The 88th Academy Awards will take place this Sunday, and although we at LxL loathe such one-sided, money driven, political award machines, we also love our movies. So here are our thoughts on 2015’s crop of fun films. Not all of us have everything we would have liked to have seen from last year, so as always feel free to call us out on what we missed. Also, sadly you will not see Star Wars on the list, but know that it does hold dearly a special place in all of our hearts. Onto the list:
10. Love & Mercy
If we are all being honest, biopics run a dime a dozen theses days and most of them are only about half as interesting/true as we want them to be. However, we are a music blog and have a soft spot for the post-fake surf and pre-bed ridden Brian Wilson years. Love & Mercy does a good job breaking the mold on the standard biopic, and really shows an interesting perspective of a mad musical genius ahead of his time, taken advantage of by friends and drugs… but not exactly in the party crazed rock n roll way you might be thinking.
Pixar continues it’s run of movies about things other than humans that have feelings (toys, robots, dinosaurs, monsters, fish, cars) with a movie about feelings with feelings. Inside Out is one of their most insightful and moving movies yet.
8. The Big Short
On its face, the big short shouldn’t have worked. An Adam McKay-directed film based on a Michael Lewis book? C’mon. But it worked well. McKay directed his most mature film to date, carried by phenomenal performances by the entire cast (especially Steve Carell and Christian Bale). On top of all that, we learned a little something about the mortgage crisis.
7. What We Do in the Shadows
Our favorite comedy of the year is from our favorite Kiwi (Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords) and is a strange mockumentary that is basically a vampire Odd Couple.
5. The Revenant
Leo goes to unbelievable depths to try and finally win his Oscar, and I think he’s undoubtedly earned it. He gets mauled by a bear, gets buried alive, ripped apart by a hatchet, crawls in the freezing cold for miles, and sleeps naked in a horse carcass. Whatever it takes I guess.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
It’s been a long time since I came out of a movie with so much adrenaline pumping through my veins. As we get older, I feel it takes more to thrill, shock, and entertain. Mad Max did all of these things in an extreme way, with George Miller dusting off his director’s cap to deliver some of the most mind-blowing visuals ever seen in cinema.
The shocking true story of a few reporters trying to expose a scandal of massive proportions, told in a refreshingly subtle and straight forward way. It is the All the Presidents Men of exposing the catholic church of crimes and cover-ups that everyone knows of, but doesn’t talk about.
This is a movie best seen knowing nothing about it, so I don’t want to get into too much plot detail. But, every performance was near perfection and elevated the story which on its face is kind of standard Oscar fare. In addition, Brie Larson is officially a star, and youngster Jacob Tremblay gave maybe the best child performance of all time.
1. Ex Machina
This movie blew my (/everyones) mind on every single level. It is a near perfectly executed movie in every single aspect, and if this movie does not give you pause… than you simply are not human. The movie seems to peer into an uncomfortably not so distant future, and show us a new side of what might come of AI. It could have been nominated for an Oscar in every single category, however it was nominated for only two. Two possible reasons why that is: a.) it was a British film b.) no one involved held enough political weight in the Academy’s dog & pony show.
The “Just Missed Our List” List:
Austin – San Andreas
This movie is so stupid but so dope. There is absolutely nothing groundbreaking in San Andreas. So why did I love it? It moved at a super fast pace and entertained the dickens out of me. There is Paul Giamatti doing Paul Giamatti things. There is The Rock doing The Rock things. There were tumbling buildings and giant waves. Just a lot of fun.
Todd – Tangerine
A good divergent from Hollywood standards that takes place almost entirely in Hollywood. No budget? No problem. Director Sean Baker shot the entire thing with simply three iPhone 5s’s, and still provided a look/aesthetic that would outshine most bigger budgeted indie films these days. As it spirals out of control, this lil Christmas flick will surely surprise you, and bring out an array of emotions from laughter to tears.
Wes – Creed
This is mostly on the miss list because Austin and Todd haven’t seen it and Todd hates the Italian Stallion (even though he is one himself). Creed is the best kind of sequel/remake and it really feels like a crime Michael B. Jordan and director Ryan Coogler aren’t in the Oscar picture.