15. The Lego Movie
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!! Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what an experience this was in the theater. Usually, a movie this loud and boisterous is mess; this was kinetic and vibrant with life. The idea of doing a movie about Legos seemed like a disaster waiting to happen when I first heard about it, but the final product was just so much fun. And like the best animated movies, it works on levels that both children and adults can appreciate. It also gets to the heart of the matter of Legos and that there are two ways to play with them and what that may say about you. There is some very interesting social commentary going on in this film, with plenty of enjoyable laughs and music happening too (DARKNESS!!!! NO PARENTS!!!! CONTINUED DARKNESS!!!!)
14. Blue Ruin
One of the best low-budget films of the year, Blue Ruin takes you on a bumbling journey of revenge with an Average Joe who is making it up as he goes along. This movie felt like a cousin to the Coen Brother’s Blood Simple. A lot of films glorify revenge and violence, Blue Ruin shows how messy, literally and figuratively, it really is. Blue Ruin’s act of revenge sparks a series of events that quickly spiral beyond the control of the protagonist and have consequences far beyond what he could imagine.
13. Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow/Live, Die, Repeat/All You Need Is Kill/Whatever the title actually is today, is the best video game movie ever made. Except that it’s not based on a video game at all. It is also the best Tom Cruise movie since… Minority Report? Maybe even since A Few Good Men. Tom Cruise always plays the hero, but the best Cruise movies build him into the hero instead of starting him out there. This movie should not just be dismissed as the action movie version of Groundhog Day. It is that, but it’s really good at it. The black comedy of Cruise dying every day to reset the timeline is good for a laugh, and works on a bonus level if you hate Tom Cruise and would take some glee in seeing his demise.
12. Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson has been on a bit of a hot streak, Lucy notwithstanding, and, in director Jonathan Glazer’s first film in nearly a decade, she turns in her best acting performance to date. Her character is essentially an alien experiencing an existential crisis of sorts when she begins to experience some sense of humanity in the job with which she is tasked. Johansson’s asked to carry a lot of this film, given the unconventional methods of shooting this film, and the non-professional actors used. The score of this movie is jarring and unsettling. All of this blends together to set a very unsettling, displaced mood. It’s unquestionably a polarizing film, but I found it very rewarding. There are two great scenes in this film: one with her interacting (or not interacting) with a crying baby, and another with a disfigured man.
11. Force Majeure
The best description I heard about this film was that it is the kind of black comedy that Michael Haneke would make if he actually had a sense of humor. A family on a ski trip in the Alps that survives a scare of a controlled avalanche that almost goes horribly wrong as they’re at lunch, leaving the family foundation in disarray after the actions of the father is the starting point for the film that was the most uncomfortable, painfully awkward, darkly comedic movie of the year. This film is the ultimate impossible “What if?” And the title, a reference to a legal term basically absolving anyone of responsibility in the face of an “act of God” event, is brilliant when you see the impact this event has on this family.