When we flipped our calendars to 2016 and I made my way to a darkened theater, it marked my fourth year of once a week letting the wwwdot world know what I think of a first-run movie.
Somebody’s got to do it.
And every year I compile my Top 10 lists of bests and worsts. So you all can once again wonder what part of my body my taste buds are located in … No, so you can agree or disagree in the comment section below, or merely decide to what you might have missed and want to see on pay cable or a second-chance theater near you.
So without further ado, here, from 10 to 1 — I liked it to my very favorite — are my picks of the top movies of the 52 I in the theater in 2015.
10. Tomorrowland. George Clooney as a curmudgeonly adult Frank and Britt Robertson as an inquisitive teen Casey hit it off in this trip back and forth to other dimensions that brings us to wonders of the 1964 World’s Fair and places far, far from that. Unfortunately, too many robots and other twists — and too-dry Tim McGraw as Casey’s unbelieving NASA dad — keep this one for being truly great and higher on the list.
9. The Intern. Robert DeNiro has fun being a likeable guy opposite Anne Hathaway. Gentle Ben needs to get out of the house after a couple stagnant years of retirement and the death of his beloved wife. Harried young dot.com retail executive Jules has just started a program for senior citizen interns. Of course wise Ben has much to impart upon smart Jules — if they can get past a rocky start and her initial imperviousness. The weepy ways of Jules in her real life weigh the story down some, but Ben’s ready for anything.
8. Ricki and the Flash. You go, Meryl Streep. America’s treasure tackles the role of an aging rocker who’s been ignoring the family she left in the divorced dust too long ago — until one daughter’s problems and the impending wedding of a son bring her back to the Midwest and the rhythm of a life she suddenly finds somehow attractive. Kevin Kline as her ex, her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer and Rick Springfield as her guitarist/beau add to the attractiveness of the story.
7. Trainwreck. Amy Schumer is one funny, independent woman. She wrote this breakout feature comedy to the pace and rhythms of her stand-up routine. The squeamish need not come see what this fiercely strong and zealous tale of a one-nighter kind of woman who gives in to what her heart is telling her when a truly nice guy comes a knocking. Schumer’s on-screen chemistry with co-star Bill Hader is right on, as his raised eyebrow allows her to carry on her wily ways be also sends the message that there’s room in her life for more.
6. Love & Mercy. The story of The Beach Boys, as seen through the eyes of tortured genius Brian Wilson, is given just the right tough from early days to the rough middle and rocky dissolution. Two actors are needed to do Wilson’s wild thoughts and innovate musical contributions to our world Justice, and Paul Dano as the early Brian and John Cusack as the older Brian both hit it out of the park. Paul Giamatti as caretaker Dr. Eugene Landy and Elizabeth Banks as girlfriend Elizabeth Banks add the right touches of evil and light to the madness.
5. Straight Outta Compton. The rappers in group N.W.A. changed the way America heard and felt about their style of music. And if you weren’t there when this happened in real life, this movie will leave no doubt about the heavy and gripping contributions of The acting is fantastic, starting with the uncanny physical resemblance of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E. O’Shea Jackson Jr. played his father, Cube to the ‘T.’ (Or maybe even to the Tea.) Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell are equally as believable Dre and E. And we have Paul Giamatti, great again, as eager manager.
4. I’ll See You in My Dreams. Strike one for the AARP set as Blythe Danner brilliantly plays a woman trying to figure out what makes her happy in these golden years of her life out there in California. Is it her longtime gang of friends, played so well by Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place and June Squibb? Is it her daughter, played by an addled Malin Akermann? Her boyfriend, the rugged Sam Elliott? Her young pool guy/friend played by a settling Martin Starr? A combo of all of the above? Her own skin, maybe?
3. Inside Out. Oh, what goes on inside all of us. The Disney Pixar folks got it exactly right in this (eventual) classic. Inside the brain of 11-year-old Riley rages the battle between five emotions. Oh,how the voice acting of Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling as Disgust and Bill Hader as Fear is perfect for all the scenarios up there in Riley’s head. All of our heads, really. Which is what makes Inside Out strike such a universal chord, and so darn good.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The worth was wait it. And I’m not just talking about the years that went by between the last installment of the Star Wars franchise, I’m talking about my 38-year pause before I jumped into the Galaxy far, far away. The old actors and characters, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher as Han Solo and Princess Leia, in particular, were stupendous in first part of the third trilogy. (You fans know about the trilogy prequel in the middle that will forever reconfigure the order to something odd.) And the new actors and characters, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey and Finn, were just as good. I loved the plot and the action and the cinematography. Funny thing is, after watching the first one two nights prior, I liked it well enough, but I had the feeling if I’d gone back then in 1978, I may not have been totally won over.
1. Creed.Sylvester Stallone brings back his beloved Rocky franchise, but this time he allowed writer and director Ryan Coogler to freshen the project. Coogler, who directed the true tale Fruitvale Station, wisely hired Michael B. Jordan from that one to play the title character, a young man to study boxing and live alongside the guy he quickly and lovingly calls “Unc.” Rocky Balboa is a reluctant teacher at first, but how can he turn aside the son of his old friend Apollo? There’s a lot of love to fall for in this one in addition to the rejuvenated realistic ring scenes. UFC? Who would need kicking and tackling if boxing had characters and action like this …
What was your favorite film of 2015, and why?What do you agree with about my list, and why? What do you disagree with about my list, and why?
Tomorrow: My 10 worst films of 2015.