in Movies and TV

My top 5 movies of 2015

It’s 2016 so now is time to look back at the movies I had watched in 2015. In 2015 I had my share of duds (Fifty Shades of Grey comes to mind), a few disappointments (I didn’t like Avengers), a few surprises (I didn’t expect to enjoy Ant-Man and Jurassic World). For the first time in so many years, I watched Cinemalaya short films and (Sanctissima got my vote).

So here are my top 5 films for 2015:

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Ok, the story may just be a rehash of the first trilogy (no, not the one that starts with The Phantom Menace) but it was nonetheless an enjoyable romp. The weight of millions of Star Wars fans were on J.J. Abrams shoulders and fortunately he was able to deliver. No boring Senate hearings, no Jar-Jar Binks, no bad dialogue, no Hayden Christensen. Instead we get snappy dialogue, enjoyable characters, nostalgia, winks to the the first trilogy, exciting dogfights, believable special effects, and a setup that I am sure will bring billions of dollars to Disney.

4. It Follows

I am one with Chris Stuckmann when he implores audiences to stay away from cheap, jump-scare films that claim to be “horror.” I also refuse to treat torture flicks — like Saw or movies associated with Eli Roth — as horror. I go for the slow burn. True horror is not about ghosts and monsters. It’s all about the psychology and with that my favorite horror movies include The Shining, Spain’s El Orfanato, Japan’s Ringu, and for 2015, It Follows.
It Follows has a simple premise. A creature — it can be a stranger, a friend, even a family member — follows you with ill intent until you have sex with someone else. That creature will then follow that person until that person has sex with another person. So on and so forth. What’s scary is that this creature doesn’t chase you like the “infected” in 28 Days Later. They don’t even look scary like zombies or mutants. They can look like ordinary people, which makes it even more disturbing as you aren’t certain if that stalker behind you is one of those creatures.

3. Ex Machina

I applaud Alex Garland’s directorial debut. Ex Machina is soulful and atmospheric. With its minimal settings and characters, I felt like watching a stage play. The screenplay, also written by Garland (who I discovered also penned the screenplay for two of my favorite films, 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go) is smart and thought-provoking. I don’t want to give away too much about this film — I had watched this film with no expectations and with no idea what the premise was — as too much info will ruin the twists and surprises. Let’s just say that it made me revisit my own concepts of artificial intelligence.

2. Creed

I admit that I watched this because I had heard of all the positive reviews, so I expected a good story and well-crafted boxing scenes. I knew from the trailers that this would be an “underdog” story and I knew that the theme would closely mimic the first Rocky film. I didn’t expect it to be THAT good, though. I mean, can you actually make a good movie out of the Rocky franchise? And another thing I didn’t expect was the superb acting from Sylvester Stallone. Who knew he could act? I am rooting for him to win a Golden Globe or an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

How could anyone not love Mad Max? Much have been written about the “center-framed” camera work. Much have been said about the emphasis on practical visual effects and less on CGI. Crazed and frenetic, George Miller’s return to the twisted world of Max Rockatansky is a prime example of how an action film should be made. We have heroes who actually can get hurt. They grimace when they get hurt. When they are in fisticuffs, you can feel their agony. No shaky-cam effects. No quick cuts to mimic as action shots. It’s a roller coaster film I have watched over and over again.