The year 2015 brought as many highs as it did lows in the world of pop culture. For every Mad Max: Fury Road, there was a Fantastic Four. Thankfully, the highs were most often higher than how low the lows were. Best of all, there were just as many amazing pieces of original entertainment as there were revivals of well-known properties. No matter what your tastes are, 2015 had something special for you.
This year brought pieces of entertainment that both appealed to my long-standing loves of various franchises and genres, as well as those that expanded my taste into new and exciting areas. The following are my personal favorites from the world of film, television, comic books and more! Have your own top choices? Let me know in the comments section below!
Mad Max: Fury Road – The rebirth of the Mad Max franchise in Fury Road wasn’t only a powerful return to the post-apocalyptic world of creator George Miller, but a revolutionary action film that provided unparalleled visceral thrills and surprisingly deep storytelling. Using precision directing, imagination run rampant, brilliant characters, and moving acting, Miller’s Fury Road is simultaneously the film equivalent of a metal guitar solo that melts your brain and an ancient parable that reflects today’s societal issues. This is the type of film that can only come from an entire team working at the top of their game and the result is a redefining action film that transcends the confines of the genre to become something even more. Read my review here and read my analysis of thefilm’s use of the heroic cycle here.
Paddington – Taking a decades-old children’s book series and updating it for the modern era could be a recipe for disaster along the similar lines of the modern Smurphs and Alvin and the Chipmunk movies. Instead, writer/director Paul King’s Paddington is one of the most heart-warming and charming films in ages. With a story that uses both the lovely humor of author Michael Bond’s stories and a modern parable about immigration, the story of a young bear from Darkest Peru who has travelled to London in the wake of a tragedy is pure movie magic. This is a film for everyone that charms, deeply moves, and tells a surprisingly important story for today, all with a character who you’ll love to pieces from the very beginning. Read my in-depth piece on the Paddington’s immigration message here.
What We Do In The Shadows – A vampire mockumentary from director/writer Taika Waititi and co-writer/actor Jemaine Clement, What We Do In The Shadowsis the funniest film of the year by far. Taking two genres that have been given more than enough screentime in the last few years – vampires and found footage – and elevating them both to a whole new level, this comedy film focusing on a group of vampire roommates living in New Zealand is a brilliant piece of character-focused comedy that lovingly deconstructs the vampire mythos while never once feeling like it’s treading old ground. From virgin sandwiches to swearwolves, this is a new comedy classic. Read my review here.
Creed – The Rocky franchise has been through many ups and downs over the years, but writer/director Ryan Coogler has breathed new life and a new direction into it with Creed. Not only does the Michael B. Jordan-led franchise take the best of the series and give it a fresh and modern interpretation, it stands on its own as a powerful and emotionally-charged tale that stands toe-to-toe with the original. Led by powerhouse performances by both Jordan and the returning Sylvester Stallone, Creed is something truly special in an age of reboots and cash-grab remakes – it’s actual, meaningful art. Read my review here.
Ex Machina – Easily the smartest sci-fi film of the year, writer/director Alex Garland’s Ex Machina is a perfect example of everything the genre can do when it has an intelligent point to make. Centering around a Turing test of an artificial intelligence, Garland’s film revolves around fascinating ideas that are explored in ways that slowly unravel like a mystery. Anchored by three stellar performances by Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, and Domhnall Gleeson, Ex Machinais a truly intelligent thriller that appeals to everything I love about science fiction. Plus, that dance sequence is something amazing. Continue reading “The Best of Entertainment in 2015”