Hey guys, Jana here,
Another year has come and gone and brought with it about a billion movies, some were total crap and a waste of time, but others…oh they were worth every bit of time I spent. Pre-movie hype, post-movie discussion, and the random hours I spent thinking about it in the shower or sitting at a stop-light. Having said that, this is my list of movies that 2015 blessed us with, and maybe a few the year cursed us with.
Now I know it might be obvious to some, but for those of you who haven’t caught on, these are my opinions on what made excellent movies this year. If you still choose to argue about my picks, bring it on! I love arguing with trolls so all comments are welcome and encouraged. Onto the movies!!!
‘The Revenant’ Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT captures one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption.
First things first, the script strayed quite a bit from the book it’s based on and, at times, that’s ok, other times it was a bit confusing. While the film didn’t put as much emphasis on the method of healing Glass used, you got the gist that he recovered against all odds from a deadly injury. The book left me wanting and unsatisfied with the ending where the movie gave a much better ending. Glass had no wife or son in the book, they’re in the movie and I don’t think they were necessary for fueling the revenge Glass would have. Either way it was a glorious performance and I for one would love to see the introduction of Leonardo DiCaprio and Mr. Oscar. I can’t think of another male lead that gave the cojones to a part the way Leo did. Fan-freaking-tastic movie!
‘Mississippi Grind’ Down on his luck and facing financial hardship, Gerry teams up with younger charismatic poker player, Curtis, in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what’s been lost.
This was a film that was highly original and all about redemption, a need I identify with, plus it has a killer soundtrack that trekked the pair’s journey through the south. Excellent performances all the way around and incredibly entertaining. I’m in search of trying a Woodford next time I hit up a bar.
‘Goosebumps’ A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.
I loved ‘Goosebumps‘ and so did my kids, which made the experience all the more awesome. Jack Black can be so versatile, he may want to fuck her gently, but then he can be all caring and kid-friendly, plus he’s got an excellent set of lungs on him. The cross of CG with real-life action puts this in the category of not just kid-friendly, but parent-friendly as well.
Favorite quote: “Hello. My name is Mr. R.L. Stine. Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts. The beginning. The middle. And the twist.”
‘Straight Outta Compton’ The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
Compton was more than your typical hip-hop flick, it gave a biographical look at the creation of NWA with a soundtrack that immediately made me long for my youth. Top notch performances that have serious staying power.
Standout Performance: O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube. Sure he’s Cube’s son, so he had that going for him, but he had to find his own inner skills to pull off this portrayal of his dad.
‘The Walk’ In 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit recruits a team of people to help him realize his dream: to walk the immense void between the World Trade Center towers.
I had no idea this even happened, it was a ballsy event that just begged for the big-screen treatment. Joseph Gordon-Levitt seemed perfectly at home in this role no matter where he was on the wire at the time. JGL has a background in French poetry from Columbia University and his accent is beautiful and inspired.
I have the worst vertigo in the world and the high scenes in this film actually made me want the camera to pan down, it was beautiful, thrilling and the best part – based on a true story.
‘American Ultra’ A stoner – who is in fact a government agent – is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle.
As far as originality goes, this movie was the most original of the year – hands down. I’m not a huge fan of Jesse Eisenberg, he has his moments though, ‘Zombieland‘, ‘Adventureland‘. I think as far as ‘Zombieland‘ goes, he could have been replaced, but ‘Adventureland‘ is like ‘American Ultra‘, he was perfect for the part and it wouldn’t have been as good with someone else. Like ‘Adventureland‘, this one co-stars Kristen Stewart, apparently goofy and awkward are where these two actors do some great work. The pair is backed by some great supporting talent from Connie Britton, Topher Grace, Bill Pullman and Walt Goggins.
Favorite quote: ” Something very weird is happening to me: I keep killing people! There’s a chance I may be… a robot!”
‘In The Heart of the Sea’ In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. “In the Heart of the Sea” reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.
I have no idea why this movie was panned by movie-goers overseas, it was a brilliant look at a truly exciting and harrowing tale that has made it’s way into the classical annals of American literature. The story tells itself and Ron Howard has always been a remarkable story-teller and this film is no different. The scope of the film felt larger than life, which is only fitting when you see the size of the whale the crew deals with. This was a breathtaking film and the acting was first class all the way. Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson are just some of the dynamite cast that bring this story to life.
Favorite Quote: “The tragedy of the Essex is the story of men. And a Demon.”
‘Ricki and the Flash’ A musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom returns home, looking to make things right with her family.
The cast pairs Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep together again, as they were in ‘Sophie’s Choice‘, sadly I don’t see any awards coming the way of this film, though. Streep was fabulous, granted, but I don’t believe this is some of her best work. I think she was honestly limited some by the character, strange to see when she’s a wild rocker, but that’s kind of how it came off to me.She was free, loose and wild with abandon and it was awesome to see on-screen. Plus, Rick Springfield, right?! It was great seeing her on-screen with her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer and you can tell she got her acting chops from momma. The storyline was a good one and we got to hear Streep singing again. Bonus points if you spotted the Charlotte Rae cameo.
Favorite quote: “No, a heart isn’t something that’s like a steak, you know, that spoils. A heart is like a big mac; it just sits and sits and sits. It gets older, but it doesn’t change. It lives forever. I saw it on 60 Minutes!”
‘Good Dinosaur’ “The Good Dinosaur” asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In this epic journey into the world of dinosaurs, an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.
This wasn’t surprising when it fell into the “excellent movie” category, Disney is great, Pixar is great, Disney-Pixar is awesome! The Disney trademark of sad moments is definitely intact, but the redeeming qualities are there, too. My kids loved it, I loved it. This will become part of our rotating Disney library from now on.
‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
In a world of John Green (or Jesse Andrews in this case) novels, the teen rom-com with a twist is not a new genre, but this was one of the best examples I’ve seen. I love how socially acceptable it is to be off-kilter and not quite one of the popular people, this was where I lived in high school. The actors made us believe in a friendship that never would have been without a sickness, the power of love, and that big fluffy pillows are the greatest things ever…oh and NEVER trust the narrator. The adult-cast was anchored by well-meaning Connie Britton, the surprisingly earthy Molly Shannon, the oddball Nick Offerman and Jon Bernthal not playing a dick, for once. Two thumbs up.
In a second category for filing the movies of 2015, I bring you the most disappointing, aka “Suckiest Flicks of the Year”.
‘Crimson Peak’ In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds – and remembers.
This is a movie that had huge buzz and everything going for it. a killer director in Guillermo del Toro, a super-star studded cast with Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam. Combine those factors with a chilling story and you’d think box office gold, right? I was not impressed, I was so excited for it and I was so disappointed when I finally got to lay eyes on this movie. It was beautiful, the house is everything a fairytale castle should be, beautiful, dark, creepy and full of secrets. The cast is stellar, the director is fantastic, it just didn’t come together as one of the highlights of 2015.
‘Knock Knock’ When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.
I’m a Keanu Reeves fan, always have been, always will be and I appreciate the risks he takes when it comes to picking a project. He’s not driven by money, or production company, but he takes chances, sometimes those chances give us ‘John Wick‘ and other times we get ‘Knock Knock‘. Eli Roth is the director and well-known for his horror films, along with being the Bear Jew in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious Basterds‘ so I expected something awesome from this movie. It blew, it didn’t just blow, it was disappointing. It’s not like one of those where you hate the ending, there really wasn’t an ending, it just kind of existed for a while, then ceased to be. The storyline felt thin but they could have really built something great from it. File this one in the “did not meet expectations” bin for sure.
‘It Follows’ For nineteen-year-old Jay, Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors, that seem to be only a few steps behind.
When I read what people wrote about this after seeing it, the hype was big and some compared it to last year’s sleeper hit ‘The Babadook‘. So I went into this super excited, I gave it every chance I could and it just sucked so hard, each copy of it should gravitate towards a black hole where it joins every bad movie ever created. There are bad movies that are supposed to be bad and this one was made to be great but failed. Bad. Wrong. Ugly.
‘Pitch Perfect 2’ After a humiliating command performance at The Kennedy Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.
The first ‘Pitch Perfect‘ was a fresh and original pic, It was impressive, unique and had a great soundtrack. The originality and novelty has worn off and I expected more from the sequel than a ton of Fat Amy jokes, it was hilarious the first time around, it just doesn’t need to be the butt of every joke and every physical joke. I love Rebel Wilson, so this isn’t an anti-Fat Amy thing, it’s a find a new schtick thing.
’50 Shades of Grey’ When Anastasia Steele, a literature student, goes to interview the wealthy Christian Grey as a favor to her roommate Kate Kavanagh, she encounters a beautiful, brilliant and intimidating man. The innocent and naive Ana starts to realize she wants him. Despite his enigmatic reserve and advice, she finds herself desperate to get close to him. Not able to resist Ana’s beauty and independent spirit, Christian Grey admits he wants her too, but on his own terms. Ana hesitates as she discovers the singular tastes of Christian Grey – despite the embellishments of success, his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, and his loving family, Grey is consumed by the need to control everything.
I read the books just to try to understand what was so alluring to housewives everywhere, I didn’t see it, I watched the movie which had these same sex-starved housewives circling theaters and all I can say is “These poor women, if this is hot sex to them, what have they been doing all this time?” It’s ridiculous, naive and you might as well just watch porn if you watch this for the sex. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are definitely two of the most beautiful people, but I’d rather see Max Martini naked, he’s the main reason I watched this movie.