Saturday, February 20, 2016

Best of 2015, Part 1: Top 20, Zen Awards

I have a rule about tattoos. I'd love to get one, but I'm always terrified that the idea I have in the moment is never one I'll want to have on my body in 10 years. And as such, I stick to the following standard--if I come up with a tattoo idea I love, I'll allow myself to get it if I still think it's a great idea in five years' time. And as of yet I remain tattoo-less.

Well perhaps I ought to be tattooing a numbers and titles and silly awards onto my forehead, because this season marks the 10th anniversary of tossing Oscar predictions and best of the year lists out into the gaping internet abyss. Which is kind of astounding, really--I'm not sure there's anything else in my entire life I've been able to manage to do consistently for a decade. There's something wonderfully cathartic about taking all of my favorite (and not so favorite) movie memories from the past year, hashing them out in an hours-long frenzy of tenuous metaphors and breathtaking abuse of adverbs, and then placing them all carefully in my past. It's a lovely little thing to do, and I love that I get to do it. And I'm also perplexed that you all click on these links to slog through the giant wall of text I'm about to inflict on you. So thanks for that. I'm not going to try and improve on my rant from last year in which I extolled the various virtues of watching slasher movies with strangers (here it is in case you're curious), but I stand by the sentiment--to bastardize a Truffaut quote, I'm interested in either the joy or the agony of loving the movies; there's no in-between. And I hope that I'm still writing these silly little lists 10 years into the future, because for better or worse, this combination of movie love and neurosis is probably my personality's defining element. So hooray!

Now let me tell you about my favorite butts in the movies this year. (You think I'm joking? Stay tuned. The suspense will figuratively kill you.)

So here's the tried and true format: I'll kick things off with a joe (Joe?)-average top 20 list, followed by the annual Zen awards (themselves followed by my annual 'oh God I desperately need a new title for my Awards' awards). So if you can stay hearty and slog through 20 blurbs about movies you may or may not have seen, I will reward you the movie-blogging equivalent of flips, cartwheels, and throwing fruit at passers-by. Oh happy day! See it in glorious 70 mm after the jump.

(I lied about the glorious 70 mm.)

This year is a bit of an improvement from last year's weeping, lonely howl, during which I only managed to see 60 movies from the calendar year before press time. I managed 71 movies for 2015--certainly better than last year, but still a far cry from my 85-90 pre-grad-school average. It's not super (although I acknowledge that 71 movies from one calendar year seems like free-based insanity to someone with, you know, a life and stuff), but it's heading in the right direction.

In interest of transparency, here's a list of what I've seen. If you loved something and it doesn't show up below, check if I've seen it or not!

45 Years, 50 Shades of Grey, '71, Amy, Anomalisa, Ant-Man, The Assassin, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Beasts of No Nation, The Big Short, Black Mass, Bone Tomahawk, Boy and the World, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Carol, Chi-Raq, Cinderella, Clouds of Sils Maria, Concussion, Creed, Crimson Peak, The Danish Girl, Everest, Ex Machina, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Gift, The Good Dinosaur, Goodnight Mommy, Grandma, The Hateful Eight, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay--Part 2, I'll See You in My Dreams, In the Heart of the Sea, Inside Out, It Follows, Joy, Jurassic World, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Krampus, The Look of Silence, Mad Max: Fury Road, Magic Mike XXL, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Martian, Mission: Impossible--Rogue Nation, Mistress America, Mr. Holmes, Phoenix, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, The Revenant, Ricki and the Flash, Room, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Sicario, Spectre, Spotlight, Spy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Steve Jobs, Suffragette, Tangerine, Tokyo Tribe, Trainwreck, The Tribe, Trumbo, Truth, When Marnie was There, White God, Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, The Woman in Black 2: The Angel of Death

As always, there are massive holes in my viewing this year--many of which are there because distributors have decided we don't deserve to see foreign films in the middle of the country, which gets a little more annoying with every year that I have to type that on this blog. So my apologies to Son of Saul in particular (how is that not out here?), but also Mustang, Theeb, Embrace of the Serpent, A War, Rams, Victoria, Arabian Nights, In Jackson Heights, etc. Note that I also didn't see notorious bombs like Fantastic Four, Jupiter Ascending, etc. because who has time for that? Second note: I'm in a bit of a weird position this year, in that there are six more movies I hope to see before the Oscars that are in state of list-limbo, in that I'll be seeing them in the middle of this whole 5-day extravaganza. So if The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Cartel Land, The Hunting Ground, Racing Extinction, Straight Outta Compton, and/or What Happened, Miss Simone? have a huge effect on me, I'll make sure to note that somewhere later down the line.

So here goes! Because my time (and yours, I guess, maybe) is precious and profoundly limited, I'm going to try to stop kicking brevity in the teeth and limit myself to two sentences about each movie. I'll definitely fail at this somewhere down the line, but it's important to have dreams.

Honorable Mentions: They didn't end up in the top 20, but I'm still thankful for foul-mouth, sweet-hearted shenaniganry of Spy, the fluid-drenched road trip antics of Magic Mike XXL, and the transgressive, classical prose of Chi-Raq.

The Best Films of 2014

20. The Martian (dir. Ridley Scott)
Lighter on its feet than it has any right to be, Ridley Scott's bouncy little sci-fi adventure approaches a densely science-y book with a can-do attitude and stars in its eyes. The result is a cotton candy odyssey to positivity, Matt Damon, and the relative virtues of farming under extreme duress.

19. Steve Jobs (dir. Danny Boyle)
Like the definition of insanity--trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results each time. And yet, somehow, improbably, something different does happen each time--a clockwork triptych of a movie whose manic repetition reveals layers inside layers of tricky performances and script like a mouthful of firecrackers.

18.  I'll See You in My Dreams (Dir. Brett Haley)
What a lovely, wistful piece of film-making. I'll See You... gently challenges the notion of development and self-discovery halting with age, while simultaneously questioning what we mean when we say those words--sure, we keep moving, but in which direction, and why, and for how long?

17. The Tribe (dir. Miroslav Slaboshpitsky)
Told entirely in Ukrainian sign-language without subtitles, The Tribe earns this year's laurels for movie most unconcerned with whether or not it's being followed. What results is a heady, brutal fever dream that creeps forward like a nightmare, erupting in moments of horror as un-telegraphed as they are inevitable.

16.  '71 (dir. Yann Demange)
The Tribe's wild-eyed cousin: a chaotic thriller told almost entirely through explosions, panicked glances, and guttural moans. Demange's one-night take on the Troubles is simple in plot and execution, but nevertheless wrapped itself around my throat like a piano wire.

15. Spotlight (dir. Tom McCarthy)
'Procedural' hardly seems like high praise, but McCarthy's slow-burn journalist drama wears the term like a badge of honor, rooting itself in the mundane day-to-day realities that inexorably move the plot forward. This dogged groundedness, however, is the film's greatest strength, pushing a painful, taboo subject into the *cough* spotlight with the weight of its own uncomfortable ordinariness.

14. Joy (dir. David O. Russell)
Fairy tales do come true!--but sometimes that truth means your ex-husband lives in the basement, your family should probably be hit by a train, and the best you can aim for is selling mops on QVC. Improbably, Joy is full of its titular emotion, wringing hard-earned emotions out of each kick-you-while-you're-down curveball thrown at its brainy bulldog of a protagonist.

13. Sicario (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
A high-wire exercise in throwing up in the back of your mouth; Sicario is so tightly wound and morally muddy that I can hardly stand it. The film is like two hours of flash grenades thrown at your head--a smoky, cacophonous symphony of having your world repeatedly obliterated.

12. Boy and the World (dir. Ale Abreu)
The second wordless movie on the list, Boy and the World is a parable that relies on its vibrant color palette and rich visual metaphors to tell the story of worker exploitation and globalization as seen by a child. It's gorgeous, wildly inventive, and effortlessly moving--a dream journal, written in crayon, thrown into a hurricane.

11. Creed (dir. Ryan Coogler)
I hate the original Rocky with a passion, so color me surprised that I found myself screaming myself hoarse and welling up with manly tears during the seventh (seventh!) installment in this franchise. Coogler brings an assured, daringly cinematic hand to familiar territory, re-shaping the inspirational sports movie into a languid, carefully observed study of crawling out from under the weight of our own tethered realities.

We've hit the top ten, and I've yet to break my 2-sentence rule (with the help of a host of creatively deployed semi-colons and hyphens). Someone come here and start applauding me. I'll wait. Also I say this now because we're about to hit the top 10 which means brevity is about to be curb-stomped in a back alley.

10. Carol (dir. Todd Haynes)
If Douglas Sirk were making movies today, they might look like Carol--woozy, delicate constructions whose gossamer patterns float and shatter in equal measure. Carol presents a fleeting snapshot of love, self-discovery, and the unholy pressure of realizing you don't know what "being yourself" means.

9. The Look of Silence (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)
If Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing was a fevered examination of the kinds of minds that celebrate genocide, then The Look of Silence traces the ragged scars left by such an enterprise. The Look of Silence is a startling act of documentary humanity--how this movie was even made, I'll never know. But watching the family of murdered victims confront the murderers--who are alternately smug, oblivious, or wracked with a kind of single-minded confessional insanity) is a wrenching experience that calls into question the existence of decency in a morally grey world.

(Witness me, brevity! Witneeeesss mmeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)

8. Phoenix (dir. Christian Petzold)
A knotty, tow-eyed film interested in the dark corners we'd prefer to leave unnoticed. One character eloquently summarizes the film's thesis to its Holocaust survivor protagonist--we don't want to think of the survivors as tortured, brutalized beings; we want to pretend that they will return as the people we remember. Phoenix quietly and incontrovertibly throws the idea of return in our faces, cutting the tendrils of the past as its characters try to hang onto remembrances of things past. Arguably the best ending of any movie this year (although I am indeed going to argue against that in roughly six entries).

7. Tangerine (dir. Sean Baker)
An exhilarating, surprisingly desperate comedic romp through the hooker-bedecked streets of LA. A rowdy tour-de-force that engages with a truth rarely found in funny movies--the lives of angry, disillusioned, and disenfranchised people are rarely as sunny as the movies want us to believe. It's a film about prostitutes and the closeted immigrants who love them that refuses to sugar-coat its protagonists for the sake of fun. These are rough, angry women--hilarious women, women with whom it's fun to spend a few hours, but women whose lives are anything but camera-ready. That Tangerine finds so much humor, energy, and honest friendship in this place is something of a miracle.

6. Brooklyn (dir. John Crowley)
It kills me to leave this one out of my top five, but that's where we are. Brooklyn proves that 'traditional' doesn't need to be a dirty word--if anything, it's the key to the film's success. Crowley relies on a classic sense of pacing and character, letting the film's lilting script and Saoirse Ronan's unbelievably expressive face carry us through a exquisite little music box of a plot. It's hard to imagine a more heart-felt movie, or one that can reliably touch on so many universal touchstones. At its heart, it's a film of self-discovery--learning to forgive yourself for starting a life after leaving the ones you love.

5. Inside Out (dir. Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen)
The most dazzlingly inventive, intricate and revealing premise of the year, eliciting some of the most honest and grown-up conclusions, housed in an animated comedy with a character who's part dolphin and cries candy. Sure, why not? I'm honestly not too sure what kids have to latch onto watching this movie, but I'll always be grateful for Pixar's commitment to making intelligent, curious movies that push what we think of when we think of films for children. The insights of Docter's script--that the only way to be a fully rounded human being is to engage with your negative emotions as well as the positive ones, that sadness is a necessary and productive element of life, that many memories will turn bittersweet and that's ok--allow this film to become one of the most lovely and welcome voices at the movies this year. And who, after seeing this movie, hasn't imagined what the little people in their head are doing, or which islands they have floating around? A wildly successful conception of the emotional process.

4. Clouds of Sils Maria (dir. Olivier Assayas)
To call this a remake of Persona is both spot-on and wildly general: it's certainly about two inextricably entwined women whose boundaries of self become fluid, but it takes this concept and interrogates it for all it's worth. Providing the best on-screen chemistry of the year, Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart (yes, that Kristen Stewart) toss themselves at a million different facets of themselves with reckless abandon, and the two women bleed into one, warp into new personalities, and then shift back like quicksilver. Dichotomies of youth vs. experience, public vs. private, straight vs. queer, reality vs. fiction, etc. morph seamlessly into each other and the faces we wear for everyone else disappear in a dreamy, Pachelbel-scored haze. What a dreamy, complicated puzzle of a film--I feel like I could watch this movie every day for a year and still find something new lurking under a different fold.

3. It Follows (dir. David Robert Mitchell)
A film that deconstructs the horror genre, boils it down to its barest elements, and then chases these elements to their most ruthless extremes. It Follows takes an extremely simple premise--an unkillable monster whose presence is transferred by sex patiently follows its victims until they can't run any more--and gives it ghastly, unnatural life. If you've had a dream in which you're being followed but can't run fast enough, then you have an inkling of what watching this film feels like. David Robert Mitchell breathes sentience into a nightmare and lets it loose on an unassuming public. It Follows is easily the most impressive genre experiment of the year, as well as one of the most low-key intriguing and thought-provoking.

2. 45 Years (dir. Andrew Haigh)
Maybe I'm an Andrew Haigh superfan (the #2 spot is actually the lowest any film of his has ever taken on my lists), but I don't know that any other writer/director working today can work with such cutting specificity and emotional brutality. Like many (most?) other films on this list, 45 Years riffs on a simple idea: a woman learns something about her husband of (you guessed it) 45 years, and this truth slowly unravels half a century of history. Haigh's film goes about this unraveling with a dogged, mundane efficiency. Little moments pile up to become big moments pile up to become cataclysms that fundamentally alter the fabric of one life. The film itself, however, might not have soared to these heights without a towering performance from Charlotte Rampling, playing a suburban woman desperately trying to continue to appear as the woman she believes herself to be. 45 Years is a quietly shattering stroll through the lies we tell ourselves to help us fall asleep. Its last shots are going to stick with me for a while (this is where I argue that 45 Years has the best ending of the year, as note-perfect as the endings to Phoenix and Tangerine may be). Honestly, it's kind of crazy to me that I'm not putting this movie at #1. I've never been so tempted to have a tie for the top spot as I am this year. And yet...

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller)
I don't know if I can deny a movie whose every element is so undeniably brilliant as this one. I have to admit that I've been trying to find a movie to kick this one out of the #1 spot all year (I'm always afraid when I agree with the internet), but I never have. Why? Because I'm honestly not sure when I had an experience quite as cinematic and exhilarating at the movies as this one. Mad Max's cinematic technique is (and I hate to use this word, but...) essentially perfect: the editing, cinematography, production design, sound design, etc., all coalesce into a breathless maelstrom of color and sound. All this wouldn't be enough to give it the top spot, but in addition to being technically masterful, Mad Max mercilessly interrogates the action drama, both for its obsession with quick cuts, ex machina plot devices, and consequence-less violence, as well as its reliance on testosterone and dudebro-ness to carry its plots. Max is a feminized howl of rage whose heroines scrawl the film's own message on the wall: "WE ARE NOT THINGS"--as important a message or Hollywood as ever, particularly in a Michael Bay-fueled genre era in which women function as delivery systems for fantasies and objects of a fetishizing gaze. And if that's not enough, Max also has plenty to say about extremism, blind loyalty, and the kinds of people who can inspire men to kill and die for them. It's heady stuff. Max is a technical masterpiece, an angry treatise on the state of the Hollywood action film, and a breathless reworking of a stagnating genre. And it doesn't hurt that it's a balls-to-the-wall thrill-ride that doesn't once stop to give its audience a chance to catch up, and is so pretty that I want to throw my eyeballs at the screen. Mad Max is a film that proves that genre should never be a obstacle to quality.

Well that's that. Unfortunately, only Phoenix and Tangerine are on Netflix instant, but The Martian, Steve Jobs, Sicario, The Look of Silence, Phoenix, Tangerine, and Clouds of Sils Maria are available for rent on Amazon. Plus some of these are still out in theaters. So go see some movies!

Take that, brevity! I didn't want to play with you anyway. Now let's all gird our loins and jump into the Zen awards!

Best Scenes of the Year

10. Playtime with Judy-The Revenant
Look, I don't love The Revenant like the rest of the world apparently does, but I'm not going to deny that Leonardo Dicaprio getting horrifically ravaged by a big ol' bear wasn't a totally horrifying (and, if we're being honest, kind of super in a Schadenfreude-esque way) moment.
(This scene isn't on Youtube--but there are plenty of 'making of' videos that I can't stomach because of all the people saying The Revenant is the most amazing cinematic experience that has ever been made. Holy shit Leonardo Dicaprio and Alejandro G. Innaritu are being utterly insufferable about their damn bear attack movie.)

9. Contract Negotiation-50 Shades of Grey
Yep, you read that right--I'm in the minority, but I'm pretty sure the movie is much, much smarter than the book. And it's nowhere more evident than in the scene where the two romantic leads spar and negotiate over whether or not poor horny Christian gets to use butt plugs or not. Also worth pointing out that Dakotah Johnson is giving a titanic performance here, saving an entire movie with enough charisma and comedic timing to sink a battleship.

8. Border Shootout-Sicario
A perfect microcosm of the film's relentless, panicky energy. Loads and loads of buildup and tension, released in a few moments of violence.

7. Sandstorm-Mad Max: Fury Road
In its first 30 minutes, Mad Max proves just how strange and operatic it's willing to go, tossing its characters into an apocalyptic sandstorm, bringing madness, joy, and a strange sense of wackiness to a thoroughly impossible moment.

6. Seriously, Andie Macdowell-Magic Mike XXL
What an exercise in bonkers perfection. This silly road-trip movie takes a long detour, giving us a perfect little capsule movie within a movie about a sassy southern mansion overlord (overmistress?) played by living wacky tree spirit Andie Macdowell. Silliness enfolds. Strippers hop into beds with 40-something socialites, and it's all glorious.
(Not a long clip, but it's a tiny taste)

5. Water Brawling-Mad Max: Fury Road
A perfectly choreographed action scene with a crazy number of moving pieces--eight protagonists, a chain, a wrench, a pistol, a car door, and a can-do attitude. A ticking little swiss watch of adrenaline.

4. Tunnel Madness-Sicario
The inevitable violent crescendo of a rattlesnake of a movie. Night vision and infrared in ways I've never seen in movies before and a menacing, anxiety-inducing score--this scene pretty much destroyed me in the theater.

3. I Want it That Way-Magic Mike XXL
The boys tell Joe Manganiello that he has one job--to go into a gas station and make a girl laugh. N*Sync comes on the radio, and the rest is history. Somehow, this one-off gag becomes the funniest and most positive scene of the year, celebrating joy, beauty in all forms, and the seductive power of cheetos and boy bands. It's a sight to behold.

(As an aside, normally I try to only limit myself to one scene per movie, and this year I've got three different movies with 2 scenes apiece. Oops. But I couldn't deny any of them.)

2. Taking the Bridge-Beasts of No Nation
A military commander psyches his soldiers up to take a bridge, and they do just that--and it just so happens that his soldiers are children. It's a horrifying, improbably beautiful scene, and it stuck with me long after the rest of the movie had faded.

1. One-Take Boxing Match-Creed
An insane achievement of choreography and technique. Adonis Creed's first boxing match is shot in one unbroken take, from entering the ring through the entire match and its conclusion. It's honestly a bit of a miracle.
(Such a shame the whole thing isn't on Youtube. This is a tiny, tiny piece of it:

Special Scene Award: Seriously, Those Endings Though
What a year for perfect endings this was. For the 'best scene' list, I banned myself from picking the last scene of any movie--partly for spoiler reasons, and partly because they would've taken up basically the entire list. So here's a special shout-out to 45 Years, Phoenix, Tangerine, Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, It Follows, and Brooklyn, who all understand that endings are like punchlines; you say what you need to say and then shut up.

New Image Awards-for movies that show us something original and unique.
Boy and the World-an entire crayon box full of colors, enough visual metaphors to hurt your head, and an art style continuously morphing from minimalistic, almost empty frames to scenes full to bursting with detail. Great stuff.
Mad Max: Fury Road-I'm sure you'll get sick of hearing about how much I like this movie, but if it deserves to be mentioned for anything, it's for its creation of a totally unique, utterly insane, and yet somehow still plausible vision of the apocalypse.

Best Inanimate Object in a Movie
Richard Madden's pants in Cinderella--because they could not have been tighter even if he had sprayed them on. I didn't know pants like that were even possible.
Kylo Ren's lightsaber in Star Wars: The Force Awakens--finally, someone watched enough hands getting chopped off in Stars Wars movies to think hey, maybe I should not get my hands chopped off today.
The shell phone in It Follows--it's not exactly a whimsy-packed film, but I love that one of the characters has a phone shaped like a clam bra.

The "You're Not This Gay, but Dammit, You're Trying" Award for Excellence in Homoeroticism
Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.-I legitimately still can't believe that these two didn't spend the entire movie wantonly porking in immaculately tailored fancy suits. Or maybe that is what happened. I'm honestly not sure. There were lots of smoldering glances.

Best Old Lady Stoner Outing to the Grocery Store
I'll See You in My Dreams. I didn't know that I wanted to see Blythe Danner, June Squibb, and Rhea Perlman get high and awkwardly stumble around the grocery store, but here we are. Every day is an adventure!

Best Chaos-Inducing Fight Prelude
Tangerine. Right before all hell breaks loose as all the disparate plot threads converge, bottom bitch Sin-Dee sees her client's angry mother-in-law and exclaims "damn, gurrl, that is a cute-ass blouse." And then everything goes wacky. It's arguably the funniest second and a half of the year.

And Speaking of Tangerine...
Can we talk about how gorgeous this movie looks, given it was shot on an iPhone? Seriously look at it.

Your Annual Reminder that I Love Captain America More Than Life Itself
Here it is.

Best Under-appreciated Aspect of a Totally Over-Hyped Movie
Will Poulter in The Revenant. Everyone wants to talk about Leo zombie-moaning and regurgitating through three hours of Canadian wilderness, and I'm just over here wanting to talk about that dorky blond kid with the improbable eyebrows. Can we do that instead?

Movie I Most Wanted to Love Because It's So Clearly Trying to be My Kind of Thing And Yet I Just Wanted to Die for Most of the Running Time
Tokyo Tribe. Seriously. It's a japanese battle-rap musical about gangs who war with samurai swords and nun-chucks and awful CGI tanks. It's so clearly the kind of thing I should love, and I can't deny that it's original, and yet I kind of hate it. Sometimes life is hard.

Yeah, but Tokyo Tribe Gave Us This
...absolutely amazing beatboxing waitress. And I don't want to live without this. This is arguably the most important minute in all of cinema.

Dreamiest Dreamy Stuff for Dreamy Romantic Dreamers. Dream.
Brooklyn and Far from the Madding Crowd. Normally I'm not great at romantic movies, and yet these two melted my heart. Seriously, if you don't fall head over heels for Saoirse Ronan/Carey Mulligan/Matthias Schoenaerts/Emory Cohen (whatever you're into), then you're probably clinically dead. So go get that checked out.

And finally...

The Worst Films of the Year!

Shockingly, I avoided seeing almost all of the notoriously horrible movies this year. So instead, this is going to go to the movies that disappointed me the most. ...and were also generally horrible. Hooray!

5. Ricki and the Flash
Meryl I trusted yoooooooouuuuuu! The most toxic, unbearable wedding imaginable, the most hackneyed, horrendous attempts to try and show that we know what the hip kids like ("I know, teenagers are still dancing to 'Get the Party Started,' right?"), and the most irritating stage breakdown this side of the Altamont Concert (geez that joke got dark quick). This movie temporarily ruined Sebastian Stan for me, and I didn't know that was possible.

4. Jurassic World
Gender politics so unbelievably shitty it feels like we're watching 80s comedy offer date-rape as an acceptable method of seduction again. Cartoon-y CGI dinosaurs that manage to look worse than the 22-year old original's. Yet another set of irritating goddamn hero kids. And somehow this movie made $600 million.

3. The Woman in Black 2: The Angel of Death
The only things the Angel of Death touched during this movie were several careers.

2. In the Heart of the Sea
As a fan of the book and a rabid consumer of boat movies (an admittedly limited genre), this movie was like a slap in the face. Every choice that could have been made incorrectly was. Terrible accents? Check. Confusing action scenes? Check. Whitewashing a crew in an adaptation of a book whose major point was underlining how this story has been whitewashed in the past? Check. Every damn Ron Howard bumble rolled up into one 2-hour assault on decency? Check Check Check.

1. Black Mass
I legitimately don't even want to talk about this movie. What a majestic waste of everyone and everything involved--covered, of course, in 80 pounds of freakshow funhouse makeup and the smug assumption that what is being made is very, very important. Yikes

And here we are. Four hours later. For those of you who still remain, well done! That was a bit of a marathon. I'm perplexed by your dedication. If you are still here (and if you are, I am profoundly sorry), how'd I do? What's missing? Did I honestly even mention 50 Shades of Grey in a post that has 'best' in the title? (hint: I totally did, and I'm not even sorry.)

Tomorrow I'll be back covering acting categories--until then feel free to harass/berate/applaud/send gift baskets! Or just, y'know, leave a comment. That too.

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