Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Best Movies of 2015, So Far- Javi and Jonesy's Take

It's been a great year of movies so far. So when we were putting together our lists, it was tough to cut it down to just five. Not only have there been some great films released by major studios, but this has also been a great year for independent films as well. You'll see a mix on our lists, and these films definitely make us excited for later half of 2015.

Jonesy's favorites:

In a world of constant CGI action, FURY ROAD brought us a refreshing look at what an action film can be when using practical stunts and effects. The film drops us almost right in the middle of action and story, without ever pausing to fill in the details. It trusts the audience to pick up the pieces of the story and never has boring bouts of exposition. The world building was the aspect of the film I most enjoyed. With each set piece, we get more information on how this post-apocalyptic world functions, and how most of us would probably not survive if thrusted into this world. Tom Hardy is great as the title character, but the real star of the movie is Charlize Theron as Furiosa. She's tough, determined, and is one of the most kick-ass females to grace the screen this year.

Pixar has had a run of sequels the past couple of years with their last original film, BRAVE, being a total let down. However, they're back in full force with INSIDE OUT, which may be one of their best films to date. As we grow up, we're controlled by five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Each is important in keeping us safe from danger and enjoying life. However, for our main human character, 11 year old Riley, her emotions, Joy and Sadness, have been thrown from headquarters, and Riley is left to tread the adventures of moving from Minnesota to San Francisco. INSIDE OUT braves the treacherous world of trying to understand the growing adolescent mind. It's insanely smart and perfectly describes growing up and dealing with dramatic changes in your life. The film also tackles the obscure concepts of sub-conscious, abstract thought, long term memories, personalities, and why you get stupid jingles stuck in your head. It's the best science movie in recent memory and should be shown in school when teaching about the functions of the brain and emotions. Also, it has one of the best best cat joke I've ever seen.

This was a small film that I caught during the Oak Cliff Film festival. It's a subtle thriller full of drama about three sisters coming together after their mother's mysterious death. The sisters come back to their childhood home on a lake, which seems to have a mysterious power to it. Their mom has drowned, but the body hasn't been recovered, and no one has ever been to the bottom of the lake. What starts off as an almost mystery turns into a family drama about old secrets and buried emotions. It's also a beautiful film with gorgeous cinematography. The three sisters have such a believable chemistry with each other, all of their acting and interactions feel very natural. The film takes its time building the mood and eeriness of the house and lake, and if you buy into the mood, you'll completely get sucked into the story.

The modern age of romantic comedy films is getting pretty dreary and predictable. No longer must we require a running to catch someone at the airport to prove your love. Sometimes you meet the perfect person, but it's just not the right time for either of you. This film is about such love, the perfect love, and how sometimes even the perfect love ends. Elliot is a stand-up comic with anxiety, but then she meets Jamie, a manager of a local smoothie shop. They each have their own issues, but they seem to compliment each other despite their personal problems. The film explores the before, during, and after of their serious relationship and how they each change, as anyone would after a serious relationship. It's a cute and quaint film with some great laughs from the Elliot and her stand-up friends. Especially if you're tired of cheesy rom-coms, this is a refreshing entry in the genre.

Almost nothing is better than a film which can pull off satire. From the minds of one of the guys behind Flight of the Choncords, this mockumentary (I love it already) horror comedy follows three vampire roommates, and their struggles of paying rent, doing chores, finding blood, and not getting into fights with werewolves. If you know any sort of cinematic vampire history, you'll very much appreciate this film and its references. It's witty, smart, and will leave you in stitches. It not only comments and pokes fun at the modern vampire stories (Twilight), but even ropes in the classic Nosferatu vampire for good measure. It's one of the funniest films to come out this year.

Honorable Mentions: SPY, THE WOLFPACK 

Javi's favorites:

This is a pretty personal pick mostly because the subject of this documentary, singer-songwriter Elliott Smith meant a lot to me back in college. His style of singing was more reminiscing of a whisper and the lyrics were always almost uncomfortably honest despite being shrouded in metaphor. The movie follows his musical career as he goes from being a kid writing and recording songs in Texas to eventually his solo career. Given the singer's tragic end, there's always an air of sadness that lingers through the movie but there's some interesting segments and the whole movie felt very tasteful and never exploitative.

Jonesy already said a lot of my thoughts, but I'll echo the fact that this movie is a masterpiece of action set pieces, but also of world building. I've seen the movie twice and it was a little embarrassing just how much more information I was able to pick up on the second time around.  Also, the soundtrack rocks, and it makes for great running music.

It takes a special kind of comedy to make you think of a specific scene and months later it still makes you laugh. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is that kind of comedy and it is truly special. Being a genre spoof, it could've easily gone wrong but the deep knowledge the filmmakers have about the vampire mythos and its place in pop culture makes this mockumentary an instant classic for me.

IT FOLLOWS was one of those movies that seemed too good to be true but seriously, this movie is freaking terrifying. The set up is that a person is cursed with an unstoppable creature/spectre that comes towards them at all times and never stops. The creature doesn't have an iconic mask or weapon, but its relentlessness is what makes it scary. Couple that with a great performance by Maika Monroe, and you have a movie is artsy as it is freaky.

This crime thriller first made an impression on me back in Austin last year. I got a chance to re-watch it for review and I was happy to see how much it held up the second time around. Centered around a mysterious man who approaches a reclusive mystery novel author, MAN FROM RENO is like a gender-swapped modern noir with a diverse cast and a good amount of plot twists to boot.

Honorable mentions: THE GUEST, SPY, SLOW WEST

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