Monday, January 11, 2016

My Own Subjective Top 10 Movies of 2015

No, faithful readers, I'm not dead yet. In fact, I actually started a podcast this past year. It's called Baconsale and it's my new creative outlet I have with Kent from Showtime Showdown and Jacob from whatever he does. So I guess the blog post sabbatical continues.

NEVERTHELESS, I plan to continue to do my yearly countdown of the best movies I watched in the previous year, if for no other reason than to keep track of what movies I want to force other people to watch. It's the same type of list you've seen for the past six years. And, once again, just to reiterate, these are my favorite movies that I watched for the first time in 2015, they didn't have to be released in 2015. Make sense? Well, it does to me. So, without further ado, here is my top ten list:

10. John Wick (2014)
Every now and then, it feels good to watch a movie like John Wick. This revenge film is unapologetically brutal, and it gives us a protagonist that is single-minded in purpose and extraordinarily good at what he does. It's a simple and satisfying action flick. I could see John Wick going toe-to-toe with many of the classic action stars we already know and love and I welcome him with open arms (and a concealed side arm).

9. Ex Machina (2015)
Ex Machina is an intelligent sci-fi thriller that puts you in a constant state of unease. This film has an intentionally slow and methodical pace that creates a mood and builds suspense. It has a small cast, but each actor plays their part very well. I didn't know where this movie was going to go and I liked that. It's not one I could watch over and over again, but I wish there were more original films like this one.

8. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Gone Baby Gone is a well-directed, well-acted and emotionally complex film. It's not an easy movie to watch, but it presents its gritty reality in a way that makes it hard to look away. The actors, especially Amy Ryan, disappear into their roles and heighten the sense of realism. The film also brings up some interesting moral dilemmas that are sure to be a catalyst for conversation. Well done, Ben Affleck.

7. Nightcrawler (2014)
Nightcrawler is an intense movie. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance as the sociopathic Louis Bloom is absolutely terrifying. Most of the suspense comes from wondering just how far Bloom will go to succeed. This movie exposes a world of voyeuristic vultures running around recording other people's pain for profit. Plus, Nightcrawler is also a scathing rebuke of the ratings-hungry media as well as those who consume it. This is a well-crafted film.

6. Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash is a story without a real hero. J.K. Simmons is a terrifying villain and Miles Teller is a self-absorbed masochist. That being said, this movie is absolutely compelling. I've never been in a band and I'm not really a fan of jazz music, yet I was completely drawn in by the movie and felt all sorts of emotions - mostly fear, panic and anxiety. I hope to never encounter someone like Terence Fletcher in my lifetime.

5. Boyhood (2014)
Boyhood is a fascinating experiment in filmmaking. Watching the actors grow up over the course of 12 years is a truly unique experience. I also like that the main characters are good people - they're not perfect, but they're trying to do their best. This movie is like watching someone's home movies...if their home movies were beautifully shot and wonderfully acted. This was a very ambitious film and I'm glad I saw it. I also look forward to seeing "Boyhood 2: Manhood" in another 12 years.

4. Gone Girl (2014)
I like it when a movie can keep me guessing until the end, and Gone Girl did just that. Most of the time I didn't know where this film was going, and each new twist and turn was a surprise. You can't help but get pulled into the story. The actors all gave excellent performances, as well. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at Rosamund Pike the same way again. This movie is what a crime thriller should be.

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is easily the fourth best movie of the franchise. It fits in just below the original series, but it is definitely better than any of the prequels. The acting is well done (unlike the prequels), and it offers a good mix of practical effects and CGI. This film isn't without its faults, but it continues the story in a compelling way that feels like a natural continuation of the saga. I would happily watch this movie again and I would gladly add it to my movie collection.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road is confusing, it's unsettling and it's absolutely entertaining. Even though this is a sequel, George Miller has given us the most unique film of 2015. It really is like nothing you've seen before. Plus, this movie is filled to the brim with impressive practical effects and remarkable stunt work. This is an adrenaline-fueled ride through the mind of a crazy person, and I was happy to be a passenger.

And my #1 movie that I watched in 2015 is. . .

1. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
The reason that Kingsman: The Secret Service works is because it doesn't take itself too seriously. This movie is a throwback to the gentleman spy type of Bond movies, complete with fun gadgets and outrageous villains. This film is also very aware that it is an over-the-top spy movie and it embraces that fact. The dialogue is witty, the action is impressive and it just feels refreshing. It is also a bit more vulgar than it needed to be. I recommend watching it edited.

Wow. There are a lot of downers in that list. I swear I'm not depressed, nor am I a psychopath. Also, it seems as if my ClearPlay Blu-ray player (yes, I've upgraded) got quite the workout in 2015. Hopefully 2016 will bring about more quality feel-good films. But here are the movies that didn't quite make my top ten this year, although they are still quality films: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Ben-Hur (1959), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), Goosebumps (2015), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Marty (1955), Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Spectre (2015) and Wings (1927).

Until next time, faithful readers!. . .which, let's face it, may or may not be until next year!