As has now become tradition here on the blog, I begin the new year with a look back at some entertainment from the old. I watched 71 movies in 2015, once again making for a small decrease from the year before (where I managed 77). I'm still averaging better than one a week, which puts me well ahead of the "if you see only one movie this year..." crowd.
Here's my top 10 list for 2015 as it stands now. (I'll update this post in the future whenever a new, more worthy movie comes along.)
1. Inside Out
2. The Martian
4. Ex Machina
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8. The Big Short
9. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
10. Steve Jobs
I know I'll catch flack from some people over not having Mad Max: Fury Road on this list. More than one person I know has placed it in their personal top 10 period, not just for 2015. All I can say is that I certainly enjoyed the movie, but clearly not as much as some people. It just missed making my list. If it's any consolation to you, several critic groups have named it the Movie of the Year -- enough that there is now a reasonable possibility for it to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
If I find another 2015 movie that I liked more than Inside Out, I'll be truly amazed. If it doesn't receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, it will be artistic robbery, facilitated only by the existence of the "kids' table" category of Best Animated Feature (an award they should just go ahead and give to Inside Out now).
I've already written a rather extensive review of The Force Awakens, but now that a couple of weeks have passed and people have relaxed their attitudes on spoilers, I'll take this opportunity to clarify one of my earlier comments. (Um, SPOILERS in the rest of this paragraph, in case that wasn't abundantly clear already.) Many people have noted the plot similarities between the original Star Wars and The Force Awakens, as did I in my review. For me, when it was fun little nods like "hiding the plans inside a droid" or "introducing the Falcon as a hunk of junk," I loved it. But when the third "Death Star" showed up in the form of Starkiller Base (complete with an Endor-style shield and a trench run leading up to its "insert bomb here" port), that's when the grade dropped from "some form of A" to "some form of B" on my scale.
It was a good year for Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, who appeared (together) in two of my top 10 -- Ex Machina and The Force Awakens. Sadly, the former movie is likely to be overlooked at Academy Award time, in part because science fiction so rarely interests Oscar voters, and in part because it was released too early in the year.
Speaking of Oscar speculation, this year there seems to be more uncertainty than usual among critics over just which movies are likely to be nominated -- let alone win. But the closest thing to a frontrunner seems to be Spotlight. If it does win, it'll be similar to 2014's movie crop for me, where I found Birdman to be the fifth best choice.
We'll see what's in store for 2016.