We’re a little over halfway through the year, making it the perfect time to look back on what’s happened in movies to this point. Here’s a quick look at 5 of the best and worst of what’s been on the silver screen in the first six months of the year.
Best of 2015 (So Far)
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
After an almost 40-year wait, George Miller came back triumphant. He brought back a Mad Max that combined 2 hours of non-stop action with a subversive female-centric plot, placing Max (Tom Hardy) as second wheel to a phenomenal Imperator Furiousa (Charlize Theron). Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to garner awards to match the critical praise and box office success due to its sci fi/action genre, but we can keep singing its praises until some academy somewhere listens.
This creative, highly anticipated work from Pixar is likely the next animated classic. It follows the internal mental turmoil of a girl in the midst of a family move, personifying her emotions into characters: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). It’s an emotional tour-de-force in cartoon form, combining humor with insight and a dream team cast of modern comedy greats.
Another science fiction film that will never get the formal accolades it deserves, considering it ranks with “Blade Runner” for sleekly contemporary film-making prowess. It features terrific performances from Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleason that are more powerful for being contained in a modestly budgeted, well-thought-out film.
Although strictly released on Christmas Day last year, we’re going to overlook that as director Ava DuVernay should have been nominated for an Oscar and David Oyelowo should have won one. “Selma” looks at Martin Luther King’s (David Oyelowo) 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, AL. The film tightens its focus to three key months in the civil rights leader’s life, and shows how we are still not living in the world he envisioned. It seems all the more poignant given some of the race problems this year.
This spectacular movie brings together some of today’s comic greats. Yes, Melissa McCarthy is truly a comedic gem, but it turns out that Jason Statham is incredibly funny as well. With a cast rounded out by Jude Law and Rose Byrne, and bringing back “Bridesmaids” writer-director Paul Feig, it’s absolutely hilarious and full of great action – win-win!
Worst of 2015 (So Far)
“Fifty Shades of Grey”
Really, ‘trainwreck’ is the only word that fits this movie which combines poor filmmaking, actors who barely seem able to tolerate each other, and a nightmare BDSM plot that comes across as abusive rather than erotic. Sure, it made a ton of money at the box office and there are going to be sequels. The books made a ton of money and went on far too long also. This doesn’t make it right. Or good. Or anything we want to think about anymore (shudder).
This movie really makes one wonder if Johnny Depp can do anything but play a pirate anymore. It was unfunny, unsuccessful, and obscure. The A-list cast (including Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor) had no hope of saving this mess.
With all the great science fiction happening this year, there had to be a few flops. Sadly, the Wachowski siblings are on a run. A bad run. A run that should have stopped abruptly after the first Matrix sequel. This particular mess included some of today’s most watchable stars (Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne) in another practically unwatchable box office bomb.
One more science fiction failure to balance out the greatness of “Mad Max” and “Ex Machina.” Neill Blomkamp wasn’t able to live up to the promise of “District 9,” creating a heavy-handed movie burdened with political commentary and lacking any emotional resonance or really even any good action.
What’s amazing here is that anyone could take two actors at the top of their game (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence), and waste their talents so egregiously. If this movie had featured two unknowns, nobody would have even bothered to pan it. It’s not even a disaster; it’s boring and pointless, which seems almost more of a crime considering the talent involved.