I’ve sometimes said that if I hadn’t felt called and passionate about pastoral ministry I would have gone into film criticism. I love film, and believe that it communicates a ton, and often with great power. Films are worthy of our theological and philosophical reflection.
I don’t get to watch as many films as I would like, and most of what I see is because I have kids (so I rack up the Pixar films pretty quick). There are other movies that are on my list to see: Dope, The Revenant, Mockingjay Part 2, Joy, and The Walk. I won’t get to them until 2016 now, but I am sure that some of them would have made this list. In addition there were some other films I saw that were okay, but wouldn’t make this list: The Good Dinosaur (what a disappointment that was), Age of Ultron (so much fun, but not worthy of the top five), The Lost World (a fun, but entirely redundant film), and Trainwreck (which was funny at points, and not at others, but for a pro-feminist movie it was really just a rom-com).
In any case, here are my amateur appreciations from 2015:
1. Inside Out
This was such a shocking film for me. My original perception of the film was as another cute, even clever, Pixar animated movie. Of course it is that, and yet so much more. The film is a beautiful reflection on the value and role of sadness in maturation. I wept at points throughout the movie. It was absolutely fantastic!
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
I cannot believe how great this action film was. The film is one long chase scene, but it’s an amazing chase scene. The action is over the top to be sure, but not useless (in other words not like Michael Bay films). Continuing the story of the original character from George Miller’s first Mad Max, and brilliantly performed by Tom Hardy, Fury Road is easily a best film of the year. This was just such a fun, exciting, and well done film.
3. The Martian
This was a captivating story about hope and the human will to survive. The story was so compelling and Matt Damon plays his role expertly, with great wit. His character is absolutely charming and delightful and the story is exciting. If the film was a bit long, I would still highly recommend it.
Alright, I know I am a comic book nerd, so it should come as no surprise to friends that this film made my list. It was a great take on the superhero story and Peyton Reed developed a fun storyline. With a great deal of tongue-in-cheek, and even some mild self-awareness, this Marvel film sets itself in the same category as Guardians of the Galaxy as a uniquely different super hero movie. I wasn’t sure how they were going to be able to pull this one off without being lame, but Reed did it and I enjoyed it.
5. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
I don’t know what to say about this movie. I liked it, but I am not sure if my enjoyment of it was more simply because of its place in the franchise, the premise, or because it was a good movie. In truth I am not sure it really was a good movie. There were some plot wholes at various points, and, once again, the development of the plot seemed derivative of previous Star Wars films. Nonetheless, the idea that Luke Skywalker has disappeared, and that in his absence a new darkness has been rebuilding is intriguing. The character of Rey is interesting too, and I am anxious to see where her story goes. Overall, I think the film was more nostalgic than good in itself. Nonetheless it made my list.