Top 10

 

1. Star Wars: TFA: This is the only reason Fury Road is not in the number one spot. Not just a great film, but a cultural tour de force we haven’t seen in at least a generation. Following the failings of Episodes I, II, and III, many people I talked to just hope it “didn’t suck.” Not only did it not suck, it revitalized the Star Wars franchise into the general public’s consciousness in the way the original trilogy did. And beneath the hype was a very good movie. Some will complain it was too much like A New Hope, but I think that should be a compliment. There is enough to differentiate The Force Awakens. The new cast is compelling, and the old cast brings familiarity. The VFX are the best I’ve seen in years. And you know that “feeling” I keep harking back to? Yeah, totally present from the first X-Wing to the final planetary flyby. Just like Fury Road, not only the best of this year, but one of the best of the decade.

2. Mad Max: Fury RoadFury Road is one of those films where the scenes tell the story and the dialog fills in. Usually I find them boring. But this film is nowhere near boring. There is a sense of kinetic energy flowing through the film. I find it hard to put into words, because it is something I just felt while watching it. The vehicles are fun to watch, sound amazing, and look like they could have come straight from the Playstation game Twisted Metal. I like the homage to the original Mad Max with the spinning supercharger on the War Rig. Many characters are slightly demented looking and over the top. It doesn’t seem like it should work. But it does. And it is absolutely brilliant. One of the best of the year, and maybe of the decade.

3. The Martian– This film had probably the best one line of all the films this year, “I’m going to have to science the sh*t out of this.” And this film does. As a science geek myself, who enjoys reading about quantum and astro physics, biomechanics, medicine, biology, zoology, etc., I really got into the science of it all. And for the most part, it was accurate. Like most realistic space movie ever accurate. Seriously, I have ruined movies with my wife by pointing out flora and fauna that should not be located where a scene is taking place. I was hard pressed to do much of the same here. Beyond that, Damon put in a heck of a performance as a stranded astronaut who never loses his sense of humor.

4. Inside Out– Once again, Pixar manages to tap into subject matter that is a near universal experience. Inside Out showcases that pre-teen age when we all realize that we can experience more than one emotion during important events. The beauty and brilliance of this film is how Pixar literally broke down emotions we all have into visual representations. And the interactions and mixing of those base emotions lead to the complex emotions we all experience. It’s Pixar genius at its finest.

5. Beasts Of No Nation– Who knew a kid off the street could put in this kind of performance and go toe to toe with Idris Elba? Showing the horrors child soldiers endure was raw and risky. It could have been tasteless. They could have made Agu a mindless killer. But the subject matter is treated with a certain amount of respect in that Agu doesn’t totally lose his humanity.

6. Creed– This is what that movie that shall not be named, which came after Rocky defeated communism, but before old Rocky came out of retirement, should have been. This went back to the heart and soul of what we loved about Rocky movies. An underdog with nothing to lose. An older mentor who has been around the block and knows the ropes. Both helping each other grow as human beings and overcoming odds. This is Rocky for a new generation.

7. Jurassic World– I know there are some problems with Jurassic World. There are some plot holes, the kids are pretty annoying, and there are over the top usage of sponsors. It’s not as good as the first. But I go back to that factor of how a movie makes you feel. And very few movies made me feel like I did when the T-Rex and raptor joined forces to fight the Indominous, followed by that look they gave each other before going off in separate directions.

8. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation: Tom Cruise returns once again as Ethan Hunt, and once again is his own stunt man. In all seriousness, Rogue Nation shows that sequels can be amazing movies and not just a poor excuse for a cash grab. The chemistry between the actors really shows, the plot pacing, and fluid twist and turns are thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

9. Sicario: Pacing, twists and turns, and great characters help make this land on my top 10. Not to mention a great plot focusing on the ongoing drug and boarder war and the government’s role in them.

10. Avengers: age of Ultron: I know that there are other movies that are subjectively and objectively better. But there is a part of me that has always remained that 12-year-old boy reading comics. And this film, for all its flaws, still made 12-year-old me grin and feel satisfied walking out of the theater.

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