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A look back at the best and worst films of 2015

Date: 12/29/2015

It’s that time of year again when I take a look back at the films I saw in theaters, streaming and on DVD or Blu-ray and determine what kind of a year it was.

This was the year in which the comic book adaptation film not only ate up box office receipts, but also generated an enormous amount of publicity in the mainstream press.

As I’ve noted before, clearly comic book fans are not just the single audience fueling the phenomena of the Marvel productions or the popularity of the adaptions of DC heroes on television and the anticipation of the new Superman versus Batman movie.

These movies and television shows are reaching audiences far beyond the stereotypical “nerds” or “geeks.” Their popularity is yet still more evidence the “nerds” won.

It was also the year in which documentaries were finally getting the access so many of them deserved through quick turn around from limited theatrical runs to Netflix.

Here are some of my “awards” for the films I saw in 2015:

Best Comic Book Adaptation of 2015 was a TV series I didn’t write about but should have – “Jessica Jones.” A smartly written, very dark adaptation of a minor Marvel character, this Netflix series attempted to answer the question “What if you had super powers but didn’t want to be a hero?”

If you have time off this holiday season, it is binge-worthy, but not for kids.

The best comic book movie I saw in theaters was “Antman.” Yes, you thought I would say the second Avengers movie. I enjoyed it, but it showed there was a formula setting and that disappointed me.

“Antman” was fresh and funny with some real emotions thanks to Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.

The film that renewed my journalistic spirit: “Spotlight” was a wonderful look at what journalists can do when given both time and resources. This is sure to figure prominently in this season’s award races. Michael Keaton headed up a great ensemble cast.

Animated films that actually made me laugh:  Yes, yes I know the Pixar films are wonderful journeys of laughs and emotion, but sometimes – most times – I just want to laugh. “The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie: A Sponge Out of Water” and “The Minions” did just that.

Most hyped film of the year that was a total bore:  Although the “The Interview” may have almost caused an international incident, it was still basically a snooze-fest of drunken frat boy humor. James Franco has got to be the most overrated performer in films today.

The film with the most gimmicky premise: Although director Richard Linklater received a lot of attention for this family drama “Boyhood” filmed over a 12-year period with the same cast, ultimately I found their journey to be unremarkable. Shouldn’t such an experiment result in a compelling story?

Best werewolf movie I saw: Yes, this is a category. Thank goodness the zombie phase has played itself out. “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf” was a complex character driven drama, rather than just a horror film.  The runner-up would be the much sillier “Wolf Cop.”

The movie that proved you can go back home again: Conventional wisdom would tell you the effort to revive a franchise that was long over might be fool-hardy, but “Mad Max Fury Road” was an exhilarating piece of pop filmmaking.

Best documentaries I saw: This is difficult to nail down for me as I saw so many interesting documentaries this year. “Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles” was perhaps at the top of the list.  How could it not be?  But then there was “The Sheik,” a sometimes funny, sometimes sad look at the wrestling great. “Call Me Lucky” showed that director Bobcat Goldthwait is more than just an accomplished comic. “Boredom” was another great viewing experience that didn’t bore.

Best science fiction film: I loved “The Martian,” which presented a grounded type of speculative fiction.

Why I will continue to love Scarlett Johansson: Although she is an A-lister, she likes to take some risks and the Luc Besson film “Lucy” starts out as one type of movie and ends up as another. Johansson is the story’s anchor.

As always there was too little time and too many movies!