Sunday, January 10, 2016

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2015

So…yeah. I guess it’s been a year since I posted anything on this blog. This is awkward. There’s a reason, though I don’t think this is the place to discuss it. I may talk about it in detail at some point in the near future (or maybe I won’t post anything for another twelve months) but since it’s doubtful there’s any regular readers at this point it probably doesn’t matter too much right this second.

Instead today I want to continue a tradition of this blog; my Top Ten Favorite Movies list. I obviously didn’t review a single goddamn movie this year but I watched more flicks in 2015 than I had in years. And what a year it was for movies! There were so many great films this past year that it was not unlike sensory overload for me. I wasn’t able to see every movie that was out there so this list only focuses on what I was able to see. So, any fans of Spotlight getting upset that it’s not on the list are going to have to calm themselves down.

I will say that I did see The Hateful Eight and, while I enjoyed the heck out of the flick, it just barely didn’t make the list. Let’s think of it as #11 or an Honorable Mention. I also saw Jurassic World this past summer. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t make the list, though if you need a good sleep aid I would recommend it.

Beta’s Top Ten Movies after the jump.

#10: Dope
Beta Trivia: I rocked a flat-top as a baby
It was awesome
Dope is a fun movie. A throwback to the early to mid-nineties it’s a funny, weird and highly entertaining coming of age film. As an old man who used to be a young kid struggling with racial identity (Who I am vs. Who I’m expected to be) this flick spoke to me and hit closer to home than I may have been expecting. I’m not sure it’s as good as a lot of people were making it, and honestly it barely beat out The Hateful Eight to be on this list, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching it (and I didn’t have to stare at a blank screen for five minutes waiting for the movie to start like I did with the Hateful Eight, so that might have something to do with it).

#9: Sleeping With Other People 
Because "Sex Addiction" isn't a catchy title...
This is the first time I’ve seen Alison Brie in a starring role in a movie, rather than a supporting one. It’s good to see. Anyway Sleeping with Other People isn’t the type of film I normally get really into but it was a great, well written romantic comedy that stuck with me for a long time after I saw it. Now if this movie had ended fifteen minutes earlier than it did I would have considered it the best romantic comedy of all time and probably named it the best film of the year but, alas, it’s simply an enjoyable rom-com, not a defining one. Still I really dug it and wanted to make sure it got some love on the list.

Also Jason Mantzoukas and Andrea Savage pretty much single handily made this movie good enough to be on this list.

#8: Star Wars – The Force Awakens 
Pictured: A big fan of poetry. Probably
I’m sure some people reading this will be annoyed that I rated this flick so low, while others will be frustrated that it made it to the list at all (luckily I don’t think anyone is actually reading this so I think I’m in the clear). The fact is that this movie was good. In fact I think it’s objectively a better movie than every Star Wars film directed by George Lucas. It had a bunch of problems but very few other movies left me feeling as good about life as this one did when I left the theater. It was one of the best speculative fiction movies of the year, better than all of the films Marvel Studios produced. (Spoiler Alert: No superhero movies made the list this year) Is it perfect? Hell no, it has a bunch of issues. Did it live up to the hype? For the most part, yeah it did. Is it one of my favorite movies of 2015? Um, obviously; I’m writing about it, ain’t I?

#7: Steve Jobs 
Basically it's two hours of Fassbender being shitty to everyone
We’ve now reached the point of the list where I start wondering what the hell I was thinking when I tallied it up. It seems odd to me that Steve Jobs, which was such a goddamned fine example of great writing, directing and acting, could fail to break the Top Five. This flick is great and I have to say there is a huge gap pf quality in-between this film and all those below it on the list. I know nothing about the person Steve Jobs or Apple but I thought this flick was amazingly well done. It, unfortunately, did really poorly at the Box Office and I think as a result it may not be remembered when it’s time for Oscar nominations but this movie should be counted as one of 2015’s best flicks and if it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves then it’s a goddamn shame.

#6: Creed 
And lo, America suddenly forgot Micheal B. Jordan was in Fantastic Four
Five years ago if you would have told me that Hollywood would reboot the Rocky franchise and that it would not only be a “good” flick but that it would be one of the best movies of the year with fantastic acting from the cast, a relatable story and great directing all while staying true to the spirit of original film (which is an awesome movie, by the way) and yet managing to maintain it’s own identity I would have told you that you were clearly drunk. And yet that is the world we now live in. Creed was much, much, much, much, much better than it had any right to be and ended up being probably the biggest surprise for me this year. Also for the first time in my lifetime Sylvester Stallone’s name being mentioned anywhere near the Academy Awards actually makes me happy. WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?!?!?

#5: The Big Short 
Yay capitalism!
Haha, just kidding; everything is garbage!
It’s possible I’m ranking this little a little high, as I just watched it within forty-eight hours of writing this blurb, but The Big Short easily deserves to be on any Top Ten list this year. In a way it’s kind of the opposite of The Wolf of Wall Street while having a similar message. Ultimately what make me like The Big Short as much as I do is despite its comedy bits, its tendency to wink at the audience and its constant fourth wall breaking (and the ridiculous cameos throughout) this is a dark, angry film that wants you to leave the theaters feeling sick to your stomach. Somehow it does all of these things to create a highly entertaining movie. I haven’t been able to sit through The Wolf of Wall Street since I saw it in theaters but I eagerly await seeing The Big Short again. That probably tells you everything you need to know about my feelings on this flick.

#4: Inside Out 
Also, my exact feelings on the banks after seeing The Big Short
Let’s face it: it’s been a while since Pixar has released anything all that great, not really since Toy Story 3. Since then they put out a sequel to their worst movie, a decent Disney Princess film but a ho-hum Pixar one, and a prequel that I feel safe in saying not a single goddamn person on Earth was asking for. Finally they seemed to have cleared their years long drought because Inside Out was a great flick that in any other year would have easily been my favorite movie. It has the unique premise/characters that made Pixar famous to begin with and ended up being a really hard hitting emotional roller coaster despite being a cartoon. The only reason I wasn’t crying while watching this flick was because I was a lone adult male in a theater full of families with young kids; I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. In any event this film makes a pretty big statement: Pixar is back! (Even though it never went anywhere)

Pixar had a second movie in 2015 but I didn’t see The Good Dinosaur. I don’t think most people saw The Good Dinosaur.

#3: Mad Max – Fury Road
A two hour car chase and no one complained
Yet another revisiting of a classic movie franchise this year, albeit a perplexing one considering that the last time anyone even sort of cared about Mad Max was thirty years ago. And yet somehow 70 year old director George Miller, best known for directing the original Mad Max Trilogy Babe: Pig in the City and Happy Feet, managed to somehow make what may have been the best action film I’ve ever seen. I find it very tough to write about Fury Road, which is partly why I didn’t review it; it is a damn near perfect film for what it’s trying to do, with a healthy dose of feminist leanings and a GODDAMN GUY PLAYING A FLAME THROWING GUITAR WHILE CHAINED TO A F**KING AMPLIFIER TRUCK! This movie is the definition of “cool” and if you haven’t seen it yet I pity you. Get on it!

#2: Straight Outta Compton
Compton is a popular setting in film this year...
I have never been an N.W.A fan; I always preferred Public Enemy and, you know, punk rock. So when I heard they were making a movie based on the group, produced by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre and staring Ice Cube’s own son O'Shea Jackson, Jr. no less, I was more than a little skeptical. Despite all of that the movie is so bizarrely good that it borders on the ridiculous. It’s a very well put together biopic that I say it stands its ground against any other example of the genre Hollywood has put out in the last twenty years. The film well exceeded my expectations and I was convinced for some time that this would be my number one movie. Ultimately what holds it back is the blatant examples of revisionist history and how the flick sort of dodges some of the more controversial elements of the group’s history (coughcoughDeeBarnescough). Even so as a film, rather than a history lesson, this movie is great and it made me think very hard about all the choices I made during my music career.

I just made myself sad.

#1: The Martian 
Based on Marvin the Martian's book "Earth Shattering Kaboom"
I didn’t read the book. I didn’t know much about it going into it. I didn’t talk to anyone about it beforehand nor did I do any decent research. Basically all I knew about this movie was that it was “Matt Damon trapped on Mars”. When I left the theater I was so satisfied with what I had seen in every conceivable way that there was little doubt in my mind where this movie would land on my list come January. A more valid attempt at hard science fiction than Interstellar, a fantastic performance by Damon (who basically talks to himself for two and a half hours), and a great script all make for something that felt nearly tailored made for my personal tastes. The fact that it’s not really a gloomy film despite its premise feels crazy, and yet the film pulls it off. Of all the movies this year, ones that were fun and ones that were objectively well made, The Martian was the best combination of entertainment and film making for my money. Also Kate Mara is in this and I think she should be in more good movies.


With 2015 in the books we now turn to 2016. I can only hope that Hollywood can manage to churn out quality work for the next twelve months. That may be asking a lot, especially as we continuing moving forward in this era of reboot.  We'll see.

Please, please don't suck

2 comments:

  1. You're back! Just the other day I was browsing through my blogroll and wondering if you had gone on permanent hiatus. Good to see you're still around

    Of the movies on your list, I've seen 1, 3, and 8. Inside Out is on my list, though. I skipped it when it was showing in theaters because I couldn't figure out what it was about.

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    1. Inside Out was great but the marketing didn't make it feel very approachable.

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