Goodbye 2015, I hope everybody had and is having a great new year celebration. When it comes to this time of year, I am always asked one key question: "What's your top ten?" Because let's face it, anybody who writes about movies or who is serious about movies has to have some kind of perspective of the year we are ending, right? I am always happy to indulge that, because I like making these lists. I love looking back and remembering the movies that really meant something to me, things I really enjoyed. I saw a little over 160 new releases in 2015, and I am happy to report that I was able to compile a list of 50 movies to pull from for my end-of-the-year lists. I think its not too shabby when I like at least 10% of what I see in a year, and while I think 2015 had lots of downs (we'll talk more about the year as a whole in my main list article), there was still quite a bit to enjoy.
Before I publish my main list and my runner ups list, I wanted to offer some more movies from the year. I did this last year as well, a list of 30 tremendous movies that didn't make either list. Your mileage may vary on 2015, but the truth of the matter is that I enjoy more movies than I dislike. I wouldn't spend time writing on a blog for free if I was driven by absolute passion. So yes, even though none of these movies made any sort of list, they are still worth seeing. They are still worth mentioning. I will probably own all of these at some point. These made 2015 better and more memorable for me and I would encourage you to check these out. If you have seen them, then I bet you'll agree that these were some of 2015's gems.
I am going to discuss these movies in blocks, as I feel these movies have similar styles and themes.
Stranger Than Fiction
The year 2015 was a superb year for documentaries, so much so that I can't remember a recent year loving so much non-fiction. The best of them all, according to me, was "The Nightmare." This movie also happened to be the scariest movie of the year, as it took a deep look into the world of sleep paralysis and eight different people have coped with it in their lives. "The Nightmare" was followed very closely by "Call Me Lucky," a look at comedian Barry Cremmins and how he advocated for more safety on the internet from child pornographers. "A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story" is a powerful look at the will not let anybody get you down, and how being different can strengthen your life. In the world of superheroes in media, it was bright and refreshing to see a different kind of hero onscreen. "The True Cost" has officially refrained me from ever shopping for clothes ever again, as it shed light on the horrors of outsourcing clothing creation. "The Death of Superman Lives- What Happened" was an insightful and humorous look at a Superman movie that never happened. "Prophet's Prey" is another doc that I feel will haunt my dreams, as it looks at the life of Warren Jeffs. And even though I never wrote reviews for them, you should see both "Cartel Land" and "Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot." "Cartel Land" is a look at the waning war on drugs, and how two groups of people on both sides of the boarder have taken the law into their own hands to stop drug cartels. Its incredible what these people, both American and Mexican have been able to accomplish and just shows out the justice system can fail us from time to time. If I had to define 2015, I'd call it the year of "Wet Hot American Summer." I saw that 2001 comedy for the first time, and I watched it several times over the summer. I also reviewed the mini-series prequel that came out on Netflix. Also released this year, was a making of documentary. I love how its not just a mere making of the movie, and actually works as a companion movie for the 2001 comedy.
As you can see, there is a big, wide world of stories out there. I loved that there was so much enriching research to be seen on true stories out there.
Nest of Spies
I said it at the beginning of the year, 2015 was the year of the spy. While some things like "Spectre" ended up disappointing me, there was still lots to love from the spy genre. My favorite of them all was "Kingsman: The Secret Service." Out of any movie in this thirty, that was the closest to making any sort of list, I love it. I also really enjoyed "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation." If you aren't in the mood for action thrillers, then maybe "Bridge of Spies" is more for you, as its an incredible look at a specific point in history, and is lead by the awesome Tom Hanks. I also dug the goofball charm of "Spy" and I couldn't believe just how funny Jason Statham was.
In speaking of Jason Statham, I liked how villainous he could be in the major follow-up to "Fast and Furious 6," I loved the hell out of "Furious 7." "Ant-Man" was another major summer release that made me happy for days afterward, and I loved even more rewatching it last night. I also think the conclusion to "The Hunger Games" was rousing and felt like a masterful finale. I also can't wait to get "The Night Before" on DVD for the next holiday season, and sharing that with family and friends is going to be a blast.
Just showing how big of a movie nerd I really am, I couldn't imagine 2015 without all the wonderful movies from overseas. "Goodnight Mommy" was a terrifying horror thriller that I think would have made Alfred Hitchcock proud. I also think that both "Tokyo Tribe," a hip-hop musical from Japan, and "Yakuza Apocalypse," a action-thriller that redefines crazy, need to be seen to be believed. Trust me, give those a chance. You'll be glad you did.
There are some movies that I feel are elevated by their actors. There are several movies that I think go from very good to great simply based upon the performances of the movie. I think Johnny Depp elevated "Black Mass" to greatness. I think Michael Fassbender elevated "Steve Jobs" to greatness. I think the entire cast of "Spotlight" elevated that movie to greatness. I think Russell Crowe made something special out of "The Water Diviner," as Joseph Gordon-Levitt did the same with his work in "The Walk." Sir Ian McKellen was masterful in "Mr. Holmes" and Tom Hardy had a year full of home runs this year, one of which being "Legend." I also think the casts of "Far From The Maddening Crowd," "Straight Outta Compton" and "Paper Towns" really made those movies better.
So those are some quick thoughts on the thirty movies that didn't make any type of list. I loved each and every one of them. Here is the full list without all my yapping!
1. "The Nightmare"
2. "Call Me Lucky"
3. "A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story"
4. "The True Cost"
5. "The Death of Superman Lives! What Happened?"
6. "Prophet's Prey"
7. "Cartel Land"
8. "Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot"
9. "Kingsman: The Secret Service"
10. "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."
11. "Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation"
12. "Bridge of Spies"
15. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II"
16. "Furious 7"
17. "The Night Before"
18. "Goodnight Mommy"
19. "Tokyo Tribe"
20. "Yakuza Apocalypse"
21. "Far From The Maddening Crowd"
22. "The Walk"
23. "Mr. Holmes"
24. "The Water Diviner"
27. "Paper Towns"
28. "Straight Outta Compton"
29. "Steve Jobs"
30. "Black Mass"
I'll be back tomorrow with my main lists and my runner up's list. Have a great New Years Day everybody!