Hello All! It is that time of year when everybody gets ready to make year end lists of the best movies that they have seen this year. While everybody makes a top 10 list, I decided to narrow it down to 6. Also, since I have to pay out of my own pocket to see movies, I tend to not see things until they come out on DVD, in which case I will review it then. Anyway, without further ado, here are the 6 best films of 2015! Why 6? Because in the words of Iron Maiden, it’s “THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST!”
6. Inside Out
Seriously, how does Pixar do it? It seems like every time they make a movie, they end up creating masterworks in the field of animation. On the outset, “Inside Out” appeared to be a weird concept: a movie about emotions. While this reviewer was certainly a bit apprehensive initially, “Inside Out” ranks among some of the best work Pixar has ever done. The story is delightful, the animation is spectacular, and the theme is great. Plus, its a Pixar movie, so you will probably end up crying like yours truly did.
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Yes, the movie does have a lot of fan service; and yes, it is does borrow a lot of ideas from the first Star Wars, but damn it, this is how Star Wars is supposed to be. Making up for the cinematic Stockholm Syndrome that was the prequels, JJ Abrams and company brought all the elements of the Star Wars back to what they are supposed to be: Good Heroes, Bad Villains, a sense of wonder. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and the great Oscar Isaac, are great as the new heroes, Adam Driver is good as the villan Kylo Ren, and its awesome to see Han, Chewie, and the Millenium Falcon again. Let’s hope that episodes VIII and IX end up just as good.
4. The Hateful Eight
This is the type of movie that Hollywood does not make anymore. While it is true that Tarantino is using techniques that are not used anymore in movies (70 MM film stock, A Roadshow Presenation), it is the type of story that makes this a good old fashioned Western in the realm of Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci.
A friend of mine stated that this movie is basically a Western remake of “Reservoir Dogs”, but that is a bit disingenuous. While it is true that the specter of “Reservoir Dogs” is in this movie, the movie is really just a modern day interpretation of the Spaghetti Westerns that Tarantino and others love so much. The fact that the action takes place in a singular location also makes it unique among Hollywood movies today. In using an enclosed set, it creates tension and makes the viewer apart of the movie than if you were to set it over several places. Also featuring an incredible score by Sergio Leone and great cinematography due to the 70 mm film (Seriously, this reviewer forgot how much real film looks better than digital), the Hateful Eight ranks among the best of Quentin Tarantino’s work.
3. Love & Mercy
The best music biopic ever made, “Love & Mercy” is actually one of the few music biopic to actually be about the music. Casting Paul Dano and John Cusack as the two Brian Wilson’s was a masterstroke to differentiate between Wilson at various points in his career. In Dano’s case it was Wilson at the height of his genius with the Beach Boys in making “Pet Sounds” and “Smile”, with Cusack it was when he was drugged out and being controlled by quack Psychiatrist Eugene Landy (a very underrated Paul Giamatti). While the movie does feature a good love story about how Wilson was saved by his wife (Elizabeth Banks) the real hallmark of the movie is seeing how Wilson created his music, such as the incredible “Pet Sounds” album and how sometimes the cost of genius can be mental insanity.
2. Ex Machina
The past few years have been great for Dystopian Sci-Fi in Hollywood. Perhaps it is because we are becoming afraid of the power of the internet, or the recent NSA scandals, but the idea that technology is something people should treat with caution is a theme that will always be used to great effect. “Ex Machina” serves this tradition by creating what looks like a typical “Robot” gone bad story, but instead turns it on its head and creates something new.
After winning a contest at a Google/Facebook like company, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) gets to spend the weekend at the fortress like house of Nathan, the CEO (Oscar Isaac). It turns out that Nathan has created a robot named Ava (the stunning Alicia Vikander) and wants Caleb to see if she can past the Turing Test, which means that a normal person would not be able to differentiate between whether Ava is a robot or a human. Suffice it to say, as in all good Sci-Fi, things do not go as planned.
What makes the movie great is how director Alex Garland takes these normal Sci-Fi troupes and turns them on its head. The viewer does not know what is going to happen until the end, which makes the movie enthralling. Featuring also a stark set and a great minimalist music score, “Ex Machina” is one of the best pure Sci-Fi films that has been released by Hollywood in a long time.
1)Mad Max: Fury Road
After posting my review of the new “Mad Max” back in September, this reviewer knew damn sure that it was going to be number one. Everything about this movie was amazing and incredible. This is also one of the few movies that after leaving the theater, you have to see again. A great achievement in film-making. And with that, those are the best 6 movies of 2015. Here’s the Doof Warrior again to celebrate.