No, I haven't seen The Force Awakens yet. However, I'm going to start what I hope will be a short series of posts with a run down of the best films I've seen this year. The rules are pretty simple - it has to have been the first time we've seen it, so doesn't have to be a technical 2015 release, and it can be DVD, cinema, streaming, whatever. TV movies don't count, documentaries do. I count 11 trips to the cinema this year and 35 Home viewings, which is pretty going going! So, lets work through this.
Our cinema trips are unsurprisingly skewed heavily towards the fact that we have a 5 year old in the house, that we're trying to get into the idea of going to the movies, and when we're not we have a 13 year old who is pretty up for it too. In fact we only made it to one 15 or above rated movie at the cinema this year - Mad Max Fury Road. We've done better on home viewing, although personally I'd like to get Ewan to watch more films with us, so our choices have skewed a little down there too. Oddly, I suspect the average target age of our TV watching has gone up in compensation, but thats a post for another day.
Lets start with the bad, and go up from there shall we? Definately the worst film I've seen this year is the cripplingly unfunny A Million Ways to Die in the West, with honorable mentions to both Lucy and Transcendence for being fully of science gibberish without any sort of compensating quality to offset or forgive it. Look at Jupiter Ascending or Pompeii - utter nonesense, but I still found myself enjoying the spectacle and stupidy because of the verve it was done with.
Most of the "just fine" stuff seems to have settled into the action genre; with a notable exception I'll come in a minute we saw a lot of very serviceable action movies that never managed to raise themselves into something really special. Age of Ultron was fine. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was fine, Furious 7 was fine. SPECTRE was fine. All carry flaws, all deliver on the action front without every dropping their pants too badly. But there is a lot of familiarity in the tentpole actioner space at the moment, and it's not directly related to superheros, just the general construction within the genre (Remember, "comic book" is not a genre).
Which has meant that most of the film that have grabbed me have been more thoughtful, and character focused. Maybe it's my age? I sort of hope not, that would be terrible. Birdman, in the end, felt a little overhyped, as if people got carried away with the Birdman-Batman thing, but Whiplash totally lived up to it, as did Nightcrawler and the exceedingly left-field Under the Skin. Gone Girl made me wish Afflect wasn't going to be tied up in Bat-Gear for the next few years because we'll lose some great performances whilst he is. Fury reminded me why I should be looking forward to Suicide Squad. All good stuff.
Finally, Mad Max Fury Road - the action movie that delivered. I think it's already been talked to death this year but I've now seen it three times and I'm still not tired of it - the action, the iconography, the skill with which it weaves it's themes around the story without ever lecturing to camera. So to round up, my top 5 of the year:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Gone Girl
4. 12 Years a Slave
5. Inside Out