Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Top 20 Favorite Films of 2015

Well, we can call 2015 a done year and unlike 2014, it was not a great year for movies...although personally it was a better year than last year on everything else. So as with anyone who watches movies and reviews as a hobby, I have compiled my best of and worst of list and like everyone, I first am going to reveal my Top 20 Favorite Films of 2015.

Now before I begin with honorable mentions, here are a few films that are given good reviews, but I have not seen.

* 45 Years
* Anomalisa
* Bridge of Spies
* Brooklyn
* Carol
* Chi-Raq
* Creed
* Dragonball Z: Resurrection 'F'
* I Am Chris Farley
* Room
* Sicario
* Son of Saul
* Spectre
* Spotlight
* Steve Jobs
* The Assassin
* The Big Short
* The Hateful Eight
* The Martian
* Trainwreck
* Trumbo

So let's start with honorable mentions and before anyone asks, no....there will be no Marvel movies this year as neither one was liked enough for me to put on even the honorable mentions. These Honorable Mentions of course will be in alphabetical order.

Beasts of No Nation
A very heart wrenching tale of a kid in a fictional African country who has to deal with civil war that has separated him from his mom and younger kids while a misunderstanding thanks to a bitchy woman (who never gets her comeuppance) causes the death of his father and older brother at the hands of the government forces. He ends up as a member of this rebel force who slaughter plenty of innocents and their leader The Commandant is a persuasive leader who is not so great himself. In the end, he knows what he is ultimately doing is wrong, but he is doing so because he is following orders and as a child, it is a lot harder to differentiate what is right and wrong.

Jurassic World
I know this movie has gotten a lot of criticism by people for characters, effects, and the script. But I enjoyed this film more than I did either Marvel films and a few more films. I liked Chris Pratt's character and the whole world of Jurassic World was great with all the dinosaurs look good (I didn't see the CGI problems other people did). The T-Rex reveal was awesome and yes, the deaths were great as well. I saw this film in 3D and I enjoyed the 3D.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
This time IMF has to take on a secret organization known as the Syndicate while running afoul of the CIA. This is a good film as all of the Mission Impossible films have been (except 2), but it is not a great film, despite hearing plenty of hype. Sean Harris plays a rather forgettable villain and the femme fetale character in Ilsa Faust was merely just okay. Also Simon Pegg was not as funny as he normally is in these films and Jeremy Renner is rarely used. However, the film is very creative with the weapons and the fight scenes are great. Also Ving Rhames and Tom Cruise are as good as they usually are.

Okay, yes...I am not a huge Melissa McCarthy fan and the typecasted roles she usually gets annoy me like hell. However, this is a film that was perfect for her and the cast around her was able to make up for even Melissa's shortcomings. This is perfect as a parody of spy films (and knowing what parodies I am used to, is sadly a hard thing these days). The reason this is not in my Top 20: 20 more films I sort of enjoyed more and yeah, there were some Melissa McCarthy moments that bugged me.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
I'm not a huge SpongeBob SquarePants fan, but even I can laugh at this film. For the first time, we get to see the SpongeBob characters be in the real world as they battle against BurgerBeard, who is played by Antonio Banderas who you can tell is having fun with the role. There were plenty of references to other movies and the jokes are funny. The only thing that doesn't put this in my Top 20 is well, it is a kids movie and the whole reason for BurgerBeard getting the Krabby Patty recipe seems rather contrived.
So now that those are out of the way, time for the Top 20 Favorite Films of 2015 and I would like to mention once again that these films had to be released for many audiences in the UNITED STATES in 2015. They can be released in other countries earlier and heck, can be released in this country in a film festival, but I don't count those as the year of release for me. So if you see films on this list and say that film was released earlier, remember what I said and that will be why they are on this list.
20. Into The Grizzly Maze
One of those rare exceptions of a film that had been on the shelf for years (3 exactly) actually being an enjoying film. This cast was really awesome and I'll be honest, I love a killer bear movie. In fact, I believe there has only been one killer bear movie that I did not like in some kind of way (that being 2010's Bear). Bart The Bear 2 gets to be the killer bear in this movie (as opposed to CGI in a movie that will also be on this list later) and we get to see good to great actors really be scared by this bear. In fact, this movie was at one time called Grizzly and I would have been fine with this film being considered a remake to the 1970s killer bear movie that I inducted onto Monster Crap. James Marsden and Thomas Jane play believable brothers and you want these two to survive against this bear who ultimately is at the point of no return since her cub was killed in the beginning by hunters (those hunters got killer early).
19. These Final Hours
One of four films from Australia that made this list, These Final Hours actually has a different approach to how to do a movie where it's said in the beginning that everyone is going to die. Unlike most movies, where you see chaos and some heroic attempt to save us all, this film just is more passive about it and says "You know, is the end so actually make your last hours on Earth count instead of trying to prolong the inevitable." The comet has hit Earth and instead of just destroying the planet, hit has created a fiery cloud that is slowly going to incinerate everyone when it passes over them. Our main character has a fiancée and someone he sees on the side so immediately you may not like this guy, but the more and more he goes on this film (and also tries to get a girl to her parents since the girl wants to spend her final moments with her family), our main character realizes that he may actually be more in love with the woman who he has seen on the side (and has gotten pregnant) so instead of spending his final hours of wanting to spend his final hours in debauchery like his fiancée wants to do (along with her brother and her girlfriend), this guy wants to spend it with the one he truly loves watching as the fiery clouds come to incinerate them.
18. Mr. Holmes
I watched this film with my mom, aunt, and cousin...and despite missing the first few minutes, I found myself engaged to this film that features a masterful performance by Sir Ian McKellan as Sherlock Holmes. Now you may look at the picture on the cover and say, that's not the Sherlock Holmes I have read in the books and you would be correct as this is supposed to be the Sherlock Holmes who was behind the books (which were written by Watson and sold to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). As you watch this film, you see that there are part of the Sherlock Holmes mythos from the books that he finds fraudulent and yet there are ways he acts that makes you believe that he is Sherlock. Laura Linney is also in this film as a housekeeper and mother of a boy who adores Sherlock's methods. He also takes in his hobby of beekeeping (even though we learn the boy is allergic to bees). The interactions between these characters really actually is able to overshadow the mystery that this film also tells as Sherlock is trying to write a memoir about a case he believes that he failed.
 17. Ex Machina
An actor who had a great 2015 would be son of actor Brendan Gleeson, Domhall Gleeson, as he is in three films that are on this list. Not far behind him is Oscar Isaacs (who just won a Golden Globe) and has been in two films on this list (both with Gleeson ironically). But I am just padding this review so let's get into the film itself. This is a film that really makes you think about whether sometimes we may be less human than the robots we create. Gleeson plays a kid who has won a trip to see his illusive boss (played by Isaacs) in his special penthouse so he can be part of a sort of Turing Test between Gleeson's character and a woman who is actually a robot (she looks and acts mostly like a human, except for the huge parts that you can see are robotic). As the film moves along, you start to realize not everything is as it seems. I have to see the effects in combining human features with robotic features is freaking outstanding (and at times extremely unsettling) and definitely worthy of at least an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects.
16. The Gift
Joel Edgarton's directorial debut is this completely one of the creepiest and most unsettling films you will see this year. It does the rare thing in making two actors be completely opposites of what they look like in real life with Joel Edgarton (remember this guy played a teacher turned fighter who tapped people out) into a diminutive creep who is that way due to years of bullying and Jason freaking Bateman (yes, the guy who stars in Arrested Development and the guy who you probably would think you could take in a fight) be this man who you think may be a nice guy, but as the film goes along, you realizes this guy is a lying piece of shit bully. And the gift that Joel Edgarton's character has for Jason Bateman's character, who is married to Rebecca Hall's character is just too jaw dropping and horrifying on a mental level for me to even spoil.
15. Love & Mercy
This film dealing with the life of Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys was really touching with Paul Dano playing the younger Brian Wilson and John Cusack playing the older Brian Wilson. You pretty much got to see the strange things that go into the mind of Brian Wilson along with abuse from his father and his psychiatrist later on. You got to see true love between John Cusack's older Brian Wilson and Elizabeth Bank's Melinda Bedletter and you really got to see how just bad and abusive Dr. Landy (played by Paul Giamatti was with his therapy. It is a wonderful film that I would recommend anyone seeing, especially if you are a fan of Brian Wilson or the Beach Boys.
14. Krampus
A Christmas horror movie from the guy who did Trick R' Treat? Count me in. This film that takes a miserable family and makes some of them somewhat likable when they are faced with the titular creature who punishes those who don't believe in Christmas anymore. The effects in the film are great and the acting was top notch (even if they were playing irredeemable scumbags). This film also had a little humor added in to and a flashback with stop motion animation made this really feel like a Christmas movie. I almost hated this film when it came to the ending, but that final shot in the ending made it all worth it in saying "Yeah, we knew you would hate that ending and we were just playing with you". You better hope Santa is coming to your house instead of this guy because if you have this guy coming, it's because you haven't been good for goodness sakes.
13. The Good Dinosaur
I am sad to hear that this will be Pixar's first box office bomb as despite what critics and people I listen to say, I enjoyed this film a lot. Yeah, maybe you have seen the story kind of told in other places, but it is still a good story and the animation and scenery are beautiful. In fact, this is one of the first films you will see on this list where I was legit in tears in scenes because the interaction between the main character and his human "pet" were outstanding. Is this Pixar's best film? No....nor is it there best of the year as we'll see later, but it still is a great film and does not deserve the title of being Pixar's first box office bomb.
12. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
It definitely is Mad Max with zombies as the poster alludes to in that you deal with the zombies being the cause of the apocalypse. You get to see characters interact with actual humor over this entire situation and creative cars being made because of this as it seems the zombies breath and blood can be gasoline as they are flammable while real gasoline turns to water (just go with it). And of course the military are evil as hell since they are trying to help an evil scientist (who likes to listen to music while doing dastardly things) in his experiments with the zombies and with those whose blood type makes them immune to infection that spreads in the air. The gore and effects in here is top notch and the acting is great with actors you have probably never heard of. Zombies and the apocalypse maybe done to death, but this year definitely proved you could do unique things with them and they will be great.
11. Dope
What happens when a kid from the ghettos of Compton and is trying to get into Harvard finds that someone stuffed a "Molly" and a gun in his bag? Well, you a film with great comedy featuring geeky kids who are obsessed with the 90s trying to get rid of the stuff before they get busted and their lives are ruined forever. Using bitcoin, hacking skills, and their ways of being inconspicuous, they are able to get themselves out of this situation and the main kid even gets a love interest in Zoe Kravitz's character, who loves that he is smart and doesn't play down to the stereotype that most people in her neighborhood do. Oh and the editing of scenes is great as there are moments where you see characters you hadn't seen in a few minutes running and you are wondering what happened, then they show you what happened to cause this. This is a film that I would definitely recommend you watch, especially if you are tired of films in ghetto settings needing to have everyone act like they belong on the streets.
10. It Follows
This was the best horror movie of the year by a wide margin. The idea of a sexually transmitted curse is interesting and this deadly supernatural force that could be anyone walking towards you is completely unsettling. Great acting and a soundtrack that is great only compliment this film. I remember several times where I saw the creature walking towards our main character and I was just scared for the character. And if you wonder what happens to people that get caught by this creature, you see the consequences early as a woman who gets caught by it is found completely bent up like a pretzel. Oh and just because only the person who is cursed can see it, that doesn't mean it isn't there and is incorporeal so it is there and can hurt you, even if you aren't cursed with it. The ending is rather ambiguous as the main characters don't destroy the curse and can only just pass it along.
9. Predestination
This is the film I was talking about when I mentioned that the guidelines. I know this film was released in 2014 in most places, but in the US, it got it's real release in January 9, 2015 so yes, it counts as a 2015 film in my book. Ethan Hawke plays a character who has recovered from being hit by the Fiz Bomber, who he tried to stop and is now sent back in time to make sure that a character played by Sarah Snook meets the person who ruined her life. And I go any further or I would spoil things. The Spierig Brothers are one of those directing duels that I have seen make a better film than their last film and this is no exception. The idea of this sadly probably not getting any Oscar nods is truly insulting and proves what I have always believe that the Academy does not normally know what they are talking about when they present these awards.
8. Kingsman: The Secret Service
In February, this was my favorite film of the year so you can see what better films came up later on. This spy movie may do a lot of homage with the 007 film The Spy Who Loved Me, but it is still a great film. You get to see this young kid become a secret agent thanks to Colin Firth and Michael Caine. Samuel L. Jackson plays a perfect villain and he has a great crony in a woman who has blades for legs (and yes, she knows how to use them). The dialogue is stuff that I can quote and the actor playing the kid was actually really good and has a great future. Not much more I can say other than if you love spy films and would like something other than James Bond, this is a film to watch.
7. The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio needs to win the Oscar for this film (this coming from a guy who once called Leo the most overrated actor) and if he doesn't, then I don't know what Leo needs to do. In this film, he gets destroyed by everything from a bear, a cliff, Native Americans, and a villainous Tom Hardy, who plays a perfect cowardly villain who cares only about himself. This is also another film with Domhall Gleeson in it and the brutality in this film made me cringe at time (especially Leonardo's character having to close a wound on his neck). The only issue I kind of had was the bear was CGI although considering what the bear was doing, I can see why they needed to CGI it. Oh and points to the director of my favorite film last year being the director of this great film.
6. White God
Vengeance goes to the dog in this film that might be a film I can recommend any person from PETA or the ASPCA to watch as the people who are abusers to the dogs get messed up. This film (from Hungary) has you watching in sadness as this mixed breed dog gets treated like crap by a divorced father, a landlord, a homeless man, and dog fighting ring. Then you get to watch as most of those people get what they deserve at the hands of a group of abandoned dogs that this lead dog starts leading. You may have to deal with subtitles, but you most likely will love to see the daring effort this young director and "unknown to you" cast took to make this film really good that of course, wasn't nominated for an Academy Award (dumbass Academy). If you want to see this film, you can see it on Instant Queue if you have a Netflix account.
5. Straight Outta Compton
I remember first seeing this poster in a theater before seeing any trailer of any kind and thinking this was a documentary and then being sort of not happy when I found out it was a biographical drama instead. Well, thankfully this film was better than I ever could have expected it to be. Ice Cube's son plays his dad and looks completely like his dad. Jason Mitchell plays Eazy-E and he is just phenomenal. Of course, Paul Giamatti is also in this film and Corey Hawkins was good as Dr. Dre. The actor who played Suge Knight made sure to terrify me in every scene he was in with his looks and the moment Eazy-E's reaction to being told he has AIDS is the most believable reaction I have ever seen to someone who is told they have it (and that includes Matthew McConaughey in a role that won him an Oscar two years ago). I was in tears during that whole scenes from there to his death.
4. Inside Out
Who would have though a cartoon that deals with your feelings as individual characters during the one of the toughest time in childhood (which is moving to a new town) could be innovative and a definite gem. Well, if you have Pixar doing it and a cast that includes Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, and Lewis Black (who steals every scene he is in as Anger), you can get such a gem. This was another film that brought me to tears this year with something so innocent like forgetting something from your past. Also seeing feelings as characters in other people's bodies as well as great jokes make this film a must-see cartoon that can do things that you really won't see done well in a live action film.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
This film has been on everyone's top ten list so you knew it was also in mine. Basically, Mad Max is captured by some cult lead by Immortan Joe who holds a place hostage by controlling the supply of water. Mad Max is made the blood bank of a war boy named Nux and somewhere, a one armed woman with a cyborg arm named Imperator Furiosa decides to free all the brides of Joe and escape with them on an armored truck in hopes of finding freedom for them. Mad Max escapes and catches up with them and you can go from there. Now this film has gotten criticized by a group of men who don't like that they believe Furiosa is made more of the star than Mad Max himself. Yeah...I don't care because it doesn't take away from the fact that this is an awesome and quotable film. My favorite moment of course is the guitar guy who is strapped to a truck full of amps and his guitar shoots fire.
2. The Peanuts Movie
Both Mad Max: Fury Road and Inside Out may be better movies, but The Peanuts Movie hit something of all the right buttons as far as nostalgia goes and this is a list of my favorite movies so yeah, this film is going to be higher and is probably going to something I am going to watch more than those two. Basically it is Charlie Brown trying to impress a new girl in school who he has a crush on while Snoopy is writing a fictional account of his fictional battle with the Red Baron in an attempt to save a female dog pilot named Fifi. This movie didn't need celebrities to play any of the characters (except Fifi, but then again Fifi talks like a female Snoopy which means no words). This film really made me have great memories of the Peanuts cartoons as despite Charlie Brown being a loser, he still has people be nice to him in the end. This is a great film for kids and when this comes out on DVD, I hope to get it.
And the #1 film surprises here.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Yes, a film that had been anticipated for months and months and when it finally came out, it was awesome. I have seen this movie twice now and may see a third time. Sure this film seems to have elements of the original trilogy in it, but that doesn't make it a bad film. Everyone in this movie plays this role perfectly and for Daisy Ridley (who plays Rey), her silver screen debut is going to be one of legends. Finn may be a black Stormtrooper (which some people were pissed at), but him being one is explained pretty easily and he definitely decides to get out of being on the evil side pretty quickly. Everyone from the original Star Wars returns and they all play important characters to the overall plot. Kylo Ren (the new Darth Vader) is made to be an emotional scumbag who I cant wait to see die for what he did and we got the great meme of TR-8R. I can't wait for the continuation of the story in two years and heck, I'll even watch the first spinoff movie that comes out next year. Star Wars all the way, baby.
And that is my list of favorite films of 2015. Next time, I'll talk about the films I hated the most in 2015 and boy did we have some doozies.