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This year was full of upsets. It included some of the most highly anticipated films of the decade, some of the biggest surprises and some of the most notable fails. Here's my list of the best and worst in big screen nerd viewing for 2015. Please keep in mind that this list only contains titles I actually saw during 2015. If I wrote complete reviews on the chosen film, a hyperlink will be available.
What were your choices? Let me know by using the comment area at the bottom of the page!
Best of 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road: It's been a long time since George Miller brought Max to the big screen... but when he arrived it was at full throttle. Tom Hardy provides an excellent performance as "The Raggedy Man" as he assists a group of enslaved women (lead by Charlize Theron) escape a deranged warlord. Although the story is meager, the stunts and practical effects in film are some of the best you'll ever see! But the best news about Mad Max is that there will be sequels! Read my review.
Kingsman: The Secret Service: We had several secret agent films in 2015 including the highly-touted Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and SPECTRE, but none of them held a candle to this British film about a street punk recruited into a private secret service agency. Funny, edgy and exciting, Kingsman was the complete package. Read my review.
The Martian: Ridley Scott is one of my favorite directors, but recently it seemed like he couldn't make a decent film to save his life. Redemption came in the form of The Martian, a powerful survival film based on the novel by Andy Weir. Matt Damon is virtually a one man show playing an astronaut who's mistakenly left behind on Mars by his crew. Authentic and witty, The Martian is Scott's most engrossing film in decades.
Ex Machina: This indie film redefines the term "virtual reality" with its tale of a reclusive and narcissistic tech genius (Oscar Isaac) who's quietly working on the next generation of artificial intelligence and decides to test its effectiveness on one of his employees (Domhnall Gleeson). What neither man realizes, however, is that the AI (played with chilling effectiveness by Alicia Vikander) has some plans of its own.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Yes, it has it’s problems but the newest Star Wars film has breathed life into a franchise which has been gasping for breath for decades. Its critics called it too derivative. Its fans said it was a return to a winning formula. Whatever side you stand on, you’re still talking about Star Wars with an enthusiasm which hasn’t happened since 1977. Read my review.
Worst of 2015
Seventh Son: Ordinarily I'd be excited to watch a movie starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore, but Seventh Son was like watching a boil being lanced where you become fascinated by your own repulsion. From its nonsensical plot to cheesy special effects, Seventh Son is not only the worst nerd film of 2015 but easily one of the worst of all time. Eat your heart out, Plan 9 From Outer Space! Read my review.
It Follows: Described as a parable about sexually transmitted diseases, It Follows is about a young woman (Maika Monroe) who, after having sex, finds herself stalked by an entity which can assume any form and is invisible to everyone but her. If that premise sounds problematic to you, trust me it only gets worse. Despite some positive nerdosphere buzz about this indie contribution to the horror genre, I found the film to be repetitive, ridiculous and boring. Where's the penicillin?
American Ultra: Based on a graphic novel, the premise of this film is about a overaged and perpetually stoned slacker who turns out to be a deadly sleeper agent. While the premise was interesting one, the execution was horrendous. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart have no chemistry as protagonists in love, and Topher Grace is downright laughable (not in a good way) as a bumbling CIA operative.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: I liked the first Paul Blart film in the same way I like puppies ‘cause they’re silly, bumbling fun. But the second installment in this hopefully now-defunct franchise exchanged humor for ridiculous action sequences as Blart heads to a Las Vegas convention where he’s surrounded by mall cops just as peculiar as he. In the process Paul Blart 2 got lost in the crowd and his bloated, butter-soaked heart stopped beating.
SPECTRE: It's a shame that Daniel Craig's last turn as James Bond was the worst of these films. By this fourth installment, the craggy-faced and often brutal Bond I came to love seemed, at times, stupid and docile. The big reveal about SPECTRE and Blofeld were so contrived it hurt while simultaneously invalidating parts of the previous films. I'm still a Bond fan, but I'm glad this incarnation has been laid to rest. Read my review.
Biggest Surprise of 2015
I am not a fan of Melissa McCarthy and I don’t think I ever will be. All the more reason why Spy, which stars McCarthy as a desk bound CIA analyst thrust into the role of operative when her partner disappears, was the best surprise of 2015. The writing was clever, the acting was great and it even had a few twists up its sleeve. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
Biggest Disappointment of 2015
Nerds love Joss Whedon and Joss Whedon loves to be loved by nerds. So when Avengers: Age of Ultron arrived after the first Avengers film became one of the best superhero movies of all time, nerds were perplexed. Few could deny that the second film had jumped the shark by adding too many characters, a labyrinthian plot and an ending which was exhausting to watch. It was a rare miss for this director but better luck next time, Joss.