Best Films of 2015

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It always takes some time to feel ready to post the best movies of the year. While I get to the Oscar nominees pretty early, there are the dozens of fantastic smaller and ignored films that take some time (and are still coming to DVD or Streaming). There are many left on “to see” list of 2015.

 

This year saw some real entertainment from Hollywood and fewer of the super depressing films they’ve made in recent years. So with no apologies for getting it all wrong, here’s my Top 20 for 2015.

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How to become a true Star Wars Fan – Guest Blog

Guest Blogger Gregory Wildeman

(Ed. Note: Greg and I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens together. He apparently has been considering how one becomes a true Star Wars fan for the first time and shared an email with me, which I have turned into a post)

I read your review and I wanted to put an idea forth to you on Star Wars. Firstly the review was more or less spot-on in my opinion. I’d like to expand on it by taking you through a progression of what I believe is something that needs to be discussed:

How to intake Star Wars for the first time. 

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This debate, which has gone on for some time, actually has a prevailing theory: The machete order.

I find this theory to vastly under serve one trying to understand the full universe. See, the full universe is not only about the movies- there are books, comics, movies, video games, etc. Some of these are canonical (defined as released directly from a Lucas Company or now Disney) and some aren’t. I am going to create the Ultimate Order using only canonical reference. In which case you can only discuss moves, tv shows, and video games.

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And The Oscar Nominees Should Be…

I have done really well on my annual attempt to see all the big Oscar nominees by show time (Sunday, February 28) – and even better to anticipate them by nomination time (Thursday, January 14). After seeing a great New York Times article listing who Manhola Dargis, A.O. Scott, and Stephen Holden thing the nominees should be, I decided to have a hand at my own list.

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From the Times, I learned how many films I still haven’t seen that are quite notable, even if they will be ignored the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. They cite The Assassin, Experimenter, Results, Clouds of Sils Maria, Tangerine, 99 Homes, James White, The Diary of Teenage Girl, and two films I just never got around two seeing, Magic Mike XXL and Grandma. So for an amateur film buff, I might have done all right, but I have miles to watch.

Here are my thoughts on which Actors should be nominated based on the power and quality of their work. They ignore the Academy’s usual disdain for certain genres. They also don’t accept a lead role being positioned as supporting to help move an actor into a more winnable category.

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Mini-Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

PG-13, 135 Minutes, 2015

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About: A long time ago… a plot was borrowed from a 1977 and told it again. But with more lightsaber fighting and a woman in the lead.

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver – your lives have massively changed forever.

Directed: JJ Abrams continues to show he can take a classic property, rework their old scripts, and make people love them anew. He does an even better job here than he did in Star Trek. And no lens flares.new-the-force-awakens-character-descriptions-for-finn-rey-kylo-ren-and-captain-phasma1.jpeg

Best Thing About It: When Rey uses the force to get the lightsaber. It is the establishment of a new generation of heroes and specifically that a young woman can be the central protagonist – something lacking in most classic Science Fiction.

 

Worst Thing About It: The Nazi imagery when General Hux address the Stormtroopers was way over the top.

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Notable Things About It: Best acted and funniest of Star Wars movies. Was not shot all in digital, so has grittier more realistic feel than the Prequels did. You can skip Episodes 1-3 and understand this fill without a problem – Prequels can be dead now.

IMAX/3D: Saw it in 3D on a regular screen and on IMAX/3D. While IMAX/3D makes your viewing into an event – and therefore worthwhile – neither is really needed.

Overall: JJ Abrams succeed in creating Star Wars for the next generation while satiating those of us who were transformed by it as children decades ago. That is one tough task and he did an amazing job.

As we prepare for 18 months of waiting for the next episode, some questions below…

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Questions: The film leaves a host of questions to debate until Episode VII in May 2017. Some of them:

  • Who are Rey’s parents? Unlikely to be Han and Leia. Current betting is on Luke, but she was a little girl when left on Jakku so you’d think she’d remember her parents and everyone else (Han, Leia, Ben Solo) would remember her.920x920.jpg
  • Is Finn just a rare rebellious Stormtrooper or does he have some interesting back story? I doubt he is Lando Calrissian’s son, but love to see some Billy Dee Williams.
  • How did Kylo Ren turn evil? And where did Supreme Leader Snoke come from? And is he really very tiny (like Yoda), but compensates with a Wizard of Oz giant head?
  • Who is the old guy at beginning and what’s his story? Internet tells us his name is Lor San Tekka and gives some history that wasn’t in the movie.
  • But most of all: Why does C-3PO have a red arm?

 

Rating: 3 1/2 RaMaKs (out of 4)

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