Fantastic. Hard to see the final fight through my tears, though.
Actually, I could say that about most of the Rocky movies anymore. Something about where I am in my life right now helps these movies hit me hard. Exceptions are III and IV; not that I don't love III, but it's not as emotional for me as the others. I rewatched all the numbered ones and finally saw Rocky Balboa for the first time shortly before watching Creed and loved the whole experience, but I wonder if I wouldn't have liked Creed even more if I didn't have all the others in such close proximity to compare it to. Especially Rocky Balboa which was pretty much perfect and a bigger surprise.
Still, wonderful movie.
12. The Martian
I have a knee-jerk, negative response to survival films, mostly because I dread spending two hours with just one character. I know that that's almost never the actual case in these movies, but it's a Pavlovian reaction by this point. Many reviews told me that The Martian spends a lot of time with the people who are trying to rescue Matt Damon, but I still had to push myself into the theater. And of course I'm glad I did.
Damon's character faces his problems with intelligence and humor. That's true of all the characters, really, so the whole movie is refreshingly positive and inspirational. It's the movie that Tomorrowland was trying so hard to be. The drawback is that its lightness dilutes the tension and suspense somewhat, but The Martian is inspirational science fiction first and survival thriller second. It totally succeeds at that primary purpose.
A drawback to seeing this later than a lot of people is that it couldn't possibly live up to the hype I was hearing. It's a funny movie and I cared about the characters, but I wanted to be laughing harder than I was, not just chuckling quietly. A very good romantic comedy, but not one I'll be revisiting a lot.
Another very good superhero movie from Marvel. I love that it has its own tone and stands apart from the other Marvel films, while totally fitting in with them at the same time. I had a lot of fun with it, but the bar on Marvel movies has been raised so high at this point that I'm sort of disappointed if I'm not losing my mind over how awesome they are. Not fair, but that's where I am.
As huge a Bond fan as I am, I was frankly unexcited to see SPECTRE. The trailers emphasized themes that have been thoroughly explored in the previous three Bond films: distrust, Bond's going rogue, etc. And the lackluster theme song did nothing to draw me to the theater on opening night. That said, once I saw it, I immediately went back the following night.
The first time, I spent the movie trying to figure out the plot. It felt lighter in tone than the trailers suggested, but was that a decoy? How much could I trust Madeleine Swann? Was Christoph Waltz playing Blofeld or not? I ended up being satisfied with the answers to those questions and looking forward to seeing the movie again the next day.
And I liked it even better the second time. Knowing what to expect plot- and tone-wise, I was able to focus on the themes and characters. I love what it says about Bond and how he's grown since Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. His final confrontation with Waltz' character - the self-styled "author of all your pain" - is remarkable and wonderful. Waltz wants to be so consumingly important in Bond's life, but Bond's not having it. I love that he's matured to that point, even though I absolutely dread the potential repercussions in the next movie.
The reason it's not higher on my list is that not only is it nowhere near my favorite Bond movie, it's not even the best spy movie I saw this year. If you're interested in more detailed thoughts about it, I wrote those up, too.
16. Pitch Perfect 2
Might even like it better than the first one. The humor is still uneven and I really don't care for the way it resets the group's success to zero so that they can repeat their climb to the top again, but the addition of Hailee Steinfeld, Keegan-Michael Key, and for the love of God: Das Sound Machine...
Look, sometimes a sequel just needs to do what the first one did and do it a bigger. I don't say that often, because it doesn't work that often, but it sure works in this case.
17. What We Do in the Shadows
My expectations were too high. The concept is hilarious and the trailer had me rolling, but the movie never made me fall out of my chair in laughter and - fair or not - that's what I thought I was going to get. Still, super funny and highly recommended. Looking forward to the just announced sequel: We're Wolves.
18. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Don't know if the Maze Runner movies are getting lost in the mass of other YA dystopia adaptations or if I'm just reading the wrong film coverage. It feels like no one's talking about these, though, and that's a shame. They're solid adventure stories with interesting characters who have complex motivations and are played by appealing actors. Ready for the next one.
Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy do it again. This time, they made a great spy spoof that also became one of my favorite Jason Statham movies. What keeps it from being higher on the list is the amount of time it spends on McCarthy in sad, cat lady disguises. It does that so that she can break free of them and be awesome - and once she does, it's great and I love it whole-heartedly - but I had to get through that stuff to get to the great stuff, so that keeps me from loving it.
It also doesn't help that all the US marketing for the movie focused on cat lady. I had to go to Korea to find a poster of McCarthy looking cool. It makes me very sad that US marketers didn't think anyone wanted to see that.
20. Black Sea
An excellent, undersea heist thriller. Not nearly as much about the tension between the English and Russian halves of the team that the trailer would have you believe, but that stuff is certainly in there. My issue with it has nothing to do with the movie itself and everything to do with what I wanted it to be. The thriller stuff is totally in there and it's very good, but ultimately the movie is more interested in the emotional journey of Jude Law's character and that takes the story in a specific direction I was sorry to see it go. If this list were about objective quality and not about my personal reactions, Black Sea would be in a different spot.