Hey, guys and welcome to The Puydas, the narcissistic branch of my reviews where I give my list of the 10 best/my favorite films that I’ve seen this year in the cinemas.
That’s all there is to say about that, so let’s get this party started.
#10: LOVE & MERCY (John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti)
I’ve always been a fan of Cusack, Banks, and Giamatti, and Dano’s been in some pretty high profile work too. The star power was intriguing. I may not have been a big fan of the Beach Boys, but I can always appreciate a good story and this one was great. Cusack and Dano playing separate events in Brian Wilson’s life, having completely different takes on the man, but getting the point across so effectively was incredible to watch. I am happy to learn that the real Brian Wilson was proud of this biopic, making it not only a powerful lightning rod of acting, but a factual one. (IMDb rating: 7.4/10 – as of 12/29/2015)
#9: SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE
I love claymation and stop-motion animation in general, so I was always going to see this movie. But I did go in thinking it was going to be a bad film. But by the grace of God (or the amazing talent of Aardman), this movie was incredibly enjoyable and surprisingly emotional. What makes this movie particularly effective was the fact that there’s very little dialog in the movie. This leaves room to make the primary characters emote and the animators do a stellar job. When the sheep are happy, you’re happy. When they’re sad, you’re sad. Everything comes across unbelievably well. Loved this movie. (IMDb rating: 7.4/10 – as of 12/29/2015)
#8: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION (Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames)
With the gigantic success and popularity of GHOST PROTOCOL, ROGUE NATION had some pretty big shoes to fill. It was not a disappointment. The action is phenomenal, the acting is amazing, can anyone tell me they don’t want to see Ferguson in the next movie? I hear they were playing with that idea, and let me tell you, I’m on fucking board with that. Pegg, Rhames, oh my god I wish I saw this movie more than once it was so much fun and so well put together. This was not only the best spy film of the year (007 SPECTRE, SPY, MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.) but was one of the best action movies in general of the year too. (IMDb rating: 7.5/10 – as of 12/29/2015)
#7: EX MACHINA (Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, and Oscar Isaac)
An early favorite of mine this year and probably the start of my love for the ever busy Vikander (seriously, this woman was in FIVE movies this year), this film was mind blowing. The perfect blend of science fiction with mind fucks. Oh my god, the performances of this cast is crazy and that ending… don’t get me started on how that ending just… I’m in love with this movie. Shut up, I’m in love with Vikander too, but THAT’S BESIDE THE POINT!!! The tension this movie builds up, the second guessing, everything about it is near-perfect. What more can I say? Are you looking for a movie to fuck you up, mentally, this’ll do the trick. (IMDb rating: 7.7/10 – as of 12/29/2015)
#6: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Holt, and Hugh Keays-Byrne)
Sorry, but I gotta do it… WHAT A FILM!!! WHAT A LOVELY FILM!!! And that’s being nice about it. This movie is pure, concentrated adrenaline being injected into your eyes and ears. It’s non-stop action, but there’s more than a few subtleties to make the film stand out among not only its own franchise, but action movies in general. It’s smart enough to show hidden emotions and visual symbolism and gives a firm and hard-punch to Hollywood for making female characters lame, cliche, or worse, sexist. Theron owns this movie with her special brand of brutality, Hardy is a worthy if not better successor to Mel Gibson, and… FUCK THIS FILM WAS SO AWESOME!!! FUCK YEAH, MOTHER FUCKERS!!! (IMDb rating: 8.2/10 – as of 12/29/2015)
CHECKPOINT: While all these movies were fantastic, the reason I put them on the lower end of my Top 10 is because they lack a special kind of magic that the next 5 brought me. They were incredible, no doubt, but now let’s dive into my top 5. The best of the best.
#5: THE DANISH GIRL (Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander)
Another win for the lovely Vikander, and I absolutely adore Redmayne, but I think with the insurgence of certain once-taboos now becoming a red-button topic of recent years in America (nation-wide legalization of gay marriage, the rise of Caitlyn Jenner and transsexual people), this movie struck a particular chord for me. I’m no fan of the Kardashians, but I can’t say whether or not I disliked Bruce Jenner. In fact, he seemed like the kind of guy who avoided the spotlight (excluding the show, obviously) and seemed to know how insane his family is. But as soon as he opted for a sex change, I won’t lie, I giggled. When Caitlyn emerged, yeah, okay, good for you dude. But the more attention this got, the more annoyed I got. And when Caitlyn won that award for “Woman of the Year” or whatever fuck, and that husband whose wife was killed in 9/11 gave back the award she was given because of this… I couldn’t blame him one damn bit. I was just as enraged as the internet was. Then I saw this movie, and I thought to myself… this is the story that should be told. Jenner is NOT the first transsexual and won’t be the last. Even “most famous” won’t be forever. Where are the nods to THEM??? But this film builds a case for one of the most influential transsexual people of all time: Lili Elbe. This really showcased identity crisis, fear, wonder, passion, and drive that Jenner wasn’t giving. I got choked up watching this film, but I can only face-palm myself when it comes to Jenner. I hope Lili Elbe got some sort of equivalent award for “best person” at some point. Also, I just do NOT agree with IMDb on this one. For such a low rating for such wonderfully talented actors, this was… uncomfortable to disagree with. But I don’t care, I stand by this film and it’s one of my favorites. (IMDb rating: 6.0/10 – as of 12/29/2015)
#4: STILL ALICE (Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin)
This might be a cheat as the movie was released in 2014, but… I don’t care. This held the spot for my #1 for a good six months, at least. I love Julianne Moore and her performance in this movie is… I haven’t the words for it. She’s incredible. So real, so down-to-earth, I was lost in her portrayal of Alice, I was crying by the end of it. I love movies that can do that to me. It’s heart-breaking, it’s inspirational, it’s a feeling movie and I want this film in my personal collection ASAP. (IMDb rating: 7.5/10 – as of 12/29/2015)
#3: THE MARTIAN (Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jessica Chastain)
I saw this movie THREE times in theaters I loved it that much. Never mind the fact that Matt Damon is entertaining as fuck, but the critics were right. This film is pro-human in the best possible way. Literally, what starts as a nation-wide tragedy in the story, becomes a world-wide testament to unity, hard-work, and the hope for a better, smarter future. At least, that’s what I took from this film. But more importantly, I had pitched this movie as THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION in space. Why? Because it was made in a similar way (the length of the movie was on purpose) and it had a similar theme (“This is it. I’m going to die. You can either accept that, or you can get to work”) and that theme is put to the test throughout the film. I love this movie so very much. Yeah, the science may be bullshit, but dear God does it make me want to see us hurry up and colonize a new planet. Come on, NASA, be as awesome as this movie portrays you to be! (IMDb rating: 8.2/10 – as of 12/29/2015)
#2: ROOM (Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, and Joan Allen)
I guarantee that half of you reading this probably barely even HEARD of this movie. Even less than that probably saw it. I can’t tell you how sad that makes me. It’s no surprise, obviously, because this movie had a VERY limited release and barely any marketing, but… this film left a particular impression on me. Larson and Tremblay have fantastic chemistry and the film doesn’t stop yanking at your heart-strings. Just when you think it’s over, it keeps going, but in a special kind of way. You know those endings where you’re like, “no! More! I want to see more!” Well, this movie does just that. It doesn’t sugarcoat it either. This film shows its hand and you have see it for what it is, what these characters have to go through. How unbearably hard life can be for someone who’s been through something like this. I’m not sure who wanted to see a story like this told, but if you’re going to, this movie ends all movies like it. Oh yeah, I cried. It’s a hard movie to watch, but it’s an emotional high that I love way too much. Please find this movie and see it. It’s worth it on so many levels. (IMDb rating: 8.3/10 – as of 12/31/2015)
DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!!!
#1: INSIDE OUT (Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, and Kaitlyn Dias)
Pixar. Pixar hits huge with this film. What can I possibly say about this other than it’s a masterpiece. The first time I saw this movie, I cried three times. Then I saw it a grand total of three times. Wanna know how many times I cried? Nine damn times in the exact same places where I cried the first. Even knowing where the emotional hits were, I still cried. Why? Because this movie is as human as you can get. It’s such a simple story, but behind its simplicity is a labyrinth of complexity that is easy to follow. It’s a psychological movie that doesn’t shy away from being brutally honest, that maybe just being happy isn’t always the best way to be. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be sad. What makes this so unbelievably one-of-a-kind is that this message isn’t aimed at just kids, but adults as well. I can’t get over how emotional a roller-coaster this is. Parents, you can keep your Dora the Explorer and your Barney, this is the movie I would want my kids to see and learn from. Bar-none, my favorite Pixar movie, and in my opinion, the BEST movie of the year. (IMDb rating: 8.3/10 – as of 12/29/2015)