Oscars vs. Movies

by Categorized: Moon Pitchers, Uncategorized Date:

Like most of you, I’ve seen a bunch of 2015 movies. A fairly complete list sits below. And I’m trying to catch up with the ones I’ve missed. For Academy Award purposes, I’ve seen 6 of the 8 Best Picture nominees. I’m a little weaker in some of the other categories.

Let me first declare my passion. “Creed” was my favorite 2015 movie (so far). I’m not claiming it’s the best. It moved me; it thrilled me. I thought it was a fabulous example of the basic thing that movies can do which is use sight and sound to call forth from us emotions that mostly lie buried. “Creed”s version of the French national motto is “Identite, Paternite, Mortalite!” That’s pretty much where I live too. Michael B. Jordan is, for my money, the most exciting young actor in the U.S. I loved the way Ryan Coogler and Maryse Alberti moved the camera around — asymmetrically in a way that suggests the chaos of boxing. I hold no license to say such a thing, but several times, in the scenes between Jordan and Tessa Thompson I thought:  “I bet young black adults recognize these interactions in a way that is real and rare.” So, you idiots the Academy, you have a good movie by a young black director with a young black star. creedWhat did you do? Nominate the old white guy. You deserve to be raped by a bear.

Three overlooked performances I thought were special: In August, we talked on the radio about “The End of the Tour,” and I said then that I regarded Jason Segel’s version of David Foster Wallace as jaw-droppingly good. Acting that doesn’t feel like acting. I had similarly strong feelings for Paul Dano’s portrayal of the fragile young Brian Wilson in “Love and Mercy.”  loveandmercyLastly, what about Ian McKellan in Mr. Holmes? I may be the only person who remembers this movie, and it suffers, perhaps, from the current surfeit of Sherlock reimaginings. So what? McKellen as Holmes at 93, facing the loss of his fabled faculties, was a wonder to behold. I’m sorry all of the preceding were dudes. A pleasant (but lesser) surprise was Naomi Watts showing off swell comic chops in “While We’re Young,” a movie you may not have seen because there is no couple on earth in which both people want to go see a Noah Baumbach movie. Charles Grodin, also, was effortlessly good in that one.

revleobear“The Revenant” is going to divide people. (Dress warmly. This movie makes you feel cold. It should have been released in the summer.) I’m Team Inarritu. I really liked this rough, drunk-on-nature fable, but I totally get the people who say: “Really? Two and a half hours for a boilerplate revenge fantasy?”  You either feel it or you don’t. The same could be said of your legs and feet by the end.  I’m interested to know how 2015 looks, overall, to you.

OK, here’s what I remember having seen. Maybe I’ll try to rate them on a 1-10 scale.

Carol 7

Ex Machina 8

I’ll See You in My Dreams 6

Meru 7

Love and Mercy 8

Mr. Holmes 8

Avengers Age of Ultron 5

Trainwreck 6

Mad Max Fury Road 8

The End of the Tour 9

Bridge of Spies 8

Black Mass 5

The Martian 7

Spectre 7

The Walk  8

Listen to Me, Marlon 6

Going Clear 7

Timbuktu 9 (N.B. The release year of this movie is the subject of some disagreement.)

The Wolfpack 5

Creed 10

Spotlight 8

What We Do In the Shadows 6

While We’re Young 6

The Force Awakens 7

The Big Short 9

The Revenant 10

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