Well, there goes another year. In some ways amazing, in some ways. . . well, you'll see when we get to my Bottom 10. This year, inspired by Casey Kasem, I made a Top 40 list of my favorites of movies, tv, video games, and everything, rather than going the Dago Bot route of separating these things, or just focusing on the one thing you know most about like Miss Mecha. (Curse you and your logical approach!)
10. Shaun the Sheep - This simple, beautiful film just made you feel good. Without a single word of dialogue, they conveyed more emotion than 95% of films released this year.
9. Inside Out - Pixar strikes again with a beautiful film not only about emotion, but adolescence, change, and the importance of sadness. Bing Bong will always make me cry. As will the short "Lava" that played before it.
8. The Martian - A tale of survival and sciencing the shit out of all the things. Brilliantly acted by Matt Damon and an amazing supporting cast. This makes me wish we spent more money on NASA.
7. Doctor Who - A confession: Before this year, I had never watched Doctor Who. So my 2015 resolutions were: 1) Watch Doctor Who for the first time, 2) Start a podcast about it. Hence, the Who Virgin podcast. And then as we got to this season, the show suddenly grew up far beyond anything I'd expected. From exploring time travel paradoxes to the causes of war and conflict, this has become one of the best seasons of any science fiction show ever. I mean that seriously.
6. Trumbo - The true story of the Hollywood 10, The Blacklist, and Dalton Trumbo who went on writing under assumed names. Bryan Cranston will be nominated for an Academy Award. If there's any justice in the universe, so will Joan Allen and Louis CK. Given our current brand of political hysteria, it's worth looking back at how we overreacted to previous manufactured crises. This is also a good companion piece to my next pick:
5. Bridge of Spies - Spielberg. Hanks. A script co-written by the Coen Brothers. And Mark Rylance gives one of the best performances of the year as accused spy Rudolph Abel. I've never seen one of our roundtable reviews all come back with the same score for a movie. And I've never seen that score be a perfect 10. But it happened. And with good reason.
4. Ex Machina - From the moment I first saw this film, I was blown away by how good and smart it was. It raised so many moral and ethical questions, as well as presented a fairly likely scenario for how someone would actually create the first real artificial intelligence housed in a humanoid body. (So you could have sex with it, of course.) Also putting on display the acting prowess of Oscar Isaac, Domhall Gleeson, and Alecia Vikander, this film seems too good to be at my #4 spot. In truth, only the smallest amount separates it from my other top films, and my favorite "TV show":
3. Daredevil - It feels cheap or weird to call this a TV show. In some ways, it's even more cinematic than some of Marvel's films, and certainly develops a world of its own that somehow "Agents of SHIELD" never quite managed, and "Agent Carter" came close to but not at this level. Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin managed to make us feel for the villain while never quite taking his side, and we see the symmetry and duality between him and our hero. The slowest and most satisfying slow burn of the year-- this is what TV should be. Praise whatever gods you worship for Netflix.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road - The most unexpected film of the year, for me at least. Given the production delays and history of this, who knew this would be so amazing? And then Furiosa grabbed us by the throat and wouldn't let go. After seeing this, I gave it a 10 and wished I could've given it a higher score. If Ex Machina has my head, Fury Road has my. . . er. . . "id". . . and for what has my heart:
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Why are people suddenly hating on this film? Oh, right. Hipsters. Who hate something because it's popular. Or they're heartless killjoys. Or they just don't like good movies. This is an amazing film, and the most fun you could have in a theater. Who can ask for anything more? Well. . . we can't wait until 2017 for Episode VIII, and next year we'll get "Rogue One." Star Wars is back, baby. And in the best way.
And now, my Bottom 10:
10. The Reality TV show that our politics have become: Worst Actors Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Seriously, every single debate I watched was the worst thing I saw all year on TV. Just the worst. It's like some alternate universe reality show where we choose the most ignorant, racist, sexist douchebag/whore and give them a shot at being able to launch nuclear attacks on other countries. Let's hope next season in 2016 is much better.
9. Heroes: Reborn - We should've left bad enough alone. This was a bad reboot. And one that didn't make a lick of sense until 6 or 7 episodes in. And now what? Just the worst.
8. Hitman: Agent 47 - Again, why did we need this? Did the last movie not suck enough?
7. Entourage - Ditto. As much as this movie devolved into mindless T&A, there simply isn't enough in the universe to make this entertaining. And it's so ubiquitous to make it unacceptable and misogynistic for 2015.
6. Fantastic Four - How do you screw this up? And do it so badly? Just give the rights back to Marvel already.
5. American Sniper - Technically this came out this year in wide release, even though it was nominated for this year's awards (WHY?!?! WHY!??!) This was not only poorly done (remember the fake baby?), it glossed over the truly important parts of Chris Kyle's story in favor of glorifying war. I place at least some of the blame for our current Islamophobia on this.
4. Unfinished Business - This was just terrible and made me embarrassed for everyone involved with this movie.
3. Home - Don't let your children watch this. It will make them stupid. And explain to me why Rihanna is in this? And obligatory Rihanna songs?
2. Jupiter Ascending - Eddie Redmayne should thank the stars this didn't come out before Oscar ballots were mailed in. The Wachowskis put tons of style into cool worldbuilding and then inhabited it with the worst, most bland characters played by Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. Ugh.
1. Pixels/The Ridiculous Six/The Cobbler - Mostly this is just for Pixels, which was terrible. But then Netflix had to go and release these other awful Adam Sandler "movies." Just stop. Please.
Here's the rest of my Top 40, if you care?
11. Rick and Morty - Time Travel. Cartoons. Dan Harmon. That just sounds like slavery with extra steps. SHOW US WHAT YOU GOT! And that cliffhanger ending. Bring on more.
12. The Big Short [tie] - loved it. My full review here.
13. The Hateful Eight [tie] - Go see this in 70 mm if you can. I liked this a lot, and the more I think about it, the more I'm warming up to it.
14. Straight Outta Compton - Yo, Dre, I got something to say. The rare biopic that entertains and also illuminates a lot of the most important issues of our day as well.
15. Sleeping With Other People - My favorite comedy of the year. We also got a chance to interview director Leslye Headland, which only cemented this further, which you can listen to here.
16. Spotlight - Stellar film destined to clean up at the various awards. Fuller review here.
17. Steve Jobs - Shakespearean Drama by way of Sorkin. Despite the major historical liberties, I love the results, especially the performances by Fassbender and Seth Rogen. Fuller review here.
18. Kingsman: The Secret Service - I called this the best movie of 2015. . . until Ex Machina dethroned it a few months later. But still a lot of fun. And not that kind of movie.
19. Telltale Games - Minecraft Story Mode, Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones - These were the favorite games in our house this year. Game of Thrones finishing strong with a final chapter for me, and Minecraft for the kids. Ok, and me too (my review of Chapter 1 here). Telltale simply can do no wrong. Can't wait to see what they do with Batman.
20. South Park - This show has hit some sort of renaissance. PC Principal is my favorite character on TV, hands down. The social commentary, whether targeting political correctness, police brutality, Caitlyn Jenner, Whole Foods, yaoi art/slash-fic, Donald Trump, gentrification, or the ubiquitousness of advertising, is deft and laser-scalpel like in its precision. I especially love how they've chosen to target political correctness, avoiding any traps that would be easily dismissed as racist, sexist, etc. They simply take on all comers, and help let the air out of a balloon that might be getting too large.
21. Agent Carter - This show was perfect from the moment it began, and as soon as Hayley Atwell showed up in that dress? It was on. The best show on TV while it was on. Biggest complaint? Not enough of it. Yay for Season 2 coming soon!
22. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Because females are strong as hell. Crank you for being a crank. This was such a geeky show in only the way Tina Fey could deliver it. Robots. Spider-Man musicals. Ghostbusters references. OJ trial callbacks. Celebrity cameos. Just awesome.
23. Parks and Recreation - Was sorry to say goodbye to this show, but they sent it out with style. I'm already hoping for a reunion show.
24. Lego Dimensions / Lego Jurassic World - Dimensions hits me right in the ADHD part of my brain which wants to be able to play Lego games with The Simpsons, Doctor Who, and Batman. It's also great to have 12 tiny games and a couple of levels each for every one of these worlds that maybe I'm not quite ready to commit to an entire game. For instance, Portal 2. The levels for this are perfect. Any more and I'd get bored. Any less and I'd be unsatisfied. And then there's the Jurassic World game, which actually incorporates all of the Jurassic Park franchise games. This was worth the deep dive, as you can play as multiple types of dinosaur. In Dimensions, you can still be a velociraptor, which is awesome. You know that meme about "unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman."? Yeah. Unless you can be a velociraptor.
25. Me, Earl and the Dying Girl - The funniest movie about growing up, falling in love, death, and movie parodies. This is the "Sixteen Candles" for today. Except not terrible.
26. Love & Mercy - The true story of Brian Wilson's struggle with mental health issues, told beautifully in two timelines with Paul Dano as 1968 Wilson recording The Beach Boys magnum opus "Pet Sounds" and John Cusack in 1985 struggling under the thumb of overbearing caretaker Paul Giamatti and ultimately rescued by Elizabeth Banks.
27. The Good Dinosaur / Jurassic World - You can't go wrong with movies about dinosaurs. Perfect for popcorn and satisfying your inner child. Maybe we could've expected a little more from Pixar and from this franchise, but I'm happy with both. Here's our roundtable of Jurassic World (which I've actually bumped up in opinion on several repeat viewings because, well, fun!) and Good Dinosaur.
28. The Flash - Speaking of just plain fun, this is how you do a superhero tv show. It's a bit silly, but it's got a huge heart and wears it on its sleeve.
29. Southpaw - I'm a sucker for a good boxing movie, and 2015 gave us two great ones. My review here.
30. Crimson Peak - Maybe still more style over substance, but still one of the best looking and creepiest films of the year. Review here.
31. Spy - This was the Year of the Spy Movie. This was a major reason why. Can't wait for Paul Fieg to re-team with Melissa McCarthy in 2016's Ghostbusters. Full review here.
32. iZombie - As a fan of the Mike Allred/Chris Roberson comic book, it took me a while to warm up to this and stop comparing it to the things it didn't have that the comic did. But what we got was essentially a supernatural Veronica Mars based on the spirit of the comic, which is not bad. At all. And now I can't bear to miss it. And that theme song.
33. Star Wars: Rebels / Star Wars: Battlefront - This was a year of Star Wars, and both of these added so much to my enjoyment. Rebels is the best cartoon on TV for kids. And I just wish I wasn't so terrible at Battlefront. Add me to your team if you want to feel better about your skills. I'm cannon/bantha fodder.
34. Trainwreck - Oh, Amy Schumer. And Bill Hader. And LeBron James. And JOHN CENA!!! You are so funny. Just not quite as good as Sleeping With Other People. Also, could do without the Colin Quinn.
35. Jessica Jones - An amazing show that unfortunately is overshadowed by Daredevil. But Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones is the perfect mix of badass, insecurity, PTSD, and alcoholic. Not to be outdone, David Tennant's Killgrave is perhaps the scariest Marvel villain ever, who is only bounded because his desires are so mundane.
36. Ant-Man - This movie was funny, but it was no joke. The only problem is it felt like more set-up for future films than its own standalone. But those were also the best parts. But if you would have told me that Ant-Man would be the far superior film to Avengers: Age of Ultron, I would've laughed in your face. But here we are. Bravo to Peyton Reed, Paul Rudd, and everyone else involved.
37. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. / SPECTRE - More spy goodness from both of these films, which were opposite sides of the same coin: a period piece bringing modern sensibilities to telling your story, and a franchise bringing back one of its biggest villains from dated 60's and 70's films into the modern world. My Man from UNCLE review is here and SPECTRE is here.
38. Creed - Another boxing movie, this one hits hard on the nostalgia front. Lots of fun.
39. Fresh Off the Boat / Blackish - Two of the best comedies on tv, and ones that show how a cast of non-white people can be just as easily universal. Just sit back and enjoy, especially if you enjoy "Fresh Off the Boat's" 90's nostalgia. Cue the Shaq cameos. . .
40. Tomorrowland - I'm still amazed people didn't like this movie, the same way I'm amazed at negative feelings about Star Wars. A film about positivity and hope for the future. Let's hope we can get there. Full review here.
Note about my list: I have not yet had the privilege of seeing Anomolisa or The Revenant. Just like with Selma, I wish we'd been able to see it before the end of the year as it would've been my #1 for 2014. I reserve the right to give either of them a place in my top 10 later.