Well, folks, it’s that special time of year again: Awards season. Now that I’ve finally managed to catch up on *most of* the movies I wanted to see in 2015, I think I’m ready to share my official End-of-Year lists with the world (a.k.a. the ten Facebook friends of mine who actually read these. I love you all!)
In Part I of this 3-part series, we’ll kick things off with the Honorable Mentions. From there, we’ll dive into the ‘meh’ and the ‘bleh.’ Enjoy!
(in alphabetical order)
Directed by Peyton Reed
The perfect antidote to the overwhelming and bombastic Age of Ultron. Ant-Man introduces us to a great new hero played by the lovable Paul Rudd. While it’s disappointing that we’ll never see what Edgar Wright could have delivered here, Peyton Reed does an admirable job filling in.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Directed by Joss Whedon
Oops. Did I use the adjectives ‘overwhelming’ and ‘bombastic’ when describing Age of Ultron above? Sure, those terms may be apt, but I still had a fun time hanging out with my favorite team of superheroes. Its faults weren’t enough to overthrow my overall enjoyment of the picture and there are some really nice character moments. It’s just a shame it feels like more of a set-up than a standalone story.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film turns its wagon wheels for quite some precious time before getting to the point. And when it finally does get to the point, it’s not wholly satisfying. That being said, this is a Tarantino film, which means it’s populated by spectacular characters, perfect casting, great dialogue and stunning visuals, which was enough to get me through the weaker elements.
ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
While not as good as the novel it’s based on (ironically, the screenplay was penned by Jesse Andrews, the author of the source material), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is still successful as a not-quite-a love story and a poignant coming-of-age tale with a unique visual flair courtesy of director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Oldboy cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung. The three leads – Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and RJ Cyler – are also excellent.
Directed by Sam Mendes
In trying to give us everything a Bond film could possibly offer in spades, Sam Mendes’ 2nd (and supposedly last) series effort can’t help but stumble under the weight. It’s still leagues better than most of Roger Moore’s efforts and Brosnan’s latter two, but, despite some really great action sequences, it doesn’t hold a candle to Casino Royale or Skyfall. Here’s hoping Daniel Craig is willing to give it a final go in a more successful entry. If not, at least he can stand tall as the only Bond to end his career on a decent note. (Okay, technically George Lazenby did too, but he only starred in one, so he’s disqualified.)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Okay, at the end of the day there’s no reason for this movie to exist when you could just turn on Netflix and watch the masterful documentary Man on Wire, which features all the actual people involved in this event. Still, seeing the Twin Tower tightrope walk recreated with cutting edge special effects in glorious IMAX 3D was a kick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is charming as always.
(in alphabetical order)
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
I have never been so on-board for a movie only to have it so thoroughly lose me in its second half. Dope starts off being both hilarious and unique, but somewhere along the way it loses sight of its plot and characters to disastrous effect. It devolves into such a dull, cliche-ridden slog that all the goodwill of its first act is completely undone.
To make matters worse, there’s this awful, tacked-on, hit-you-over-the-head social message scene that comes out of nowhere and makes the movie seem like an after-school special or, even worse, something made by Kirk Cameron.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Competently made, but suffering from a weak story emphasized by the misguided decision to split an already feeble book into two parts, the final Hunger Games feels more like a disinterested sigh than a worthy finale. The cast is the shining beacon in this underwhelming effort.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
I’m not sure if Jurassic World technically qualifies as a disappointment; I wasn’t really expecting anything from it in the first place. I went, I watched, I whatever’d. That being said, I certainly didn’t enjoy it enough to give it an honorable mention, so here it will rest in the ‘Biggest Disappointments’ section.
Now, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy Jurassic World to some degree – it’s entertaining and I didn’t hate myself for watching it after – but it sure doesn’t do anything special or unique. The dinosaurs get loose and eat people. Chris Pratt is funny. The end. I have a feeling the next one’s plot will follow suit and I’ll be whatever-ing all over again.
Directed by Brad Bird
Brad Bird’s second live-action flick gets bogged down in dull plotting and characterizations. Bird is still one of the all-time great directors and I firmly believe he’ll get back on his feet, but it doesn’t make this one hurt any less.
(in alphabetical…okay, you get the idea)
Directed by Josh Trank…? Or 20th Century Fox?
A draining, depressing experience that replaces the fun, bright world of the comics with a dour mood and gray color tones. The otherwise phenomenal cast is buried beneath an overwhelming amount of pure awful. Just look at that wig! Look at that horrible wig! And the blue screen! My God, what kind of world are we living in where this got a pass to be released by a major studio?! Won’t SOMEBODY think of the children?!?!
THE RIDICULOUS 6
Directed by Frank Coraci
Adam Sandler must hate his audience almost as much as he seems to hate himself. Ridiculous 6 is so awful, I can’t be bothered to spare more time writing about it. Horrendously unfunny and offensive. (Though that one scene with the donkey’s explosive bowels…)
Directed by Alan Taylor
A ‘re-quel’ of the worst possible ilk, Terminator Genisys is dull, derivative and painful to sit through. Not even the return of Ah-nuld could save this garbage.