As I wrote in my last post, I saw 105 new movies this year. Even though they weren’t all new releases, it seems like a fitting way to end my movie mission by looking back at the movies which were released this year.
Let’s get the negativity out of the way first by discussing some of my least favourites. I saw Into the Woods because I love a bit of Chris Pine, plus my movie buddy, Ellie, wanted to see it. Musicals leave me cold at the best of times anyway, so I wasn’t really expecting much. The song Agony is pure cinematic gold, but I could honestly have done without the rest of it, especially the dreaded James Corden. Victor Frankenstein was silly and entertaining enough, but not exactly a hard-hitter. It also contained the spittiest performance by an actor in cinematic history, thanks to James McAvoy and his saliva, and its only saving grace was the fact that I suspect this movie spawned more slash fiction than I could possibly imagine. The biggest disappointment, however, would have to be Fantastic 4. I love Marvel movies, and I love Miles Teller, I’d watch him in anything, but this movie was more terrible than even the worst reviews could describe.
Now on to happier thoughts: my top 15, in reverse order. The order might possibly shuffle slightly depending on my mood, but it’s roughly right. I’ll try to be as spoiler-free as possible, but read on carefully if you’ve yet to see these movies. Also, I apologise in advance for my shallow fan-girling.
15. The Theory of Everything
A little bit sentimental, but it was lifted by Eddie Redmayne’s stunning Oscar-winning performance. I predictably cried at this one.
14. Jurassic World
This wasn’t ground-breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it was exactly what I was expecting. It was a dumb action movie about dinosaurs, and a lot of people got eaten. Props to Bryce Dallas Howard for running around in those heels, even if her character was a bit of a pathetic damsel in distress at times. Chris Pratt looked glorious.
I enjoyed this movie way more than I expected to, despite coming out of the cinema with a major case of what me and Ellie call ‘stressface’. It’s just a catalogue of people making terrible decision after terrible decision, but it’s set against a stunning visual backdrop and it’s a compelling watch. The inspiration for the movie makes an interesting read too. Bonus points awarded for Jake Gyllenhaal’s face.
12. Steve Jobs
This movie was another one which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I loved the way it was filmed in three distinct parts, and the cast was excellent, including Seth Rogen, who I usually detest. Michael Fassbender is a gift to the human race.
11. Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Some people will be aghast that this is so far down my list. I suffered greatly from seeing this movie about five days after it came out, and after having listened to everyone who saw it before me raving about how mind-blowing it was…and it just wasn’t. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but I was expecting much more than great after hearing people wax so lyrical about it. I feel like I need to watch it again now my expectations have been reset to a more realistic level. Having said that, there’s so much to love about this movie – Poe Dameron, awesome female characters, Poe Dameron, a multi-cultural cast, Harrison Ford (who is still a total babe), and Poe Dameron. Wait, did I mention Poe Dameron already? I’ve been a fan of Oscar Isaac since I saw him in Inside Llewyn Davies and I’ve sought out as many of his movies as I could since then, but I was not physically ready to see him swashbuckling all over the big screen in a pilot’s suit. He’s ruined my life and my expectations of men forever.
I love Bond, so I was very excited to see the latest installment. I loved the helicopter stunt from the beginning of the movie, and aside from a slightly disappointing final climax with a pretty weak dastardly plot from Christoph Waltz’s villain, plus a rather improbable romance with the Bond girl, Lea Seydoux (it felt like she fell in love with him after approximately 13 seconds), this was exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Daniel Craig Bonds. They’re darker and more serious than previous Bond eras used to be, but that’s no bad thing.
9. Ex Machina
It’s Oscar Isaac again. Seriously, I would watch this guy paint a wall for two hours. He’s spellbinding as a sociopathic genius in this uber disturbing movie about AI, which contains the creepiest dancing scene I have ever seen in my life. I watched it on a plane and I really hope the other passengers clocked my uncomfortable/horrified face when it got to that scene. But still, Oscar Isaac’s got some pretty sweet moves.
I loved this movie, despite it being a little bit pretentious at times. It was smart, funny and it felt really fresh and different. It also feels like an awfully long time ago, so I’m sketchy on the details.
Miles Teller is awesome as budding jazz drummer being terrorised by JK Simmons, who is absolutely terrifying. This one’s particularly memorable for me as there is a sequence in the middle of the movie which is almost identical to the recurring anxiety dream I have, so that was fun.
Two Tom Hardys cannot ever be a bad thing in my book, even though at first I was slightly worried at the prospect of him playing twins. It had a certain daytime soap cheesiness to it, which made me a little wary. I needn’t have worried, as I quickly forgot that Ronnie and Reggie Kray were being played by the same person. It was a lot funnier than I was expecting, and I cannot big up Tom Hardy enough.
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
More Tom Hardy! This movie was utterly bonkers and inexplicable and ridiculous, and I loved it. The choice to use physical stunts over CGI made it extremely fun to watch, and the fact that the strong female characters upset a few meninists made it even better.
4. Big Hero 6
I unashamedly loved this, and I thought it was far superior to Inside Out, which I think was another film which suffered from being hyped up way too much. It’s adorable, funny and cute, and I desperately want a Baymax of my own. Another one which made me cry.
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron
I love Marvel movies, and I love the Avengers more than any other franchise. Captain America is one of my many fictional husbands, and the scene where Chris Evans pulls a log apart with his bare hands is one of the most masculine things I have ever witnessed, and was worth the admission fee on its own. While this movie wasn’t as good as the first Avengers movie for a number of reasons (no Tom Hiddleston, for one thing), it was still a fun, action-packed super hero romp, and I was fully on board from start to finish, despite seeing it at a triple bill midnight screening and being so tired by the end of it that I was possibly hallucinating. It’s set the scene well for the next batch of Marvel movies, which I am tragically excited about.
I wasn’t all that bothered about the prospect of an Ant-Man movie before I actually saw this, but I loved it, and I definitely think it was better than Age of Ultron. Michael Pena almost stole the show from Paul Rudd, who was funny and likeable; the script was smart and witty, and the post-credit scene caused much excited arm flapping from me and Ellie.
1. The Martian
When it comes to recent space movies, people seem to either love Gravity, Interstellar or The Martian. I found Gravity quite dull, and I’ve never seen Interstellar because every time I go to watch it I catch sight of the running time and then chicken out. I fall squarely into The Martian camp, I loved it. Matt Damon is plucky and hilarious as Mark Watney, Michael Pena is adorable yet again, and Sebastian Stan is just so attractive I would be happy for him and his excellent face to be in every film ever made. Predictably, I cried.
So, that’s my top 15. If you’re still reading my inane ramblings, thank you very much! You’ve got reading stamina. Now go and do something more useful with your time.
I’ll see you in our usual seats at Shrewsbury Cineworld in 2016…
At the beginning of the year, I set myself a mission to watch 46 classic movies which I’d never seen. I rapidly abandoned it, realising that I was going to find it way too tedious. It seems that just because a movie is seen as a classic is no guarantee I’m going to enjoy it.
Instead, I ended up with a new mission. I spend quite a lot of money on movies, having both an Amazon subscription, plus an Unlimited Cineworld card, which, by the way, is one of the best decisions I ever made. I wanted to make sure I was getting the most out of what I was spending, so I started to keep an online diary of all the new movies I watched on letterboxd. This turned from a monitoring exercise into a genuine pleasure, allowing me to look back on the movies I’d watched in a way which I found nerdily pleasing. I even went back and added the movies I’d seen last year, but I decided I didn’t have the stamina to go back any further than that.
By about October, it became apparent that hitting a century was beginning to look possible, so it became a bit of a challenge. I was determined to hit 100 new (to me) movies before the end of the year, so I set myself a pretty punishing schedule of around three new movies a week, which at times I found quite difficult to fit in, considering that I barely seem to be in the house these days.
But, I did it, plus a few extra. As it stands on the 30th December, I saw 105 movies for the first time this year, which seems like a tidy enough number to end the year on.
I’ve loved seeing all these new movies this year – meeting new characters, visiting new worlds, reading endles IMDB trivia pages, and of course strengthening my tragic crushes, plus developing a few new ones, on various actors and fictional characters. A cinema trip has become an almost weekly occurrence with my fellow movie nerd friend from the office (thanks, Ellie!) and I’m looking forward to getting on board the Oscar bandwagon in January as we try to tick off as many of the nominees as possible, we already have our first outing planned to see The Danish Girl on Monday. I can’t think of a better way to distract myself from my New Year diet than by escaping to the movies as often as possible.
So, the only question that remains is how many movies do I aim for in 2016?
A few thoughts on my favourite and not-so-favourite movies will follow…