Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Movie Year-End Wrap-Up


33 films vie for my top ten of 2015, which I'll announce tomorrow (i.e. must-see and recommended titles). As I didn't have over ten films in my "must-sees" (only 2!!) this constitutes a weak year (in my opinion a VERY weak year).

As always, I've viewed 60 films this year; below are my one-line commentaries on each:


Must see [2]:

Ant-Man. The best summer movie, a surprise hit that gets the humor right and manages to cover the origin story without getting dull.

 Mad Max: Fury Road. I’d love to see the storyboards!

Recommended [33]:

Avengers, The: The Age of Ultron. Exciting start to the summer movie season.

Big Short, The. Well-paced and well-acted.

Bridge of Spies. Good story, good production all around.

Clouds of Sils Maria. Pretentious as all out, but intriguing and well played by its two leads.

Creed. A solid shot for a sentimental Oscar for Sly.

Danish Girl, The. Sensitively acted and told, if just above average.

Diary of a Teenage Girl. Evocative of its time: the era and life stage.

The End of the Tour. Easy to overrate but nonetheless watchable; Jason Segel is quite good.

Ex Machina  Keeps you engaged and not just with its ample nudity.

Get Hard. Hart and Farrell make a good team and Ferrell’s character is funny, but it does get repetitive.

Hateful Eight, The. Violent western-cum-mystery, with a great Morricone score, is exactly the kind of Christmas present you'd expect from Tarantino.

Hunger Games, The: Mockingjay, Part 2. Slick, if not too frequently inspired.

Intern, The. Surprisingly enjoyable; perfect ending.

Listen to Me Marlon. Illustrates that Marlon was full of shit, like all of us, but trapped, like all of us, by our emotions.

Maggie. Somber and depressing and not much happens but not without merit; probably would have been better as a book.

Martian, The. A plotline that’s a string of “problems” and “fixes” with music cues, but a nice commercial for Mars exploration.

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl. Quirkier than thou, but still, enjoyable.

Mr. Holmes. Pleasant mystery befitting both Sirs Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian McKellen.

Paddington. Wes Andersonesque: colorful, funny, diverting.

People Places Things. Sweet, character-driven comedy about life’s frequent confusions.

Revenant, The. A decidedly guy movie, is a showcase for both DiCaprio and Hardy.

Room. Of the “see once” variety; takes the story just far enough to feel complete.

San Andreas. Unabashed, campy, crazy action from start to finish.

Second Best Marigold Hotel, The. Soapy; mild; lovingly filmed.

Sicario. Buoyed by its trio of stars.

Spotlight. Engrossing if not very originally told; some good acting work here.

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Mostly nostalgic trip is a good show, if somewhat lacking in very many 'wow' moments.

Steve Jobs. Flashy film and performances.

Straight Outta Compton. Lengthy, engrossing; however the real footage during the end credits illustrates how much more vivid the film should have been.

Trainwreck. Wobbly and too conventional, but with just enough laughs for a thumbs-up.

What We Do in the Shadows. Many funny moments, if slight. 

Skippable [22]:

Brooklyn. Hallmarkish and therefore good, but not much happens.

Carol. Doesn’t engage you enough emotionally.

Cinderella. Beautiful costumes, but not much more then the same old story.

Daddy’s Home. A few chuckles and a lot of product placement.

Divergent Series, The: Insurgent. A lot fo fake-outs.

DUFF, The. Likeable lead girl does help this out a bit.

Fifty Shades of Gray. I laughed a little anyway.

Furious 7. Loss of co-star Paul Walker is handled well, but little else is.

Gift, The. Conventional.

Hitchcock/ Truffaut. Cinefiles delight, but as a film more “To Catch a Thief” than “Rear Window.”

Inside Out. Loses its originality in about 5 minutes, then it just goes through the motions.

Irrational Man. Another Woody morality tale that should have stayed in the drawer.

Jurassic World. A real grab for cash, but it has little to live up to after all.

Kingsman: The Secret Service. If you’re looking for a silly spy movie with gadgets galore and a cartoonish body count, this movie is for you.

Macbeth. Slow moving, meditative.

Man From U.N.C.L.E., The.  Not enough humor; goes on way too long.

Minions. Excruciatingly “cute.”

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. The last one was much better.

Shaun the Sheep. Gives you that trapped-in-a-Jacques-Tati-movie feeling.

Terminator: Genysis. A good effort that incorporates Arnold well, but the action sequences were dull.

Trumbo. A bit light dramatically, but a good survey of the era if not enough of the man.

Youth. Its arty-fartyness works in its favor, but only in terms of keeping interest.

Avoid [4]:

Anomalsia. Terrible no matter what the critics say; an audio book.

Chappie. Dumb.

Hot Pursuit. Wow.

SPECTRE. Derivative; and a waste of its cast; the worst James Bond movie ever made.

Spy. Unfunny film relies on Melissa McCarthy to swear a million times to “create” humor.