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20 Best Lists of 2014

NBA court designs, ‘Interstellar’ influences, the No. 1 letter in the alphabet — these were the lists that held our attention and had us arguing all year long

Ebola and Ryan Lochte

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, left, and Ebola workers in Patrice near Macenta, November 2014.


Lists: We read them, we share them, we debate them fiercely, and then we move on with our lives. Some linger in the memory, though, for any number of reasons. With that in mind, here's a rundown of what we've decided are 2014's best lists. Maybe it was a ranked breakdown that provided an indelible snapshot of the year gone by. Maybe it was a collection of odds and sods so silly that we LOLed. Or maybe it was so authoritative or argument-starting that we simply couldn’t click away.

Don’t Look Back

DONT LOOK BACK, Bob Dylan, 1967


50 Greatest Documentaries of All Time

Every 10 years, the venerable film publication Sight & Sound polls the world's critics to compile the definitive list of the greatest movies ever made. In 2014, the magazine turned its attention specifically to documentaries, asking writers and directors to rank history's finest nonfiction films. It's arguably the only list that brings together Bob Dylan (Don’t Look Back) and the Inuit (Nanook of the North). (Sight & Sound)


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Letters, Ranked

Is "V" superior to "L"? "D" couldn't possibly be worse than "I" — or could it? At long last, the great greatest-letter-of-them-all debate is born. Suck it, "C"! (Gawker)

Jennifer Lawrence

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Actress Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 17, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)


Most Valuable Stars of 2014

Forget box office or Oscars: Who truly are the biggest stars in Hollywood? For a third straight year, Vulture seeks to find the answer, taking into consideration everything from critical cachet to awards to Twitter buzz. You'll be surprised where Andrew Garfield ended up — or that Andrew Garfield is on this list to begin with. (Vulture)

Jean Claude Van Damme

BLOODSPORT, Jean-Claude Van Damme, 1988. ©Cannon Films/Courtesy Everett Collection


The Action Hero Championship Belt

Using 1968 as his starting point, Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons decided to determine which actor was the greatest action hero each year. His very unscientific but highly entertaining survey celebrates the Stallones and Schwarzeneggers — though he also makes a convincing case for the one woman who got on the list. And oh, there will be JCVD. (Grantland)

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potato


A Definitive Ranking of Thanksgiving Sides

"[U]sing science and hard data," Vox is here to tell you through colorful charts why mashed potatoes rule and sweet potato casserole sucks. Also, they've figured out how much of each side should be on your Thanksgiving plate. You're welcome. (Vox)


David Fincher’s Complete Music Videography, Ranked

Critics often mock movies with a flashy music-video aesthetic, but David Fincher is possibly the one director whose MTV background hasn't hindered his artistic stature. In honor of the release of Gone Girl, Indiewire's blog The Playlist ranked all of Fincher's 55 music videos, including classics such as Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" and Madonna's "Vogue." Yes, Loverboy's "Notorious" clip is in there, too. There are some things that even Hollywood's mightiest control-freak filmmaker can't wish away. (The Playlist)

Ryan Lochte

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Ryan Lochte of the USA prepares to swim in the Men's 200m Freestyle heats during day one of the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships at Gold Coast Aquatics on August 21, 2014 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Chris Hyde/Getty

‘Sports Illustrated”s Fittest 50

In 2014, the long-running sports magazine began a new list, counting down which male athletes are the fittest based on agility, endurance, strength and speed. As if we needed another reason to feel like lazy, horrible slobs. (Sports Illustrated)

Tim Cook

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during a press event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Apple Inc. introduced new iPads in time for holiday shoppers, as it battles to stay ahead of rivals in the increasingly crowded market for tablet computers. Photographer: Noah Berger/Bloomberg via Getty Images


‘Out”s Power 50

In a year when same-sex marriage became legal in a majority of states, Out's list of "the most influential LGBT voices in American culture" was a reflection of a nation embracing gay men and women more widely than it ever has before. Everyone from political writer Andrew Sullivan to Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page to NFL defenseman Michael Sam made the cut. (Out)


Resurrected Jesus


The 100 Most-Edited Wikipedia Articles

You probably won’t be surprised that the entries for George W. Bush, Adolf Hitler, Jesus and Barack Obama get revised plenty. But how about WWE wrestlers The Undertaker, Kane and Edge? The rewriting of history, Wiki-style, begins here. (FiveThirtyEight)

Pointing Finger


The 31 Most Pointless Things Of All Time

Truth in advertising: These things really are pointless. (BuzzFeed)

College Football Fans

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Fans of the Florida State Seminoles show their school spirit during the game against the University of Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field on November 29, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida. Third-ranked Florida State defeated University of Florida 24-19. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)


The All-Time Best College Fight Songs

Mocking click-bait sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy, The Onion's ClickHole became 2014's funniest new internet destination. (Their "The Time I Spent on a Commercial Whaling Ship…" feature, a rebranded cut-and-pasted text of Moby Dick, was nothing short of genius.) This list not only spoofs college fight songs but also features dead-on brilliant musical parodies. Fight on, you sneaky fellows! (ClickHole)


Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty

The Definitive NBA Court Design Power Rankings

It's probably something most basketball fans never think about — the look of each home team's hardwood — but thankfully the sports nuts at Grantland took the time to evaluate all 30 pro clubs' court designs. This stylish, smart countdown ranks what writer Zach Lowe correctly calls "the closest thing the NBA has to large-scale works of art." The top two on the list are exactly right, no matter which order you want to put them in. (Grantland)

Tim and Eric

11 Things to Watch When You Get Sick of ‘Too Many Cooks’

One of 2014's best WTF moments, Adult Swim's shroom-damaged short Too Many Cooks started as a satire of Eighties sitcom themes and soon morphed into a sneaky pastiche of Twin Peaks, cop shows, slasher movies, and the dissociative sensation of watching TV in the ADD era. That brilliant viral-sensation oddity inspired Vulture to find Cooks' predecessors in calculated huh?-ness, from Mr. Show and Tim and Eric to Everything Is Terrible! (Vulture)


SCANNERS, 1981, © Avco Embassy/courtesy Everett Collection


The 20 Most Revolting Special Effects Ever Created

Yes, Scanners' exploding head and Alien's chest-bursting li'l buddy are on the list. But if you've never seen the Dead Alive clip, you may want to watch it on an empty stomach. (io9)

Step Up

STEP UP ALL IN, from left: Luis Rosado, Parris Goebel, Cyrus Spencer, Briana Evigan, Chadd Smith, Ryan Guzman, Chris Scott, Mari Koda, 2014. ph: James Dittger/©Summit/Courtesy Everett Collection


All the Dances in the ‘Step Up’ Franchise, Ranked

Nobody really loves the Step Up movies — we just tolerate all that annoyingly exuberant youthfulness and those let's-put-on-a-show plots so we can get to the amazing dance sequences. So here they all are. (Seriously, somebody make a supercut, please?) (Vulture)

Last Waltz

THE LAST WALTZ, from left: Richard Manuel (back), Rick Danko, Robbie Robertson, 1978. ©United Artists/courtesy Everett Collection


Songs From ‘The Last Waltz,’ Ranked

Martin Scorsese's invaluable contribution to the concert-film genre remains the last word on the Band's last official gig together; it also prompted this countdown of its various all-star musical performances. We still contend that Neil Diamond's "Dry Your Eyes" absolutely kills, but who could argue with the greatness of Robertson, Danko, et al's majestic rendition of "It Makes No Difference"? (The Concourse/Deadspin)


SEINFELD, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards, 1990-1998


From Soup Nazis to Nuts: 100 Best ‘Seinfeld’ Characters

In which we took on the impossible task of ranking the greatest, funniest, weirdest characters in the Seinfeld universe. Plenty of people could argue with our pick for No. 1. We still think we got it right. (Rolling Stone)