Thursday, July 2, 2015

Top 5 Films of 2015 So Far, and the Top 5 Films Still to Come...

About half way through the year it's fun to look back and talk about what the favorite films of the year are so far, and what films I'm still looking forward to later in the year. As usual there are plenty of films that are out, that I haven't seen yet (I'll list those too), but of the films I have seen, these are my favorites.

Top 5 Favorites:

5. Jurassic World
You might be thinking, "really, Jurassic World?" Well yes, it doesn't have the deepest story, or the most well developed characters, but does it need to? How deep or well developed did we feel the characters of the original "Jurassic Park" were? Yet film lovers collectively adore Spielberg's original. I'm not suggesting that this film is every bit as good as that film, but it is an otherwise well made piece of summer popcorn entertainment. It had plenty riding against it, and yet it rose to the occasion breaking records at the box office. I might not always care about that, but in this case I think it's pretty well deserved. It should count for something. Also, for a film whose most vocal complaint is that the female lead spends the film running in high heels, I think there's not enough to complain about to keep it off this list.
4. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
What a strange little film this is, yet it's based on a legend, rather than the true story behind the legend. It features beautiful cinematography and a great performance by Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi. She will break your heart, and make you root for the impossible. 
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
No movie this year has been as loud and impressive on a technical level. Everyone enjoys a good chase sequence, Fury Road is one long chase sequence, and it's arguably the best ever put on film. Even if Max took a back seat in favor of Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa, she's a great character worth following (and I'd argue Max had no fewer moments than he did in previous Max films). George Miller took back the dystopian/post apocalyptic genre with style... and... fury (see what I did there?), and he did it in a way that feels very relatable to issues we're dealing with today.
2. What We Do In The Shadows
The hilariously clever mockumentary about vampires by the makers of "Flight of the Conchords" is one of the funniest films I've seen in quite some time. After seeing this movie, I immediately bought it, and have watched it several more times. The most honest way of telling how much a person likes a movie is determined by the number of times they're willing to watch it. For me "What We Do In The Shadows" is one worth watching over and over. It's that funny.
1. Ex Machina
The Alex Garland film about artificial intelligence is still, for me, the best film of the year. It's a great example of suspense and mystery in one of the most finely crafted films I've seen in some time. Alicia Vicander is great as the AI playing on human emotion to escape human oppression. It raises tons of questions and is certain to keep you thinking for days. In fact, it kept me thinking about it so much that I had to write a follow up post about it, which you can read here.
_________________

5 Films I haven't seen yet, that I'd still like to see (despite the reviews in some cases).

  1. Tomorrowland
  2. Aloha
  3. Inside Out
  4. Me Earl and the Dying Girl
  5. The Overnight
5 Pleasant Surprises So Far:
  1. Mortdecai
  2. San Andreas
  3. Results
  4. Maps to the Stars
  5. Adult Beginners
_________________

5 Films I'm Most Looking Forward To Later This Year.

It's Star Wars! It's back, and in the hands of one of the most capable action/sci-fi directors working today (even if I don't always like his films). Did I mention practical effects? 
2. Spectre
Daniel Craig is back for another Bond film, and they're coming off one of the most highly regarded Bond films ever made. I've always enjoyed Bond films (well almost always), and I always anticipate them. This is no different.
3. The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino has been on a roll lately (most would argue he's never been off). His last couple of films have been 2 of his best, and they were period pieces. The Hateful Eight continues his trend of stories set in the past. If it's as good as his last few, it'll be well worth the wait.
4. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend
Action choreographer Woo-Ping Yuen, who has worked with many of the best in the business (including Jackie Chan: Drunken Master; Jet Lee: Fist of Legend; and directors Quentin Tarantino: Kill Bill: Vol. 2; and Wong Kar Wai: The Grandmaster) brings his directorial skill to a sequel to one of the greatest wuxia martial arts films of all time.
5. The Revenant
Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Domhnall Gleeson team up with director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is coming off a year in which he won Best Director and Best Picture for Birman. And he's giving us a tale of vengeance set in the 1820's. The names involved in this project alone should be enough to get anyone excited, but who doesn't enjoy a good revenge film?

It's been a pretty solid year of film so far, and I'm excited to see what other gems the year has to offer.