What a lonely little weekend. Only one wide release, the very Christmas-specific horror-comedy Krampus. Granted, this probably deserves a little more attention, because I honestly think this looks like a total hoot. Christmas-based horror usually leans on Santas gone wrong, so anything that changes up the formula works for me. And from the fleeting shadowy glimpses we’ve had of it, the title creature looks like a fantastic design. A tongue-in-cheek monster movie seems like a perfect holiday antidote if you’re stuffed on cheer and goodwill.
But since there’s only one what I would watch this week, this would be a pretty short post if I left it at that. And with the National Board of Review having recently announced their “best of” list for 2015 — shockingly topped by Mad Max: Fury Road — I thought it would be a good time to put down some thoughts on the cinematic year as well. Granted, we’ve got four more weeks left in the year, and some of the big awards contenders won’t even open near me until January, so this is by no means meant to be exhaustive.
Best Film: Mad Max: Fury Road — I know there were more “serious” and “important” films out this year, but none of them embraced unbridled joy of cinema the way George Miller’s road war opus did. Every frame of this film is alive with visual storytelling. It’s got a script that tells but doesn’t explain. It’s a total sensory treat in every sense of the word. If you want movies that take a stand and change the world, then maybe this isn’t for you (although you could argue its staunchly feminist take on the genre is every bit as important as some message film), but if you’re in love with the sheer language of the movies, this is impossible to beat. Other contenders: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Bridge of Spies, Creed, Ex Machina, Inside Out, The Martian, Sicario
Biggest Surprise: Ant-Man, Creed (tie) — They’re both continuations of established franchises that no one was really holding out a lot of hope for. And they both defied expectations and knocked it out of the park. Ant-Man grafted a bit of the heist film on to the Marvel formula along with some of the most inventive super-hero action to date. Creed stands as a rousing, worthy successor to the best of the Rocky franchise but also stakes its own ground as a winner in its own right. It’s great to walk out of a theater having gotten more than you bargained for, and that was the case with both of these. Other contenders: Kingsman: The Secret Service, Maggie, Terminator: Genesys, What We Do in the Shadows
Biggest Disappointment: Tomorrowland, The Good Dinosaur (tie) — A double dose of letdown from Disney. Tomorrowland promised Brad Bird at his gee-whiz best, while The Good Dinosaur looked to be another Pixar home run. And though both had their moments — Tomorrowland‘s awesome escape from George Clooney’s house and Dinosaur‘s heart-breaking ending chief among them — neither lived up to the hope engendered by their respective trailers. Other contenders: CHAPPIE, Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son, Trainwreck
Biggest Meh: Furious 7 — I mean, yeah, I liked it okay. But it just felt like it was trying way too hard to top the previous two films (which I think are better, honestly). And while my employment status is glad it made gobs of money for Universal, I’m absolutely baffled as to how this connected enough to gross over a billion dollars worldwide. That’s a pretty big boat for me to miss, but I just didn’t feel the love on this one. Other contenders: Cinderella, Inherent Vice, It Follows
So far, I’ve seen 179 movies this year, 79 of which were new to me (either in theaters or at home). My most watched film was Mad Max: Fury Road, with six viewings as of this writing (and likely one or two more before the year is out), followed by Age of Ultron with three. Although I have a feeling a certain upcoming release might take the title if everything turns out the way I’m hoping. And if the Krampus doesn’t get me for selling his movie short this week.