I've caught up to most of last year's movies. I've missed some, but here's the good and the bad of what I have seen.
SPOTLIGHT – Until last night's Golden Globes awards, I thought that this was the Oscar winner. Not a great movie by any means, but competent, serious, and there's nothing else much better. But it didn't have enough "star power" for the Golden Globes, which is mainly a drunken TV show.
THE BIG SHORT – A clever movie from Adam McKay. Not as funny as TALLEDEGA NIGHTS, but just as smart. And it actually says something about the continuing corruption in our financial system.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Too long, too bloody, and a lot of fun. Typical Tarentino.
BRIDGE OF SPIES – A very good movie from Spielberg. Not one of his home runs, but a sharp double off the wall. Tom Hanks is good, and Mark Rylance is better.
BROOKLYN – A considerable disappointment, considering the underlying writing talent: Colm Toibin's original novel, with Nick Hornby as the adaptor. I love Brooklyn and I love Ireland, but this movie never moved me. I did, however, learn how to pronouce the tepid leading lady Saoirse Ronan's first name: "SEAR-sha" (I love those old Celtic names. I knew a Grainne – "GRAN-ya" – when I studied in Ireland.)
CAROL – More fake art from Todd Haines.
THE MARTIAN – A good time in outer space. It held me, but I hoped for more from Ridley Scott. And I feel the air leaking out of my Jessica Chastain balloon.
ANOMALISA – If this movie had been made with real people instead of stop-action animations, it would have been boring. As it is, it's still boring. But a curiosity: a movie steeped in sadness.
CREED – A very decent boxing movie, with good work by Michael B. Jordan and even Sly Stallone.
SOUTHPAW – A very bad boxing movie, with sub-par work from Jake Gyllenhaal and a wasted Rachel McAdams.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Superb action from a great director, but I wish George Miller had put all that talent, energy, and effort into something a little more human. Like another BABE.
SICARIO – A near-miss from director Denis Villeneuve.
SPY – A disappointment from Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy. Both have delivered huge laughs before (BRIDESMAIDS), but this one missed. Rose Byrne was good.
SPECTRE – A pretty good Bond, but a little grim this time. I like more fun in my Bond. Daniel Craig looked like he was having root-canal performed.
I SMILE BACK – Sarah Silverman surprises.
INSIDE/OUT – A provocative Pixar. It might be the best movie of the year.
TRUMBO – Another disappointment. Trumbo was one of my favorite writers when I was a teenager. (Ever read his antiwar novel JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN? It stunned me when I was a kid; I wonder if it stands up.) It's not fair to Bryan Cranston, but I kept hoping for Mr. White to show up.
I haven't caught up to STAR WARS, STRAIGHT OUT OF COMPTON, THE REVENANT, EX MACHINA, and a few others. I'm a little scared to watch ROOM, but Brie Larson might win an Oscar.
(The TG, who has my proxy, gives "thumbs-up" to 45 YEARS, 99 HOMES, SON OF SAUL, and ROOM.)
I hate to seem down on this year's movies, but I guess I am. There are no films that I've seen like last year's BOYHOOD or BIRDMAN where I wanted to say to people, "You really should see this." For me, there are no films like that this year, except maybe INSIDE/OUT.
Here's a grabbag of goodies from the past achievements of the winners and losers:
Melissa McCarthy – blooper reel from THIS IS 40 – super funny
Melissa McCarthy – from THIS IS 40 – "I have very high nipples."
Samuel L. Jackson – from PULP FICTION – Jules and his Bible verse
The kids WALKER and TEXAS RANGER – from Adam McKay's TALLEDEGA NIGHTS – "One of you turds is about to get smacked in the mouth if you don't keep it down."
The chestbuster scene from Ridley Scott's ALIEN
George Miller's ROAD WARRIOR – "Greetings from the Humungus!"