Another year has gone by and it’s been a good year. As such, I will continue the tradition I started last year by doing my top six movies of the year list. Yeah, six is a rather odd number, but last year I just couldn’t settle on 5. So going forward, I hope to always just stick with six. To give myself so leeway, this list is only my personal favorite, and being such I don’t have to be overly objective. So lets jump In.
Just a quick shout out to the films that missed the cut for my list. I loved this films, but there can only be o… I mean, six.
Mad Max : Fury Road
Straight Outta Compton
Beast of No Nation
Lets dig in.
Melissa McCarthy jumped on my radar in a big way in 2011 with her role in Bridesmaids. We’ve seen spy parodies before, and truthfully I wasn’t expecting Spy to be that good. McCarthy absolutely nails this role. In some ways the role seems like she born to play it. When I think about spy parody’s, the first one that comes to mind is the Leslie Nielsen classic Spy Hard. Which was an over the top assault on all things spy movie. McCarthy’s SPY pokes a lot of fun at current spy movie like James Bond and Mission Impossible. However, it never goes so over the wall that the movie itself becomes a big joke. Spy actually stands up as a real “spy” movie with a solid plot, action sequences and cool gadgets. It just knows when to not take itself too seriously. The rest of the cast adds the right amount of gimmicks and comedic relief that only balances out the movie and the subject it parodies. Awesome performances from people like Jude Law, Miranda Hart, Rose Byrne and last but not least Jason Statham. Take this absolutely hilarious scene from as he explains some of what it means to be a real spy.
#5 The Big Short
The housing market crash of 2007 was a very poignant event in America. Very few markets boasted the stability of the housing market. So much so that the idea of it crashing was laughable pre 2006. The Big Short follows the vaguely intertwined stories of some investors and hedge fund managers who saw it coming, and profited from that knowledge. This isn’t a typical financial crisis movie, nor is it the next “Wolf of Wall Street”. What it is, is a look into an event that a lot of people know about, but maybe don’t know the why or the how. I’m a sucker for a good ensemble movie and this is one of the better ones ive seen in years. It manages to keep the tone light about a rather serious subject, while always being respectful. You have to remember, this isn’t some fictions event. When this went down, a lot of people lost a lot more than just money, they lost their homes. Most importantly and for lack of a better phrase, the movie dumbs down the source material. I make no illusions, I’m not a finance expert so I worried going in, that it may be hard to keep up. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. The result is a rather fun ride, albeit.. a serious one.
In 2001, The Boston Globe’s investigative journalist team Spotlight, took a deep look into the allegations of sexual misconduct of the catholic church in Boston. What resulted was a scathing indictment of over 700 priest in the Boston area. Priest who were found to have sexually abused minors. This film hit a personal cord of mine. I attended a catholic high school in New York, and in 2002 the Monsignor of my school was accused of sexual abuse. An accusation that caused him to resign and later lead to his excommunication from the catholic church. So the subject matter of this film I found of extreme interest. What makes this film as enjoyable as it is informative, is how they make journalism not boring. There is nothing particularly thrilling about investigative journalism on-screen. While articles themselves are excellent pieces of work, they are built by long boring hours of leg work. Somehow this movie finds the sweet spot, always staying true to the subject matter it came to present. While the ensemble cast is amazing, they never delve too deeply into the characters. We learn enough about them to trust them, but the “story” is always central.
Science Fiction is my favorite genre without question. Ex-Machina injects new life into a very familiar subject matter, Artificial Intelligence. Ex-Machina is the story about a mad scientist of sorts CEO who creates an A.I life-form named Eva. He invites a random programmer to his remote lab to interact with Eva, performing a version of the Turing Test. The test calls for a person to interact with a machine unknowingly, and if the person can’t tell that its a machine it passes. A pass in this scenario means that the machine has achieved an actual artificial intelligence. It’s essentially a small movie between three very different characters, and their delicate tight rope walk on themes like humanity and soul. The film is wrapped around a fragile yet intense sense of mystery. You’ll be questioning the motivations and actions of all the characters, which build into a fantastic ending. This movie became an instant classic to me, and I think it’ll be remembered that way for a long time.
#2 Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is a man who doesn’t need an introduction. There is a good chance your reading this from one of his products right now. As history would show, for every great man there is usually a great story. Sometimes that story isn’t one of selflessness or sacrifice, but one of focused will power and ambition. The story of Steve Jobs is definitely the latter. He was known to be as intense as he was uncompromising. He may have been the visionary of a lot of the comfort technologies we enjoy today, but he was no saint. Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs is the first film to really tackle that aspect of his character. Instead of doing a typical biopic, he chooses to instead tell a simply three act structure surrounding three key moments in his life. The keynote speeches for The original Macintosh (1984), NeXT Computer(1988), and iMac (1998). I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin. I think he is one of the best screenplay writers of today. He is obsessed with character dialogue, especially between characters of elevated awareness and/or intelligence. Some people use this as a knock against him, believing that he is always talking down to the audience. Instead what I see is some genuinely captivating exchanges between characters. Steve Jobs was some of the most fun I’ve had at the movies all year.
My favorite movie of the year by a long shot is none other than Creed. I’m a very big boxing fan and as such Rocky was one of my favorite movies growing up. When I saw Apollo Creed die in Rocky 3, I was nothing short of emotionally devastated. So when I heard they were making a movie about his son, and Rocky would train him!? I couldn’t be any more on board. Outside of this being an absolute stinker, this may have been my favorite movie regardless. Fortunately for me and everyone involved it was nothing short of spectacular. Micheal B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone are absolutely fantastic together on screen. This is the perfect example of how to reboot a franchise but move it forward with new audiences. The action sequences are top notch, including a single take shot of an entire boxing round. However, the core of Rocky has always been about something more than just fighting. Rocky was about turning your life around and over coming the odds. Creed is about growing up in the shadow of greatness and establishing one owns self as worthy. Both are two different underdog stories, but are similar enough that you will not question the bonds they create between characters. I will not get tired of watching Creed anytime soon.