Since the very first day of 2015, I've been keeping a ledger (of sorts), tracking every movie that I have watched this year. New or old, I mark each movie on the ledger along with my rating out of ten. I had no real plan of what to do with this list of watched movies until now. I've come up with the idea of a "one year movie challenge", which would involve me continuing to keep track of each movie I that I watch. Then, three times a year, I will post my progress on my blog here. I will not only list the movies that I have watched, but I will rate them out of ten, provide a two-sentence max review, and rank them from best to worst (more like favorite to least favorite). Every four months until January 1, 2016, I will update the list in a power rankings-type way, providing two-sentence max reviews for the newly added movies. At the end of the year, a complete list of every movie I watched will be ranked, new and old.
I usually watch 3-4 movies on average per week and I do not plan to change that to go along with my list. I simply do not have the time to commit myself to this challenge, so it will be 100% natural. Although, I can almost guarantee that you will see the complete sagas for The Avengers, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, and Harry Potter on this list because it's almost tradition that I re-watch each saga every year.
There aren't really any rules that I'm setting for myself, only that I only count movies that I watched from start to finish.
Here is the first third:
1. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - 10/10
The movie that started the trilogy of the decade still holds up incredibly well in every way. Peter Jackson turned a classic masterpiece of literature into a classic masterpiece of a movie.
2. The Godfather - 10/10
The Godfather is always circling around the discussion for the greatest film of all-time, a discussion it well deserves to be in, a masterpiece right down to every frame and violin string. With its iconic creation of many film elements that are now cliched when imitated, it's hard to believe that The Godfather wasn't the very first gangster movie.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street - 10/10
There are movies that aren't nearly as good as you remember them to be from your first viewing, but The Wolf of Wall Street, seemingly like all of Scorsese's works, is just as good if not, better the second time around. It's Scorsese's best since The Departed, but seems to be more related to GoodFellas or Casino in the way that the movie does a superb job of pulling you into this world of a 'rise and fall' epic, as if you are being included.
4. The Avengers - 9/10
Now that we are almost 11 movies invested into this connected superhero universe (and rapidly growing), I feel as if we are already forgetting how cool it was to see Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow together on the same screen after so much anticipation. It still amazes me how it managed to live up to the hype with its popcorn action and witty humor.
5. Iron Man - 9/10
Iron Man was a collective effort by many people to start off The Avengers with a blast, but it's really Robert Downey Jr.'s iconic portrayal of Tony Stark that made this movie special in an irreplaceable way. That's not to say that he stands over all in this movie, as Jeff Bridges' villain is probably the best the Avengers saga has seen yet, just as Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts might be the saga's best supporting character as far as chemistry with the lead goes.
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel - 9/10
One of last year's many great movies, Budapest was probably the most original and refreshing. Its touching story is at the center of this movie, despite its artsy design and all-star cast in tiny roles, which considering how important the latter two elements are to this movie, shows how great its story is. That's not to say it takes itself seriously, it is the funniest movie of the last few years.
7. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - 9/10
In a genre full of movies that use violence to further their plots, Butch/Sundance is a refreshing take on a western about two outlaw buddies. It's a feel-good western of adventure.
8. Zodiac - 9/10
Moving from one of my favorite feel-good movies, to one of the only movies to truly get under my skin in a horribly good way, Zodiac is a movie that left me perplexed more than once. It's perhaps David Fincher's most overlooked movie he's done despite its popular, real-life topic and crazy good cast, which is a shame because its one of my favorites from him. It's a haunting movie, but not in the modern horror jump/gross-out sense. Instead, it uses suspense and real life themes to a greater effect.
9. For A Few Dollars More - 9/10
First off, I refuse to call the trio of Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood movies a trilogy as they reuse actors for different roles, but I will say that the trio of movies got better and better with every movie, largely because each movie felt like a unique western experience. In A Few Dollars' case, it's the movie that dives the deepest into supporting characters, making them actually feel like characters and not just (brilliant) western cliches, but it also has plenty of fun twists and action scenes.
10. Gone Girl - 9/10
One of my many favorites from last year, Gone Girl kept me guessing until the very end. It makes for a very good, stylish mystery in that way, but also a very smart one. The movie only centers on a few characters, and their respective actors kill their parts, making the movie all the more memorable.
11. Prisoners - 8/10
It's a depressing, relentless movie, but a very good one. Hugh Jackman gives his career best performance in this movie.
12. The Fast and the Furious - 8/10
It's easy to go back, look at this movie, and call it a bro-man flick that loses itself in pop culture trends, but because of its legacy it has left behind now seven movies in, the original Fast & Furious is as much of a character-driven movie as it is an action movie. It's fun to watch this movie and see how it all started more so than any first movie of a spanning saga.
13. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - 8/10
Make no mistake, The Hobbit trilogy must be watched and counted as a whole epic, more so than LOTR. And while this finale wasn't as heart-felt and fitting as ROTK was for LOTR, it did fulfill its promise in bringing a close to the Tolkien saga forever, ending one adventure and bridging itself to another than came out a decade ago. It's really sad to know that we will never return to Middle-Earth.
14. Captain America: The First Avenger - 8/10
One of my favorite "Avengers movies", The First Avenger stands well as its own adventure. It's set during World War II and is contained to Steve Rogers' transformation from a small Brooklyn kid with a big heart to a super-powered war hero standing for his country, making the ultimate sacrifice.
15. Fast 6 - 8/10
My second favorite in the series, Furious 6 was the first movie to really go all-in towards a ridiculous action movie, and it does so very well. It's the characters that keep this franchise going, allowing the series to be a chameleon in tone and genre. This is also the series' best example of using its cast of characters to its best advantage.
16. Furious 7 - 8/10
It is surprising some that this movie has earned over $1 billion at the box office, but I am very pleased that it did because the movie was so fun while also handling a real-life tragedy in a touching, sincere, and classy way. It's pretty amazing to see this franchise keep on bringing lively, giant action scenes to the screen without ever feeling stale.
17. Nightcrawler - 8/10
Jake Gyllenhaal was completely robbed of an Academy Award nomination with this movie, which I think was even better than the performance that won the award. He carries the movie in a creepy, captivating way.
18. The Way, Way Back - 8/10
A very refreshing movie that I think everybody can relate to in some way. A month later, I still find myself thinking about this movie and its characters every so often, which is really all you can ask for in a work of fiction. Great performances all around.
19. Fury - 8/10
Anyone worrying about the DC Comics Suicide Squad movie needs to watch David Ayer's previous two movies, Fury and End of Watch. Both deal with genres that have been worn out (war movies and cop movies), but both have a rich sense of character. In Fury, the bonding of the tank squad actually overshadows the tank action scenes.
20. The Princess and the Frog - 8/10
Behold, one of the most underrated, if not overlooked Disney animated movies. It takes a classic story, does it justice with a creative twist, and provides a cast of great characters. It's the tried Disney formula, and this movie does it well. As good as the story and characters are, its the animation and soundtrack that make this a great Disney animated movie. I feel as if you could pause this movie at any frame and the result could be a poster, which is sad considering that Disney (and almost the entire animation industry) has relatively abandoned traditional, 2D animation. Their last effort at it was perhaps their best.
21. Blue Jasmine - 8/10
Blue Jasmine is one of the best female-led movies I've ever seen. Cate Blanchett's performance in this movie is deserving of her Academy Award, and its supporting cast manages to steal and carry their own scenes.
22. American Gangster - 8/10
Looking back, it could have made much better use of its amazing all-star cast, but it is certainly a movie of epic scale with flashes of a modern day gangster classic.
23. The Whale Rider - 8/10
Probably the movie on this list you have most likely not seen, but it comes highly recommended. It's shot on the island of New Zealand and deals with the rich culture of the Maori, which it captures very well, featuring authentic acting performances.
24. Iron Man 2 - 7/10
Look, this movie isn't necessarily good and even has some Iron Man 3 level face-palm moments (that peeing in the Iron Man suit scene), but if you take it for a fun superhero movie, it can be very enjoyable. I really liked the villains of Justin Hammer and Whiplash, who both had an interesting chemistry with Tony Stark, a chemistry which its sequel heavily lacked.
25. Edge of Tomorrow/Live, Die, Repeat/All You Need Is Kill - 7/10
Whatever this movie goes by, I thought it was very enjoyable as a standalone sci-fi action movie. Emily Blunt's character was awesome.
26. The Incredible Hulk - 7/10
The Hulk scenes were destructively good fun and the Bruce Banner scenes had their moments of ups and downs. I'd like to see a Hulk movie that doesn't have a love subplot.
27. Yes Man - 7/10
A silly, underrated Jim Carrey comedy that always makes me laugh. However, I also think that its message is very important and admirable.
28. Dick Tracy - 7/10
I'm completely torn after watching this forgotten movie for the first time. Its art style and makeup were both ahead of their time, the cast does a really good job, the soundtrack and score are both great, and the way this movie was shot is interesting. However, its pacing is everywhere, the "kid" character is an annoying plot device, and I found myself way more interested in the scenes involving Al Pacino's over-the-top gangster character. As an aside, how is this movie rated PG? Nudity, point blank shootings, gruesome deaths comparable to a Scorsese mob movie, some heavy innuendos, this movie has it all. Not that I mind, I thought the tone was great but I could not imagine a kid younger than 14 or 15 watching this...
29. Thor: The Dark World - 7/10
It's not very good, it's not very bad, it's just there. Hey, it has a cool look to it, at least. Can the next Thor movie not have anything to with Earth?
30. Justice League: War - 7/10
This movie never reaches the heights that previous DCAU movies have reached, but it does provide a neat (albeit rushed) Justice League team-up that we haven't really seen in a while now. The final battle is underwhelming, but the movie got all of the characters right on.
31. The Lady Vanishes - 7/10
Definitely not a Hitchcock classic, but it does serve as a very smart, interesting mystery. It's probably the funniest Hitchcock movie, but it lacks any specific tone.
32. There's Something About Mary - 7/10
It's a shame that this movie had to stoop low to some gross-out humor scenes that seem very far out of place, because it's actually very funny in a witty way. Matt Dillon's character is comedy gold.
33. The Interview - 6/10
North Korea's attempt at censoring this movie backfired because the controversy probably made this movie funnier than it would have otherwise been in a dark humor type of way. Where Seth Rogen plays his usual character, James Franco really stole this movie with his character and the energy he brought to it.
34. A Million Ways to Die in the West - 6/10
Like There's Something About Mary, it's actually a shame that this movie had to stoop low for gross-out humor. It's otherwise a pretty funny movie that I enjoyed laughing at.
35. Iron Man 3 - 5/10
A terrible waste of what was probably the last solo Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr.
Well, that took much longer than I thought it would take! Until next time. Thanks for reading and please comment :)