BEST MOVIE (given our subjectivity and finances): In a year rife with stupid sequels, Michael Bay monstrosities, Marvel’s movie-of-the-month and ridiculous reboots, Snowpiercer was far-and-away the smartest, most exciting and original film of the year. This violent, brooding post-apocalypse epic deserved a wide summer release. Instead, its studio (Radius-TWC) dropped the ball by releasing it simultaneously On-Demand and in a few scattered art houses. Because of this, Snowpiercer also wins the award for the CRIMINALLY-OVERLOOKED MOVIE OF THE YEAR.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Imitation Game, Chef, The Raid 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, Godzilla
BEST REASON I INITIALLY POSTED MY YEAR-END REVIEW TOO SOON: My wife and I recently caught The Imitation Game, which was playing at a local art-house. Promoted as a thriller, the film was so much more, which jerked our emotions around with stunning ease. Rousing, intriguing, funny, suspenseful, bittersweet and ultimately infuriating, this single film encapsulates every reason we all go to the movies.
TWO HOURS OF MY LIFE I’LL NEVER GET BACK: Given a choice between enduring Think Like a Man Too again and licking a cheese grater for the same amount of time, I’d have to think long and hard about it.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: To be honest, I initially thought Guardians of the Galaxy looked all kinds of awful…another exercise in CGI overkill for undemanding kids, with a generic premise and a stupid title which made it sound like a Saturday morning cartoon from the 1980s. But not only is Guardians Marvel’s best film to date, it was nearly as much audience-rousing fun as the original Star Wars. And who knew a bunch of cheesy bubblegum pop tunes from the 70s would ever be relevant again?
BEST SEQUEL NOBODY ASKED FOR: Many agreed The Purge had a wickedly-awesome premise, only to squander ripe opportunities for biting satire in favor another home invasion story loaded with dumb characters. That may be true, but the film is still a guilty pleasure of the highest order. While nobody was exactly pining for a sequel, The Purge: Anarchy actually tops the original by showing the effect this annual ritual has on both the haves and the have-nots, while still providing the prerequisite body count we’ve come to expect.
WORST SEQUEL NOBODY ASKED FOR (tie): Dumb and Dumber To and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For are both prime examples of too little, too late.
BEST REMAKE/REBOOT NOBODY ASKED FOR: Godzilla. Some complained we didn't see enough of the big guy, but when he does show up, it's ass kicking time.
WORST REMAKE/REBOOT NOBODY ASKED FOR: This was a tough one, but in the end, Endless Love takes this dubious honor because at least the original was good for some unintentional laughs.
|"What exactly is this Scientology you speak of?"|
PROOF THAT HOLLYWOOD DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT’S DOING: Part of Edge of Tomorrow’s middling box-office could be attributed to its generically awful title (changed at the last minute), which sounds like an ABC soap opera. What was wrong with its original title, All You Need is Kill (the graphic novel it’s based on)? Doesn’t that sound far more intriguing? Apparently Warner Brothers realized the error of their ways when they retitled it yet-again for home video, Live, Die, Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow.
MOST BLATANT CASH GRAB: As usual, the dubious winners of this award are studios which continue the practice of turning relatively short novels into two-to-three individual films, likely wringing their hands with an evil laugh at the obsessive fans more-than-willing to hand over their hard-earned cash for half a movie while quietly ignoring the fact they’re being ripped-off. But perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Mockingjay, Part 1 is so slow and meandering that even some longtime Hunger Games fans expressed their displeasure (though not enough to keep it from becoming a huge hit).
GET A LIFE: Finally! A teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens! Yay! But rather than be grateful we’re even getting another Star Wars movie at all (with George Lucas mercifully out of the picture), snarky fanboys worldwide immediately started picking it apart frame-by-frame, calling bullshit on everything from the design of the new lightsaber to the possibility that one of the main characters is black. Sometimes the internet is an awful place.
|The Raid 2...starring Asia's Bruce Campbell.|
MOVIES WHICH WERE BETTER THAN THEY HAD A RIGHT TO BE: 22 Jump Street, The Equalizer, Guardians of the Galaxy, Firestorm (a 2013 Hong Kong action epic, released in the US this year), Into the Storm, The Purge: Anarchy, Need for Speed, The LEGO Movie.
MOVIES WHICH MAKE ONE LOSE ALL FAITH IN HUMANKIND (BECAUSE THEY WERE INEXPLICABLY HUGE): Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Let’s Be Cops, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I.
BEST TREND: Foodgasm movies. If Chef and The Hundred-Foot Journey didn’t have you making a bee-line to the closest bistro in town afterwards, then you ate too much popcorn. Speaking of which…
BEST MOVIE DISGUISED AS AN “ART FILM”: Chef, a funny and ultimately heartwarming film about fatherhood and friendship. And damn, those grilled sandwiches look freaking awesome!
BEST REASON TO OWN A BLU-RAY PLAYER: 1977’s Sorcerer, an underrated classic given a pristine transfer by Warner Bros.
SECOND-BEST REASON TO OWN A BLU-RAY PLAYER: Netflix, which essentially sucks unless all you care about is what’s new.
BEST REASON TO STAY HOME ON WEEKENDS: The Walking Dead, Sharknado 2, the Seattle Seahawks.
MOST BINGE-WORTHY TV SEASON ON DVD: Revolution: The Complete Second and Final Season. Just when this show is hitting its stride, it gets cancelled.
|Oh, no! Not the dog!|
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR: Keanu Reeves in John Wick.
BEST 3-D MOVIE: An oxymoron. 3-D isn’t what makes a movie any good.
BEST EXAMPLE THAT THE ZOMBIE GENRE ISN’T QUITE DEAD: Dead Snow 2.
BEST EXAMPLE THAT THE ZOMBIE GENRE IS TRULY DEAD: Life After Beth.
MOST WELCOME RETURN: Michael Keaton in Birdman.
LEAST WELCOME RETURN: The entire cast of The Expendables 3. Speaking of which…
THE ‘TAKEN’ AWARD FOR BEST OLD GUY IN AN ACTION MOVIE: Kevin Costner in 3 Days to Kill.
BEST COMEDY (INTENTIONAL): The Grand Budapest Hotel.
BEST COMEDY (UNINTENTIONAL): : Annabelle, Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Annie, Winter’s Tale, Oijia, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Legend of Hercules and every movie featuring Nicholas Cage.
WE WANT TO LOVE THIS FILM, BUT JUST CAN’T: The Monuments Men, A Most Wanted Man, When the Game Stands Tall, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I.
BEST ANIMATED MOVIE: The Boxtrolls. Aside from the jaw-dropping stop-motion animation, this one also wins the award for the BEST DEATH OF A BAD GUY, which is straight out of Monty Python.
|"Yeah...I styled it myself..."|
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE STOP: Adam Sandler, Michael Bay, Cameron Diaz, Kevin Hart, Johnny Depp, the Wayans Brothers, Nicholas Cage.
WE’LL MISS YOU: Robin Williams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Mike Nichols, Lauren Bacall, Ruby Dee, Sid Caesar, James Garner, Harold Ramis, Billie Whitelaw, Marilyn Burns, Eli Wallach, James Rebhorn, Russell Johnson.
CINEMA SHEEP AWARD: Despite all the pre-release eye-rolling, everyone who made that godawful cinematic suppository, Transformers: Age of Extinction, a massive global hit will be getting exactly what they asked for…another film. Thanks a lot, folks…you have justified the production of yet-another entry in the most creatively-bankrupt franchise of all time.
BEST TRAILER FOR A 2015 MOVIE: While any impending Star Wars film is a cause for celebration, George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is beginning to look too good to pass up, even without Mel Gibson in the title role. Here’s hoping it isn’t watered down with a PG-13 rating.
BEST NEWS: After his star-making turn in Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt’s lead role in Jurassic World bumps-up that film’s gotta-see level a few notches, especially if he’s required to do nothing but be…Chris Pratt.
WORST NEWS (tie): 1. The announcement that Ghostbusters 3 is apparently going forward without Bill Murray (with a brand new cast). 2. The long-gestating adaptation of Stephen King’s greatest novel, The Stand, is slated to be cut-up into four separate movies. I doubt even King’s staunchest fans want to pony-up four times for a single story.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Boyhood, one of the most critically-lauded films of the year (and the likely Best Picture winner at this year's Oscars), is probably not even on the radar of moviegoers who made Transformers: Age of Extinction turn a billion dollar profit.