Friday, February 26, 2016

Andy's Top 15 Films of 2015

We keep hearing time and time again that this year was a low year for film. Maybe that's the truth, but ultimately I feel that it's a representation of where we, as Slackers, are in our lives. As we grow and shift our interests we become less attuned to the industry surrounding us.

When I look at all the movies that came out I find no lack of subject of interest; nor do I find any particular glaring examples in lack of quality. What I do find, though, is that we age. Every year as we get a year older and leave our childhoods behind us, we enter into a realm less filled with fantasy and mysticism and more filled with bills and salaries. I remember a small handful of years back where all of us Slackers were discussing some of our favorite movies and titles like "Star Wars" and "Superman Returns" were spoken amongst of highly. If you asked our group how many times we watched "Superman Returns" this year I guarantee you'd get a single digit answer from the lot of us. We don't, as a group, seem to dedicate the same kind of wonder or passion that we used to have. I look over the titles from this past year and see things like Star Wars and Jurassic Park, then realize that the only one of us to put both of them in his top three is the guy who's favorite movie is the version of Peter Pan where he accidentally grows up; clearly something has changed. The titles that used to have us talking for days on end are now fringe selections on our lists. So, I bring up once more: has this year truly been a low year for movies or have we simply raised our expectations of what kind of experience we should get out of a movie? I feel the magic is leaving and it pains me, but I must carry on and hope that something out there; some release or some past film I have yet to catch sparks that fantasy in me, in us, once more.

Until then, and without much more yapping about the ails of growing up, here is the list you've all been waiting for...

     15. Mustang
This is a great story about growing up in a place and condition I couldn't imagine to connect with personally, but it still comes through with these girls. I know I don't have much in common with the characters here but it feels so easy to extend some empathy and exist where they exist and feel the good times and bad of what they feel. This movie really connects you to these characters in a unique way. If anyone is looking for a great coming-of-age tale for a youngster learning what a conservative lifestyle means, then this is it. This hits the mark.
     14. Turbo Kid
A movie I only recently caught which was exactly what I needed in that moment. It's 80's, it's fun, it's flashy, it's honest; It knows all of these things and really runs with it. While some may be turned off by its obvious independent budget, the movie does well enough to pull you in that you don't mind the lack of bells and whistles. There is a ridiculousness happening here to the tenth power; it knows how crazy it is but still manages to deliver some really nice character arcs. You get a real sense of who this kid will become and how he is going to affect the world around him for the better.
     13. Inside Out
Bing Bong...why Bing Bong? The thing that always brings me to the edge of tears more than anything else in film is when something that isn't human acts in a way that any human would be proud of. A dog who fights off a tiger; a robot that stops a nuke in his quest to be like Superman, I could go on and on. It's these moments that truly let my emotions pour. When an imaginary friend decides to save the life of the friend who imagined him....that's deep. That's where the heart bullets hit me.
     12. Bone Tomahawk
More than anything this is just a full-on solid western. It's Kurt Russell hitting up his mustachioed western self once again! That's all I want life. I can also tell you that I got much more out of this movie than I was honestly expecting. There are some great elements at play here that I wouldn't want to spoil outright, but I can tell you that it can be a bit disturbing for some.
     11. Straight Outta Compton
There are a few movies on this list that I feel need little explanation, this is possibly one of those. We know the players and we have heard the stories. This movie does such a great job of portraying a point in time that was a turning point for an entire genre of music. The characters here really come through in great ways; in ways that are so believable that at times you may forget you are watching a movie and not a true section of real life.
     10. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Just a full-on fun fest! You get guns and explosions and all the suits you could ever ask for. This movie knew what its tone was supposed to be and kept it right in that sweet spot. If you enjoy action and over the top James Bond types of stories then you will absolutely love this movie. It may not have a ton of substance but it more than makes up for it with sweet fights and tons of guns.
     9. Creed
A great addition in the tale of Mr. Balboa. This really opens up the series to a whole new generation - if they even feel the need to attach it to Rocky; it stands on its own pretty well. It feels like a great solid classic Rocky movie with a twist that doesn't feel out of place in any way. Whether it's the end of something or the beginning of something else, we have yet to see.
     8. Spotlight
A dialogue-heavy drama based on a true story with one of the best casts around. You couldn't ask for a better situation going into this type of movie. It has all the thrills of a good detective story while keeping out most of the camp. It works for all the reasons it was meant to work.
     7. Mad Max: Fury Road
A darn solid movie for a two-hour picture that has maybe 200 words in total. I enjoyed the characters here quite a bit as well as seeing the world surrounding them. There aren't many detractor for this if you enjoy the genre. It's a great action movie that really holds its own. The only fault I will place on it is that I'm unsure if there's much of a desire to re-watch this one on my own. While it was great, it is very much one note. If you like action movies, great; if not, too bad because that's about all you're getting here. But that can be said for many genre flicks.
     6. We Are Still Here
This is a great horror flick with some really interesting plot devices coming into play. But other than that, I truly am not sure I could tell you the reason this movie is so high on my list. What I can tell you for sure is that the very first thing that drew me in was the poster itself. I'm a real sucker for vintage-style horror art. Once I was hooked, I just let the ride keep happening and it ended up really resonating with me. It felt like a good ol' fashioned fun watch. If there are any horror fans out there looking to check out a movie they might have otherwise missed, this one would be one of my higher recommendations.
     5. Jurassic World
As Derek so perfectly put it: "We grew up being fed that the T-Rex is the most hardcore dinosaur to walk this earth". This is what I love about "Jurassic World". It reconnects children with the love of a franchise that lost its way. It opens up a love of dinosaur movies for a whole new generation. I liked a lot about this movie and I think there are only a few things that drag it down for me, but the finale of this film is the thing that will keep it alive in my mind for years to come. You point out some of the better film finales of 2015 and don't include "Jurassic World"? I will aptly call you a liar and know that my assessment is correct.
     4. The Martian
My favorite genre is and may always be a good sci-fi drama - and if they decide to throw in a touch of comedy, even better. This movie feels to me like real people put in this situation with a lot of luck on their side. It gives a good amount of hope and heart all while dangling the correct amount of despair and dread just around the corner.
     3. What We Do in the Shadows
The "official" release date for this film is pretty muddled - it started showing way back in 2013, hit the international market in 2014 (it is a New Zealand production), but finally came to the states last year. So while Alex was perfectly justified having it on list last year, I also feel so having it this year. Plus, another plug for this film isn't a bad thing. It's truly a great watch. It is hilarious in all the right ways; a fantastic premise. This movie must have been great to work on because you get all of the slightly awkward moments of a comedy movie and all the cool special effects work for a monster movie. I walked away knowing that it would be a comedy I keep around for the ages.
     2. It Follows
I wish more people saw or cared about this film. The things it did to rekindle the way people can view a horror movie are astounding. It brought a true seriousness in all the right ways back to the genre. It really proved to me and hopefully to some newer generations that you can still make a horror movie that has some meaningful qualities!. I love the old classics, but sometimes you need to legitimize the story you are trying to tell with a real vision and someone with a passion for expanding the genre. This film is a true masterpiece among the terrifying and I hope it is able to stick with people the same way movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th still do. Plus this is just one of my favorite horror movie posters ever.
     1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I know that in my forward I said that movies like this seem to fall farther and farther down the totem pole, but some things I just can't bring myself to let go of. Star Wars as a franchise is something I believe will stick with me until forever. I think it's so ingrained in who I am that it is safely secured in my state of being. The Force Awakens literally awoke that spark in me that I had for the franchise. It reminded me of watching Luke Skywalker battling the forces of the darkside and triumphing for the side of good! I felt that with this movie, too. It felt classic while being original and it updated only the specific things that needed updating. It was a true and honest notch in the Star Wars timeline!

There we have it; that's my year in a nutshell. I didn't dedicate as much time to watching movies this past year as I normally like to, but I honestly have no one to blame but myself. I hope that somewhere out there a group of friends are reading these posts and decide they want to pick up the torch and continue in what we've started - we need more avid watchers out there! As I said before, I wasn't going to yap on about growing old, so I wont. Have a happy Oscar season and 2016, moviegoers!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Elisabeth's list, I know I'm pretty stoked for it!