Sunday, February 28, 2016

Top Ten of 2015 - Part One

I love making top ten lists. It's not real writing, but it feels like it is. HERE'S MY TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2015!

10. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

2015 had a lot of great movies, and to be honest, narrowing down my top five for last year was really hard. Honestly, there's not much to say about Rogue Nation, though, which is probably why it's number ten and why it deserves to be there. I was pleasantly surprised at how well-made, fun and creative a lot of the shots and scenes were in this film, and even though I stopped watching after the first one in the series, I had an ok time sitting in the theater watching this. It's not high-art, and it's not meant to be; it's not ground-breaking, and it's not meant to be. It's a good action movie done well, and sometimes that's enough.

9. Inside Out

I actually was really torn on whether or not this deserved to be on my top ten list. First of all, this movie was something of a disappointment to me. Even though I'm a thirty-year-old man, I really enjoy animated movies of pretty much any style, from Pixar to Dreamworks to Ghibli, all of which have produced some of my favorite movies of all time as well as some of my most-watched. (There was a point in my life where I could say that I saw How to Train Your Dragon more than three times a week.) When Pixar announced that they were making a new movie with some really outstanding voice talent, needless to say, I was excited. Maybe it was my own overly high expectations for this movie, but in the grand scheme of Pixar films, I'd say this is one of the worst (aside from the obvious worst, which is the one about cars.) Still though, even when Pixar fails, they're better than 90% of the movies out there.

8. Creed

Like I said, making top ten lists does not count as real writing, but once I get started asking myself which movies I liked the most that came out last year, I begin seeing a few patterns. Creed is at the front-end of a few movies that came out in 2015 that took a tired, old formula and did it well enough to make it an enjoyable movie-watching experience. I haven't seen the original Rocky, and I can't say that I watch a lot of sports movies either, but I'll be damned if it didn't feel like I hadn't seen Creed a million times before. (Was it Little Giants or The Mighty Ducks that this movie ripped off its ending from? What was the baseball movie with the little kid as a manager...or a pitcher? I can't even remember.) Still though, there was a number of movies that added nothing to movie history or engaged in the audience in any kind of unique way, but were done so well that it's hard not to love them.

7. Crimson Peak

I think this movie fell victim to the same problems that I had with Inside Out. More than Pixar, I'm a huge Del Toro fan, and probably an even bigger fan of horror movies than I am of animation. As with Inside Out, this movie was not quite what I wanted it to be. It lacked the atmosphere and set design that Del Toro is known for; it lacked tighter, stronger characterization that made even Del Toro's weaker movies so great; it lacked that imagination that makes his great movies great. If I sit here and think about Crimson Peak alongside Pan's Labyrinth, there isn't nearly the same amount of creativity at work here, even when Del Toro is given free rein. Still though, there's enough atmosphere to make it great, and there were enough cool ghosts to keep it interesting. Tom Hiddleston is fucking cool no matter what he does, and I feel like twenty years in the future, we will look back on Jessica Chastain's performance in this movie as being her most Jessica Chastainiest.

6. Ant-Man

Ant-Man was pretty funny, had a great cast, and featured a lot of truly creative fight scenes. (Seriously, watch any modern-day kung-fu flick and tell me that the fight between Ant-Man and The Falcon is not at least as creative as any of those.) Most importantly, now that we're fucking swimming in super hero movies, Ant-Man made the brilliant decision to keep the story low-key and character-centric. I've complained about it on this blog (or maybe just endlessly to my friends) that every time an Avengers movie comes out, they have to save the world, but it's boring bullshit because you already know before the movie starts that it doesn't have the balls to actually have the world get destroyed, The fact that you get introduced to all these characters in the same movie means they're expendable, and the fact that it's not the fate of the world at stake means the trigger could potentially get pulled.

5. The Martian

I think there's two things that make this good. Number one, it's fun hanging out with Matt Damon for a while, which is pretty much all this movie is. Number two, it throws a lot of hard science the audience's way, and it shows how this information has a use. Another thing that I tend to hate in movies is when they are dumber than me. That is, if the character in the movie has a problem and needs to think of a way out of it, they should do it better or faster than I can as an audience member. (If you've ever seen a horror movie, you've probably had this feeling before. Walk out of the house with the killer in it you stupid idiot teenager.) Conversely, this movie does the opposite really well, where Damon gets put into a situation that if I was in I would definitely not survive. This not only beats in a knowledge is power message to the audience, but makes us feel good that this character overcomes what appears to be a completely insurmountable problem.

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