We're late but we've got the Ann and Stan annual best list.
Spike Lee directed the year's classic film. Angela Bassett, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Teyonah Parris, John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson are among those in the cast delivering outstanding performances. It's a messy and lively meditation on violence with a grand sweep and did we mention it's a musical? This is Spike's most sure footed film since INSIDE MAN and it is the year's best. It started streaming on Amazon December 29th (for those who wonder how it made this year's list).
2) MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.
Director George Miller extends the franchise to a fourth film -- this time with a cast headed by Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. It's an action film that never lets up but it's actually quite a bit more than an action film and it's great to see Hardy finally catch a real break in an American film and to see Academy Award winner Theron be given a meaty role worthy of her talents.
As any office worker knows, there's no escaping this film. It's on coffee mugs, toys are on work desks, etc.
And all the merchandising can make you forget that this is actually a great film -- in fact, one of the year's best.
4) PITCH PERFECT 2.
Elizabeth Banks directed the most successful film of 2015 -- $287.1 million at the box office on a budget of $29 million. The film was a monster. And you have to credit Banks and screenwriter Kay Cannon but you also have to credit the actors Anna Kendrick and, especially, Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine.
We don't care how jaded you are, you've got to fill a bit of excitement when Wilson and Devine face off by the lake and sing "We Belong."
5) 5 FLIGHTS UP.
A couple, married over 40 years old, we're yawning too.
And that's before you notice that the grating Cynthia Nixon is in the film.
But it works -- mainly due to the magic of Academy Award winners Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman as the couple. Also because Nixon is playing a character who is supposed to get on your nerves (and does get on Morgan Freeman's).
Keaton and Freeman work magic together and add so many levels to the characters that the film feels far richer than it probably actually is.
This Salma Hayek action film got dumped on the market and was really just direct-to-video. No one believed in it.
But it's actually a strong film, one that stands a good chance of growing in popularity and appreciation with each year.
Hayek's a woman forced into sex slavery and now trying to get out but trapped in an apartment.
Her first plan is to run, meet up with her mother, give her mother money so her mother can protect her daughter.
That plan never comes to be and everything that matters ends up in the building.
It's a tight film and much better than any of the reviews bothered to tell you.
That's also why we're late.
We started working on New Year's Eve and realized we only had six films.
We thought it was too much partying.
We planned to get together on Friday and do the rest of our list.
But all we could really talk about was the passing of Natalie Cole [see "Natalie Cole (C.I. filling in for Ruth)"].
On Saturday night, we tried again.
That's when we had to ask ourselves: Do we just toss four so-so films on our list to have ten?
That sort of trashes this six that we came up with which we actually believe matter.
So we decided to sleep on it yet again.
We're comfortable saying there are only six films that matter?
What about the Avengers sequel?
That sucky movie was best captured in Desmond Evlin & Tom Richmond's MAD MAGAZINE parody with this exchange:
Mother: This it is! The final battle to save Earth! Waves and waves of no-personality metal dudes coming down from the sky! I've never seen anything like this before!
Child: Then you must have missed the First Avengers movie!
Yes, we will buy tickets to see Ben Affleck as Batman but, yes, we're also sick to death of the superhero movies.
When you're 'young' lead is Paul Rudd -- ANT-MAN -- you're scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Grasp that after the next X-Men film, the plan is to recast Wolverine. But Paul Rudd's 'young' enough to kick off a franchise.
Or actor enough?
This is the guy who showed everything he had to offer when he played Phoebe's eventual husband on FRIENDS.
And the sameness of every damn superhero film is really getting old.
If it's not those films destroying films, it's human s**theads Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg as well -- squeezing out their crap across the screen individually and jointly.
We get it, Geezers, you're old.
What you don't get, you're also boring.
The last performance Tom Hanks gave that took a chance was PUNCHLINE.
Spielberg is the director who 'suceeded' in making the life of Abe Lincoln boring -- only Sally Field's performance made sense in that ghastly film.
In the 70s, Spielberg succeeded in snuffing all the life out of film and now, decades later, he and others photo-copy his simplistic morality plays to less and less effect.
Films need to wake up.
Franchising is killing the medium.
Which is not to say that a sequel has to be the death of entertainment.
The latest MISSION IMPOSSIBLE is not a great film.
But it has moments of joy.
It's also freakish in its continued hatred of women -- a 'twist' that enters the franchise at the same time J.J. Abrams does.
The James Bond films constantly reinvent and had SPECTRE come out on DVD in 2015, it would have made our top ten.
The only film of 2015 to really challenge the medium and the audience, Spike Lee's CHI-RAQ, easily topped our list. The other five films are ones we believe in. We consider them strong films, best films of the year that could give a run for the best of a year in any year.
But that's where we're stopping.
We don't see the point in adding four films we don't believe in just to reach a magic number of ten.
Other year in review pieces:
2015: The Year of the Ass
2014: The Year of Self-Exposure
2013: The Year of Exposure
2012: The Year of Avoidance
2011: The Year of the Slow Reveal
Other year-in-review pieces include:
Mike's "Tweet of the year"
Trina's "My wish for 2016"