Well, 2016 is the here. It should be an awesome year for those of us who are geeks, the geek hype is pretty fun. It’s hard to write this article because not every movie that is actually a 2015 movie has come to the Greater Dayton area, but here is a list of my favorite and least favorite movies that I actually saw. Due to moving and a lot of extra hours at my day job, I’m not actually caught up on all my reviews, but here goes. I’m going to get the least favorite list out of the way first. This list is in no particular order as the order changes every day. And I haven’t actually seen every terrible movie this year due to a lack of time and money, so not all of these movies are actually terrible.
‘In the Heart of the Sea.’ Even the attack of the ship wasn’t particularly exciting. The tension between the two main character wasn’t particularly compelling and neither was the survival story. Being someone who supports the protection of endangered species, I can’t root for people hunting whales. Overall, the movie was just boring.
So many things were set up that never really paid off. The lead character at least had a moment where she fought the main antagonist on her own, but ultimately decided to go on a date with her love interest at the end rather than fight to save all the other planets under the same danger earth had been. That really took away any kind of hero’s journey. There were a lot of great actors in the movie, but they were poorly used. ‘Jupiter Ascending’ gets a dishonorable mention for bad use of an ensemble cast and another dishonorable mention for being plain superficial.
It always burned my biscuits a bit when critics said that fans of the books would like it. How could fans of the books like a movie that fundamentally changes so many things about the book? This just feels like a carelessly made cash grab. Seriously, just stick with the books, they’re actually really good. They even have a great message of the dangers of clinging so tightly to beliefs they people are evening willing to kill and lose ethics for those beliefs.
‘While We’re Young’
This is one of those films, that based on the tomato meter, I’m of the minority opinion. It had a decent cast with decent performances, but it just fell flat and felt pretentious. Maybe it’s because I’m older than the younger characters and younger than the older characters that I just didn’t Identify with anyone. It also felt like a pale imitation of other older-meets younger comedies, and it was annoying that they were so ham fisted about the generation gap issues. The fact that Adam Driver’s character was running a bit of a scam the whole time was too obvious from the beginning.
‘The Clouds of Sils Maria’
The dialogue in this movie was just really bad. It was supposed to be these compelling philosophical discussions; but without compelling characters or compelling stories, it was just plain insipid. There is a potential plot buries in the endless discussion scenes about Maria perhaps trying so hard not to become the character of Helena that she drives her assistant Valentine into becoming Helena, but the fact that the movie drags on so much beyond Valentine’s disappearance, the one possible compelling plot loses steam.
My dislike for this one is really simple. While my stomach hurt from laughing so hard at the first one, I didn’t laugh at this one. I was also irritated that the characters regressed so much. Mark Walberg’s character even regressed to the point where he became one of those guys who just wanted one of those infamous “cool girls” described in ‘Gone Girl.’
I was actually somewhat entertained by some of the individual scenes, but the movie as a whole just destroyed the whole franchise. People should seriously just stick with the first two. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I am.
Ugh! Adam Sandler’s preachy tendencies, un-endearing arrested development and sexism just get worse with age. This movie could have been a lot of fun, but it just made people desperate for it to end.
I pretty much agree with every other geek online. Part of me doesn’t want the property to be sold back to Marvel because I’ve already seen films like ‘Captain Marvel’ ‘Black Panther’ and ‘The Inhumans’ get pushed back because Marvel got (or is not sharing with Sony)the rights to ‘Spiderman’ and decided to make a sequel to ‘Ant Man’ (please get a better director than Peyton Reed though, it no longer has the low expectations advantage). As with Insurgent, the studio just wanted to make a movie to keep the rights rather than tell a good story.
I just couldn’t root for the family in peril. They started out as ugly Americans, their daughters (especially the older one) were seriously stupid and annoying; and everyone who tried to help them got killed, yet they never seemed to feel bad about it.
A few dishonorable mentions for least favorites include: ‘Minions,’ ‘Home,’ and ‘Mistress America.’
There are a few dishonorable mentions of movies that weren’t terrible, but didn’t live up to their potential. Those include: ‘Black Mass,’ ‘The Age of Adaline,’ ‘Crimson Peak,’ and ‘ Everest.’ ‘Black Mass’ and ‘Everest’ also get dishonorable mentions for not using ensemble casts filled with great actors well.
Now, on to my favorites for the Year. Honorable mentions include: ‘Mad Max Fury Road,’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ ‘Creed,’ ‘Love and Mercy.’ ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ ‘The Walk,’ ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl,’ ‘The Gift,’ ‘Paddington,’ ‘Bridge of Spies,’ and ‘Mr. Holmes.’
Great characters, great dialogue, great action, great plot; and it even presented the audience with a potentially terrifying idea: would the world’s leaders and well-to-dos sell the rest of us out for their own survival?
‘What We Do in the Shadows’
This film was just plain funny and clever. It just took a lot of absurd ideas from horror and folklore and made them funny. It had everything I love about horror comedies.
‘The Big Short’
This has a great ensemble cast and used the actors well. It was engaging from start to finish. They made a great use of both humor and anger. It also made great use of the breaking of the fourth wall device. This gets an honorable mention for great use of ensemble cast.
Like ‘The Big Short’ this film had a great blend of comedy and drama. There is even a moment that is a bit shocking, but doesn’t clash with the humor up to that point, when Malcolm has had enough of being bullied and pulls a gun. Even the most mild mannered people have their breaking points.
‘Infinitely Polar Bear’
This was a great story about a struggling couple having to make tough choices for the love of their children, and the kids really stole the show. While Mark Ruffalo’s character had the more frontline struggle of dealing with being bipolar, Zoe Saldana was also highly impressive as the mother trying to get an education to be able to provide a better life for her children only to not be able to find work in Boston and face rejection for a job that would have been perfect simply because she was a mother.
There are so many levels to this films, but the one that really stood out to be is about how we as individuals and as a civilization often allow ourselves to be manipulated by technology. (How often do you see posts on facebook that want you to copy can paste or share if you want to stop animal abuse, but ignore if you hate animals). This film also made me a fan of Alicia Vikander and she hasn’t disappointed since.
It’s every bit as thought provoking as ‘Ex Machina,’ and it’s kid friendly. I’m a sucker for films that cleverly show us how the human mind works, and can be entertaining at the same time.
This is another film that gets an honorable mention for great use of an ensemble cast. It was very effective watching a group of people who wanted to prevent all kinds of Civil rights from happening, saying that the people who fought for things like getting African Americans the right to vote, for example, didn’t understand democracy. This film was also a terrific blend of comedy and drama.
Yet another honorable mention for making a great use of an ensemble cast. Yet another great blend of comedy and drama-this one also had a lot of great suspense in it. It even had some effective tear jerking when the hero, Mark Watney is finally rescued by his team. Both the crew in the shuttle and the crew at NASA felt like a team. This was one of the best films about hope of the year, probably the decade.
‘Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl’
People who loved ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ might also love this one, but it is far from a carbon copy of the ‘Fault in Our Stars.’ It is truly a story about friendship and how friendship is often difficult. It is also about the desire people have to make things better for other even if they sometimes just can’t. And again, it is one of those films that effectively blends comedy and drama. Darn it! I thought that there was variety on my list. Oh well, my point is that the films on this list that were the best were both entertaining and encouraged me to think. The ones on the least favorite list didn’t really do either.