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Midvale Journal

The best and worst films of 2015

Jan 01, 2016 11:49PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Critics gotta critic, so here comes another list of best and worst films of the year. You may think I missed on some movies, or think that my favorites are junk, or that I unjustly included one of your favorites on my “Worst” list. You may disagree with my lists entirely, and that is your constitutional right. If this is the case, feel free to make your own list. 

Note: I have included links to most of the reviews for the films listed, but some are not available. This is because some reviews were published for another media outlet (I joined the Journals in June 2015) and others have yet to be released.

The Worst Films of 2015

I usually struggle to come up with a comprehensive list of really bad films most years, but this time, there were so many 2015 stinkers that I had trouble paring them down into a list of ten.

Here they are:

1. Fantastic Four – This Marvel movie proves that you really can make things worse. Studio “suits” should never, ever get involved in geek fare, and there was absolutely nothing fantastic about this movie, especially the over-written story and head-scratching (lack of) character development.

2. Pixels – Proof positive the Adam Sandler is officially not funny anymore, and that 1970s/80s video game culture isn’t a proper vehicle for keeping your family and buddies employed.

3. Tomorrowland – Hey, did you know there’s a part of Disneyland called “Tomorrowland”? Wow, what a coincidence that the amusement park owners also own a movie studio and made a film with the same name (cough). This awful, preachy attempt at blatant self-promotion was the high-water mark for the mouse ears doctrine of synergy (I call it “Disnergy”). It’s insulting, Disney. Just concentrate on making quality movies (Pixar/Star Wars, for example). If they are good, the word will get out. 

4. Jupiter Ascending – The Wachowskis hit a new low with this odd adventure with a hero who is part dog (really). Also, Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne’s whispery, foppish performance as the villain makes you wonder if he should give the award back (review not available). 

5. Love The Coopers – This cliché-ridden holiday “formula” movie has nothing to love in it, and pretty much exploits every “dysfunctional” family comedy ever made.

6. Chappie – I remember a time when Neill Blomkamp had promise as a film innovator. Three films later, he’s more of a one-note wonder. Chappie is like Short Circuit on meth (review not available).

7. Max – Jingoistic, cheap appeals to dog lovers and patriotic Americans are not good reasons to buy a ticket or rent Max. This movie is a real dog.

8. Unfinished Business – This movie was like watching a drunk relative embarrass your kids on national television. It also suffered from a split personality while trying to be a raunchy comedy and also having some sort of moral to its inane story. Remember when Vince Vaughn was cool? Me either (review not available).

9. Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – For starters, it’s an R-rated movie about boy scouts. In the end, it’s just a really raunchy string of gross/sexual pranks that appeal to oversexed teens.

10. Sisters – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are good buddies who make bad buddy movies. Sisters is proof of this, a movie that seems like a vehicle for all the dirty jokes they couldn’t share as Weekend Update anchors on SNL (review not available).

(Dis)Honorable Mention:

We Are Your FriendsRicki and the FlashSelf/LessTerminator:Genisys, While We’re Young, Poltergeist, Furious 7, The Gunman, Seventh Son. 

The Best Films of 2015

1. Inside Out – Just when you thought Pixar couldn’t make you cry like they used to, they go ahead and make the most emotionally moving film of the year, and the best movie overall. An incredible script full of imagination and humor make it the best film of 2015.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road – A visual feast for the eyes from start to finish, Mad Max: Fury Road is the triumphant return for George Miller, the same man who invented the franchise more than three decades ago. Miller’s use of practical effects, stunts and incredible cinematography make his reboot one of the best action films of past year.

3. Ex Machina – Sometimes science fiction doesn’t have to have tons of explosions and cool special effects to be fascinating. Ex Machina has plenty of special effects, turning Alicia Viaknder into a believable robot trying on emotions for the first time. It’s more like a mind-bending psychological drama than sci-fi, and it’s worth a closer look if you missed it (review not available).

4. Room - Brie Larson’s powerhouse performance as an abducted teen dealing with the trials of being a mother in captivity is only half of the reason Room is such a great movie. Jacob Tremblay, playing the five-year-old son dealing with life outside captivity is the other reason Room is included in my top five.

5. The Revenant – After 2014’s innovative and unique Birdman, Allejandro Inarritu returns to dazzle audiences once more in The Revenant, an incredible story of survival and vengeance. Beautiful cinematography and an epic performance from Leonardo DiCaprio make The Revenant one of the best films of the year (review not available until Jan. 8).

6. The Martian – Like DiCaprio, Matt Damon portrays a man trying to survive against all odds – but on another planet. Ridley Scott’s direction and careful weaving of one man’s battle with a hostile environment paired with a global effort to save him makes The Martian a great cinematic treat that will make you stand up and cheer.

7. Macbeth – Okay, I’m Shakespeare snob, but Justin Kurtzel’s interpretation of the Bard’s grand opus is noteworthy due to Marion Cotillard’s excellent performance and Adam Arkapaw’s incredible cinematography. Thou may'st sue me.

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – If I were to rank films by pure excitement, anticipation, and geeky awesomeness, Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be at the top of my list. It’s movie I’d see again and again, because J.J. Abrams has captured the heart and soul of the Star Wars universe, setting the franchise up for another incredible run. Daisy Ridley is a revelation as a reluctant hero, while John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaacs seem poised to take us into another awesome galaxy far, far away.

9. Creed – Yeah, I rolled my eyes when I heard that yet another Rocky sequel was in the works. Turns out it wasn’t just another blatant attempt for Stallone to cash in on his biggest role. Sly gets a lot of credit for standing aside and letting Michael B. Jordan shine as the son of Apollo Creed trying to make his mark on the boxing world. Stallone’s performance is understated and heartfelt, while Ryan Coogler’s direction allows for another crowd-pleasing story of an underdog facing incredible odds.

10. Brooklyn – Saorise Ronan’s performance in Brooklyn is one of the best of the year, but this romance is less about a love triangle between a young Irish woman and two suitors and more about how she falls in love with her independence and  her newfound home city. It’s a classic and beautiful film.

Honorable mention: Bridge of SpiesSicarioThe WalkTheBig Short.

So there you have it. If you want to hit me up on Twitter and share your thoughts, feel free (@danmet).

Stay tuned for my Oscar predictions after nominations are announced.

Happy New Year!