Monday, February 29, 2016

Favorite Films of 2015

This list comes at an appropriate time, just a day after the Academy Awards.  This was another underwhelming year for the movies in my opinion (sure, profits were up).  Nonetheless, there were definitely greats in relative isolation at the top of the mountain.  There were many films that proved disappointing, either partially or completely.  There are still some movies yet to be seen but overall this is pretty much it.  More over, many film reviews are overdue.

Jurassic World

Straight up the most fun and entertaining film of the year, it will take a bite out of the summertime blues.  Having watched this again recently I was happy to be reminded that this is, in part, a Christmas movie.  Sadly, the 3D version, as screened in my home, was less than enthralling.       

The Walk

People have been talking about Oscar snubs, and I honestly think this may be one of the biggest.  This film follows in the footsteps of the best documentary winner Man on Wire about wire-walker Philippe Petit.  Man on Wire and Fahrenheit 9/11 are the only documentary winners that I know off the top of my head.  I loved the documentary and can understand how people would think that this film was unnecessary.  I was skeptical but captured by the transcendent spirit.  Furthermore, this film has a solid 3D presentation, which heightens the experience.

The Hateful Eight

I have yet to offer up my full review on this, which is overdue since I attended a road show screening in 70mm.  Needless, to say, the nearly three hour movie flew by.  This is especially impressive as this year I’ve checked my watch more than any other at the movies.  Tarantino plays with timelines like few directors, and he really reminds you how much we take for granted in life and in the movies. 


If The Hateful Eight is my favorite film on a technical level then this is my favorite on an emotional level.  I love that they branched out from Rocky and created an Apollo Creed legacy story, I never would have thought to do this.  Indeed, this is my favorite exhibit in favor of all the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.  They get back to basics here and reminded me of what made the original films so powerful, it wasn’t the training or the matches, but the life difficulties and perseverance outside the ring that made us care about the training and the boxing.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Yet another cast steps into their roles years later.  I credit this film as being the best since the original series.  Luke Skywalker’s absence from most of the film enhances the mystique of the character and gives us something to anticipate.  This was a master stroke of storytelling, Skywalker is not to be taken for granted, neither is the force.  Harrison Ford who seems to have been grudgingly acting (the antithesis of Han Solo) through much of his recent roles somehow brings Han Solo back to the screen as if he was never away.  The newcomers yield promise but I still care most how Luke fits in events to come.   

San Andreas

This is my favorite film with Dwayne Johnson.  This is also one of my favorites with Carla Gugino.  Paul Giamatti is quite fun to watch here as well.  I wasn’t expecting to like this or even want to see it, but I must have been desperate when I decided to check it out.  Well, I love that this is yet another sunny romp through California.  Furthermore, the central role of Caltech was gratifying as my uncle went there.  I would say that this is my favorite earthquake movie and one of my favorite disaster movies.  What is it about disaster and happy endings that go together so well?

The Bridge of Spies

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I cared about these characters.  Furthermore, like Argo or Catch Me If You Can (if you prefer), this is yet another glimpse into a fascinating, relatively obscure part of history.  Thomas Newman’s first effort for Spielberg (or rather Spielberg’s first film minus John Williams) was nothing special, but it worked enough wonders to get the job done. 

Honorable Mention

Straight Outta Compton
This is the other best argument in support of all the Oscars controversy.  I honestly didn’t want to see this film originally, partly because I didn’t know what it was about.  I partially blame poor advertising (the kind that didn’t reach me) in that regard.  Sure, I saw posters but no trailers or something more revealing.  

Once I realized what this film was about I was more interested, especially with the screenwriting nomination.  Not only was this film riveting, the portrayal of Ice Cube by O’Shea Jackson Jr. was particularly impressive.  This film made me a fan of NWA, and rehashed my interest in Ice Cube, for about five minutes.  I admire Ice Cube’s practicality and direct approach to living life.  In the end, though, this still is not top notch entertainment for me, which is why I watch movies.   

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