Thursday, December 31, 2015


And so I welcome the New Year by looking back at the best . This was the same year we had more dead franchises coming back to life, while others are just starting up a new brand, the ones that stood strong on its own and even some gems that went under my radar…. Which sounds like every movie season we had for the past 5 years…. The point is, it’s been a good year and there are enough movies that I liked that would go great for the list.

I know it’s been a full year that I haven’t even made an update in the blog since my last post (funnily enough, my last update is also a top 10 list) because of my writing gig at where I write original content and reviews from now on. Most of the movies I have seen this year I’ve watched them through press screenings so I wasn’t sure if I could post these reviews since they’re for the content of the other site and I still represent the name of said site. In the list I’ll try my best to provide some solid insight into the following movies for the people who actually care about this little blog of mine.

Now, this is called a subjective list for a reason; if you don’t agree with the list then feel free to discuss it and have your own list down below. If you’re gonna ask “where’s Hateful Eight, The Revenant, The Danish Girl” or any other winter released movies that don’t appear in this list, it’s because they don’t get to be widely released until early 2016 or never be released at all. Making it a disqualification of it since it is considered as a 2016 release locally. But don’t worry! They’ll have their own very special list next year. Despite the scores beside them, I ranked all of these movies as based on re-watchability, and the personal experience, than just how well made it is by the standards of the usual critic. With that said enjoy reading!

                                                                                 20. Furious 7 (11/10)

I know what you’re gonna say… But hear me out. “GP, all this movie ever done was be cheesy and be pure nonsense”, and that is exactly why I loved this movie to a point where it has the honor to even be mentioned as one of the movies I considered as “best of 2015”. Yes, this movie is absolute bonkers; Vin Diesel is the equivalent of Groot who is only limited to saying words like “Family” and… “Barbeques”, the cast gets hurt and brush it off like nothing happened, the action scenes gives the law of physics the finger, this movie is pretty much Point Break with cars.  But above all the explosions and car chases, the human element about this movie was actually pretty well developed despite that that part of the movie was only crammed in the last minute after the unfortunate passing of Paul Walker.

As cheesy as it sounds for a movie about cars, booty, and explosions that aspect of the movie ended up celebrating of what Dom meant about family the entire. It’s so weird to even process this, the same way people do when it comes to the underlying messages of movies like say… Schindler’s List, Fight Club, or, Memento.  Ever since Justin Lin gave the franchise a new identity in Fast Five, the franchise was less of the laughing stock it was before it. Although without him in the director chair and James Wan (yeah, the horror guy who gave us Conjuring and the first two Saw movies) holding the wheel this time around and he was able to work well with what he had in this movie. I would’ve loved for this series to end right here, being a great goodbye to not only Paul Walker but also how it says goodbye to the franchise itself somehow having all of the characters and the story itself go on full circle. It's best if they do stop here since back when they announced 8 and 9 they were still living life in the highway. But with recent news of the new installment I should might as well wait to see how the new movies will live up.

                                                                        19. Ant – Man (8.5/10)

Walking into this movie I don’t know what to expect: with news of director, Edgar Wright (the reason why I was even interested in seeing an Ant-Man movie) leaving due to creative differences at the last minute, a lot of script changes for the past 9 years of development, and the marketing not really selling the movie very well. I mean, It IS a Marvel movie, people will see it anyway but for me I wasn’t entirely sold on this movie itself. But I ended up having a great time and sure as hell Marvel proved my doubting mind wrong. This is the best way to end Phase 2 because it ends from where the Marvel Cinematic Universe began and it is just this small (no pun intended) and contained superhero movie about this one guy, Scott Lang and his colorful band of characters in Marvel’s first ever heist movie. The movie had the right amount of laughs, heart, and action.

 These days, we feel like we’ve seen enough from Marvel already when it comes to spectacle, but the spectacle they have here is not a lot we see put to film these days. It was great to see how they creatively used some picturesque panoramic shots of a small man in a big world. Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are fantastic in their roles; I love how symmetric their personal stories are despite them being two different characters. Evangeline Lilly was just fine (her performance I mean) and I can’t wait to see her character grow in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The rest of the supporting cast were all brilliant and served their purpose well in the entirety of the movie. Though not entirely perfect, Peyton Reed knocked it out of the park with a movie where I was consistently entertained by. But there’s still a part of me wondering what it would’ve been like if Edgar Wright had stayed (though it is nice to see that the story was credited to him) to direct the movie. I still can’t believe we are even talking about a movie about Ant-Man in 2015.

18. Kingsman: The Secret Service (9/10)

If you people know me enough you’d know that I am a huge Millar fan, but to be honest I never considered Millar and Gibbons’ The Secret Service as one of his better works.  So I wasn’t exactly interested in anything going on with this movie until I watched the trailer and saw who was involved. It had Matthew Vaughan directing, Colin Firth kicking ass in the age of 57, and all in all it looked like it was going to be a fun movie and it was. Vaughan does what he does best by righting the wrongs of the source material. He does get the general idea of the comic but he glossed it over with it being some sort of parody of spy movies in its hay day. Now it’s not exactly a parody of a spy films like Austin Powers, but more of the movie poking fun at the genre to “lighten up” since lately they are dark and brooding like everything else these days but at the same time even pay respect to the legacy of said films in the best way possible.

As much as I hated the ending of the first Kick-Ass movie being over-the-top (with the jetpack that has miniguns) when they had a serious and a darkly comedic take on being a real life superhero took me out the movie. Here, they already know how fucking bonkers (this movie had people’s heads exploding like fireworks to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance and a villainess where she has sharp blades for legs)  this movie is and it worked on every level than it is being distracting. This movie has the most violently satisfying action sequences made by the Kick-Ass director himself and the brain child of the comics. The performances was able to ground the movie to reality, with newcomer Taron Edgerton gives the movie a more human element while you Colin Firth kick some major ass and have this calm and charismatic charm to him. This movie is a revelation of how comic book adaptations should be done and it is also a good example that spy movies can still be fun too.

17. The Walk (8/10)

Ever since the World Trade Center’s tragic fall in September 11th, 2001; it’s difficult to even have the towers through film without anyone being emotional over the occurrences of said tragedy in that image alone. But Director Robert Zemeckis begs differ as he not only pays tribute to the world’s dreamers but paints a more uplifting and beautiful life behind the towers. This may not be Zemeckis’ best (since the two different acts are so different to the point where one is not as strong as the other, not to mention some side characters didn’t really serve their purpose very well) but definitely not his worst either but I did enjoy this movie very much. The man knows how to make the spectacle effectively tell the story. 

One could argue that this film is two different films at the same time, the first hour as some sort of bio-pic about how Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s (whose accent I wasn’t fan of until it grew on me on the film’s entire runtime) Philippe Petit grow as an artist, how he met the love of his life, and how he came to the epiphany of bringing himself to do the most daring tight rope walk ever. But once the curtains close in the first half of the film it then shifts to a heist film where he started to gather all of his accomplices to pull off this job. Instead of them stealing a Mcguffin for it to be called a heist they only end up stealing something more meaningful and it is this one moment in time. Ultimately, this film is an effective tribute to not only dreamers in general but the human spirit as well as it shows how one man could but you didn’t really feel that until the last half of the movie.

Having seen the last 30 minutes of this movie in IMAX 3D makes me shiver and yelp in most parts of the said scene. I’m not a big fan of 3D, it’s expensive and most of the times they don’t really help enhance the experience that much in live action form. But when I heard nothing but good things about the IMAX 3D experience and the entirety of the movie I went out of my way and had to wait for a week later just to get this released in the nearest IMAX cinema; and it turned out to be one of the best experiences I had this year. It is a shame that not a lot were able to experience this movie in the best theater to show this movie (If I can remember correctly there were 5 people in my screening) but it’s a movie that has to be seen to be believed.

16. It Follows (9.5/10)

There’s a lot to be said about the movie but I’ll try to keep it minimal in case any of you haven’t seen it yet. This movie is original for the horror genre; with a premise that is quite bizarre and actually makes it work in a very unsettling way as you go through the context in the film. It does make an effective experience as an audience to have that “I feel like I’m being watched” aspect to it. It is nice that independent artists such as writer/director David Robert Mitchell, The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent and You’re Next’s Adam Winguard lending their style in the mix of the genre. Only with Mitchell’s style, Visually and Storytelling-wise this movie harkens back to the classic horror movies in a retro style which do offer better than most horror films we have today. There were elements like the almost minimal dialogue, the score being synth-heavy, the use of slow zooms and wide shots, the atmosphere, and some visual cues to movies like Halloween and The Shining were taken note to the camera work in most scenes. With all these elements the film still has a fairly good enough character drama with some creepy elements to it. I can’t really say anything much but if you haven’t, you should go and treat yourself to a good horror movie.

15. The Gift (10/10)

If we’re talking about a movie that is a breakout movie that I knew virtually nothing about is Joel Edgerton’s The Gift… Yup! You heard it, right. The guy who was young Owen Lars in the Star Wars prequels (that became a respectable household name after 2011’s Warrior) directed this movie and it made out to be one of the most compelling thrillers of the decade. It’s a thriller movie where it misdirects its audience into thinking who is the victim and who is attacker, making you think that the good guy is not what he seems. As the monster’s story unfold in this very unsettling tale where the monster is not the one haunting the victim but more of the past of how the monster is created is the one haunting the victim. In this film, Joel Edgerton not only demonstrated that he is one of the best actors working in the industry right now, but also a force to be reckoned with behind the camera as both director and screenwriter; as he brings out the best material to work with for excellent performances with his fellow cast members. He even gave Jason Bateman the best performance he could ever do than the past comedy roles he has done as some generic dude.

14. Sicario (9/10)

I still believe that Denis Villanueve is one of the best directors of the decade; he demonstrated it in 2013’s Kidnapping Thriller Prisoners, Last year’s Psychological Thriller Enemy, and now his newest crime drama Sicario. Sicario is nothing but dirty, and that is to compliment the film in showing that field work is not exactly how the action movies and TV shows depict them. It captures the thrills and the horrors of the modern war of drugs as the film sees Emily Blunt’s Kate witness this team of people be above of the law and witness all of the rules she once hold dear be shitted upon. It’s not exactly a full-on action film but the kind that puts its tension when there aren’t any action sequences at all. Director, Denis Villanueve and Cinematographer, Roger Deakins are the stars of the film as their style in bringing life to the grit and darkness of the world be front and center in this stunning and emotionally impactful film.

13. Heneral Luna (8/10)

I never had any doubt that this would be a critically acclaimed film due to Tarrog’s involvement since I have seen at least some of his films, but with mass appeal? That part took me by surprise. The movie really is as good as a lot of people say. But of course this isn’t a flawless movie; I was still scratching my head about the film’s focal plot and some nitpicky tidbits here and there about sound design and editing but they're not really enough that took me out of the movie to take a shit on it. Narratively, the movie felt more of a collection of scenes that acts as a character study of the Philippines’ most famous general as it ends in the most controversial topics of our history. This is nothing I have ever seen before in a modern Filipino movie; it is a spectacle movie that you can tell was passionately worked on by a dedicated cast and crew. The special effects along with the costuming and set design are ground breaking (I didn’t know that most of these are CGI), the way they tell exposition through visuals is an achievement, the performances are all excellent, and there are hidden gems that people could come back to and digest.Of course I don't want to be that guy who says that movies should always be in this scale to appeal to the masses and be better. It's just, if you're gonna go big, it should at least have great storytelling elements to make it better. In the end, the movie is fierce to tackle themes that takes back to history's darkest past that people neglect to have exist and mirror it to today's society and this is amazing how much all of these elements could invoke such a powerful effect towards one's patriotism. If this and the recent scandal at this year's MMFF isn't proof that the Filipinos deserve better movies in this country, I don't know what will...

12. Straight Outta Compton (9/10)

I’m not exactly the biggest rap fan, but I do appreciate people for having the guts to mirror the real world through their own art and get to tell their story through film. This movie cleverly shows how events in their lives inspired them to step up in their craft, how a group would establish camaraderie by having the same passion as they are, and how their art could inspire people to stand up for themselves only to have it go too far. But towards the second half it became this baton switch where it became the cinematic version of “Behind the Music” focusing on Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre’s personal stories on how their fame influenced them to going to different walks of life without the group.

Looking at the group in their hay day and the actors playing them is quite mindblowing to know that they are the same person. The actors either really do look like them or act like the real person very well to a point where you think it’s them. Based on their performances you get to see the struggle and desire of being legitimate artists despite their roots and how their lifestyle influenced them to be what they are. This came out around October in our part, and the way these events in the past got them into raising their voice has this whole timeliness to them in our time of Injustice in the system. F. Gary Gray was not only able to make a quality bio-pic drama but an effective statement as to how events of the past mirror the events of today.

11. Me, and, Earl and the Dying Girl (10/10)

One would appreciate one’s honesty about this movie. The film makes it stand out to other YA adaptations just because of that element alone. Right by the opening lines of the movie they already tell the audience that as much as you think this is 2015’s Fault in our Stars, it really is not and they continue to show and tell you that is not without really bashing you in the head with that idea. In fact, the lead character even addressed to his friend up front that his sole purpose of visiting her because he was forced to and not because he genuinely care. But of course the more they hang out together, the more they develop their friendship. It sounds cliché, but for the benefit of the narrative it does enhance it and they do end up bonding genuinely from hate to love. It’s not at all a romantic movie, but more of a brutally honest tragicomedy in guise of a heartfelt coming-of-age movie. 

What this movie did that The Fault in our Stars couldn’t is to balance both the elements of the non-glamorous side of a life threatening disease and at the same time laughing at it. The film finds laughter in the most unexpected places thanks to the lead’s sharp wit backed up with clever writing, but also shows true pain of all these events happening with an excellent performance by the cast themselves. It made the film feel raw, and realistic than it is glamorous or romanticized.

10. Dope (10/10)

Another movie that went under my radar (until a friend recommended it to me). This came out around June in America but I still sat around for 4 months waiting for this movie to come out locally but never did until it got released on blu-ray, so I’m cheating my one rule just for this movie to be honored because it IS that great or should I say that DOPE of a movie. Shameik Moore along with his co-stars, Tony Revolori and Kiersey Clemons has the tough work to not be the stereotypical nerds (whose source of sympathy towards the audience and the character is just by them being bullied), and they flipped up the misconception of the everyday nerd by their performance. The movie is a darkly humorous anti-coming of age film; it doesn’t exactly mean that it’s a mean spirited movie where the character never grows, but what it does mean is that there is character growth but not how one would expect from the usual coming-of-age tropes.
Famuyiwa directed this movie with so much energy as if this was a throwback to Hughes’ coming of age films with a modern twist and the soundtrack was (tries his best not to say Dope) just awesome. There’s this message towards the end of the movie of how one should get away from labels for them to achieve their goals especially in a harmful world where you can be hurt by the cultures you follow; a message that was powerfully delivered and is of relevance. It is nice to know that in 2015, we get to have these kinds of messages getting out there in movies that would appeal to all kinds of people.

9. The Little Prince

There was one word to describe the cinematic version of Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s beloved story, The Little Price is “clever”. Clever because the filmmakers re-tells the story without fully adapting it from page to page as it applies the book’s themes and values to the film’s advantage of bringing a fresh and contemporary adaptation of the book itself. As it begs the question once again on what is essential in the cogs of society and in the long run it did work.  It’s definitely difficult to make a full length movie about The Little Prince, considering how light the entire prose but Osborne showed how much taking right liberties would be a good thing to make an overall beautiful, virtuous, and well-crafted animated movie that remained faithful to its source material.
8.  Ex Machina

Ex Machina is very much so the “12 Angry Men” of Sci-Fi; it’s a small yet weighty and thought provoking film where it shows that CG spectacle can effectively tell a story even just to a minimal degree. Without spoiling it, this is an artificial intelligent robot movie without the doomsday Terminator plot point one would come to expect and it is so refreshing to have that kind of story be fleshed out (pun intended). Though it’s far more complex than that; it’s a movie where every scene feels important just based on what the characters are talking about, an element that was executed well for bringing out the film’s themes but also setting up tension and intrigue for the movie and its characters. This is a film that has a lot to say about technology, information, evolution and to whether or not A.I. should or should not exist. Domnhall Gleeson does a good job as being the eyes and ears of the audience; the everyman who is discovering and gaining these information that are ahead of its time (or are they?) while Oscar Isaac is the charming and charismatic genius the one would aspire to be. This also features a breakout performance by Alicia Vikander and even so a spectacular debut film for director and screenwriter, Alex Garland.  This isn’t just any sci-fi blockbuster, but a thinking sci-fi film that could might as well be timeless.

7. Honor Thy Father (10/10)

I never thought any movie would shake me to the core like this movie did to me.  This film makes it scarier than the other two horror entries in the MMFF selection because the horrors in this film are the things that do exist in the world we live in; the horrors being humans and their idea of survival in the most desperate times. It’s a really dark movie as to how humanity is depicted in this movie where it doesn’t exactly label the characters as good guys and bad guys but more of self-righteous ones. Matti goes back to familiar ground by tackling themes such as family, class, and crime; only this time with religion  part of the formula to drive the film’s irony of one’s devotion to a deity that doesn’t exactly match their values as mere mortals. This sees John Lloyd’s best performance yet as he plays as a man who doesn’t look like he seems. If you think he was a beast at the One More Chance movies, you should see how he is in this playing a much more darker and savage person who would do anything for his family to survive. It’s definitely a worthy successor of Matti’s On The Job and his greatest works as this movie is intense, terrifying, and emotionally wrecking.

6. Inside Out

Pixar haven’t really impressed me after UP in 2009; they had Toy Story 3 after it yes, but that was a sequel. They either have ideas that come off as an hour-long commercial (Cars 2) or just standard animated movies that doesn’t exactly scream Pixar (Monsters University and Brave). It was in Inside Out where I did see Pixar returning to form with an original idea. Granted, this movie may have been explored in 2003’s Osmosis Jones but putting more of the heart, smartness, and fun to it (and diminishing the fart jokes). This is Pixar’s greatest achievement because of just how well executed their visual storytelling is as it metaphorically shows the inner machinations of one’s mind and their emotional state in the form of animation. 

This movie may take place in the mind a lot, but it is still about this human drama about a child going through a stage where her emotional state fails on her and it does go surprisingly dark towards the end of the movie. The movie does get away from the animated formula because this movie doesn’t have any bad guys to fight at all. Having the struggles be within our protagonist. The movie accurately portrays that not only our human emotions affect us alone but also have it be a group dynamic in the long run as it affects other people. It’s not only an enjoyable film for both the kids and the adults but also a learning experience as to how both of these people can learn how their own mind works and above all identify their own emotions. It’s everything I could ever want from a movie; it’s smart, thought-provoking, relatable, clever, funny, and hits you right in the feels. It played with all of my emotions, in a movie that is all about emotions. This movie (thanks to the direction of Monsters Inc’s Pete Docter) shows that Pixar could still make quality original films, and if we have to watch another Cars movie then it would be rewarding to have films like Inside Out after it.

5. The Martian (10/10)

In a movie taken place in deep space where anything can kill you at any moment, Director Ridley Scott approaches the film with a more light hearted tone based on Andy Weir’s novel entitled, The Martian; a survival tale that pays tribute to the willpower of human beings as they are pitted on their lowest low. The sharp wit edges out similar stories of human survival and isolation from great movies like Castaway or even Life of Pi. And it’s all thanks to, (though there were packed with great performances by other actors) Matt Damon who is ultimately the backbone of this movie to sell the highs and lows of surviving in an (beautifully rendered) isolated planet more so bringing the laugh, tears, and tension. Him performing through such a difficult task with all of the weight behind his back made it seem effortless as this was his best and his most human performance yet. Being the most relatable human drama we have in this decade.

To Ridley Scott’s credit, I find it amazing that though this may be filled with a lot of high-concept scientific ideas, engineering jargons and even equations, I didn’t find myself getting bored. Ridley Scott was able to take so many things one would consider mundane to something fun and interesting while also making something impossible based on scientific study look possible. With all of these elements he along with screenwriter, Drew Goddard were able to make the most entertaining and inventive sci-fi rescue film. I can’t really say Ridley Scott is FULLY back after years of disappointing movies since this movie did already have a good story from the beginning with Andy Weir’s novel. We just have to see what he has in store when he goes back to some original material.

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (9/10)

When I was much younger, I remember liking Revenge of the Sith but not a fan of the other movies before them. Then and there I accepted the fact that there won’t be any more movies or anything to redeem the franchise since Lucas already told the story he’s been itching to tell since he decidedly make the prequels. Of course, until Disney bought Lucasfilms, the Star Wars universe was not done with us yet. This new movie got me hyped up but at the same time in fear. I recalled what one of the nerds in 2009’s Fanboys said, “What If This Movie Sucks?!” as they watch The Phantom Menace for the first time. As the film began with the crawl and John Williams iconic score it put me in tears, filled me with excitement as the film began. But I still tried my best to have an open mind and watch out for the flaws of the movie.

Did it play too much of the notes of the past three Star Wars movies? Not exactly but they are still there (Did it really have to be another Death Star?!) but I see it more as if it is paying homage to the older films as if it is reminding what Star Wars really meant as history does repeat itself. There are updated and refreshing Star Wars tropes that were fueled by the new great characters; BB-8 is a carrier of important information and he had more character than R2D2 and C3PO did; Kylo Ren, Rey, Finn, and Poe are great new characters though not entirely as well realized except for one (Ren being the most human bad guy we would ever have in the franchise, he is pretty much the Anakin we never had in the prequels). It’s also great that the other three had great chemistry towards each other along with the old cast in just moments (unlike the prequels could do in two movies). This movie was consistently entertaining too, having that sense of urgency and intrigue throughout the entire adventure but also some funny parts to keep us going.

I can’t really blame them for having to set-up things that doesn’t pay off because of the fact that they had to develop these new characters and at the same time develop 30 years worth of lore. I could go on about gushing the movie’s practical effects (I finally saw the Millennium Falcon on the big screen for the first time in my life and I’m pretty sure that’s better than sex) and CG effects that brought back the Star Wars feels for me. In the end, the merits outweighs the flaws, the overall movie experience with fans made me feel like I was 9-years old as I watched and fell in love with Star Wars all over again. Besides! They already ripped off all of the clichés in the 3 movies! What could they possibly re-hash in the next two movies?

3. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (11/10)

This is one of those action movies this year that proved that you can still make an awesome action movie with smart storytelling. After the first 2 installments, the franchise gets better and better each and every movie they made and the lesser flaws there were (not to mention, Tom Cruise getting crazier and crazier each stunt work he ever did); this on the other hand is a perfect movie on its own. McQuarrie, did a phenomenal job in putting his own spin on the now long-running franchise. Right from the opening scene, you are already in for a roller coaster ride as it opens with Tom Cruise literally hanging on to dear life on a door of a jumbo jet, The film does have a variety of action sequences like the chases, fist fights, the assassination, a heist, and even a stakeout. But it is what McQuarrie injected to those sequences that made it feel refreshing, visually striking, and legitimately suspenseful and it has the benefit of having people like Tom Cruise and now Rebecca Ferguson be fully committed to execute them perfectly.

Tom Cruise further solidifies that he is the most capable and the best action star working in the business. His portrayal this time around is a seasoned spy, being more physically and mentally vulnerable this time around than always doing everything perfectly in his John Woo days. It’s a subtle development from the past movies. But it was really Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust being the standout performer. Now she was in last year’s Hercules (the good one with the Rock in it) but this time around she is not the damsel in distress. Now being the more sophisticated and mysterious of the bunch. The movie was almost as if it was a standalone movie about her conflict between two sides. The rest of the cast like Pegg’s Benji, Renner and even the return of Rhames’ Luther don’t really have much to do this time around but they would have some great moments with the cast as if it was a big buddy comedy.

Not a lot of people would agree with me when I say that this McQuarrie does deliver the best Mission Impossible movie to date (at least they actually had a villain to fight this time). This may not be as grand or as massive as climbing the tallest buildings of the world, but they do make up for bringing out tension in scenes such as the masterfully shot and put together theater assassination and the underwater heist among other sequences. More so does he bring out a subtle development to Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and a breakout performance by Rebecca Ferguson. The film does seem open for more missions but seeing the return of Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust and Mcquarrie on the director’s chair remains to be seen.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road (11/10)

Both critics and movie fans in general weren’t exaggerating when they say that this movie is a cinematic achievement; In an age of reboots in forms of sequels or prequels, veteran director 70-year old George Miller comes back to the mad and fiery world he created to show people how movies are done. The movie doesn’t take too much of its runtime to set up the world; you know how the world works visually in just minutes. People keep whining about that it is light on plot and/or exposition but when they don’t really need to set them up too much, it goes to show that less is more. It didn’t have to take an hour long just for our characters to look at the camera and explain thick paragraphs worth of exposition. But when all that is said and done it kicks in to high gear for some high octane action and did it deliver.

George Miller was able to give us the best filmed practical and CG effects hybrid sequences that these eyes have witnessed in modern films. It is an hour and a half long chase scene (it’s pretty much the final scene of Mad Max: Road Warrior on 35 cans of Red Bull) but it’s what they did in those sequences that made it impressive: the stunt work, the unique design of each car, the sandstorm that looks like an awe-inspiring painting, that fist fight between Furiosa and Max (and even more fist fights on a car chase towards the end of the film), and last but not the least…. Motherf***ing Doof Warrior aka the guy who was shredding the double flamethrower guitar among other memorable scenes in the movie (Junkie XL’s score was fucking badass by the way, really pumped me up going through the  film’s action sequences).

Though this movie may be all groundbreaking spectacles this film does have some impressive performances; an Oscar worthy performance by Charlize Theron showing that not can she kick some ass but also deliver the right amount of vulnerability to humanize her character making her the central character unlike the titular character, Max taking the backseat around. Despite that, Tom Hardy did do a solid physical performance, providing a quieter and subtle rendition of what was Gibson’s Max. Mad Max: Fury Road was the most entertaining popcorn flick of the year that never loses its momentum, heck! It’s one of the most entertaining movies of the fucking decade. Here’s to hoping more directors would take notes from Miller when it comes to balancing both spectacle and substance in future action films.

1.      Creed (11/10)

There are movies in this list I had virtually know nothing about, there are movies I got into with low expectations, and then there’s a couple where I had no doubts at all but with high expectations because of the people involved. Creed is one of those movies where I had no doubts going in because of Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan teaming up again after the excellently made film, Fruitvale Station. To me, this is the better “torch-passing” movie than Star Wars: The Force Awakens; in a way Director, Ryan Coogler mixed both old and new flavor as told to a very cohesive overall film. This movie is a return to form; it revisits the elements of what made the underdog story timeless and updates them with a modern spin. Adonis Creed being the underdog this time around as he was played excellently by Michael B. Jordan with Rocky Balboa being in the ringside this time around as the aging mentor. Sylvester Stallone has done the most Oscar worthy performance he ever did since the first Rocky film as he was pitted in an even bigger fight within himself in this film. When it comes to Ryan Coogler you will get themes about race, age, old and new generation, and even suffering a life threatening disease but also having the tropes the Rocky movies that this movie is paying homage to being in the mix. With all those in mind it didn’t necessarily overpower the focal plot that much but instead flow naturally with what the film as a compelling drama.  

I find it funny how the film and the struggle of this movie mirrors each other; The film has the titular hero struggling in making a name for himself without riding the coattails of his illegitimate father’s name, much like the movie trying to stand on its own without living through the success of the previous Rocky franchise. But as the film struggles through this, it was able to stand on its own two feet. As a fan of the Rocky movies, it is nice to see old tropes getting an update like the training montage, the love interest being an actual person this time around, the fights being more exciting too (the last fight was so fun, it was like watching something on pay-per-view) and above all showing why the mold of the underdog story exist and be considered timeless. I loved every minute of this movie, and manly tears were shed towards the last few minutes of the movie. The name may have changed, but it’s good to know that the franchise is still alive, well, and continues to fight as it stand on its own with Creed.

Thank you for reading through my list! Hope we could start a conversation about this and that you may have a great new year as well. 3 years of writing in this blog has been fun, this may sound like I’m saying goodbye to the old blog but I won’t since I’m planning to re-brand this soon but to those who did stick by to this site I would love to give my warmest thanks to all of you who have been keeping track of me in my early stages of cringe worthy reviews. It has been fun and quite the evolution considering how much my taste in film has changed as I meet with more passionate people through my new gig. 2016 is going to be a much bigger year for movies for sure and I’ll definitely be back. With that said, on with the show!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Subjective List of My Favorite Films Of 2014

Here we are again, the end of the year. 2014 brought us a lot of great movies this year to the point were it is impossible to even do a Top 10 list for these movies. I was really having a hard time doing the list in the traditional Top 10 order and so i decided to break the rules and do a "Top 20".

I'd like to get one thing out of te way like "where is Birdman? Theory of Everything? And all those other 'Oscar worthy' movies?" Some didn't really stick to the schedule and never got a wide release here in the Philippines, they don't come out 'till the first quarter of 2015 (making a 2015 release) or never to be released at all. Also i missed some local festival movies as well that could count as 2014 releases (Norte, Ang Nawawala, the Thing Called Tadhana, to name a few), oh! And i missed Interstellar on theaters.

Secondly, This is MY list, a subjective list of favorites if you will; i am not proclaiming on top of a mountain that these are the greatest movies of this year because i declare them to be. If you disagree with my choices feel free to do a list of your own, with that said let's get to the list

 20. Begin Again (4.5/5)

I'm a sucker for a movie with great music and not only did this movie feature some it also got a great story about - well... Starting over or for the lack of a better phrase  "Beginning Again" (the first phrase is better but not doing that would be a missed opportunity). At first, I thought this was a romantic movie but it kinda-sorta wasn't in the long run, it is simply having the characters trying to move on from their pain in the past and become successful out of it.  I was quite fond of the movie's commentary towards the music industry and music itself these days and it does put a smile on my face when they do make a point about music's current predicament (feel free to call me a hipster). Both Knightley and Ruffallo were charming troughout the movie and it was A joy to see them succeed by the end of the movie. I was even surprised how Adam Levigne performed well in this movie (musicians turned actors Tend to be a gamble). The movie has all  the best ingredients for a feel good movie and it is definitely the feel-good movie of the year.

19. Chef (5/5)

I've always thought that Jon Favreu needed a break after his sub-par Iron Man sequel and the ever forgettable Cowboys and Aliens. Chef was definitely his best work yet; i came into this movie without an idea of what it is other than the fact that it is after all "a good movie". At first i thought it was just a redemption type of quest but it is more than that it is  about this man who was stripped of his pride and have him not only redeem himself as a chef but also reconnect with his family. It's the best family movie you can have out of a concept like this (if you ignore the f-bombs and the slurs). The story they set out for the movie is heartfelt and the way it was executed was brilliant. I came in the movie with an empty stomach, and i left the movie satisfied hungry for more movies from Jon Favreu (and a roas beef sandwich because this movie got mre really hungry for a good sandwich)

18. Snowpiercer (4.5/5)

Snowpiercer is another one of these movies where i gave it a blind watch after hearing good "word of mouth" from different people locally and boy i sure was surprised from te best things this movie has to offer. So what is this movie all about? This is like The Hunger Games-dystopian like future (minus the ridiculous get up the rich people are wearing) except it skips the games and moves on to the revolution. Only this movie is in a train (which is a well realized world by the way) and this film does make the Hunger Games look like a Disney movie due to its grit, badass action, and hard violence

The film deserves more than one watch; The movie does challenge its audience in a way that it gives you a chance to unravel the movie's subtle themes and hidden gems sprinkled in throughout the movie. This movie even establishes Chris Evans as an "actor" and less of the rom-com yuppy or the action hero people think that he is. He plays a protagonist in this movie that we have never seen him do before, and it doesn't involve him making jokes or even so waving flags (more on guns and torches). In fact every character in this movie is portrayed more as people you would question about their humanity than being walking stereotypes like most dystopian movies do these days. There's a trend of dystopian movies these days and Snowpiercer is definitely one of the best dystopian movies out there right now.

17. The Raid 2: Berandal (4/5) 

How can you top a movie like the first raid film? Gareth Evans did so by expanding everything outside that building in the previous film. The film takes place in the crime itself in different places of Indonesia, the action set pieces are bigger than ever, and the story focuses on more than one character. Although the story is great by focusing on a different character they try to push it  waaayyy too much to the point where the movie became convoluted (which is why the movie is low on my list) but other than that the movie is still successful and i was entertained by the movie especially in the action scenes (Iko Uwais is a superhuman) that looks like a work of art.

16. Big Hero 6 (4.5/5)

I know it is low on my list but hear me out. Big Hero 6 is definitely one of Disney's best and they are on a roll for the past 4 years as they return to form to the Disney we know in its renaissance. The film features a magnificent and well thought out world, some memorable characters but most of all a coming of age story with some really heavy stuff with a heartfelt and lighthearted tones. Truly this movie is handled with the best care and does set a promising future for Disney's future Marvel animation adaptation projects (make runaways please).

15. X-Men: Days of Future Past (5/5)

This is the movie that brought the X-Men franchise back on track since The franchise was in an 8-year long timeline clusterfuck due to creative differences in each movie. Director, Bryan Singer returns to start over the franchise with a clean slate. With a little help from his varsity team of mutants and Vaughn's team of freshed faced rookies (first class) they were able to make the best entry in the franchise by right-ing the wrongs of the past for a promising future. As the movie ended there was a sigh of relief from the fanbase knowing that it is in good hands once again, although i was too busy crying tears of joy because Cyclops is back from the dead.

14. The Lego Movie (5/5) and 22 Jumpstreet (5/5)

Phil Lord & Chris Miller are on a roll this year with 22 Jumpstreet and now The Lego Movie. It seems that they have the midas touch when it comes to bad ideas. I tied both movies because they follow the case of turning bad ideas into gold. 

take for example, the Lego Movie - I mean who would've thought that a movie about Legos would make a good movie? they did and this movie was as fun as playing with Legos. The film is so cleverly built with Lego-isms as you are watching this movie through the child's eyes on how he brought an adventure together with a story that is done to death in kids movies (this movie is the matrix for kids if you think about it). But what really set this movie apart was the twist in the end that caught me off guard that truly sets a very emotional ending in a movie about Legos. Truly Everything is Awesome about this movie. 

There wasn't one comedy like 22 Jumpstreet where i had a great theater experience; an experience where i was gut bustingly laughing every time a joke hits (and all of them do hit in that half an hour theater experience). The creative team of the first movie, Phil Lord & Chris Miller once again outdid themselves in this one; they continue to make fun of the buddy cop franchises but this time they take "sequels" as their subject matter on how they never seem to top the previous film because all they did is do the same thing the first one was successful for. The film has enough things to make a movie fail for doing so but instead they made bad ideas work like they did in the last movie. They really did do the same thing but with its own twists and does in fact make good jokes for it. After seeing this i wouldn't mind seeing 9 more installments along with a video game and some toys. Also can we get more stuff where Ice Cube is just flipping out for more than 5 minutes? That would be great!

13. Edge of Tomorrow (5/5)

I was one of those people who thought that this will be another Tom Cruise film that would be forgotten in Oblivion (pun intended) but it turns out to be better than that.   This is the movie that i didn't see Tom Cruise as himself but i see a schmuck who turned into an action hero, Emily Blunt wasn't a walking barbie doll instead she genuinely played a badass chick. They spared no expense when it comes to using the respawn tool, they really learn from it and they do show you how they got better in each repeat. This was the one movie of the year where i didn't mind having repeat viewings. I mean really, who would've thought that they would make such a badass action movie out of the plot device of Groundhog Day?

12. Rurouni Kenshin: The Great Kyoto Fire Arc (4/5) 

The first Rurouni Kenshin was proof that there would be great live action anime adaptations when given to the right hands. Director Keishi Ohtomo has  done it once again with two new back to back installments. I know i'm cheating again but the movie is better off looked at as a whole. The highlights of the two movies are what made the first one so iconic and it is the fight scenes, and goodness gracious! The fight scenes in this movie are amazing as they outstage each sequence to another. 

One can admire Ohtomo's dedication to delivering an adaptation that is true to the source material and the Shishio arc does have a lot of ground to cover. The movie does feel longer than it sets out to be  which isn't a bad thing because this movie does try its best to cram in large chunks of material for the movie. And with great chunks of material comes a lot of characters and we do get some great performances as always from the returning cast and new characters. Though with so much material to be explored bythe main characters the timing has to he sacrificed for the rest of the Juppongatana. It is a shame that we won't be getting anymore stuff. I understand that it had to end there but can we atleast get a prequel arc?

11. Enemy (5/5) & Under The Skin (5/5) - Another Tie

Both of these films does what it was set out to be and that they challenge their audiences (their audience be people who stumbled upon this movie or arthouse fanatics). In my experiences of watching both films i didn't know where the film will take me and that's probably because both directors of both films had their own unique style and didn't necessarily follow the traditional film structure which is a good thing because that's where the  challenging part come in. I found myself being glue to whatever is happening on screen because there is something going on tat is either intriguingly bizarre or simply waiting for te big reveal. There are details both big and small that deserves a second look, something to be analayzed. I think i should stop here since i can't really drop anymore details about this movie. Both films should be experienced through a blind watch, be surprised by the film's progression, and grasp for answers.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy (5/5) 

This is the movie that convinced me that Marvel can do anything at this point. In this movie they were able to make a comic book material that not a lot of people have heard about into a cultural phenomenon. This could even be the Star Wars of our generation if we didn't get a new trilogy next year.

They have enough bad ideas for this movie to not work but they ended up doing the opposite. This movie has so many obvious plot holes but i was sitting there not minding it. This is Marvel "not giving a f**k" and it still made out to be an entertaining superhero team movie out of it. Truly This movie is an awesome mix of comedy, adventure, and a space opera.

9. The Babadook (10/5)

I was staying away from all of the horror movies this year not because i'm scared of them but because they never seem to intrigue me anymore. I mean really who would want to see another found footage film with cheap scares? But it was Aussie director, Jennifer Kent's debut horror film "The Babadook" that genuinely terrified me and i haven't beenthis terriefied since The Ring or The Grudge. The film deals with a rare case where i actually care for both of the human characters involved in this horrible haunting, even if the main kid of the movie is a little s**t. The performances of Essie Davis and Noah Whiteman really does help the movie in this psychological thriller.

8. How To Train Your Dragon 2 (10/5)

I love Big Hero 6 as much as the next guy but i still think that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the superior coming of age animated film this year. The first film surprised me and i was ready to tear that movie apart of how cliche it looked from the trailers. It has been a long time since we have seen Hiccup and Toothless on the big screen (reminder the last movie came out 4 years ago), and Dreamworks really took their time with this movie. You can tell by the quality of the animation in this film and I just adored the animation in this movie alone. it is the best animation i've seen Dreamworks do, making the action exhilirating (the 4DX ticket was worth it) and everything look like a piece of art.

How is this better than BH6 when they are both following the same concept? Well here's the thing, BH6 did have some heavy parts but they didn't execute it like this one. This new installment pits Hiccup and Toothless against maturity's heavy hitters with those hitters being taking great responsibility and facing a terrible loss. I was surprised on how dark the movie got towards the film's latter half. I dubbed this movie as "Dreamworks' Lion King" just by how they explored the film's heaviest themes in coming of age films effectively. Dan Deblois took the franchise to a more mature direction and i cannot wait for future installments.

7. Nightcrawler (5/5)

Leave it to Dan Gilroy to give us a dark and riveting social commentary about our media and have Jake Gyllenhaal to star as a creep have him be in the darkest places of L.A..
Though it is a quite disturbing once you really get into this movie, and Jake Gyllenhaal's haunting transformation does get under your skin as his performance captures the film's dark undertones. Gyllenhaal has been on a role lately with last year's "Prisoners" and the recently released "Enemy".  This is definitely one of his best performances yet and brilliant debut by Director, Dan Gilroy. 

6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (5/5)

This is the year where Marvel Studios was thinking out of the box for their movies. You would think that Marvel would only make movies with superheroes doing superhero-y things but Marvel took a superhero movie to te next level with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

They did so by baton switching genres from a WW2 superhero film to a political thriller in its newest entry. The film explores our modern society through Cap's eyes who is dubbed to be "The Man out of Time" played once again by the charismatic Chris Evans, as he unravels the vicious secerets behind our government and SHIELD itself with no one left to trust but himself, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow (who continues to prove that she is one of the best female superhero of the franchise), and newcomer, Anthony Mackie as Falcon. Of course i wouldn't forget about Sebastian Stan's menacing performance as the Winter Soldier and Robert Redford. Who would've thought that you would make such an intriguing spy movie with a superhero like Captain America? With action scenes that really packs a punch! (The fight scenes are almost Raid level choreography) The Russo Brothers did and they only made episodes of Community from the past. It was a joy to see one of Brubaker's story arc come to life with an even better plot in mind. This is not only Marvel's best film but also a game-changer as it opens more doors of possibilities in Marvel's ever expanding cinematic universe.

5. Boyhood (10/5)

A movie about growing up that is ultimately driven by emotion an honesty is quite a difficult chore to do on-screen. And that's why it took 12 years for director, Richard Linklater to pull one off flawlessly with his passion project, "Boyhood". 

this is the kind of vision i imagined that someone will see as they draw their last breath in the world. Their lives flashing right before their eyes as it highlights the biggest and smallest moments of one's life. Moments that could count as the essential events that helps them in their growth and development. It sounds sappy by te way i put it but  Linklater directed the movie that way and does capture that very well as he filmed this family for the past 12 years. 

4. Gone Girl (10/5)

David Fincher is on a roll following after his greatist hits such as "The Social Network" and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". It's another homerun with his newest work, "Gone Girl" as he adapts Gillian Flynn's highly-acclaimed novel into a dark, twisted, and oddly enough funny thriller that focuses on a pair of newly weds that didn't end happily ever after for the both of them.

The film is packed with brilliant performances and Ben Affleck is no stranger to that. But the film's greatest performer is Rosamund Pike, withought giving anything away i could just say that with her playing the role of a lifetime. The big prize wouldn't be far from her reach with a performance that great.

The reason why i couldn't give anything away is because i experienced this movie by a blind watch. I didn't bother reading the book, watch any clips or trailers, or even listen or read the raves for the film. I only went into this movie by Fincher's name alone, it sounded like a dumb view to watch a movie but it's not like Fincher could do wrong with his films (i understand that he did Aliens 3 but he didn't even want to put his name there in the first place due to "corporate problems"). And of course he did prove that he can dk no wrong yet again with Gone Girl.

You could just imagine my reactions to the biggest twist the film had to offer. In te end, it's another thing to add to your must-see movie list that deserves your money.

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel (10/5)

Wes Anderson returns with a big cast of recurring Anderson-ian actors and new actors to the family for another quirky adventure in a small, colorful and, lively countryside of Europe. The Grand Budapest Hotel, is a caper that doesn't leave its (metaphorical) four walls despite the big things happening in the outside world as it is in the brink of the second world war. It ignores those events and instead the movie celebrates a story of friendship and loyalty between its two characters, Gustave H and Zero. With Ralph Fiennes doing the best comedic performance as te charming and charismatic Gustave H

The film has Wes Anderson's style sprinkled through the movie whether it is the film's attention to detail, the upbeat performances, or the rainbow color pallets. Wes Anderson made an exciting and hilarious tribute to vintage cinema and he is the star of the film.

2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the prime example of what a remake should be all thanks to Rupert Wyatt's direction. But when it was announced that he left the film, i was afraid of what will happen to the sequel without the man who started it all. And Matt Reeves stepped up with a pitch for the sequel that brings the Apes front and center, with a lot of excellent material to work with.

He made a riveting tale about the struggles of obtaining peace when you have factors such as pride, and prejudice between the two factions. It was great to see characters that are more in the grey area than they are going by the numbers. The film yet again features the best motion capture performance not only by the great Andy Serkis as Caesar but also from Toby Kebbell as Koba. Will they be nominated for it? It's a longshot but one can hope that they will get the recognition they deserve just based on their performances.

Big budget blockbusters these days rely more on building their own failed cinematic universes but secluding a movie with setups for future films. This does setup future films but it didn't come in until the last half of te film instead it has this beginning-middle-end structure that progresses perfectly. Matt Reeves is definitely the best choice to direct this film and he did wind up surprising me. I cannot wait for the third film, in fact if they are making more than 3 more films then i wouldn't mind seeing more of these movies.

- now for the best film of the year -

- drum roll please -

*there's a reason why i'm drum rollig here*

1. Whiplash

This is the best movie of the year for me because it is a perfectly orchestrated film that does hit the right notes. It has engaging characters played by actors with electrifying performances mainly by JK Simmons and Miles Teller.

The concept of this movie is very much so follows a teacher-student relationship trope that you may have seen in movies before such as Dangerous Minds or Dead Poets Society, but in the case of Damien Chazelle's masterwork he pits the student with a teacher that acts like Ronald Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket. The film is ultimately about working hard to achieve your dreams and how far you will go to achieve it. You can see the serious dedication in Teller's performance as he deals with his angry teacher with bloody knuckles at the end of the day. I am glad to see Miles Teller in another serious role outside of the party animal identity he honed in his early career. Here he continues to prove that he is a rising star that can play serious roles like this flawlessly. Simmons on the other hand is the best part of the movie as he goes full metal on his similar performance in his past role as JJ Jameson in the oriinal Spider-Man movies. I can totally see academy nominations for both actors but i believe JK Simmons will be the one taking home the Best Supporting Actor award.

It was enjoyable to see the back and forth between Teller and Simmons, as Simmons pushes Teller's character in his breaking point physically and emotionally. The film's final scene was astounding, and i was awestrucked. I left the film just thinking about the film's finale alone and to be honest i even applaused. It is a shame that this film's release got
Minimized due to te fact that not a lot  of people are noticing the film. the film definitely deserves the praises it gets and of course a standing ovation.