2015: The Year in Reviews (January)

Look, this is the fifth year I’m doing this. You guys know what it is by now. Every January I go over everything scheduled to come out, and about 200 more movies, just to be safe. I guess what I’m gonna think about them, and then immediately forget I did it. Then, in December, I recap everything I saw and see how I did.

I put up batches of reviews for everything I saw, once in April, once in August, and once… yesterday. Those contain my initial thoughts on the films after I saw them. I take those thoughts and match them against what I said back in January, plus I take some time to reflect upon how my thoughts have changed in the time between when I saw the movie and now (since only crazy people develop a final opinion on a movie after a single watch). It’s very straightforward. Plus… five years. I know you’re supposed to treat every person as if they’re reading for the first time, but there’s only like twelve of us who read the crap I write anyway.

Today we’re recapping January:

Oh, yeah, also, so my ratings system makes sense, here’s how it works:

* * * * * (5 stars) — I really loved the film. Five stars essentially guarantees the film a spot in the top ten. I’ve never had a five star film not make the top ten. (2014 examples of 5 star movies: There actually were none.)

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars) — I loved the film, but not unconditionally. Four and a half stars is usually the ranking for films in the top ten and top twenty. Rarely does a four and a half star film fall below top 15. (2014 examples of 4.5 star films: Birdman, Fury, Interstellar, Whiplash.)

* * * * (4 stars) — I liked the film quite a bit, but it’s not one of those that I would automatically say is a top ten film. It could end up being one, but typically a four star film is one of those that I’ve solidly liked, and will openly say is a really good movie. Three and a half, I’ll say that I really enjoyed it. But four stars is where I’ll say that it’s really good. Four star movies are either in my 11-20 or tier two. It’s also not unheard of that a 4 star movie makes the top ten. (2014 examples of 4 star films: Boyhood, Cher, Godzilla, The Guest, Snowpiercer, Top Five.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars) — The film stood out to me as being particularly solid. I always differentiate three and a half from three by saying that three stars is for a film that I just enjoyed enough to give it the thumbs up. Three and a half is when I go, “That was actually really solid and I enjoyed it quite a bit.” It’s not alway a mark of “this was better than I expected” or, “It’s better than you think.” Sometimes it’s just, “That was really solid,” or, “That was awesome,” even though the film itself wasn’t particularly a masterpiece. It’s a very verstaile ranking. Usually it’s for something I enjoyed, but didn’t love enough to put it near the very top of my year-end list. Three and a half star films never make it above tier two, and most of them are tier three. You’ll see only a few populating tier two, but mostly they’re tier three. (2014 examples of 3.5 star films: American Sniper, The Babadook, The Double, Edge of Tomorrow, Frank, Still Alice.)

* * * (3 stars) — Three stars is for films that were pretty good. Usually for a three star movie, I’ll say, “I enjoyed it well enough.” Or, probably the most common phrase I use is, “You can get through it.” But without qualification. For a two and a half star film, I’ll say, “You can get through it, but…” Three stars don’t have the qualification. Mostly three stars is for a film I enjoyed enough to say it wasn’t bad. I found it watchable enough that I wasn’t completely indifferent toward it. If I give a film that seems like it should have a higher rating three stars, then it means I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else. And if there’s something you’d think was a piece of shit at three stars, it means I thought it wasn’t actually that bad. But most of the time, three stars just means, “Yeah, it was okay. I enjoyed it well enough.” They’re just entertaining enough for me to not be indifferent. (2014 examples of 3 star films: Beyond the Lights, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Lego Movie, Need for Speed, 22 Jump Street, White Bird in a Blizzard.)

* * ½ (2.5 stars) — Two and a half stars is my ultimate indifference ranking. I didn’t necessarily think it was a bad film, I just didn’t give a shit about it whatsoever. I thought it was utterly generic. Nothing to make me like it, and it wasn’t bad enough to make me dislike it. It wasn’t memorable to me in any way. Odds are, if a “classy” movie is here, it means it was particularly disappointing, and if something that seemed like an Unforgivable is here, it means it actually wasn’t the piece of shit we were all thinking and was actually just about passable. It’s also my way of saying, “You might have liked this, but I certainly didn’t.” And also my way of saying, “This wasn’t very good, but at least it was competently made.” But for the most part, two and a half stars means I just didn’t care whatsoever and will not remember much about the movie in two years. They may also be Unforgivable, depending on my reasons. (2014 examples of 2.5 star films: Hercules, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Ride Along, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Veronica Mars.)

* * (2 stars) — Two starts means that the film was mostly competent and all, but I just didn’t like it. Either it wasn’t for me, it was a genre that I don’t like (horror movie), I just found it boring, or it was one of those generic shitty genre movies that populate the early months. Or it was just a giant piece of shit that at least looked like a good movie. So two stars is for — “They tried… it just wasn’t very good.” Depending on how bad they are, they do have a shot at the Unforgivables list. (2014 examples of 2 star films: Dracula Untold, Dumb and Dumber To, I Frankenstein, Wish I Was Here.)

* ½ (1.5 stars) — One and a half usually means the film was terrible, but it’s not a surefire Unforgivable. Probably because it’s a shitty thriller, a shitty horror movie, or a horrible sequel in a franchise that has churned out nothing but horrible sequels. Or it’s for films that could have gone two stars, but I just have a particular dislike for them. These have a pretty good shot at the Unforgivables list, and should for sure make my bottom 25 list. (2014 examples of 1.5 star films: Blended, Sex Tape, Tammy.)

* (1 star) — I really didn’t like the movie. It was so bad it was almost unwatchable. Typically a one star film is certain to be Unforgivable. Sometimes one star movies get saved by virtue of being a certain kind of sequel (like Big Mommas House: Like Father, Like Son) or being something that’s too easy to make Unforgivable (like Marmaduke, or a Friedberg and Seltzer movie. Movies we knew were gonna be pieces of shit going in), but in any case — they’re really awful movies that shouldn’t exist. (2014 examples of 1 star films: Addicted.)

0 stars — It means I hated the film. Guaranteed Unforgivable. It’s a film that should never have been made, and has actually lowered the bar for cinema as an art form and has actually detracted from a culture that’s in the toilet to begin with. A film with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and one that physically made me angry while watching it. (2014 examples of 0 star films: Heaven Is For Real.)

Now, as we begin, before we get into the year, I always start with both the films from 2013 I wasn’t able to see before last year ended, along with the films of 2015 that have not been released. This is usually either because they were released outside the US and have not been given domestic release dates yet, or because I saw it early and is gonna come out sometime in 2016. I’ll do my best to specify which is which:

2014 Films and Unreleased 2015 Films

Absolutely Anything

What I said about it back in January:

“There’s a crazy cast. A lot of them are doing voices. Not sure how that works. But the log line is good.”

3 stars.”

“I’m really excited for the concept, but I’m not sure how the execution will turn out. So we’ll see.”

What I actually thought about it:

“In only the most technical sense, this is a Monty Python movie.”

“It’s enjoyable enough. Nothing quite brilliant. Feels mostly by the numbers.”

“Has a few moments that made me laugh, otherwise it’s pretty dumb overall.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s fine. Not great, not awful. But the cast is really good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Babysitting

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Happened upon it quite randomly.

What I actually thought about it:

“You guys don’t know about this movie, because it didn’t get released in the US. It’s a French movie, and it’s hilarious.”

“Here’s the premise: guy works at a comic company in France. He’s a receptionist. He wants to show the big boss his designs. The boss has no idea he even exists and ignores him. However, the boss finds out the babysitter who usually watches his son got hit by a bus and is in traction. And he’s getting an important award this weekend and needs someone to watch the kid. So he gets our main character to do it, with the promise that he’ll look at his designs first thing Monday morning. Problem is, it’s our guy’s 30th birthday that night. But, that’s okay. Thing is, though, unbeknownst to him, his friends have decided to throw him a giant birthday party anyway… at the boss’s house. Cut to the next morning, the boss gets a call. He comes home to find his house trashed, and his kid and our guy missing. However, the police find a tape, and as they watch the tape, we see what happened the night before. It’s basically The Hangover meets The Sitter. It’s fucking hilarious. And because they keep cutting away from the found footage, it’s not annoying. The footage actually works itself into the plot. You can watch this movie in French with subtitles and laugh your ass off. Trust me. I hate found footage movies. I lost my shit during this movie at times.”

“Chances are I’m getting you excited and you won’t be able to see this movie for a while, if ever. But if you do get a chance to see a proper version of this movie, take it. Because it’s hilarious.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This movie was actually hysterical and unfortunately I won’t be able to list it as one of my favorites from this year because it’s not getting a U.S. release date. I’m also sad to say that there is still no decent copy available with proper English subtitles. So no one will truly get to appreciate this movie unless you speak French.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Becoming Bulletproof

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Documentary they wanted to get nominated so we got a screener.

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s nice. It’s got a good message and makes you feel good.”

“It’s about a bunch of people who get together to make a movie starring disabled actors.”

“If you’re into documentary, this will make you happy.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Good for them. I like people coming together to make a movie, and you get a nice story where disabled people get to act (which no one lets them do. Though I do remember the Jim Jefferies show, which was really good about it) and people get to learn about disorders and how they’re not the complete handicaps you’d think they are. Good message.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Boy and the World

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Animated Feature eligible we got a screener for.

What I actually thought about it:

“No plot, but the animation is gorgeous.”

“This is one of those movies that does the animation branch good, even though they never nominate this sort of thing over the bullshit mainstream stuff.”

“This is real animation.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Beautiful film. Very much worth seeing.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Girl King

What I said about it back in January:

“Sounds like it can be good.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Yeah, it’s all right.”

“Kind of melodramatic. But it’s a costume drama. What do you expect?”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, it’s okay.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Lady of the Dynasty

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Part of my Directors List.

What I actually thought about it:

“This was almost unbearable.”

“How is this the same man who made Hero and House of Flying Daggers?”

“The production value on this looked bad. It’s like they wanted to make what they thought American audiences would want to see. It’s like the government said, ‘This is the movie we want to see.'”

“It’s almost tone deaf. I know so little about the Chinese film industry, but is this the kind of stuff that’s getting released over there?”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not good. It makes me wonder what happened to Zhang Yimou.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Last Days in Vietnam

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Oscar nominated doc. I see all of these before the ceremony.

What I actually thought about it:

“The synopsis sounded interesting. The movie wasn’t.”

“I don’t do documentaries, so they have to be really interesting for me to like them. This is not a sign of the movie not being good, I just don’t do documentaries.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’ve honestly forgotten almost everything about this. Nothing against the movie. Just… me and documentaries don’t often mix well.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Last of Robin Hood

What I said about it back in January:

From last year. Thought I’d get a chance to see it before the year ended. Don’t know if I actually rated it or not.

What I actually thought about it:

“Kevin Kline as Errol Flynn is the only reason to watch this.”

“Not a particularly good movie, but entertaining enough. Look, if you like old movies and movie stars, you’re gonna see this. (Or if you like Kevin Kline, which should be a sacrilege to not.)”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s decent enough. Mostly because of Kline. Typical 3 star movie. Most people won’t see it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Legend of Barney Thomson

What I said about it back in January:

“Let’s go 3.5 stars. It looks like insane fun.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.”

“I thought it would be fun in the ‘accidental murder gets comically worse at each turn’ kind of way. But this more entertaining than that.”

“Emma Thompson is incredible as his mother. She’s really good. I didn’t even realize it was her as I watched (somehow).”

“Really entertaining. Did not expect this to be as good as it was.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really enjoyed this. A pleasant surprise. That I somehow guessed correctly.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Little Prince

What I said about it back in January:

“It looked really beautiful.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was nice. The animation looked good. Starts off a bit too traditionally, but the last half is really well done.”

“I’m a fan of this. Here’s hoping they shortlist it next year for Animated Feature.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s well done. Seek this one out in March when they release it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Lobster

What I said about it back in January:

“This sounds so amazing and fucked up.”

4 stars.”

“So fucking excited for this.”

“This sounds so insane and crazy. I hope this is in my top 20.”

What I actually thought about it:

Was able to get a hold of this yesterday. I will update this article this weekend when I have time to actually watch it.

Final Thoughts:

How close was I?:

 

London Fields

What I said about it back in January:

“I was excited for this, but I don’t know, now that it hasn’t come out yet.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Couldn’t tell you what the fuck it was supposed to be about, but I still enjoyed it.”

“A bunch of weird stuff happens and stretches went by where I had no idea what was happening, but then there are really enjoyable moments, like near the end when Jim Sturgess suddenly breaks into a musical number.”

“Most people will not like this at all, or at best go, ‘It was okay,’ but I found myself engrossed by it, despite having no idea what was going on.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m not sure if this was, quality-wise, a 3.5 star movie, but I enjoyed it as one. It just felt different. I don’t need movies to make sense, I just need to enjoy them.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

London Road

What I said about it back in January:

“Let’s say… 3 stars. Don’t know.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a musical. Did you know that? And not just any musical, but one where lines are sort of sung but not really, and not all the time, and also the lines don’t rhyme.”

“It’s a very strange movie. But I was engaged. I like that it was different. Really only three stars for me in terms of entertainment, but I’m giving it a half-star bump for being unique and interesting.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

About what I said up there. I didn’t overly enjoy it, but it was unique and interesting and I’d rather bump something up like this than some generic action movie that everyone’s going to see.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Low Down

What I said about it back in January:

I rated it for last year, but did say 3 stars.

What I actually thought about it:

“Pretty good.”

“Hawkes is good, and the movie’s watchable. I liked it. Not everyone will, but it’s a solid little movie that nobody’s seen. Definitely worth a look.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I liked it. Very laid back (probably because he’s on heroin). Character piece. Been almost a full year since I’ve seen it, but it was all right.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. One of those docs that showed up where I went, “I like Orson Welles.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s an easy to watch documentary about Welles. If you know about him, it’s not gonna illuminate anything for you. But it’s entertaining, and you get clips and stuff.”

“If you know the story of Orson Welles, you can skip this.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, you’re not getting anything new, but if you like Welles or movies or old Hollywood, you’ll enjoy this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Miss Julie

What I said about it back in January:

This was last year:

“I’m in.”

3.5 stars.”

“I hope it’s 4.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s fine. It’s a play on screen.”

“Didn’t really care all that much, but it was all right.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

The acting is good. It’s just literally a play. So it’s not the most engaging of films unless you’re really into plays.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Mojave

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s apparently a weird, fucked up movie. Which excites me.”

“Screw it. 3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

It was fine. Not sure what this was supposed to be, or what it wanted to be. It was trying to be both meditation on fame, Hollywood satire, psychological thriller and Hitchcock at the same time. And it works sporadically, but it never quite comes together as a film. Just when I started thinking interesting things were gonna happen, we were already at the end of the movie and it was resolving itself. Maybe it was because the film was just so unfocused, they cut it down to 90 minutes and tried to make it so people would VOD it.

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

William Monahan is a good writer, but has trouble when he directs. The movies just never come out quite as good as you’d think they’d be. Oh well. Live and learn.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?:

Not Safe for Work

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Watched as part of my Directors List. Barely even knew this existed before that.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was actually watchable.”

“Small thriller that takes place entirely on one floor of an office building over the course of one night.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I like the concept. The execution is Blumhouse, but as far as contained thrillers go, this is a perfectly entertaining one. Not reinventing the wheel, just getting you through 80 minutes.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Ovation

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. See below.

What I actually thought about it:

“There is one movie every single year that we get a screener for that no one has heard of, that no one will ever hear of, and that will never come out in any real way. Last year’s movie was Six Dancing Lessons in Six Weeks. (Anybody?) At least that starred Gena Rowlands. This has nobody recognizable.”

“I’m also pretty sure I’m the only one who actually watched this movie.”

“…And I stopped paying attention within 25 minutes. It’s fine. Good for them, they made it and somehow had the money to send it out for people to vote for them. Didn’t enjoy it, though, and I don’t want to say anything negative about it since they got me to watch it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It is what it is.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

a_perfect_day_282015_film29

A Perfect Day

What I said about it back in January:

Discovered it over the course of the year. Seemed like a lot of fun. Supposed to come out in January, but I got a hold of it early.

What I actually thought about it:

I saw a clip from this back during Cannes and thought it was pretty funny. So I added it to my mental list of films to track. Up until about three days ago, I assumed it would be on my list of films for 2016. Then I saw it was gonna come out right in January (which I’m guessing is VOD). And then out of nowhere, I had a chance to see it. So here we are.

It was funny. It’s one of those dark comedies where they satirize war zones. Like The Hunting Party. This definitely has its moments. Benicio is in fine form. The whole movie revolves around people trying to get a dead body of a well because it’s poisoning the water for locals. Very low stakes. And the comedy is pretty low key. Some people might not find this funny. But it works.

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s worth a watch. Some people might find this to be a real hidden gem. Iy definitely is highly amusing and worth the time.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Rio, I Love You

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Didn’t even think I’d have a chance to see it. But I saw the other two in the series, so might as well.

What I actually thought about it:

“Paris Je T’aime is the best. New York I Love You is fine, and this is meh.”

“I saw it because I like the idea of these films. But they’re getting worse as we go along.”

“Don’t bother with this one. Unless you like Rio. Or are like me. And compulsively watch everything just in case.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, I didn’t really care. It helps when I’m invested in all the actors and directors that were a part of it. This was fine, but I wasn’t really into it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Roger Waters The Wall

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I discovered this existed, and then watched it within 24 hours of that discovery. Because who the hell is gonna turn down a concert film of The Wall?

What I actually thought about it:

“This isn’t really a movie so much as a concert film chronicling Roger Waters’ tour of The Wall that he did a few years ago.”

“He performs most of the album and it’s intercut with scenes of him driving around Europe. Mostly it’s the concert.”

“Honestly, who doesn’t love The Wall?”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Loved this. Doesn’t really count the way a film would, but it’s a great concert film.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Search Party

What I said about it back in January:

“Uh huh.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Actually kind of enjoyable.”

“One of those crazy movies with a lot of kooky supporting parts. It works well enough.”

“Basically a Hangover retread. It has its moments.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It was fine. I got enough out of it to safely say 3 stars. Otherwise I didn’t particularly like or dislike this movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Suite Française

What I said about it back in January:

“Still very interested in this.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Not quite 3.5 stars, but sure.”

“It’s a big wartime romance, one I’m sure the Weinsteins thought could have potential awards written on it, but it’s clearly not going to, so they’re gonna dump it at some point this year and no one will even know this exists.”

“Somewhere between 3 and 3.5. Probably closer to 3, but I do like to give some of these ‘soon-to-be-forgotten’ movies a chance to be seen.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m flirting between going 3 or 3.5 here. I didn’t love it, but it was also pretty solid.

I think I’ll stick with the 3.5. It was fine. It’s the kind of movie that is Oscar bait on the outside and has all the markings of it, but just isn’t good enough to make it there. Which means it ends up falling by the wayside. So, for that, I’ll give it the 3.5 because it is good enough for people to give it a shot.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Tangerines

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Nominated for Foreign Language Film an had a chance to see it.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was fine. But again, when something like Force Majeure isn’t nominated and this is — there’s nothing wrong with it, but something is wrong with the process.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Did not care. Some people loved it. I am not really into foreign movies, so it wasn’t easy to get into for me.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Timbuktu

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Foreign Language nominee.

What I actually thought about it:

“Watched it just so I could say I watched every movie nominated at the Oscars this year.”

“I couldn’t even tell you what this was about. I was pretty bored throughout.”

“I’m sure it’s a fine movie, but… I watched Winter Sleep, which was an almost four hour movie of people talking, and I remember more of that than this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not for me. For those really into foreign stuff, have at it. This isn’t my cup of tea at all.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Witch

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Got to see a copy of this because someone recommended it after it made waves at Sundance.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was… interesting.”

“I like that they create horror using sound and music, almost like Suspiria. And I like that it takes place pre-Salem.”

“I couldn’t tell you what the fuck was going on, most of the time, but it as some interesting moments.”

“The kid who plays the son has an amazing scene near the end. That performance is incredible for a child actor. That alone is worth seeing the movie. That and one of the greatest characters of all time — Black Phillip. That fucking goat is amazing.”

“Otherwise — couldn’t tell you what the purpose of this movie is, but since I usually hate horror movies, and appreciated this one, good for them.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I actually think my feelings on this one have grown throughout the year. This was really solid and atmospheric. Still not entirely sure what was going on, but I remember this one fondly, so let’s give it a bump.

Check this one out when they release it next year.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

– – – – –

And now for January proper:

January

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

What I said about it back in January:

“Remember the first Woman in Black movie? With Daniel Radcliffe? It was awful.”

“This one? Not even gonna bother seeing it.”

“There’s always a shitty horror movie at the top of the year that’s an automatic skip for me. This will be that.”

What I actually thought about it:

Didn’t see it. As if that was ever a possibility.

Final Thoughts:

And I’d do it again, too.

How close was I?: N/A

Taken 3

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m cool with this franchise. They’re stretching it, clearly, but whatever. Liam Neeson will beat the shit out of more people, we will enjoy it, and that’ll be it.”

“I love that the condition for Liam Neeson to do the film was that no one be taken this time. Which completely defeats the purpose, but without him, this doesn’t happen. And I’m sure the $20 million didn’t hurt either.”

3 stars.”

“Do we not know how this is gonna turn out? It’s either gonna be 3 or 2.5. I’ll give Liam the benefit of the doubt this far in.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Nobody got taken.”

“It’s Liam Neeson doing his action thing. These will almost always be 3 star movies.”

“I’m glad we’re done with these, because they stopped being as interesting as the other movies he does.”

“This is just a decent 3 star action movie. Which is all you can really ask for.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This feels like so long ago.

I am glad this franchise is done. They were starting to get mediocre. This was fine, but it started bordering on 2.5 at times.

We’ll leave this franchise as 3 stars all around and move on. At least this gave us Liam Neeson back.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Blackhat

What I said about it back in January:

“Hey, Michael Mann has made his first movie since Public Enemies! It’s… coming out in January. That’s, not very promising at all.”

“This one’s either going 2.5 or 3 stars.”

“I really want to say 2.5, but I have to give Michael Mann the benefit of the doubt. I’m not expecting much, but I’ll give him 3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“What happened to Michael Mann?”

“Why did he think this would be a good idea? Hacker movies never turn out well.”

“The problem with this movie is that Michael Mann directed it. If it were directed by someone else, it would be a forgettable generic January movie and no one would think twice about it. But with Michael Mann, there are expectations, and you wonder why he chose such bad material and such a mediocre movie.”

“It’s a disappointment based on him being director, but we all knew it wouldn’t be that good because they dumped it in January. So it’s not all that surprising.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This is not an Unforgivable movie, but I sure as shit frown upon it. What the hell was this? I barely got through this. This is bottom 25 for the year for sure.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

The Wedding Ringer

What I said about it back in January:

“When I first heard about this, I thought, ‘Well that’s gonna be shit.’ And then I saw the trailer about eight times between October and December. And one of them was even the red band. And I guess it’s Stockholm Syndrome, but I ended up on, ‘Might be halfway decently funny.'”

“I think we’re gonna end up on 3 stars.”

“It’s not getting to 3.5. They set the grandmother on fire in the trailer. But I will allow them that as a gimme for now. So it’s either 2.5 or 3, and since this is going R, I’ll give them 3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“As much as I find him to be… too much, and as little as I care for his comedy, I have to say — all credit to Kevin Hart. He’s working hard, he’s successful, and he doesn’t allow his movies to be complete shit. I don’t necessarily like them, but I don’t hate them either, the way I hate most comedies.”

“I don’t know how much is him or not, but the problem most comedies have is that they resort too much to doing gag after gag and being completely ridiculous for laughs instead of trying to tell a coherent story. This one actually tells the story first, and really only goes off the rails with sequences that make no sense and are there purely for laughs (the dog on the balls, and grandma on fire). Outside of those — the movie’s not that bad.”

“I didn’t love it, but it was fine. I got enough amusement out of it to not dislike it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not great, but I actually did think it was decent. Slightly surprising, but not really, since I did guess it. Passable.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Little Accidents

What I said about it back in January:

“Normally I’d say automatic half-star drop and a 2.5, but this was expanded from a well-received short. So, on that alone, I’m going to give it 3 stars. It might go 2.5 stars, but I’m gonna give the circumstances the benefit of the doubt.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Boring. That’s about all I could say about this. Watch Rabbit Hole instead. That’s basically the same movie, only better.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I was bored by this. And I do think this was basically the same thing as Rabbit Hole. And you might as well just watch that instead.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Escobar: Paradise Lost

What I said about it back in January:

“I wasn’t overwhelmed by it last year, and I’m not overwhelmed by it now.”

2.5 stars. This might be laughably bad.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Liked it more than I thought I would.”

“Wasn’t great, and Benicio del Toro is barely in it, but it’s watchable, and it has some moments where it’s decent.”

“I found myself actively invested more than twice, so it gets 3.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s somewhere between 2.5 and 3. But I was actively invested in one particular sequence, so I’ll give it 3.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Vice

What I said about it back in January:

“Paycheck movie!”

2.5 stars. This is nothing more than another Bruce Willis paycheck movie. I’m sure it’s completely forgettable.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a Bruce Willis paycheck movie. Barely worth watching. Women robots or some such shit.”

“This is a movie you watch at 2:35 am on cable. It’s not even that good. Pretty amazing how Bruce Willis has stopped trying most of the time.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Complete Bruce Willis paycheck movie. Premise is moderately interesting, but the execution is not. Just watch Westworld instead. Why would you think a Bruce Willis paycheck movie is gonna be good? The only reason you’re watching it is because it’s on and you’re awake at some obscene hour with nothing else to do.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Boy Next Door

What I said about it back in January:

“Yeah…”

“This looks pretty shitty. Jennifer Lopez bangs a dude half her age. Already we’re straining credibility. Since her character doesn’t have the money she has. Also, she’s clearly playing ten years younger than she is. But that aside, I’ve basically seen this movie at least three times the past few years, and they were all awful.”

2.5 stars. I’m being nice, but since I know this is gonna be shit, it’s gonna be hard for this to truly disappoint. Let’s assume I’ll give it a pass.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Awful.”

“This movie is only interesting because somehow they got Jennifer Lopez for it. Otherwise — contrived as shit, nothing interesting about it whatsoever, and laughably bad dialogue. Strong contender for bottom 25 of the year.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was terrible. Like, really terrible. Bottom 25.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Mortdecai

What I said about it back in January:

“This has all the makings of a disaster, being put in January, despite a sizable cast.”

“3 stars. I’ll give the cast the benefit of the doubt.”

“This feels like it was doomed to fail. I’ll be satisfied if I can get 3 out of this.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Huge piece of shit.”

“We saw this coming. The minute January happened, we knew. I’m not even gonna pile on. It’s not good.”

“This will unfairly end up on everyone’s ‘worst of the year’ lists come December, just because of the star power and how known of a bomb it is. Which isn’t fair. It’s not that bad.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeesh. I’m not gonna bash on this as much as everyone else is. I see it more as a wasted opportunity than a blight upon humanity. Not Unforgivable for me, just hugely disappointing.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Black Sea

What I said about it back in January:

“Maybe this will be worthwhile. I like the treasure hunt angle. Maybe the synopsis is overdoing it.”

“Screw it. 3 stars. Sounds like B movie fun. Or B movie decentness.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I like submarine movies. But 3 stars means it was barely passable.”

“It was all right, and I like how they made the most of almost no budget. But the movie doesn’t amount to much. It’s not that interesting. There’s no fun to it. So it’s fine, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it. It’s just okay.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not great, but I like submarine movies. I got enough out of this.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Strange Magic

What I said about it back in January:

“George Lucas came up with the story for this, just in case you couldn’t tell from the marketing.”

“This sounds pretty shitty.”

2.5 stars. I’m generally indifferent to these animated movies. It takes a lot to make me actually say 2.”

What I actually thought about it:

“What the fuck was this movie?”

“I almost want to call this Unforgivable.”

“George Lucas came up with the idea for this. Which is basically, a goblin and a fairy fall in love. Which… all right. And then the whole movie is wall to wall karaoke. They take popular songs and just have the characters sing them. So the songs become the plot.”

“I’ll give them credit for the title track being an ELO tune, and for incorporating some Motown hits, but otherwise, this story is a giant mess, and I don’t know what the hell they were thinking.”

“I’m almost offended that they constructed this movie the way they did. It’s that similar George Lucas anger that I get, which is how — he’s a good story man, but then when you see the finished product, you’re like, ‘What the fuck is that?'”

“Actually one of the worst movies I saw this year, which is a shame, because I respect the hell out of animators and animated movies. But this was a huge mess.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I really didn’t like this. And it all comes down to how they decided to execute it. For sure bottom 25, but I don’t think I’d go so far as to label it Unforgivable. But this did piss me off.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

The Loft

What I said about it back in January:

“A HA HA. This movie. The one that I keep calling, ‘The Apartment, but as a shitty reverse thriller.'”

“I should skip this. I almost skipped this. But the poster feels very Saul Bass. So I’ll track it and take the hit if I don’t. Plus this is allegedly getting a wide release. (Okay.)”

2.5 stars. Let the record show I should have said two.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was supposed to come out like two years ago. I remember, because I called it ‘The Apartment, but as a shitty reverse thriller.'”

“That’s gonna be the only thing I ever remember about this movie. It’s not good at all.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Let the record show that I probably should have said two.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Humbling

What I said about it back in January:

This was a movie I was tracking last year that was supposed to come out for the Oscar race and then didn’t. And they quietly dumped it on VOD in January. I don’t think I ever put out a rating for it last year or this year.

What I actually thought about it:

“No idea what this was.”

“3 is slightly generous, but fine. The once.”

“I was a little excited at the prospect of seeing Pacino act again, but he’s seemingly just stopped. I know he tries, but this movie was just weird as fuck. And didn’t go anywhere or amount to anything.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, I don’t know what this was supposed to be. To weird and incoherent for me to truly enjoy. Pacino is kinda trying, but kinda not. I don’t know. This wasn’t for me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Red Army

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Went on a documentary binge. Mostly because I was focusing on other stuff and had them on as background noise.

What I actually thought about it:

“This was pretty good.”

“It holds some interest for a cross section of people interested in sports and/or politics.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Decent.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Project Almanac

What I said about it back in January:

“Found footage time travel movie by Michael Bay’s company and Paramount. Yup.”

“Not thrilled.”

2.5 stars.”

“If there’s one thing I learned this past year, it’s that most things will end up indifferent or at 3. My out and out dislike has subsided. Maybe this is the year it returns.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Nope. Found footage. Do not care, do not care. These will never appeal to me.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I think I probably could have left this at, “Not thrilled.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Song One

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s a musical, so plus there. But the story sounds like shit, so minus there.”

“I’m gonna go 3 stars on the pure basis of musical. But 2.5 seems very, very likely here.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I thought there would be more singing.”

“Wasn’t this promoted as a musical? I thought Hathaway was singing. This is a movie about her crying over her comatose brother and meeting a dude who plays music.”

“It’s a weird movie. I see why most people hated this.”

“You’re gonna be disappointed if you come across this on Netflix in six months. Because it’s not the movie you’re expecting to get. It’s pretty morose.”

“I got through it fine, but definitely not one of my favorites this year.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I got enough out of this to go 3, but man… this was morose and boring. Hugely disappointing when I was expecting musical and got a boring drama about someone who has a crush on a musician.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Wild Card

What I said about it back in January:

“This is a pure 3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“You think this is your standard Jason Statham movie, but it’s not. It’s a remake of a Burt Reynolds movie, and this is more plot and story based. And as such, I found myself more engaged by it.”

“It doesn’t amount to much more than a usual Statham movie, but I do like when his movies tend to stick to a plot and not go heavy on the action.”

“Overall, solid enough movie you can watch for 90 minutes on cable one day.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Statham movies are always 3 stars, and I liked that this was more character based than action based. Was not expecting that.

And Stanley Tucci shows up. I like when that happens.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is February.

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