After a couple weeks off due to health reasons – had a tooth removed – the podcast is back up!
Also remember to like my Facebook page for the podcast here: https://www.facebook.com/MoviePit
After a couple weeks off due to health reasons – had a tooth removed – the podcast is back up!
Also remember to like my Facebook page for the podcast here: https://www.facebook.com/MoviePit
I held out to put my list for a few films and I had yet to see that would have – and did – make it. So, forgive me for putting out the list late.
So, there were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.
The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out when it was in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time, or because they were on a very limited release (I’m looking at you The Reverent) then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, honorable mentions and then the big one.
Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch
A Girl Walks Home Along At Night
Beasts of No Nation
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
REC 4: Apocalypse
While We’re Young
Z for Zachariah
Just Missed The List
American Ultra (PalmStar Media/Circle of Confusion/Lionsgate/The Bridge Finance Company/Likely Story/FilmNation Entertainment)
Bridge of Spies (Dreamworks/Amblin Entertainment/Fox 2000 Pictures/Participant Media/Reliance Entertainment/TSG Entertainment/Marc Platt Productions)
Chappie (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Media Rights Capital/Simon Kinberg Productions/LStar Capital)
In the Heart of the Sea (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Imagine Entertainment/Spring Creek Productions)
Joy (Fox 2000/Annapurna Pictures/Davis Entertainment/TSG Entertainment)
Krampus (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)
Legend (Universal Pictures/Cross Creek Picures/Working Title Films)
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails (20th Century Fox/TSG Entertainment/Temple Hill Entertainment)
Run All Night (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Vertigo Entertainment)
Southpaw (The Weinstein Company/Escape Artists/Fuqua Films/Riche Productions)
Trainwreck (Universal Pictures/Apatow Productions/Denstu)
The Good Dinosaur (Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)
The Night Before (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Point Grey Pictures/Good Universe)
Victoria (Adopt Films/Radical Media/MonkeyBoy/Deutschfilm/Westdeutscher Rundunk)
[Wild (Fox Searchlight/Pacific Standard)]
Wild is technically a 2014 film, but I didn’t watch until after I put out my list and the second week of January, but it’s such a great film to not mention on a best of lists.
A Most Violent Year (A24/Participant Media/Before The Door Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment)
Two of the best working today in Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain led this drama that is a one of those films that simply relies on the actors delivering and that is what A Most Violent Year does.
American Sniper (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment)
Clint Eastwood directed and Bradley Cooper-led film about the true story, well depending on who you ask, about one of most deadly snipers in Navy SEAL history Chris Kyle. The film is put on the shoulders of Cooper who handles it perfectly.
Black Mass (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures/Free State Pictures/Head Gear Films)
While the film was just okay, it’s the performances that elevated the film enough for me to make Black Mass enough to pop in the list. Even if you didn’t like the film, you have to give credit to the awesome performance by Johnny Depp as James “Whitey” Bulger and Joel Edgerton.
Crimson Peak (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)
Being a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro, I was looking forward to watching Crimson Peak especially knowing how del Toro put into the film. Actually making Allerdale Hall and making actually come to life is what made Crimson Peak work so well.
Focus (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Zaftig Films/Kramer & Sigman Films)
Focus was rather surprising to me. The trailers really didn’t do too much for me and I thought the film looked rather boring to be honest. But, let this be a lesson boys and girls, sometimes a good or descent movie can have a crappy trailer. I did love the first half much more than the second half, especially with a standout scene that involves an unrecognizable BD Wong.
Goosebumps (Sony Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation/Village Roadshow Pictures/Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Original Film/Scholastic Entertainment)
I wasn’t really expecting much from Goosebumps, but I was highly surprised to how good it was and how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t just a fun family movie, it was just a fun movie all around.
Inherent Vice (Warner Bros./IAC Films/Ghoulardi Film Company/KVH Media Group)
Paul Thomas Anderson adapted Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same name and it was, well, interesting. The crime comedy drama gave some standout performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, and Katherine Waterston, but it is rather interesting story and how it plays out is all over the place.
It Follows (RADiUS-TWC/Animal Kingdom/Northern Lights Films/Two Flints)
I’d only heard some good things about It Follows before I actually watched the movie, and it is one of the rare cases that I didn’t watch the trailer and went in completely blind, so to speak, and I’m glad I did. It Follows felt like an old-school horror film that relied more on playing with your senses and paranoia than with gore and cheap thrills.
Pixels (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Happy Madison Productions/1492 Pictures/China Film Co.)
I know, I can’t believe it either, but Pixels was damn enjoyable. I didn’t think I would like it to be honest, and while it wasn’t perfect and some things felt forced or just didn’t work (like some casting), Pixels was filled with great stuff and the heavily promoted Pac-Man chase was much more fun to experience as a whole sequences. Also, I was surprised by how the special effects worked and they didn’t cut corners.
Spotlight (Open Road Films/Participant Media/Anonymous Content)
Focusing of The Boston Globe when they uncovered the huge scandal of child molestation and the cover-up by the Catholic Church in Boston, the film was jam-packed with a great cast and equally great performances by the cast that highlighted by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Brian d’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci. There was something so simple about the film, yet so special to experience.
Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/New Line Cinema/Cube Vision/Circle of Confusion)
Straight Outta Compton surprised a lot of people and rightfully so as the film came out a lot better than what people were suspecting. Filled with great performances by Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, O’Shea Jackson Jr. playing his father Ice Cube, Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller, and the standout in Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, the film is easily one of the best of the year, but honestly was a bit too long for my own liking, and I’m the last person to complain about a film’s length.
The Gift (STX Entertainment/Blumhouse Productions/Blue-Tongue Films/Huayi Brothers Media)
Joel Edgerton steps behind the camera for this one, making his feature directorial debut, but also playing one of three main characters in the film. The Gift may be one of the overlooked films of the year, but the film does have some great moments of suspense and mystery and an ending that I didn’t see coming.
Sicario (Lionsgate/Black Label Media/Thunder Road Pictures)
Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins put together this great tense, dark and unapologetic film about the war on drugs on the border between the U.S and Mexico. However, the standout in Sicario was definitely Benicio Del Toro.
Spectre (Columbia Pictures/MGM/Eon Productions/B24/Danjaq)
In what could be Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film, and director Sam Mendes’ last one as well, Spectre has a lot of things working for it, but it did fail to really capitalize on what Skyfall did before it.
Steve Jobs (Universal Pictures/Legendary/Scott Rudin Productions/The Mark Gordon Company)
Danny Boyle directed this interestingly laid out biopic about former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender. The film is blocked off in three different parts, set right before the launch presentations of three different products Jobs was a part of (none of which were the IPhone’s and IPods by the way). While the film lost some steam by the end, the performances made the film worthwhile, especially a standout scene between Fassbender and Jeff Daniels in the middle of the film.
The Big Short (Paramount Pictures/Regency Enterprises/Plan B Entertainment)
Tackling the housing and financial crisis in 2005 to 2007, The Big Short is filled with great performances by its ensemble cast and directed by Adam McKay – yes, that Adam McKay – the film really puts you in there. Sometimes, it gets a little too technical that you feel like you’re going crazy and lost, but that’s kind of the point.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Wilgram Productions/Davis Entertainment)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. could have been a movie that got lost at the wayside, and while some will say that’s true, Guy Ritchie’s spy film worked on a lot of levels for me. It had some great and funny moments and the opening action scene and last chase scene were great fun to watch along with the performances by Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander.
Best/Favorite Movies of the Year
Ant-Man (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Motion Pictures)
Ant-Man has gone through a lot. Originally it was going to be part of Marvel’s Phase 1, but got pushed back until now. Then it took a big hit in losing long-time attached director and fan in Edgar Wright. However, Peyton Reed and the cast were able to still bring a great Marvel film to the fans.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios)
Even I can admit that Age of Ultron wasn’t perfect, but there was still a ton of to be had with the massive sequel. Joss Whedon was able to keep most of the craziness from going off the rails and let’s face it, Age of Ultron was probably one of the most comic book-y movies we’ve seen.
Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight Pictures/Wildgaze Films/Parallel Film Productions/Irish Film Board/Item 7)
A great film – also based on a novel – that tells the story of an Irish immigrant played by Saoirse Ronan that comes to America and finds love and a new life, but her past and love for her former home comes back to her, which leaves her to make a decision to accept her new life, or old one. I ended up loving this film more than I thought I would. It’s a beautiful story and told in such a way that anybody can connect with it.
Creed (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/MGM/Chartoff-Winkler Productions)
Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone’s performances in Creed are one of the best aspects of the film. The film wasn’t a cheap way to get to make more films with Rocky Balboa, the film was treated with respect to the films that came before, but was also a great standalone film.
Dope (Open Road Films/Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions/IamOTHER Entertainment/Revolt Films)
I didn’t really expect much from Dope, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well handled the film was and the great performance by breakout star, Shameik Moore. It’s one of films that keeps you on your feet with comedy and big dramatic moments.
Ex Machina (A24/Universal Pictures/DNA Films/Film4)
Alex Garland, the writer of films like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Dredd, finally steps behind the camera and what a way to make his debut. Garland tackled A.I. in a different take and the way they approach the story and theme was great to see unravel. Plus, Ex Machina has great performances by Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, but an even better one by a standout performance (maybe of the year) by Alicia Vikander.
Furious 7 (Universal Pictures/Original Film/Media Rights Capital/One Race Film, Dentsu/Original Film)
James Wan stepped into some big shoes replacing Justin Lin, and while mostly known for his horror films, Wan completely fit into the world. Furious 7 also had some troubles along the way and felt more powerful for some with of course the death of Paul Walker during production. The film paid nice tribute to Walker and the character at the end of the film.
Inside Out (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)
Damn you, Pixar! How is it that one studio has their hands on all of your pulses and always find a way to make us either cry or tear up? I haven’t decided where Inside Out falls on my favorite Pixar films list, but it’s definitely up there. I mean, they made a movie about feelings. FEELINGS!
Jurassic World (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Amblin Entertainment)
Let’s face it, this probably shouldn’t have worked, and while some will think that it didn’t, I thought Jurassic World worked at just the right amount of levels for me to thoroughly enjoy it. Also, what’s not to love about seeing giant dinosaurs back on the big screen?
Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox/Marv Films/TSG Entertainment/Cloudy Productions)
Kingsman: The Secret Service is definitely one of the biggest surprises of the year, and probably surpassed many people’s preconceived notions of the film. I mean any movie that can make Colin Firth into a badass spy should work right? Also Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle was probably one of the coolest villains of the year. But for me, what made Kingsman a standout was the awesome and chaotic church fight scene. Seriously, that scene was a thing of beauty.
Macbeth (The Weinstein Company/DMC Film/See-Saw Films)
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard absolutely nail down the performances of arguably one of the most well-known literary figures and plays. Justin Kurzel brings a fresh, dark, gritty, and visually compelling adaptation and different approach to William Shakespeare’s play. Macbeth is one of those films that probably won’t grab you at first, but hits you very later on.
Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Kennedy Miller Productions)
What a lovely day, indeed! Mad Max: Fury Road was essentially one long chase scene and while it did slow down a bit – rightly so – I freaking loved every minute of it. The impressive action sequences, the score, and the two main leads of Hardy as Max and Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. Definitely one of the best films of the year and probably one of, if not, the best action film of the year.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Fox Searchlight Pictures/Indian Paintbrush)
Based on the novel of the same name, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a film that hit me hard. I loved the book and I loved what they did in the film. They were able to recreate some of humor and managed to keep the spirit of the novel, but also do their own thing which was great to watch. It’s definitely one of the best dramas of the year.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Skydance Productions/TC Productions)
2015 was a good year for spy films, and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation may have been one of the best of the year. Like the Fast & Furious films, it’s a little hard to believe that the Mission: Impossible films keep getting better with every passing installment. Tom Cruise still feels like he’s on top of his game and with a standout performance by Rebecca Ferguson, Rogue Nation ups the ante on the series.
Room (A24/Element Pictures/No Trace Camping/Film4)
Room might be one of the best dramas of the year and one that came out of nowhere. Two of the best performances of the year go to stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who give heartbreaking and heartwarming performances in a film that isn’t always easy to watch. Do yourself a favor and watch this as soon as possible.
Spy (20th Century Fox/Feigco Entertainment/Chernin Entertainment)
Melissa McCarthy had some misfires going on there, but thankfully she came back to form with Paul Feig – of all people – with this awesome take on the spy genre. Melissa McCarthy is as funny as ever and Jason Statham gives a gut-busting performance
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Walt Disney Studios/Lucasfilm/Bad Robot/Truenorth Productions)
Out of all the movies that came out this year, this one was the most unpredictable. It could have been great or it could have been bad. Thankfully, J.J. Abrams put on a hell of a movie that makes a great addition to the Star Wars franchise. The new characters were great, the movie was a ton of fun to watch, and more importantly it was just fun.
The Final Girls (Stage 6 Films/Groundswell Productions/Vertical Entertainment/Ulterior Productions)
I honestly didn’t think I would have loved The Final Girls as much as I did. I thought the meta horror comedy would have some great moments, and while it does, it was the other big story in the film between Max (Taissa Farmiga) and Nancy/Amanda (Malin Akerman) that really stuck out and got to me. I didn’t imagine that I’d get emotionally invested in a horror comedy, but lo and behold I did.
The Peanuts Movie (20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios/Feigco Entertainment)
Yet another film that probably shouldn’t have worked and people had their preconceived notions on it, but The Peanuts Movie was damn enjoyable. Sure it wasn’t done in the traditional style that we all know and love, but the film didn’t add any pop culture references or pop songs. It stayed true to its roots and reminded you why you love Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang.
The Hateful Eight (The Weinstein Company)
While the final product is still a little iffy for me, one of the reason The Hateful Eight is on the list is for the characters, setting, and production design. The cabin – Minnie’s Haberdashery – was a great looking aspect to the film and just a confined space for all these characters that it elevated the film much more. As for the characters, Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins are the highlights of the film that keep the slow burn mystery drama film in tact.
The Martian (20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions/Genre Films/Mid Atlantic Films)
Based on the novel of the same name, The Martian was every bit as good as the novel, and maybe even more. Matt Damon is tremendous as the lead and Ridley Scott was able to make us feel like we were really on Mars and we can really sense the dread that Damon’s Mark Watney felt, but there was also beauty behind everything that was being filmed.
So what are some of your favorite films of 2015?
Here’s to another great year in films!
This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things and my favorite/standout fights and action sequences and special effects.
Ant-Man: Ant-Man vs. Falcon & Ant-Man vs. Yellowjacket (Cassie’s Bedroom)
A nice early preview of what we could see in Captain America: Civil War, and it was great to watch. It was actually a rather nice to surprise to see the scene play out and it was a ton of fun. Ant-Man was a great movie, but having this scene in there, was pretty damn cool. As for the Cassie bedroom fight, let’s face it: That was one of the funniest, goofy and action-packed scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Hulkbuster vs. Hulk & Hydra Base Siege
This was teased for a while, and every fan knew it was coming eventually. So when it finally happened, it was like it was ripped out of the comic books. The two literally tried to beat the crap out of each and in true Marvel fashion, there was some inject humor. As for the base siege which opens the movie, it is arguably, one of the best openings and action scenes that Marvel has done – with the expectation of Captain America: The Winter Soldier – and it involves all of our heroes. The scene has it all; humor, great moments, and in that great shot of all the Avengers leaping into battle.
Creed: Adonis Johnson-Creed vs. Leo ‘The Lion’ Sporino
There was something about how the scene was structured and filmed by director Ryan Coogler that made this boxing match in Creed more of a standout than the final match. The way Coogler shot and framed the scene really made you feel that you were part of the match, and you saw the viewpoint of each character which made it even more special.
Jupiter Ascending: Chicago Chase
While Jupiter Ascending wasn’t all that great of a movie, it at least gave us one good thing: A great action sequence right here in Chicago.
Kingsman: The Secret Service: Harry Hart/Galahad vs. Church Congregation
This may be not just my favorite fight sequence of the year, but may join my favorite fight sequences list ever. Colin Firth may not be on everyone’s list for playing a badass character, but this definitely had to silence doubters. Of course we have to give credits to the stunt team, director Matthew Vaughn and cinematographer George Richmond for putting together the scene.
Furious 7: Deckard vs. Hobbs, Ramsey Rescue & Deckard vs. Dom
First, It’s like a dream match come true: Jason Statham vs. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. And holy hell was it brutal and fun to watch. Second, Ramsey’s (Nathalie Emmanuel) rescue happens a little before the mid-point of the movie and was heavily promoted in the ads. But, nothing comes close to the actual scene which plays out a little more than we thought. Overall, the scene is great. Finally, the whole movie builds up to this fight between Deckard (Jason Statham) and Dom (Vin Diesel) and when they finally meet, you can tell it’s going to come down to the last man standing. It’s not as good as Deckard vs. Hobbs, but the intensity is still there.
Jurassic World: Indominus Rex vs. T. Rex and Blue
This was like a kid’s dream come true. Hell, it was probably even mine. I don’t even know what else to say because, well, just look at it!
Kung Fu Killer: Hahou Mo vs. Fung Yu-Sau
Kung Fu Killer might have not gotten a wide release, but any chance I can see Donnie Yen on the big screen, I’m going to take it! The movie was filled with great fight sequences –no surprise with Yen involved – but it was the final fight in the movie that I picked because the fight had some high stakes to it and the final build up made the fight really great to watch.
Macbeth: Macbeth vs. Macduff
This was a short, brutal and visually fascinating scene to watch. Felt like watching a moving picture at times. I loved the aesthetic that director Justin Kurzel chose to go with for the scene.
Mad Max: Fury Road: Imperator Furiosa vs. Max Rockatansky & The Rig Escapes The Biker Gang
It’s almost hard to even choose a favorite action sequence in Mad Max: Fury Road, only because all of them have their awesome moments and the whole movie feels like an extended action sequence. But these two are definitely two that stood out to me. The fight between Furiosa and Max was hard hitting, vicious, knockdown drag out that totally fits into the movie and shows how tough Furiosa really is. The escape scene works on a number reasons, it shows the trust that Max and Furiosa finally get and the amazing score by Junkie XL elevates the scene even more.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: Car and Motorcycle Chase
One of the best parts for me in Rogue Nation was definitely the somewhat promoted action scene that involved a pretty lengthy chase that involved Ethan (Cruise), chasing down Ilsa (Ferguson) and Syndicate henchman. There was also something that McQuarrie didn’t use a real score and instead used the sound of motorcycles and cars instead.
Pixels: Pac-Man Chase
Despite what many people think about the film – it’s not perfect even I know that – Pixels had its moments and the full chase scene of the main characters and Pac-Man was a ton of fun to watch.
Sicario: Border Shootout
Sicario is one of those rare films that is unapologetic and, arguably, brutally honest about its subject matter. It’s also one of the most tense films I’ve seen in a long while and nothing is probably more tense than being stuck on the border between Mexico and the United States during a drug war. The scene bought out those feelings of not only being trapped, but having your options limited and trying to find the best way to get home.
Spectre: Bond vs. Mr. Hinx & Mexico City Opening
I love a great intense and hard hitting fight scene, and that’s exactly what we got in this fight between Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx. The henchman role felt tailor-made for Bautista especially seeing that fight scene. As for the opening scene that takes place in Mexico City during a Day of the Dead celebration, it is one of the best openings I’ve ever seen and one of the best one-continuous-take scenes I’ve ever seen.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren vs. Finn and Rey & Finn
It wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without a lightsaber duel to end it. The Force Awakens is no different. The separate duels between Finn and Rey have different meanings. Both are done out of survival and revenge, but both of them have different meanings to each character. Finn is doing it because he’s finally fulfilling the hero role, and Rey is reaching her true potential.
Tomorrowland: Athena vs. Hugo and Ursula
Tomorrowland may have highlighted the house escape of Clooney and Robertson’s characters, but the highlight action sequence for me was Athena showing off what she can do for the first time. It was also a lot of fun to watch the scene in the surrounding it was in.
American Ultra: Mike vs. Laugher
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Sokovia Battle
Creed: Adonis Johnson-Creed vs. ‘Pretty’ Rick Conlan
Kingsman: The Secret Service: Harry Hart/Galahad vs. Thugs (Bar)
Run All Night: Jimmy vs. Price
Sicario: Alejandro Goes Solo
Ted 2: Comic Con Fight
Terminator Genisys: Guardian vs. T-800
The Man from U.N.C.L.E: Napoleon and Illya Chase Alexander & Napoleon and Gaby Escape Illya
Tomorrowland: Casey and Frank Home Escape
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Even with some of it, arguably most of it, being CGI, some of the action sequences were top notch and the beginning base siege was a ton of fun to watch.
The Fast & Furious franchise is priding itself on upping the ante on their action and Furious 7 did just that. Although, it hard to get any bigger than bringing down a big ass plane and then shooting a car out of it, but hey, the next big thing would probably be a car jumping from building to building and cars skydiving out of a jumbo plane.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Probably one of the biggest surprises of the year, Kingsman: The Secret Service not just delivered on doing a great spy film, but also a action great film. Because let’s face it, that church scene was damn awesome.
Mad Max: Fury Road
I’d have to say hands down, Mad Max: Fury Road is the best action film of the year. The whole film is one long chase scene that almost never lets up and when it does it always comes back in full force. If I just wanted to pick one movie to be the best action film of the year, it goes to Fury Road.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Yet another film that is priding itself on upping the ante with every installment, Rogue Nation literally gives it to us right at the beginning with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt hanging off a plane as it goes up in the air. You can’t get crazier than that right? RIGHT?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has the right amount of action, and it’s action that’s a ton of fun to watch. The lightsaber duos had me riled up and the X-Wing flights where just great.
Kung Fu Killer
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
It Follows was a nice throwback in terms of story and tone. It doesn’t go for the easy gore and nudity tropes, although there those things in the film, it’s actually tied in to the primary story. The film is a slow burn and plays with your paranoia and makes you uneasy while watching. Also, the “monster” is so simple, along with the film that it is pretty cool to experience.
I had a lot of fun watching Krampus and while it was sluggish at time, there was a lot more to it than I originally thought. What made the film work for me was definitely the fact that they went with practical effects and puppetry for the creatures that visually made them more terrifying.
The Final Girls
The Final Girls is a nice balance of comedy, drama, and horror, but the meta-horror elements isn’t even the main basis of the film, but are still great to watch the horror elements, especially considering how they handled it.
Insidious: Chapter 3
Dope worked as both a drama and comedy coming-of-age film, but the film was one of the best comedic films I’ve experienced this year.
The film could be also labeled as a crime drama, but there was something more about the humor that makes this film special. The comedy was one of the only real things I understood about the film when I was first watched it. Not because the film has a weird or crappy structure, but because it was so weird.
Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy returned to form with Spy, a nice twist on the spy genre and didn’t rely on fat jokes that some films McCarthy has done in the past. Instead the film lets her actually show off her comedic and acting chops. However, the rest of the cast also steal the show, especially Jason Statham.
The Night Before
This could have easily been a forgetful comedy that happens to take place on Christmas Eve, but The Night Before was a little more than that. The film was done to bone a story about three friends – that treat themselves as family – and the bond that real friends go through. The comedy really had its moments and this is coming from a guy that is starting to grow on Seth Rogen.
The Final Girls
Oh Pixar, how is it that you always find a way of making us tear up, cry and warm our hearts? You did it again with Inside Out. The supposed “I guess they ran out of ideas” film sure had a lot of heart and heartwarming and breaking moments that left me wanting more and satisfied at the same time.
The Peanuts Movie
I’m not going to lie, this film probably shouldn’t have worked, but it really did. The Peanuts Movie stayed true to its roots and didn’t try to add anything new or ruin what fans loved from the original. Kudos to them for sticking to their guns and keeping what everyone loves about Charlie Brown and the gang.
The Good Dinosaur
Clint Eastwood’s biopic drama about Chris Kyle was meant with some mixed reactions over the fact of “is all or any of this true?” Despite all that, American Sniper worked best when it focused on the characters themselves and what they go through, and Bradley Cooper does a tremendous job of doing that.
Brooklyn is one of those films that everyone will connect to in some way. It’s a coming-of-age story, a love story, and a story about being an outsider in a new environment and wanting nothing but to go back home. It’s a touching story that I loved watching and experiencing.
Creed is every bit as good as the original Rocky, but it’s also its own standalone story about someone wanting to break out on their own and not trying to completely live up to someone’s legacy. The film worked even better with the performances of Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. Any time they are together the film works better.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
I read the book this was based on and when I saw the film, I couldn’t believe they captured the same spirit, heart and humor but was also able to turn the dial and make it even more stronger. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn’t the easiest movie to sit through – it does have Dying Girl in the title after all – but it truly is one of the best films of the year and one of the best dramas and indies of the year.
Definitely one of the best dramas of the year, and one of the hardest to sit through Room also gives two of the best performances of the year by Brie Larson and newcomer Jacob Tremblay. The film follows the two as they escape the room they were trapped in for years and Jack (Tremblay) sees the outside world for the first time. It’s one of the most touching and heartbreaking films all at once.
Sicario is one of those rare films that isn’t afraid to go to places that normally other films water down. It is definitely an unapologetic, gritty and raw look on the war on drugs between the U.S and the border of Mexico. The film is only stronger thanks to the performances, especially Benicio Del Toro.
This is straightforward filmmaking at its finest, and I say that it the best way possible. Spotlight is filled with great performances and tremendous cast that easily makes it an Oscar favorite and thankfully it’s great even if it wasn’t.
The story of Steve Jobs – in real life – is definitely a dramatic one. Thankfully, the film brings some of that in, but instead focusing more on the actual man himself. Michael Fassbender brings the right amount of cockiness, ignorance, genius, and humanity to the character that people will love or hate.
Straight Outta Compton
While Straight Outta Compton loses a lot of its great steam by the end, the film was a great experience to watch. Seeing the lives and rise of one of the most popular groups in music, especially with the cast they put together makes Straight Outta Compton a huge surprising hit.
The Big Short
Nothing says drama like a true story about the housing and financial crisis in 2005 to 2007. It’s one of those movies that if you really paid attention to everything that happened back then, you appreciate it more. If not, then you’ll feel a little lost, but that’s find of the point.
The Martian is undoubtedly a drama in terms that it’s about a man stuck on Mars…by himself. You can’t really get more dramatic than that right?
A Most Violent Year
In the Heart of the Sea
The Hateful Eight
Marvel’s Ant-Man has had a long road, but it finally got made and damn was it great to watch. The special effects are what really made this special too. The shrinking effect and the swarm of ants was really cool watch onscreen. There was one particular scene that involved Ant-Man running in model of the building that I think was a combination of special effects and physical (I’m not sure), but it sure as hell looked awesome.
Director Neill Blomkamp has always been known for his visual work and Chappie is no different. The film harkens back to his District 9 effects given the fact the main character is a robot – with the motion capture done by Sharlto Copley – but there was something about Chappie that made him feel real and part of the story.
Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to show off some creepy special effects. Although Crimson Peak was more a gothic romance rather than a horror film – it was advertised as a horror film – the film still had strong visuals that only del Toro would ever think of pulling off, not only that he actually built the set they were working on.
Chappie wasn’t the only robot of the big screen this year, Alex Garland’s directorial debut featured one of the best performances of the year by Alicia Vikander, and one of the most tension-filled final acts I’ve seen. It’s also one of those films about A.I that will make you think “yeah, maybe we shouldn’t do that.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen some great looking dinosaurs on the big screen, and what better way to bring them back than a Jurassic Park movie. While the film decided to go more CGI than the original, there were moments of some good old fashion practical effects that bought the specialness of what made the original film so great.
Pixels was a surprise for me in a lot of ways. No, it wasn’t the best movie out there, but I sure had a ton of fun watching it and was better than I thought it would be. One of the things I was really surprised at was the special effects and how well they really looked. The Pac-Man chase down New York was amazing to watch on the big screen and the finale was a grand showing of all these old-school video gaming.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I feel like The Force Awakens can also get credit for having the best practical effects as well because it has a great balance of the two type of effects and makes them work for the film instead of against it.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails
(The Good Dinosaur)
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, and Monica Bellucci
Synopsis: A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
James Bond is one of the most recognizable characters in film history, and while the series has gone through some missteps and a bit of a corny phase, the series has grounded itself and has, arguably, become more popular than ever. In what could be Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film – and director Sam Medes’ as well – Spectre does, for the most part, feel like a nice bookend to the recent iteration of the character. However, the film does have a lot to live up to after the fantastic entry in Skyfall before it. Does it live up to the expectations? Sort of.
Spectre starts off in an awesome and mostly one continuous take in Mexico City during a Day of the Dead celebration as James Bond (Craig) is on an unsanctioned mission. When things go awry, Bond travels back to London to deal with a frustrated M (Fiennes), who tells him the 00 program is on the verge of being canceled due to the head of Head of Joint Security Service Max Denbeigh (Scott) launching a new intelligence-gathering program. However, going off a lead he found in Mexico City, Bond goes on a solo mission to find out more about said lead. Seeing that he can’t do it on his own he eventually asks the help of Q (Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Harris) to keep M off his back and help him along the way. However, along the way Bond finds out the lead he found actually leads to something more darker and personal than he could ever imagine. Bond goes on a globetrotting adventure to discover there is an organization known as SPECTRE that is ready to take down the world.
Like I mentioned, Spectre is following the fantastic entry of Skyfall and what worked in Skyfall is that it gave us a better understanding of who exactly James Bond is as a character and person, instead of the James Bond we all know as a character within a franchise. What Skyfall also did was put together such a well-rounded story that nothing felt out of place and the whole film felt like every scene mattered and show something to further the story, character, and journey. While Spectre tries and succeeds in most aspects, it can’t help itself to fall back into some old clichés and pitfalls that Skyfall broke away from. Not to say that Spectre wasn’t a good film, but it’s a bit hard to follow a great addition to the franchise. Sam Mendes continues to bring his A-game and despite cinematographer Roger Deakins not returning, Hoyte Van Hoytema and Mendes still manage to bring some amazing, glorious and beautiful shots that add to the film and the scenes they are put in. They also work in a lot of darkness into the film that is done rather well and to great effective to the story, characters and scenes.
Going back to Daniel Craig, Craig is great as Bond again. There were a lot of people doubting that Craig could hold the mantle, but now he’s on a lot of people’s lists as one of the best Bond’s. Craig does great here again, brining in even a little more charisma and charm, and if this is truly his last Bond film, than it was a good way to go for him. He’s been through a lot in the series and completely handled what needed to be done for the character and the franchise.
But what’s Bond without a Bond girl, classic villain and gadgets/cars right? Spectre fills those spaces that are both hit-and-miss. Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann is the main female lead and handles herself pretty well, and is an important character for the film and Bond as he tries to figure out what the organization known as SPECTRE is trying to do. Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny doesn’t get to do as much as she did in Skyfall, but which is a shame, and Monica Bellucci cameos as a widow to criminal that Bond took care of, als fun fact, Bellucci is now the oldest Bond girl in history. Gadget/car wise, Spectre doesn’t have too much going on, but does have some nice callbacks to the franchise
As for the villains, a big deal was made about Christoph Waltz’s character, and this being a non-spoiler review, I won’t address those rumors, although most have probably heard about who is character actually is, but whatever. Even with all that, there is another layer to the character that was rather interesting they went that way. The twist connects to James Bond through the series, which again, makes Spectre feel like bookend to the recent iteration of character and makes all the Craig Bond films connect to a grander story. However, Waltz doesn’t have a ton of screen time and while Waltz is great whenever he’s onscreen, it’s a shame that he doesn’t have more screen time, which makes his character feel a bit underwhelming.
The same can be said for Dave Bautista’s henchman character Mr. Hinx. The nonspeaking brute-like villain has his great moments, especially a standout train fight sequences with Bond in the latter half of the film. But, like Waltz’s character, he doesn’t get a ton of screen time that I think the character deserves. His character also feels like a nice throwback to past iconic villains as well and Bautista was a perfect fit for the role.
The rest of the supporting cast has the great moments to shine as well. Ben Whishaw as Q continued to be my new favorite character as he has great chemistry with Craig and great timing and delivery. Andrew Scott’s Max, who is nicknamed C, plays a nice antagonist to Ralph Fiennes’ M. The two actually have their own storyline in the film debating about the use of the 00 program and whether or not it’s a “dated” feature, which is a bit on the nose considered some would think 007 is a dated franchise. Jesper Christensen returns as Mr. White in a short but powerful scene and Rory Kinnear as Agent Tanner also returns but instead of having a more prominent role after the events in Skyfall, he’s once again put on the backburner.
Spectre will feel a bit long for people, and I’ll agree to some extent that the film does slow down during the middle of the film, which does hurt it a bit. Even some of the action sequences are just a bit okay, especially the car chase in Rome was a little bit too dragged out for my liking. There are also some odd choices – believe me, you’ll know what they are when you watch them – that again, takes the franchise back to some cliché routes.
All in all, Spectre is a great addition to the James Bond franchise, but it falls short of what its previous entry in Skyfall did. If this is Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, then it is a good way for him to go out. Spectre will have its detractors, but it is a passable sequel and one that will keep Bond fans happy. Also, the opening credits with Sam Smith’s song “Writing on the Wall” is pretty cool, but the song, for me, is just okay. Maybe, I’m a bit biased because I loved Adele’s “Skyfall.”
4.5 out of 5
It’s Turkey Month, ladies and gentlemen!
Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!
Limited Release: Brooklyn
The film is set in the 1950s in Ireland and New York as young Eilis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries. Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis Lacey while Domhnall Gleeson plays the Ireland man and Emory Cohen plays the New York Italian man. The film looks like a nice period romance drama story. I’ve heard some good rumblings from the festival circuit, so hopefully this finds its audience.
Limited Release: Trumbo
The film tells the story of Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted by Hollywood and government in the 1940s for being a Communist. Of course, this was all going on during the Cold War and a lot of people in Hollywood were blacklisted and had to work under a fake name. Trumbo, in real life, actually won an Academy Award for Roman Holiday. The film looks pretty good and is getting some good reviews out of TIFF. The cast stars Bryan Cranston, who plays Trumbo, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg, John Goodman, and Helen Mirren.
Limited Release: Spotlight
Based on the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. The film looks really good and looks like it’s going to be a powerful drama, that just so happens to be about a real event that was huge – and arguably still is. The film premiered with great buzz from TIFF and has an all-star cast in Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Jamey Sheridan and Billy Crudup.
The Peanuts Movie
Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the “Peanuts” gang are on the big screen! The trailer have Charlie Brown and the gang dealing with a new kid in school, but the synopsis says that Snoopy is on a mission to deal with his arch nemesis, the Red Baron – which was hinted a bit on the trailer. I don’t think that it really matters at this point, because people will go watch it because they want to see The Peanuts gang on the big screen.
James Bond is back and has some big shoes to the fill since Skyfall was such a huge hit and considered by fans to be the best Bond film in a long time. However, director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig seem to be up for it. The film follows Bond as he gets a cryptic message that sends him on the trail of a sinister organization, SPECTRE that is lead by a mysterious figure (Christoph Waltz) that may be connected to his past. The film looks great and everyone involved says the film is bigger and better, so let’s hope so. Spectre also stars Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Rory Kinnear, and Stephanie Sigman.
Limited Release: By the Sea
Angelina Jolie pulls double duty as she stars and returns back behind the camera with story about a married couple, herself and her real-life husband Brad Pitt, as they travel to France in the mid-1970s. The couple seem to be growing apart, but then they linger in one quiet, seaside town they being to draw close to some of its most vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner. The film looks like it could be a great dramatic film and with Pitt and Jolie working together, we could be in for a great film too.
My All American
A biography sports drama about Freddie Steinmark (played by Finn Wittrock), an underdog quarterback on the football field, faces the toughest challenge of his life leading his team to a championship season. The film looks like a nice underdog story and coming out in mid-November probably makes it a prime spot for those that want to check it out. The film also stars Aaron Eckhart, Robin Tunney, and Sarah Bolger.
Love the Coopers
When four generations of the Cooper clan come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday. The film looks like we’ve seen it before, but these always have some fun to it, so hopefully this turns out better than expected. The film stars Olivia Wilde, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Anthony Mackie, Jack Lacy, Alex Borstein, Jon Tenney, Diane Keaton and Alan Arkin.
A film based on the incredible true story of the Chilean miners that were trapped when a mine collapsed on them, leaving with them stuck with no way out. It’s no doubt that the incredible story could lend itself to a great film. The film does look great and will have a pretty big and impressive cast that includes: Antonio Banderas, Juan Pablo Raba, Cote de Pablo, Rodrigo Santoro, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gabriel Byrne, Naomi Scott, Jacob Vargas, James Brolin and Juliette Binoche.
*Legend gets a limited release only opening in L.A. and New York, and gets two different expansion releases. The first one is next week, so I’ll write my thoughts and info there*
Secret in their Eyes
A remake of the highly-acclaimed and Award winning Spanish film of the same name follows a tight-knit team of rising investigators (Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofro), along with their supervisor (Nicole Kidman), is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered. I don’t know what to think about the film. On one hand, the film looks like a tenseful drama thriller with a great cast that also includes, Dean Norris and Michael Kelly. On the other hand, the original was a great film and I don’t know it will be able to hold its own against it.
The Night Before
Nothing says the end of November and Thanksgiving like a Christmas movie. However, this won’t be a typical Christmas movie. No, this is a comedy with Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie leading the charge. The film is set in New York City and follows three lifelong best friends (Rogen, Gordon-Levitt, and Mackie) who get together one last time on Christmas Eve to hang out and find the greatest Christmas party. The film looks like a ton of fun and funny, so I can’t wait to watch it. The film also stars Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling and Michael Shannon.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
The final installment to the hugely popular and financially successful franchise The Hunger Games is finally here. The film is promising the epic conclusion and final battle between Katniss’ army of rebels and The Capitol’s defensives. The film does look pretty epic, so let’s hope it doesn’t let us down.
The Good Dinosaur
Disney and Pixar are back at it and what better time to do it than on Thanksgiving. The film follows the journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) makes an unlikely human friend. The film looks like it is going to be another great hit for Pixar and Disney, and if the trailers are anything like the movie, it looks like we are in for another tear-jerking film. The voice cast also includes Jeffery Wright, Steve Zahn, A.J. Buckley, Anna Paquin, Frances McDormand, and Sam Elliott.
Written by Max Landis (Chronicle), the film is told from Igor’s perspective (Daniel Radcliffe) as we follow him in the early days of being an assistant and friend to young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein (James McAvoy), and sees him become the man and legend that we know today. The film looks better than I thought it would to be honest. It looks like a fun mixture of comedy and action and almost Sherlock Holmes-esque. The film also stars Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott and Charles Dance.
Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan reunite to bring us back to the world of Rocky. The film follows Adonis Johnson (Jordan), the son of the late and former World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed, as he enters into the world of boxing for himself. Eventually he seeks the guidance and a trainer in his father’s old rival and friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). The film looks great and it looks they aren’t just doing this for a cash grab, there looks to be a good story here. The film also stars Tessa Thompson, Graham McTavish, Ritchie Coster, and Phylicia Rashad.
The Danish Girl
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) may be vying for another Oscar with this biography drama film that tells the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). Their marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer. The film looks interesting and, again, true stories are Oscar bait. Also, they make a great story to tell on the big screen – if told right. The film also stars Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ben Whishaw.
What are you looking forward to?