Saturday, January 2, 2016

Best Movies of 2015

I haven't felt like using this blog in almost a year. Reviewing movies with a backlog so big that it stretches back to early 2014 just isn't practical or fun, mostly because I'm going off of year-and-a-half-old memories to review these movies, most of which I didn't like very much in the first place. Maybe I'll eventually pick it up again. I've toyed with the idea of starting a YouTube channel.  I've also toyed (more successfully) with the idea of not starting one.

But... I figured the least that I could do for this dying blog is apply pressure to the wound a bit.  Let's prolong its painful death for a while, shall we?

I saw 65 movies this year, 22 of which were released theatrically in 2015.  Here they are, in order of release:

Jupiter Ascending
Fifty Shades of Grey
Kingsman: The Secret Service
The Lazarus Effect
It Follows
The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Mad Max: Fury Road
Insidious: Chapter 3
Jurassic World
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
The Visit
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Crimson Peak
The Last Witch Hunter
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There are a couple of 2015 movies that I haven't seen yet that I really want to, and ones that would probably make my list (if the hype and my knowledge of my own tastes are any indication), like The Gift and The Martian, off the top of my head. This is just my opinion as of the beginning of 2016 and will certainly change as I see more movies from this year.

5.  Avengers: Age of Ultron

Age of Ultron is certainly not Joss Whedon at his best.  As a die-hard fan of Whedon's well-constructed characters steeped in familiar, but interesting lore, his big-budget affairs leave a lot to be desired. These are not the kinds of films that I want Joss to be making, but I'm glad that he's the one in charge of them, if that makes any sense. Ultron, like it's predecessor, shine with Whedon's trademark wit, even if it is a bit forced at times. This movie feels very inconsequential, sure, but that isn't unique to this film. The superhero genre has been stagnating for years now. But it takes a talented writer and director to make something so pointless seem so fun.

4.  Krampus

I won't lie -- I mostly loved this movie because of Adam Scott. There are some actors that are so sublimely wonderful at playing "the straight man", and Adam Scott (along with Jason Bateman) makes it onto that list easily. I could watch him react incredulously in literally any movie. It just so happens that this one is a darkly comic Christmas horror movie involving a Germanic demon with a long, droopy face. Krampus isn't as clever or memorable as director Michael Dougherty's previous film, Trick 'r Treat, but it does walk the fine line between characters that are annoying and characters that are human. It's a dangerous line, but it does endear us to the characters, making the evil cookies, twisted elves, and demon jack-in-the-box all seem a little bleaker than one might expect, which was an interesting place to take the film.

3.  Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

I'm just going to tell you right now -- Mad Max: Fury Road did not make it onto my list, and it's because Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation satisfied me in every way that Fury Road failed. Instead of a plodding repetitive script that focuses far too much on world-building, the newest MI installment instead plays to its strengths: the likability of the lead actors, increasingly ridiculous situations, and a wonderfully charming sense of humor to tie both together. This is a huge action movie full of setpieces, much like Fury Road, but make no mistake -- this script is funny. These actors are funny. This movie is by no means under the impression that it is anything other than what it is: a good time. And come on, if you don't like Tom Cruise, you can stop being my friend now, please. Also, go ahead and take your time machine back to 2005.

2.  It Follows

I'm not easily arrested by horror movies. I love the genre, and there is a lot of good to be found in it (some I've yet to find, I'm sure), but there aren't very many movies that I would call truly unsettling. But, from beginning to end, It Follows... just works. The 80s atmosphere echoing John Carpenter, the fantastic group of unknown actors, the slow-burn, and the frightening concept all coalesce to make this one of the best horror movies I've seen in a long, long time. It does indeed follow. It wants you dead. And it has all the time in the world. So it's just going to calmly walk towards you for all eternity. That's terrifying.

1.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens

You probably saw this coming. I don't have anything to say about this movie that hasn't been said a million times already. It made me feel like a kid again, and that's something that so few movies are capable of. Like many people my age, the original Star Wars trilogy made a huge impact on my childhood. It made me wish that heroes like Luke Skywalker existed; it's what got me into fantasy in general. I owe a lot of my personality to A New Hope, and this glorified remake is exactly what I wanted from a continuation of the original trilogy: more of what made the originals so endearing and memorable. More lovable characters, more impossible odds, more tragedy, more excitement, more magic. For someone that has spent years trying to avoid become an adult, movies that vindicate that misguided choice are always welcome. Plus, BB-8 is a little cutie.

I don't know when I'll update again. Maybe I'll check out this "YouTube" thing and see what all the hubbub is about. Maybe I won't. I'm not very good at New Years resolutions.

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