For me, the year 2015 was both a decent year in film and also a year where nostalgia was desperately clawed at for those in my generation and older. It's clear by the number of sequels to franchises that were long thought dead this year that Hollywood was ready to re-open the vault on these concepts. Some worked, and some didn't. I will only be commenting on films I saw this year as there were some I was not willing to shell out my money towards since it was obviously crap (I'm looking at you, Fant4stic Four).
And be warned, I can't promise you won't read a spoiler or two in here.
My 5 Favorite Films of 2015
5. Inside Out - A great return to form for Pixar, a unique idea about the feelings in our head and how they work. Aside from some inspired comedic moments (and mentions of hockey, nice), this film had some well-conceived concepts about how our brain works and pulled it all off without ever giving us a true villain of the story, because the only villain is being our own worst enemy.
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron - This is difficult, because after the first Avengers film, it was going to be hard to live up to that and so much had been building to this point. It wasn't quite what I expected at first. Ultron himself wasn't as menacing as I would have hoped to the point of being overly quippy, but when you take into account that this Ultron was pulling from the personality of Tony Stark, it made sense. Not perfect by any means but I found it to be an enjoyable ride all the same.
3. Ant-Man - The real surprise of the summer was Ant-Man, a character virtually no one outside of comics is familiar with, which is exactly the kind of film Marvel excels at (see: Iron Man, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy). Paul Rudd brought humor and heart, the film was scaled down (no pun intended) from the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe and really felt like a nice little corner of the MCU.
2. Jurassic World - This was the sequel to Jurassic Park I had been waiting for. Yes, it has plenty of issues, but to me it still delivered on everything I wanted: a reason for a sequel to exist (a new park has been opened to the public "successfully"), characters that are fun to watch (the main two at least for me), fantastic dinosaur action, and unique new ways to make it work while staying true to the franchise. It called back quite a bit, playing on our nostalgia for the original, but I still felt it had earned the right to do that. Just, don't analyze the human villain(s) too much, because the Indominus Rex was awesome.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - I just saw this yesterday and I have to say, I was blown away. The prequels are a long distant memory now. I watched the original trilogy on VHS as a kid and was mildly intrigued, but the prequels destroyed any chance of me falling in love with Star Wars. The Force Awakens has renewed that love, great characters, heart, comedy, and effects. Yes it calls back a lot to A New Hope, well guess what? It works on every level.
Honorable Mentions: The Martian, Trainwreck, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
- These are all films that I feel were well done and I had a good time watching. I recommend all of them to whomever may be interested. MI:RN was not a surprise to be good, but the others were of course more stand alone films that were excellently done in their own right.
My Worst Films of 2015
2. Cinderella - I wouldn't consider this a "bad" film, just one I had no interest in seeing and the film didn't change my mind. It was executed just fine and follows the Disney formula of the story beat for beat, no real surprises here. It's just not my cup of tea, though the Frozen Fever short before it was fun.
1. Tomorrowland - My biggest disappointment of 2015, Tomorrowland had so much promise. An intriguing look to a positive future, basing it on a much loved area of the Magic Kingdom, George Clooney, and my favorite of all, director Brad Bird. Bird has brought us some of my favorite films including The Incredibles and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. However, it was the writing and pacing of the film that undid this project. I can't help but put most of the blame on Damon Lindelof who wrote this dreck and who was also somewhat responsible for the show Lost falling apart. What could have been for this movie, where the title location is barely shown. The film literally has a plot to tell you that the greatness that was Tomorrowland no longer exists, it's a shadow of itself and we'll never really see it. Oh, how much that resonates as how this film fails to excite and entertain.
My Most Anticipated Films of 2016
5. Star Wars: Rogue One - Not much is known about this one yet, it's an anthology film regarding getting the plans to the original Death Star to the Rebels. I wouldn't have put this on my list until I saw Force Awakens and now I'm hyped for anything Star Wars. Here's hoping it's good.
4. Doctor Strange - I might know even less about where this one is going. I just know Marvel has a really good track record with introducing new characters to the MCU and with Benedict Cumberbatch in tow, I have a great feeling about it.
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - The one that worries me the most but I'm eager to see is this. DC is hugely banking on this film to get its franchises rolling and its got so many balls in the air: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and cameos from probably the rest of the Justice League. It has an uphill battle to climb, but (and I never thought I'd say this again) I think the casting of Ben Affleck may turn out to be genius for the turn of an angry Bruce Wayne/Batman. Lex on the other hand, oy, good luck with that.
2. Captain America: Civil War - This looks great. After the Winter Soldier, Cap has me on board for this film easily, and though many trailers for Marvel films overplay the seriousness when comedy seems to win out, I think this one will pull through. Winter Soldier teased a more serious tone and it did deliver as the character stakes were pretty high. I trust this one will pull it off wonderfully.
1. X-Men: Apocalypse - So how can this movie be my most anticipated? Look, I love the X-Men, and I'm so very glad we keep getting more of them. But the Apocalypse story? Him and Archangel? I've been waiting years to see this story come to life on the big screen, and while some may not think the trailer looks good enough, I for one am very hyped up by it. I cannot wait.
Honorable Mentions Anticipated: Suicide Squad, Deadpool, Gambit, Star Trek Beyond