Saturday, January 2, 2016

MOVIE-POCALYPSE NOW: 2015 BEST AND WORST IN FILM

Entertainment

Increasingly dissatisfied with the self-indulgent Academy Awards and the endless knock-offs like the Golden Globes, MOVIE-POCALYPSE NOW is recognizing and awarding its own new self-indulgent award for excellence, or lack thereof, in film entertainment.  The only qualification for consideration is that it is a film that was released between January 1—December 31, 2015.  The categories are arbitrary, exhaustive, and subject to my own sense of whimsy.  Most categories I chose to count down from 5 to 1 with 1 being the best.  Often the degree of separation between any of them was almost imperceptible.  A handful of categories I was unable to come up with 5 and a couple have as many as 10 to mention.

So, without further ado, let me welcome you to the first-ever APOCALYPSOS!

BEST FILM NOBODY ELSE SAW
All movie buffs know that every year there are movies we see that we love but it seems like nobody else saw them–and often are completely unaware of their existence.  This is an opportunity for me highlight five such movies.

5. THE INTER
A smart, funny, and touching story about a retired widower (Robert DeNiro) who becomes an intern for a young online business mogul (Anne Hathaway).
4. THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
As far as I'm concerned this stylish and funny spy flick was about as flawless of a television series adaptation as I've ever seen.
3. DANNY COLLINS
Al Pacino starred in this film about an aging pop singer who attempts to recapture the authenticity he gave up as a young man in pursuit of fame.  Surprisingly heartwarming and not unintentionally cheesy at all.
2. INFINITELY POLAR BEAR
Mark Ruffalo gave an amazing performance in this story about a bi-polar father in the less-enlightened 1970s doing his best to raise his children right.
1. LOVE, THE COOPERS
A series of Christmas vignettes that synch up together to present  an exceptionally well-done and touching story about family dynamics.

BEST FILM
Taking into account the writing, directing, acting, and overall storytelling approach and style, I think these five rise to the top for me for 2015.

5. EX MACHINA
Chilling exploration of what it means to be human but also what it means to be a sociopath.
4. BRIDGE OF SPIES
Spielberg does not really know how to make bad movies, but even by Spielberg standards this is an exceptional Cold War story with strong thematic relevance to today.
3. THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Another Tarantino masterpiece of film-making.  Over 3 hours long and riveting from the opening shot to the final.
2. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
I was so surprised by how good this one was. This was a truly unique film experience like I've never had before.
1. STEVE JOBS
Brilliant film biography.  A masterpiece of character study in three acts.


BEST DIRECTOR

5. Bill Pohlad (LOVE AND MERCY)
The director flourishes and choices in structuring this unusual and compelling biography of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson stands out from nearly all other directing jobs of 2015.
4. Steven Spielberg (BRIDGE OF SPIES)
Spielberg's visual style has become so well-known that I think people have begun to forget how good he is.Under a different director, this movie could have been excruciatingly dull but instead it was riveting.
3. Quentin Tarantino (THE HATEFUL EIGHT)
The visual texturing in this film is unparalleled and Tarantino once again proves his mastery of the long take and symphonic character dialogue.
2. Danny Boyle (STEVE JOBS)
Brilliant and original approach to biography was visually exhilarating.
1. George Miller (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD)
A master class on visual storytelling by George Miller.


BEST WRITING

5. INSIDE OUT
It may be an animated film, but the writing was particularly brilliant.
4. MR. HOLMES
3. EX MACHINA
2. INFINITELY POLAR BEAR
1. THE BIG SHORT
Taking the subprime mortgage debacle of 2007-2008 and making it comprehensible and entertaining requires this win for Best Writing.


BEST ACTING

5. Ian McKellan (MR. HOLMES)
McKellan gives a charming and touching performance as an aged Sherlock Holmes battling the onset of dementia.
4. Mark Ruffalo (INFINITELY POLAR BEAR)
Heartbreaking and heartwarming performance—sometimes simultaneously.
3. Paul Dano (LOVE AND MERCY)
An externalized performance of a man living inside his own head.  As the younger Brian Williams (John Cusak plays the older) Dano sympathetically plays our emotions as Williams battles his own.
2. Michael Fassbender (STEVE JOBS)
Fassbender charismatically captures the viewers' attention and never lets us look away.
1. Mark Rylance (BRIDGE OF SPIES)
Rylance gives the most incredible under-performance of the year as the self-controlled and quietly bemused Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.


BEST ACTING IN AN OTHERWISE AWFUL MOVIE
Nobody tries to make a bad movie, but bad movies get made anyway.  However, sometimes even within the worst of movies there are actors who act the shit out of their role.  In fact, they often feel as if they are in a completely different movie because they are acting on a completely separate plane from the other actors.  Here are two standouts from 2015:

2. Hugh Jackman (PAN)
In what is arguably one of the worst films of the year, Jackman stood out from the crap surrounding him to deliver a ridiculously nuanced performance that could have easily become over-the-top but never did. 
1. Cate Blanchett (TRUTH)
Portraying Mary Mapes, who appears to me to be a dishonest and wretched person in real life, Blanchett gave a powerfully effective and emotional performance in this misguided attempt to rewrite history in Mapes' favor.


BEST ANIMATED

4. THE PEANUTS MOVIE
I wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I did.  But it perfectly captured the spirit and tone of Peanuts and without any cynicism.
3. SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE
I didn't have a clue what this was going in and was pleasantly surprised.  The fact that they could have me laughing out loud at this cartoon, with no dialogue, about a sheep taking a trip to the city, is a testament to how good it is.
2. HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2
Genndy Tartakovsky directed this brilliantly funny film with magnificent character designs—particularly Grampa Drac voiced by Mel Brooks.
1. INSIDE OUT
One of the smartest movies of the year.


BIGGEST SURPRISE
Every year there are movies that surprise me.  Sometimes it's simply because I went in completely unaware. Sometimes it's because I had lowered expectations.  Whatever the reason, these are the 5 biggest surprises of 2015:

5. MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS
I watched the first MAZE RUNNER movie and it was okay, but mostly forgettable.  So, I was not particularly looking forward to the sequel.  But surprise!  This one was fun, exciting, and unpredictable.  Loved it.
4. PAWN SACRIFICE
A movie about chess that is riveting from start to finish? Color me surprised.
3. CINDERELLA
Disney is cynically recycling their old classic animated movies by remaking them into live-action films.  Last year's MALEFICENT was disappointing but this one was exceptionally well-done.
2. THE GIFT
I had no idea what this was about and was shocked by this tense and disturbing film.
1. ANT-MAN
It's a Marvel super-hero movie, so I knew it would be good.  But if someone had tried to convince me that it would be the single best super-hero movie of the year, I would've said they were crazy.  But this is the single best super-hero movie of the year—even better than AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.


BEST MOVIES THAT I DID NOT SEE
Every year there are movies that I did not get around to watching or chose not to see, for a variety of reasons.

5. THE REVENANT
I know it's supposed to be amazing. I cannot muster any interest.
4. MOCKINGJAY PART 2
Something keeps happening that keeps me from making the effort to see this one, which is weird considering how much I have enjoyed the HUNGER GAMES movies and the books.  Perhaps the depressing ending that I know is coming is preventing me from seeing the movie.
3. TRUMBO
I really want to see this one but it has only been at the art cinema that requires a bit of a drive to get to.  During the holiday season, this has just been too difficult to get to.  I wish it had been in wider release.
2. BEASTS OF NO NATION
I hear nothing but good stuff about this one, but I confess that the topic makes me a bit queasy and I have not been able to muster up the motivation to subject myself to it.
1. AMY
Came and went too fast from the art cinema.


MOST SHOCKING

THE OVERNIGHT
The sight of nude Jason Schwartzman, with a prosthetic giant penis, and Adam Scott, with a prosthetic micro-penis, dancing poolside is only one of many reasons this movie shocked the hell out of me.

FUNNIEST MOVIE (INTENTIONALLY)
Comedies that try to be funny and actually succeed are rare these days.

5. DADDY'S HOME
This should have been too stupid to be funny but instead it has real heart and legitimately had me laughing out loud.
4. WEDDING RINGER
This one also should have been too stupid to be funny but the comedy chemistry between Kevin Hart  and Josh Gad was strong enough to overcome the stupid.
3. PITCH PERFECT 2
When I went to see the worst film of the year, I walked out of it halfway through and heard this one starting in the theater directly across.  So I just slipped in and found myself laughing....a lot. Really funny and the music was great too.
2. SPY
Hilarious and smart funny.
1. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
Mostly improvised mockumentary about vampire flatmates in New Zealand.  Funniest movie of the year.


FUNNIEST MOVIE (UNINTENTIONALLY)
Movies that try to be serious but are so absurd that they become a comedy are always a cinematic treat.

2. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
I was literally laughing out loud during this, supposedly, sex-based drama.
1. TRUTH
This overly earnest pile of bullshit attempting to retroactively salvage the reputations and careers of Mary Mapes and Dan Rather was not only hilarious but had me openly talking back to the screen incredulously in the thankfully empty theater.



LEAST FUNNY COMEDY
Some movies try so hard to be funny but still no laughs are to be had.

5. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2
The movie so unfunny that the star of the original wouldn't even appear in it.
4. TED 2
Sometimes funny ideas are only funny enough for one movie.
3. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
Ugh. Vince Vaughn.  What happened to you?
2. PIXELS
Adam Sandler's spectacularly bad attempt at remaking GHOSTBUSTERS.
1. ENTOURAGE
So unfunny I walked out halfway through.
Lord, let's hope the ride is finally over.
CREDIT FOR TRYING
MAGGIE
Schwarzenegger works really hard to do some acting in this film about a father whose daughter is becoming a zombie. 


FUN BUT FORGETTABLE
 These movies don't have to be particularly well-done or even good.  They just need to be something that was fun while watching them but disappear from my mind almost immediately afterward and don't really have any inclination to ever watch again.

5. VACATION
4. KRAMPUS
3. RICKI AND THE FLASH
2. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE–ROGUE NATION
1. GOOSEBUMPS



MOST MEH
These movies are actually well-done films but for whatever inexplicable reason they just don't have that resonance or impact that I think the filmmakers were trying for and they ultimately just get lost in the mass of movies.

5. A WALK IN THE WOODS
4. WOMAN IN GOLD
3. JOY
2. AGE OF ADALINE
1. FOCUS


LAMEST MOVIE
These are movies that had everything going for them in terms of budget and talent to deliver something good but didn't even have the ability to drop a giant turd onto movie screens.  Instead, we just get something depressingly lame that makes us all sad that we experienced it.

10. THE NIGHT BEFORE
9. OLD FASHIONED
8. ALOHA
7. THE DUFF
6. VACATION
5. PROJECT ALMANAC
4. SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER
3. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
2. BURNT
1. MORTDECAI


STUPIDEST MOVIE
You know those occasional movies that entertain the hell out of you but are so unbelievably stupid that you walk out of the theater having lost anywhere from 1 to 10 points off your IQ?  If you watched these three movies in 2015, you are stupider than you were in 2014 because of it.  Perhaps a class-action suit could be filed against Hollywood? And yes, The Rock is in two of them.  I don't know what that means but it must mean something.

3. SAN ANDREAS
I. Just. Can. Not. Even.
2. TERMINATOR GENYSIS
WTF?
1. FURIOUS 7
Everything about this movie rocked my world, and I have the brain leakage to prove it.


BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to a movie is to have high audience expectations.  Occasionally a movie exceeds those high expectations (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, I am looking at you).  More often, the movie fails to meet those expectations and sometimes shockingly so.

2. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Unfortunately, the "too many cooks in the kitchen" disease appeared to prevent this sequel from achieving the expected heights of awesomeness.  However, while it was a big disappointment, it was still a decent movie.
1. TOMORROWLAND
This movie had everything going for it.  Ridiculously huge budget.  Cool concept.  Brilliant visual design and f/x. George Clooney as star. Brad Bird as director.  And yet, in every conceivable way in terms of story and storytelling it failed and failed and failed.  


MOST SELF-INDULGENT
There are few things I hate worse in movies than when it comes off like a piece of self-indulgence by the filmmakers.  In that, I mean something that just smacks of the filmmakers masturbating themselves on screen creatively rather than serving the audience.  Sometimes it can still be entertaining, but more often it makes the movie-going experience excruciating.

3. CRIMSON PEAK
I did enjoy this one, but I was constantly aware of everything about it being driven not by story but by Guillermo del Toro's own personal directorial fetishes.
2. BURNT
I'm not quite sure why Hollywood filmmakers have such a love affair with the absurdly over-wrought and narcissistic world of fine cuisine but they can stop anytime now.
1. VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN
What a stupid and insipid excuse for a movie that makes no sense, but acts as if it is brilliant, as it tries to twist the Frankenstein story around in what is essentially a vehicle for scenery-chewing James McAvoy to overact to the point of distraction.

MOST UNDERRATED
Movies that should be getting more attention and viewers than they did.

5. BRIDGE OF SPIES
4. FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
3. THE INTERN
2. MR. HOLMES
1. STEVE JOBS


MOST OVERRATED
These are movies that the critics go crazy for that don't really deserve it.  That is not to say they are bad movies.  These are good movies; solidly well-made movies.  They are not, however, exceptional.

3. THE MARTIAN
Beautiful, fun, interesting, and mostly well-done with a few odd little flaws and plot holes that keep it from achieving excellence all around.
2. BROOKLYN
Good and engaging little historical love story but I cannot figure out at all what is so good about it to deserve the accolades and attention.
1. SPOTLIGHT
Well-done movie about the Boston Globe's investigation and expose' of the Catholic cover-up of priests sexually abusing children.  The subject matter is the only reason I can think of for why the critics keep zeroing in on this one as best of 2015.  There is nothing about the directing, writing, or acting that is anything other than journeyman film-making.  And there's nothing wrong with that, but it is not exceptional.  It is just a solid, respectable work of film-making.



WORST MOVIE THAT I ACTUALLY WATCHED
Most of the time when I see an awful movie, I kind of know going into it that it's going to be pretty bad.  I may hope to be surprised, but I rarely am.  Occasionally, however, even a bad movie can surpass my expectations to be worse than I thought it could be.

5. PAN
Convoluted mess.
4. VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN
Nothing in this film is good.
3. JUPITER ASCENDING
Excellent F/X but just dumb as can be.
2. FANTASTIC FOUR
Indescribably awful.
1. ENTOURAGE
Unbearable to the point that I actually walked out of it halfway through.


WORST THAT I DID NOT SEE
Sometimes movies are so obviously excruciatingly awful that even I, who enjoys bad movies sometimes, cannot make myself go see them.

5. ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP
Just the trailer actually made me yell "NOOOOO" in a crowded theater.
4. HOT PURSUIT
3. MAGIC MIKE XXL
Clearly done for the money only as the original MAGIC MIKE ended in such a way that if Mike ever got back onstage it would be such a pathetically contrary choice that it would completely undercut the entire point of Soderbergh's original, and darkly compelling film.
2. JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS
After the experience of the FANTASTIC FOUR, there was no way I could sit down for another cartoon to movie abortion onscreen.
1. CHAPPIE


WORST DIRECTOR

4. Sam Taylor-Johnson (FIFTY SHADES OF GREY)
3. Joe Wright (PAN)
2. Paul McGuigan (VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN)
1. Josh Trank (FANTASTIC FOUR)



WORST ACTOR

5. Jamie Dornan (FIFTY SHADES OF GREY)
Smirking and showing your nipples is not acting.
4. Mila Kunis (JUPITER ASCENDING)
Can she actually act?  
3. Garrett Hedlund (PAN)
Really, he has to be seen to be believed.
2. James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliff (VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN)
I couldn't decide between the two, but trust me, they are both examples of the worst over-acting of the year.
1. Eddie Redmayne (JUPITER ASCENDING)
Yes.  Our 2014 Academy Award winning actor gave the 2015's worst performance as he sleepwalked and mumbled his way through this mess of a movie.  Huzzah!
zzzzzzzzzzzzz....












WORST WRITING

5. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
If the book writing is actually worse than the film adaptation then there really is no hope for this world.
4. TERMINATOR GENYSIS
Just no.
3. PAN
I defy anyone to explain what just happened.
2. VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN
Someone needed to take a red pen to this script early on and remove every stupid idea trying to masquerade as clever.  The move would've only been two minutes long though.
1. JUPITER ASCENDING
Believing you are writing something profound when it is actually mindless derivative drivel is the height of bad writing.


WORST ANIMATED

2. MINIONS
The movie that made me lose my affection for the minions.  A perfect example of too much of a good thing.
1. THE GOOD DINOSAUR
A colossal failure by Pixar.  Everything from concept to character design to final execution stunk.  The actual technical aspect of the animation was still exceptional. I guess it was inevitable but I wish I had not lived to see it happen. The opening short film was good.


HORRIBLE MOVIE TRAILERS THAT MADE ME WANT TO SET MY HAIR ON FIRE
The modern day movie trailers are mostly awful all around.  Hollywood trailer-making has forgotten the art of the tease, for the most part.  As soon as a trailer starts telling me the entire story then I lose my interest in ever seeing the movie because...what's the point?  There's also these repetitive patterns in which they cut certain trailers to stall out on a joke and eventually after the umpteenth time of seeing that trailer you start to dread the joke and then to hate the joke and then to hate the unseen movie.  And then there are trailers that you can just tell are trying to take a bad movie and make it look better than it is.  Those just irritate the hell out of me.  The worst are those that give away major plot points or jokes.  An example of that last year would be A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST where, literally, every single funny joke was shown in the trailer. Every. Damn. One.

10. TERMINATOR GENISYS
YOU FREAKING GAVE AWAY THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PLOT SURPRISE IN THE DAMNED TRAILER!!!!!!!!!
9. PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2
Speechless.
8. THE LONGEST RIDE
Nicholas Sparks makes me vomit.
7. ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS; THE ROAD CHIP


6. DO YOU BELIEVE?
Ted McGinley. 'Nuff said.
5. IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
You can try so hard to make me think this story is important and profound but all I'm thinking is....no it isn't.
4. CHAPPIE
I only felt angry and violated every time I was forced to sit through the garbage trailer for this piece of shit movie.
3. WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS
When you watch a trailer for the first time and it makes you hate the movie.
2. PAPER TOWNS
Too much in the trailer. Plus, its own sense of self-profundity was seeping out of every frame.
1. THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
If I ever hear Dame Maggie say that stupid joke about the life-span of a wasp again, I will spontaneously combust, I swear!


MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2015
This is just a list of my favorite movies of the year.  This is not about what was the best or the worst, but simply movies I loved for reasons all my own.  I would, and will, watch these again at some point and recommend them.

In alphabetical order:
ANT-MAN, CREED, DANNY COLLINS, EX MACHINA, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, THE HATEFUL EIGHT, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2, INSIDE OUT, JURASSIC WORLD, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, LOVE AND MERCY, LOVE THE COOPERS, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., MR. HOLMES, SICARIO, SPECTRE, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, STEVE JOBS, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

And that's your first official APOCALYPSO Awards.  I hope to see you back here in 2017 when I look back at the movies of 2016.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your feedback! I always appreciate it.