Its award season and all of the best performances of last year are being celebrated. So, keeping with the theme, I present the five best theatric experiences I had from this past year. Because this is a best of list for theater experiences, I’d be remissed if I did not mention the fact that there are some notable films that I did not see in theaters. Acclaimed films such as Black Mass, Straight Outta Compton, Spotlight, and The Martian I did not see in theaters. So of course they will not be included in this list.
I will also exclude Star Wars The Force Awakens. That movie was a once in a lifetime phenomenon for a Star Wars fan. Therefore, I am bias to the film. It is my favorite movie of 2015 without a doubt. So the list below is my top 5 list excluding Star Wars, just to make things interesting.
- Inside Out
This was one of the most charming films of this past year. It focused on an endearing look at human emotions and one’s personality. But on a much deeper level, this movie highlighted depression and the effects in can have on our actions and personality.
This Pixar animated film guides our protagonist through a series of challenges as both Joy, and the human outside deal with growing up. This movie was one of the best told stories of the year. The script is well constructed, as nearly all Pixar films are. Both adults and children alike can enjoy and understand the movie. This will be a movie that families will collect for generations.
Creed, like all boxing films, is full of fast paced action. That is to be expected. What was not expected was the fresh and exhilarating way in which the fights where framed. The scenes were shot in a way that immersed you into the action.
Creed also was the emotional successor to the Rocky franchise. The brawls are griping, never falling into the trap of losing realism. Because of this, each fight in its own way, is engaging and enthralling. You find yourself feeling for the character at certain moments, trying to will him to victory. But the most surprise aspect of the film was the story it told. This is a movie just as much about Rocky as Apollo Creed’s legacy.
Unfortunately, writer, director, and soul of the Creed movie, Ryan Coogler, is moving on to direct the Marvel film Black Panther. Nevertheless, the blueprint has been constructed. This film is already primed for sequels. We’ll see another Creed film very soon I have no doubt.
- Jurassic World
Possibly the biggest surprise of the year, Jurassic World owned the biggest box at the height of box buster season this past year. Jurassic World coupled a tale of corporate greed gone wrong with rampaging dinosaurs. This movie isn’t an intellectual work of act. This movie isn’t Oscar bait for its brilliant acting. However, this movie is simply a fun, thrilling, popcorn stuffer blockbuster. This movie hit all the proper action beats of a movie of this caliber while generating enough nostalgia from previous films.
- American Sniper
This was the best written film of the year in my opinion. Some may count this film on the 2014 slate. It wasn’t released in mass markets until January 2015. Since I don’t live in a mass market like a New York or L.A., I didn’t get a chance to see it until then.
The pacing of this film was impeccable and the adaptation of the book to the screenplay can be credited for that. The movie immerses you into the world of the Iraq War through the eyes of a true American hero. Through his prospective, we witness the horrors of American’s modern war.
This was the most emotional film of the year. Experiencing the life of a soldier at the height of the Iraq War was enthralling yet draining. This is a very heavy film, one that few will really want to watch again. But it truly is masterful in so many ways, that it’s worth at least one viewing.
- Mad Max
By far the wildest, craziest, and most fun ride of this past year was Mad Max Fury Road. This film doesn’t boost a complex plot. But its magnificence is in its simplicity. It takes a very simple idea and ratchets everything else around it to a whole other level.
Basically at its core, the entire film is an extended race. But the world that is revealed as the hero and heroine race along for survival is what makes this film so unique. This film is unlike anything that has come to theaters in recent memory. It has a flame-throwing guitarist for instance. Within only a few scenes, you’re introduced to the setting and the culture that inhabits it.
The greatest element of this movie is its deliberate pacing and flow. This includes the soundtrack, which heightens in intensify as the film’s action escalates. No scene or action is wasted. The characters motivations and actions are believable. Although the film is mostly an action movie, the characters are allowed to breath, creating moments of character development few action films showcase.
Furthermore, each action sequence escalates. No action is repeated twice. While certain action elements are used several times, the stakes have been raised and the intensity ratcheted up to new levels.
Sure, Mad Max is a weird movie initially. The director tries to establish his world at a brisk pace. Those unfamiliar with the Mad Max setting may have a sharp adjustment the finish several minutes. But it all comes together quickly once the action starts. Once the action starts, the ride truly begins.