When I was asked by the guys here at GOTS to contribute to this article battle, I was pretty confident. Well, let’s back up and start with a truth. I was never asked, but kind of pushed my way in. Stew,or NotBAMF or Rob, whatever they call him around here messaged me and let me know the subject of this series of articles. Being a film fan, I figured I could easily come up with a list that would prove superior to the 3 Ghosts.
The caveat is that these favorite films cannot be comic book based. That really isn’t a challenge, as I enjoy comic films, but don’t subscribe to the notion that they normally make for great movies. Sure some do, but more often they are in my opinion forgettable to decent.
So I started to research films that have come out since 2010 to help refresh my memory and realized that something else Stew said was correct. He mentioned the quality of films in this time period is lackluster. After digging I realized there have been fewer films that I would consider personal favorites out in the last ten years than in maybe any other period in my life. And once you take out the few really excellent films based on comic properties, there are less! Also factor in the fact that I go to the cinema less and watch fewer new movies than rewatch old ones nowadays and suddenly I’m not so sure my list is going to be impressive.
Then I remembered that I’m going up against the guys that included HoHos and Top Ramen in articles about favorite candies and I realized that I still may get more votes than them anyways. Here goes nothing. Also, this list will not really be assigned any real order, just 10 favorites.
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Kurt Russell. How many genres has this guy made his bitch? Sci Fi, Horror, Westerns, he has made a defining film in each category. Any surprise that in the later years of his career he would star in a film that deftly mixes two of those very categories? This film is a standard Western for the first three quarters of it’s runtime. The last half hour decides to dump a piping hot dose of horror in your lap when you weren’t sure that it was coming. The standard posse on the trail story trope becomes a fight for life against a group of mysterious antagonists that are just plain out terrifying. This film contains one of the most graphic and gnarly scenes that I have seen in a mainstream movie in many a year. Right up there with the Derek Vineyard curb stomp from American History X, and the James Bond ball smashing in Casino Royale, the aforementioned scene had me looking through my fingers at the screen. Solid supporting cast as well, including the always great Richard Jenkins and Patrick Wilson.
Sing Street (2016)
John Carney is a musician that makes movies about music. Once from 2007 is one of my favorite films of the last many years, and he captured the same magic in a different formula with Sing Street. The story of a young Irish boy in the 1980’s who dreams of becoming a pop star while simultaneously trying to woo the new girl in his neighborhood and navigate his family life, particularly his parents, who are getting divorced. This film is a joy to watch. The kids who make up the school friends that form a band are all given enough character to feel fleshed out and not just like glorified extras. The songs, which are all heavily influenced by various 80’s genres of music are all really good and the music video sequences will make you nostalgic for that era as well. A ton of heart in this film.
Much like the tagline of Jaws The Revenge, this time it’s personal. People love to shit on this movie. The science doesn’t add up, it goes off the rails, it takes too long to get nowhere. This is a simple story, wrapped in a not so simple framework. This is all about a father’s love and what he would do to ensure the future for his children. That is it. Along the way you get some really great space adventure stuff too, but this is a human story told through the scope of a much bigger setting. My wife was diagnosed with cancer in late 2014. In June of 2015 she had a very serious surgery, double mastectomy. The day after she was released from the hospital, I watched this film for the first time, as she slept on the couch three feet away from me, recovering. My life was a mess, I was essentially in an emotional dumpster, but had neglected my feelings for the sake of being strong for her. Interstellar kept my attention for 2 plus hours, and let me escape into this world. It also let me feel feelings other than mine, as I was transplanted into Matthew McConaughey’s characters plight to get back to his kids and to save humankind. The scene where he watches the various transmissions from his children as they age in real time gave me an excuse to cry out what I needed to cry out. I get it if you don’t like this film, as we all have our opinions. That said, I think Interstellar is one of Christopher Nolan’s best. Oh, and before you think that I ONLY like it because of that equation to my life situation at that time, I also watched Hot Tub Time Machine 2 that day, and that was one of the worst pieces of shit I have ever seen, and I love the first one.
Wind River (2017)
Gritty. This is a gritty film, with some sad real world issues at it’s core. A young FBI agent and a white, yet local tracker investigating the case of a murdered girl on a Native American reservation in Wyoming. Every lead digs them deeper into the inner workings of the res, and every time they get closer to what happened, something new pops up and keeps them from the truth. When the film finally shows you what occured close to the end, it is brutal, and unexpected. Jeremy Renner, who I find pretty blah normally is really good in this, and Elizabeth Olson is so damn good looking I would watch her fix a toilet on screen for two hours. To be fair, she is really great in this too, as a young agent that isn’t taken seriously from the moment she arrives and slowly proves herself to be more than capable. A pretty dour movie made more so by some really sad statistics about violence against Native women shown at the very end. This got slept on, and I whole heartedly recommend it.
The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Do you like action films? Have you seen The Raid? If your answers are yes, than no, stop what you are doing. Quit your job, leave the dentist mid root canal, jump out of your car on the highway. Whatever it takes to get you in front of your damn TV with a copy of this film ready to play, make it happen. First things first. Yes there are subtitles. Get over it. If you hate subtitles, you will be glad to know that the ass kicking to dialogue ratio in this film certainly leans heavily towards the former. Here is the premise. Indonesia, a crime lord has holed himself up in a high rise apartment building. It is filled floor to floor with his large and vicious gang, their weapons and a fully functioning drug lab. A SWAT force infiltrates to take him in. For the rest of the runtime we are buried in non stop martial arts fights, gun fights and all kinds of mayhem. This film rarely stops to breathe. The fight choreography alone is worth the price of admission, and the actual story is a great foundation for a sequel that would come out a few years later. I know I cannot recommend comic films on this list, but I will say that if you enjoyed the Karl Urban Dredd film, odds are you will enjoy this too, as they are very similar in story if nothing else. Why are you still reading this? You don’t like action films unless you’ve seen this! Stop being a poser!
The World’s End (2013)
The Cornetto Trilogy capper, which I feel gets the least amount of love. I honestly like this one more than Shaun Of The Dead, although Hot Fuzz is hard to top. That said, this movie is great. I think it had the misfortune of coming out very close to the similarly titled yet totally inferior This Is The End, even though now that I look at it, all they do is share the word end. Even I have a hard time remembering that this is called The World’s End, and it is a favorite of mine. Simon Pegg plays a man that cannot let go of past glory, even though it was hardly glorious. He brings together his 4 old friends to relive a pub crawl that he equates as the greatest night of his life. Everyone has grown up, except for Gary, Pegg’s character, and they agree to this as a way to placate him knowing that he is going through a hard time. Through the night, we learn various back stories and reasons for strained relationships, all while the fellows learn that their hometown has been infiltrated by an extraterrestrial force and many of their neighbors are robot duplicates. What! Yeah, this is a great film, and has it all. Real emotional heft, a very Twilight Zone premise and a lot of laughs, This Is The End is a must see. Shit, I did it again.
Mandy is a film that will elicit a love it or hate it reaction from its viewers. I don’t think many people feel indifferent towards it after seeing this…thing. Mandy is as if someone took the essence of an 80’s heavy metal record and made it into a film. The neons and blacks found on the gatefold, the warrior barbarian bestowed on the cover along with the demons he battles. The music itself, low and rumbly is also added to this mix. Nicolas Cage, who has long been relegated to the bottom of that giant bin in every Wal Mart filled with shitty D grade trash films and yesterdays hits too old to be full price is back in form, at least for this one film. He plays Red, a lumberjack with a drinking problem who goes head to head with the cult that ruined his peaceful life. There are chainsaw fights, possibly extra dimensional drug dealing bikers, a random caged tiger and so much more. I watched Mandy two nights in a row when I first saw it, and it really hit me as a very unique film. Oh, and you will never see Cheddar Goblin coming until it happens.
Two sons estranged after growing up apart due to divorce. One ended up with the mother and was afforded opportunities and became a high school teacher as an adult. The other stayed with the very unstable father, and grew under much different and less fortunate circumstances. Warrior is the story of these brothers who end up in the same mixed martial arts tournament. Yes, it sounds like it may be a cheesefest, but everyone gives it their all here, and the fight scenes are superb. If you are a fan of films like Rocky or The Karate Kid that so deftly mixed the main characters daily struggles with their drive to be the best in the ring, then you should immediately watch this. Tom Hardy is bigger and more frightening here than he was as Bane a year later. Joel Edgerton is an incredibly talented actor that pops up in movie after movie that I like. And Nick Nolte, much like the other Nic discussed in the last film has seemed lost for years at this point in his career. In one single scene in a hotel bedroom he will break your soul in two. Kudos as well for being the film that introduced me to Frank Grillo, the great actor that led the first two sequels to The Purge, which were quite underrated.
I am not a huge fan of Sandra Bullock. She is charming, and pretty and has screen presence for days, I just really never saw a film that I connected with her in. On the other hand Alfonso Cuaron made Children Of Men, one of the great films of the earlier 2000’s. I often can see past an actor I don’t care for if a creator I like is at the helm of a film, so I was surprised at how despite liking his prior work so much this interested me so little. I finally saw it on home video upon its release and realized I had slept on it. Gravity looked from it’s trailers to be a drama set in space, co starring the ever so handsome George Clooney. I figured the drama would lead way to a romance between the two stars as they find love in the vacuum of space. All that Clooney’s character finds in the vacuum of space is a pretty immediate death, as Gravity proves itself to be a much different film than I expected. This movie is a Roland Emmerich disaster film with the volume turned down a few notches from the 11 that they operate at. After a quiet start, the initial incident gets Bullock’s scientist turned astronaut character on the move, and for the entire runtime she never stops. From floating in space to trying to get into various ships and space stations, Gravity does not let up. Oh and sorry if I spoiled the bit about Clooney dying, but 2013, you know?
The LEGO Movie (2014)
This film came out and blew the doors off of the world in 2014. I kept hearing about a funny song, and how inventive it was, and funny. So when it hit Blu Ray, I grabbed a copy at Target along with toys for my dogs and that cream I needed for that weird rash I had under my…you know what, mind your damn business. Anyways, despite multiple friends chastising me for never seeing it, I still never watched it. My wife would ask if we could throw it on for a movie night and I would not be in the mood, so I would make her watch Predator with me for the 68th time. This movie was going to be the new record holder for longest wait to view a disc of a film that I had never seen before. The current leader is either Gangs Of New York or Shark Tale. I’ve had those DVDs for at least 15 years and still haven’t watched either. Well last year. about 4 years after the hype died down, I decided we would watch The LEGO Movie. I was not blown away. I watched it very tired, the jokes didn’t connect and I fell asleep at the halfway mark. My wife told me the next day she loved it. I watched it again, this time fully awake. Man it was wonderful. The jokes were spot on, the characters were likable and funny, the way this thing was made was amazing. And then the last 20 minutes happen, and you realize what you have been watching the whole time. I was blown away. It was poignant, it felt true and it added a layer of heart to the whole thing. All in all a fantastic film, I just hope Shark Tale can live up to it when I watch it in 2024.
There is my list, as with all lists that we do over on the podcast that I am part of, Pint O’ Comics, these picks are real fluid. Ask me in a year and a few may be replaced by something else. In the spirit of that idea, here is a quick list of 5 honorable mentions.
1. Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017)
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
3. What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
4. Dunkirk (2017)
5. It Comes At Night (2017)
Thanks to the Ghosts for letting me take part in the fun, thanks for reading this and thanks for voting for this to win. Hint hint.