I have to be honest. 2015 was one of the worst years in film in quite some time. Some good stuff, not very many great ones, and a lot of duds. This may not be an entirely accurate assessment of the year because I’ve missed watching several films. Mission Impossble 5, Ex Machina, The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awakens are still on my watch list.
Nevertheless, here are some things that managed to make an impression…
Top 3 movies of the year:
3. Wild Tales – Directed by Damián Szifron, Starring: Ricardo Darin & ensemble cast
This Argentine movie is a kick in the gut. It might hurt you and it might make you laugh. It’s a series of darkly funny short films rolled up in one film. There is a theme that runs through moat of them. Revenge. The absurdity and sometimes, unfairness of it. The consequences that can come up because of it. The shorts often begin simply enough but end in complication. It’s equally funny and disturbing to see how far human behavior can lead us. The performances are great and the direction is sure handed. Just how cruel can fate be? Watch this film and find out.
2. Creed – Directed by Ryan Coogler, Starring: Michael B. Jordan & Sylvester Stallone
Rocky Balboa is back. Except this time, he’s training and not fighting. Apollo Creed ( Rocky’s greatest friend & enemy) died in Rocky 4. He left behind a son ( Adonis Creed) who seeks out his path as a boxer. Of course, he goes to the former champ to train him. It’s a wonderfully heartfelt movie. It’s very much in the spirit of the first Rocky film. You might even say it’s a, sort of reboot of that film. It feel’s like life. It repeats itself. Not exactly the same, but similar. This time Rocky is the old trainer and Adnois, the young buck with a fire in his belly and anger in his heart. Seeing the two men play off each other is a treat. They both bring their ” A ” game in every scene. Be it dramatic, funny or sad. The boxing scenes themselves are awesome. The direction and camera angles used for the first fight, is reminiscent of Scorses’s work on Raging Bull. This is not a chessy 80’s action movie. There’s real heft here.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road – Directed by George Miller, Starring Tom Hardy & Charlize Theron
Easily my favorite movie of the year. I saw it twice in theaters without hesitation. Completely out of the box in almost every way. Unique and refreshing are two of many adjectives that can go with this film. Who would’ve thought that a movie from a trilogy, last seen in the 80’s, could be so well received. It currently has a, best picture nomination at the Golden Globes. This is an incredible feat for just ” an action movie”. I did a full review of this film earlier in the year but suffice it to say. It was the best film of the year. Not, action film. Best FILM of the year.
Best Director: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
I have to give to him based on the amazing job he did with Mad Max. The movie is completely and wholly his vision, his style and his writing. The Mad Max series is his baby, and Miller’s helped to see it grow and evolve. Miller managed to help gain respect back for the action genre in a big way thanks to Fury Road. The success of this film is even more impressive when you consider that the last noteworthy thing that George Miller did was, Babe 2: Pig In The City!
Best Actress: Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
This was a no brainer for me. Totally stole the show from all the other actors in Mad Max: Fury Road. She was a believable bad ass. Probably the most believable bad ass I’ve seen in a while. She committed to the role and it shows. Her bold haircut was one thing. She wasn’t afraid to get rough and tough when she needed to. She wasn’t worried about pouting, just the right way when holding a gun. She wasn’t terribly worried about looking hot and wearing provocative clothes.There wasn’t a false moment in her performance thanks to this commitment. I honestly wish they would’ve cast her as Wonder Woman.
Best Actor: Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Okay, you could say that Stanllone was more of a support role here but his screen time wasn’t that much different from Michael B. Jordan’s. I take nothing away from Jordan’s performance but Rocky gave the movie a little more emotional heft. Perhaps that’s unfair because, as viewers, we have had the opportunity to watch Rocky Balboa’s character evolve and age, as we evolve and age. so sue me. Sylvester Stallone’s turn as an aged Rocky was really worthy of the golden globe nomination he received. He was good ol’ Rocky, through and through, but this time he had to go to a lot more emotional territory. In “Creed” , he’s pretty much a guy who’s lost everything. His family has ether, moved away or passed on, and he retired as a boxer long ago. Young Adonis Creed gives him a glimmer of hope. But the journey for Rocky to realize that is a difficult one. I won’t lie, Stallone ( And Michael B. Jordan, but more Stallone.) made me tear up a few times. It’s difficult to picture him being this vulnerable old man after so many years of being the prototypical action star. Because of that reason I think people dismiss him as a serious actor. He CAN act. Even in his most cliched of roles, I find that he always brings a certain degree of heart and charm to them. I’d say, “Creed” is one of his best performances, maybe ever.
Best Comic Book Movie: Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron
Avengers 2 didn’t have the same impact as it’s predecessor but it did pack a punch. At the very least, I thought it was a better story than the first installment. The action was stellar, which is to be expected for many comic book movies these days. I even thought the bulk of the performances were better this time around. High marks go to Jeremy Renner, for his role as Hawkeye. Ultron was a decent enough villain despite Marvel studios instance on making their bad guys “funny”. All and all, was pleased with Ultron. The problem is I found it oddly forgettable. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I liked it well enough but when referencing movies I loved this year, Avengers 2 didn’t show up. Still it was miles better than, Fantastic 4, and much better than Ant-Man. perhaps it needs a few re-watches to know where it’s true place lies.
There you have it! I have a load to catch up on when it comes to 2015. Let’s hope it saves it from being my least favorite year in some time.