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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Because Everyone Else Has... The Best (and Worst) Films of 2015.

Just before we get too comfortable with the idea that it's 2016, here are my awards for the best (and occasional worst) of the movies in 2015. As always, this goes purely by South African release date, so yay to Whiplash but nay to Hateful Eight.

And you should be able to find full reviews of these movies elsewhere on this blog.

Best animated/ family film: Inside Out Arguably the film of the year, Pixar's very best film in many a year is funny, heartfelt and genuinely substantial, offering different things for people of all ages. An instant classic. It's a pity, then, that the company followed it up with the relatively lackluster Good Dinosaur.

Best science fiction film: The Martian Very nearly the best comedy of the year too. A delight of a film that celebrates human ingenuity and perseverance, and is quite easily the best thing that Ridley Scott has done in more years than I care to count.

Best film not to make it to SA cinemas: Ex Machina It's a crying shame that this chilling, hard science fiction exploration of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human never made it to the big screen here because, in spite of its meagre budget, it looks and sounds great too. Plus, you get to see Oscar Isaac and Domnhal Gleason months before they represented the Dark side and the Light in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Best Biopic: Love and Mercy There were tons of great biopics released this year (Trumbo, Steve Jobs, the Theory of Everything to name but three) but none were better than this exploration of Brian Wilson's genius, his madness, his loves and his music. Worth it alone for its depiction of the Pet Sounds sessions but they're made all the more impactful when contextualised by the often horrific events that were to take place in his life a few years later.  

Best Blockbuster: Star Wars: The Force Awakens No, I don't give a flying Jawa that this parallels, the original Star Wars so extensively. Frankly, that was kind of the point. Simply, this was the most fun I had at the cinema this year and it was everything a Star Wars fan like me could hope for. Fun, exciting and genuinely funny, with a side order of real emotional resonance, this showed also-rans like Terminator Genysis and Jurassic World just how to reboot a franchise.

Best Romance/ Drama: Brooklyn Despite a slight narrative hiccup in the later part of the film that robbed the final at of some of its tension, it's hard to think of a lovelier film this year.

Best comedy: Ted 2 Sorry, sorry, sorry, I know that it's sacrilegious to award the best comedy to the largely derided Ted 2 but, there's just no getting past it, when it comes to comedy, nothing is more important than how funny it is and I never laughed harder or more consistently at anything this year than Ted 2. 

Best Sports film: Creed A new beginning for the Rocky franchise, yet again, Creed brings all the pathos, humour, triumph and tragedy of the franchise at its best, this is pretty much Rocky 5 done right and further establishes the Rocky series and one of the most effective and consistent movie series of all time.

Best thriller: Whiplash The best of last year's Oscar crop and creates more tension from a drum solo than most thrillers do with a thousand explosions. Truly breathtaking stuff.

Best Action flick: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 2015 was the year of the spy film and this along with our next winner was easily the best of the lot. Five movies in and the Mission Impossible franchise is livelier than ever but is taken to new heights by the addition of one of the year's many wonderful breakout actresses, Rebecca Ferguson in a pivotal role.
Best comic book movie: Kingsmen Marvel gave us two typically good entries this year but nothing beats the anarchic fun of this Mark Millar adaptation. Doing for spy movies what Kick Ass did for the superhero, this was top-shelf badly behaved fun that features what may well be the single maddest but most deliriously funny cinematic moment of 2015. 

Best YA Adaptation: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Smart, heartbreaking and very, very funny, 2015's answer to the equally wonderful The Fault In Our Stars eclipses even the final instalment of the Hunger Games to stand as the best of the incredibly popular but often unfairly derided YA market.

Best Crime Drama: Sicario A bit of an oddity this, as I didn't much care for its basic plot, which was, lets face it, incredibly derivative, but between Roger Deakins' glorious cinematography; a nuanced and quite original female lead, so brilliantly played by Emily Blunt, and one particularly memorable set-piece, it's hard to pick anything else as the crime drama of the year. 

And now for some less honourable mentions...

"Huh" film of the year: Mad Max: Fury Road No, really, why does everybody and their grandmother love this film so much? Sure, it's very well made, technically speaking, but with its lack of story and characters that I gave the slightest shit about (and, yes, I'm including Furiosa here) I was bored out of my mind by every minute of this overlong, mind-numbing "masterpiece". But then, I've never really liked any of the Mad Max movies so what do I know?  

Guilty Pleasure: San Andreas Now it might just be the almost distracting attractiveness of Alexandra Daddario talking here but, man, was this fun. Big, goofy, stupid, generic fun but fun nonetheless. I might have put Furious 7 here instead but this has 500% more Dwane Johnson so this automatically wins. Oh and Daddario is very effective as a kickass heroine too - she may be breathtakingly gorgeous but she ain't just eye-candy so that counts for something. Right? 

Worst Movie: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 I missed both Adam Sandler movies this year but I doubt even he could match the waves of awfulness that Paul Blart 2 coughed up non-stop for an hour and a alfh of my life that I will never ever get back. The first half of this year was filled with godawful comedy (Unfinished Business, anyone?) but nothing comes close to the stinkiness of Kevin Jame' most obnoxious creation.