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Top 10 Films Of 2015

January 15, 2016


Noah and I saw a bunch of terrible movies last year.  You probably don’t care about any of those, so below you’ll find the ones that we liked a lot.  Enjoy.

John’s Top 10 Films Of 2015

10)  Bone Tomahawk

Most people think that The Hateful Eight was the best western to come out in 2015, and they’re wrong.  It was definitely Bone Tomahawk.  Oddly enough, Kurt Russell is in both of them, and the characters aren’t all that different.  Maybe that’s part of the reason why Tarantino’s flick overshadowed the engaging slice of western horror that was crafted by newcomer S. Craig Zahler.  Oh well.  In any case, Bone Tomahawk is a fantastic film that’s brutal but also funny and charming.  See it if you missed it.

09)  Spotlight

Of all of the movies I saw in 2015, Spotlight is the only one that truly screamed “best picture” to me.  Its story is tightly presented and shocking, and there isn’t a bad performance to be found anywhere in the film.

By the way, I’d love to see the story that Spotlight is based on expanded and done in the form of an HBO/Netflix mini-series (think The Jinx or Making A Murderer).  I’m sure it would be super interesting.

08)  Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m all about The Force Awakens.  Yes, I know it’s practically a carbon copy of A New Hope, and I don’t really care.  The nostalgia is strong with me.

07)  Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The Mission Impossible series has largely been good, but my main reason for steadily coming back to it is Tom Cruise.  The guy goes all out on everything, and it’s his enthusiasm that allows Rogue Nation to be the best MI entry yet.

06)  Inside Out

My faith in Pixar was starting to waiver, but then Inside Out arrived and cleared away my doubt.  They’re obviously still a company that’s capable of developing new ideas and turning them into meaningful films that are great for all ages.

05)  Room

While I think that Spotlight is probably more worthy of the “best picture” award, I’m totally pulling for Room.  Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are both amazing in it, and director Lenny Abrahamson couldn’t have done a better job of constantly making me like feel an emotional wreck.

04)  The Martian

Ridley Scott hit a total home run with his adaptation of The Martian.  It’s such an easily accessible film (even with all sorts of science being thrown around), and I’m not sure Matt Damon has ever been more charming or likeable.

03)  Ex Machina

Alex Garland’s directorial debut is a mesmerizing piece of sci-fi  I especially love the way its paced.  The damn thing just patiently strolls along while steadily daring you to guess where it’s going.

02)  Creed

I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from Creed.  I love the Rocky films, but a spin-off all of these years later kept registering as unnecessary to me.  I was wrong.  I think Creed ranks just under the original Rocky as the best film in the series.  Sylvester Stallone deserves an Oscar, and I really hope that Michael B. Jordan continues on with his character and stars in a whole slew of sequels.

01)  Mad Max: Fury Road

Surprise!  Not really.  Just like the rest of the world, I love Max Max: Fury Road.  At this point (because it’s on HBO now) I think I’ve seen it 10 times, and I grow more and more fond of it with every viewing.  What a big, crazy, weird flick it is.

Here are entries 11-35.  Just for fun.

35)  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
34)  Ant-Man
33)  The Gift
32)  Southpaw
31)  Love And Mercy
30)  Goosebumps
29)  Straight Outta Compton
28)  Carol
27)  Trainwreck
26)  The Witch
25)  Jurassic World
24)  Kingsman: The Secret Service
23)  The End Of The Tour
22)  April And The Extraordinary World
21)  Bridge of Spies
20)  Sicario
19)  Furious 7
18)  The Big Short
17)  Jobs
16)  The Hateful Eight
15)  The Revenant
14)  The Lobster
13)  Magic Mike XXL
12)  Brand New Testament
11)  Green Room

Here are my biggest disappointments of 2015.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Here are six films I missed that I’d still like to see.

Beasts of No Nation
The Night Before
Cop Car
Crimson Peak

Noah’s Top 10 Films Of 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t a perfect movie by any means. And if I wasn’t dropping it on the top of my Top 10 for 2015, I’d be happy to regale you with my issues with the film. But at the end of the day (year), I’ve seen the film twice (with a third screening on the way) and though it may have its flaws, it takes the world of Star Wars – a messy, nerd-controlled, dystopian landscape – and gives it back to the public in a near perfect distillation of everything that made the original trilogy such instant classics. I haven’t felt more overwhelmed with emotion – nostalgic or otherwise – with any other film in the last ten years. I stepped out of the press screening happy, sad, glowing with the energy a good film leaves with you, but most of all, I stepped out excited to see universe I’ve loved since before I could speak, finally returned in all its glory.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t just look like the work of some 22-year old film prodigy fresh from movie school, it crackles with the energy you would only expect someone who’s yet to be exposed to the soul-crushing nature of Hollywood. Thus, it blows my mind that 72-year old George Miller was able to bring this singular vision of a world at its breaking point to the screen. Any other year this would have stood at the top of the pile, glowering down on any competitors. It’s a beautiful piece of world-building (they fix the cars WHILE they drive) paired with some of the most dynamic, original action pieces, well, ever. But more than that, it’s a statement, a call to arms for the future action blockbusters of the world to eschew the boring tropes of generic stories and cardboard characters. All hail George Miller.


I’m the guy who says Rocky IV is his favorite of the Rocky films. Yup, that’s me. Sad truths aside, when Stallone announced that they’d be making a new Rocky film centered on the son of Apollo Creed, I balked. Did we really need another Rocky film? The answer, empirically, is yes. Director Ryan Coogler has managed to translate the first Rocky film for a new generation. Instead of Rocky Balboa, we’re given Adonis Creed, a rich kid from L.A. who decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a boxer. It’s not a complicated film, but Coogler takes the energy and nostalgia for the first film and infuse it with a modern, hip-hop, underdog mentality that elevates above and beyond its predecessors. Bring on the sequels!


As long as Denis Villeneuve is making films, I think they’ll end up on my Top 10 lists. I read somewhere that Sicario was the Apocalypse Now of drug movies, and I whole-heartedly agree. Emily Blunt plays a border police officer who’s pulled into a covert drug unit to battle drug czars in Mexico. What follows is a harrowing, dark dissection of our modern war on drugs. Though it’s intense, riveting, and full of nail-biting action moments (and one of the best Benecio del Toro performances in years), it feels like nothing that’s come before.

The Martian

I hated Andy Weir’s book The Martian, so when I heard that they were making a movie directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, I was skeptical. Yet The Martian is one of the best sci-fi films in a recent memory. Matt Damon proves his pure, unadulterated stardom by infusing the character of Mark Watney with humor, sadness, and an almost unbearable sense of loneliness. It’s somehow both realistic and fun, filled with memorable performances, and shot through with a sense of technological hope you don’t see much these days. Take your kids to this, they’ll grow up wanting to be astronauts.

Ex Machina

I sort of hate Alex Garland. He’s one of the best screenwriters of the last twenty years, and now, well, he’s an amazing first-time director. Ex Machina, the story of two men and an ultra life-like fembot is not only a great think piece about sentient robotics, but a deeply scary look at the dangers of technology. The film is gorgeously shot, beautifully scored, and features truly brilliant performances from its three leads. If the last shot of the film doesn’t make your stomach clench with anguish, well hell, you’ve got a constitution made of iron. Another notch in the revitalization of the modern science-fiction film.

The Hateful Eight

Oh Quentin, you crazy crazy man. I don’t know how to recommend this film. It’s slow and steady, shot like a play, and rests just a few inches outside of boring for most of its running time. How about this – do you like Tarantino dialogue? Do you like pop-laden discussions of racism in America? Do you like Samuel L. Jackson giving a performance only Tarantino would allow? Well, then you’ll like, probably love this film. I certainly did.

The End of the Tour

Hollywood, take note: this is how you make a bio-pic. You don’t fritter away your credibility by trying to immerse audiences in the full-scale retelling of a life. Oh no, you pick a moment – a day, a week, an hour – that identifies the major themes that ran through your subjects life, and you fully expose the entirety of it. In this case, James Ponsoldt (batting 1.000 at this point) takes a week long interview between David Lipsky and David Foster Wallace and uses it to highlight just how DFW was, while exploring the triumphs and tribulations of becoming a famous writer. Jason Segal has reinvented himself with this film and it’s always nice when someone puts Jessie Eisenberg’s inherent creepiness to good use.

Beasts of No Nation

Cary Fukanaga can do anything. I’m assured of this. He crafted one of the best ten hours of television, well, ever with True Detective. He made me give a shit about English Period dramas with Jane Eyre. And now he’s used his immense skill to artfully portray the horrors of African civil war through the eyes of a child-turned-soldier. Idris Elba turns in another star-worthy performance as The Commandant, a violent rebel leader grasping for power. But the true star of the film, aside from Fukanaga’s visuals, is newcomer Abraham Attah as Agu, a local village boy who is thrust into the armed services of The Commandant. This is a brutal, brutal film that somehow manages to be both poignant, poetic and absolutely mesmerizing. If the last shot of the movie doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you might be broken on the inside.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The best entry yet in this impossibly good action series.

Honorable Mentions:

True Story
Crimson Peak
The Visit
Inside Out

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Top 10 Films Of 2014

January 17, 2015


Since the Oscar noms were just rolled out, Noah and I figured it was probably time that we rambled a bit about our Top 10 Films of 2014.  Take a look!  My list is at the top, his is at the bottom.


10) The LEGO Movie

If I were to sort this list by how many times I watched something in 2014, The LEGO Movie would most definitely end up in the #1 slot.  It’s hilarious, charming and great for both kids and adults.

09) Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is certainly not a perfect film, but I’ve yet to get over just how immensely ambitious it is.  The world needs more filmmakers like Nolan.

08) Gone Girl

David Fincher is an incredible storyteller, and his adaptation of Gone Girl is just further proof of that.  The whole damn film is a rollercoaster of craziness.

07) Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler blurs the line between right and wrong so much that you start to wonder if you might secretly be the kind of person who is willing to do terrible things.  That’s impressive (and super creepy).  Also, I firmly believe it’s the best thing Jake Gyllenhaal has ever done.

06) The Grand Budapest Hotel

I didn’t really like Moonrise Kingdom.  I thought it felt too much like Wes Anderson trying to make a Wes Anderson film, and it largely just agitated me.  Thankfully, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a return to form for Anderson.  There’s honestly not a single character in it that I wouldn’t watch tool around for hours.

05) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

While Guardians Of The Galaxy is the most entertaining film that Marvel put out in 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the most important.  Its serious tone is fantastic, and I really dig the way it completely flips the Marvel Cinematic Universe right on its head.  No longer can anyone say that the films between Avengers entries are filler.

04) Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice is the bigger, weirder, drugier version of The Big Lebowski.  I plan on watching it religiously once it’s available on blu-ray.

03) Whiplash

When I saw Whiplash I squirmed around in my seat so much that I’m pretty sure I annoyed everyone in the theater.  What an intense film!  What an ending!  JK Simmons and Miles Teller have never been better.

02) Force Majeure

Force Majeure is a fascinating film.  It dives into some really important stuff – masculinity, family dynamics, married life – and it does so with such a twisted sense of humor that you receive an experience that’s both uncomfortable and enlightening.

01) Boyhood

I was roughly halfway through my first viewing of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood when I knew it would be my #1 film of 2014.  It’s simply about growing up, and I love that about it.  Think Terrence Malik’s Tree Of Life without all of the whispering and dinosaur scenes.

Here’s how I think my list would have looked if I had selected 35 films instead of 10.  And yes, this is just an excuse to give a slew of movies a minor mention.  2014 was a good one, man!

35 – Dead Snow 2
34 – I Am Here
33 – Frank
32 – Chef
31 – Selma
30 – Foxcatcher
29 – Snowpiercer
28 – Shrew’s Nest
27 – Nymphomaniac Uncut
26 – Neighbors
25 – The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies
24 – The Guest
23 – The Treatment
22 – The Babadook
21 – It Follows
20 – Wild
19 – The Raid 2
18 – John Wick
17 – Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
16 – The Imitation Game
15 – X-Men: Days Of Future Past
14 – Guardians Of The Galaxy
13 – Birdman
12 – Edge Of Tomorrow
11 – 22 Jump Street


Looking over my surprisingly long list of films (proof that my girlfriend’s claim that I’m ‘always at a movie’ is true) I’m stunned by just how many terrible films I saw this year. I don’t know what’s prompted Hollywood – possibly the rapidly decreasing IQs of the populace or the fact that people have become so inundated with media consumption that anything that isn’t someone’s chubby cousin wearing half a donkey-suit jumping on a trampoline is worth spending money on – to just let out a steaming river of horribleness, but man, what a year for crap. This will be a year stoner film nerds harken back to when trying to pick shitty horror films for a night of bong-rips and almost-boobs. And perhaps this is why the great films of this year, and there were many, seemed to shine so bright. I’ll agree, this was one of the great years of cinema in recent memory; from blockbuster to indie comedy to big fucking art-house smash, there was so much to consume and so much of it so fucking special.

Before you start harping on my critical taste because I didn’t include Boyhood, Birdman, or Whiplash on this list, for a variety of reasons I did not have the chance to view them, either theatrically or in the comfort of my own home. Thus, they are not on this list. Still, I’m sure they’re quite good, and you can assuage your anger by going to the theater and seeing them yourselves.  Now, here are my Top 10 …

10. The One I Love, d. Charlie McDowell

Sci-fi has made more and more of an impact in Hollywood, and the arrival of Charlie McDowell’s hipster-Twilight Zone piece, The One I Love is just another showcase of how far, and how good, it has gone. Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are a couple on the verge of divorce who are instructed by a couple’s therapist to visit a retreat. Odd things happen and that’s all I’ll say. It’s a beautiful rumination on love and identity and what it means to be married and the last few scenes are genuinely creepy.

9. Gone Girl, d. David Fincher

No one on Earth takes trashy literature (and Gone Girl is most definitely a happily trashy book) and turns it into intricate deconstructions of modern humans like David Fincher. Gone Girl is a cold, cool number about one truly fucked up relationship and the tornado of intrigue and madness they stir up. Rosamund Pike is fantastic, Ben Affleck is Ben Affleck, and Fincher makes suburbia feel like the empty, creepy place it is.

8. Edge Of Tomorrow, d. Doug Liman

No more fun was had in the theater this year. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt get dressed up like robots and fight giant hive-minded spider beasts over and over again. If The One I Love shows how good indie sci-fi is, Edge of Tomorrow showcases just how good our blockbuster sci-fi is getting.

7. Selma, d. Ava DuVernay

I’m an adamant anti-biopic supporter. They’re formulaic and often times a greatest hit collage of an important character’s life, rendering a chunk of our history almost completely without context or meaning. Selma is not that. Selma is a focused, complex look at a brief spell of very important time in both our history and Martin Luther King’s. It redefines the way we look at biopics and features perhaps the best performance of the year in David Oyelowo’s layered portrayal of MLKJr. DuVernay’s direction though, her control of setting and the wide base of characters is what really shines, she creates a film that doesn’t glorify a moment, it shows it for what it is.

6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, d. The Russo Brothers

Did you ever want to see your favorite 70s political thriller but instead of Warren Beatty as reporter, your main character was a hulking superhero looking to save the world from an insidious group of psychos? Me too, and this is it. Marvel continues to redefine what we think of as a blockbuster, and Captain America and his battle against The Winter Soldier is a serious foray into the more serious side of comic filmmaking.

5. The Trip To Italy, d. Michael Winterbottom

I’ve been describing The Trip To Italy, Michael Winterbottom’s sequel to the equally amazing The Trip, as the British version of the Before Sunset films. It’s just two dudes, Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, driving around, ruminating and life and poetry and doing a shitload of impersonations, but like the first, the interactions between the two men highlight the ups and downs and of a certain age. I don’t know if there’s a more moving moment on film this year than Rob Brydon, impersonator extraordinaire staring into a mirror flaying himself in the voice of Sean Connery. I want a film like this every two years. What’s next, Spain?

4. Obvious Child, d. Gillian Robespierre

Jenny Slate in an abortion comedy = sold. But it’s more than that. It’s funny, it’s poignant, it’s realistic, it’s a star-making turn for the impressively attractive Slate. And hell, it’s just a very straight-forward film about a very funny girl who’s going to get an abortion. Any other year, this would’ve been my number one.

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, d. Wes Anderson

It’s strange for me to see the auteur backlash that Wes Anderson has garnered over his career. He made a trio of brilliant films early on and then continued to make amazing films with a similar visual and thematic leaning and all of a sudden he was a one-trick pony. Now, in 2015, he’s like an underdog story in the press – “Will Wes Anderson ever make a good movie?” Go fuck yourself hipsters, Wes Anderson makes good movies, just about every time, and this, his opus, is as good as it gets.

2. Interstellar, d. Christopher Nolan

Interstellar in IMAX was the best experience I had in a theater this year. The sort of film that grabs you by the scruff of your neck and drags you back to a day when movies had heart and spectacle and big ideas and the sort of epic, wow visuals that left you with only cheek on your seat. The amount of internet moaning about the timeline of the film and how it doesn’t make sense and yadda fucking yadda is a sure sign that our digitally-addled society is going down the tubes.

1. Inherent Vice, d. Paul Thomas Anderson

Man, what a fucking flick. See it once and you’ll walk out in a haze of weed smoke, thinking, “My brain hurts, but that was amazing.” See it twice and the plot falls into place and suddenly you realize that PTA wasn’t just making a crazy, almost slapstick piece of dramedy, PTA was acknowledging the greater themes of the 1970s. It’s a fantastic film – fun, weird, riddled with amazing performances – and one that I believe will only get better, more complex and more interesting with each watching

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Foxcatcher, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The LEGO Movie, Neighbors, The Interview, The Babadook

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