2015 Recap

“Well, there goes another year. And for me, that means there goes a whole lotta movies. Like a lot! Record breaking year yet again with a total of 127 hours, err I mean times that I sat in front of a movie at the theater. Usual disclaimer that I measure the year by date I saw the movie, not release date. So, for example, American Sniper technically released in 2014, I saw it in Jan. Likewise Joy released in 2015, but I also saw it this Jan.

First the list (in the order viewed), then the breakdown. Here’s hoping my Excel skills didn’t fail me in putting this together:

The Interview, Birdman, The Penguins of Madagascar, Taken 3, Selma, Inherent vice, The Wedding Ringer, American sniper, A Most Violent year, Blackhat, Paddington, Cake, Still Alice, Two Days One Night, Black Sea, Project Almanac, Mr Turner, Jupiter Ascending, Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water, Fifty Shades of Grey, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Imitation Game, Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, Birdman, Selma, American sniper, The Imitation Game, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Focus, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Chappie, Unfinished Business, Cinderella, Insurgent, Get Hard, It Follows, Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter, Home, Furious Seven, While We’re Young, Woman in Gold, True Story, Ex Machina, Unfriended, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hot Pursuit, The D Train, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2, Tomorrowland, Poltergeist, San Andreas, Spy, Entourage, Jurassic World, Inside Out, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Ted 2, Magic Mike XXL, Terminator Genisys, Minions, Self/Less, Ant Man, Infinitely Polar Bear, Trainwreck, Southpaw, Pixels, Tangerine, Paper Towns, Vacation, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Ricki and the Flash, The Gift, Fantastic Four, Shaun the Sheep Movie, The End of the Tour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., American Ultra, Repo: The Genetic Opera, We Are Your Friends, No Escape, The Transporter: Refueled, Hitman Agent 47, The Visit, Sleeping With Other People, Doctor Who, Black Mass, The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Everest, The Green Inferno, The Martian, The Walk, 99 Homes, Sicario, The Intern, The Martian, Pan, Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies, Crimson Peak, The Last Witch Hunter, Room, Burnt, Our Brand is Crisis, Spectre, Suffragette, Spotlight, Brooklyn, The 33, The Secret In Their Eyes, The Night Before, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Trumbo, Creed, Legend, Victor Frankenstein, The Good Dinosaur, Krampus, The Danish Girl, In the Heart of the Sea, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sisters, Concussion, The Hateful Eight

Dang. Okay, here are things by the numbers!
127 times movies were seen, minus 11 repeats, means 116 distinct movies seen, minus 2 special screenings, means 114 distinct new movies seen. So while my overall total is higher than last year, I had more distinct new movies in 2014. The repeats and the dates (getting to that) are both gonna have some more inflated numbers than usual from the best picture marathon in February. That added 8 repeats on a single day.

Breakdowns by ratings:
\m/ \n 7
\m/ \m/ 7
\m/ \m/ \n 10
\m/ \m/ \m/ 36
\m/ \m/ \m/ \n 22
\m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ 32
Repeats 11 – Oscar marathon plus Birdman (again besides the marathon), The Martian, and Magic Mike XXL
special 2 – Repo: The Genetic Opera (with shadow cast) and a Dr Who thing (two episodes is movie length, so I’m counting it)

Not quite the bell curve I keep expecting to see, but a heavily positive year. On the one hand, I did try to be a little more selective about skipping ones I knew would be bad. On the other, I love film too much to give too much negative criticism. I always find some redeeming qualities, hence higher skewed scores.

Now, where did I see these things:
81 at AMC Loews Boston Common, 9 at AMC Assembly Row (including the 8 for the marathon), 7 at Landmark Kendal Square, 7 at Somerville Theater Davis Square, 5 at Apple Cinemas Alewife, 4 at Regal Fenway, 3 at AMC in Chicago, 2 at Alamo Drafthouse Laredo, 2 at Jordan’s Imax Redding, 1 each at AMC City Walk Orlando, NYC Regal Times Square, NYC AMC Lincoln Center, Regal LA, Chinese Theaters LA, Jordans IMAX Natick, Music Box Chicago.
So by location, that’s 4 in Chicago, 2 each in NYC, Laredo, and LA, and 1 in Orlando. The rest were Boston area. It’ll be interesting to see these numbers spread out this year as I head to the west coast.

When did I see things? 16 in January, 15 in February, 8 in March, 7 in April, 8 in May, 6 in June, 9 in July, 13 in August, 9 in September, 14 in October, 13 in November, 7 in December.
June seems crazy low to me, but I do remember it being a slow going summer blockbuster season. Only one big release or so a week that was worthwhile.

Let’s look at the rankings, keeping in mind that done a day sooner or later I may have completely switched around the numbers. This is a very in the moment opinion. Repeat viewings in the future may further alter rankings, though I won’t actually come back here and update them.

Top 10:
1-The Martian – I knew as soon as I saw it that this would be my favorite movie of the year, likely making it onto my top 100 next time I look at it. Such a perfect mix of drama, levity, and science with brilliant dialog and a perfect cast. It’s one of those movies that just feels like it was made specifically for me.
2-Spotlight – If The Martian was the perfect film for entertainment, Spotlight was the best film for quality. Films like this are why I obsess over awards season. Such a compelling story in a brilliantly crafted film with an unbeatable cast. Sheer perfection.
3-Mad Max: Fury Road – This movie was a dream for an action junkie like me. Incredible (practical!) stunts and effects, simple but moving story line, and one of the best representations of females in the genre, both for Imperator Furiosa and the multidimensional ensemble of ladies. But no really, those stunts were killer.
4-Furious 7 – The impossibly rare franchise that actually improves with each outing. The action stepped up in unimaginable ways, and the moving tribute to Paul Walker brought me to tears.
5-Room – Ever since I first read a summary of the novel on its initial release, I knew I had to know this story. Experiencing it on film was intense. Such a dark and unique story with such interesting shifts in perspective.
6-Creed – Rocky Balboa has always been the underdog with heart, and this movie reminds me why I fell in love with him in the first place. It does the impossible in honoring the original and setting up a fresh new chapter that feels organic, not forced.
7-Magic Mike XXL – The guilty pleasure entry on the list. It didn’t even make a full 4 when I first rated it, but it remains as the single most fun movie of the year. It knows that it’s cheesy, and it’s not afraid to embrace that wholeheartedly.
8-It Follows – It’s hard to be original with horror, but by flipping one of the most common tropes of the genre, it did just that. Plus, it was skillfully crafted, creating a truly terrifying experience that really does follow you.
9-The Stanford Prison Experiment – Didn’t expect to see this on the list, but the truth is that no other film this year has stayed in my head the way that this has. I know I often describe movies as intense experiences, but this one is unsettling and has the potential to change your perspective in a major way.
10-The Gift – Probably the most surprising film of the year. On the surface it didn’t look like much, but it created such a visceral reaction in me that I’ve only felt from a handful of movies before.

Honorable Mentions in no particular order: The Hateful Eight, American Sniper, Inside Out, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

But in order to call some things the best, you also identify the worst. These are those:
1-The D Train – Sloppy and insensitive, I’m surprised I didn’t rate it lower. Not even two leading men who I typically adore could rescue this trainwreck.
2-Unfinished Business – The movie that will forever remain in infamy as the one so dull and boring, my fitness tracker thought I slept thru it all. Vince Vaughn needs to find some new shtick and not take down any more good actors with him.
3-Tomorrowland – A total snooze. It’s like they only thought as far as the setting and forgot that you also need a plot.
4-Vacation – Dumb and completely unfunny. While I like the way it tied in to the original Griswald family road trip, it was completely wasted potential.
5-Get Hard – Speaking of wasted potential, what should have been an epic comedic pairing felt like it was barely trying. Plus it was kinda offensive.
Dishonorable Mentions: Pan, Mr Turner, Hitman: Agent 47

And a new category I’m creating this year, Most Mediocre! I just felt like there were so many movies this year that were neither bad nor good, and un-memorably so. At least a bad film gives you viable discussion points, but a mid-level one can’t even sustain a sentence of conversation. You might as well have never wasted your time. Here are the inaugural (non)winners
1-Burnt – Decent premise, good cast, yet utterly forgettable. Hardly anyone saw it, and few probably even know it happened. Very much the poster child for why this category now exists.
2-True Story – If two known comedians who have successfully dabbled in drama decide to go dramatic together, but nobody sees it, did it really happen? I was excited to see Jonah Hill and James Franco team up for a drama, but I don’t remember a single thing about it other than “”meh””
3-We Are Your Friends – Okay so Zac Efron is pretty, but why else is this movie a thing? Did any of the two people who saw it not completely predict every turn?
4-The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – Seriously, nothing at all happened. All of the mystery and questions raised in the first film didn’t go anywhere.
5-Focus – Cool cast, decent premise, went nowhere interesting. You’ve prolly forgotten all about this by now, huh?

Semi-honorable mentions: Krampus, In the Heart of the Sea, Ted 2, Victor Frankenstein

And there we have it, the year of wasted potential. Or maybe I’m just in a cynical mood because I ended the post with the negatives. There were some pretty great movies, but even Oscar is having trouble finding worthy contenders, and there are no clear frontrunners anywhere. Guess we’ll just hafta wait and see what 2016 has in store for us!”

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