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Top 10 Most Important IPOs

10. SFX Entertainment

SFX Entertainment
SFX Entertainment
The electronic dance music subculture brought its bass-heavy party to Wall Street in October with the IPO of SFX Entertainment, a promotion company that hosts EDM concerts and festivals. The company’s CEO, Robert F. X. Sillerman, already created a successful rock promotion company in the 90s that was eventually sold to Clear Channel for $4.4 billion. So far, Wall Street isn’t dancing to SFX’s beat, though. The company is trading below its IPO price of $13.

9. Chegg

Following on the heels of Twitter’s successful IPO, the debut of Chegg, an online textbook rental company, was watched closely by Wall Street and the tech world to gauge just how frothy the IPO market might be getting. At least at this point, not every tech stock is an automatic home run—Chegg tumbled 23 percent in its first day of trading, and slid further in the ensuing week. The performance showed Wall Street has not yet reached the IPO euphoria of the dot-com bubble, good news.

8. 58.com

More and more Chinese companies are choosing to list on U.S. stock exchanges. 58.com, a classifieds listing site known as the Chinese version of Craigslist, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in October. The company managed to double its IPO price over the course of the next month. The success of Chinese stocks in U.S. may soon lure Alibaba, an e-commerce giant based in Hangzhou, which could net a market valuation of $100 billion.

7. Burlington Stores Inc.

The discount retail chain best known for its Burlington Coat Factory stores went public for a second time in October after being taken private in an acquisition by Bain Capital in 2006. The company, which operates 500 stores, got a 40 percent pop on its first day from its IPO price of $17. The stock peaked above $40 in November, and analysts project the company will generate $4.43 billion in revenue this year.

6. Gogo

Gogo has become the go-to source for Internet service on airplanes and in airports. The company, which provides Internet access on 81 percent of airplanes that have Wi-Fi in North America, raised $187 million at an IPO price of $17 per share. The company’s stock is now hovering around $30 and is likely to benefit from new FAA rules that will allow passengers to use mobile devices during takeoff and landing and even make phone calls during flights.

5. Zulily

Zulily
Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg / Getty Images
Wall Street is becoming increasingly crowded with e-commerce companies, and online retailer Zulily joined the crowd in November. The shopping site, which specializes in daily flash sales on products for mothers and their children, saw its stock jump 71 percent on its Friday day from an IPO price of $22. Successful IPOs for coupon site RetailMeNot and Channel Advisor, an e-commerce consulting firm, will likely convince more e-commerce companies to go public in the future.

4. Tri Pointe Homes

The public debut of the housing company Tri Pointe Homes in January was the first IPO in the homebuilding sector since 2004, according to Bloomberg. The company raised $233 million by pricing its IPO at $17 per share. Its IPO was another sign of the ongoing recovery of the housing market and the steady increase in home prices in the last two years. Another homebuilder, Taylor Morrison Home Corp., went public in April, raising $629 million.

3. SeaWorld Entertainment

SeaWorld Entertainment, which runs 11 theme parks that attracted 24 million guests in 2012, saw its shares jump 24 percent on its first day of trading from an IPO price of $27 per share. The company, now owned by the Blackstone Group after being held by beer giant Anheuser-Busch Inbev, is facing several headwinds. Its stock price fell in August after it lowered ticket prices due to dwindling attendance. Throughout the year the company has been fending off controversy connected to the film Blackfish, a documentary about the 2010 killing of a SeaWorld trainer that played at the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on CNN in October.

2. Empire State Realty Trust

You can now own a piece of one of New York’s greatest landmarks. The Empire State Realty Trust, which operates the Empire State Building and 20 other New York properties, went public in October, raising $929.5 million for the company at a price an IPO price of $13 per share. It was the second-largest IPO ever for a real estate investment trust, according to Bloomberg. But the company will soon face competition filling its Midtown Manhattan offices when the One World Trade Center opens in 2014.
Twitter IPO
Andrew Gombert / EPA

1. Twitter

The most anticipated Internet IPO of the year was a success for both Twitter and Wall Street. The social network’s stock leapt 73 percent in its first day of trading, from $26 to $44.90. It was a stark contrast from Facebook’s IPO just a year and a half earlier, which was overpriced and suffered from technical glitches. Wall Street has granted Twitter a valuation of around $23 billion, in the league of Netflix and LinkedIn. Now the company, which has earned no profits, will have to prove it deserves it.

Top 10 Apps

10. JumpCam

At first blush, it may not be obvious what’s different about JumpCam, an app for taking and sharing short videos. But it’s built around a feature that isn’t anywhere near as plain-vanilla as its look and feel. Rather than just letting you share clips with friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers, it lets you collaborate with them, piecing together shots into mini-movies, which can grow and evolve over time.
Compatible Devices: iOS and Android
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9. Quip

Quip
Quip
Quip is a connected word processor that looks gorgeous and emphasizes collaboration above all else in a manner that’s striking even in an era in which all word processors have collaborative features. It smacks of the ill-fated Google Wave, which featured workgroup document editing, versioning, chat and other features smooshed together in a wildly ambitious and unorthodox fashion. But while it was tough to figure out exactly what Wave was for, Quip’s overarching purpose is obvious. It’s something that every business knows it needs: a word processor.
Compatible Devices: Mac, PC, iOS and Android (preview version)

8. Coast by Opera

Opera Coast Browser
Opera Software
Imagine a web browser with no backward or forward buttons, no conventional address bar, no bookmarks, no tabs, no home button or any of the other things you might assume even an unusually imaginative browser couldn’t live without. That’s Opera’s Coast web browser, a thoughtful retooling of browsing that somehow feels even more iPad-like than Safari does.
Compatible Devices: iOS (iPad only)


7. Foursquare for Windows 8

Foursquare
Foursquare
Sure, Foursquare is available on other operating systems, but none of its incarnations has been designed like this one. It’s one of the slickest Windows 8 apps around, with big, beautiful photos and information tiled together into blocks for addictive browsing. Everything is designed to look good and work well on conventional Windows 8 laptops and desktops, including ones without touchscreens, as well as tablets.
Compatible Devices: Windows 8

6. Umano

umano
iTunes
Believe it or not, sometimes there’s just too much stuff on the Internet to read every day. Umano picks out some of the gems and recreates them as audiobook-like pieces read by professional voice talent. It’s a nice way to get caught up at the end of each day, with articles from popular sources spread out across a wide array of content categories. The app technically came out for iOS late last year, so it missed our 2012 list; the Android version came out this year.
Compatible Devices: iOS and Android
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5. IFTTT

ifttt
IFTTT
With so many web-based services to take advantage of nowadays, a little automation goes a long way. Think of IFTTT (If This, Then That) as a middleman that sits between all of them, letting them interact with each other. You can get an e-mail when it’s raining, save your iPhone photos to a cloud-based storage service, or get a text message when your stocks go up or down.
Compatible Devices: iOS

4. Mailbox

mailbox-ipad
Mailbox looks to tame your Gmail inbox by letting you quickly archive e-mails with a swipe or turn them into task-like entities to deal with later. The app’s design emphasizes speed and simplicity, helping you to slice through your mountain of messages in a matter of minutes. Yes, you’re basically engaging in digital procrastination, but at least it’ll help you feel somewhat organized. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of reaching inbox zero, if only for a short while.
Compatible Devices: iOS


3. LinkedIn Intro

LinkedIn Intro
LinkedIn
Intro works inside Apple‘s own Mail app. The top of each message you receive sports a small, expandable pane of information about the sender, drawn from LinkedIn: his or her photo, work experience and other background details, updates that person has posted on LinkedIn and a list of people you know in common. It’s beautifully, seamlessly done, looking like something that Apple might have built into Mail itself.
Compatible Devices: iOS
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2. iWork for iCloud

numbers_hero_2x
Apple
By making Pages, Numbers and Keynote — and the documents you create in them — readily available on any computer, iWork for iCloud makes it a lot more feasible to work without having to convert documents back and forth into Microsoft Office format. (That said, it does import and export in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, still an essential feature for any productivity suite.) It’s the first time that the apps have been available at all on Windows, and the first time that Mac users have had access to them without paying for the OS X versions.
Compatible Devices: Mac and Windows

1. Xbox One SmartGlass

ryse-smartglass-app
Crytek / Microsoft
The Xbox One multitasks like no one’s business, but SmartGlass is Microsoft recognizing that even with side-by-side features like Snap, sometimes it’s preferable to divide and conquer. If you want to send a friend a message, you just type in the SmartGlass app interface. If you want to watch game clips you’ve saved to the cloud, they’re a tap away, as are achievements, messages and your Xbox One profile info. You can even tap a controller icon to summon a touchscreen version of the Xbox One controller if you just want to swipe the Xbox One’s cursor around from across the room, wielding SmartGlass as a wireless trackpad.
Compatible Devices: Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android

Top 10 Coolest Cars

10. 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA

Mercedes Benz CLS 45 AMG
Richard Drew / AP
Hoping to shed its reputation as a brand for that specializes in cars for the elderly, the German automaker is bringing on a compact sedan with a combination of power, style, aerodynamics, seating for five and new technical features, such as collision prevention assist, which warns drivers of obstacles and helps them apply the necessary pressure to the brake pedal. The CLA’s turbocharged engine generates 208 horsepower as well as sport suspension and optional all-wheel-drive system. It also gets 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Prices for the CLA start at $29,900.

9. 2014 Mazda3

Mazda3
Junko Kimura / Bloomberg / Getty Images
The Mazda3 compact, with its long hood and curvy sheet metal, comes with an exterior that sets the car apart from compact models from other manufacturers.  The design that has carried over to the interior where Mazda has eliminated hard plastics in favor of softer materials, coupled with fresh instrument panel give the cabin a more expensive ambience. The 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine gets 29 mpg in city driving and 41 on the highway.  The Mazda3 is also equipped with multiple air bags and stability control, which can be augmented by optional safety aids such lane departure alters brakes to stop the car at low speeds if a potential collision is detected. Prices start at $16.945.

8. 2014 Rolls Royce Wraith

Rolls-Royce Wraith
The Asahi Shimbun / Getty Images
It’s not very often Rolls Royce introduces a new model so the appearance of the new Wraith is something of an event. The Wraith offers an aristocratic exterior but is designed to be driven by the owner rather than a chauffeur. The interior can be designed to suit the owners specific taste with everything from custom-fitted umbrella holder to bespoke leather seats, The Wraith is powered by V12 engine that produce 624 horsepower and no one asks about the fuel economy ratings though they are available, 13 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.  Prices for the Wraith start at $285,000.


7. 2014 Jeep Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Chrysler Group LLC / PR NewsWire / AP
The 2014 Cherokee carries on Jeep’s tradition of building vehicles that can travel over any kind of terrain. But the exterior design of the new Cherokee has been softened and rounded to appeal to a wider audience.  The versatile interior of the new Cherokee is also almost plush and the vehicle’s driving dynamics have also improved so it rides more like a car than a truck.  The engine options include a 2.4-liter engine that delivers 184 horsepower and the nine-speed automatic transmission helps boost fuel economy by 45 percent as the Cherokee’s rating is 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.  Prices start at $22,995.

6. 2014 Jaguar F-Type Convertible

2014 Jaguar F-Type Convertible
Regis Lefebure / Jaguar Land Rover North America / AP
After a half-century hiatus, Jaguar has introduced a brand new, up-to-date, two-seat sports car. The F-Type comes with classic, low-slung proportions and unique styling as well as modern touches such as LED head and tail lights. It also features a cockpit-like driver’s seat, a convertible top, a powerful engine and a chassis designed to deliver dynamic driving performance. Two engine options are available, including a 380 horsepower V6.  The F-Type will reach 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and a combined fuel economy rating of 31 mpg. Prices for the F-Type start at $69,000.

5. 2014 Infiniti Q50

Infiniti Q50
Tony Ding / AP
The sport sedan has been a feature of Infiniti’s model line for a quarter of a century and the latest version is lower and wider, giving the latest version a whole new profile as well a new appearance from the front and rear as well as making it roomier on the inside. The new body design reduces aerodynamic drag which helps improve overall fuel economy. The Q50, which is equipped with a 328-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 engine, rated at 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, also features a lightweight suspension and a new steering system and electronic steering gear with mechanical backup as well as an upgraded driver assistance systems such as lane departure prevention. Prices start at $36,700.

4. 2014 Fiat 500 L

Fiat 500L
Valentin Flauraud / Bloomberg / Getty Images
The subcompact Fiat 500L is the wider and longer version of the Fiat 500 minicar. It has 42 percent more interior space than the original Fiat 500 and thus can seat five.  The extra space also means more room for the driver and front seat passenger. The 500L also comes with multiple air bags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.  Hands-free calling and Bluetooth audio as well as voice-command control of the radio and integration of portable music devices are also available. The 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine in the 500L produces 160 horsepower and fuel economy is 25 mpg in the city driving and 33 mpg on the highway. Prices for the 500L start at $19,100.


3. 2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country

2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country
GM
Pickup trucks continue to evolve while retaining their basic shape and utility. The Silverado High Country, Chevrolet‘s first upscale truck, features an interior with leather upholstery and audio system traditionally associated with expensive cars rather than work trucks. The new Silverado’s suspension is tuned to make it more like driving in a big, comfortable sedan. The standard engine on the Silverado High Country is a 355-horsepower, 5.3-liter V8 with active fuel management to shut down four cylinders during highway driving to help save fuel. It is rated at 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Prices start at $45,100.

2. 2014 Cadillac CTS

2014 Cadillac CTS
John Moore / Getty Images
General Motors is out to rebuild Cadillac’s image. The new CTS comes in five-inches longer than the previous version. It also weighs 200 pounds less and comes with a new suspension, providing better control when the car is in motion. The new CTS is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 with 321 horsepower that deliver 19 mpg in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway. A 420 horsepower V6 with twin turbochargers is also available. The new CTS features automatic parking assist to help maneuver into parallel spaces by using ultrasonic sensors which, along with cameras and radar, also help the driver avoid front- and rear-end collisions at low speed. Prices start at $46,025.

1. 2014 BMW 4 Series Coupe

BMW 4Series Coupe
Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images
BMW is replacing the popular 3 series coupe with a two-door vehicle that is wider, longer and lower to the road.  The standard engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 23 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The 4 Series Coupe also is equipped with an array of systems to increase safety. The highlights include an updated navigation system, with sharper graphics and 3D elements for the map display, the full-color BMW “Head-Up Display” with the speedometer reflected on the wind shield and driving assistant plus, which warns the driver of a potential collision with a pedestrian. Price for the BMW 4-Series start at $41,425.

Top 10 Best Tweets

10. @BurlCoatFactory, we hardly knew ye

a_560x375
Twitter
It was almost too good to be true. But for an unspecified period of time, Burlington Coat Factory actually linked to the wrong Twitter account from its official website. And what a Twitter account it was. @BurlCoatFactory took a page out of weird Twitter’s book with a mostly nonsensical stream that was entertaining, irreverent and rarely about outerwear—that is, unless they were slapping #coats on the end of a tweet.

9. Putting your money where your mouth is

We’ve all used social media as an outlet for our outrage. But Hasan Syed took his complaining to the next level when he spent more than $1,000 to call out British Airways on Twitter. The Chicago-based business owner bought a promoted tweet after the airline lost his father’s luggage, forcing him to cancel a planned trip to Germany. And it worked: press about his gambit guaranteed Syed hundreds of thousands of eyeballs beyond the 50,000 he paid to target with his initial advertisement. The incident also ushered in a new era of complainvertising, in which customers use social media to amplify their own disgruntled voices. As for Syed? His father’s luggage was returned, along with an apology.

8. Fashionably late to the party

At this point, it’s hardly news when someone famous decides to join Twitter. But the folksy octogenarian investor made headlines with a tweet that was equal parts charming and “he said what?!” Buffett may not have tweeted many times since, but his introductory tweet will remain the stuff of legend.


7. Making it so

Patrick Stewart isn’t just the latest celebrity to perfect the art of using Twitter to get closer to his fans. By sharing photos of himself wearing an amazing Halloween costume or enjoying his first-ever New York City slice, the Star Trek star is subtly tweaking his public reputation as an actor known mostly for serious roles. But the best example, with nearly 1000 RTs and counting, is simply a photo of the actor playfully referencing his most famous part.

6. Livetweeting history

Adam Kitzenberg isn’t the first person to livetweet a major news event that made headlines the next day.  But this startup founder’s tweets about the shootout between the alleged Boston bombers and the police gave the nation a real-time look at a news story that horrified—and captivated—the nation.

5. Oreo turns the lights back on

Whether you thought it was brilliant or just plain silly, you have to admit that Oreo’s “Power Out?” tweet was a stroke of advertising genius. The timely tweet was the result of a quick collaboration between ad agency 360i and Oreo executives during the game’s 34-minute partial blackout. The massive social media hit ushered in a new era of real-time social advertising, proving big brand commercials doesn’t always have to cost millions.

4. Millions stood with Wendy

Major TV networks didn’t initially cover Texas State Senator Wendy Davis’ successful filibuster of an anti-abortion bill, but the Internet was definitely paying attention. Viral hashtag #StandWithWendy and a YouTube livestream helped raise awareness as the famously pink-sneakered politician passionately made her case for 11 hours straight.  More than 125,000 #StandWithWendy tweets were sent per hour during the campaign’s peak. The hashtag was more popular than #StandWithRand, which supporters used when tweeting about Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster in March.


3. The year in surprising tweets

Many were surprised when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to Twitter to wish Iranian Jews a happy Rosh Hashanah. The message was bolstered after Foreign Minister Javad Zarif—who had his own Twitter moment announcing the recent P5+1 nuclear deal—replied to Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, with a similar message of acceptance. Some dismissed the event as a publicity stunt, but others declared a new era of Twitter diplomacy.

2. How to write the perfect tweet

Mia Farrow dropped the mother of all “You are not the father” bombs when she implied in a recent Vanity Fair interview that Frank Sinatra, not Woody Allen, might be the father of her biological son Ronan. The MSNBC host didn’t confirm if his blue eyes are actually from Ol’ Blue Eyes, instead, he just left us with this gem of a tweet.

1. Tweeting your way to an IPO

Twitter announced its eagerly anticipated IPO filing via—what else?—Twitter. It was the perfect way for the social network to get the news trending.

Top 10 Babies

10. Luna Bardem

cruzbardem
Europa Press / Getty Images
Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz had their daughter Luna in August. The beautiful baby is named after the Spanish word for “moon.” This is the couple’s second child.

9. Winnie Rose

Jimmy Fallon’s baby might not be able to talk yet, but we’re pretty sure she already takes the cake for funniest celebrity baby of the year. Winnie is named after Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, which is where Fallon proposed to his wife Nancy. After trying to have a child for five years, the couple decided to go with a surrogate.

8. Carmen Gabriela Baldwin

Alec Baldwin might have a tenuous relationship with his 17-year -old first child — we all remember the answering machine recordings in which he called her a “rude, thoughtless pig” at 11 — but this year he decided to go in for round two. Carmen was born in August to Baldwin and his yoga instructor wife Hilaria Thomas.


7. Ace Knute Johnson

136539974
Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic / Getty Images
Singer Jessica Simpson gave birth to her son Ace Knute Johnson on June 30. Her second child with her fiancé, NFL player Eric Johnson, Ace was famous months before his birth when Simpson debuted her baby bump in a puckered up selfie posted to Twitter.

6. Everly Tatum

Channing and Jenna Tatum met on the set of Step Up, a film they costarred in together. Four years into marriage, the couple welcomed the creatively named Everly to the world. Rather than play the paparazzi game with first photos, Channing revealed his daughter on his Facebook page on Father’s Day.

5. Sebastian Taylor Thomaz

Kanye’s ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, had a baby this year, too. She and rapper Wiz Khalifa had their first child, named Sebastian Taylor Thomaz, in February. The two were married in July 2013.

4. Axl Jack Duhamel

Not ones to eschew a strange baby name trend, actor Josh Duhamel and Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie had son Axl in August. For the most part, Fergie kept quiet about the pregnancy to the press.


3. Lincoln Bell Shepard

bellshepard
Jeff Vespa / WireImage / Getty Images
On March 28, comedic couple Kirsten Bell and Dax Shepard had their first daughter. Shepard announced the birth in tweet form, saying, “Lincoln Bell Shepard is here. She has mom’s beauty and dad’s obsession with breasts. Hooray!!!” Later this year, following the fall of DOMA, Bell proposed to Shepard via Twitter, and he said yes.

2. North West

Another baby of the year was born to parents that really work to stay in the spotlight: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. North West was born on June 15, twelve days after Kardashian’s divorce from basketball player Chris Humphries was finalized. The baby’s highly anticipated first photo was leaked by none other than Kris Jenner’s, Kardashian’s mom.

1. Prince George Alexander Louis

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge holds his son, Prince George of Cambridge, at Chapel Royal in St. James's Palace in central London for the christening of the baby on Oct. 23, 2013.
John Stillwell / AFP / Getty Images
Ever since Kate Middleton’s first sign of a baby bump, the world fell victim to royal baby fever. In fact, leading up to the heir’s birth, the Centre for Retail Research estimated that memorabilia and other goods led to a £243 million boost to the British economy. Prince George Alexander Louis was born to Prince William and Kate on July 22.

Top 10 Worst Movies

10. The Hangover Part III

The Hangover Part III
Warner Bros.
Alcohol poisoning can be deadly and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But something needs to put this franchise, which in its first installment was raw and disgusting and also totally hilarious, out of its nasty, self-loathing misery. So, drink up, boys.

9. Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful
Disney
A prequel that never should have seen the light of day features the arrival of Oz (James Franco) in the land of yellow brick roads and presents the story behind the wicked witch becoming both wicked and green. (Hint: he’s just not that into her.) Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz dress up the production a bit but the movie looks tawdry and every line has, uh, a tin quality to it. You can’t fault director Sam Raimi for having the courage — oh God, stop me — to take on one of the most classic movies of all time, but this Oz lacks heart. Wait, just one more; it was truly brainless to cast both smirking Franco and dramatically untested Mila Kunis, who seems more lost and disoriented in this production than poor old Dorothy after a spin in a tornado. Can we all go back to our annual viewing of the brilliant original, please?

8. The Counselor

The Counselor
Twentieth Century Fox
Look, were there movies of less cinematic value released this year? Certainly. But was there a movie that both raised and dashed expectations more impressively than Ridley Scott’s film of Cormac McCarthy’s first original — but really unoriginal —screenplay? No. Here’s who couldn’t save this movie from its portentous, foolish self: Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz and Michael Fassbender — all playing doomed characters we won’t remember in another six months. What will linger is the unfortunately indelible image of Cameron Diaz doing splits on a car’s windshield.


7. The Big Wedding

The Big Wedding
Lionsgate
You may be thinking, how bad can a movie about a wedding be, what with the celebration of love and all? Unbearably offensive if it’s the nuptials of Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and Missy (Amanda Seyfried), which are attended and fussed over by a series of gross stereotypes. There are the senior citizens (Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Robert DeNiro) utterly defined by the fact that they’re still horny (nothing wrong with that, if only the vulgar screenplay didn’t patronize them so), a pair of weird prudes (Alejandro’s South American birth mother and his still-virginal 30-something brother), exotic seductresses (Latin, of course), a purportedly barren leaner-inner (Katherine Heigl) and bigots (the bride’s parents). Gratuitous and in the end, grossly sentimental: it’s a marriage made in hell.

6. Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives
Radius-TWC
The maiming and/or killing in director Nicholas Winding Refn’s arty, sleazy film plays out like a really slow, bloody game of revenge tag. The first to go is a 16-year-old prostitute in Bangkok. Then her father kills her American rapist/killer and so on. It’s all swinging swords and bursting arteries, save the occasional glimpse of Ryan Gosling wandering through a red room or watching a beautiful woman masturbate. The visuals are aggressive — from the camera’s examination of fresh entrails to the lush beauty of the dark urban night — but the story is inert and the dialogue plays like a parody of Blue Velvet. But Kristin Scott Thomas, playing Gosling’s vicious mother, deserves a nod for almost being the film’s lone saving grace.

5. RIPD

R.I.P.D.
Universal
Dead guys Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges return to earth as members of the Rest in Peace Department, hunting foul-looking rogue spirits in an action movie likely to thrill only make-up artists. There’s a little bit of Ghostbusters to the story, too much Ghost and a ton of computer-generated billowing clouds and beams of light from on high. Bridges can usually be depended upon to elevate anything and everything, but his grating Western sheriff type, a Lonesome Dove-style character gone way over the top, becomes tedious within a minute of his first appearance. This one was practically the death of me.

4. After Earth

After Earth
Columbia
Two Smiths — Will and Jaden — co-star as a father-son pair locked in the classic love-hate battle that pits the domineering leader against resentful youth. That the settings are intergalactic, the time frame post-apocalyptic, and the space-suits flattering does nothing to elevate the dynamic beyond the tedium of everyday dinner table squabbles most of us have witnessed or participated in. With a story as thin as a minor episode of Star Trek — cross the dangerous tundra to pick up that thing we need so we can get home again — there is ample time to ponder such matters as why family features so many different regional accents and where Jaden Smith falls on the annoying-petulant-space-boy spectrum. (Perilously close to the Jake Lloyd end.) As for director M. Night Shyamalan: who knew that one day, The Village would seem like a career highpoint?


3. The Host

The Host
Universal
An adaptation of a Stephenie Meyers novel — the words that strikes fear into the heart of film critics everywhere. But at least this is just a one-off; no sequel looms and the dismal box-office should be the final stake in its heart. No vampires either, as the setting is the future, where Diane Kruger plays a bossy alien with eyes with a chilly glint, like the sparkle in toothpaste ads. She and her pals are taking over human bodies, including that of a teenager named Melanie (Saoirse Ronan). But Melanie, and her love for her boyfriend, is so strong that the alien can’t control the person inside. So they have long, chirpy, internal debates about it. For context: It’s like a dumber Bella talking to dumbest Bella. You will never feel worse for an actress (not even Cameron Diaz) than you will for poor Ronan, who not long ago was a very young Oscar nominee.

2. Salinger

Salinger
The Weinstein Co.
The accompanying score alone could have landed this unnecessary documentary about the reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye on this list. Incessant, obtrusive and hysterical in tone, it soars to what feels like a hundred alleged dramatic peaks that are, in reality, minor bits of trivia. Then there’s the drooling adulation from minor characters who had no connection to Salinger. “What I have here is J. D. Salinger’s yearbook from the Valley Forge Military Academy,” salivates rare-book seller Harvey Jason. “It’s an extraordinary item.” Really? It looks like another old yearbook to me. The “recreations” of the writer, sitting on an empty stage, typing, smoking and ruminating are absurd. What’s new in this film that promised such startling revelations? Precious little. What emerges? A portrait of the writer as a controlling, predatory creep and a feeling that the filmmaker may missed his calling in reality television.

1. Grown Ups 2

Grown Ups 2
Columbia
There is no plot. I don’t mean there isn’t much of a plot. I mean there is no plot. Just four repulsive guys (Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade and Kevin James) wandering around their hometown confronting the big themes of life: Urination, Defecation, Drooling, Bad Things Happening to Their Scrotums. Misogynistic, homophobic and sloppy, Grown Ups 2 is essentially a walk down a junior-high school hallway, except for the presence of various lovely women (Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, Maria Bello) who we’re expected to believe actually married these guys. There are people who will argue that 12 Years a Slave is the most depressing movie of the year. Enduring Grown Ups 2 threw me into a much deeper funk.

10 Bizarre Facts About Michael Jackson


10He Wanted To Be Spider-Man


All of us have fantasized about possessing superpowers, but for most of us, these are just idle daydreams. Michael Jackson was a little more serious about his obsession. In the late ’90s, he tried to purchase Marvel Comics, which had filed for bankruptcy. His dream was to produce a Spider-Man movie starring himself. Unfortunately for Michael, this venture failed, and the role of Spider-Man went to Tobey Maguire and film finally came together.
Jackson wasn’t done. When he heard of an upcoming X-Men movie, he lobbied hard to get the role of Professor X, the mutants’ chrome-domed paraplegic leader. Few roles might have been less appropriate for him. Veteran Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart eventually got the part.

9He Really Did Have Vitiligo

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Throughout his youth, Michael Jackson had a medium-brown, African-American complexion, but in the 1980s, his skin lightened considerably. Questioned, Michael claimed that he had a condition called “vitiligo.” Years later, his autopsy report confirmed the claim.
Vitiligo is a vanishingly rare skin disorder that causes melanin-producing cells to malfunction and fail. The precise cause is unknown, but it is tied to the autoimmune system. Vitiligo does not operate in a uniform fashion. It manifests in splotches that tend to continually grow and change shape. Jackson bleached his skin with a cream called Porcelana, but we don’t know whether the bleaching was an attempt to even out the patches or whether the bleaching itself sparked the vitiligo.
Michael was very close with his dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein. He even married his nurse, Debbie Rowe, who went on to have Michael’s children, Michael jr. and Paris. The couple divorced in 1999. Rowe recently announced her engagement to Jackson’s friend, gay porn producer Marc Schaffel.

8He Was Secretly Balding


Michael Jackson always appeared to have flawless hair. As a little boy, he had an afro, and as an adult, he grew flowing black locks. However, after 1984, he was forced to wear wigs.
While filming a Pepsi commercial simulated to look like a live concert, Michael caught on fire in a pyrotechnics accident. During the commercial’s sixth take, an explosion went off too early, setting Michael’s hair alight. For several moments, he continued dancing, not realizing what had happened.
Members of the cast and crew quickly swarmed him and extinguished the flames, but by then, the damage was done. He suffered second- and third-degree burns to his face and scalp. To compensate, he had his hairline permanently tattooed onto his forehead and wore a wig attached to hair that his autopsy called “sparse.” Footage of the incident remained under wraps for 25 years but was leaked by Us Weekly in 2009, a move strongly condemned by Pepsi.

7Plastic Surgery

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Photo credit: Georges Biard
The Pepsi incident had far-reaching repercussions besides torching Michael’s hair. The grueling operations he endured afterward are said to have kicked off his addiction to painkillers and obsession with plastic surgery.
In Moonwalk, his 1988 autobiography, Michael admitted to two rhinoplasties (ostensibly to help him breathe better) and a dimple created in his chin. He gave a laundry list of causes for other differences in appearance—everything from puberty to a vegetarian diet to stage makeup and lighting—but he obviously went through an extensive number of procedures.
Doctors have suggested that Jackson suffered from body dysmorphic disorder. It is believed that he had surgery to enhance his cheekbones, alter his lips, and lift his forehead, in addition to his numerous nose jobs. It has been reported that his father Joe used to insult Michael as a child, calling him “big nose,” which may have sparked the problem.
By the late ’90s, the nose was little more than a stump. When the UK’s Daily Mirror ran a picture of Jackson in 1992, calling him “hideously disfigured,” he sued them. The paper settled out of court in 1998.

6Bubbles


Jackson purchased Bubbles the chimpanzee as a baby from a primate research facility in Texas in the early 1980s. For years, the two were inseparable, Bubbles riding on Michael’s hip like an infant to various public appearances and events. The press had a field day with this relationship, often dreaming up weird tabloid stories about the ape as they had for his owner.
Bubbles ate at the dining room table with Jackson, slept in a crib, and learned to use the toilet. Michael even taught him to moonwalk. Some of Michael’s other chimps were markedly less well behaved, including Max, who would take off his dirty diaper before climbing into bed.
However, as Bubbles aged and went through puberty, he began to grow ever more strong and aggressive. Fearing his son might be attacked, Michael was forced to give Bubbles to a sanctuary.
In 2003, a bizarre story emerged that Bubbles attempted suicide and had to be rushed to the hospital. Today, Bubbles, is in his thirties and lives at the Center for Great Apes in Florida. According to his keepers, he spends his time painting, listening to flute music, and hanging out with his friend Sam, an older chimpanzee.

5Wacko Jacko

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In the mid-1980s, around the same time as he began lightening his skin, Michael Jackson became a tabloid phenomenon. He grew to despise his reputation as “Wacko Jacko,” but this curse was largely of his own making.
One of the first sensational tales about Michael emerged in 1986, when it was announced that he was spending time in an oxygenated hyperbaric chamber to defy aging. It would later turn out that he himself had actually leaked this untrue story to the press.
Another story emerged that Michael had tried to buy the remains of “Elephant Man” Joseph Merrick. This, too, was a complete fabrication by Michael and his manager, Frank Dileo.
Later, he would complain to biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli: “Why not just tell people I’m an alien from Mars? Tell them I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight. They’ll believe anything you say, because you’re a reporter. But if I, Michael Jackson, were to say, ‘I’m an alien from Mars and I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight,’ people would say, ‘Oh, man, that Michael Jackson is nuts. He’s cracked up. You can’t believe a single word that comes out of his mouth’.”

4Child Abuse


As a child star, Michael suffered hideous abuses at the hands of his father. He was routinely whipped and cursed at, and in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he shed tears and claimed that he was so terrified of his father that he would often vomit upon seeing the man. This likely caused his adulthood childlike behavior and drew him to children such as Macauly Culkin, entertaining them at his Neverland Ranch.
Neverland is a sprawling 2,700-acre private amusement park with its own zoo, carnival rides, and two railroads. The ranch takes its name from Peter Pan‘s “Never Never Land,” where boys never grow up. It seemed at first that Michael was merely trying to recapture the childhood that he had never been able to enjoy. But darker allegations surfaced in 1993, when Evan Chandler accused him of molesting his 13-year-old-son Jordan. Michael’s insurance company settled out of court for a sum reported to be $15 million.
Later, Evan Chandler would emerge as something of an odd duck himself, becoming both a part-time screenwriter and a dentist. Carrie Fisher, in her book Shockaholic, claimed that Chandler would perform unnecessary dental procedures on her in the 1980s just so she could get morphine. She called him “this freak” and said he made her skin crawl.
After the settlement, Chandler claimed Michael Jackson fans were stalking him, and he underwent plastic surgery to disguise his appearance. In 2006, Evan reportedly attacked his son Jordan with a barbell and mace. In 2009, five months after Michael died, Evan Chandler committed suicide via gunshot to the head.
Jackson again faced child sexual abuse charges in December 2003. Police raided Neverland Ranch, and Michael left the property, never to come back, claiming that it no longer felt like home. A trial began on January 31, 2005, and Jordan Chandler left the country to avoid having to testify. He’d previously filed for emancipation from his parents, horrified by what they had forced him to say about Jackson. A jury found Michael not guilty of all charges on June 13, 2005.
In 2013, choreographer Wade Robson (who had testified in the 2005 trial that Michael had never touched him inappropriately) filed a suit against the Jackson estate, claiming that he had in fact been abused by Michael as a child. In May 2014, a hearing will review if the lawsuit is viable.
Certainly, Michael’s relationships with children were unorthodox, and allowing them to sleep in his bed was inappropriate, but a retrospective of all the evidence points to his innocence in ever sexually abusing a child. Dozens of kids who spent time with Jackson were questioned during the investigations, and all of them swore that he’d never done anything sexual in their presence. Asked to describe Michael’s penis, Jordan Chandler had asserted that the man was circumcised, a fact which was his autopsy revealed as false. Likely, several parties thought their relationships with Jackson were the ticket to a quick payday, a horrible fate for a man who was otherwise charitable and kind to a fault.

3Escape Plans

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Your typical prison is populated with a motley crew of murderers, rapists, and drug dealers. These men have done unconscionable things, but even they retain some code of honor. Those serving time for victimizing children wear targets on their backs and are subjected to beatings and worse. Should Michael Jackson have been convicted and sent to prison, this danger, along with his fame, would have required him to be separated from the general population in virtual solitary confinement for the duration of his sentence.
However, Jackson’s family had no intention of allowing him to suffer the indignities of prison. When the 2005 trial wound down, Jermaine Jackson arranged to have a private jet on standby to take Michael to Bahrain. The tiny Middle-Eastern island nation has no extradition treaty with the US. According to Jermaine, Michael was not aware of the plan.

2His Patented Shoes


Michael Jackson was one of the best dancers of his or any generation. Though he did not invent the moonwalk, he certainly perfected it. However, even Michael wasn’t capable of defying gravity—in the music video for “Smooth Criminal,” he is seen standing at a 45-degree angle, far beyond any human’s capability.
This was accomplished by way of US Patent No. 5,255,452, granted to Michael and two partners for their “Method and Means for Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion.” This method was a pair of shoes, footwear with slot in the heels to hook onto retractable pegs in the floor. Michael patented the device not to generate income but to keep others from using the effect. Fortunately for imitators, the patent expired in 2005 after its owners missed a payment.

1Giant Robot

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Before the ill-fated “This Is It” concert series, Michael Jackson had planned a massive Las Vegas comeback in 2005. This would be no bland, tired regurgitation of the classics—Michael had a grand vision which included solar-powered costumes that would change color with the stage lights. The show would be promoted by a massive, 15-meter (50 ft) tall robot version of Michael, which would roam through the Nevada desert within view of McCarran airport. When this did not prove feasible, another plan was hatched to build a Michael Jackson–themed hotel and casino, which would feature a laser-blasting android at the entrance.
Unfortunately, he was fresh off his child molestation trial, and his star had fallen considerably. Despite meeting with high-powered casino moguls like Steve Wynn, he failed to secure the necessary funding for this ambitious venture. The robot ended up a fantasy Michael took to his grave.

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