Another year is coming to a close and it has been a highly successful year for movies, especially going into the latter half of this year. From a kinky BDSM novel adaptation, a fairy tale brought to life, and a high-octane series saying goodbye to a series regular to the twenty-fourth Bond adventure, the park reopened, and audiences returned to a galaxy far, far away. Of course, there was a Marvel movie involved as well.
Out of all of those films, I’ve narrowed it all down to a top 10 list for this year:
10) Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s A-Team of superheroes reunited again with reinforcements to battle a villainous artificial intelligence program from ending the world. While it wasn’t as good as the first Avengers film, it held its own with amazing special effects and giving each hero screen time. Another great installment in the successful Marvel Franchise with the ending result having a major ripple effect on the established world, setting the stage for Captain America: Civil War.
9) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
The Hunger Games film series took up the mantle left behind by Harry Potter as a successful adaptation of young adult novels that reaches far behind its intended audience. The final film brought an epic conclusion to the series as Katniss took on the Captiol, seeking to bring change to the world of Panem. As a fan of the novel, I was impressed with the movies than the novel (which was the weakest of the three). While I didn’t think the novel, which is the same length as the other two, it proved to be beneficial in providing a satisfying end to the film series that launched Jennifer Lawrence into the stratosphere.
A lot has been said about the role of James Bond as Daniel Craig prepared for the release of his fourth outing as the secret agent. From media reports, the spectrum has run from Craig saying he isn’t done to him saying that he was exhausted and tired of the role. With the future of 007 and Craig’s status left unknown, I would say that he left the franchise better than when he found it with Spectre. A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a mission to uncover a sinister organization that holds ties to him while M (Ralph Fiennes) battles to keep the secret service alive. With amazing action, stunts, a soulful theme performed by Sam Smith, and anchored by a strong performance by Craig, Spectre is another strong installment in the James Bond franchise while we await to see if Daniel Craig will suit up for a fifth run.
7) Straight Outta Compton
If there was one surprise that I had this year, it was this film. Usually, biofilms about music stars don’t fair well in the box office. They don’t seem fit to last but this one goes against the norm. The engaging performance by a solid cast of newcomers channeling the energy of the infamous rap group from Compton, N.W.A., helped carry the film to the top of the box office in August. Produced about Ice Cube and Dr. Dre,, who provided their expertise because they lived the events, and directed by F. Gary Gray, the ups and downs of the group and richly observed, enjoyed by audiences.
Now this one gave me a bit of trouble in my top 10. Not that it wouldn’t make the list but where to place it! But considering the rest of my list, this is as high as I could go. In my review, I labeled Creed as Rocky 7. I still stick with that statement but it doesn’t take away from the power of the film. Creed chronicled the young underdog Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of former world champion and Rocky’s rival, Apollo Creed. This film is not only about Johnson’s personal journey but Rocky Balboa’s (Slyvester Stallone) as well. Michael B. Jordan gave a commanding performance as the young Creed, fighting his way out of the shadow of his father and Stallone’s performance was inspiring, just enough to earn him a Golden Globe nomination and possibly an Oscar nomination. I definitely recommend this film to any fan of the previous Rocky films or wanting to bring new fans to the series with a gritty film.
5) Mad Max: Fury Road
We get to the top five now! The last Mad Max film premiered 30 years ago in 1985. The fourth film has sat in “developmental hell” since then and it didn’t seem like it would see the light of the camera again. This year, we were treated to a new film. Fury Road follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) as he joined forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to take on the cult of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). It has been named one of the best movies of the year by critics and publications. With exhilarating action and praise for acting, screenplay, stunts, and humor, Mad Max: Fury Road is an impressive installment in the Mad Max franchise. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait 30 years for the next installment.
4) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The current box office king had to end up on my top 10 list. I remember watching the re-release for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope during its 20th anniversary. I fell in love with that universe, and while I wasn’t really impressed with the prequel trilogy, I was so excited when I heard about Episode VII. Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, a new band of heroes join forces with the original heroes to take one a new dark force in the galaxy. Audiences young and old, fans of the films and newcomers will be astonished by the work done by J.J. Abrams. It was like greeting old friends and bringing new ones into a family that we haven’t seen for years. This film continues to shatter box office records even now so I suggest everyone get on board.
3) Jurassic World
The park is open. 22 years after the first Jurassic Park film, the park on the island of Isla Nublar has been open to the public and audiences returned to the land of genetically created dinosaurs. Chris Pratt joined the franchise as Owen Grady, a Velociraptor expert and trainer at the park who helps out Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire, the park’s operations manager when her nephews go missing in the park and a hybrid dinosaur escapes from its prison. The score, acting, along with the direction of Colin Trevorrow helped carry this film, which broke records as well before The Force Awakens came around. An exciting summer flick that has complete rewatchability.
2) The Martian
I’ve read the novel so I had to see the movie. Once again, the world had to go save Matt Damon and got a huge payday out of it. The Ridley Scott-directed science fiction film is based on the novel, where Damon stars as Mark Watney, an astronaut who is mistakenly presumed dead and left behind on Mars, learning how to survive while rescue attempts are made to bring him home. The film is funny and thrilling, having a “last man on Earth” feel to it. I can tell that NASA had a huge involvement and real science seemed very involved in making this film. It makes attempts to be realistic and a real human story of survival on a barren planet. If you are looking for a true science fiction film that you can watch again and again and a real human story that the science is supporting, here it is.
1) Kingsman: The Secret Service
Talk about rewatchability! This amazing movie surprised a lot of audiences early this year, bringing some fun to the spy genre. This British-American spy film is stylish and, overall, just pure fun. Starring Colin Firth as a member of a spy organization who recruits a young juvenile with promise into the group and at the right time in order to stop Samuel L. Jackson’s tech villain. It’s better when it doesn’t make sense, that doesn’t stop Kingsman from being enjoyable. The overall favorite scene is the wonderfully choreographed church scene. Overall, I felt like this film was the best of this year.
I hope you all have seen these movies at least once (or many times!) but if not, this is a list of films you could watch as the new year comes. I’ll be putting out a list of my top 10 for 2016 soon!
Happy New Year, everyone!