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Matthew Kaiser & Josh Walbert's Best of 2015

Punchdrunkmovies.com writers Matthew Kaiser and Josh Walbert weigh in with their best movies of 2015 (both LOVED “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”) You can also read Dan Hudak’s Top Ten here and Andres Solar’s Top Ten here.

Matthew Kaiser:

1. "Star Wars The Force Awakens"- The experience of a generation with the franchise that still makes you feel like a kid inside. All the right chords are hit with this continuation of the saga in a galaxy far, far away.

2. "The Hateful Eight"- Tarantino's grand opus, spaghetti western meets murder mystery. See the 70MM roadshow for the full experience.

3. "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation"- Over the top excitement with a cool story and the ageless Tom Cruise. For a spy action film, it was so much better than “Spectre.”

4. "Mad Max Fury Road"- One of the best action movies made, period. Non-stop adrenaline, pure grittiness, and a strong female lead.

5. "The Martian"- So much to love in this Ridley Scott masterpiece. Damon is fantastic and the story is engaging.

6. "Avengers: Age of Ultron"- Not a fantastic sequel, but fun action with all the right comic book geek moments.

7. "Inside Out"- A very emotional and daring look into the mind of a child. Great for all ages.

8. "Ex-Machina"- Superb acting and writing with a thought provoking twist on A.I.

9. "Creed"- A passing of the generational boxing glove to acclaimed actor Michael B. Jordan. Sylvester Stallone does a fantastic job taking over the role as trainer.

10. "It Follows"- Best horror film of the year in a very shallow pool of choices. An original premise, only slightly sidetracked by a weak ending.


Josh Walbert:

In a year that promised several exciting returns to well-known universes, 2015 left me with a sense of disappointment. Sequels to “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Terminator,” “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and a reboot of “Fantastic Four” were all weak and disappointing follow-ups to some truly spectacular films. That said, for my favorite movies of the year, I dig deep into the array of blockbusters offered over the past year.

1. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed George Lucas’s oft-hated prequel trilogy, Disney’s revamping of the “Star Wars” brand did not have me worried in the slightest. In my mind, there was nothing that needed to be redeemed, as I had never not enjoyed a “Star Wars” film (for reference, my previous favorite of the saga is “Attack of the Clones”). “The Force Awakens” carried on a great tradition of a wonderful cinematic experience. The beautiful cinematography, the clever writing, the fun fan-serving moments, and the great new cast came together to create my top movie of the year.

2. “Ant-Man”

After the disappointment of “Age of Ultron” my expectations for “Ant-Man” were not entirely high. However, “Ant-Man” turned out to be a great addition to Marvel’s already pretty stellar roster. The film was quick and witty, fun and more grounded than some of Marvel’s other fare. What “Ant-Man” benefited most from, besides its terrific cast, was the fact that it wasn’t bogged down in universe building as “Iron Man 2,” “Age of Ultron,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” were.

3. “Tomorrowland”

While generally panned by critics for its overzealous optimism, I found “Tomorrowland” to be a surprisingly refreshing movie in a time of so many dystopian storylines that offer no hope for the future. The pseudo-history of “Tomorrowland,” which involved a great scene from the 1964 World’s Fair, was a fun start to a movie that kept me smiling the whole way through, and sometimes that’s a better mark of an enjoyable movie than characters, action, or storyline.

4. “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

This year featured a lot of spy-genre flicks and the strongest of them was “Kingsman.” It managed to be equal parts serious spy caper, genre parody, and fun comic book adaptation. The cast was littered with so many fan-favorites that one wondered who may show up next. The action was delightfully over the top and, dare I say, artistic. The humor was dry and appropriate to the tone of the film without making it verge too closely to spoof territory. Altogether, a refreshing take on a well-worn genre.

5. “Jurassic World”

Besides the nostalgia of returning to a franchise that revolutionized special effects and beautiful music, what I appreciated most about “Jurassic World” is the real-world theme park references it makes and, ultimately, lampoons. Little details like the inclusion of MagicBand-like products left in the hotel rooms, to giant water based arenas bring to the spotlight several of the more controversial theme park topics of the past two years. While the dinosaurs are cool, it was these other elements that pulled me into this fully realized version of what was introduced in the original film. Some elements like the raptor training were a bit too silly but overall the film struck enough right notes to make it a worthwhile return to a beloved franchise.

Josh Walbert is an entertainment guru with a passion for film and television. He lives south of Orlando, FL, with his girlfriend, and relatively extensive DVD/Blu-Ray collection.

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