Six months in, it’s safe to say While We’re Young remains my favorite movie of 2015. But a couple releases in the past month have certainly earned themselves a place near the top of my list.
So let’s get to my monthly wrapup of movie reviews, shall we?
(Note: As always, the numbers refer to the total number of movies I’ve seen so far this year.)
23. Inside Out. Or, as I like to call it, Abby: The Movie. A truly special, very smart film about the competing emotions inside a young girl’s head, and why we feel the things we do, when we do. Had me smiling from start to finish — except for the part when it got a little dusty in the room and I started to tear up. Not necessarily a young children’s movie, but parents, uncles, and grandparents will love it. This is just a wonderful, wonderful film … A true gem. I can’t wait till my niece is old enough to appreciate it. A–
24. Love & Mercy. Moving, well made biopic about Brian Wilson, told with parallel chronologies (one showing his descent, and the other his recovery). Paul Dano, John Cusack, Paul Giamatti, and Elizabeth Banks are all very good … but as good as he is, Cusack is miscast. He doesn’t disappear into the role, and as a result, you never feel like you’re watching Brian Wilson, just Cusack. Still, the film’s worth seeing. B+
25. Spy. Cute spy spoof starring the always likable Melissa McCarthy. A fun rental. Wouldn’t have missed this if I didn’t see it. B
26. Jurassic World. So cool. SO SO SO cool. I want to go to this theme park. NOW! Great effects. Fun nods to the original film. Chris Pratt is great. It’s not sure if it’s a family movie or not, but who cares? This film is a hell of a lot of fun. B+
27. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Sweet teen movie about a loner high school senior and the girl with leukemia he befriends when he’s not making silly movie parodies (“2:18 Cowboy,” “The 400 Bros,” “A Box of ’Lips. Wow!”). A little too self-aware for its own good, but still a smart, well made movie that’s respectful of its audience. B
28. Dope. That this film plays more like an ’80s comedy than a so-called urban one is just one way it bucks convention and, more importantly, stereotype. Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is a smart, ’90s hip hop–obsessed black kid (a “blerd”) from Inglewood, CA, who just wants to get out of his ’hood and go to Harvard. Before he can do that, though, he’s gotta get out of a drug-selling mess he somehow finds his way into. Good music, good energy, probably doesn’t need the blunt sermonizing social commentary at the end, but that’s a relatively minor quibble. And I don’t know how you’re supposed to eat pound cake after seeing a movie like this. B
29. The Overnight. Just a weird movie. Some funny bits, and Jason Schwartzman is fun, but overall, a big meh. C+
30. Live from New York! Highly entertaining, slick look back at 40 years of Saturday Night Live. Not much we haven’t heard before (sexism, racism, 9/11, etc.) but still fun. B
31. The Wolfpack. Fascinating documentary thanks to its subject, not necessarily the filmmaking. For most of their lives, the six Angulo brothers (as well as their sister and mother) have been shut-ins, forbidden by their father to leave their Lower East Side, New York apartment. To pass the time, the boys binge watch movies and then film surprisingly faithful recreations of them. Director Crystal Moselle slowly and sympathetically reveals the psychological trauma this has caused. There’s not enough of a payoff in the end, and you want to see more of what’s next for them, but watching the boys creep out into the real world and experience freedom for the first time is absolutely captivating. It’s a real case of truth being stranger than fiction. B+
32. Ted 2. The jokes that land really land. Hard. But this pointless sequel just isn’t as good as the first Ted movie. We get it: He’s a rude, pot-smoking teddy bear with a Boston accent. Horse, beaten. B
33. Magic Mike XXL. Another pointless sequel. Despite cinematography and producing by Steven Soderbergh, there’s not much of the depth or camp (or any Matthew McConaughey) that made the first Magic Mike film worth seeing, whether you’re into dudes or not. Donald Glover is pretty cool, though. Essentially, this is Jurassic World for chicks. C+
34. Terminator: Genisys. There’s probably a reason I had only seen one of the Terminator movies before this one. (The second one, natch.) Just not my thing. Still, some great action, a cool effect seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger play himself at different ages, and all these years later, liquid metal is still cool. Oh, and JK Simmons! B
Six months in, what has YOUR favorite movie of 2015 been? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!