Films of 2015, in Review

A Happy New Year and best wishes to everyone.

This past year was outlined to be a busy year for cine-maniacs and film-buffs and movie theaters all around.  2015 turned out to be the strongest film box office wise in the last few years, crossing over $11 billion in worldwide theaters.  Dozens of old records were shattered and new ones made and we move into 2016 to top off the previous year with the maelstrom of awards season.  In leu of that, I wanted to do a recap of 2015’s releases and share some brief thoughts on them.

I noticed this time last year that my list of “must-sees” or “hope-to-sees” was incredibly long, and I am currently still catching up.  I was absent from the movies for the first four months but luckily got back into the swing of things in the mid-summer.  I did a post called “Catching Up, 2015) in July (read here: https://mhmovies.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/catching-up-2015/), and I am being true to the title of that post.  I am still catching up.

Here’s a list of films I wanted to see, planned to see, missed, or still have to catch up on: Ex Machina, A Walk in the Woods, Morteci, Brooklyn, Mr. Holmes, Focus, The Water Diviner, Tomorrowland, Youth, Macbeth, Southpaw, Terminator Genisys, Everest, Anomalisa, Black Mass, Steve Jobs, Legend, Pawn Sacrifice, Trumbo, Pan, The Good Dinosaur, In The Heart of the Sea, and Bone Tomahawk.  The films in bold are the ones I was really bummed to miss and are the first on my catch-up list.

The ones seen: Cinderella, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Inside Out, Sicario, Jurassic World, Ted 2, Ant-Man, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., American Ultra, Hitman: Agent 47, War Room, The Martian, Crimson Peak, Spectre, The Peanuts Movie, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Sisters, aaaaannnnndd Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

From the ones I had to chance to see, I’m going to give a brief top ten list and a brief review to cap off the movies I missed to fully review in 2015.  I’m crossing my fingers in changing that this year…again.  So, in no set-stone order, but what I was impressed with, here’s the list:

10. Crimson Peak – A surprise for this list?  I was not intrigued with the general premise or genre of the film, but I was curious as to the overly-delighted cast and their admiration for Guillermo Del Toro’s work and the “clever twists” they promised would be included in the feature.  My recent fascination with Del Toro sparked enough gambling itches to try it out.  I left not disappointed.  Although there was nothing new under the sun to explore with the plot, Del Toro led his actors to deliver a good nod to the old haunted house story, and also brought back a certain sense of classic horror and gothic suspense to the movie.

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9. The Peanuts Movie – I’ve been a fan of Peanuts for a long time.  The movie did not disappoint.  I saw it with my mother and we were tickled by it through and through.  Very family-friendly, very honorable to Charles Schultz and his cast of characters.  I was humming the theme song for days after seeing it.

8. Mad Max: Fury Road – Initially after seeing it, I gave the film some bad reviews to my friends.  I didn’t quite get it.  Back I watched it for a second time a few weeks back and liked it a great deal more.  Although I think it’s overrated, it is a very well put together action, shot-’em-up movie; a two hour long car chase scene, more or less.  The visuals are breathtaking.

7. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – A shot in the dark for me.  I’ve been impressed with Guy Richie’s filmography for some time but had mixed feelings about the film adapted from the old television series.  I was totally caught off guard.  It stole the old-fashioned spy genre and texture in full, bringing along a great chemistry between the co-stars and the leading lady.  I hope they leave it alone and don’t try to do sequels.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t be opposed to it if done right…

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6. Jurassic World – Never a huge fan of the originals, but still enjoyed the Spielberg-dinosaur action story.  I was uncertain as to how they were going to do a reboot and sequel to the first three, but the relatively new director Colin Trevorrow accepted the challenge immensely well.  There was the same feeling of wonder at the beginning, the same aroma of danger and horror in the middle, and the sigh of relief and beg for more at the end.  It makes me very excited to see him tackle Star Wars IX.

5. Inside Out – Pete Doctor, Pixar, Amy Poehler, Bing Bong, Five Emotions in the mind of a 11-year-old girl moving from Minnesota to San Fransisco?  I mean, what’s not to like?

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4. The Martian – Thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Watched the casting and viral advertising with great intrigue.  The movie was very strong.  Although not amazing and nothing we have not seen before, it can stand on its own two feet for some years to come.  But my biggest outcry is to the Golden Globes of 2016: how is this a Musical or Comedy nomination??? It can’t just be because he listens to friggin’ disco music and tell us a few jokes!

3. Cinderella – I really like Kenneth Branagh’s work.  Both in front of the camera and behind it.  He is a gifted director.  I’m open to real-life portrayals of originally animated Disney films due to Maleficent (2014), so Cinderella seemed like a good one to tackle.  It turned out to be a surprisingly good movie on top of being both loyal and independent enough from the original.  An excellent surprise.

2. Sicario – I may rethink the order of this later, but wow.  Sicario was another marvelous surprise.  Emily Blunt showed, I believe, a new side to her and delivered, with a great job from Benecio Del Toro who gave such a powerful and subtle performance.  Gorgeously dark.  The cinematography was quite possibly the best I have seen since The Master (2012) or Skyfall (2012).  Although not filled with as many twists and surprises one would expect from a thriller nowadays, it offered up other dark tokens that excelled.

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And lastly, and you guessed it…

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – The most highly anticipated movie of the decade, quite possibly.  When it was first announced over two years ago, I was so, so skeptical and negative at the prospect of a new trilogy set after the originals.  But slowly that blanket lifted and by Christmas of this past year–I hate to admit it–I was stoked.  I did everything I could NOT to be spoiled.  Then I saw it the day after Xmas and was blown away.  Although I should save heavy details for another post (after I see it a third time), J. J. Abrams has solidified himself on a list of directors who can reboot or revamp a franchise.  I won’t call The Force Awakens as “perfect”, like my friends say.  But it was darn great.  Very impressed and very satisfied.  It is promising big and mighty things for Episode XIII and IX, I can tell you that.

So that was the year in a nutshell.  Strange, wasn’t it?  And it flew by like that (*snaps fingers).

Well, 2016 also promises big things.

I’m off to see The Hateful Eight this week.  Then The Revenant.  What other big things lie later in the year?  Here’s a handful: The Jungle Book, Hail Caesar!, Deadpool, Zoolander 2, The Witch, Knight of Cups, Midnight Special, Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, The Nice Guys, X-Men: Apocalypse, Finding Dory, The BFG, A Monster Calls, Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad, (Untitled Bourne Film), Pete’s Dragon, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Tarzan, and the list goes on.

What are some movies you are looking forward to this year?  Let’s make up a list and cross them off one by one in 2016, why don’t we?  Good luck.

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About Morgan

January 2016 Update: This blog is under reconstruction. Please be patient while we gradually remove old material, posts, and pages, and create new ones. Thank you.
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