Best Movies of 2015
By R.K. Priddy
Here is my annual list I hope you all enjoy. I added a bit of a twist to my article in the fierce debate and trying to gather my thoughts on the matter .There is a list of who I thought gave the best performances of the year…Here it goes I hope you enjoy!
He Named Me Malala
The Danish Girl
The Night Before
The Big Short
Addendum: The Reverant – While I don’t necessarily think the movie itself is one of the best movies I have seen. The acting in the movie was exceptional. If this isn’t the film that gets DiCaprio his long awaited accolade. I don’t know what role he could tackle that would be more challenging. Domhall Gleeson has somehow managed to stay under the radar and has avoided being typecast in roles. He can be a villain in one movie and like in this one a man truly trying to do the right thing but not always making the right decision. And of course Tom Hardy’s cold callous portrayal of a man operating on his most baser of instincts.
10) Far From The Maddening Crowd
O.k. I admit this pick more emotional than anything else. Truly because I love Thomas Hardy. He was a controversial an d talented author. Often overlooked in his era. I have also grown to become a Carey Mulligan Fan. Plus there is a the matter of the brilliance of Michael Sheen. The film itself was beautifully made. While this has been the fourth time this novel has been made into a movie, until now no one could rival Julie Christie’s take of Bathsheba. Mulligan knocks it out of the park. And is the only one to date that could hold a candle to Christie.
Again another emotional pick on my part. However in my defense the movie featured Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan tackling a significant historical time that most were unfamiliar with. It was both educational and compelling. The actresses played very different woman all exuding the same sort of inner strength. Each actresses performance were layered and well play out. It was nice to see Carter in a serious role again. And Streep’s quirky portrayal was one for the ages.
8) End Of The Tour
What is it about Eisenberg? Again he tackles a character that you are unsure if you empathize with or you hate. Siegel is phenomenal as David Foster Wallace. The movie is filled with insightful refreshing dialogue. Both of these actors together were powerhouses. Wallace’s death went unnoticed to perhaps the average person however as a writer you wonder what caused the downward spiral of someone as talented as this acclaimed author. Siegel’s conveyed both his brilliance and his desolation in a way that truly blew me away. And of course the soundtrack set the tone for this indie gem.
7) Kingsman: The Secret Service
This movie came out during Valentine’s Day weekend here in the states. It was overshadowed by “that” movie with the whips and chains. Sadly it went overlooked by many. I have been a fan of Matthew Vaughn as a director since since Stardust. Of course there was Kick Ass and I liked his take of X-Men First Class. However, I feel like all the things I loved about his style came together in this comic to movie. Colin Firth has played many memorable and lovable roles. Firth as Harry Hart a.k.a Galahad goes down as one of my favorites. Samuel Jackson as Valentine gets the award for most lovable villain of the year.
6) Black Mass
Another film I believe is truly getting lost in the shuffle. It’s almost tragic that we have come to expect greatness from Johnny Depp every time we see him of the screen. Because when he nails a role like Whitey Bulger it is commonplace. What make this performance so riveting is in any thing Depp does there’s a quirkiness about the character so Depp-esque quality we can come back to a thumbprint of him as a person. Depp as Bulger leaves no remnants of his personality as Depp. He truly became Whitey Bulger to me. His artful way of playing both sides makes a brutal subject matter more interesting. Also his outstanding supporting cast that includes Cumberbatch and Bacon helps cement it’s place in my top ten.
5) Bridge of Spies
Let’s be honest there is very few roles that Tom Hanks takes on that isn’t successful. Add The Coen Brothers writing it and Spielberg directing it, there was little doubt this movie was going to be fierce. Even though the movie is not historically accurate to the events surrounding the 1960 U-2 incident during The Cold War or of some of the roles of the people during it. While the movie itself was a drama/thriller it also has the classic Coen dark humor moments. Many people seemed to forget because of Tom Hank’s illustrious career that he was first recognized for his comic genius. This movie provided a subtle look back into that aspect of his talent. Which is something that was thoroughly enjoyed and savored throughout the film .
Everyone that knows me personally knows that I am a football nut. In fact I am often referred to as “The Crazy Football Lady.” While I love the sport I also am very aware of the dark side of playing such in such vicious venue. Because the game is so beloved the ramifications of blows to the head and the mental stability of the game often gets washed away. This film put a unforgiving spotlight on the matter. And educates us on how long this has been going on. One of the best and once again overlooked performances of the year was delivered from Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu. The supporting cast of Baldwin and a young Roger Goodall by Luke Wilson was spot on. So much so that many long time football fans have talked about it in depth after seeing this. While the NFL tried to separate itself from the film. It gave us valuable insight as to why the players have been so much more aware of the long term effect of playing the game and demanding safeguards are met.
3) Hateful Eight
This is why it took me so long to get this out. I flip-flopped back and forth between which of these films were either two or three on my list. Up until this very moment when I placed Hateful Eight as my third favorite movie of the year. I think what gives this movie so much cred in my eyes is Tarantino’s ability to keep a vested interest in his characters and the storyline. What makes this even more entertaining is for the majority of the movie you are in one single room. The dialogue and talent of Jackson, Russell, Leigh, Roth, Parks Madsen, Dern and Goggins keep you at the edge of your set. While some scratched their heads at the casting of Tatum. I felt as if he had a chance to show he was more than just a pretty face. The one performance that I say was hands down probably the best performance of the movie was Walton Goggins. He starts as that annoying friend we all put up with. Somehow before our eyes he displays the toughest grit out of the group where even though he is a clearly bigoted character at the end you have to tip his hat off to him.
As I said I flipped flopped back and forth between Tarantino’s Hateful Eight and Coogler’s ( from Fruitvale Station fame) Creed. It was easy after watching Fruitvale Station to see why Michael B Jordan was cast as the boxing movie icon Apollo Creed’s son. While it may shame most to admit I have no problem saying I was first introduced to this actor from his soap opera days. Perhaps again this is a emotional pick. I did grow up in the eighties where Rocky Movies ruled supreme. Why it ultimately took second in my list of films was I truly honestly believed that after the Rocky Balboa Movie there was closure everything that could be done had been done. There would be no Rocky Jr following in his father’s footsteps. What I didn’t see coming was them continuing the saga through Apollo’s legacy. Something we always knew about but never had a true chance to get into the story as ultimately about Rocky and his journey. By giving this generation a new but yet deeply rooted in the franchise face, it rejuvenates the Rocky-verse to a new generation of movie goers but at the same time pays homage to those you have been yelling “ROCKY!!! ROCKY!! ROCKY!!” all our lives. What makes this movie so wonderful as well is Stallone in his eye we see his journey all the movies and instances he has gone through and why he reluctant to go it it one more time. His quiet resignation that somethings can not be change. Until he meets Adonis and suddenly his life has new meaning. Just like the return of this franchise.
1) Star Wars The Force Awakens
Everyone can giggle all they want. Yes I am a Star War Geek. Yes I can name things and characters in the movies that most can’t. Yes we dressed up in costume to go watch this movie. Most of us fans have been waiting decades for this movie. It had humungous shoes to fill as did JJ Abrams. Why I made this my number one movie of the year was because it had the insurmountable task of being expected to be a movie classic before the opening scene rolled in yellow letters in space across the screen to us. We wondered how they were able to get Ford, Fisher and Hamill to revisit these character that at times in their lives they wished the world would forget. Somehow in someway it managed to deliver to us. Give us enough of that first trilogy magic to have us cheering on the screen. Somehow it managed also to unite the fans as well. No one until perhaps a few weeks into after the released use social media to give away the gut wrenching plot point that left most long time Star Wars fans rocking back and forth in their seats. The Force Awakens leave us with questions and debates that will claw through us until 2017. Plus of course there is BB-8 the little droid that stole the show. Like Creed this movie had the difficult task of uniting the old with the new. Appeasing the life long fans and at the same time trying to gander the attention of a much more tech savvy and less naive movie goers of this generation. Watching the pure joy on my son’s face during the movie affirms Abrams is a force to be reckoned with.
As Promised, what I thought were the best performances of the year…
10) Jada Pinkett Smith- Rome Magic Mike XXL
9) Colin Firth – Harry Hart a.k.a Galahad
8) Harrison Ford – Han Solo Star Wars The Force Awakens
7) Will Smith- Dr. Bennet Omalu Concussion
6) Johnny Depp – Whitey Bulger Black Mass
5) Tom Hanks James B. Donovan Bridge Of Spies
4) Michael B Jordon- Adonis Johnson Creed
3) Walton Goggins -Sheriff Chris Mannix Hateful Eight
2) Leonardo DiCaprio- Hugh Glass The Revenant
1) Brie Lawson – Ma Room
In this series of articles, PassMeThePopcorn.com contributor Ari Dassa is looking back at some of his favorite cinematic moments from the 1990’s. For part one of the series check it out here.
Directed by Lana & Andy Wachowski
This movie is my comfort food.
I’ve said this before…there is no other movie that mixes together my favorite escapist genres and ideas the way this one does. One has to have a twisted sci-fi premise, The film has martial arts sequences, It has the cyber-punk influence, the anime influence, the philosophical element that allows one to sit and think about it, the use of mythological references, AND the single best CGI action-effect ever.
It’s just awesome.
What’s original about the film is the way the blend of ideas turned out. All this stuff has been done before, but not like this. The Wachowskis call the film “fusion art”, and that’s probably the most accurate way to describe it.
It’s also the best action film of the ’90s, and still, to this day, has not been topped.
Fury Road gets close, but there’s still nothing quite as jaw-dropping as the first time we got a look at this sequence. Basically everything from the lobby shootout to when Neo saves Trinity in the helicopter crash is on another level of action spectacle and VFX.
Also worth pointing out…this film won an Oscar for Best Film Editing. And it is so so well earned. Because seriously….this:
Directed by Robert Altman
Can we talk about something other than Hollywood for a change? We’re educated people.
I’m posting the trailer for the film since there aren’t a lot of individual scenes in high quality on youtube. But this is one of the best dark comedies there is, and one of my favorite Altman films. It’s so sharp, funny, dark, well acted. The cast is enormous, but Tim Robbins really shines in the lead role as a Hollywood executive who kills a writer he thinks is threatening him, but of course it’s the wrong guy.
As far as Hollywood satires go, this is one of the best. There are a ton of fun cameos, but it’s not a gimmicky movie. Altman was such a smart filmmaker.
I’m trying to think if we have someone like him today…hmmm…coming up with…nope, no one.
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
This sequence gets a lot of attention because of how out there it is, and even though it’s not my favorite moment in the film, it’s still a defining moment, a memorable one, a sequence you never forget from one of the most ambitious films of the ’90s.
What I still love about Magnolia is the energy of PTA’s writing and direction. We know it’s the work of a young film prodigy (he was 29, I believe, when he made this) and it bursts with creativity, emotion, amazing camerawork and a genuine love of the medium. The performances are excellent, the characters are people you identify with, the music is used so effectively. This is when PTA was still at that stage of mixing together his influences of Altman and Scorsese (and various others from the 70s), and interestingly enough, I feel like it’s because of this film that he went in a completely different direction with the rest of his career.
It’s like he got it out of his system with this film.
People debate whether they prefer young PTA vs who he is today. I just love his progression and how he continues to evolve. For me he became a complete original with his next film, Punch Drunk Love (2002), and then took his level to insane heights with his masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. The Master is also uniquely his own (though not my favorite), and Inherent Vice is a terrific blend of his and Pynchon’s sensibilities.
But back to “Magnolia”…this scene is kinda his version of the Earthquake scene in Altman’s Short Cuts, it’s just weirder.
Cause…frogs. There are frogs falling from the sky.
But it’s still wonderfully cinematic. Some directors like to announce their presence in every scene of their work as opposed to just letting the story unfold and being invisible to the audience. PTA’s name is stamped in BOLD in every scene of this film. But that’s what I like about it. In many ways it’s the culminating point of that group of 20-something filmmakers who emerged in the ’90s.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
As a standalone sequence, the opening 21 minutes is a masterpiece of filmmaking.
It’s probably the most intense depiction of WWII brutality as ever staged on film. It’s just a scary sequence. It’s hard for our generation to comprehend how horrifying it must have been to be a part of this war.
I can’t even imagine.
Spielberg doesn’t glorify or polish the violence. It’s just ugly. The rest of the film is very good, and it’s directed with amazing skill, but I can’t say it’s the best script he’s ever had. His direction is masterful though. Compared to The Thin Red Line, which was unfairly overshadowed in ’98 by the success of this film, it’s not as psychologically or philosophically deep as that film, but it’s definitely more of a visceral, nerve-shaking experience.
This is THE scene from this strange and mesmerizing final masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick. It’s funny how the hype for this movie was about how sexy it would be because it’s got Tom Cruise! Nicole Kidman! There’s an orgy!
And then when you finally get to the orgy scene it’s actually one of the spookiest, craziest, WTF moments in film history. The theatricality of it is incredible.
The entire sequence feels like something out of a gothic opera, especially when Cruise is finally confronted and forced to remove his mask. It’s just eerie.
Eyes Wide Shut is my #1 film of the ’90s, and I’ve often told people it’s quite possibly my favorite movie of all time.
I’ve watched it more times than any other movie, and it’s not because it has my favorite plot or favorite characters. It’s not because of the dialogue or writing, although it is superb. It’s not even because of the acting, which is also masterful by everyone involved. It’s just the way the movie is made. The FEEL of it, the pace, the visual storytelling.
It’s one of, if the not the most atmospheric movie I’ve ever seen. It’s dreamy, it’s nightmarish, it’s surreal, it’s operatic, it’s noir-ish, it’s just…ORIGINAL. It’s so damn original.
This is why Kubrick is Kubrick.
There’s no other film like this one. Nobody else in their right mind would EVER approach the subject matter of this story or shoot this script the way Kubrick did. I love the use of color. I love the framing. I love the zoom shots. The detail and level of control and mastery of filmmaking is from another planet. The viewer can watch this film on mute and it’s going to still be a captivating cinematic experience.
And also, something that isn’t talked about enough with EWS. It’s hilarious.
I’ve never agreed with the “cold” label he gets. This film certainly isn’t cold at all. There’s a devilish sense of humor that runs through the entire film right down to the final line. Cruise and Kidman are extraordinary here. The film is simply as cinematic as cinema gets.
NOTE: Lots of nudity in the clip. This is only the first half of the scene though.
We would love to hear what you think or if you want to share some of your own favorite cinematic moments from the 1990’s leave a comment. Or let us know on our Facebook page.