Thursday 31 December 2015

Cinema Year in Review: 2015

As predicted, looking after a new baby has drastically reduced my cinema-going. I saw ten films in the cinema this year, and thought I was doing well to manage that.

The Plaza Cinema, Skipton. A great little place we discovered this year.

Given the limited opportunity, I did my best to choose films carefully, and there have been some excellent releases this year. So, I'm going to do my usual breakdown anyway. For the sake of completeness, I'll do a top seven instead of a top five, so everything I saw gets a mention.

Top Five Seven Films

  1. Inside Out: An absolute gem from Pixar. A brilliantly creative premise, compelling story, wonderful characters, stunning visuals, tied together with real heart and compassion. Lava, the accompanying short, was also great but a real tearjerker.
  2. The Martian: Without question, one of the best science fiction films ever made. (My review.)
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road: Tom Hardy's taciturn Max is along for a wild ride, as Charlize Theron's steely Imperator Furiosa defies the tyranny of Immortan Joe. You can practically smell the diesel and feel the grind of metal.
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Tremendous, popcorn-munching fun, the way Star Wars should be. A few more of my thoughts are here.
  5. Birdman: A darkly funny take on fame, acting and the theatre. Michael Keaton plays an aging actor, struggling to recover his artistic credibility on Broadway, and with terrifying visions of his superpowered alter ego.
  6. Timbuktu. A fascinating, moving film about a town in Mali coming under the rule of Islamic extremists.
  7. Avengers: Age of Ultron. I didn't bother to keep a cinema diary this year, so I did this list from memory. On the first few edits, I completely forgot I'd seen Ultron. It was a good, entertaining film, but didn't leave a lasting impression.

Guilty Pleasure

Terminator: Genisys. It had a less than admiring reception from the critics, but I felt this was an enjoyable enough reboot; far superior to the tired, pointless Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation. (My review.)

Honourable Mention

Everest: An old-fashioned tale of the struggle against nature. It does a fine job bringing across the bleak, terrifying vastness of the high mountains; perhaps less well at conveying the obsessions of the people who climb them, but it's still a good film.

Honourable mention as well to the marvellous Plaza Cinema in Skipton where we saw Everest. It's an independent cinema founded in 1912, lovingly decorated, maintained and run by real fans of the movies.

Wooden Spoon

Jurassic World. Not a bad film by any means. The rugged dinosaur trainer played by Chris Pratt is a lot of fun, and the dinosaurs themselves look very impressive; but it falls down on characterization and story, and I found the child characters very annoying. Overall, it was the least interesting thing I saw in the cinema this year.

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