In tradition of years past (though I kind of forgot last year)… looking back on the music, movies, and books I loved! (You can read the music list here.)
Normally, I wouldn’t even do this list. Actually, I’ve never done it. I do not generally get around to seeing sophisticated and important films. I’ve long joked that the answer to “Have you seen this?” is always “no,” unless it was animated or Marvel.
But…. well, marriage kind of changes you. Thankfully, Chris loves movies, and our tastes typically agree, so I got to see a lot of wonderful films over the past six months. (We still both have a thing for animation and Marvel though.) Ten favorites, in no particular order…
The Lego Movie
Really? Legos? Really. I wasn’t sure if it would be good or dumb, but after hearing the great reviews, I had to see it, and… oh man. Easily the most laugh-out-loud funny thing I saw this year. It’s ridiculous, the jokes come fast and witty, the characters are a fun mix of weirdos (Batman and a UniKitty? Yes plz.) And then it has this surprisingly profound ending about creativity and beauty. Seriously, watch it. And believe. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
This was the year I officially got introduced to Wes Anderson. (We watched Moonrise Kingdom over the summer too.) Really, I just enjoy watching his flair for the visual. The sets are filled with extravagant detail, and every shot feels purposeful and beautiful in a quirky way. Plus, the story and characters were engaging rather than just odd. Just watched it again recently and appreciated it even more.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Remember when it was okay for superhero films to just be fun? Well, this was the most fun I had at the movies all year. The most awesome band of space outlaw misfits since Firefly, a witty sense of humor, and a killer 70s and 80s soundtrack (that actually fits) made this a win for me. (BTW, Chris has a piece on Guardians, Firefly, and The Avengers up at The Rabbit Room today.)
I’m becoming a fan of Christopher Nolan. Inception’s exploration of the inner world of dreams was fascinating, and I expected the same from Interstellar’s adventuring in the outer realms of space. What I didn’t quite expect was a contemplative sci-fi journey that examines love, hope, and mystery in a beautiful, human way.
Guys, seriously I liked Noah. Sure it’s trippy weird and has rock monsters, and it got a lot of hate and “Stowaways on the Ark” jokes, but it made me think. I’m still thinking about it. This was my first venture into Aronofsky’s films, and I think he did a beautiful job dreaming up Noah’s world, wrestled with some hard questions, and respected the source material even while adding some imaginative embellishments. If you watch it, go in expecting some weirdness and take an open mind about the rock monsters. (because they are sort of awesome in their own strange way)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America isn’t my favorite Avenger. There I said it. But dude, this was great. Drop a vintage American hero in the current decade, bring back old friends and foes, and toss in a huge twist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and you get this. I will refrain from geeking out more.
Big Hero 6
Let’s not forget there was a third Marvel film this year… and the first time Disney animation has played around in that universe. What is there to say? Delightful, nerdy, fun… kind of feels like a throwback anime in some ways. I thoroughly enjoyed this colorful adventure. (Bonus for being this year’s awkward interaction at the box office: “How many kids?” “Um… none.”)
How to Train Your Dragon 2
I finally saw the original How to Train Your Dragon this summer, then went to see the second one. And oh man… maybe it’s even better than the first? I love the imagination of the world of Berk and the different dragon species, and the emotional weight of the story made me tear up a bit in the theater. And darnit, I want a Night Fury.
Mockingjay: Part 1
I read them, but I was kind of ambivalent to The Hunger Games books. The films make up what the books lacked, downplays some of the angst, and tightly winds them into a series that gets better and better with every installment. And I freakin love Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss so much more than book Katniss.
Into the Woods
I admit, when the credits rolled, I was underwhelmed. Sure, the music was terrific, the sets were beautiful, and the concept was interesting, but something… something felt off. But it’s making my list because as I keep thinking about it, the underlying complexity of the story unfolds and I realize that the fact that I’m actually still thinking about it means there might be something there. It’s hardly perfect, but I was entertained the whole time.
Honorable Mentions (wait, I saw enough to have an HM section?!): The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (I may prefer LotR and always fall asleep while watching An Unexpected Journey, but I do like these films. A satisfying conclusion to the trilogy), Godzilla (King of the Monsters!), Maleficent (not super great, but it was an interesting twist on the villain of my childhood nightmares…), and Edge of Tomorrow (sci-fi is back! This one was fun.)