Saturday, February 27, 2016

Elisabeth's Top 15 Films of 2015

As a whole, 2015 doesn't really stand out to me movie-wise. But when I start breaking it down, I realize that we got Jurassic World and Star Wars and those combined are enough for me to feel like it was a really fun and nostalgic year. I didn't go to the theater as much as I normally would have liked due to work and just, well, life. But that allowed me to be a little more discerning when it came to what I chose to see, making me never walk out of the theater disappointed at any point last year, at least not that I can remember.

I've never been super into reading about films and I've never read any film critics regularly (I rely on my husband Derek to fill me in on all the details); I just want to watch them and talk about them with friends. And that's exactly what writing here has felt like. It was a lot fun for me to be able to make a list like this to really think about and reminisce on all that I saw, but to do it in a casual, conversational way. Many of these films I saw only once, and writing about them now has made me want to go back and re-watch most of them. I want to thank my new (to me) fellow Slackers for the opportunity to be included in the blog this year – Alex, Nathan, Derek and Andy, I've had a blast. I look forward to more years to come!

     15. The Gift
This movie really surprised me. I had no intention of seeing this (at least not in the theater) but my brother asked if I wanted to go, so off I went. And enjoyed it so much. It’s super intense and obviously pretty disturbing, but it’s also so much fun to watch. Though it’s also kind of one of my worst fears realized. To have someone randomly showing up at my house over and over, watching me through windows, bringing me weird gifts…no. I think my biggest complaint about this movie is that the couple being stalked didn’t just move. They’d just moved in, so it’s not like they had a deep attachment to the house. Just get out of there! And maybe find a place that doesn’t have glass walls.
     14. Trainwreck
I bumped another movie at the last minute to add this one to my list. I just kept thinking about it too much to not include it. I wasn’t expecting to find it so funny, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as sweet as it was. I really love the added element of Amy’s relationship with her dad. I’m very close to my dad, so most father/daughter stories will hit me right in the heart (Interstellar being the one that did it for me last year). And any movie that can use the song “Uptown Girl” and not make me hate it is something pretty special. That end scene is just the best.
     13. The Visit
I am a very, very loyal Shyamalan fan. I’ll defend him to the end. I haven’t liked everything he’s done, but some of his films that everyone loves to hate are some of my favorite of all time (The Village, Lady In the Water). I’d been so worried about him, afraid he’d throw in the towel since everyone seems to hate everything he does so much. And reading through the different behind-the-scenes info he has available on his website (which is super interactive and fun to click through), it seems like he gets really down on himself when his movies don’t do well. So needless to say, I was thrilled when "The Visit" received generally favorable reviews. And I too enjoyed it. It was truly terrifying at times, and I felt like it really just went for it at the end. It surprised me, and I loved that. Not one I could watch all the time due to the subject matter, but one I’m definitely looking forward to own. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
     12. The End of the Tour
I was really into how dialogue-heavy the movie was. I share Alex’s love for that. Jason Segel absolutely broke my heart, and not necessarily because I knew what was going to happen to him. Something about the way he spoke, which is how I assume David Foster Wallace actually spoke, really just made me feel so weirdly sad. And when he carries on about how much he loves Alanis Morissette, how meeting her would cause him “a week of absolute trauma,” that’s pretty much how I feel about all the things I love. I love them so much I hate them. They make me too emotional. And apparently he felt the same way. I identified deeply with him in that moment.
     11. The Danish Girl
This entire movie was like an Anthropologie catalogue come to life. The set design and costuming were ridiculously beautiful. I liked the story, but I’d watch it again just for the visuals. And Eddie Redmayne was really wonderful, but Alicia Vikander knocked it out of the park. It was heartbreaking to watch her slowly lose her husband, but support him all the while. Both she and Lili were going through the hardest thing, and watching them face it, together yet separate, was incredibly touching.
     10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
I really loved the first two books in this series. I think I read both of them in two days. But the third and final book took me weeks to get through. I just was not into it (like everyone else, it seems). But somehow this movie followed the book almost perfectly and yet wasn’t a bore, and that pleased me immensely. I think it wrapped up the franchise perfectly and the ending had me in tears. I look forward to watching it again.
     9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
I’m not sure what to say about this one, other than it was sweet and sad and I think of it fondly. I honestly wasn’t very interested in Greg and Earl’s movies, but I loved watching the friendship grow and deepen between Greg and Rachel. The end was my favorite part, when Greg discovers all those book carvings in Rachel’s room. That was pretty special. Also, I’ll watch any movie with Connie Britton in it.
     8. It Follows
I can’t find many faults with this movie. It’s scary and strange and something that I find myself being in the mood to watch pretty regularly. I don’t love the pool scene, but I can give that pass. But what I can’t give a pass to is Yara’s shell-shaped flip phone. What even is that? That doesn’t exist. I know invisible monsters don’t exist either, but why put that little phone thing in the movie? I read that director David Robert Mitchell said they included it to keep things feeling “like a dream or something outside of time,” but it still really bothers me. I realize that it’s a dumb and superficial thing for me to focus on, but if something that dumb and superficial is distracting me from the more important storyline, I take issue with it. Weird little nonexistent shell-shaped flip phone aside, I think this movie is nearly perfect.
     7. Ex Machina
I’m really freaked out by human-like robots. This is not a contest that I would want to win, ever. I spent this entire movie being completely terrified of Oscar Isaac and also absolutely loving him. Despite not knowing if he was ever telling the truth or what he was going to do next, I always felt myself excited for the Caleb/Ava scenes to end so I could get to the next Nathan scene. Plus, that dance. That dance is everything.
     6. Creed
I have zero attachment to the Rocky films. I saw the first one when I was a kid but had no real memory of it until I rewatched it a month or so ago. The others I’ve only seen snippets of. When I was visiting a friend in Philadelphia a few years ago, she drove me past the famous steps of the art museum and I remember just thinking, “Oh, okay.” So my indifference was pretty high. But Creed had me from the moment the title hit the screen. I was immediately involved and excited and by the end my heart rate was through the roof. I felt exactly like Phylicia Rashad looked like she felt, downing glasses of wine while watching Adonis fight on TV. I also love seeing Michael B. Jordan becoming so successful. I first saw him on Friday Night Lights and I’m just so glad he’s starting to pop up everywhere.
     5. The Martian
I love a good space/sci-fi movie, and I love that this didn’t feel too far outside the realm of reality. I don’t think I have a single complaint about it. I loved the cast, the story, the humor, the soundtrack. It all worked for me. I think I’ll end up watching this regularly. And now that I’m writing and thinking about this movie, I’m craving potatoes.
     4. Inside Out
I wasn’t expecting much from this movie and it absolutely floored me. It was so smart. And from a personal standpoint, I identified with Riley so much. I was a little older than her (13-years-old to Riley’s 11) when my family packed up and moved halfway across the country. Riley left the Midwest for the West, and my family left the West for the Midwest. So I completely understand what it’s like to be a kid who’s torn from everything and everyone she knows and thrown into a totally new environment and culture. I know what it’s like to start at a new school at an age that makes it so hard to fit in and find friends. I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed with sadness, to feel an emotional change in myself. It resonated deeply with me. I still get teary-eyed when I think about it. And Bing-Bong, my goodness. Why you gotta do that to me?
     3. Jurassic World
I was miserably sick when I saw this in the theater and the movie was so good I was able to completely forget about the horrible way my body felt. I don’t think a movie has ever really been able to do that for me before. Do we know if John Hammond was alive during the building/opening/initial success of this park? Because whatever you may think about the man, I just kept getting teary-eyed thinking about how proud he’d be of the place. This park was his dream come to life. It finally worked (well, almost). I really wish we would have gotten a great zoom-in on the statue of him, because the park would not be there without him. I love all the nostalgia this movie made me feel, from the t-shirt the command center guy was wearing, to the kids finding the old visitor’s center and seeing that banner still there on the floor. And then throw Chris Pratt and raptors that remind me of my cats and the old T-Rex into the mix and I am just so happy.
     2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I won’t even pretend to be as big of a Star Wars fan as most people, but I do love it. And this episode did pretty much everything I wanted it to. I loved seeing a woman kind of take the lead (and what a great role model she is for girls), and who couldn’t fall in love with BB-8? I was so wrapped up in the movie that I didn’t even realize it was ending when it was, and I was genuinely surprised when the end credits hit the screen. Watching it a second time, I realized that the ending was pretty obvious, but I just loved that first experience of being so into it. Also, seeing STAR WARS explode on the screen at the beginning with that loud theme we all know and love is one of my favorite things on this planet.
     1. Room
This takes the top spot for me almost entirely because of little Jacob Tremblay’s performance. How on earth is a child that young such an amazing actor? I wish he would have received an Oscar nomination, and I would have been rooting for him to win. I can’t imagine trying to explain the circumstances of this story to someone so young, but it seems like he grasped it all, and deeply. I hadn’t read the book, so I didn’t know how things were going to play out and I was completely wrapped up and emotional and nervous the entire time. And the scene where they say goodbye to Room? Nope. My eyes are welling up just thinking about it. This isn’t a movie you watch very often, but it’s one I’ll be buying as soon as I can.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for our group's collaborative Top 15 list of 2015. Thanks for reading, and happy watching!