Dearest Blog: I suppose it wouldn't be the New Year if I didn't weigh in--alongside, you know, everyone else in the world--with my thoughts on the best and worst of the year just ended. So, without further ado: my top ten pictures of 2015, along with a few also-rans, and, of course, the bottom of the barrel!
10. "Desperate times. Desperate measures." Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation The year's best thrill ride, with an action sequence for the ages, Rogue Nation is about the most fun you could expect to have at the movies.
9. "I know you're probably feeling a lot of emotion right now, but please refrain from using the term 'thunderc**t!'" Spy Melissa McCarthy may be locked into a certain kind of character, but when a movie's this laugh-out-loud hilarious from start to finish, it's hard to argue with the formula. Throw in the year's funniest turn from Jason Statham, and Spy is easily 2015's best comedy.
8. "Sports were, in a way, a kind of warfare." Red Army At a time when it's difficult to imagine the NHL without its Ovechkins and its Malkins, this documentary presents a compelling look at the Cold War glory days of the Soviet hockey machine, and the first Russian players to break into the National Hockey League.
7. "Grizzly? Not particularly. Mind you, I haven't seen him in the mornings!" Paddington England's favorite bear tries to find himself a home in this joyful romp, a delight for all ages.
6. "Chewie, we're home." Star Wars: The Force Awakens Advertising often makes bloated claims, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens truly is the movie event of a generation. This superb sequel met or exceeded nearly everyone's expectations, and has effectively redefined the word "blockbuster."
5. "This man is obviously crazy." The Walk An achievement in both technical wizardry and great storytelling, the Walk is, at its heart, a love letter to the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. A terrific narrative and a charming leading performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt make this one of the year's best.
4. "Speak a little truth, and people lose their minds." Straight Outta Compton Straight Outta Compton is a well written, brilliantly acted biopic of rap pioneers NWA that will leave you feeling like you can take on the world, one of my very favorite cinema experiences of 2015.
3. "Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra." Steve Jobs A brilliant but incomplete portrait of the legendary founder of Apple, Steve Jobs features whiplash-inducing exchanges, penned by Aaron Sorkin and smartly delivered by Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, and an exemplary supporting cast. It is the very definition of "must see."
2. "I've been fighting my whole life. It's not a choice for me." Creed Full of heart and peppered with hold-your-breath fight sequences, Creed is the sequel Rocky has always deserved. Michael B. Jordan admirably carries the leading mantle, and Sylvester Stallone delivers one of the year's best performances in a role that he could just as easily mail in by now. You'll want to see this one more than once, I guarantee it.
1. "So hail Satan, and have a lovely afternoon, madam." Kingsman: The Secret Service Kingsman: The Secret Service is a perfect movie. It's action packed, smart, and funny, with a great cast, a handful of fantastic twists, and what just might be the greatest single scene ever to grace the big screen. Released all the way back in February, in the ten months that followed, it never faced a serious challenge for my top spot. Side notes: I have yet to gain access to Macbeth and Spotlight, two films that undoubtedly would be on this list (probably very near the top) had I seen them.
Runners-Up: The Peanuts Movie. My sentimental favorite of the year. Spectre. Bond gave MI5 a good run for its money for that number-ten spot. I'd have liked a second go at both for a fresher perspective, but that didn't happen. And, yes...Pixels. Go on and roll your eyes, I see you! Pixels' worst crime was having Adam Sandler at the helm, so many decided it was terrible even before seeing it, but its effects were stunning and its pop-culture nods fun and funny. Critics be damned, if you're within ten years of my age either way, I promise you'll get a kick out of it.
And, drumroll, please!
My least favorites/biggest disappointments of 2015:
Jupiter Ascending. Hot off an Oscar win and probably on his way to another, Eddie Redmayne turned in one of the most perplexingly awful performances of the year, in a picture that features a chase scene so long and boring I fell asleep three times and woke up while it was still going. An unmitigated disaster.
Chappie. Two of my favorite people who make movies--Neil Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley--somehow managed to make the most irritating film of the year. Pan. A cluster of epic proportions, and a shameful waste of the multi-talented Hugh Jackman.
Finally, ever shall it rank among my greatest regrets of 2015 that two of my very favorite actors--Johnny Depp and Jake Gyllenhaal--both turned in extraordinary performances in a year when the leading actor categories are just too stacked to offer them proper accolades.
Kudos to Johnny and Jake for two of the year's most mesmerizing turns. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to have a look at this blog over the past 12 months, and especially to my blog partner, Daniel, for all his hard work in getting our Very Important Writings out there. Remember, kids: everyone's entitled to our opinions!
Happy 2016 to one and all! Until next time...