It’s December, which means the internet is already filling up with year-end lists covering who did what best in 2014. These lists will heap praise on Oscar-ready films, enthralling TV series, breakthrough musicians. This is not that kind of list.
This is a chronology of the people in pop culture who made 2014 weird: Shia LaBeouf (whose strange antics earned him a place on GQ’s “Least Influential” list), Miley Cyrus, Shailene Woodley. Some of these weird things were intentional, like Adult Swim’s “Too Many Cooks.” Others were, well, probably not meant for the public—we’re looking at you and your texting flirtations with a teen, James Franco.
Predictably, 2014’s Year in Weird timeline begins with LaBeouf, the man who inspired this post—and the man who made headlines this year for doing questionable things, including skywriting an apology, claiming he’s not famous, and wearing a paper bag over his head. (And, oh, yeah, starring in Fury — a relatively normal activity that did not make it on this timeline.)
Jan. 1: Before 2014 begins, LaBeouf debuts a short film titled HowardCantour.com at 2012’s Cannes Film Festival Critic’s Week sidebar. In December 2013, the film becomes available online and some watchers notice how similar it is to Daniel Clowes’ comic Justin M. Damiano.
LaBeouf responds to the plagiarism claims by skywriting an apology to Clowes. And you thought skywriting was only for corny proposals!
Jan. 10: LaBeouf tweets that he’s retiring from public life. He is lying.
Jan. 13: Not only is LaBeouf retiring from public life—he’s also not famous anymore. That’s how fame works, guys. This is the tweet that launched a million (okay, more like, 22) additional tweets:
Feb. 11: He’s not famous anymore, but he is still an artist… so LaBeouf opens up an art installation, titled #IAMSORRY, in which he sits in a room wearing a paper bag over his head. Visitors can choose to bring in one item—choices include a bowl of tweets, and a pink ukelele—for their one-on-one visit with the silent LaBeouf.
Feb. 16: Matthew McConaughey’s True Detective character, Rust Cohle, is one of TV’s most out-there personas. In episode five, he cements that reputation with his ”time is a flat circle” speech.
Rust’s philosophizing is weird enough, but his use of props adds another layer of weirdness: He crushes a beer can mid-monologue to illustrate a point, while the little figures he crafted out of beer cans sit in front of him. At least he’s recycling?
March 2: John Travolta has one job at this year’s Academy Awards: to welcome Idina Menzel onstage for her performance of Frozen’s “Let It Go.” Unfortunately (for him), he screws up her name, calling her “Adele Dazeem” instead—in a moment that will forever be mocked.
March 17: In early March, Malaysian flight MH370 goes missing. Dozens of countries get involved in the search for the flight—along with Courtney Love, who takes the search into her own hands.
Love—who, in all fairness, claims she’s “no expert” in the field of plane location—tweets an image of the ocean with scribbled notes on where she thinks the plane is. The plane has yet to be found, but: Good try, Court!
March: Shailene Woodley went on multiple press tours this year for her roles in The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent—and kept them interesting by talking more about her all-natural lifestyle than her movies.
Of her many comments about the earth, ranging from how she likes to give her vagina “a little vitamin D” and wants to make her own medicine, her claim about eating clay is the one with legs. She mentions eating clay in an Into the Gloss interview—it makes her pee “smell like metal”—and David Letterman later interrogates her about it on an episode of Late Night (the clay, not the pee).
April 1: James Franco starts chatting up a girl on Instagram, asking important questions like “where do you live?” and “you’re 18?” She is not 18…but he continues to chat with her, asking if he can go see her at her hotel.
He later goes on Live! With Kelly and Michael and says he’s embarrassed—therefore confirming that, no, the exchange wasn’t an April Fools’ prank.
July 7: Miley Cyrus, the winner of 2013 in Weird, is no stranger to kookiness—so it’s not exactly surprising when Flaming Lips frontman (and Cyrus’ bud) Wayne Coyne debuts a psychedelic video featuring gooey brain-like materials, Cyrus yelling about pills, and colorful explosions. It’s eerily similar to that one cursed video from The Ring, but with more glitter and drugs.
Sept. 8-20: The casual LaBeouf Twitter follower would assume that LaBeouf has started a running habit. He posts a tweet that says, “I just ran 1.83 mi with Nike Plus.” Good for Shia! Click on the link in the tweet, though, and you’ll see LaBeouf isn’t just running (of course he isn’t): He’s running and spelling out a hashtag with his route.
LaBeouf continues spelling out one letter a day until revealing his final message: “#metamarathon.”
Nov. 7: “Too Many Cooks” lands online, reminding the internet just how crazy Adult Swim can be. It’s an 11-minute short modeled off the opening credits of an ’80s sitcom—and, yes, all 11 minutes are opening credits, mostly featuring actors smiling as their names show up onscreen.
But there is a point when the short becomes less of an ’80s sitcom and more of a surreal B-movie. Chris Casper Kelly, the video’s creator, talks to EW after the short hit the web about how it came to be: “As soon as you get the idea of the pattern that we’re changing genres, then you want to zag it again, just when you start to get bored.”
Nov. 14: Johnny Depp presents the Hollywood Documentary Award to Shep Gordon at the Hollywood Film Awards, seemingly in character as Jack Sparrow. He slurs his way through the presentation, fumbles with the mic, and curses before realizing he can’t curse on TV.
Nov. 27: Not one for ordinary interviews, LaBeouf engages in an entirely silent meeting with a reporter from the U.K. publication Dazed. We know they do this because they each strap GoPro cameras to their heads, then post the video online for everyone who has an hour to spare to watch.
Before they get together for the interview, though, LaBeouf and the reporter have a lengthy email exchange in which the actor talks about the meaning of life, his views on masculinity, and his experiences during the #IAMSORRY exhibit (including, he says, being raped by a woman).
The entire exchange is a look inside LaBeouf’s mind and what he’s been thinking this past year. It’s best summed up by this: “When I’m at my best, yes, I’m a magician. When I’m at my worst, I’m an entertainer.” Now we know.