Best Movies of 2015

I don’t know if you guys enjoy end of the year lists as much as I do but it s always fun to see both the highlights and lowlights of the year of movies.  Next week we will dive into the low but today let’s talk about the best of the year! I ended up doing a top 15 because I had 15 films I felt were worthy of a shout out.

15. When Marnie was There-

when marnie9Studio Ghibli’s beautiful final film is a magical realism story of a family rescuing a girl from deep depression.  Lush, beautiful animation with incredible sound design and an emotional core that stayed with me long after I saw it.

14. Testament of Youth-

testament-of-youth-posterAn underrated film about a woman in World War 1 in Britain.  She starts out with idealism and through working as a nurse she see’s the reality of war including getting to serve the enemy for a time. Moving, beautiful and fine performances from all involved including Alicia Vikander.

13. Creed-

creed3Creed is a wonderful boxing movie and a great Rocky movie to boot.  Michael B Jordan brings heart as Adonis Creed and Sylvester Stallone is wonderful back as Rocky.  The boxing scenes are shot seamlessly and it’s a story that will make you want to cheer.

12. The Rewrite-

rewrite 7If you love old school romantic comedies then hunt down The Rewrite.  It’s the kind of movie I haven’t seen made for so long.  The kind of thing Nora Ephron used to write.  With a terrific cast starring Hugh Grant, Marissa Tomei, JK Simmons, and Alison Janey, we get great writing about work, books, teaching, movies, writing and more.  May be the movie from 2015 I rewatch the most because I loved it so much.

11. Mad Max Fury Road-

mad maxOne of the most insane experiences I had at the theater this year.  I felt exhausted after the intense experience but in an exciting way.  It was something I had never seen before and the apocalyptic battles were so well done.  I loved the strong female characters and the fact they weren’t pandered too.  They were just cool characters no girl power slogans required. Way out of my comfort zone but a great film.

10. Freetown

freetownOne of the best faith based films I’ve ever seen.  Freetown tells the moving story of a group of missionaries who must be smuggled out of Liberia to Freetown.  It is not a film of dogmatic, preachy like many faith based films.  Instead it has characters that struggle with doubt under extreme pressure and stress and their faith helps them survive.  Well made, acted and a good story make it a film I think anyone can respond too.

9. The Good Dinosaur

good dino23The second film from Pixar for the year was an emotional heroes journey of young Arlo trying to conquer his fears and find his way back home.  I found the old fashioned Disney feel to be refreshing and something we haven’t seen from Pixar yet.  The animation was stunning and I loved the relationship between Arlo and Spot.

8. Brooklyn

Brooklyn6The moving story of an Irish immigrant in 1952 who tries to make a home for herself in Brooklyn.  It really asks the question of ‘what is home?’ and I loved seeing the immigrant journey play out.  The performances are great, it looks beautiful and it was a sweet, old fashioned story you don’t see from Hollywood every day.

7. Paddington-

paddingtonPaddington is probably my biggest surprise of 2015.  I thought it was going to be a big stinker from the trailers but I ended up loving it.  The journey of Paddington being left on the train station was surprisingly emotion and yet funny and sweet at the same time.  The performances from Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville and Julie Walters were so lovely and all the details like the sets and design of Paddington were wonderful.  Most CG/Live action hybrid films are awful (think Smurfs, Yogi Bear) so that makes Paddington even more of an achievement.

6. Cinderella

cinderella 2015Cinderella gave me hope for the Disney live action remakes.  As a Cinderella aficionado I loved just about everything in this film. Lily James and Cate Blanchett are great and I loved the message of kindness and courage.  The sets, art design and costumes were top notch.  I liked they changed a few things from the cartoon but nothing that fundamentally altered the story.

5. The Peanuts Movie

peanutsThis is how you do an adaptation of a beloved franchise! I was so worried this would end up like The Smurfs but I was completely charmed by The Peanuts Movie.  I loved seeing Charlie Brown gain the confidence to talk to the Red Haired Girl.  I loved Snoopy and the Red Baron.  I loved all the other characters and the fact they stayed innocent and sweet.  I loved the hybrid animation and how it looked both rich and flat at the same time.  The voice acting was perfect and music worthy of Peanuts.

4. The Martian

martianI loved both the book and movie of The Martian.  My favorite thing about both was what a nice guy Mark is- a lesser author would have made him all brooding and conflicted.  Instead we get someone we want to see succeed and cheer for.  Matt Damon is great as Mark and I loved seeing him tackle each challenge that came his way.  Ridley Scott does a great job capturing the red planet and the entire cast does a magnificent job fleshing out characters out of small parts.  It’s a movie that will make you feel fantastic

3. Spotlight

spotlight5The movie that inspired me the most in 2015.  You’d think the story of the investigation of the Catholic priest molestation scandal would be depressing but while it is certainly sobering I left the theater wanting to do something for my fellow man.  It was empowering and so well acted/written.   It’s as close to a perfectly executed film as I saw all year.

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

force awakens posterThe most anticipated film of 2015 lived up to the hype.  Some say it is the best Star Wars film ever.  I don’t know if I’d go that far but what a great return to form for a galaxy far, far, away.  I loved all the new characters and how they meshed with the old.  I loved the grittiness and some of the storylines we’ve never seen in a Star Wars film.  I’ve seen it twice and each time walked away with a huge smile on my face. Great performances from all involved and a tremendous job by JJ Abrams as the director.  It was the movie that entertained me the most so it gets 2nd on my list

  1. Inside Out

inside out3Pixar made not only my favorite film of 2015 but one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen.  I was so moved by both Riley’s and Joy’s journeys as they figured out what happiness and sadness mean.  The world building was brilliant the heart was beautiful, the humor worked perfectly.  I loved the animation and the ending gets me every time.  A perfect film in my eyes that I like more every time I see it.

 

 

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Best of 2014 Revisited

At the beginning of the year I posted my ‘best of 2014‘ but at that point I hadn’t seen many films from 2014.   Now that it is August I have gotten through most of the releases and my best of list has changed a bit.  I still really like all of the films I picked but they have just moved to honorable mentions.   Maleficent is still my worst of 2014.  None of those have changed.

Here’s the new video I made with my updated top 11.

And most of these we’ve hashed out to death but feel free to put your comments below anyway. Just one gals opinion!

My new picks are:

11. Captain America Winter Soldier

capt 210. American Sniper

american sniper9. Interstellar

interstellar38. Lego Moviethe_lego_movie_2014-wide7. Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians of the galaxy6. Tale of Princess Kaguya

kaguya horizontal 15. The Good Lie

good lie4. Edge of Tomorrow

edge-of-tomorrow-poster-33. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-poster2. Song of the Sea

song of the sea41. Boyhood

Boyhood-poster-quad

Watchmojo Best of Animated Series

I don’t know how familiar most of you are with youtube but the channel which will make a top 10 of everything (they literally have a top 10 evil despot list…,) watchmojo, has recently come out with a series on the top animated films by decade.  I will share some of my thoughts of their lists and what I would change.

For starters, I wouldn’t factor in success or how it changed the genre.  For my lists it would just be my favorites but I am sure for their channel they need more criteria.  It just seems like there are too many things that are popular or groundbreaking without necessarily being good.

1920-1970-

I understand having to go off of the decade idea but why not do a golden age list, xerox list, ect?  You could do 1920-1950, 1950-1979.  Even that would be better than 1920-1970 but whatever that was their choice. For the most part its hard to argue with the quality of films on this list; although, I kind of feel like Charlotte’s Web made the cut because they needed a non-Disney.  I love Charlotte’s Web.  I included it on my Top 11 Forgotten Animated Films. But in the first 50 years of animated films it wouldn’t make my top 10.

I also would definitely not include Peter Pan, which disappointed me probably the most on rewatch.  Pinocchio and Bambi are artistic masterpieces but just not top 10 favorites for me, but I don’t mind them being on the list and I like them.  I personally would add Jungle Book and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (not even an HM?) in place of Charlotte’s Web and Peter Pan, but there isn’t a ‘bad’ movie on their list (too much to pick from over 50 years!)

#10: “Sleeping Beauty” (1959)-

#9: “Peter Pan” (1953)

#8: “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961)

#7: “Charlotte’s Web” (1973)

#6: “Alice in Wonderland” (1951)

#5: “Fantasia” (1940)

#4: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)

#3: “Bambi” (1942)

#2: “Cinderella” (1950)

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– “Lady and the Tramp” (1955)
– “Dumbo” (1941)
– “The Sword in the Stone” (1963)
– “The Jungle Book” (1967)
– “Robin Hood” (1973)

#1: “Pinocchio” (1940)

1980-1989

Someone took a long drink from the anime train in creating this list.  I can’t disagree with any of the Studio Ghibli picks and I have not seen Grave of the Fireflies or Akira but they are on my list to see.  Fox and the Hound is so corny I struggle including it; although, it certainly is better than other 80’s Disney offerings like Black Cauldron (which I don’t hate but has big flaws) and Oliver and Company.

I personally would take out Fox and the Hound (and certainly never put it 3rd!) and put Transformers on the list (it’s really good! Blows the Michael Bay monstrosities out the window).   I would also pick Secret of Nimh over An American Tail even though I like Tail, Nimh is sooo great with such a dynamic central female character and mother.  You certainly will have no quibble with me on their #1 pick! Little Mermaid is my favorite movie of the 80s period animated or live action.

#10: “The Land Before Time” (1988)

#9: “An American Tail” (1986)

#8: “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)

#7: “Castle in the Sky” (1986)

#6: “Akira” (1988)

#5: “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)

#4: “The Great Mouse Detective” (1986)

#3: “The Fox and the Hound” (1981)

#2: “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988)

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– “The Transformers: The Movie” (1986)
– “The Secret of NIMH” (1982)
– “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” (1984)

#1: “The Little Mermaid” (1989)

1990-1999-

This is a really solid list with few quibbles from me.  I have not seen Ghost in the Shell but will add it to the list of anime I need to see.  The only other strange addition is James and the Giant Peach because on their 80’s video they said no live action/animated hybrids and so Who Framed Roger Rabbit was out.  James and the Giant Peach has an extended section that is live action (not just a few minutes like Lego Movie).  What’s up watchmojo?

I love Prince of Egypt so that would probably sub out for James but other than that no issue with this list.  Solid picks.  (The order I could squabble with but I’ll give them that). I loved Rescuers Down Under more than the average bloke so if it was solely on my preferences might have put that in and I really do like Tarzan but tough to argue with their choices

#10: “Ghost in the Shell” (1995)

#9: “Mulan” (1998)

#8: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

#7: “James and the Giant Peach” (1996)

#6: “The Iron Giant” (1999)

#5: “Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

#4: “Princess Mononoke” (1997)

#3: “Aladdin” (1992)

#2: “The Lion King” (1994)

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– “Antz” (1998)
– “The Prince of Egypt” (1998)
– “Tarzan” (1999)
– “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)
– “Pocahontas” (1995)

#1: “Toy Story” (1995)

2000-2009

This is another solid list with a lot of predictable choices.  If I was just going off my personal preferences Shrek would definitely not make the list as I find those movies grating and obnoxious.  I am also not the biggest Wes Anderson fan and his style in a children’s film with Fantastic Mr Fox wasn’t a huge fan of although the film looks great.  I would have added The Triplets of Belleville, which is an animated french movie which blew me away.  Corpse Bride absolutely belongs on the list and Howl’s Moving Castle. Both I think are much better than Monsters Inc even though I like MI).

I also love Emperor’s New Groove and Atlantis: The Lost Empire more than the average person, but I can see why they wouldn’t have made the list.  Waltz with Bashir if a stunning adult animated film that I love and I think Chicken Run is better than the Wallace and Gromit; although I like WandG.  That said, it is a solid list and I can see it totally being a popular opinion.  For the record, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs wouldn’t get an HM from me!  I have also found Lilo & Stitch to grow on me (own it on blu-ray now) even though I still hate Stitch’s design and personality. What I like I love!

Up is my favorite movie period, not just animated movie so no issue with me with that at #1 and Spirited Away, Finding Nemo, Incredibles, Rataouille, and Wall-e are masterpieces.

#10: “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005)

#9: “Ratatouille” (2007)

#8: “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)

#7: “Monsters, Inc.” (2001)

#6: “The Incredibles” (2004)

#5: “Shrek” (2001)

#4: “Spirited Away” (2001)

#3: “WALL-E” (2008)

#2: “Finding Nemo” (2003)

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– “Kung Fu Panda” (2008)
– “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (2009)
– “Lilo & Stitch” (2002)
– “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)
– “Chicken Run” (2000)

#1: “Up” (2009)

2010-present

Another solid and probably very popular list (although Frozen haters will be up in arms.  Go Frozen!). I am not a big fan of Wreck-it Ralph although I see why others like it and don’t dislike it just not as in love with it as others. It wouldn’t make my personal list.  I have also not seen Rango as  most of my friends hated it (not sure why but they did so I never saw it).  Glad to see Ernest and Celestine mentioned as that is such a lovely film (although Secret of Kells is great too).

I guess they were only going with children’s movies for these lists because Persepolis would have been cool to see.  I also loved Big Hero 6 and would put that in the Despicable Me spot (not that big a fan of those movies but I like the Minions!).   I also recently rewatched Paranorman and liked it even better on rewatch.  That would have gotten my Wreck-it Ralph spot.   But still a solid list.  It is kind of strange they go 50 years in first year and only 5 in final list (bad planning watchmojo?).  Definitely no arguments from me on their #1 movie.  Toy Story 3 made me cry my eyes out and it was tense, exciting, scary, and gorgeous- a practically perfect animated film.

#10: “Adventures of Tintin ”

#9: “Wreck-it Ralph”

#8: “Rango”

#7: “Tangled

#6: “Despicable Me”

#5: “Frozen”

#4: “Lego Movie”

#3: “Ernest and Celestine”

#2: “How to Train Your Dragon”

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
– Wind Rises

– Monsters University

– Bolt

– Megamind

– Frankenweenie

– Secret  World of Ariety

#1: “Toy Story 3”

So what do you think of Watchmojo’s list and my comments?  Where are they way off?  Where am I way off?  What do you agree with? As I well know nothing invites debate like the making of lists, so comment away.  Thanks!