The first six months of 2015 may have had a too few must-see movies - I couldn't even make this a Top 10 list - but I'm not afraid of labeling it an instance of quality over quantity. I will be watching some of these movies for years to come, and that's saying something for the half of the year that doesn't receive studios' awards season contenders.
Let's countdown to my favorite movie from the first half of 2015!
8. It wasn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination... it was just a bit safe. Word on the street is that writer/director Joss Whedon wanted to do something a little different with Age of Ultron from what we saw on screen in May. Maybe if he'd been given more freedom with the theatrical cut we could have seen something more intimate, less paint-by-numbers.
I liked Days of Future Past's Quicksilver better.
7. Kumiko is charming as all hell. Like most people here (I assume), my introduction to Rinko Kikuchi was Pacific Rim. Well, her character here is nearly as far from her Pacific Rim character as you can get. She went from driving a monster-fighting mech the size of a skyscraper to quietly fleeing an office job in pursuit of some treasure she saw on a VHS copy of Fargo. The small towns and their occupants put a smile on my face like few other movies have lately.
I may have enjoyed it even more if I'd seen Fargo first.
6. The word of mouth on Kingsman: The Secret Service was so good, yet I didn't get around to watching it until the Blu-ray release. You may be able to imagine the regret I have not giving it my money in theaters and supporting this R-rated risk that other studios would have forced into a PG13. As a fan of Kick-Ass and Matthew Vaughn's other work (I love his action sequences), this one had a high bar to meet. It didn't disappoint. Colin Firth continues to grow in my favor, and Taron Egerton dispelled all preconceived notions I had... the guy is really, really likable.
Kingsman would have been higher on my list, but apparently I've grown tired of Matthew Vaughn's aesthetic. However, kudos for killing a main character and not taking it back.
5. I bought into the hype Dope received at Sundance and rushed out to see it all on my lonesome. I hate to put it so plainly, but man... it's such a cool movie. The soundtrack is fun and implemented with superb skill, and the relatively inexperienced leads carry the film with aplomb. Shameik Moore/Dope reminds me of John Boyega/Attack the Block: I can see the Dope lead being recognized now and propelled to bigger things like how Boyega has gone on to lead the new Star Wars ensemble (and how it's all too obvious now that Tony Revolori would be a perfect Spider-Man; oh well).
I thought the movie veered off track a little in the middle, but it stuck the landing for sure.
4. While I think he leaves a bit to be desired from a directorial standpoint, I remain about as big a fan as you'll come across of Neill Blomkamp and his work. I liked Elysium more than most seemed to, so I had high expectations for Chappie (knowing that it was a Sharlto Copley vehicle with Blomkamp's humor and sci-fi staples). It didn't disappoint. Chappie ranks higher than half the films on this list thanks to its artistic merits. The titular character is a magnificent creation, regarding both performance and technical achievement. Also, Hans Zimmer delivered another solid score, this time supported by effective use of Die Antwoord's music. Speaking of that band... I was pleasantly surprised by their turns in this movie. Yo-Landi was serviceable and Ninja basically blew me away, the guy nailed everything he was asked to do, which is something I can't say for any of Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver, or Hugh Jackman.
3. Inside Out was phenomenal. Brilliant. I'd only seen the teaser (no story trailers), so I didn't really have an idea of what to expect other than people I don't really trust saying "hey whoa best Pixar movie in like ten years." I adore Wall-E, so I don't know if I agree with that statement, but man was Inside Out a treat.
Pixar has become notorious for making audiences cry with sad scenes like Ellie & Carl growing old in Up and the toys accepting their fates together in Toy Story 3. Inside Out brought tears to my eyes for some other overwhelming emotional reason that I can't quite define.
2. If I'd put this list together the night after I saw Fury Road, it'd probably be #1.
Well, two months have passed since I walked out of that theater grinning ear to ear and I still can't deny the greatness that was Mad Max: Fury Road. It's one of those movies (like Godzilla last year) that I told everyone who was even remotely interested to be sure they saw it in theaters at any cost. George Miller straight up spoiled us with gorgeous visuals and incredible spectacle, complemented by Junkie XL's admirable score (seriously, I'm always impressed when an action movie features a memorable score that you can listen to outside of the film).
1. I'm having a difficult time trying to talk about Ex Machina without reverting to a cliché. It's too true though - it is as if Ex Machina was made for me. A hard sci-fi story superbly filmed in a single stunning setting (that color palette and Norway scenery...), backed by my favorite score of the year so far, and starring a couple of my favorite actors turning out typically-solid performances, plus a sort of star-making portrayal of robot from Alicia Vikander.
With Mad Max: Fury Road leaving theaters soon, that movie's time has passed and now you need to watch Ex Machina if you haven't already.
First half 2015 movies that I still want to see, but haven't had the chance: Mommy, Maps to the Stars, It Follows, While We're Young, Lost River, Child 44, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
This is part of my attempt to learn what the Moviepilot community's favorite movie of the year so far is. Cast your votes by ranking your movies in the comments below or publish your own list and share the link with me here :)