Top 5 Films of 2015

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     It has been a pretty fantastic year for films! I wish we had more original films that weren’t part of Franchises come out or were not based off books, but that’s besides the point. I will always wish for that and in the end some of those stories aren’t as good as some of the ones born out of Franchises that have the passion and commitment of a good director and team at their back. Now, before I get started on my Top 5 Films of 2015 I want to do an honorary mention to a few films that are well worth checking out.

       “The Force Awakens” didn’t make the list but it is great Star Wars and is worth seeing. “Ant-Man” is one of the funnest Marvel Films in the entire Franchise and Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” is more of his cinematic and writing charm. “Spotlight” is also a fantastic film that is well worth your time as is “Beasts of No Nation”. These are the ones that really stood out as “Age of Ultron” is a film you can take or leave and wasn’t nearly as much fun as “Ant-Man” or “The Force Awakens.”

     So without further ado, here are my Top 5 Movies of 2015, from 5th Place to 1st.

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5) Ex Machina

Director Alex Garland

    “Ex Machina” is high concept sci. fi. at it’s best. In my opinion it blew “Interstellar” out of the water as it had a focus on characters and concept that we don’t really ever get from Nolan. It was also good at showing rather than telling which gives us some extremely haunting scenes. Oscar Isaac does an amazing job as the antagonist as Nathan the creator of the A.I. who manages to be both threatening, scary and vulnerable. The side characters are great too and I loved Gleeson in this role versus his General Hux in “The Force Awakens.” Here I could take him seriously as you could see where he was coming from as an outcast seeking connection with anyone. It’s a powerful film with themes of what it means to be sentience and what liberation is and if you enjoy science fiction, is well worth your time.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/ex-machina-2015-sentience-and-the-path-to-liberation/

Mr. Holmes

4) Mr. Holmes

Director Bill Condon

      Ian McKellan is the most human of all the Sherlocks as it is the conceit of this film that Sherlock has to face how alone he is and that he can no longer count his mind as it is failing and nothing can prevent that. It’s a sad story for that reason as we learn about the case that caused him to retire. The film is powerful as we are given glimpses into different time periods of his life and how they tie to his loneliness in the present as he seeks to solve the problem of the case that caused him to retire, as he no longer remembers it and only has a picture of a woman as a clue. From here the case unfolds as we deal with all the layers of what it means to be mortal, and in that what it means to live and to die. I can’t recommend this film enough.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/mr-holmes-2015-a-reflection-on-mortality-regret-class-and-empathy/

The Martian

3) The Martian

Director Ridley Scott

   Check out the book. It is really good and Ridley Scott stayed surprisingly true to it. This is the best Ridley Scott film since “Kingdom of Heaven” and chances are you’ll enjoy it even if you aren’t into science fiction. This is a film full of humor and drama that gives us glimpses into the lives of the characters as Mark Watney (Matt Damon) seeks to survive on Mars until N.A.S.A. can work up a plan to bring him home. We see all of the drama…from the politics at N.A.S.A. to the hard choices that Watney has to make in order to survive some extremely difficult situations, and even the choice his crew is faced with on their journey back to Earth. There are no villains and because of it every character get’s explored in why they made the choices they did. The cast is fantastic and the cinematography is absolutely stunning. This film will no doubt win awards during the Oscars and it certainly deserves those awards.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/the-martian-2015-a-masterpiece-celebrating-the-wonder-of-science-discovery-and-survival/

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2) Inside Out

Director Pete Docter

       There were two unbeatable Pixar films for me, until I saw “Inside Out.” Those films are “Wall-E” and “Up.” Both films capture the beauty and hardship of being alive or being human so well and this film is no different as we get to see emotions as living beings interacting and making choices when their host Riley is pulled away from her hometown to San Francisco and has to make new friends and get used to a world where she feels alienated. Without giving anything away, this film will probably make you tear up. There is loss, growing up and moving on and integrating past events and emotions to create a whole. It is one of the best films that explores human psychology that I have ever watched, and as an aspiring psychologist I appreciated the framework this film brought and explored. The characters and living emotions are wonderful and the voice actors were perfectly cast for the roles whether it was Lewis Black as Anger or Amy Poehler as joy. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Pixar has struck gold again and told one of the most compelling masterpieces of what it means to be human.

Final Score: 10 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/inside-out-2015-the-importance-of-all-emotions-and-another-pixar-masterpiece/

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1) Mad Max: Fury Road

Director George Miller

     “Fury Road” is one the deepest action film I have ever watched. Who would have thought that a giant car chase could explore themes of patriarchy, feminism, liberation, redemption and the healing from trauma while giving us the best cinematography and some of the best characters to come out of any fiction. Immortan Joe was a fantastic villain who managed to be both vulnerable and threatening, Theron’s Furiousa was an amazing protagonist who was flawed but whose drive carried the plot as it is her freeing Joe’s Breeding Wives that lead to the chase and the premise of the film. Tom Hardy as Max also gives us a gruff vulnerability too as we see him slowly regain his sanity over the course of the film. This is a universe that is so much fun and that I look forward to returning to again. George Miller created a masterpiece greater than all of his other past work and created a film that I expect to forever be a classic.

Final Score: 10 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/mad-max-fury-road-2015-healing-redemption-and-actions-that-matter-in-a-world-gone-insane/

      These were my Top 5 Films of 2015, I’d be curious to hear about yours as well. It was an overall great year for films and I look forward to see the stories that these films inspire in the future.

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The “Mad Max” Films – Worst to Best

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        It’s been a while since “Fury Road” appeared in theaters but I’ve been meaning to do my rating of the “Mad Max” Franchise from best to worst, so no time like the present to do so. Even at it’s lowest, this is a franchise that is fun. It brings madness to the apocalypse and the stories that Max witnesses are interesting, even if I don’t always like them. I’m grateful that George Miller brought this franchise back and I can’t wait to see what other films he makes in this insane universe. So without further ado, here are my ratings of the “Mad Max” films from worst to best, with summaries and a link to my full reviews.

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4th) Mad Max

   The first “Mad Max” film is excessive and feels incomplete. It starts out with a car chase that goes on way too long and the main villain Toecutter was never all that scary. I get that this started the Franchise but I truly hate this film. It feels like a concept idea that was done lazily, and as we witness later, George Miller was and is capable of so much better. There is no reason to watch this film in my opinion, unless you want a lesson on how not to make a film. Practical stunts aren’t enough to carry a film, be it action or otherwise. The action is stupid and our characters do nothing of consequence except dying in some cases, but we are given no reason to be invested in them, leading this to be one of the worst films I’ve watched.

Final Score: 3 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/mad-max-1979-stupid-action-with-no-interesting-characters/

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

3rd) Max Mad 3: Beyond Thunderdome

  “Beyond Thunderdome” is a film that has a lot of good ideas but due to the tone being all over the place isn’t one I can entirely recommend. My thoughts have changed in regards to Tina Turner’s Lady Entity and I like the idea of her character not wanting to kill Max, I just wish we had seen that more. This is a film that wants to be Stephen Spielberg (Wild Kids that Max needs to rescue, adventure music, etc.) but doesn’t really work due to the nature of how dark this universe is. The tone was what got me the most about this and I wish it had chosen to be consistently fun or consistently dark with double dealings and betrayal. Throwing both in made it a confused mess, even though it does still manage to be fun.

Final Score: 7 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/mad-max-beyond-thunderdome-1985-power-plays-and-safeguarding-the-future/

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2nd) Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

    “The Road Warrior” is a great film. It has a fantastic villain in Lord Humungus who is the Ayotallah of Rock and Rolla and it really sets the tone for this post-apocalyptic world as a village with gas is being harrassed by Lord Humungus and Max is pulled into helping them, even though he doesn’t want too. It has some of the best action, a great villain and in the end captures the idea of Max being a symbol of stories from the Wasteland as the film is recounted by the Feral Child who later becomes the leader of the survivors and recounts how they betray Max after he helps them escape.

Final Score: 9 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/mad-max-2-the-road-warrior-1981-discovering-the-reason-to-fight-for-humanity/

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1st) Mad Max: Fury Road

  “Fury Road” might be my favorite film of 2015 and is easily one of my all time favorite films. This is a film that has a great villain in Immortan Joe and his cult of death, Max and the characters around him are seeking freedom and redemption as Theron’s Furiousa frees Joe’s birthing wives and attempts to get them to her home of old that is ruled by old Matriarchs. The cinematography and action are beautiful and it has a message that is powerful showing how rigid systems of patriarchy can be stopped and changed by those who are a part of it (Furiousa, the wives, Nux) challenging it. We also see a soldier get past his conditioning (Nux) and find meaning in life beyond violence and death as his arc really illustrates the power of this story. I can’t recommend this film enough.

Final Score: 10 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/mad-max-fury-road-2015-healing-redemption-and-actions-that-matter-in-a-world-gone-insane/

    This is a universe that is so much fun and within it you can find deep stories filled with action in stories like “Fury Road,” fun adventures in films like “Beyond Thunderdome” and great nihilistic action  and betrayal in films like “Road Warrior.” Within the wasteland there are countless stories to be told and still to be told and through the eyes Max we will no doubt see more come to the screen. I will be surprised if any future installments surpass “Fury Road” but they don’t have to. This is a Universe that George Miller loves, and as long as I keep seeing that love in his films, I will be there to witness those stories.