Overall, 2015 was a bland movie year. Not good. Not bad. Just bland. I had to look up a bunch of them because I remember little or nothing about them. More than once I said, “Oh, was that this year?”
Surprisingly, one of them is The Woman in Gold. Selma is another.
You’d think I’d remember Selma, because it was the subject of the first You Vs. Mr. Movie Class I taught for Kennewick Community Education. But I didn’t. The movie is bland and fit perfectly into a bland year.
2015 is not without irony. I saw the year’s best and the year’s worst on the same day.
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Fortunately, Star Wars: The Force Awakens helped end 2015 on a high note. And in the more than 20 years since I’ve been doing this, no movie I’ve encountered has been surrounded by more secrecy and studio paranoia than this one.
2015’s five best
▪ Spotlight — We know the outcome of Boston’s pedophile priests investigation, but it’s still a nail-biter.
▪ Trumbo — Just hand Bryan Cranston the Oscar and all the other best acting awards.
▪ Ex Machina — A fabulous sci-fi sleeper.
▪ Steve Jobs — It’s personal. I love Apple’s story, and Michael Fassbender.
▪ Inside Out — The second smartest writing of the year — Trumbo is the first — is in an animated movie.
Worst big-release movies
▪ Rock the Kasbah — Bill Murray is the most boring actor ever.
▪ Jurassic World — Should have been more fun.
▪ Spectre and Mission: Impossible — The whole spy thing is tired and dated.
▪ Magic Mike XXL
Most underserved raves
The most underserved movie praise this year is for Carol, the story of two 1950s lesbians, and The Danish Girl, about a 1920s transgendered artist. Both feature great acting, but are painfully and one-dimensionally slow.
A couple of posts on my Mr. Movie Tri-City Herald blog were highly critical of my panning of Selma. Some wondered what kind of a person would give such a low rating to an important historical drama. Martin Luther King was my hero. Of all the 1960s society-shaping icons, he was the bravest and the most eloquent. I was mesmerized by his voice and his message. Selma didn’t do justice to the man or the movement.
The Hunger Games movie series is thankfully done, and like all series these days, what should have been three pretty good movies were stretched to a painful four. The last two movies were insomnia producers. By the end of the last flick, Jennifer Lawrence — who wasn’t a superstar when it all began — also seemed bored with it all.
So are we.
Center stage now are the dystopian disasters Divergent and Maze Runner. Nothing in either series strikes a positive chord.
Not so at home with ‘Sherlock Holmes’
A few quality art flicks made it to Tri-Cities screens. Among them is Mr. Holmes — as in Sherlock — and Ian McKellan’s pathetic attempt at doing what a bunch of actors have done better. The super sleuth at the end of his life and with advancing dementia is — ironically — forgettable.
No need for the world’s greatest detective to note these weren’t that good either: Far from the Madding Crowd, Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and Learning to Drive. You know a movie is awful when Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson can’t save it.
Movies not to take your 84-year old mom to see
Once in a while, I take 84-year-old mom to a screening. One I’m glad she missed is 50 Shades of Grey. Based on the popular book, it has plenty of explicit sex, bondage and spanking. The movie is basically a beautifully filmed, expensive piece of soft-core pornography. Sex and bondage scenes are all accompanied by loud, bland pop music ballads.
I found it hard not to laugh.
Another is Magic Mike XXL. It is the awful male stripper sequel to the so-so Magic Mike. This time, it was a stripped down version with only Channing Tatum and no Matthew McConaughey, who was the only thing that made the first movie go.
Sick of super heroes & a squeal over sequels
Am I the only person tired of worn and weary super hero movies? Avengers: Age of Ultron was awful. So was The Fantastic Four, which set new low standards for super hero flicks. Every movie ends up with a city, country or planet that gets decimated in the final 20 minutes.
As a positive, Ant-Man is excellent, but the last 20-minutes didn’t destroy and city, country or planet.
As for sequels, we didn’t love the second Ted, another dip in Hot Tub’s Time Machine and I found Pitch Perfect 2 out of pitch, but we embraced Creed and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Ending a sleepy movie year
Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea is Moby Dick. The book was painfully plodding and put me to sleep. So did this movie and most of 2015’s movies.