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Ranking 2015 at the movies

Well friends, it’s time to turn the calendar page on yet another year. And cinematically, 2015 was a pretty good one. What follows is every film with a 2015 release date I managed to watch this year (including TV movies and direct-to-DVD movies), with a little commentary on some of them to explain why they ranked like they did. Please note, this is ONLY accounting for those movies I’ve already seen. There are a great number of 2015 releases I’m very interested in but haven’t gotten around to watching yet, including (but not limited to) Creed, The Good Dinosaur, Concussion, Spectre, and The Hateful Eight. (I also have not yet seen Fantastic Four, I should confess. I suppose I will eventually, but at this point I’m looking at watching that movie that the same way I think about a prostate exam — I know it’ll probably happen eventually but that doesn’t mean I have to look forward to it. Also, I’ll wait until it comes on HBO.)

  1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — This movie did everything the prequels did not. It advanced the story of the Star Wars universe, introduced a wealth of new and engaging characters, and made me excited for the next film coming down the pipe.
  2. The Martian — Incredibly smart and well-researched, surprisingly funny, and altogether a joy to watch, Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the novel by Andy Weir was wonderful.
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road — Having never seen a Mad Max movie until the week before this came out (my wife Erin and I binged the previous three), this was an incredible surprise. Amazing effects, strong characters, and the most spectacular chase scene ever put to film.
  4. The Peanuts Movie — My love for the work of Charles M. Schulz is well-documented and without reservation. The fact that this movie won me over speaks volumes.
  5. Inside Out — Pixar once again nails it with a funny and heartwarming film unlike any other I’ve seen.
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron — While not having the shock value of the first Avengers movie, where the very fact that we were seeing these characters together for the first time was enough to cause spontaneous geek explosions, Joss Whedon’s follow-up advanced the Marvel Cinematic Universe nicely, with a brilliant introduction to one of my favorite characters from the comics, the Vision.
  7. Jurassic World — Although not as mind-blowing as the original, Jurassic World swept me right up and reminded me of everything I loved about dinosaurs as a kid. And that Chris Pratt is simply charming.
  8. Tomorrowland — Many people have complained about Brad Bird’s vision, but I thought this story about allowing people to pursue what makes them exceptional was very well done.
  9. Black Mass
  10. Ant-Man — A middle-of-the-road Marvel movie, but that’s still enough to put it pretty high on my list.
  11. Krampus — Fun new Christmas horror flick.
  12. Circle — Surprisingly effective one-room sci-fi thriller I found on Netflix.
  13. A LEGO Brickumentary
  14. Back in Time — Fun documentary about Back to the Future. Would have been higher on the list, but there’s nothing really revelatory here. It’s all stuff we’ve heard before.
  15. Teacher of the Year
  16. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  17. Digging Up the Marrow — Bizarre and effective mocumentary horror movie by the creator of the Hatchet franchise.
  18. Home
  19. American Experience: Walt Disney
  20. Tales of Halloween
  21. LEGO Super Heroes: Justice League-Attack of the Legion of Doom!
  22. Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow
  23. Advantageous
  24. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  25. The Leisure Class
  26. Descendants
  27. Batman Vs. Robin
  28. LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Vs. Bizarro League
  29. The Nightmare
  30. The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? — Like the Back to the Future documentary, this one is pretty thorough in examining its subject matter, in this case Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage’s failed attempt at a Superman movie. But also like that other one, there’s very little new here. It’s all stories we’ve heard before, and the presentation isn’t nearly as much fun as the former film.
  31. Everly
  32. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
  33. Parallels
  34. The Green Inferno — I don’t usually watch a movie if I actually expect to dislike it, and as a result, my average ratings often fall on the higher end of the spectrum. This is the first one on this list I genuinely disliked. To be fair, though, it’s not because it was poorly-made, but because Eli Roth’s horror film is simply too gruesome and intense for my tastes.
  35. Strange Magic — A CGI animated jukebox musical about fairies? What the hell was George Lucas thinking?
  36. Sharnkado 3: Oh Hell No! — At this point, I’m just watching them so I can watch the RiffTrax a year later.
  37. A Deadly Adoption — Will Ferrel and Kristin Wiig thought it would be fun to do a Lifetime movie and play it straight. I can only hope it was more fun to make than it was to watch.
  38. 88 — Tedious and dull “thriller” that inexplicably casts Christopher Lloyd as the bad guy. At least, I think he was the bad guy, this movie was all over the place.
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What I Watched In… September 2015

Favorite of the month: Black Mass (2015)

Favorite of the month: Black Mass (2015)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

1. Swamp Thing (1982), D+
2. The Maze Runner (2014), B-
3. Clue (1985), A
4. LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League-Attack of the Legion of Doom (2015), B
5. Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue (2009), B+
6. The Goonies (1985), A+
7. Mad Max Fury Road (2015), A
8. Incredible Hulk (2008), B
9. Julie and Jack (2003), F; RiffTrax Riff, A
10. White Zombie (1932), B-
11. Phantoms (1998), C
12. Children of the Corn (1984), B-
13. Breeders (1997), D
14. Rollergator (1996), F; RiffTraxRiff, B
15. Can’t Hardly Wait (1998), B+
16. The Babadook (2014), B+
17. Zombeavers (2014), D
18. Horns (2013), B+
19. Black Mass (2015), A-
20. Titanic (1997), B+
21. American Experience: Walt Disney (2015), B+
22. The Iron Giant (1999), A+

Anticipating 2013

Okay, folks, since people are talking about such things, I’ve put together a list of my ten most-anticipated films of 2013. This, of course, is based on what trailers I’ve seen, what news I’ve heard, and my previous experience with the franchises in question. Assuming I remember, I’ll come back at the end of the year, take a look at these ten films, and let you know if I think they met with my expectations. In alphabetical order, because I find it hard to rank such things.

  • Ender’s Game-One of my favorite books of all time. Harrison Ford as Admiral Graff. I know some fans are upset that they aged the kids and compressed the story into a year, but I can honestly understand why. It’s a reasonable concession to make the story work for a movie, and I’m willing to give them a pass on it if everything else works.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug-I’ve always enjoyed Tolkien and I liked the first installment quite a bit. Looking forward to watching it continue.
  • Iron Man 3-I really loved the first two and Avengers was amazing. I’m hoping Marvel Studios can keep the energy up there.
  • Man of Steel-Because I am a lifelong Superman fan and the trailer kicked ass. Amy Adams is a perfect choice for Lois Lane, and Christopher Nolan’s involvement as producer gives this movie some serious potential.
  • Monsters University-The original Monsters, Inc. is one of my favorite Pixar films, and the trailers for this prequel have made me laugh.
  • Oz: The Great and Powerful-I’ve loved the Oz books my whole life, and this looks like Sam Raimi actually mined the novels for material pretty deeply. I’m interested.
  • Pacific Rim-Directed by Guillermo del Toro, first of all. And judging by the trailers, it’s basically Robotech versus Godzilla. If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t want to know you.
  • Saving Mr. Banks-Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney in the story of how Mary Poppins was brought to the screen. Perfect casting, high hopes.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness-The last movie made me a Trek fan again long after I thought Voyager killed that piece of my heart.
  • The Stupidest Angel-I’m a big fan of Christopher Moore’s novel about an idiot angel who screws up a kid’s Christmas wish and almost brings about a zombie apocalypse. A heartwarming tale of Christmas terror indeed. And Rhea Perlman is in it, for crying out loud.