Advertisements

My Top 10 Movies of 2015 (So Far)

Summer is about to kickoff, so I thought it would be fun to look back on the best films of Winter and Spring 2015. There are a few films I haven’t seen this year (yet) that may sway this list, and I’ll list them at the bottom.

I’ve made a stronger effort to watch more new movies this year, and it’s certainly paid off. For the first time in my life, I actually feel equipped to evaluate which movies are worth highlighting 6 months into the year. And we’ve gotten quite a few highlights. Starting with…

# 1 Mad Max: Fury Road

top 2015 movies

This shouldn’t surprise too many people. From its opening scene, George Miller had me hooked on his crazy, post-apocalyptic nightmare made reality.

With some of the best action scenes in years, combined with furious performances from Charlize Theron (get it?) and Tom Hardy, Mad Max: Fury Road has so far made the top of my list of must-watch films in 2015.

#2 Paddington

top 2015 movies

OK, this is certainly a departure from the #1 spot, and I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes at the fact that I’m elevating this family friendly movie all the way to #2, but hear me out.

Paddington is a kid movie done right, amidst scores of cheap remakes and strange misfires disguised as high-level (I’m looking at you, Spongebob). Simply put, Paddington has the charm, wit, and effortless script that most movies this year have chosen to skip.

#3 Ex Machina

top 2015 movies

I usually hate feeling uncomfortable during a movie, especially when it has CGI Paul Walker involved (too soon?) But Ex Machina subverts what we expect in an eery movie about artificial intelligence without insulting our intelligence.
It’s not a horror movie. It’s not a thriller. And it’s certainly not just a commentary, if at all. The mystery of what makes this movie…what it is…only makes me love it even more.

#4 What We Do In The Shadows

top 2015 movies

Technically, this superb “mockumentary” about the lives of vampires living in New Zealand came out last year, but it’s wider release didn’t kick off until January. That means I get to share the delight of this monster movie homage with all of you who haven’t managed to see it yet. Seriously though, get on that.

#5 Kingsman: The Secret Service

top 2015 movies

Speaking of homages, I wasn’t too surprised to see that this James Bond action successor ended up being one of the most fun adventures of the year. Yes, even moreso than another certain superhero flick…
I can still remember the best moments of the film, including the controversial church scene that was shot in just one take (if you can believe that). While I’m not necessarily itching for a sequel, though it would be nice, Kingsman still reigns as one of the year’s most interesting escapes.

#6 Selma

top 2015 movies

History is my weak spot. Take me to any colonial town and tell me that guy is really a smith from 1776 and you have my money. But historical biopics from any era tend to rank low on my attention span. Why watch a movie about that bridge in Selma when I can just go there?
Well, it turns out, Selma does a brilliant job of revitalizing this subject matter with faithful storytelling, a chilling script, and yes, David Oyelowo. And that’s not even mentioning the soundtrack.

#7 Avengers: Age of Ultron

top 2015 movies

It’s not as groundbreaking as the first film, but it’s still groundbreaking. Leave it to Marvel. 2015 has not yet hit us with a lot of comic book movie adventures, as Fox has saved its movie for the summer and Sony is conspicuously absent.
But even without competition, Age of Ultron is a triumph of patient buildup, electric characters, and an excellent effects budget. It’s not the dark story many of us expected and hoped for, but it had plenty of memorable moments to make it standout, even if it is just a trailer for even more exciting events to come.

#8 While We’re Young

top 2015 movies

I’ll admit I’m easily charmed by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts (despite finding Birdman a bit meh for her). So pairing these veterans with relative newcomers Adam Driver (of future Star Wars fame) and Amanda Seyfried (OK, not a newcomer, but still untested for the most part) was almost overkill.
Specifically, every scene combining these characters or a mixing and matching them was pulled off brilliantly, and it helps that the script had something pretty meaningful to say about my generation, your generation, and their generation.

#9 Unfriended

top 2015 movies

Do you believe in miracles? Unfriended was a made-for-tv movie destined for MTV reruns and live-tweets. But it ended up being transformed into a perfectly timed film that did something pretty novel and refreshing with the horror genre, while also preaching a sermon on cyber-bullying that didn’t come off as forced. Well, maybe a little.

#10 Tomorrowland

top 2015 movies

Yeah, I might get a little heat for this one. Though Tomorrowland certainly isn’t amazing overall, it happens to be one of the riskiest, gutsiest movies of the year. And a lackluster ending doesn’t do enough to eviscerate an inventive and entertaining first two acts.

Possibly great films I haven’t gotten around to yet:

I’d love to add to this list, but alas, there are just some 2015 films I haven’t had a chance to see for myself yet. Here are a few ranking high on my list of must-see:

  1. It Follows
  2. ‘71
  3. A Most Violent Year
  4. Still Alice
  5. Girlhood

I also want to point out my biggest disappointment of the year (so far): Chappie. Oh, what could have been.

If you something to add to this list, feel free to let me know in the comment discussions below. See you in another 6 months.

Thanks for reading! If you like this blog, you can subscribe for weekly updates by clicking the “Subscribe” button on the right sidebar. Or just follow me on Twitter for the latest updates – @JonNegroni

Advertisements

Review: ‘Furious 7’

furious 7

Furious 7 builds on the formula that made Fast 5 such a surprise success. It’s a fantasy action movie that happens to have cars in it, and if you’re invested in these characters already, Furious 7 finishes their story in a satisfying way.

In fact, I’d even say in terms of tone and spirit, it’s pretty much the best movie they could have made for their “one last ride.”

Everything you might hate about these movies — such as the glaring plot holes, egregious butt shots, and fifth-grade dialogue — is still there, but the slick action scenes and escalating plot points are just as prominent. I can’t say I was properly immersed in Furious 7 (I still think Fast 5 is the best of the franchise), but it held my attention admirably, considering it runs over 2 hours.

The film also pays genuine tribute to the late Paul Walker, who died tragically before they finished shooting. It was uncharacteristically emotional for these movies, but in the best way possible (one question though: Why are all the tough guys in these movies bald?)

A diverse cast brings the franchise to its roots (again), which his impressive for a franchise that has splintered off in so many different directions since 2001. Yet at the same time, there’s an attention to what makes the franchise enduring: new concepts mashed up with old thrills.

While the last few movies have focused on elaborate races, manhunts, heists, and globe-trotting missions, Furious 7 is more of a chase scene, where the heroes are the hunted for a change. Jason Statham makes his mark on the franchise as the gloomy brother of Shaw, the last film’s brother. His mission of revenge puts all of Dom’s “family” in danger, forcing them into a series of missions that will…oh, it doesn’t matter.

Make no mistake, Furious 7 certainly matches and exceeds the massive (and absurd) action set pieces  that have come to dominate these movies, with cars cruising through skyscrapers and a punch being able to create a sinkhole (seriously).

For a Fast and Furious” movie, this new installment successfully lives up to its name.

Grade: B

Extra Credits:

  • I forgot to mention the fact that Kurt Russel plays shadowy operative “Mr. Nobody.” I’m more impressed than anything else.
  • For the first time since 2Fast 2Furious, Justin Lin isn’t the director. James Wan (The Conjuring) takes over and manages to keep the franchise ticking.
  • As expected, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson, and others return, but don’t expect that group to remain intact by the time we get an eighth of these.

‘Furious 7’ Official Trailer Feels Like a Tribute to Paul Walker

It’s been a year since Paul Walker tragically passed away, leaving behind his “family” of costars to grieve his untimely loss. This trailer for the next and possibly final Fast and Furious franchise very much feels like his epitaph.

Even on its own, the movie shows off exactly what we love about these movies, along with some new upgrades. Jason Statham is looking like he’ll make a pretty perfect villain for the anti-heroes, and the Rock flexes out of a cast.

Furious 7 come out April 3, 2015.

%d bloggers like this: