“Hey, dummy, you only saw nine films. And you’re cheating by putting three of them in the #1 slot.”’
~Anyone Reading This
True, but this is a list I decided to whip up for no other reason than there’s an ice storm raging outside, and I’m fully aware no one really cares what I think about anything, much less movies.
(Also, these are thoughts, not reviews. If you’re looking for plot points or structure breakdown, search out a critic’s eye.)
(1) Tie: Sicario, Inside Out, Star Wars VII
These three films couldn’t be further apart in every aspect of storytelling and filmmaking, but they tie on the “best of” list because.. I mean, they’re just all so fucking good.
Sicario had me tense from beginning to end. I was white-knuckled for 90% of the film. It’s powerfully engaging, and realistic in the way The Wire was realistic; you felt you were watching a documentary, not a movie. The difference is, unlike with The Wire, I’m more than OK with things being run the way they are in Sicario. In fact, the only complaint I had with the film was the fact the main character (and her sidekick) were always whining about jurisdiction, legality of action, or something similar.
We live in a dirty world, and Sicario is a wonderful example of it.
Inside Out is the polar opposite. It’s 100% fantasy, and 200% wonderful. I laughed, got dust in my eyes several times (I DO NOT CRY, SHUT UP), and left the theater with an overwhelming sense of love for my children.
Star Wars… this was a tricky one. If I hadn’t seen it a second time, it’d probably be #2 on this list. When I walked out of the theater after the first viewing, I was slightly underwhelmed. Which is odd, because I really liked the movie. Almost loved it, even.
Then something odd happened: the further I got away from it, the more I wanted to see it again. So eight days later I returned to the theater and holy poop on a stick… The Force Awakens is about 1,000x better the second time you see it.
I was no longer burdened by 30 years of waiting for this film. My expectations had been met after the first viewing, so for the second nothing was left but enjoyment.
And enjoy it I did.
There are so many subtle lines, little nothings I missed the first time through. Everything is tied together so well, it’s insane.
YES, I still felt a little pissed that, in an age where surveillance is king, no one thought to add the line, “You mean the new Death Star (whatever) is fully operational? Our spies said it was two years away from being functional,” but whatever. Just an amazing film all the way around.
Can’t wait to see VIII.
(My buddy Jake had some hilarious things to say about Star Wars… give a listen and have a laugh.)
(2) The Big Short
What a mixed bag of emotions this movie delivered. It was smart, funny, engaging, and angering, angering, angering. You’re literally rooting for the protagonists to win, and when they do you realize that everyone else got fucked when they did.
Worst part: nothing has changed. The American Taxpayer footed the bill for yet another bailout, while the 1% got richer.
(3) Mad Max: Fury Road
One hell of a reboot. The only thing that could have made it better would have been either putting Gibson in as the bad guy, or at least giving him a cameo. A pure adrenaline rush, I loved it.
(4) The Avengers Age of Ultron (5) Mission: Impossible, Rogue Nation (6) Furious 7
I really liked these films. The problem with each is: they didn’t surpass what came before. Rogue Nation wasn’t more fun than Ghost Protocol, and Ultron wasn’t more thrilling than the first Avengers. Nothing bad about either; both immensely watchable.
Furious 7 was easily the weakest of the three. Sure, I laughed through the entire movie, but they botched the ending, and it wasn’t as fun as part six. Sometimes big and stupid is fun. But too big and too stupid just renders everything meaningless.
(7) The Martian
Why people liked this, I do not know. It started out great, but by the end was just annoying. I didn’t mind any of the impossible things that Matt Damon solved, did, or made happen. Because Matt Damon is fucking Will Hunting, and that guy is a Goddamned genius.
But when Donald Glover showed up and had the genius answer no one else thought of, my only thought was, “So… no one in this movie saw Apollo 13?”
(Hell, astronauts themselves didn’t remember the slingshot effect?)
The “Chinese as our savior” moment made me cringe. Not because it couldn’t or wouldn’t happen in real life, but because it was such a blatant pander to the Chinese movie market. It was the least organic development in a film dedicated to Matt Damon coming up with incredible solutions to amazing problems.
There was only one moment worse than it, in fact: Kate Mara and Blaine from Hot Tub Time Machine suddenly falling in love at the end of the film; in the final montage they are holding their new baby.
When you have a guy trying to get off a planet, a last minute side love story is just about the most useless thing you can throw into the mix.
So very stupid.
Honorable Mention: Bad Words. I didn’t see it until it went to cable, but I wish I had plopped down money to see it on the big screen. Supporting smaller, great films is what gets them made more often. Bad Words didn’t do well at the theater, but Poltergeist: The Remake did. So the next time it comes down to making an original film vs. remaking a classic for a new generation, Hollywood will bypass the good option and aim for the easy one.
And that just sucks.