Well, kids, it’s almost the end of 2015, so now it’s time to take a look back before moving on to 2016. This year was good for movies and I asked some of the PCU staff to pick the best films they saw this year. Want more? You can hear it on PCU’s end of the year podcast.
The Peanuts Movie
Harry: This is how you take a 60 year old franchise and without destroying the core, introduce it to a new generation of fans. The movie made no use of modern technology, slang or music. It stayed true to Charles Schulz vision of innocent kids and their views on life especially that of everyone’s lovable loser, Charlie Brown.
Armand: No other film this year for me was as terrifying, beautiful, or intellectually engaging as Ex Machina. The film’s premise is that programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) has won the opportunity to spend a week with the legendary CEO of his company, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) at his isolated home in the mountains. The contest is a ruse concocted for the purposes of having Glesson’s character conduct the Turing test to the android Ava (Alicia Vikander) created by Nathan. What follows is the best exploration of artificial intelligence in a film since 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ex Machina weaves the dangers of artificial intelligence, internet surveillance, the patriarchy, and simple narcissism into a complex, visually stunning movie that concludes with what I believe is the best ending of any film in recent memory. Thanks to CGI, a lot of movies in 2015 provided a feast for the eyes, this film provides a feast for the mind.
Kingsmen: The Secret Service
John: In a time when the stark violence and realism of the Jason Bourne franchise forced everyone’s favorite gadget using superspy James Bond to become retooled as a harder, grislier hero, no one was looking for the fun of the old Bond films anymore. Yet this film’s tongue in cheek humor, ridiculous characters, and unbelievable, yet unbelievably cool tech harkened back to the old days of Bond. When I saw Kingsmen: The Secret Service in an empty theater during a matinee early in the year, I did not know what to expect. What I got was the best Summer movie of the year (released in Winter), and all of the goofy action and adventure that the newer films in the aforementioned franchises lacked. Colin Firth as an elite fighter? Samuel L. Jackson as a Steve Jobs like supervillain with a speech impediment and a knack for McDonalds? The coolest umbrella ever? This film, based on Mark Millar’s comic series, had it all, and redeemed the terrible rock concert staple “Freebird” by using it in one of the coolest fight scenes I have seen in years. If you have not seen Matthew Vaughn’s film yet, go pick up a copy now, you can thank me later.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
If you’ve been following PCU the last two weeks, you know we’ve been geeking out about the latest installment of Star Wars. Although some have criticized him for recycling A New Hope, director J.J. Abrams put together a beautiful film that pulls at the heartstrings of fans while passing the torch along to a new generation. The film is undeniably not without its flaws, including the aforementioned similarities to A New Hope and some questionable logic. But what the film did was bring us back to our childhoods, where we could get lost in the magic and forget the obvious plotholes and weird dialogue. The film gave us an adorable new droid, BB-8, who seemed to be the top Christmas gift this year among my friends, and a new trio of heroes: Finn, Rey and Poe, to take us through the next storyline in the franchise. Each character is a revelation and amazing to watch on screen. The Force Awakens was a lot of fun to watch and left me, and a lot of other fans, salivating for the next installment in 2017. Also, major props go to the Internet, for doing a stunningly good job keeping a lid on spoilers for what is definitely the biggest movie in a generation.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Before Rey stole our hearts as a badass female heroine, there was Imperator Furiosa. Rey is the character you show your daughters when they’re girls, while Furiosa is the character you show them when they’re young women. Mad Max: Fury Road is absolutely a top film for 2015. It doesn’t just take you back to the Wasteland, it sucker punches you in the face with raw power and doesn’t let go until the end. It’s a succinct, beautifully filmed story, with a simple plot that allows for strong characters and stunning practical effects. While some complained that the film isn’t actually about Max, the story continues the most basic theme of the Mad Max franchise: Max travels around the Wasteland, getting caught up in other people’s stories, and leaving at the end like a whisper in the wind.
Honorable Mention: Creed
This film hearkens back to the original Rocky film, a story about heart that just happens to have some boxing in it. Creed strikes those same chords, thanks to winning performances by the cast, a concise storyline, and surging score. It’s more than just a boxing movie, which is why it’s one of the best boxing films out there.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!