jennifer Lawrence's boobs...and everybody else's.

That year was 2014.
Join the AllenBlog for a look back at another 52 weeks that changed the world.

Every day, every week throughout 2014, there has always been drama: The drama of the Ebola virus hitting America, the drama of a missing downed plane with everyone on board, the drama of a discontented president and a do-nothing government not getting the job done, the drama of waves of terrorism in outlying areas hitting our way, and the drama of corrupt police forces killing innocent, unarmed victims when they should be left alone.

Our first big drama this year was the Polar Vortex, which resulted in bone-chilling temperatures all throughout the country including Hawaii. But that pales in comparison to Winter Storms Leon and Pax that numbed the South, including here in Atlanta. For two periods in late January and mid-February, we've seen our freeways jammed as far as the eye can see, as motorists spent up to a whole day trying to get home.

Super Bowl XLVIII should've been called Super Blowout I, as a record 111.5 million viewers saw the Seattle Seahawks totally humiliate Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos 43-8. The attention of the sports world would later shift from New York/New Jersey to Sochi, Russia, and the XXII Olympic Winter Games, where Meryl Davis and Charlie White claimed the inaugural ice dancing gold, Canada still ruled the hockey universe, Adelina Sotnikova made her home country proud in figure skating, and Shaun White's dynasty came to end as Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov became the new halfpipe king. In the end, Russia owned the medals podium with 33 (13 of them gold); United States, 9 golds and 28 overall.

Then there was the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, which saw the United States barely advancing to the next round, only to fall to Belgium. But after everything was said and done, it was Germany as the only one left standing.

The NFL had all kinds of drama off the field, starting with the video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice attacking his wife in an elevator in Atlantic and dragging her unconscious; Rice would be suspended indefinitely by the team but won his appeal of the decision, saying that the league was asleep at the wheel when it came to obtaining the footage. He's now waiting for any team to sign him as soon as possible.

Another involved Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, who abused his young son in September but would remain suspended without pay until next April. However, the NFL Players Association filed an a lawsuit against the league after an arbitrator decided not to grant Peterson an appeal.

And there were countless non-Olympics/World Cup sports highlights: The San Antonio Spurs' sweet redemption by claiming the NBA championship they almost got last year (which resulted in LeBron James taking his talents back home to Cleveland), Bubba Watson's second Masters Green Jacket, Connecticut once again the mecca of college basketball, the Los Angeles Kings on top of the Stanley Cup throne once again, Florida State outranking Auburn in the last BCS National Championship game before the newly created College Football Playoffs, L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist remarks leading to a lifetime ban from the NBA and his team put up for sale, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Hunter-Reay dominant in Daytona and Indianapolis respectively, the San Francisco Giants denying Kansas City's first World Series title in 29 years, a record-breaking Iditarod  -- and his second -- for Dallas Seavey; and Tonalist's Belmont Stakes upset costing California Chrome the Triple Crown, extending that winless streak to 36 years.

Malaysia Airlines had a tumultous year, all stemming from the disappearance of Flight 370 off the Gulf of Thailand with all 239 people on board before crashing into the Indian Ocean. That would be followed in July by Flight 17, shot down by a missile in Ukraine killing 298 people. In an historic first, Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were canonized in the Vatican; there was turmoil in Ukraine as President Viktor Yanukovych was out and Oleksandr Turchynov was in and pro-Russian unrest that culminated in the annexation of Crimea; and 276 females were held hostage in a Nigerian school, raising global awareness with the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag on Twitter. But in light of all that, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzi became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Meanwhile, same-sex marriages continue to take shape from coast to coast with the exception of Tennessee. From July to August, the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and a Palestinan in the wake of growing tensions between Israel and Hamas led to Operation Protective Edge; 2,100 Palestinians and 71 Israelis were killed during those seven weeks. In April, the Korean ferry MV Sewol sunk with more that 290 on board; 35 tornadoes claimed 35 lives across the Midwest and Southern U.S.; a 6.0 earthquake struck Napa Valley, California in August; and President Barack Obama launched a coalition against the Islamic terrorist group ISIS, responsible for the beheadings and executions of three humanitarian workers.

But as in every year, we have experienced a lot of significant losses, including: Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mickey Rooney, Harold Ramis, Shirley Temple, Maya Angelou, game show hosts Jim Lange and Geoff Edwards, Richard Kiel, director/playwright Mike Nichols, professional wrestlers Mae Young and The Ultimate Warrior, fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, Jan Hooks, Ruby Dee, Sid Caesar, Don Pardo, Mary Ann Mobley, Maxmillian Schell, Pete Seeger, Bob Hoskins, Casey Kasem, Bobby Womack, Richard Attenborough, Lauren Bacall, James Garner, Elizabeth Pena, Ben Bradlee, Eli Wallach, Joe Cocker, television producer Glen Larson, and author P.D. James. 

What were the three biggest stories of 2014 that had everybody on edge? The first was nationwide police unrest, starting with the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked unrests in Ferguson, Missouri and resumed in riots after a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson with protests spread across the country. It would be deja vu for the latter as far as Eric Garner was concerned, as a Staten Island grand jury refused to indict Daniel Pantaleo over the chokehold that killed him. Even LeBron James and Reggie Bush among sports stars had T-shirts which read "I can't breathe" (Garner's last words) during pregame warmups. And on the last weekend before Christmas in Brooklyn, police officers Rafael Ramos and Wen Jian Liu were shot to death in their patrol car before the gunman pulled the trigger on himself, igniting a new wave of protests throughout the Big Apple. 

Second was the Ebola epidemic spinning out of control, even making its way to the United States. Those stricken with the virus such as Dr. Keith Brantly, Thomas Eric Duncan, Nona Pham, Amber Vinson, and Craig Spencer were fighting for their lives in hospitals in Omaha, Dallas, and Atlanta; all but Duncan got clean bills of health and were named "Time" magazine's Person of the Year.

And finally...with President Obama's approval ratings still in a freefall, voters took to the polls in November to stage a political intervention. The result: Republicans retaining control of the House but claiming the Senate. Meanwhile, those in Oregon, the District of Columbia, and my home state of Alaska said "yes" to legalizing marijuana; Alaska and three other states also voted to raise the minimum wage, which became an issue as China once again surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest economy.

Now we look forward to what kind of new real-life dramas 2015 will bring us. One thing that's already slated is the general election in Britain, whose outcome could offer us a sneak preview of 2016. As of publish time, President Obama recently announced that the United States and Cuba should kiss and make up after 55 years, meaning those Eisenhower-era cars that have been on the streets of Havana all this time may be headed for the auto museums here. And there are countless others that will be developed in the blink of an eye; the first drama will start as soon as the ball drops.

Next time when the Year in Review continues: the biggest entertainment stories, trends, and everything else.