Every so often, the movies of a given year work in tandem to make a sweeping thesis about the overall state of the movie industry. 2012 was the year that made it strikingly clear how profitable the Marvel and DC models are, and you can likely note that year when you're watching Thor run around in the year 2020; last year was really about the power of VOD, and proof that quality doesn't have to hit the big screen first. This year though—at least so far—hasn't really made a unifying statement.
The best action movie was made outside of the comic universes, the best horror movie has barely eclipsed $14 million in box office sales—and yet the big studio blockbuster is still alive and well, just ask the Indominus rex.
But even though 2015 has been more or less a hodge-podge of movies, there's plenty to be happy about within that motley mix. The second half of this year may still project as a better six months of film, but so far we've already got an unlikely but amazing Jennifer Lopez movie, the returns of Furious, Entourage and the world of Jurassic Park, and Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy starring in an indelible buddy film. It's time to celebrate the riches 2015 has bestowed on us—here's my list of The Best Movies of 2015...So Far.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Marvel's Cinematic Universe is in an interesting position. Coming off of two stellar entries—2014's Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy—the second Avengers film in Marvel's massive franchise needed to not only give fans and fanboys alike the happy-happy-joy-joy vibes of ultraviolence while helping advance the story for the future Marvel flicks. It actually accomplished both of those, smashingly: viewers were thrust into the middle of the woods, with the squad on a mission, while watching a pissed off Hulk versus Iron Man's Hulkbuster met practically all joy levels. Seeds were not only sown for the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, but we also caught a glimpse of what the Captain America: Civil War could entail.
The Duff’s premise isn’t pretty: based on the novel by Kody Keplinger, Bianca Kramer (Mae Whitman) finds out exactly what she’s been deemed as in her high school friend group—a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). Wes (Robbie Amell), childhood friend and perfect high school hunk, reveals to Bianca her new status at a party. Then, Bianca and Wes, in typical teen movie fashion, agree to a pact to have Wes help Bianca become less of a DUFF, while Bianca helps Wes pass his classes.
Rejoined with her Bridesmaids and The Heat director, Paul Feig, Melissa McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst seemingly desk-ridden for the rest of her career, who gets unexpectedly plunged into the undercover life—going after a major arms dealer to prevent a terrorist attack. Bottom line: Melissa McCarthy should do remakes of every major Hollywood action franchise—and Feig should probably direct
Jurassic World, as helmed by a self-proclaimed super fan of the series, could've been great. Instead, it is merely fun, merely cool. It was never going to be better than Jurassic Park (which, fuck your hot take thinkpieces, is a classic through and through), but it does accomplish the incredibly easy feat of being better than Jurassic Park III. But while Chris Pratt makes further strides in his A-list leading man takeover, the kids are all right, and the CGI is tight, it's a little disappointing that a fully operating park and new dinosaur couldn't produce any sequences as memorable as the Lost World's hanging trailer or the raptors in the tallgrass. Dinosaurs will always be cool. This movie is fun (and endearingly embraces its own absurdity, particularly in the climax). But somehow, even with Chris Pratt, Ty Simpkins and Jake Johnson, it's missing some charm. After 13 years in limbo, life for the franchise found a way. It just didn't live it to the fullest.
This year we officially reached peak Furious-ness. Furious 7 hit $1 billion in worldwide box office gross just 17 days after its release, becoming the fastest film to ever hit that milestone, and to date, it's grossed over $1.5 billion. But beyond cultural impact, Furious 7 may be the Platonic ideal of what a Furious movie is supposed to be. The expanded onslaught of action and camp introduced by Justin Lin in Fast Five was boiled down to its purest form by James Wan for Furious 7. The movies are so incredibly removed from reality now that it's a point of pride—at one point, Vin Diesel and Jason Statham (well used here, by the way) drive high-speeding cars right into each other, then exit the vehicles uninjured and continue trying to beat the shit out of one another; as a less action-packed example, at one point the movie turns into a Corona commercial, as Kurt Russell whips out a bucket of ice cold brews while the camera zooms in for a close-up. Guys, it's so special.
Which movie do you think has been 2015's #1?
These are just a few of many amazing films that have been released this year. What are some of your favorites? Are there any that should have been added? Which movies are you most excited for later on in the year?