Brad’s Top Ten (And More!) of 2015

| January 6, 2016

2015 is behind us and it was another subdued year for me at Reel Nerds Podcast. When the dust settled, my overall feeling was that I’d seen plenty of movies that I liked, very few that I LOVED. This made it hard to fill out the full top ten list. But I also saw far fewer movies this year, lots of old favorites at the art houses, while the mainstream dominated my attention. The most significant development in my movie-going life was the re-discovery of the quiet splendor of the drive-in. Watching 3 movies for $8 in the isolation of my own car was a revelation! Even if the audio wasn’t great, just not having jerks disrupt my attention was worth it. Plus, you’re outside under the stars, I can’t wait to go back for 2016. Oh! And I also screened JCVDDV at the Alamo Drafthouse, so that was pretty cool.

Vital Statistics
Total ticket sales : $604.27  ($400 less than most years)

Total films attended: 56

Alamo Drafthouse: 27
88 Drive-In: 6
Landmark Esquire: 4
Colorado Center 9: 4
Landmark Mayan: 3
Denver West: 3
Denver Pavilions: 3
Harkins Northfield: 3
Colorado Mills: 2
Continental: 2
Highlands Ranch 14: 1
Sie Filmcenter: 1
Greenwood Plaza: 1
Westminster Promenade: 1
Riverpoint: 1
Landmark Greenwood Village: 1
Chez Artiste: 0
Aurora Movie Tavern: 0

Repeat Viewings: 16

New Release: 43

Re-Release: 13

Midnights & Alamo Specialty Programming

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
The best movie of all time and it was a pizza party!

Drive
I hadn’t watched this since the theater in 2011 and it was even MORE bad-ass with each viewing since!

Back to the Future
The classic. Seems like I catch this every year now. How can anyone go through 2015 without it?

Terminator 2: Shocking Dark
I don’t remember much from this bizarre T2 ripoff other than it was more Aliens than anything Terminator.

The Color Purple
Despite the DVD sitting on my shelf since 2002 and me being a Spielberg fan, James hosting a screening was my first watch of this powerful film.

Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer
Glad to see my friends also getting their film an Alamo screening to celebrate their DVD release. Rock and bowl!

Samurai Cop
Never expected to see this again in a theater. Samurai Cop 2 right after made it look like Citizen Kane.

Rambo: First Blood Part 2
Another bucket list ticket stub scratched off my list. Bring on First Blood & Rambo III guys!

The Dark Knight
Revisiting this modern classic at the Alamo, I appreciated even more of the sound editing, story, and background than I already did

 

New Releases

Inherent Vice
A well made/acted film that I wasn’t remotely invested in. Not sure what the big deal was.

Mortdecai
One long, forgettable moustache joke. There was a heist somewhere in there.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2
I remember laughing at stuff. That’s about it. Ryan hated it. A perfectly fine comedy diversion that you could probably just enjoy as much on Netflix or something.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
I was surprised at how enjoyable this turned out to be. Pretty clever with good action.

Zombeavers
I toyed with adding this to my top-ten just to be audacious about it. But ultimately, as silly stupid fun as it was, it think they could have done more and better with this concept.

Ex-Machina
If I had watched this again before Filmsplosion, it probably would have remembered why it should have been added to my list. But I didn’t, and all I remember was that it was an excellent, unsettling sci-fi thriller on a small scale. Watch it.

It Follows
Probably the best horror/thriller of the year and it comes with a soundtrack that’s probably better than the movie itself. Glad to see someone pushing inventive ideas in this tired genre.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Yeah, it’s another, good fun romp in the MCU. But it’s blatantly obvious that it’s just a bridge to the story Marvel really cares about in Civil War. Spader’s Ultron is fun to watch, but alas, his story ends here… unless comic book rules apply…

Spy
Pretty much the typical spy comedy they’ve been recycling for years except, this time, the main character is a woman. Has its moments. Jason Statham steals the screen when he’s pretending to be a great agent when he actually isn’t.

Jurassic World
There has to be some other story in this universe that doesn’t involve the park just breaking down and unleashing dinosaurs? It’s not a bad movie, it’s just disappointing that after three movies and 14 years they couldn’t find any new ground to cover. Spectacular fan service but without characters I cared about, save for Chris Pratt.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
With all the espionage movies this year, this one had the most fun back and forth between it’s leads. You could have taken the nuke plot out and still had a fun spy movie it was that good. Too bad most people skipped it.

Inside Out
Without a doubt one of Pixar’s crown jewels, and just when my heart strings felt safe, Bing Bong sacrifices himself. Lacked the resonance I’ve felt with Wall-E or the Toy Story movies, but still another amazing original film from Pixar.

Ted 2
More good fun in the animated raunchy teddy bear world. Yep.

Terminator Genisys
All the interesting revisions to the Terminator lore are spoiled by the weak fan service it relies on. We’ll never forget T2 was great. Move on. Stop making the Arnold terminator the comic relief. Find someone to save that’s not John or Sarah Connor. Embrace the Future War. Don’t flip school buses without convincing physics. Don’t spoil your amazing twist in the trailer.

Minions
Just stop.

Vacation
Has some funny bits, but feels like the longest trip you’ve ever endured with a completely unsatisfying conclusion and not in the great way the original accomplished.

Black Mass
To be fair, my watch started in the latter half of this. But what I saw didn’t compel me to go back and see what I missed.

Cooties
Considered putting this on my top-ten for a while. Lots of fun, although the ending is weak, as though the filmmakers didn’t know where else to go with the idea of zombie kids terrorizing their teachers.

The Martian
Like Cast Away on Mars, with science projects! Wish they could have avoided the “we crunched the numbers and…” simplification, but I get it.

Sicario
A tense thriller, worth a watch. I slept in the middle so can’t fairly judge it.

The Gallows
Another entry in the found-footage horror genre, where, I was rooting for the shitty ‘protagonists’ to bite it. Starts out promising with the unsettling school play, but after that, boo.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Never though I’d see another one of these after the first and somehow I saw this TWICE! Entirely due to the triple feature nature of the drive-in. Um… yeah, people leave the camera rolling way more than a normal person would in a terrifying situation and more shit slams things around. This time they have proof the house is haunted from the beginning and they still don’t elect to move out.

Fantastic Four
Not the trainwreck people would have you believe. I can appreciate the smaller scale, nuanced superhero movie they were going for but when people are expecting Avengers-level films, these things are gonna happen.

The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
There is now a wasteland of zombie comedies in the world. If you qualify that yours is different because boy scouts stuff, then you’d better make sure the movie is framed with mostly boy scouts stuff. This was mostly Superbad meets Zombieland with some merit badges and few laughs.

Bridge of Spies
Spielberg. Hanks. Cold War. Another solid film from the masters. Spielberg navigates the traditionally boring concept of people sitting/standing and  talking in scenes by keeping the camera moving and putting it in interesting places.

Spectre
I knew Blofeld would be revealed as related to Bond, so the whole experience was just a long bombastic wait for the explanation. While not as satisfying as Casino Royale or Skyfall, it’s still a charming and pretty, globe-trotting jaunt. After twice elevating the material, falling back into the old Bond conventions was it’s biggest misstep.

Steve Jobs
A great time watching actors… act. Delivering snapping dialog and convincing characterizations.

Samurai Cop 2
Starts out as a promising continuation of the original but quickly falls apart as it’s fairly evident they blew their Kickstarter budget before they’d planned.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Finally, it’s over. Katniss Everdeen is proved to be a lame role-model for women as she frequently passes out and wakes up to other people solving her problems for her. And in the end, she doesn’t have to choose between Peeta or Gale because Gale is conveniently revealed to have betrayed her. Decision out of her hands! She ultimately chooses to not be an independently functioning heroine when she shacks up and has babies with the guy programmed to abuse her after he stalks her back to their hometown and grows flowers named after her deceased sister and then acts like he didn’t make the connection until he said the name! Fucking creeper. Remember girls, if he chokes you he likes you.

Creed
A solid entry in the Rocky franchise, but I was only really invested in what old Rocky was up to. Stallone knocks this one out.

Legend
Another glimpse into the perils of running a crime syndicate except now with British gangsters. Watching Tom Hardy play dual roles is the highlight.

The Good Dinosaur
Not the complex story we’re used to from Pixar, but it hits the heart unexpectedly and has some of the most realistic CGI environments you’ve ever seen.

Trumbo
Amazing performances abound in this Dalton Trumbo biopic. Again, another great example of actors giving it all in their craft. Everybody shines.

The Big Short
If it wasn’t for the breaking-the-fourth wall humor, this movie would be a huge bummer. The gags help alleviate the crushing depression you’d be susceptible to upon realizing how incompetent people running the economy are AND keep your brain from shutting down a midst the in-coherent financial babble.

 

The Top Ten of 2014

10. Back to the Future Day

At long last, I watched all the Back to the Future movies in the theater. I wish I had those elusive separate Part II & Part III ticket stubs for my collection, but a single marathon on the future date from the movie is pretty special.

9. Whiplash

Given my adoration for Amadeus, I was probably predisposed to like this exploration of genius vs. mediocrity. The last scene alone could have made this top ten list. Masterful example of motivated edits.

8. The Hateful Eight

This would make a better stage play. Another fun romp in Tarantino’s twisted, chatty world.

7. Turbo Kid

Doesn’t embrace the genre-mashup as much as I’d hoped, but that android steals the movie with one of the most charming performances of the year.

6. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

It’s impressive that five movies in, this franchise still delivers. Tackling kind of the same plot as Spectre, MI:5 is more fun with the changing allegiance antics between Ethan and Ilsa.

5. Ant-Man

I never would have thought back in July, Ant-Man would end up in my top-ten, yet here we are, with one of the most fun movies in Marvel’s stable while bucking the bombastic trend and keeping things small scale… see what I did there?

4. What We Do in the Shadows

Smart, clever with the kind of chuckles that play out in my head. A cerebral mockumentary that breathes new life into vampire movies.

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Yeah, it’s A New Hope all over again and fan service to the max, but damn! It’s so much fun! And because it raises so many new questions, I can’t wait to see how things play out in Episode VIII! 2015 was the year female leads stole the show and Rey leads the pack along with the furious heroine from…

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Really, this is my number one film of 2015. If I could have put it in every slot below Star Wars, I would have. I should have. This year belongs to the mad. Fury Road’s practical ambition and punk-rock middle finger to film convention was a wake up call for a guy who’s gotten comfortable watching movies. There’s a dude with no eyes rocking a flame-throwing guitar on a rig made of giant speakers! Just when the plot doesn’t know where to go, they say “fuck it” and go back through the same shit. Max Rockatansky is a sidekick to Imperator Furiosa in his own movie! That soundtrack! Real explosions! Enough said.

1. Catastrophe!

Of course I’m gonna put my own film at the top! It won a bunch of awards and was an absolute pleasure to work on. I only hope we can do it again next year.

About the Author:

His earliest memory of nerdiness is discovering the Star Trek motion pictures when his parents (presumably) accidentally rented the first one on laser disc. He attended his first convention at the age of 12 and has been to many Star Trek conventions since, as well as SDCC, NYCC, and E3 twice. He’s also an avid TMNT fan who has each of the first four issues of the original comic book signed by Eastman AND Laird. Brad also favors Batman and loves Nintendo so much he still plays his Virtual Boy from time-to-time. When he’s not immersed in nerd media, he’s out competing at bar trivia or working on several creative projects like podcasting, producing short films, publishing books, and drawing cartoons. His favorite film of all-time is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie and with over 600 DVD’s and blu-rays in his collection, Brad is surely a Reel Nerd.
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