The Best and Worst Movies of 2015

Because I am lucky enough to live in the sticks of North Carolina, unlike my Los Angeles days, I don’t see everything because most of the smaller Oscar-bait movies fail — with good reason — to make their way out into the Real World. Which is a good thing because most of those movies are pretentious pails of crap. If you think I’m at all disappointed that I missed the chance to watch Eddie Remayne pretend to be a Danish Girl — yeah, no. The worst movies in the world are those Hollywood makes for themselves, and life is just too short.

That’s the long way of telling you that my list of the best and worst movies of 2015 is based on what I had the opportunity to see, which was primarily the mainstream commercial stuff, which are the movies I usually enjoy the most anyway.

By the time the Oscars rolls around,  with the help of the miracle of pay-per-view, I’ll catch up on the pretentious pails, but in the meantime, here’s the rundown.

Overall, this was not a great year, even for commercial movies. Last year we got “American Sniper,” “Captain America: The Winter Solder,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Gone Girl,” “The Equalizer,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” and “Fury.” 2015 didn’t even come close.

Except for a couple, my original reviews are linked in the title.

Best Movie of the Year

The Martian

I judge a film by a fairly simple criteria: How well it cast a storytelling spell, and how well it holds that spell. Ridley Scott’s perfectly-executed crowd-pleaser of a fascinating concept hit that sweet spot like nothing else. For me to pick a Matt Damon as my favorite — it’s got to be pretty great, and it truly is.

 

GREAT MOVIES

Sicario

A knockout story about the complicated and oftentimes harrowing war to control our Southern border. Top-notch performances and action scenes mixed with a message that says that while all might be hopeless, some good people are still trying.

Bridge of Spies

Director Steven Spielberg and star Tom Hanks return to form in a forgotten story about the near-forgotten Cold War.

Fast and Furious 7

With upwards of 40% of his scenes left to film, the untimely death of star Paul Walker should have resulted in a mess. Instead, everyone took their time, took their money-printing franchise seriously, and gave a beloved character a send-off that completed his character arc in a way that only has us panting for chapter 8.

Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation

There actually was a superb James Bond movie released in 2015, and this was it.

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller is an action god.

Creed

We all thought this franchise died at the box office with “Rocky V.” Then we all thought no one would dare mess with the perfect goodbye that was “Rocky Balboa.” Now, thanks to a very talented young director with a real affection for the character and a vision that respects the genre while at the same time expanding on it,  Sylvester Stallone is probably going to win a long overdue Academy Award.

 

PLEASANT SURPRISES

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Once the excitement wears off, more people will see this seventh chapter as the flawed entry it is. On the other hand, after all the anticipation, you have to declare it a win when pretty much everyone is satisfied with the result.

Ted 2

Seth MacFarlane takes a (very funny) wrecking ball to the temple of political correctness. A modest hit, especially when compared to the record-breaking original, but nowhere near the flop  that’s been advertised. To place this all in context, Tina Fey has starred in only one live-action movie that made more than “Ted 2.” Because she toes the feminist PC line, though, the fact that she is box office and television-ratings poison must be kept secret.

Cinderella

A perfectly charming and lovely live-action remake. I’m not a fantasy fan but this one won me over.

Kingsmen

Inventive, action-packed and even sexy Bond spoof.

San Andreas

Delivers as advertised and how refreshing that for once, Dad isn’t an idiot.

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

Spectre

My butt is still numb.

Tomorrowland

Disney actually spent $200 million on Global Warming propaganda starring George Clooney.

Black Mass

Johnny Depp’s outstanding performance is buried in a TV movie.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Morose, self-important, no fun, no games, no artistic hunger…

Straight Outta Compton

Overlong, hollow, seen-it-all-before excess with some pretty good concert moments.

 

WORST

Paul Blart

Annoying from A to Z.

Insidious 3

After two pretty good chapters, this felt like a quick cash-out abusing audience goodwill.

Vacation

This appallingly unfunny remake is just more proof that Chevy Chase and the late-John Hughes are irreplaceable. Because they made it look so easy, neither has ever gotten their due. But the era of those precision-tuned, laugh-out-loud comedies that were naughty, witty and warm and not dirty, ironic, and snarky, is likely over forever.  Judd Apatow and his clones suck.

50 Shades of Grey

“Feminists have gone from resenting having a man open a door for them to being okay with kneeling naked on all fours in front of that door until the man walks through it to physically abuse and emotionally degrade them. Congratulations… You’ve come a long way, baby.”

Minions

A really good 7 minute cartoon stretched to feature-length. I walked out (and didn’t review).

Taken 3

Should have had “Crystal Skull” in the title. I kept hoping Liam Neeson would shoot me.

 

OVERRATED

Spy

Is anyone who gave this a rave really going to watch it a second time?

Ant-Man

Belongs with the Thor and Hulk movies in the Marvel Universe of Meh.

Trainwreck

Like Tina Fey. Trevor Noah,  Lena Dunham, and George Clooney, no matter how much she fails, Amy Schumer will be propped up as a phenom by The Elite. I was sick of her before the lights went down.

Jurassic World

Plows the same old ground.

Everest

Death porn.

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               


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