I decided to add a few new categories this year. I probably won’t stick to a strict set of categories every year because if, for example, there weren’t any particularly good comedies, I’m not going there. So, let’s get started.
Best overall for 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road. “You said a few vehicles in pursuit, I count three war parties“. That line sums up my expectations for this movie and how they were subsequently shattered. I remember when I saw the first trailer. It was as if I had been granted a wish I never dared wish. Mad Max, back on the big screen after 30 years! Could this be true? George Miller returning to the wasteland, with a ‘kid in the candy store budget’? Yes, it was and is true. Here is where I fully admit my bias. As a fan of Mad Max for my entire life, the promise of the trailer was almost too much to believe. Then the reviews started coming in; overwhelmingly positive. Could it be true? I remember sitting in the theater opening night, angry at the audacity of trailers that dared keep me from experiencing this gift from George Miller. For the first 4 time I saw it, I was angry at the trailers preventing me from getting on with the madness. Perfect, perfect in every way. 10 out of 10. While I still admire the purity of the original and the rebirth of storytelling in Road Warrior, Fury Road is another matter entirely. A fully realized, coherent world. Yet, also perfectly insane. Madness to the core of the scenery, sets, characters, vehicles, music (oh, the score), the very earth itself. Bleak, so much more bleak than Road Warrior, yet with a message of female power and hope in the struggle to survive, even redemption (“of a sort”). Also, cool. A pure coolness that tickles the inner-teenage boy. So shiny, so chrome. Crashes, smashes, guitar slashes. A frenetic cacophony. The 5th time I saw it in the theater, I could finally just sit back and just enjoy it. I wish I was watching on a college campus so I could jump and scream every time a vehicle exploded into a joyous cloud of non-CGI destruction.
Best science-fiction for 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road. Duh. I will not entertain a debate of if this is considered strict science-fiction or not. I don’t care.
Best action for 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road. Yes, there is theme. I’m not the only one making the case this takes the cake for best action movie ever. I’ve never specifically been an action fan before. I’m not sure what would have been my previous action favorite (Terminator?), but this clearly takes the cake. I bought the soundtrack and replay the action pieces in my head while listening to it. I’ve never done that for any other movie.
Best Drama: A Most Violent Year. Mesmerizing from the opening shot. Even though it was in theaters in January, it’s still a clear winner.
Best Comedy: Spy. This was a bit of a surprise. I’m generally not into espionage thrillers, or send-ups of spy movies. However, this one was unexpectedly funny and had some depth of character that was a treat. Sit back and enjoy the popcorn.
Best Adaptation of 2008 Financial Crisis to Film: The Big Short. A late entry, but heck, it’s still 2015. Having read “All the Devils are Here”, I was blown away when another book on the financial crisis was adapted into a thoroughly enjoyable and educational comedy. Well, a comedy where you want to murder the perpetrators of the crisis by the end, but a comedy none the less.
Summarizing, this was one of the best years in movies for me, ever. I never expected my previous single favorite movie (Alien) to be usurped. Why bother daring imagine what that movie might be? But, all the same, it happened. Mad Max is real, I saw it 10 times in the theater. I’m grateful that George Miller suffered through development and filming hell to make this happen.