Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Top Ten Best Movies of 2015

Here we are again to discuss the best of last year's crop of films. I know you've been wondering what I liked...and didn't like. Make no mistake, there will be a "worst of" list too, but not today. Today we're going to look at the movies that came out that really impressed me above all the others. Now, as with previous lists like this, I am limited to what I actually got to see last year. This means certain films that might be great might not be present simply because I was unable to get a viewing of them in.

Because I was more busy watching...other things...

That being said, you might not agree with my choices but I still stand by all of them. It's important to remember that this is my list and these are the movies I loved the most this past year. I encourage you to make your own. It's actually fun to look back on the good things. After all, it makes the bad things more bearable. This year was a real struggle for me too, as it felt almost impossible to rank some of these movies. Let's get on with it, shall we?


I can feel the hatred building in you. Let it wash over you.
#10, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Yep, that's right. I put this on the bottom of the list. Again, it's my list. Now I'm not saying this movie was bad at all, because in all honesty it wasn't. It was actually really good. A visually impressive film full of interesting new characters that I quickly fell in love with, old characters I already had affection for, and a story that called back enough to the original that it reminded me why I enjoyed that film so much. This was a great start to a new saga and I love all the discussion that it has provoked. Hell, I heard people arguing about a character who was actually cut out of the film and what impact he'd have going forward. That's amazing to me. Not to mention we get two great leads who aren't white males. That's a powerful message that has surely pissed off some rather racist and sexist "fans". Sure, I don't think it's the best movie this year, but I still really enjoyed it and think it has all the makings of a classic.

I've gotta say...not as much child-beating as I expected.
#9, Krampus

After looking at the previous entry, I am positive there are many of you looking really puzzled that this one is ahead of it. Let me explain ,alright? I like Star Wars...but I love horror movies. Even more than just horror movies, I love creative films with a dark sense of humour and interesting twists. As a film, Krampus really excited me. I've long been enamoured with the myth of the Krampus. The idea that there is this dark reflection of Santa Claus who punishes the naughty fascinates me. Clearly it fascinated Michael Dougherty too, as he decided to bring a tale of the creature to life. After seeing it I immediately though of the work of Joe Dante and his classic Gremlins, with its dark horror twist on the holidays. I have a real weakness for Joe Dante. I don't want to spoil this film here, just go see it if you can. Help me make this movie the holiday classic it deserves to become.

But can you have sex with it?
#8, Ex Machina

I really don't know what to say about Alex Garland’s film other than it more than lives up to the hype it has garnered. Movies have tried to cover similar subject matter but have always stumbled, often either trying to make it too epic or heart-warming. This is a film about a machine that is capable of independent thought on the surface, but in reality it's story about the complexity of emotions and how people and things affect one another on a deep level. This movie isn't full of explosions, sex, violence, or actions scenes. What it is full of it a story that posits questions both to the characters and to the audience about what being alive truly is. Does free will exist or are we all simply being manipulated? You'll have to come up with your own answer to that. But should you watch this? Absolutely.

Imagine if this were about Coraline Jones and ParaNorman, then you'd all know what it was.
#7, Anomalisa

Romantic comedies aren't anything new. Every year is littered with the things and, more often than not, they are awful and cliche messes. They regurgitate jokes more than I reuse that Sharktopus meme I crapped out. But 2015 saw the release of a romantic comedy that not only stood out as a beautiful story that felt more real than most, it also happened to not feature a single human actor walking around in it. That's right, this movie is entirely animated in stop-motion and it is beautiful both in how the story plays out and in how the animation itself moves. I adored this film and it saddens me that almost no one I know has even heard of it. If you see this movie within your grasp, take that leap and see something that really did earn the reputation for being the "most human film of the year".

Warning: planting dismembered hands do not actually grow evil trees.
#6, Dark Was the Night

I covered this movie extensively already and let me tell you, it really was all true. Dougherty gave us one rarely discussed monster with Krampus, but here we had one of the other monsters that doesn't get brought up much: the wendigo. A creature that feeds on human flesh and is the result of a spirit possessing the bodies of people to make them one. But see, that's not what this movie is really about. Sure, it is a creature feature, but the creature takes the backseat to the story which is all about a father who is struggling with guilt over the death of his young son, as he firmly carries the death on his shoulders as if it is solely his burden to bear. Meanwhile he also has to deal with townspeople getting scared as a mysterious creature seems to be stalking around. Kevin Durand is such a great actor and this movie highlights it better than anything else. I honestly struggled because I really didn't want to put this so low on the list because this film did so many things perfectly with its story and atmosphere too. If you're a horror fan and you haven't seen this, fix that right now. It's well worth your time/

I feel awful knowing there will likely be a porn parody of this movie.
#5, Inside Out

You know, it makes me sad that Disney and its subsidiaries still get shat on by some people out there. I mean, sure, there was a time when Disney was going down a really dark path under Eisner, but since then they've really turned around and showed a major resurgence of great animated film work. Now, I won't say I love every movie put out by Pixar, as I just never really got into the Cars films, but I won't sit here and tell you I don't love the majority of what they're cranked out. But this movie might be one of the best things to ever come out of their studio. What am I saying? Get rid of that "might" because this is definitely one of Pixar's crowning achievements. We have an entire film aimed at children that deals with deep issues that all of us go through as we grow up and change. We leave parts of ourselves behind as we develop, especially in the face of change and how frightening it can be. It causes our emotions to be all over the place and that's what this film shows. But more than anything, this movie hammers home that being emotional isn't a bad thing. You need to get angry, cry, feel disgusted, and be afraid. If you don't, then happiness is just hollow.

I'd make a joke but I'm too busy drooling over that poster.
#4, Turbo Kid

It was a damn good year for post apocalyptic cinema and one of the best examples of this was a little film that flew right in under the noses of many. Turbo Kid blends 80s and 90s nostalgia along with a destroyed world that looks like Kenshiro is probably wandering about somewhere exploding the heads of raiders while Max Rockatansky is listening to Lord Humungus speak ever so eloquently. The Kid, our hero, is a scavengers who finds hope in a new friend. Sadi friend is kidnapped by bandits and he's off to be the titular hero we all know he be. Like Kung Fury, this movie is soaked heavily in nostalgia in a good way. It feels like a film from an era long since past but is still visually appealing enough to stand up against current films. Not bad for a movie that was funded independently by fans.

Following the tradition of the main character...not really being the main character.
#3, Mad Max: Fury Road

Speaking of Max Rockatansky, he came back in 2015 to remind us why George Miller is such an amazing director. Possibly the most visually enthralling film of the year,this movie relies of the title character more as the narrator than the hero. Instead, he plays second to Furiosa, a woman who has lived her life in servitude to a dictator and she's had enough of it. She steals away with his "breeders" and goes seeking a place for them all to live peacefully. Max, as usual, ends up getting pulled into this all rather against his will but also rises to the occasion, standing up to help these women on the quest. Being a longtime fan of this series, it really is interesting to see how Max hasn't completely lost who he was in the first film. At heart, he's still a man who wants to do the right thing, but is sadly still running from his past. Some say this movie is nothing more than a long drawn out action sequence, but the actors all tell the stories of their characters well through their actions and I really like that. We don't get it all handed to us with heavy exposition, instead showing visually who they are. Also, Furiosa is one of the best characters ever. Theron feels so powerful in this movie and it can make you forget that the movie isn't named after her character.

I originally thought it said "shave her" & was implying that zombies could be cured with a trip to the barber.
#2, Maggie

Holy shit. If you had told me years ago that Arnold Schwarzenegger would give an Oscar-worthy performance following his political stint, I would have looked at you like your nose just turned into a singing earwig. But here we are, a movie with ol' Arnie in the starring role as he plays a father whose daughter is afflicted with what is essentially a zombie plague. The isn't some Walking Dead scenario though with people running and being overrun though, but instead we have infected people being put into wards and watched over as they die. It's not a horror story, it's tragic story about death and acceptance. Schwarzenegger handles the role of Maggie's father with so much grace and humility, truly making you feel the sadness coming off of him as he fights against the forgone conclusion of his daughter's eventual demise. No film left me feeling more emotional in 2015 than this one, but even sadder is that because it involves something resembling the word zombie it likely won't even get a nod by the Academy.

No idiots partying or the main character flashing her tits? Well, I guess Eli Roth hates this one.
#1, It Follows

Yep, this is the best film of 2015. Notice I didn't say "I think this is the best film of 2015", because it really is the best. Okay, yeah, that's still just my opinion, but dammit was this movie great. A horror film that relied on subtle build-up and tone to carry it rather than gore or jumpscares. A movie that had sex as a plot point but didn't portray it as this unrealistic ideal thing that is gratuitous. And it's a movie where we never even truly see the monster because the monster is constantly changing, evoking this sense of dread and paranoia that John Carpenter gave us with The Thing. I have talked two different times about why this movie is so amazingly good and even then I can't possibly sum up what this film truly has to offer you. In a medium littered with cheap CGI bullshit and stupid recycled garbage plots, this was a breath of fresh air to a suffocating man.

Then I remembered that Megan Fox is returning in the next TMNT movie & I began to suffocate once more.
Well, that's it for this list. I'm sure many people didn't share my opinions regarding the choices I made or the order at which I placed them. Honestly, I could probably come back later and find myself rearranging most of them because it really was that hard to put them above each other. These are ten films that are truly worth watching though. And if my nonsensical rambling get you to check any of them out? I consider that a major victory. Later days, bleeders.

See? That's brain damage brought on by bad movies. Guess what list is next?

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