Just f*cking around
Not selected (USA)
148 friends > See all
Fan of 0 items > See all
#1 Movie of All-Time
#1 Romantic Comedy
#1 Movie Character
With all of the constant stimuli we’re exposed to in today’s instant gratification society, it’s rare to be so completely engaged in a film that it holds your attention throughout it’s entirety without interruption. Alejandro Gonzlaz Inarritu has now done it twice in the last two years, not only matching his Best Picture winner Birdman but surpassing it with an even more breathtaking directoral effort that puts you in a first person survivalist tale unlike any other film experience we’ve seen. The natural lighting and exquisite use of fluid single shots make The Revenant feel like the most real and raw tale of human perseverance you could ask for. But it’s the performances that act as the exclamation point on an already masterful film. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy shoulder the emotional weight of this film like no other and turn the somewhat thin storyline into a classic revenge tale for the ages. Birdman may have been the Inarritu’s breakthrough picture that caught our attention, but The Revenant is the film we’ll look back on as his finest work. At least, that is, unless he surpasses the already high bar he continues to raise for himself and all future filmmakers yet again.
2.Mad Max: Fury Road
I don’t think even the most optimistic Mad Max enthusiast could have predicted the modern action masterpiece that George Miller delivered with his long awaited fourth entry in the series. It’s a non stop joyride, with relentless action and endless entertainment, not to mention a phenomenal story to boot. Charlize Theron delivers such an incredible performance as Furiosa that all of the speculation surrounding Tom Hardy filling in for Mel Gibson was made completely irrelevant. At it’s core, this is a story about Furiosa. Which is ironic, considering Pitch Perfect 2 bested it at the box office - Mad Max definitely feels like the most female empowering picture of the year. It just happens to be wrapped in the best pure action movie we’ve gotten since, I dunno T2? Yet it’s remarkably high energy and kickass soundtrack make it one of the most re-watchable films of the year as well, despite it’s epic scale. The premise of a fourth Mad Max initially had me asking “why?!” but after Fury Road, the idea of a fifth film has me asking “how soon?!”
3.End of the Tour
“Imagine the greatest conversation you’ve ever had” might be the most fitting tagline of the year. Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg star in an incredibly thought provoking look at a writer well ahead of his time, discussing our place in modern society and some of the destructive tendencies our ever-growing desire for entertainment and acceptance create. Segel and Eisenberg give phenomenal performances as David Foster Wallace and David Lipsky while “Spectacular Now” director James Ponsoldt paints a brilliantly bleak and realistic portrait of a writer dealing with his first major success. It’s an intelligent and introspective tribute to a brilliant mind, that truly captures the spirit of the reclusive genius and what went into making his epic novel “Infinite Jest”. Now I just need to carve out some time to read it for myself.
Spotlight is an incredibly revelatory insight to the Boston Globe’s investigation of the Catholic Church’s systematic scandal involving child molestation and rape. Many have criticized the film’s straight-forward approach and rather by the books direction but I felt the film’s subject matter didn’t really require any additional drama. The mere facts explored in the film are jaw-dropping and for someone who brushed the story off as a mere incidental case of one individual abusing his privileges, you really owe it to yourself to see this film. It almost feels more like a documentary or perhaps the best episode of Law and Order ever made. And if the levity of the story isn’t enough to captivate you, the remarkable ensemble performances of Keaton, Ruffalo, McAdams, and Schreiber should more than suffice. It’s one of the most powerful films of the year and though it’s hard to come to grips with the truth it uncovers, it’s equally important this uncomfortable truth is shown in full horrific detail.
5.Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Some 30 years in the making, I’m not sure there’s ever been a film as highly anticipated as Star Wars Episode VII. And while the film definitely served as the best entry in the series since Return of the Jedi, it wasn’t without it’s faults either. Namely, the villains. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren just didn’t do it for me. Especially when he removed his helmet. And Snoke…I don’t know what the hell that is. And that’s fine! Maybe the prequels have just trained me to expect that everything be explained in grotesque detail instead of just waiting for the trilogy to unfold but for now, it just feels a little unfinished. The original trilogy worked as standalone films and never left you with more questions than it answered. And even the prequel trilogy (*GASP*) took more creative risks in what felt like a fairly sterile followup, incredibly focused on rewarding a fan base that’s been so thoroughly disappointed with the franchises’ last several entries. But even if it is a bit streamlined to match as many expectations as possible (and with so many similarities to A New Hope it feels a bit more like a reboot than a true sequel) I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of it. It’s a fun follow up to bridge a 30 year gap in a film series that’s been in need of a proper follow up for far too long. I just don’t see it as the life altering masterpiece that most seem to claim it is. It’s still got a ways to go to match the imagination and adventure captured in the original trilogy but I’m excited to see where this new trilogy takes us.
6.The Hateful Eight
Before Hateful Eight, Tarantino had a fairly consistent pattern of taking on a radically different subject matter from one film to the next. But with his latest, it feels like he’s a bit hung up on Django and civil war America. And even more-so, creating a slow burning Western epic in the vein of Sergio Leone. And while Hateful Eight is an entertaining stay at the Haberdashery, it’s hard not to feel like QT’s taken us down this path before. But the film is certainly entertaining, almost playing out like an x-rated Western version of Clue and carried by incredible performances from our regular cast of Tarantino players. Jennifer Jason Leigh stands out as the show-stealer, but the ensemble all deliver memorable performances. But the most memorable thing to take away from QT’s eighth film is the score from Ennio Morricone. Tarantino’s films rarely incorporate original music but Hateful Eight does so masterfully, building the intensity and claustrophobic feeling of dread as if it were another lead character in the film. Hateful Eight is a fun ride but if Tarantino’s really limiting himself to 10 pictures before he retires, it’s hard not to feel a little cheated with a film that feels a bit like worn terrain.
After the excitement of Pineapple Express and Your Highness, David Gordon Green seems to have settled back into understated dramedies quite nicely. Following up his grossly underrated Prince Avalanche, Manglehorn follows much in the same tone as an out of touch old man hung up on his past tries to reconcile and start his life over again with the help of a new found love. Pacino plays the discontent key maker incredibly well and gives his best performance in recent memory- bringing a complexity and human touch that has been missing from Pacino’s film for some time. It’s a touching story of a lost soul rekindling his love of life and learning to start over and while it may ring a bit cliche at times, Green does a brilliant job of authenticating it with his personal flare for creating empathetic, if imperfect character studies.
Screenwriter Alex Garland’s first directoral effort, Ex Machina, is an incredible Sci-Fi thriller that pushes the boundaries of artificial intelligence and our ever growing advancements in technology. Anchored around an immensly talented cast in Domhall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac - the film creates a dehuminized and almost claustrophobic atmosphere that carries an unsettling tension throughout the entire film. This tension is heightened by the eccentric billionaire at the center of the AI experiment, Oscar Isaac, who simply oozes charisma into every seen he’s in. And though I felt the resolution was a bit of a predictable compromise, the overall experience is one that shouldn’t be missed. Especially amongst those yearning for a fresh and intelligent new voice in the Sci-Fi genre.
9.Beasts of No Nation
Netflix has certainly made it’s mark on the entertainment industry with it’s revolutionary technology and incredibly well made original content in the forms of Arrested Development and House of Cards. Now, teaming with True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga, the platform tackles the film industry with their first feature film and let me tell you - it sounds a bold and impressive standard. One I’m sure the Ridiculous 6 absolutely lives up to. Beasts is an incredibly raw and unrelenting story of a young African boy coming up in a country ravaged by civil war. Part City of God, part Goodfellas, Beats of No Nation is as unique a film as you’ll see all year and equally as gripping.
10.Love and Mercy
I’ve never really been a huge fan of the Beach Boys but this unconventional biopic about their leading songwriter Brian Wilson was absolutely enthralling. Paul Dano and John Cusack both encapsulate the enigmatic musician perfectly, portraying Wilson at different periods of his life. It’s an incredibly interesting look at the creative process and what went into the Beach Boys’ musical progression as well as Wilson’s life in the aftermath, coping with his life after fame. It’s a remarkable character study and even outshines Straight Outta Compton as one of the most well made musical biopics we’ve seen to date.
Room is definitely one of those movies you’re better off going into absolutely cold. Avoid even a plot synopsis if possible and you’ll enjoy watching this unfold much much more. I had no idea what this was about going in but seeing it all unfold was incredibly moving and the somewhat slow and straightforward approach could definitely drag for those knowing the circumstances at hand. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are remarkable as the mother/son leads in this dark and heart breaking story about a child discovering his surroundings and breaking free of the environment he’s known his entire life.
Can you believe we’re 40 years out from the first Rocky and we’re still cranking these bad boys out? Even more stunning is that all but part V are actually solid movies. Okay, the second one’s a little dated but the rest are great. And Ryan Coogler’s added branch of the franchise gives voice to a new generation and could very likely carry the Rocky brand even further still. Michael B. Jordan is phenomenal as the son of Apollo Creed and Stallone delivers his best performance as Rocky since the Oscar winning original. A pleasant surprise in what could have otherwise been a bland cash grab, touting the Rocky monicker.
Denis Villeneuve’s latest unnerving, slow burn suspense thriller takes you deep into the underbelly of America’s border war against Mexican drug cartels and the blurred lines both sides are willing to cross. Part of the mastery of Sicario is the way it keeps it’s viewer in the dark, alongside of our vulnerable yet empowered protagonist, brilliantly portrayed by Emily Blunt. Benecio Del Toro also delivers one of the best performances of his career as a bloodthirsty assassin seeking revenge. While it’s intentionally slow paced, the film is about as good a depiction as we’ve seen for the war on drugs and paints a telling tale of what the cost of waging such war is.
14.Straight Outta Compton
I never in a million years would have guessed we’d get a full length N.W.A. movie. Or furthermore, it’d be one of the most successful films of the year, both financially and critically. The all encompassing two and a half hour gangster epic covers a lot of terrain yet somehow, still leaves you wanting more. Sure it glosses over some of the ugly details and the film isn’t nearly as gritty or in your face as their music was when it was released but it’s still a telling snapshot of where America was when some of it’s first prominent hip hop stars broke into the mainstream. Breakout performances from nearly all involved and the best directoral effort of F. Gary Gray’s career make Straight Outta Compton one of the best musical biopics ever made.
Ever since the untimely death of the Apple innovator it seems all of Hollywood has been trying to create the perfect eulogy for the revolutionary thinker. Though it’s impossible to shake the thoughts of what might have been if Christian Bale and David Fincher had stuck with the project, after seeing Michael Fassbender in the role it’s hard to envision anyone else as Jobs. He knocks it out of the park, in a performance that doesn’t shy away from Jobs’ rough around the edges personality quirks nor spends too much time over glamorizing the late co-founder of Apple. The film provides three snapshots of the icon’s life, before three revolutionary product launches. The unconventional approach to the biopic is a refreshing change of pace, it is a little hard to fathom so many similar interactions coinciding before product launches that spanned 20 years. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic portrait of a man who’s helped to shape the technologically thriving world we live in today.
Assembling one of the best ensemble casts of the year, lead by Brian Cranston, Trumbo is a captivating snapshot of American culture during the red-scare and the witch hunt it created amongst our own citizens. Cranston is absolutely brilliant as the eccentric writer, jailed for his political beliefs and struggling to find work after being blacklisted. It’s a stunning story and absolutely fascinating to see behind the scenes of one of Hollywood’s most accredited writers and the hardships he faced.
Shot entirely on an iPhone, this gritty story of a transgender prostitute on Christmas Eve is one of the most unique movie experiences of this or any year. A cast composed of incredibly unlikeable characters doing deplorable things to survive on the harsh streets of Los Angeles. It paints a very real and ugly portrait of a side of America we’d all rather sweep under the rug. A rather Haromy Korrine-esque outing that shows us a disturbing reflection of what lies under the fingernails and in the gutters of modern American culture.
Leave it to Pixar to make a kids movie out of discussing the inner psyche of the human mind. It’s an incredible concept and one of Pixar’s most original stories in years. The dinner table scene, watching the inner workings of the family’s thought processes was hilarious and truly utilized the animation to show us we couldn’t see illustrated in any other movie. And the outstanding voice cast truly personified each emotion to a tee. A great time at the movies for the entire family, yet again thanks to Pixar and company.
This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. Rather than taking on the regularly snarky know-it-all everyman, Jason Bateman takes on a much darker role in this stunning thriller about a couple uncovering a 20 year old secret brought to light by an old acquaintance from their past. It’s an incredibly unnerving journey as you slowly watch each puzzle piece fit into place when you finally realize where the shocking finale is headed, you won’t believe it until it finally happens.
20.The Night Before
The comic re-teaming of Joseph Gordon-Levit, Seth Rogen and Jonathan Levine provided for quite the holiday treat. Though Anthony Mackie’s character felt a bit superimposed amongst the obvious likeliness of the real life relationship between Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, the chemistry between the three of them was hilarious to watch and definitely incapsulates what it’s like dealing with your evolving friendships as you grow older. It’s no Home Alone (though it seems like it really wants to be) but its certainly the best holiday comedy we’ve gotten in a decade or more.
21.Kingsman: The Secret Service
Matthew Vaughn has emerged as one of the best action director’s in the business and The Kingsman offers even further proof of that, as if you needed any. Much like his previous ultra violent graphic novel adaptation, Kick-Ass, The Kingsman is a fantastic mix of brutal action scenes and adult rated humor. Also like Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn continues to prove that not all comic book movies have to be sterilized for mass consumption.
Found footage seemed to be a fairly laughable concept but as technology continues to progress, the idea of someone constantly capturing video is more commonplace than ever. And M. Night’s latest ranks right up there amongst the best in the sub-genre. The building suspense growing throughout The Visit is palpable and does wonders to carry an otherwise uneventful film to it’s stunning conclusion. A conclusion that would have been much better had the film ended about 5 minutes earlier, without the epilogue-like addition at the end where apparently it felt necessary to spoon feed you the exact message the film was aiming for. Nevertheless, it’s a promising sign for a potential return to form from a unique voice in horror that’s been sorely missing since he thwarted an alien invasion with water.
23.Montage of Heck
Kurt Cobain’s one of the most enduring figures rock and roll has produced in the last 25+ years. Seeing a little bit more behind the madness of his rise and fall with Montage of Heck was absolutely captivating for someone like me that grew up in the 90’s. Reliving the highs and lows of Nirvana and seeing his journey before the band was quite telling as to where a lot of Kurt’s inspirations and motives came from. The access granted to the film made it feel more complete than any other investigation done into his life and death than previous works, even if there seemed to be a few liberties taken with the evidence gathered. It’s an incredibly compelling story about a reluctant voice of a generation and where he came from. One question though, where’s Dave Grohl?
Despite being some what of a financial letdown, I was pleasantly surprised with how Ant-Man turned out. Especially considering the mid-production departure of Edgar Wright. Paul Rudd was perfectly cast as the lead and the supporting roles from Michael Douglas and Corey Stoll made this a much more well rounded affair than most Marvel origin stories. The underlying humor and self-deprecating humor aimed at the Ant-Man monicker worked brilliantly and I honestly can’t see why people flocked to Guardians of the Galaxy more than this. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but for once, I can’t wait for the sequel!
The Middle is where we find the majority of 2015’s releases. There weren’t a whole lot of films I could walk away from saying they were flat out awful but more than ever, most were just okay. With more and more movies produced each and every year on more formats than ever with more resources than ever- it feels like the quantity Hollywood is churning out far outweighs the quality.
Chappie’s one of the most conflicting movies of the year for me. There’s so much in Chappie that I absolutely loved but the Die Antwoord hijacking the film was a bit odd. They just didn’t feel like they belonged in the story whatsoever. Otherwise, Chappie serves as yet another phenomenal dystopian adventure for Blomkamp that plays as a much better homage to Robocop than the Robocop remake did but because of the odd casting choice and Chappie’s odd turn as a criminal, it’s much more in line with the underwhelming Elysium than District 9. But it has it’s moments.
26.While We're Young
Noah Baumbach delivered two pretty phenomenal indie comedies this year, While We’re Young standing out as my clear favorite. Reuniting with his Greenberg star Ben Stiller, Baumbach crafted an incredibly relatable and hilarious story about a middle-aged couple befriending a young couple to invigorate their fading enthusiasm for life without kids. Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfriend are all remarkable in their roles that makes for one of the most surprising romantic comedies of the year. Sadly though, the plot flies off the rails a bit when Stiller becomes hellbent on exposing the fraudulent nature of his young admirer Adam Driver. I’m not sure why the film sways so radically from the self discovery path it starts down but regardless, the film as whole is still a good time.
There are very few films that encapsulate what it’s truly like to be a kid the way Cop Car does. The kids are unbelievably authentic and it provides a childlike wonder to the entire film. Kevin Bacon’s role as the corrupt car, whose titular car is then stolen by this kids, is also pretty brilliant as well. It’s an incredibly simple concept that draws you in and won’t let go until the closing credits arise. Albeit, I was hoping for a better conclusion before those credits hit but what are you going to do?
The semi annual David O. Russell Christmas party starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper didn’t quite live up to what Russell’s given us in the past. Lawrence is as charismatic and endearing as ever as the lead character Joy but other than that, it’s hard to find a relatable character in this by the books underdog story. Russell’s become a lynchpin in creating lovable oddball families but this time around, it’s hard to really connect with anyone outside of Lawrence. And though Russell delivers a fast paced and easy watch, the storyline just feels way to familiar and predictable. Although, there were points throughout where I felt like Russell was drawing parallels with his career in the movie industry and Joy’s struggles to get her creations made, much like Favreau did so brilliantly with Chef. This time, the metaphor doesn’t quite translate as well.
Michael Dougherty crafted somewhat of a holiday cult classic with his horror anthology Trick R’ Treat and his follow up looked to take aim at Christmas next. The premise of Krampus is absolutely great, especially considering what our modern day commercialized Christmas now consists of. It had an abundance of potential for social commentary and black humor but I didn’t feel the film ever really hit it’s stride. With all of the humor and personality in the opening credits, I was hoping to see Adam Scott and David Koechner get a lot more to work with. But the entire cast is rather underdeveloped, restricted to mostly stereotypes. And it really felt like they didn’t know how to end this movie. The twist they ended up going with felt like a total cop out and I couldn’t help but wonder if this would have been better served as a short rather than a feature film.
30.Bridge of Spies
Crazy to think a collaboration of Tom Hanks, Steve Spielberg and Ethan Cohen could go this much under the radar. But given what the three of them have given us in the past, it feels far too tame. Hanks gives another great performance as a lawyer defending an accused Soviet spy, negotiating his return to his former homeland. The underlying tension of the Cold War is captured brilliantly and perhaps amongst the best film representations we’ve seen to date. The speculation, the paranoia, the anxiety - Spielberg does a great job telling a fairly unknown story despite a lack of action to keep the story moving.
Another Oscar favorite, Carol is the unconventional love story of a department store clerk in 1950’s New York falling for an older, married woman. The story is fairly simple but the performances from Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Kyle Chandler elevate this to one of the most engaging films of the year. Seeing the two come to grips with their untraditional feelings and the social stigmas they face as they explore them further is really interesting. The journey of self discovery Rooney Mara leads us on is about as telling a tale of homosexuality that we’ve seen thus far in modern cinema. Simple to a fault, Carol feels like one of the most humanizing films of the year.
When you think of Ridley Scott (especially in space) you often think of dark, brooding atmospheres. That’s hardly the case with his latest in The Martian. Amongst a remarkable ensemble cast, Matt Damon shines as the sarcastic yet hopeful astronaut stranded on Mars left to survive on whatever he can produce for himself on the barren planet. The isolated atmosphere is almost the polar opposite of what we’ve seen from Scott’s other works with similar circumstances and really goes to show you the range this filmmaker is capable of. Not to mention Matt Damon, who carries the film’s momentum almost entirely on his own.
33.Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Basically, if you want to make a big budget action movie these days without superheroes, just make them a secret agent. Although, it’s hard to argue that Ethan Hunt is less than superhuman at this point in the Mission Impossible franchise. This fifth entry feels incredibly formulaic despite its stunning action sequences and stunt pieces. I was rather looking forward to seeing Jeremy Renner stepping in for the aging Cruise but he’s ultimately sidelined for the entirety of his second go around with IMF. Instead we get another plot about the IMF dissolving and a new love interest in Rebecca Ferguson. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of turning Ethan Hunt into a husband as JJ Abrams did in the third film, we can’t just forget it ever happened can we?
Saoirse Ronan gives a fantastic performance as an Irish immigrant forced to choose between a life back home with her mother or embracing her new life with her italian boyfriend in Brooklyn. And that’s it. It’s incredibly cut and dry and yet somehow still manages to entertain for the majority of it’s 111 minute runtime. Though it does drag a bit upon her inevitable return to Ireland, the film tells a beautiful story about making your own life and embracing opportunity.
35.Avengers: Age of Ultron
After Joss Whedon did such an amazing job of seamlessly intertwining our super team of Marvel heroes in the original Avengers, I didn’t expect him to have such a hard time trying to replicate it in the sequel. Though he did improve upon the worst part of the first film by introducing us to a worthy villain in Ultron. It’s just too bad he’s wasted on such a convoluted, yet uneventful movie. We spend so much time getting to know Hawkeye and the Maximoffs that we never really get the monumental impact of having all of these heroes back together in the same movie. Which is probably why Marvel’s treating the next Captain America as their chance to re-do what they missed out on here. Which is odd because this actually has a pretty great script as well, it just feels that Whedon might be a little overwhelmed trying to conduct all these different elements into one congruent story. Or maybe the rumors of Marvel having too many cooks in the kitchen is finally showing itself.
Ryan Gosling’s much maligned directoral debut finally hit this year and I have to say, I was quite impressed. Sure, it’s a bit derivative of his regular collaborator Nicholas Winding Refn but the story itself was pretty interesting. And as usual with Gosling, you know the soundtrack’s going to be good. I’m not sure what caused all of the backlash this film received but I thought it was a fairly impressive first outing for a rookie director, even if it felt a bit pretentious at times. I just hope the politics in getting it released hasn’t soured Gosling from stepping behind the camera again in the near future.
Call me crazy but I for one didn’t hate the Griswold’s reboot-quel remake imagining thing that’s new but kinda like the first one. Though I will admit I felt like Clark Griswold running towards a closed Wallyworld once I realized there was no great twist coming at the end of the film, the ride to get there was a blast. A funny, raunchy ride with a number of hilarious cameos and some wickedly vindictive sibling squabbling made this one the biggest surprises of the year for me. Better than We’re the Millers but not quite on par with the Vacations of old; it’s still a good time.
Noah Baumbach is really establishing himself as one of this generation’s finest writers. His characters are so brilliantly fleshed out that you almost forget about the plot entirely. You’re caught up in getting to know his fabulous cast of misfits and all of their quirks. Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke are incredible in the lead roles but its the deep and intertwining ensemble that keeps the sometimes meandering plot afloat. Baumbach’s voice feels lost somewhere between Woody Allen and Wes Anderson and while he’s shown promise with his initial works, I feel like the best is still yet to come from this brilliant young filmmaker.
39.Z for Zachariah
Setting up camp in a post apocalyptic world on a farm with Margot Robbie sounds like a great time to me. Until that bastard Chris Pine shows up. Z for Zachariah is a captivating character study that shoulders all of its emotional tension on its incredible cast of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine and Margot Robbie. Though the ending really lacks any grand resolve, watching these three navigate their fallout shelter love triangle is kind of mesmerizing and serves as an incredibly entertaining look at relationships.
40.The Big Short
Adam McKay’s leap from Will Ferrel cohort to Oscar caliber dramatic director was just as clumsy as you might have imagined. The story is incredibly dense and weighed down in financial jargon but but rather than give the story room to breath and develop naturally, McKay dumbs it down to the point that you almost feel as if you’re watching something intended for adolescents. The ADHD, nearly epilepsy inducing format that the film is edited in makes the convoluted story all that much harder to digest with it’s jarring cuts and erratic narrative. If not for a brilliant source material and some incredible performances (namely from Carell and Bale), this thing would have been a huge missed opportunity. Instead we get a good film where there might have been a great one, if given a more competent director.
Charlie Kaufman’s been behind some of the most thought provoking and innovative cinema this century. Sadly though, his first picture since 2008’s Synecdoche, New York is by far his least impactful. Known for his groundbreaking takes on perception and experience, Anomalisa feels surprisingly straight forward. So much so that the story feels like it would have been better served as a short film instead of a feature length. There are definitely human moments sprinkled throughout but when a 90 minute film about puppets spends that much time on a sex scene and it’s not Team America, you have to question if you’re spreading an already thin script far past its reach.
Judd Apatow seems to have lost his way as of late. Since the commercial flop that was Funny People (which I personally consider to be his best film), he’s grown incredibly long winded and without the direction that made his early comedies so poignant and everlasting. With Trainwreck, the script is in Schumer’s hands and yet his overly long running time for a comedy still persists. The film is funny enough but never really hits the emotional levity it’s clearly striving for. Bill Hader’s character is completely underdeveloped and Lebron James’ appearance feels like a living-breathing name drop for the film to boast about. The real athlete turned actor that shines here is John Cena. It’s been a long time since I watched professional wrestling but I had no idea this guy could be this funny. And even though Trainwreck is plenty funny itself, it spends way too much time trying unsuccessfully to be sentimental to succeed entirely at either comedy or drama.
43.The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened?
I love hearing about the “almosts” or “could have been” stories of Hollywood. David Lynch’s Return of the Jedi. Alejandro’s Dune. The stories behind the camera can turn out just as interesting as what’s going on in front of it sometimes and Superman Lives is one of those stories. Especially considering the current Superhero landscape we see today, it’s interesting to look back at the project Tim Burton began conceptualizing on after his departure from Batman. The behind the scenes footage and interviews acquired make for an incredibly interesting feature but unfortunately, it’s an incredibly specific niche you’re looking to serve. Without interest in the film industry or Superman, the documentary feels more like supplemental material on a special edition DVD rather than it’s own free-standing feature film.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s had an incredible run as of late but I really couldn’t buy him here in his role as Billy Hope. It just wasn’t believable. Much like the huge plot twist surrounding Rachel McAdams. I couldn’t connect with it. We’ve seen so many boxing stories in film now that this one was really easy to brush off as just another subpar offering. It’s not terrible by any means it just never really does much to set itself apart from its contemporaries in The Fighter or Creed. Although, Forest Whitaker gives a career performance as Hope’s trainer and really comes through as the only likable character throughout the midsection of the film. Other than that, there’s not much we haven’t seen here done better somewhere else.
45.Pitch Perfect 2
Hard to believe the first Pitch Perfect is already 3 years old. Which raises more than a few problems for the forthcoming 3rd installment for this film series centered around kids in college but that’s neither here nor there. Pitch Perfect 2 is surprisingly even better than the cult hit original. Rather than a reunion of regurgitating what worked in the first film, the sequel expands upon our characters and what they need to do to make their music remain successful. Hailee Steinfeld is a welcomed addition to the cast of misfits and her knack for writing original music adds a nice subplot for Anna Kendrick’s progression into becoming a music professional. It’s a bit odd to see the stereotypical male buddy comedy turned on its ear with the boyfriend role being reduced to just, well being the boyfriend, but I guess females in comedies have been suffering the same role for much longer. And good God, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins stole the show once again with just about every line they deliver. A funny, if predictable, comedy sequel that accomplished the rare feat of surpassing the original.
Robert Zemeckis has been a revolutionary technological innovator for some 30 years now and having him utilize the IMAX format with a high-wire walk between the World Trade Center towers was quite the experience. The film’s climax is amongst the most memorable sequences of any film this year but it’s everything that proceeds it that drags this film back down to Earth. Namely, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gordon-Levitt’s execution of the French accent required for the role was suspect at best but having him narrate the film as he spoke directly to the camera was just way too much. It also made the already bloated 120 minute running time move even slower, as he felt like a completely unnecessary tour guide for the PG audience. With some more stringent editing and a more refined performance from our lead, The Walk could have gone from a mediocre film to a great one.
It’s such a shame to see a film with an ora of optimism and hope miss the mark this horribly. Spitting in the face of cynicism, Tomorrowland comes off way too preachy for you to ever really strap in for the ride. Especially for a kid’s movie. The exposition takes so long bludgeoning you again and again with it’s romantic flare for adventure that by the time it finally gets going, it’s hard not to feel underwhelmed by where it takes you. Once you finally get to Tomorrowland you’re left with a typical hero/villain showdown and before you know it you just watched an entire film composed merely out of inspirational quotes and a jetpack. But there really is a great story in here somewhere, it’s just surprisingly mishandled by the typically superb Brad Bird. The cast is incredible with Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy standing out amongst Hugh Laurie and George Clooney as the film’s young leads. It’s a nice change of pace to see such talented young actors working these days opposed to the Miley Cyrus and Dakota Fanning’s we’re used to.
Jason Clarke had one hell of a year. Not only did he play the best John Connor to date, in an otherwise wretched Terminator sequel but he also stole the show in an impressive ensemble piece consisting of Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film captures the experience of mountain climbing in such an authentic and captivating way that it truly feels like you’re along for the ride with these thrill seekers. But the movie turns ugly after reaching the summit. Once the storm hits and we start losing our cast, piece by piece, the film really gets the wind taken out of its’ sails. There’s no drama or suspense about it, our characters are extinguished rather abruptly, which really diminishes all of the great things Everest did in it’s climb up the mountain. The emotional disconnect is so jarring, it feels as if the film was incomplete. Hopefully director Baltasar Kormakur gives us a more well rounded offering with his next picture, he certainly showed plenty of promise with the first half of this one.
An Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie apocalypse movie?! Sign me up! Okay, it’s not that kind of Schwarzenegger movie or that kind of zombie movie. But that’s a good thing. It’s much more understated and much more human. Schwarzenegger has struggled to find his niche after his return from politics but this slow paced, zombie fallout flick suits him pretty well. The premise of the film establishes an incredibly moody and interesting environment but sadly as the film progresses, it doesn’t do much to keep it moving forward. And it really sucks the filmmakers settled on such a predictable ending after an enticing introduction. But take it for what it is, a thought provoking and unique undead tale that settles for a paint by numbers second half.
These are the films that weren’t bad enough to be in the “Worst” category but also too flawed to be called average. Forgettable, disappointing, underachieving, etc. These are the kids that brought home a C- report card, some disappointing their parents that were expecting an A and others thrilled to come home with something other than an F.
50.The Peanuts Movie
Initially I really hated the idea of seeing the Peanuts gang rebooted and repackaged but it honestly wasn’t that bad. Certainly not down at the level of the Chipmunks or TMNT reboots. The animation was refreshingly innovative and really captured the spirit of the original comic strips but stretching an old short story into a full length feature really didn’t do much to keep me invested. The film felt incredibly long for a kid’s movie, especially with the unnecessary Red Barron subplot. It just felt a bit sterile at times and I find it hard to imagine it connected with kids at such a slow, uneventful pace.
Johnny Depp hasn’t had a role this intriguing in quite some time. Sadly though, he’s buried so deep in prosthetics that it’s hard to really accept him in the role. And while the direction is top notch, it feels like the story itself is fairly neutered. A film like the Departed has the creative license to take liberties with reality v.s. fiction since the character is only loosely based on Bulger but since this film came out and proclaimed itself the Whitey Bulger story, it feels like its way too concerned with being factually accurate than entertaining it’s audience. It’d be impossible to fill in exactly what happened in some of these instances so you walk away feeling like you’ve only seen a collection of scenes or read a series of eye witness accounts, rather than a watching a fluid story.
I can’t believe this franchise is 7 films deep. Kind of hilarious that after Vin Diesel swore off sequels early in his career, they’re kind of the only thing keeping his career alive at this point. And while James Wan did a pretty great job with his first tentpole blockbuster, it’s hard to say he added anything substantial to the series. Same with Statham. Justin Lin elevated this franchise to a whole nother level and at this point it’s hard to imagine where the crew will head next. Hopefully it includes a lot more Dwayne Johnson though. Sidelining him in a hospital bed for the majority of the film was a huge letdown for a character that really reinvigorated the series.
Nice to see The Rock finally score a box office hit outside of an already established franchise. Sure it was kind of an empty visual spectacle but hey, that’s what disaster movies usually are. And as mindless as this one was, it was pretty entertaining. Alexandra Daddario’s relationship as the alpha male saving her damsel in distress boyfriend was bit of an odd twist though. And the whole, “Let’s be a happy family again!” narrative felt a little forced and predictable but whatever. As far as popcorn action flicks go, you can do a lot worse.
After Tammy, I’ve been pretty reluctant hopping aboard just any Melissa McCarthy vehicles. But thankfully, she’s toned down the over the top buffoon bit for a much more understated brand of comedy in this latest in a long line of secret agent spoofs. The odd thing is, the film never really reaches laugh out loud funny until a good hour into the picture. Paul Feig seems to be a bit longwinded for a comedy director and while that pace definitely benefited the dramatic levity buried beneath the gross out humor of Bridesmaids, there’s not much else here other than another formulaic espionage story to keep your attention.
55.Insidious Chapter III
The first Conjuring entry without James Wan seems to have gotten the franchise back on track. Or at least back to being interesting. The sequel made the classic horror follow up mistake by showing us too much of what was hidden in the shadows of the first film but the third does the smart thing and ditches Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson’s characters altogether. And despite being a prequel, it also doesn’t try to awkwardly match up Lin Shaye’s voice with a gorgeous 20 year old like the last one did. No offense to Lin Shaye or anything, but it’s not believable in the least bit. It’s much more refreshing to see her in an origin story of sorts, coming to grips with her gift and assembling her ghost hunting team. A bit dry at times but overall, a vast improvement from it’s predecessor. Even if it’s a bit unnecessary.
56.The Final Girls
Another example of the recent trend of nostalgia bait horror, The Final Girls was a decent way to relive the Friday the 13th series from a modern and fresh perspective by literally inserting modern day characters into the dated plot structure of an 80’s slasher. But rather than a standalone experience, it feels more like a companion piece that can’t be fully enjoyed without having experienced the films that The Final Girls serves a somewhat backhanded homage to. But the thing that keeps this from being more than just a live action commentary track is the outstanding ensemble cast. Which feels incredibly odd to say about a film reliving Friday the 13th. But the hilarious and charismatic cast prove for great tour guides as you hike down a fairly familiar and worn path.
It feels like every year we get a new indie-coming of age, high school comedy trying to introduce the John Hughes archetype to a new generation. Dope is certainly near the bottom of that list as it tries way too hard to say way too much. Part Risky Business, part anti-racial proclamation, Dope is really only good for a laugh but not much else. It’s a scatter brained mess that never really finishes any of the paths it starts down, despite having a ton of personality and more than a few genuine moments of humor. It just feels like it’s trying way to hard to be the Blipster flagship instead of completing a full start to finish story. And the anti-racism message it clings to at the film’s close feels like a convenient way to wrap up a plot that never really heads down one of the many paths it starts down.
If you’re hard pressed for a film that truly embodies the term “art-house pretense”, have I got just the thing for you. The cinematography is pretty remarkable but as a whole, the film feels like it’s shouting at you as if it’s a cure for cancer when it’s really nothing more than an anecdotal pass-time. Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are phenomenal actors - but not here. They both seem to be in paycheck mode, or as if they actually shot the film in their down time while staying at the resort in the film. It might have been more enjoyable if it wasn’t presented as such a grandiose procedure but as it is, it’s an average story with average performances selling itself as a masterpiece.
59.The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar winning performance as Stephen Hawking in last year’s Theory of Everything was one of the worst examples of Oscar-bait I’ve seen in quite some time. That is, until The Danish Girl. Much like Theory of Everything, we get phenomenal performances from our two leads but the film itself meanders about as if the directors are only there to watch Redmayne’s performance as well. And his performance, mind you, is incredible. If he hadn’t won last year I’d say he’s a shoe in this time around but you know how that goes. But the real surprise with the film was Alicia Vikander nearly stealing the show as his wife. Her endearing support is really the only optimistic thing to take away from a film that otherwise feels surprisingly depressing and disheartening for a film about a brave transgender pioneer.
It Follows is the head of another niche front in the modern horror market, the throwback. Like The Guest and House of the Devil before it, It Follows draws from the same vein of straightforward storytelling, low budget thrills and a solid 80’s synth soundtrack. But the retro nostalgia kick just doesn’t do it for me. I loved the 80’s too but don’t try recreating it - use that as a foundation to build something new. I don’t understand how stuff like this gets a pass while being just as derivative and unoriginal as a remake. Maika Monroe was brilliant and delivers a breakout performance but the story itself is so dull that it’s hard to really invest in the film. There’s not a lot of urgency to it and the rules don’t really line up. It’s as if the filmmakers are changing the rules to a game as you play it, which conveniently always benefit them. Horror’s in a bad place when you have people lauding something as mediocre as It Follows as it’s saving grace.
If you know me at all, you know I’m a pretty sarcastic guy. But even I have my limits. It feels like the boundaries of snark-itude were well exceeded in this oddly timed adaptation that thinks it’s way more clever than it actually is. Like most overly sarcastic people (myself included). When I was a kid I would have done just about anything to see a Goosebumps movie but I think even the 10 year old fanboy version of myself would have drawn the line at casting Jack Black as R.L. Stine in some kind of bastardized Halloween version of Jumanji. It’s really more of a fantasy film than horror, with the scares incredibly soft and predictable and all of the original series’ edge and pre-teen content castrated in the process.
Every year I try to explain myself in the same type of preface but with everything instantaneously dubbed either “THE BEST” or “THE WORST” nowadays, I feel like I need to reiterate, these are only the worst movies that I actually saw. I’m sure Gem and the Holograms or Alvin and the Chipmunks 14 would fit nicely on this list but I don’t have time to watch stuff that looks that bad right out of the gate. So these are the worst movies that looked good enough to dupe me into watching them this year.
It’s been pretty interesting to see the Judd Apatow regulars start to transition into more dramatic work over the past year or so but not all of them can be winners. Such is the case with this bizarre story about a journalist trying to extract the truth from an accused murderer who has happened to use his identity. Franco’s pretty easy to see as a pathological liar but the best performance of the film comes from Felicity Jones. Franco and Hill’s exchanges seem to drag the film out over an eternity but Jones’ speech near the end of the picture really added the tension and confrontational attitude this picture sorely needed to survive. It’s a shame we waste so much time with Hill and Franco because she comes across as the most driven and motivated character in a drawn out, otherwise boring film with a puzzling overall message that seems to equate murderers with liars.
Chris Hemsworth seems to be having a hell of a time trying to transition into a leading man without an oversized hammer in his hand. But honestly, the failure of Blackhat has very little to do with him and almost everything to do with Michael Mann. I hate to sound like a film snob but watching this movie will show you exactly why directors like Chris Nolan, Quentin Tarantino and PT Anderson are fighting so vigilantly to save the film format. The digital presentation here is absolutely dreadful. The film feels amateurish and unfinished. To put it flatly, it looks lazy. The format doesn’t suit the slow burn, espionage action film whatsoever and sucks any drama out of the picture almost entirely. Once the film finally gets going (if you’re still awake at that point), it’s not terrible but it’s certainly Michael Mann’s least impressive work to date.
64.Magic Mike XXL
Steven Soderbergh’s surprisingly dark, original Magic Mike was an absolute blast but crafting a sequel without it’s three best assets- Soderbergh, Alex Pettyfer, and Matthew McConaughey? Of course it was a let down. It felt like Channing Tatum was trying to win over the desperate housewives who shelled out cash for the original that left disappointed with it’s surprisingly dark tone by giving them the guilty pleasure, raunch com they were expecting the first time. Don’t get me wrong, the gas station bit was absolutely hilarious but the rest of the flick was totally forgettable and lacked the emotional weight that made the first trip worth while.
Guillermo Del Toro’s name alone is enough to draw my interest to any project but it didn’t take long for that to dwindle in his gothic romance, Crimson Peak. That’s right, this isn’t the horror film Universal was selling it as, but you can’t fault the film’s droll pace and predictable storyline on poor marketing. Del Toro is a visionary filmmaker but he still has a ways to go as a writer. Even worse, there’s absolutely no chemistry between the leads. The regularly charismatic Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston feel disconnected and stagnant, as does our heroine Mia Wasikowska. And with a story this dry and predictable, the flat performances absolutely bury this lackluster affair.
The long awaited return to the Jurassic Park franchise was one of the biggest financial success stories of the summer and in my opinion, the most overrated flick of the year. Much like Terminator, Jurassic Park feels like a concept that really isn’t fit for a sequel. I mean hell, if the best Crichton and Spielberg could churn out was Lost World, why are we still trying? Oh right, hundreds of millions of dollars. And granted, the special effects improvements provided for some cool new dinosaurs but the storyline of militarizing dinosaurs? Get the fuck out of here. And Bryce Dallas Howard was abysmal, I honestly would have rather watched the movie from the two kids’ perspective than even deal with Chris Pratt or Howard whatsoever. It was better than the third one though. But barely.
After an 8 year directoral drought, Eli Roth dropped two feature length films on us this year, both pretty damn bad. Though Knock Knock was much more fun, it’s still almost as mindless and vapid as Green Inferno. The real saving grace for the film is it’s lead, Keanu Reeves. Reeves delivers a performance of Nicholas Cage-like proportions, hamming it up as he falls victim to the torment of two vicious vixens randomly stopping at his home for help. I guess my major problem with it was that it was so random. The film was certainly entertaining, I guess I was just waiting for a reason why, some kind of motive to be revealed at the conclusion of all this madness. Instead, we get the obvious plot twist that ***SPOILER ALERT*** the girls are in fact over 18, they just said they weren’t to manipulate Keeanu after they’d already gotten in on. It’s a campy, trashy, and decent watch - just not one I’d really recommend going out of my way to catch.
I definitely feel for Max Landis’ plea for original content in movies but attaching that comment to the colossal failure of American Ultra really kind of invalidates your argument. Eisenberg and Stewart seem to be sleepwalking through stereotypical roles in yet another mindlessly violent stoner comedy in the vein of Pineapple Express. And it’s a shame, I was really hoping for much more from this Adventureland reunion. Instead we get an incredibly predictable tale of an underachieving stoner realizing his potential and winning the girl of his dreams in a movie that feels like it would have been outdated had it come out in 1998. The characters are flat and painfully unfunny for something that’s supposed to be a comedy. Stoner comedies only work when our burnouts have a personality, something sorely missing from this dull outing.
To be honest, I really liked Terminator Salvation. In my opinion it’s the only good Terminator that wasn’t directed by James Cameron. But the series just really isn’t meant to be franchised out into multiple sequels like this. When you look back at it, the storyline for T2 doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense, it’s essentially just a bigger budget version of the first film with Arnold swapped out as the hero instead of the villain. But regardless, this latest attempt is the worst entry we’ve seen thus far. The time travel becomes way too convoluted and while Jason Clarke is phenomenal as John Connor, having him turn heel was an idiotic move. It just felt like a cheap attempt at shock value and really added nothing to the story. I can’t imagine the Terminator brand living on much further after this debacle, especially with Arnold fossilizing before our very eyes.
70.The Green Inferno
It’s been way too long since we’ve seen Eli Roth behind the camera. Hostel and Cabin Fever are two of the best horror films this millennium. However, his long gestating return hardly justifies the wait. Despite aligning itself with Cannibal Holocaust, Roth’s Cannibalistic horror show doesn’t do much to shock you in terms of gore and terror but rather it’s inane sense of humor. Roth clearly hasn’t grown up much in the past several years, though he really needs to. Showing our human prisoners jump to shitting and masturbating in front of one another in less than a day’s worth of captivity just shows you exactly where this guy’s mind goes.
Kevin Hart’s a phenomenal stand up comedian. And the dude is obviously an incredibly hard worker. I mean christ, the dude puts out more movies in a year than some production studios. But for the love of God, someone needs to tell him that it’s ok to say no once in a while. And while I really hate how quickly the general public seems to have turned on Will Ferrel, stuff like this and the Campaign are exactly why. Much like the Campaign, this is an incredibly dull and unfunny movie with two extremely funny people somehow trapped inside of it. Allison Brie looks great though.
72.Ricki and the Flash
Diablo Cody’s had a pretty spotty track record but I was fairly optimistic heading into her collaboration with Jonathan Demme and Meryl Streep. But just like Young Adult, she spends way too much time castigating her lead character for you to every really connect with her. And while you can argue that you’re never really supposed to connect with the lead in Young Adult, that’s clearly the intent of Ricki and the Flash. The film spends half it’s time pretending to be a paint by numbers story of an estranged mother and daughter re-connecting through hard times and then takes a u-turn to try and force feed you something about accepting your non-traditional lifestyle. But the transition is way too clunky and feels like Cody herself was lost in the writing process and clung to the closest thing she could package as a moral in her story. It feels desperate and disingenuous, much like our unlikable protagonist. At least we’ll finally have proof that the Academy won’t nominate ANYTHING Meryl Streep touches.
73.Tales of Halloween
Horror, as an entire genre, has been dwelling in cinematic purgatory for at least a decade now. Whether today’s audiences are desensitized or there’s really just only so many ways you can kill a person (thanks Saw and Final Destination). Whatever the case may be, things are pretty dire and scary movies have become a niche market to say the least. Horror fans have become so desperate for new material that it seems as if every attempt at something that isn’t a remake is automatically applauded. But Tales of Halloween is by far, the worst movie I saw this year. It’s everything wrong with horror. Mindless plots, goofy and over the top attempts at humor, and absolutely nothing suspenseful or terrifying in any way shape or form. The VHS series was a far from perfect anthology piece but next to this, they look like the Godfather trilogy. It wants to be Creepshow but feels like all the worst episodes of Tales From the Crypt. Way too campy, cheesy and honestly just immature.