It’s that time of year again and this time there’s nothing I have to wait until next year to actually see. Like last year I put an extra effort into seeing a fair amount of movies from this year resulting in me seeing 33 new films. For anyone who hasn’t seen any of my previous top 10 lists I go by the original release date meaning a film that came out in 2014 in America or Japan that got a UK release this year is a 2014 film and can’t count. Now on to the list.
My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Friendship Games
That’s right it’s not a Hunger Games movie this time. Mockingjay part 2 was good but I was hoping for it to be better after how great part 1 was last year. Meanwhile I wasn’t expecting much from Friendship Games, I was under the impression this would be the point that the Equestria Girls series would have overstayed their welcome but in reality I actually think this has the best story out of the three films.
While the first two films were focused around a magical threat from Equestria this movie is about the impact the introduction of magic to this world has had with the main villain being a normal human. Sunset Shimmer is now the protagonist after her redemption arc from the last film with pony Twilight staying home for most of the film leaving Sunset to find the solution to her problems without her. As a fan of the franchise I’m glad to see these films have grown over time and developed their own identity separate from the main series, I’m looking forward to seeing what next year’s film has in store for Sunset Shimmer and her friends.
First time a documentary has made it into my top 10. So at one point while looking for new films to watched I skimmed through the documentaries on Netflix for any from 2015 that might be worth watching. This film stood out and so I added it to my list and watched it later that day and I loved it. What stands out about this film to me is how it’s not some story about a famous person, film, franchise or event but a personal story about two long lost twin sisters who find each other through the internet. This movie is Samantha and Anaïs’ story and it’s told by them, it’s that approach that makes me like this movie so much.
The Good Dinosaur
This movie had the unfortunate side effect of coming out the same year as Inside Out and being the later release of the two. With two Pixar movies coming out in one year and one being as popular as Inside Out was The Good Dinosaur tended to get an overall reaction of “meh”. Personally I think it’s a lot better than people give it credit for.
One move I’m really pleased with is how they gave the T-Rex characters a better role than most dinosaur movies, there needs to be more dinosaur movies that depict them as something other than the villain. There is a really powerful scene in this film between Arlo and Spot as they come to an understanding despite their language gap and it made me cry. Already this list has included three movies that I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed them.
And on the subject of movies that surprised me I didn’t think I’d like this one at all. I didn’t really care much for the trailer or the title. But a friend of mine recommended it so I gave it a shot and was pleasantly surprised. One of my biggest concerns with the trailer is it includes the plot point that is done to death in romantic comedies; the misunderstanding/lie that splits the couple up just as they’re getting close. But instead of the lie being revealed in the third act it’s gotten out of the way by the end of the first act and that’s when the film really begins.
Simon Pegg is great as usual but the real star of this film is Lake Bell, this is the first film I’ve seen her in (unless you count minor voice roles in Shrek Forever After and Mr. Peabody and Sherman) but after this I’m looking forward to seeing more from her in the future.
The Peanuts Movie
Last year I remarked how I was impressed by how well Stand By Me Doraemon translated the designs of the manga to CGI. This time I’m even more impressed by how this film makes the Peanuts characters look. But I was impressed by this from the first trailer, what really makes this movie great is the story itself. It’s the familiar tale of Charlie Brown’s crush on the little red haired girl and his attempts to not be a looser in her eyes.
The film is told by Shultz’s son and grandson and the love they have for their father/grandfather and his work really shows. Everything you remember from the comic is there but there’s also something new; the little red haired girl is an actual character.
It’s at this point I should say that Age of Ultron isn’t on this list. While it was great in many of the same ways as the first film and even improving on some points it just didn’t have the same impact or role within phase 2 that the first film had with phase 1. As a result it only just got knocked out of the top 10 being at the #11 spot.
Ant-Man on the other hand surpassed all expectations. There were a lot of concerns with this movie from losing Edgar Wright to seemingly killing off Janet as part of the backstory but despite all this it ended up being one of the better movies from Phase 2. The cast were fantastic and the comedy is some of the best in the MCU right after Guardians of the Galaxy. And even the disappointment concerning Wasp is resolved when we see a bit of Janet in a flashback and the film sets up Hope as the new Wasp for the sequel.
The best part about the success of this film is how I don’t feel like I need to defend Pixar while talking about how much I liked it. By the time I saw this I knew I’d love it but I look back to that first trailer I always figured it was better suited to a short than a full film (amusingly there is an Inside Out short now) but of course when they revealed the plot I was invested. The emotions themselves are entertaining characters and I hope Pixar bring them back for more shorts the way they’ve been doing with the Toy Story toys these last few years.
I remember when I first became a Nerdfighter was while the Paper Towns book was still coming out, now it’s a movie. There were some changes from the book that actually improved the film such as making Angela part of the main cast. This is a fun movie and overall I actually enjoyed it more than The Fault in Our Stars. I still really liked TFiOS but for different reasons and overall Paper Towns is the kind of movie I enjoy more. It looks like the next John Green book to get a movie will be Looking for Alaska, I wonder what role Nat Wolff will have in that film.
Boruto: Naruto the Movie
It wasn’t really until last year’s The Last that the Naruto movies appealed to me (probably because before that they weren’t canon) but now they’ve been in my top 5 two years in a row. I actually got to see this in the cinema, I had to go to Plymouth to do so but it was a fun experience. This was the first anime film I’ve seen in a cinema since Pokémon the First Movie back in 2000. Personally I liked The Last more but this is the perfect follow up to that film as now that Naruto’s story is over his son’s story can begin.
Boruto is similar to his father but it’s his differences that make the movie work and the bond that grows between them over the course of the movie. A way this movie surprised me is how I didn’t hate Sasuke this time, he actually worked really well as a mentor figure for Boruto. Overall this is the perfect start to a new era for the Naruto franchise.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It’s an obvious choice I know but it’s true, this movie lived up to the hype. It’s the right balance of new and familiar content from everything to characters, designs and even story. The returning characters actually grew as characters instead of staying exactly as we remember them from the original trilogy but still have the traits that made them who they are. Honestly it’s hard to even talk about the best parts about this movie without getting into spoiler territory but I can say most are centered around the new characters. With all that in mind I can’t wait for episode VIII, may the force be with you.
And there’s my list, I’m really glad I was able to put this together before this year ended. Like last year I really could have made this a top 15 so the honourable mentions are Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road and Chappie. Thank you for reading, I look forward to seeing what next year’s list will look like.