Top 25 Films of 2015 – The Final List

It took until 2016 to get this list done, but that’s the price of being thorough…and loving movies.

I released a list at the end of the summer and another before the holidays. Of course, studios waited till Christmas and after to release some of the most anticipated films of the year. Just in time for the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees, here are my Top 25 – The films I liked, really liked, and loved.

25. Carol

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 3.58.38 PM

It’s elegant and shot beautifully. Cate Blanchett has the title character but Rooney Mara is the one you’re invested in. I would have loved to see this film shot decades ago with Audrey Hepburn in Mara’s role. Kyle Chandler’s classic look would have fit in nicely. Also enjoyed the appearance from Cory Michael Smith who is currently The Riddler on FOX’s Gotham. It’s fitting.

24. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MI Rogue Nation 2015

It was a strong year for blockbuster franchises. There are two more represented further down this list. The Mission Impossible series seems to get better as time goes on and fortunately for them, Rogue Nation hit theaters before Spectre did with a similar plot and much better execution. 

23. Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation 2015

Idris Elba seems to show us in everything he does that he is one of the best actors of our time, and this Netflix Original film gets him closer to the acclaim he properly deserves. Beasts of No Nation is also a milestone for Netflix that shows they should be taken seriously as a film studio and not just for television…Just try to avoid the string of unfortunate Adam Sandler flicks they will be putting out for a while.

22. Creed

Creed 2015

Creed is a very good sports movie. It reminded me a lot of the first Rocky film. I love how they filmed the fights and Sylvester Stallone deserves every “best supporting actor” nomination he gets. We’re reminded how great an actor he is, and how awesome a character Rocky Balboa is in this film. Michael B. Jordan is certainly in store for big things and this film is a clear sign of that. I just wished they held back on the cheese factor of a certain training scene and that his “big opponent” was a much more memorable character. 

21. Trumbo

TR_08395.dng

The acting in Trumbo is outstanding. The hype was real regarding Bryan Cranston’s performance. Both Helen Mirren and John Goodman play their parts very well. The correlation between how members of the American communist party were treated and some of our society’s current issues today strikes a chord. I just wish I hadn’t seen so many of the big scenes in the trailer already and that the directing was better.

20. The Big Short

The Big Short 2015

The more I think about The Big Short, the more I think I liked it. Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are all awesome in the film and it’s incredibly smart. Hamish Linklater is also an excellent complement, similar to his role in The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams. The constant explaining of every economic term (which might have been necessary) gets distracting and the comedic approach takes away some of the necessary emotional investment. Had I not seen 99 Homes, I probably would have appreciated this film a lot more while watching it. 

19. 99 Homes

99 Homes 2015

Like The Big Short, 99 Homes takes place during the financial and housing crisis but it’s way much more of a punch to the gut. You get the perspective of people who lost their homes from the crisis, and it’s even more of a thriller because you have no idea how these people will react to those who have to break the news to them. Michael Shannon is also as good as anyone in supporting actor categories from this film.

18. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton 2015

The music, the acting, the “Bye Felicia” scene…

Straight Outta Compton was an awesome biopic and it told a story that I think a lot of younger hip hop fans needed to hear, considering how influential members of NWA really are to the genre. The only reason I don’t have it ranked higher is because it did feel long by the end. 

17. Love & Mercy

Love and Mercy 2015

Love and Mercy was another biopic (also with Paul Giamatti as a jerk manager) that I enjoyed, but this one stuck with me a lot longer after. Paul Dano is great as young Brian Wilson and for once John Cusack is a lot less “John Cusack”-ish than he is in most of his roles. Elizabeth Banks also gives one of the more underrated performances in film from this year. If you’re like me, you probably listened to “Pet Sounds” for a week after seeing it.

16. The Walk

The Walk 2015

I’m a little disappointed The Walk isn’t getting more chatter during awards season. Obviously I think there are better films, but Robert Zemeckis did a brilliant job utilizing 3D, especially for the climax of the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ben Kinglsey were both remarkably charming as well. 

15. The Hateful EightHateful Eight 2015

It’s not Quentin Tarantino’s best, but “Not Tarantino’s Best” is still better than most. The second half of the film was up there with some of his most entertaining…and bloodiest. For me, this was Walton Goggins’s coming out party on the big screen. Loved him in Justified and The Shield. I think it’s obvious Tarantino did too.

14. Mississippi Grind 

Mississippi Grind

It was too appropriate that I watched this film while waiting to hear my lottery numbers called. Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn has the All-American Asshole role down between this and Bloodline, yet knows just how to make you feel for him. Sure, Ryan Reynolds plays another good-looking fast talker, but his whole “who, what, and why” deal keeps you as intrigued as the constant gambling…which is enough drama by itself. 

13. Ex Machina

Ex Machina 2015

This was a big year for all 3 stars of Ex Machina. Oscar Isaac continued his path to Pacino-status with his roles in Show Me A Hero and Star Wars, which Domhnall Gleeson also stars in (as well as Brooklyn and The Revenant). Alicia Vikander has a good chance of getting both Best Actress and Supporting Oscar nominations for her roles in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. Her character, Ava, still haunts my dreams as well. It’s an unreal suspense film. 

12. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I can’t recall a time where I’ve seen two actors be so natural interacting with each other for a film. That’s all this film is…a long weekend conversation from Bloomington-Normal to Minnesota and back, with honest thoughts and feelings. I’m happy to see Jason Segel is getting some acclaim as well for his portrayal of David Foster Wallace.

11. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs 2015

Yes, I’m a HUGE Sorkin fan, but I found the approach to this biopic to be incredibly original. It wasn’t your typical “start-to-end” story, but just 3 different periods in time and how each person has evolved in that time. It also helps that everyone involved nails it with their parts, especially Michael Fassbender.

10. Brooklyn

Brooklyn 2015

If anyone is challenging Brie Larson for Best Actress, it’s Saoirse Ronan. She and Brooklyn do an amazing job of making you feel all the emotions you can muster. It also helps that two of my TV crushes, Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak, Arrow) and Jessica Paré (Megan Draper, Mad Men), have solid roles in the film. The contrast in two worlds during the 1950s and how Eilis (Ronan) evolves is what makes the film.

 

09. Inside Out

Inside Out 2015

A movie about feelings makes you feel feelings…and even more than the typical Pixar feelings (which is saying a lot, considering the first 3 minutes to Up). It also helps that they casted all the right people for all the right feelings.

08. The Martian

The Martian 2015

I came across a Facebook friend listing his “Top 10” and he said he hadn’t seen The Martian because “It looked like Castaway in space.” He is very wrong…unless he values Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Jessica Chastain, and Kate Mara to all be a volleyball named Wilson. There’s also a Lord of the Rings reference that probably won the film “Best Comedy” at the Golden Globes by itself. 

07. The Revenant

The Revenant 2015

I have a very difficult time seeing anyone other than Leonardo DiCaprio winning Best Actor at the Oscars. Maybe Bryan Cranston, but Leo will be SO pissed if he doesn’t because of everything he went through for this film…It’s pretty evident.

06. Room

Room 2015

The Best Actress category at any awards show is Brie Larson’s to lose because of Room. Jacob Tremblay is amazing as well…just be prepared to have your heart strings pulled hard.

05. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2 hour long roller coaster of action, explosions, and rock’n’roll. I don’t recall taking a breath between the start and end. The twisted and beautiful mind of George Miller is on full awesome display. 

04. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015

I think we all have our personal movies that connect with us in more ways than most and matches our personalities. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was that movie for me, my favorite from the summer. There’s also something about Nick Offerman as a sociology professor, robe-wearing, cat-obsessed dad that still tickles me funny.

03. Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies 2015

Bridge of Spies is about as good a film as you could ask for from a combination of Steven Spielberg and the Coen Brothers…I was pleasantly surprised to see that the latter wrote the movie once the closing credits rolled. It was all meant for someone like Tom Hanks to lead in. There is one scene toward the end that I found to be as powerful as any in 2015. 

02. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars- The Force Awakens

The best way I’ve heard The Force Awakens described is that it hit all the right spots in all the right ways…It really did. Nostalgia and newness brilliantly combined. Fantastic well-timed humor that the past films lacked. If you waited for something to disappoint you, you’d only be disappointed by the fact that you’re still waiting. It’s also the only other film, besides #1, that I went back to see in the theater again and appreciated more for it.

01. Spotlight

Spotlight 2015

I really don’t think there was a better performance by an ensemble this year. It was a refreshing take on journalism, not over-glorifying the industry but simply presenting how a paper goes about getting a story. All the comparisons to All The President’s Men are warranted. I will also stump hard for Mark Ruffalo getting Best Supporting Actor recognition, even when the category is heavy enough as is. 

 

What does your list look like? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

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Top 20 Movies of 2015 So Far (Part II)

“So Far” because The Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Joy and Carol have yet to hit theaters. Once I get those in, I’ll have an updated final list.

“Part II” because I published a list at the end of the summer. Just 4 movies from my original Top 10 are still there and 2 don’t even crack the Top 20. 

With just a little more than a week left in the year, here are “The Best…so far.”

20. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MI Rogue Nation 2015

It was a strong year for blockbuster franchises. There are two more represented further down this list. The Mission Impossible series seems to get better as time goes on and fortunately for them, Rogue Nation hit theaters before Spectre did with a similar plot and much better execution. 

19. Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation 2015

Idris Elba seems to show us in everything he does that he is one of the best actors of our time, and this Netflix Original film gets him closer to the acclaim he properly deserves. Beasts of No Nation is also a milestone for Netflix that shows they should be taken seriously as a film studio and not just for television…Just try to avoid the string of unfortunate Adam Sandler flicks they will be putting out for a while.

18. Creed

Creed 2015

Creed is a very good sports movie. It reminded me a lot of the first Rocky film. I love how they filmed the fights and Sylvester Stallone deserves every “best supporting actor” nomination he gets. We’re reminded how great an actor he is, and how awesome a character Rocky Balboa is in this film. Michael B. Jordan is certainly in store for big things and this film is a clear sign of that. I just wished they held back on the cheese factor of a certain training scene and that his “big opponent” was a much more memorable character. 

17. The Big Short

The Big Short 2015

The more I think about The Big Short, the more I think I liked it. Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are all awesome in the film and it’s incredibly smart. Hamish Linklater is also to be an excellent complement, similar to his role in The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams. The constant explaining of every economic term (which might have been necessary) gets distracting and the comedic approach takes away some of the necessary emotional investment. Had I not seen 99 Homes (see further down), I probably would have appreciated this film a lot more while watching it. 

16. Trumbo

TR_08395.dng

The acting in Trumbo is outstanding. The hype was real regarding Bryan Cranston’s performance. Both Helen Mirren and John Goodman play their parts very well. The correlation between how members of the American communist party were treated and some of our society’s current issues today strikes a chord. I just wish I hadn’t seen so many of the big scenes in the trailer already and that the directing was better.

15. 99 Homes

99 Homes 2015

Like The Big Short, 99 Homes takes place during the financial and housing crisis but it’s way much more of a punch to the gut. You get the perspective of people who lost their homes from the crisis, and it’s even more of a thriller because you have no idea how these people will react to those who have to break the news to them. Michael Shannon is also as good as anyone in supporting actor categories from this film.

14. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton 2015

The music, the acting, the “Bye Felicia” scene…

Straight Outta Compton was an awesome biopic and it told a story that I think a lot of younger hip hop fans needed to hear, considering how influential members of NWA really are to the genre. The only reason I don’t have it ranked higher is because it did feel long by the end. 

13. Love & Mercy

Love and Mercy 2015

Love and Mercy was another biopic (also with Paul Giamatti as a jerk manager) that I enjoyed, but this one stuck with me a lot longer after. Paul Dano is great as young Brian Wilson and for once John Cusack is a lot less “John Cusack”-ish than he is in most of his roles. Elizabeth Banks also gives one of the more underrated performances in film from this year. If you’re like me, you probably listened to “Pet Sounds” for a week after seeing it.

12. Ex Machina

Ex Machina 2015

This was a big year for all 3 stars of Ex Machina. Oscar Isaac continued his path to Pacino-status with his roles in Show Me A Hero and Star Wars, which Domhnall Gleeson also stars in. Alicia Vikander has a good chance of getting both Best Actress and Supporting Oscar nominations for her roles in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. Her character, Ava, still haunts my dreams as well. It’s an unreal suspense film. 

11. The Walk

The Walk 2015

I’m a little disappointed The Walk isn’t getting more chatter during awards season. Obviously I think there are better films, but Robert Zemeckis did a brilliant job utilizing 3D, especially for the climax of the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ben Kinglsey were both remarkably charming as well. 

10. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I can’t recall a time where I’ve seen two actors be so natural interacting with each other for a film. That’s all this film is…a long weekend conversation from Bloomington-Normal to Minnesota and back, with honest thoughts and feelings. I’m happy to see Jason Segel is getting some acclaim as well for his portrayal of David Foster Wallace.

09. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs 2015

Yes, I’m a HUGE Sorkin fan, but I found the approach to this biopic to be incredibly original. It wasn’t your typical “start-to-end” story, but just 3 different periods in time and how each person has evolved in that time. It also helps that everyone involved nails it with their parts, especially Michael Fassbender.

08. Inside Out

Inside Out 2015

A movie about feelings makes you feel feelings…and even more than the typical Pixar feelings (which is saying a lot, considering the first 3 minutes to Up). It also helps that they casted all the right people for all the right feelings.

 

07. The Martian

The Martian 2015

I came across a Facebook friend listing his “Top 10” and he said he hadn’t seen The Martian because “It looked like Castaway in space.” He is very wrong…unless he values Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Jessica Chastain, and Kate Mara to all be a volleyball named Wilson. 

06. Room

Room 2015

The Best Actress category at any awards show is Brie Larson’s to lose because of Room. Jacob Tremblay is amazing as well…just be prepared to have your heart strings pulled hard.

05. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2 hour long roller coaster of action, explosions, and rock’n’roll. I don’t recall taking a breath between the start and end. The twisted and beautiful mind of George Miller is on full awesome display. 

04. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015

I think we all have our personal movies that connect with us in more ways than most and matches our personalities. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was that movie for me, my favorite from the summer. There’s also something about Nick Offerman as a sociology professor, robe-wearing, cat-obsessed dad that still tickles me funny.

 

03. Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies 2015

Bridge of Spies is about as good a film as you could ask for from a combination of Steven Spielberg and the Coen Brothers…I was pleasantly surprised to see that the latter wrote the movie once the closing credits rolled. It was all meant for someone like Tom Hanks to lead in. There is one scene toward the end that I found to be as powerful as any in 2015. 

02. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars- The Force Awakens

The best way I’ve heard The Force Awakens described is that it hit all the right spots in all the right ways…It really did. Nostalgia and newness brilliantly combined. Fantastic well-timed humor that the past films lacked. If you waited for something to disappoint you, you’d only be disappointed by the fact that you’re still waiting.

01. Spotlight

Spotlight 2015

I really don’t think there was a better performance by an ensemble this year. It was refreshing take on a journalism, not over-glorifying the industry but simply presenting how a paper goes about getting a story. All the comparisons to All The President’s Men are warranted. I will also stump hard for Mark Ruffalo getting Best Supporting Actor recognition, even when the category is heavy enough as is. 

 

Stay tuned for the final list after Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Joy and Carol are released. Till then, let me know what your favorite films from 2015 are on Facebook or Twitter.

The 2016 SAG Award Nominations and My Thoughts

The 2016 SAG Award nominations were announced Wednesday morning, and two things struck me:

  1. The Screen Actors Guild LOVED Trumbo, maybe a bit more than me.
  2. I don’t think they’ve seen Fargo yet on FX. Seriously…

This is just one of several award shows (which airs Jan. 30th on TNT and TBS), but it’s one of the few that gauges my interest more than others because it acknowledges both the film and TV world. Here are the nominees and some quick thoughts on each category.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
  • Johnny Depp – Black Mass
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

I really have no problem with this category. I have yet to see Revenant or The Danish Girl, but I don’t doubt the performances of DiCaprio or Redmayne carry their films like the other nominees. If there was someone that I would like to see get more credit, it’s Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace in End of the Tour. It didn’t take much transforming, aside from the obvious hair and glasses, but Segel’s performance is as engaging and natural as any from the summer…especially in his interactions with Jesse Eisenberg.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Helen Mirren – Woman In Gold
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
  • Sarah Silverman – I Smile Back

I can’t get upset about this category because I think it’s Brie Larson’s award to lose, and hers alone. However, I’m surprised Jennifer Lawrence was left out after another highly anticipated David O’Russell  role. Of course the film hasn’t hit theaters yet, so I can’t really talk..Alicia Vikander deserves more love for Ex Machina because she still haunts my dreams for her performance.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale – The Big Short
  • Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
  • Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
  • Michael Shannon – 99 Homes
  • Jacob Tremblay – Room

This category is HEAVY. Even without Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Sylvester Stallone (Creed) or Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), it looks stacked…but I’d like to see them all in it.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Rooney Mara – Carol
  • Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
  • Helen Mirren – Trumbo
  • Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Helen Mirren has 3 nominations here and I’m not sure she’s winning any of them. It will be fun to see what her batting average is though by the night’s end. I would be interested to see what kind of buzz Jennifer Jason Leigh gets after Hateful Eight is released.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

  • Beasts of No Nation
  • The Big Short
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • Trumbo

Spotlight is my favorite film from this year and it deserves all the good things that come its way. I am surprised both The Martian or Steve Jobs were left out of this category, considering how star studded their casts were. Their performances didn’t disappoint either.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

  • Idris Elba – Luther
  • Ben Kingsley – Tut
  • Ray Liotta – Texas Rising
  • Bill Murray – A Very Murray Christmas
  • Mark Rylance – Wolf Hall

I don’t have many thoughts on this other than (1) Luther rules, (2) I turned off A Very Murray Christmas after 10 minutes and (3) Where is Oscar Isaac for Show Me A Hero. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

  • Nicole Kidman – Grace of Monaco
  • Queen Latifah – Bessie
  • Christina Ricci – The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
  • Susan Sarandon – The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
  • Kristen Wiig – The Spoils Before Dying

I literally have zero thoughts about this one, because I haven’t seen any of the nominated performances yet.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

  • Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
  • Jon Hamm – Mad Men
  • Rami Malek – Mr. Robot
  • Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
  • Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

I’m happy to see Rami Malek get props for playing the best introvert on TV, but this is Don Draper’s victory lap and I don’t see anyone getting in his way. I’m also always shocked to not see Mads Mikkelsen ever nominated for Hannibal. I guess that’s for fringe loving types like me.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

  • Claire Danes – Homeland
  • Viola Davis – How To Get Away With Murder
  • Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife
  • Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey
  • Robin Wright –House of Cards

Viola Davis has the momentum from the Emmys but I will always maintain that the past two seasons of House of Cards have been great nearly because of Robin Wright as much as Spacey.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Ty Burrell – Modern Family
  • Louis C.K. – Louie
  • William H. Macy – Shameless
  • Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
  • Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

Modern Family to me is “What Will Phil Dunphy Do Next?” because that’s all I watch for now, but Jeffrey Tambor holding a torch for the transgender community has become way more important.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black
  • Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
  • Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
  • Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation

Poehler Thug

That is all.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men

If you’ve been watching the second season of Fargo, you’re probably wondering if perhaps the actors didn’t know how to spell it filling out their nominations, considering every Monday night feels like the show’s best episode…If you’ve been watching Homeland this seasonyou might be wondering why it’s on here. The season finale is in a week and I still have no idea if it was good or not this year.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Key & Peele
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Transparent
  • Veep

I would love to see Key & Peele ride off into the sunset with some hardware.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

  • Everest
  • Furious 7
  • Jurassic World
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Fury Road is one of the best films of this year and a modern classic. Pick against it and you lose.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

  • The Blacklist
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • Marvel’s Daredevil
  • The Walking Dead

I just watched end Episode 2 of the first season again. This is why I love Daredevil.

How are you pulling for this Awards season? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

 

#TBT Year in Review: 1996

In the year New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde was born…

  • The Daily Show aired for the first time on Comedy Central
  • Nintendo 64 was released in Japan
  • The Ramones performed their last show 
  • The OJ Simpson civil trial began
  • Steve Jobs’ company NeXT was bought by Apple, which he also founded

Tupac Shakur was shot and killed at the age of 25. 

To this day, people are trying to prove he’s still alive. 

AND in the worlds of movies, music and sports…

Movies

Comedy

Happy Gilmore, Swingers, Kingpin, Matilda, 101 Dalmatians, Don’t Be A Menace in South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Tin Cup, The Nutty Professor, Bio-Dome, The Cable Guy, Beautiful Girls, The First Wives Club, That Thing You Do, Striptease, Jack, Multiplicity, Kazaam, The Birdcage, Beavis and Butthead Do America, Down Periscope, The Stupids, Black Sheep, Bulletproof, One Fine Day, Spy Hard, Sgt. Bilko AND…

Space Jam

Action/Thriller

Scream, Independence Day, The Rock, Escape from LA, A Time to Kill, From Dusk Till Dawn, Twister, The Craft, Fear, Eraser, Broken Arrow, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Ghost and the Darkness, The Frighteners, Chain Reaction, Ransom, Executive Decision, The Fan, Last Man Standing, Maximum Risk, AND…

Mission Impossible

Drama

Trainspotting, Jerry Maguire, The English Patient, Romeo + Juliet, Sling Blade, Sleepers, Secrets and Lies, Shine, Michael Collins, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Evita, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Kolya, Bullet, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Jude, Mother Night, Phenomenon, Gotti, Emma, Before and After, The Juror, Fly Away Home, Marvin’s Room, AND…

Fargo

The 69th Academy Awards

Best Actor

  • Tom Cruise, Jerry Maguire
  • Ralph Fiennes, The English Patient
  • Woody Harrelson, The People vs. Larry Flynt
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade
  • Geoffrey Rush, Shine – Winner

(The first of 4 nominations for Geoffery Rush. His latest was in 2011 for The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actor

  • William H. Macy, Fargo
  • Armin Mueller-Stahl, Shine
  • Edward Norton, Primal Fear
  • James Woods, Ghosts of Mississippi
  • Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire – Winner

(Cuba Gooding Jr. won the only time he was nominated)

Best Actress

  • Brenda Blethyn, Secrets & Lies
  • Diane Keatin, Marvin’s Room
  • Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient
  • Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves
  • Frances McDormand, Fargo – Winner

(Frances McDormand has been nominated 3 other times, most recently for North Country in 2006)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Joan Allen, The Crucible
  • Lauren Bacall, The Mirror Has Two Faces
  • Barbara Hershey, The Portrait of a Lady
  • Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Secrets & Lies
  • Juliette Binoche, The English Patient – Winner

(Juliette Binoche was nominated once more in 2001 for Chocolat)

Best Picture

  • Fargo
  • Jerry Maguire
  • Secrets & Lies
  • Shine
  • The English Patient – Winner

(The English Patient won 9 of the 12 Oscars it was nominated for, including best Director)

Music

Rock Albums

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Hip Hop Albums

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Pop Albums

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Billboard Year-End Top 25 Songs

  1. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” – Los del Rio
  2. One Sweet Day” – Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
  3. “Because You Loved Me” – Celine Dion
  4. “Nobody Knows” – The Tony Rich Project
  5. “Always Be My Baby” – Mariah Carey
  6. “Give Me One Reason” – Tracy Chapman
  7. “The Crossroads” – Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
  8. “I Love You Always Forever” – Donna Lewis
  9. “You’re Makin’ Me High / “Let It Flow” – Tony Braxton
  10. “Twisted” – Keith Sweat
  11. “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)” – Quad City DJ’s
  12. “Missing” – Everything but the Girl
  13. “Ironic” – Alanis Morissette
  14. “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” – Whitney Houston
  15. “Follow You Down” / “Til I Hear It From You” – Gin Blossoms
  16. “Sittin’ Up in My Room” – Brandy
  17. “How Do U Want It”/”California Love” – 2Pac featuring K-Ci & JoJo / Dr Dre
  18. “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” – Celine Dion
  19. “Change the World” – Eric Clapton
  20. “Hey Lover” – LL Cool J
  21. “Loungin” – LL Cool J
  22. “Insensitive” – Jann Arden
  23. “Be My Lover” – La Bouche
  24. “Name” – Goo Goo Dolls
  25. “Will You Save Your Sould” – Jewel

Sports

Baseball

League Leaders

Offensive

Average: Alex Rodriguez (SEA) – .358

Hits: Lance Johnson (NYM) – 227

Home Runs: Mark McGwire (OAK) – 52

RBI: Andres Galarraga (COL) – 150

OPS: Mark McGwire (STL) – 1.198

Stolen Bases: Kenny Lofton (CLE) – 75

Pitching

Wins: John Smoltz (ATL) – 24

ERA: Kevin Brown (FLA) – 1.89

Strikeouts: John Smoltz (ATL) – 276

Complete Games: Pat Hentgen (TOR) – 10

Shutouts: Pat Hentgen (TOR) – 3

Saves: Jeff Brantley (CIN) & Todd Worrell (LAD) – 44

MVP

AL – Juan Gonzalez (TEX)

NL – Ken Caminiti (SD)

CY Young

AL – Pat Hentgen (TOR)

NL – John Smoltz (ATL)

Rookie of the Year

AL – Derek Jeter (NYY)

NL – Todd Hollandsworth (LAD)

World Series

New York Yankees over the Atlanta Braves (4-2)

Basketball

NCAA

Final Four:

(1) Kentucky (1) UMass (4) Syracuse (5) Mississippi State

National Championship

(1) Kentucky over (4) Syracuse 76-67

NBA

League Leaders

Points Per Game: Michael Jordan (CHI) – 30.4

Rebounds Per Game: Dennis Rodman (CHI) – 14.9

Assists Per Game: John Stockton (UTAH) – 11.2

All-NBA Team

Afernee Hardaway (ORL)

Michael Jordan (CHI)

Karl Malone (UTAH)

Scottie Pippen (CHI)

David Robinson (SA)

MVP – Michael Jordan (CHI)

Rookie – Damon Stoudamire (TOR)

NBA Finals

Chicago Bulls over Seattle Supersonics (4-2)

Football

NCAA

Heisman Trophy – Danny Wuerffel, Florida

National Championship

Ike Hilliard

(3) Florida over (1) Florida State 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl

NFL

League Leaders

Passing Yards: Mark Brunell (JAX) – 4,367

Passing Touchdowns: Brett Favre (GB) – 39

Passer Rating: Steve Young (SF) – 97.2

Rushing Yards: Barry Sanders (DET) – 1,553

Rushing Touchdowns: Terry Allen (WAS) – 21

Receiving Yards: Isaac Bruce (STL) – 1,338

Receiving Touchdowns: Michael Jackson (BAL) & Tony Martin (SD) – 14

Receptions: Jerry Rice (SF) – 108

AP MVP – Brett Favre (GB)

Super Bowl XXXI

Green Bay Packers over New England Patriots 35-21

Hockey

League Leaders

Goals: Mario Lemieux (PIT) – 69

Assists: Ron Francis (PIT) & Mario Lemieux (PIT) – 92

Points: Mario Lemieux (PIT) – 161

Hart Memorial Trophy – Mario Lemieux (PIT)

Stanley Cup

Colorado Avalanche over Florida Panthers (4-0)

Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03 or on Facebook.

Also checkout past #TBT Years in Review.

2012

2011

2010

2007

2006

2005

2002

1999

1998

1992

1990

1989

1988

1987

My 10 Favorite Movies of 2015, So Far

It’s hard to put together a “Top 10” when we’re 7 and a half months into the year and Oscars season hasn’t hit. I’m also not the one handing out any Golden Globes or Academy Awards, so that’s why I prefer saying “Favorite” when putting this list together.

Honorable Mentions

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland was a refreshing original from Disney that we hadn’t seen in a while that doesn’t have “PIXAR” all over it. In a world (voice-over guy voice) when franchises and sequels rule all, director and writer Brad Bird told a story that combined a mixture of our fascination with the future and a deep seeded love many of us may have from our very first visit to Epcot at Disney World. George Clooney and Britt Robertson play characters who shine for their innovative minds, while Hugh Laurie antagonizes with some of the bleakest/best lines of the movie:

“There are simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starving – how is that even possible?!”

I also enjoyed the hat-tip to old animated Disney character names with Keegan-Michael Key as “Hugo” (Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Kathryn Hahn as “Ursula” (The Little Mermaid).

Child 44

Child 44

Not too many people liked this movie, but I did. Tom Hardy reunites with Gary Oldman for the first time since Dark Knight Rises and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. They are two of the better actors in the business and it shows in this film. The story is incredible. The film opens with a line that is repeated throughout, “The is no murder in paradise.” Russia banned this film because of how it portrayed its citizens who live in fear of their government. I won’t get into real global politics, but imagine a world where a serial killer can roam free because law enforcement isn’t allowed to admit there is a problem. This film frustrates the viewer because of that, but the dodging and weaving Hardy must execute is what makes the movie fascinating to me.

People Places Things

People Places Things

You know how awkward and painful The-Breakup is? People Places Things took the subject of breaking up and made it suck WAY LESS. When Jermaine Clement isn’t voicing over super annoying horses on a beach with Hannah Davis, he’s a terrific indie comedy actor. On top of being “Weekend Fun” Dad of the year, Clement’s character is a graphic novelist whose art serves as interludes for the story. Regina Hall (Scary Movie) and Jessica Williams (The Daily Show) give excellent supporting performances and so do the kids, Aundrea and Gia Gadsby.

The List

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Age of Ultron List

Avengers: Age of Ultron wasn’t great and wasn’t even the best Marvel film of this year…but it didn’t have to be. I understand Joss Whedon really beat himself up over the pressures of making a follow up to the first Avengers flick, but his final product was exactly what I wanted. James Spader NAILED IT as Ultron, and it was so creepy how the robot featured his mannerisms. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and its timeline of films are basically a long TV series of epic 2 hour episodes. The ongoing story evolved well in Age of Ultron, and we got all the action, witty banter, and intros to new characters that we needed…before things get really hairy in Captain America: Civil War. 

9. Ant-Man

Ant Man 2015

I had some personal investment in Ant-Man, because I wanted it to surprise people for how good it could be. After opening weekend, there was much chest-pounding and “Told ya!” from me and I am totally shameless about it. The Ant-Man story in the MCU has been rearranged, as Hank Pym was the one who originally assembled The Avengers in the comics and also created Ultron. The film was also more of a “changing of the guard” than an origin story, as Hank (Michael Douglas) was passing the suit on to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).

Rather than be an action film with some comedy, Ant-Man was a comedy with plenty of action. I LOVED that about the film. I died laughing every time Michael Pena was on screen and I appreciated the fact Paul Rudd didn’t have to try being someone else (like Chris Pratt had to for Jurassic World ). It was a fun one-off movie that still moved the Marvel story along and concluded with an awesome scene after the credits.

8. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION

The latest in the Ethan Hunt/IMF saga did not disappoint. Rogue Nation continued the fun-spy-stunt vibe that many of us loved in Ghost Protocol, but established itself as its own film more than a sequel. Tom Cruise may be a crazy person in real life, but on the screen he is good an action star as any. This installment didn’t really force a love story on you either but more of a mutual respect between Hunt and MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), that may or may not have led to some natural attraction. Faust was a badass character in this film too.

07. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

I walked out of the theater with one thought: “Helluva story.” The NWA biopic directed by Friday director F. Gary Gray grabs a hold of the viewer, gets the head bobbing/toe tapping, and reminds many of us (who grew up or lived in the era that revolutionized hip-hop) of what was going on in the streets. It’s a long film, but it’s almost like 3 different stories mashed into one following Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. I do feel that the stories regarding Ice Cube and Dr. Dre were cleaned up a little because they were producers on the film, but that was expected.

Oshea Jackson Jr. playing his father felt perfect and both Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre) and Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E) gave excellent performances. You really do get chills when both Snoop Dogg and Tupac are introduced. And of course Paul Giamatti settles in fine as his now typical a-hole manager role.

6. Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy

Speaking of Giamatti a-hole manager roles…Love & Mercy edges out Straight Outta Compton for me because Paul Dano gives one of the definite Oscar-worthy performances from this summer as a young Brian Wilson. I do recommend listening to Pet Sounds before watching the movie, and then become amazed at how wrong Wilson’s father and Mike Love were about the album when the Beach Boys originally recorded it. The process Wilson goes through composing his music makes you say “Wow” out loud.

My one fear going into the theater was John Cusack mailing in another gig where he seems like “John Cusack as John Cusack…as (insert historical figure)”. Nope. I actually forgot at times that it was Cusack as the older version of Wilson. I also have to say that Elizabeth Banks pulls off one of the more powerful scenes as someone standing up to a threatening jackass bully like Giamatti’s character. I may have slow clapped as it happened.

5. Ex Machina

Ex Machina

Ex Machina is one of the great surprises of 2015. Throughout the entire film, you are so unsure as to when something is going to go wrong and who is really in control. The robot, Ava (played by Alicia Vikander), has you on a string and you can’t do anything about it. Oscar Isaac’s performance adds to the suspense like a time bomb waiting to explode. Then, when the credits roll at the end, you have no idea if you should be afraid of the technology you rely so much on (i.e. cell phones, Google, EVERYTHING). A movie that makes you question such things, because they are sort of plausible, is undeniable as a great thriller.

4. Inside Out

Inside Out

Dammit, Pixar…You made us feel feelings again, which I guess is expected in a film LITERALLY about feelings. Inside Out  really is the emotional roller coaster that it’s advertised as. It is casted masterfully for each of the different character “feelings” in young Riley’s (Kaitlyn Dias) head. The two characters that felt dead on to their real-life counterparts were Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and of course Anger (Lewis Black). What made the film this good though, was how it reminded the viewer how important and natural each of your feelings can be, no matter your age. High five for deep overall messages, Pixar.

3. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour

The film is based on a 5-day interview between Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) following the release of ‘Infinite Jest’ in 1996. The reason I hold this film in such high regard is because it felt like the most honest interaction between two people given their statuses and positions. Their humor, insecurities, competitiveness, and self awareness hit home with me, and Segel captured that the best as Wallace. It’s also funny now that movies taking place in the 90’s can now be considered period pieces and I giggled every time Segel asked for a Diet-Rite.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is the fastest 2 hours you’ll ever experience in a movie theater. Once the vehicles, spawned from the sick and beautiful mind of George Miller, hit the desert road, your breath is held for the remainder of the ride. Visually, it was like nothing I had seen before. It was pure action, adventure, and horror. You also didn’t have to see any of the other films to pick up on Fury Road. Charlize Theron kicked everybody’s ass as Furiosa. And who doesn’t love an army of hell-bred maniacs being led by a Heavy Metal guitarist whose axe shoots real flames out of it?

1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Use this one)

Naming something #1 says a lot about whatever it is you are actually ranking. When you you make the proclamation though, you stand by it (like when you rank 40 different pizza places and everybody loses their minds in the comments section).

As of August 15th at 5:34 PM CDT, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is my favorite movie of 2015. I laughed, I connected, I cried, I laughed again, and repeat. I wanted Earl (RJ Cyler) to be my “coworker”. I wanted to hangout with Rachel (Olivia Cooke) and talk about how awesome Hugh Jackman ALWAYS is as Wolverine. I was Greg (Thomas Mann) in high school, to an extent, and I wanted to tell him things don’t turn out so bad. The supporting cast is incredible in this film as well with Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Jon Bernthal, Molly Shannon, and the dude who plays Earl’s brother (Bobb’e J. Thompson). 

It’s also a film about kids who love movies. I love movies. Weird how someone would relate with something like that, right?

Have a favorite film that didn’t make the list? What does your “Favorite 10” look like? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

Movie Madness: The Dirty Thirty Two Winners

Welcome to the next round…

50 Cent Patrick

…the Dirty Thirty Two.

[Update]: Voting has closed. The winners are below and have advanced to the Sweet 16. Voting will resume again Monday morning, March 30th on MichaelPiff.com

(4) Goodfellas

vs.

(5) Shawshank Redemption

(6) The Untouchables

vs.

(3) Jaws

(1) Animal House

vs.

(9) Wayne’s World

(7) Toy Story

vs.

(2) Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark

(11) Almost Famous

vs.

(3) Pulp Fiction

(1) Die Hard

vs.

(8) Mission Impossible

(5) Blues Brothers

vs.

(4) Ghostbusters

(1) Star Wars

vs.

(9) Jurassic Park

(10) Good Will Hunting

vs.

(15) Rocky

(5) Tombstone

vs.

(4) Gladiator

(6) Blazing Saddles

vs.

(14) Office Space

(6) Field of Dreams

vs.

(3) Lord of the Rings

(1) The Godfather

vs.

(8) Forrest Gump

(10) The Matrix

vs.

(2) The Dark Knight

(7) Anchorman

vs.

(2) Caddyshack

(5) Guardians of the Galaxy

vs.

(4) The Avengers

AGAIN, VOTING WILL RESUME FOR THE SWEET 16 TOMORROW MORNING. THANKS FOR PLAYING.  

Movie Madness: Round of 64 Part II

Day 1 Voting Continued…

 

[Update] Voting has closed. Winners below.

(3) Monty Python and the Holy Grail

vs.

(14) Office Space

(8) Mission Impossible

vs.

(9) Kill Bill

(7) Toy Story

vs.

(10) The Lego Movie

(2) Citizen Kane

vs.

(15) Rocky

(4) Ghostbusters

vs.

(13) This Is Spinal Tap

(5) Tombstone

vs.

(12) Snatch

(6) Field of Dreams

vs.

(11) Ocean’s Eleven

(1) The Godfather

vs.

(16) The Departed

Voting will remain open until 11 PM CT. Share with your friends to vote for your favorites. You can also Tweet your votes to @Mike_PiFF03 with #MovieMadness. Vote for Part I matchups by clicking HERE!