Inside Out

What’s going on inside that head of yours…

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My expectations: 3 and a half reels

My actual rating: 5 reels out of 5

We are all guided by our emotions. Happiness, when you making a game winning shot. Sadness, when you miss an opportunity. Fear, of trying something new. Disgust, of doing something you dislike. Anger, when someone or a situation aggravates you. You can find all of these kinds of emotions in every single person. Inside Out is a movie that takes a look at what makes a human tick in an amusing and highly creative way. It examines the complexity of emotion and how there is a place for all of them. It’s a movie about emotions that plays with your emotions.

We follow the emotions of Riley, an 11-year-old girl from Minnesota. After she and her family move to San Francisco, her emotions try to keep things in balance as she tries to adjust to her new life. It’s one of the best times to examine one’s emotions because when we’re younger, our emotions seem to be all over the place sometimes. Especially when you’ve been moved to unfamiliar territory. Although, change can be tough at any age.

From the headquarters of Riley’s head, it’s fun to see how things operate. Seeing where memories come from, how they’re used, and where they go. Why some memories fade away and why some keep coming back when you don’t expect them to. And we see how memories can shape our personalities. At the head of this are our five emotions: joy, sadness, disgust, anger, and fear. We’re not always stuck in Riley’s head, sometimes we see what’s going on in others such as her parents. The emotions of adults seem to be a little bit more in control compared to the ones in our young protagonist’s head. Perfect depiction since “most” adults appear to have their emotions in check compared to kids and teenagers.

While it would be nice to be happy all the time, there is a need for balance in one’s life. Too much of one thing can be bad for one’s health, even if it’s happiness. The emotions of Riley have trouble with this concept. The other 4 emotions tend to look to Joy for some leadership but ultimately they can’t help themselves and let their natural instincts take over. In Riley’s head, her emotions are out of control. When we jump into her parents’ heads, we see their emotions have learned to worked together. Emotions are a reflection of our lives. As we grow older, they grow older too. They learn to control themselves and in reflection, we are in more control of ourselves. One character proclaims, “emotions can’t quit.” Whether we like them or not, emotions have a place in everyone and they’re not going anywhere.

Inside Out is headed by an all-star cast including Amy Poehler, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, and many more. While not exactly original, there was a TV show in the 90s called Herman’s Head with the same concept, it takes a very creative approach on how we think. It opens up the imagination to the possibility that your emotions are working hard up in your head. It’s a movie with lots of humor and heart. And like most other Pixar films, it’s not afraid to tug at your heart-strings. With a movie about emotions, you need to expect that it will reach you emotionally.

Expectations: I went into this one almost blind. Didn’t see much many commercials or trailers for them. Knowing only the basic premise of the movie. So went in with regular expectations that were easily exceeded. Pixar has done it again!

Appeal: General audiences. I was attracted to this movie because of the concept of human personalities and emotions. Definitely a movie that any can enjoy.

Re-watch Value: A movie that can easily be enjoyed over and over.

Memorable: Something that will be stored in long-term memory for a long time.

Jurassic World

Welcome to Jurassic World

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Expected: 3 and a half reels out of 5

My rating: 3 and a half reels out of 5

To visit a theme park that features dinosaurs would be a very exciting experience. The people in the Jurassic Park universe are very lucky to have such a park available to them. Over 20 years since the events of Jurassic Park, John Hammond’s dream has come to full realization. It’s a fickle business though. Seeing dinosaurs isn’t enough, somehow people aren’t thrilled, at least in the eyes of park operators and investors. It has become all about the bottom line. For whatever reason, attendance has declined a little. The people who run the park solve this by introducing new attractions. To really up the wow factor, they asked the lab to create a new dinosaur with no questions asked about details. Some of the problems in the park could be solved if some of the characters ask themselves, “Should I do this?” When trying to solve the problems that have arisen, some of the characters should ask themselves, “Is there a better way I could handle this?” Not asking themselves this question only exacerbates the situation. Nevertheless, watching people screw up makes for an entertaining movie. Jurassic World is formulaic and a little predictable, but it has thrills and a touch of humor. It’s not a movie that will blow you away but it can leave you satisfied.

“You just went and created a new dinosaur? Probably a not a good idea,” says Owen (Chris Pratt), one of the few people in Jurassic World that thinks logically but is still prone to dumb mistakes. He questions the park’s intentions of a new attraction of  a modified hybrid dinosaur and with justification. It’s deadly, intelligent, and it wants out of its cage. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the operations manager of the park, a highly organized workaholic. She may tend to overreact, only creating bigger problems. The cast does a decent job in their roles, not a lot of depth to their characters. In real life, Chris Pratt seems like lovable fun going person. Hard to hate him but some of his line deliveries come off borderline cheesy but an enjoyable, easy to like character. Bryce Dallas Howard tends to get put in roles where there is some aspect of her personality you have to hate. Not sure if it’s intentional but she does it well. Other characters include park owner, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Kahn) and Hoskins (Vincent D’onofrio). Simon a is caring owner concerned not only for the happiness of the people attending the park but the animals who live there. He is a bit careless as far as how the park is run, sparing no expense. His carelessness could prove costly. Not entirely sure how to define the role of Hoskins as far as what his title is. Knowing he is played by D’onofrio, you can expect some trouble. He is good at playing an antagonist. The first call back to the original film is having two kids brought in that are related to another character in the film. Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), nephews of Claire, that are prone to dumb mistakes as well. They have some smarts though and can actually take care of themselves. Some other throwbacks to the original film include: seeing remnants of the original park, John Hammond being mentioned in passing, and if you have a trained eye, you can spot a certain mathematician on the back cover of a book.

If you’re familiar with movies, you can probably easily see how the story is going to unfold. Dangerous new creature introduced, it gets loose, and you deal with the consequences. Nevertheless, the movie is an entertaining ride. Has all the stuff you need for a summer blockbuster: action, thrills, and humor. Goosebumps to the sampling of  John Williams’ score as we see the park for the first time. The thrill of a dinosaur hunting our main characters. Humor added to diffuse what is actually a scary situation. No one expects to go to Disneyland to get eaten. The movie by no means is perfect. Hard to ask for perfection when your predecessor set the bar high. When it comes to summer blockbusters, all you need is to be entertained (“Is that not why you are here?”). Just like operations of Jurassic World, the studio hopes the new attraction will bring the people in.

Expectations: Was cautiously optimistic about this one, considering how Jurassic Park II and III were. Glad it turned out all right.

Appeal: It’s a movie aimed for general audiences, parental discretion advised, of course.

Re-watch value: Actually watched this one twice. Once in 2D, and once in IMAX-3D. Held up well the second time, 3D wasn’t that great though. So it’s definitely one that be revisited multiple times.

Memorable: Some good memorable moments and one rather troubling moment, haha.

Entourage

Oh yeah!!

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Expected: 3 and a half reels out of 5

My rating: 3 and a half reels out of 5

Many years ago, when I was a poor college student who couldn’t afford HBO and all that was available through Netflix were DVDs (does anyone still do the DVDs still?), my roommate had some discs from season 3 of Entourage. I popped in a disc out of boredom and curiosity, and thus, I was introduced to Entourage (oh yeah!). With my own Netflix account, I queued up the DVDs and started from the beginning. When I got caught up to where the show was at that point, I stopped watching because of no HBO and I needed to stop procrastinating on school. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I started watching from the beginning and two weeks later, went through all the episodes. It’s a good thing I took some time to go through all the episodes because the movie picks up right where the show ended.

Entourage is a tale of movie superstar Vinny Chase, his trusty agent, and his close friends as they navigate the dog eat dog world that is Hollywood. A show where everyone is casted well. Adrian Grenier is believable as womanizing actor Vincent Chase, his charming looks makes every woman in Hollywood want him. Managing Chase’s career is his best friend Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), nicknamed E. Thrown into the deep end of the pool as he learns the pitfalls of being a famous actor’s manager. Chase’s other friend, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), acts as Vinny’s driver. And one of the best parts of the show is character, Johnny Chase (Kevin Dillon), nicknamed Drama. Brother of Vinny Chase, Vinny’s personal chef, and also a struggling actor. The other factor that makes Entourage a great show is agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). Fast talking, back-talking, a bit of a sexist and racist but loads of fun to listen to.

Entourage is what you expect Hollywood to be like. Drugs, money, sex, and partying. There is probably some truth to what is presented to us but I assume just like everything that comes out of the movie world, it is going to be exaggerated a little bit. Nevertheless, it’s entertaining and funny. There are some TV shows that made a successful transition to the big screen, The Simpsons and South Park, for example. When those movies hit the big screen, they felt like big movies as far a grand scale goes for story telling. With Entourage hitting the big screen, it falls short on grand for me. The biggest thing on scale for Entourage is the amount of cameos in the movie. It felt like one season condensed into an hour and 50 minute episode. Each character has their own story going on and we experience the lows and highs of them all. The movie is new but felt familiar like it was repeating similar story lines that happened in previous seasons.

It’s hard to gauge whether anyone experiencing Entourage for the first time through the movie will enjoy it. If you are not familiar with the show, they do try to catch you up to speed as the boys watch a documentary of themselves being made. From their humble beginnings in Queens, New York to the big time directing debut of Vinny Chase. The movie is fun, mindless, entertainment  that will make you laugh out loud. To truly appreciate the movie, you have to watch the show from beginning to end, especially if you want to appreciate the role of Johnny Drama. Give the movie a shot and may even make you a fan of the show. If you loved the show, you’ll enjoy it. If not, you can always hug it out, bitch.

Expectations: Pretty much what I expected out of this show.

Appeal: What HBO did for women with Sex and the City, Entourage is what they did for men.

Re-watch value: Can watch again but no rush to. Something that I would put on as background noise and come back to when something is about to happen.

Memorable: A couple good memorable moments.

A Classic Turns 30

HEY YOU GUYS!

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If for some reason, you’ve never seen this movie, you should not continue. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out at least once.

Who would not want to be a goonie? You have a close group of friends that is like family and you go on adventures. The classic movie turns 30 years old and it is still as fun of a movie today as it was back then, a timeless classic. I find it’s pretty rare when a childhood movie is still as good when you’re older. This usually happens when you make a movie that can appeal to all demographics. It’s a movie with humor, excitement, and grand sense of adventure. A story filled with great characters and memorable movie moments. A classic movie that will hopefully be enjoyed for another 30 years.

Goonies assemble! Mikey, an idealistic leader. Mouth, intelligent and uses his mouth to troll others, sometimes for a laugh or to help solve a problem. Data, intelligent and a specialist in gadgets. Chunk, a bit of a klutz and an appetite to match, who tends to exaggerate stories that are hard to believe most of the time but a loyal friend with a big heart. Brand, older brother of Mikey, likes to think he’s in control but is not. Andy, love interest of Brand, she’s not Liberace. Stef, friend and who is possibly harboring some feelings for Mouth. Even the villains, The Fratellis, are quite the characters. The crime family that is intimidating enough to make a young boy confess all his sins. The most interesting of the Fratellis is Sloth, a deformed man who is abused and kept under lockdown by his mother and brothers.

Sloth is at the center of a few memorable moments in movie history. Can’t forget him coming to the rescue as he yells, “HEY YOU GUYS!” Then later rips open his shirt revealing the iconic superman symbol. Mikey’s inspiration speech in the well as everyone is about to turn back. The heart of which says this is our moment and we need seize it because we may never get this opportunity again. “Goonies never say die!” And you can never forget Chunk being forced to do the truffle shuffle.

A movie I enjoyed when I was younger, a movie I still enjoy now, and one I’m sure I’ll enjoy for years to come. The best thing about timeless movies is that there will always be people who get to experience for the first time and fall in love with it like so many have. I leave you with the The Goonies Oath:

I will never betray my Goon Dock friends.
We will stick together until the whole World ends.
Through Heaven and Hell and nuclear war.
Good pals like us will stick like tar.
In the city or the country or the forest or the boonies,
I am proudly declared one of the Goonies.

Mad Max: Fury Road

What a lovely movie.

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My rating: 5 reels out of 5

I only remember bits and pieces of the old Mad Max films starring Mel Gibson. They would come on tv in the middle of the afternoon and I would have no idea what is actually going on. It’s been so long that if I sat down and watched them now, my now “adult” brain and my so-called movie knowledge would perceive the movies differently now. It never occurred to me that the director of those films, George Miller, actually directed this one too. George Miller flies under the radar and apparently is a versatile director, having also directed the animated movies, Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two. George Miller is quite the genius as he brings us an action packed film and creates a vibrant world that is Mad Max: Fury Road.

The world is now a wasteland and everyone is out of their minds. Max (Tom Hardy) is a former officer trying to survive in that world. After being captured by a tyrannical leader’s army, Max is thrusted into a middle of a conflict when the leader has his property stolen from him.

Fury Road is highly detailed from the environment, down to the smallest role in the film. The great thing about the details of the film is that it helps paint a picture of the world without stating it with words. What people are willing or unwilling to put with in order to survive. It’s the little details that give life to every character in the movie. The way they behave and what is governing their actions. An army worshipping their leader and having a warrior’s death to secure their place in the afterlife. Filmmakers took some care in the little things and it shows.

From beginning to end, the film is a non-stop adrenaline rush. Well maybe not non-stop, we do get moments where things calm down so we can catch our breath. Never a dull moment and we are provided with a variety of action sequences. You also have to appreciate the filmmaker’s using as little special effects as possible. Makes the action sequences even more amazing.

Guaranteed I know who George Miller is now. After watching this movie, makes me want to watch all the previous Mad Max films now. Fury Road is easily one of the best action movies that has come out this year, if not the best.

My expectations: 4 reels out of 5, expectations exceeded.

Appeal: Target audience is most likely adult men but with strong female leads and characters, it’s a film that could potentially translate to many.

Re-watch value: Can easily watch this movie again.

Memorable: Definitely

Formats: 2D, 3D, Dolby Atmos (where available), D-Box (where available).

And the Oscar goes to…

It’s that time of the year again where the old people of the academy choose what they think is the best film of the year. Sometimes I agree with them, and sometimes I don’t. Going over each category, I’ll pick my personal favorites of those nominated and who will probably win anyway. For those I’m in an oscar pool with, don’t cheat and copy me, haha.

Best Short Film – Live Action

My favorite: The Phone Call

Probably will win: The Phone Call

This is a tough category for me, enjoyed all of them for different reasons. Throwing out Boogaloo and Graham and Butter Lamp. Two well made films but just underwhelming compared to the other films. Aya, is driven by an interesting character. Parvaneh is an interesting look at an Afghanistan girl working in the rural Swiss alps to send money back home to her family. The Phone Call is probably the most complete short. Grabs you from the beginning, has an emotional arc to it, and it’s something that really hasn’t been seen before (at least to me).

Best Short Film – Animated

My favorite: The Dam Keeper

Probably will win: The Dam Keeper

A great crop of short films filmed with love, humor, and life lessons. The most compelling one though was The Dam Keeper. Beautiful from beginning to end.

Best Documentary, Short Subject

I don’t have a favorite because I didn’t see any of them.

Based on subject matter and awards won, it’s probably going to come down to Joanna, Our Curse, or Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1Joanna and Our Curse have garnered more recognition but you can’t ignore the subject matter of Crisis Hotline. My best guess is Joanna.

Best Documentary, Feature

Another category where I didn’t see any of the nominees.

It will probably be Citizenfour. 

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

My favorite: Guardians of the Galaxy

Should win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Probably will win: Interstellar

There’s really none in this category that I didn’t like. Really happy with any one of them winning. But with the motion capture special effects of Dawn, that should be the real winner.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

My favorite: Interstellar

Probably will win: American Sniper

Interstellar borrows from other sci-fi films in terms of being able to not hearing sound in space, which is probably why it won’t win. American Sniper has the most realistic depiction of the ground war in Iraq. Sound definitely had a big role in this movie.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

I find that sound mixing and sound editing usually go hand and hand together at the oscars. Refer to category above.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

My favorite: Being Again “Lost Stars

Probably will win: Selma “Glory”

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

My favorite: Interstellar

Probably will win: The Imitation Game

Loved the combination of Hans Zimmer and organs. Interstellar was like a religious experience. The score of the The Imitation Game really helps drive the movie though.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

My favorite: Guardians of the Galaxy

Probably will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Didn’t see Foxcatcher, but not sure Steve Carrell’s fake nose can win an oscar. The

makeup for Drax was impressive. For the overall look and scheme of a film though, the award should go to Grand Budapest.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

My favorite and will probably win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Achievement in Production Design

My favorite and will probably win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Production Design is usually a character itself in Wes Anderson movies.

Best Achievement in Editing

My favorite: Whiplash

Probably will win: Boyhood

My favorite category! Takes a lot of patience to edit together a movie over 12 years.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

My favorite and probably will win: Birdman

There’s no denying that Birdman should win with the illusion of one long seamless take. I felt I was distracted from the rest of the film because I was captivated by the effort that was put into the picture.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Another category where I didn’t see any. All signs point to Ida.

Best Animated Feature of the Year

My favorite and probably will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Only saw two films in this category. The other being The Tale of The Princess Kaguya. Japanese films hardly appeals to a general audience. Dragon is a film that manages to match the success of its predecessor if not exceeds it,

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

My favorite and probably will win: Whiplash

I just loved this movie! The characters were very strong in this movie. It’s hard for a movie to have you like a character despite them being an asshole. If you hate what they do but still like them, that’s an accomplishment.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

My favorite: Nightcrawler

Probably will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler was a compelling movie but Budapest has more creativity in it.

Best Achievement in Directing

My favorite and probably will win: Alejandro González Iñarritu

Spoiler alert, directing and best picture winners usually go hand and hand.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

My favorite: Emma Stone for Birdman

Probably will win: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Surprisingly, the weakest in this category is Meryl Streep. She can’t win them all. Look for Arquette to take home the statue.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

My favorite and probably should win: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Can’t imagine what the movie would be without him.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

My favorite: Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl

Probably will win: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Rosamund Pike’s devilishly performance I still think is the best but it’s probably going to Julianne Moore because she has been snubbed a handful of times. Don’t get me wrong, her role as a Linguistics professor dealing with Alzheimer’s disease is a strong performance.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

My favorite: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Probably will win: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

Close race on this one. I’m torn between Keaton and Redmayne.

Best Picture

My favorite: Whiplash

Probably will win: Birdman

Boyhood was leading the pack but Birdman has gained momentum. Don’t necessarily agree with the choice but I don’t hate it.

Phew! Thanks for reading all the way to here!

Best of 2014

Haven’t compiled a “Top 10″ list in a few years. So rather than a top 10 list, here’s a list of “Best of.”

Best Movie That No One In The USA Saw – Snowpiercer

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Post-apocalyptic movie about survivors of a failed global warming experiment that are traveling around the world on a train. It was a smart movie that failed in the US because Harvey Weinstein thought it would be a movie that US audiences wouldn’t understand, so it wasn’t really advertised as much. Catch it on Netflix stream if you missed it. It’s action packed and it’s a movie that makes you think, in a good way. It would gross over 4.5 million in the states while overseas, it grossed over 82 million.

Best Straight To Internet Movie – Stretch

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A few weeks ago, I saw a video on the works of Joe Carnahan. One of the most underrated directors working today. In the video, I noticed that there was a couple movies of his I haven’t seen and found one was streaming on Netflix. In fact, it was a straight to internet release. Stretch turned into an unexpected, and wild ride. Was very pleasantly surprised.

Best Movie To Bring A Smile To Your Face – Begin Again

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Such a heartwarming movie about the beauty of friendship, love, and redemption.

Honorable Mention: Chef

Best Auteur Film – Interstellar

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Christopher Nolan is easily one of the most powerful directors in Hollywood today. One who is able to do as he pleases and let’s no one stop him. Interstellar is dense piece about mankind’s future on Earth and the start above it. A movie that you appreciate more each time you see it.

Best Actor – The Theory Of Everything

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Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Stephen Hawking is the best performance for an actor I’ve seen this year so far. He should at least get a nomination.

Other Best Actor Consideration: Jeremy Renner in Kill The Messenger

Best Thriller / Best Movie That Messed With My Mind / Best Actress – Gone Girl

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When I say it’s a film that messed with my head, I don’t mean it had a mind bending twist at the end. From a psychological standpoint, it made me afraid. It was a film I wanted to see again but felt I needed some time to decompress what I just saw. Also, I believe best performance from an actress this year easily goes to Rosamund Pike.

Best Thriller Honorable Mention: Kill The Messenger

Best Horror Movie: Dead Snow: Red vs Dead

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Horror is my least watched genre. By default, the only horror film I watched this year wins. It’s really more like an action movie, with lots of gore and dark humor. Nazi Zombies, Russian Zombies…what more do you need?!

Best Animated – The Tale of Princess Kaguya

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By default, the only animated film I saw this year wins (I didn’t see The Lego Movie, so sue me). Princess Kaguya is a film that stuck with me days after I saw it. In a subtle way, made me very reflective on my own life.

Best Comedy – They Came Together

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A spoof comedy on romantic comedies. Basing on which films made me laugh the hardest, They Came Together was easily the best comedy I saw.

Best of Sundance (Literally) / Best Drama  WhipLash

Whiplash

There’s a reason why Whiplash won Best of Sundance because it really was the best film I saw at Sundance. Powerful performances by J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller. It will stick with you after the final frame.

Honorable Mentions: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, The Skeleton Twins

Best Action Movie – The Raid 2: Berandal

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The most highly anticipated movie for me this year and it did not disappoint. Quite possibly one of the best action movies of all-time if not just this year. One of few sequels that exceeds the original.

Best Popcorn Flick / Best Science Fiction Movie / Best Comic Book Movie / Best Blockbuster / My Personal Favorite Of The Year – Guardians of the Galaxy

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Has become one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies of all-time. A perfect blend of action and humor, with a dash of heart.

Best Blockbuster Honorable Mention: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Best Comic Book Movie Honorable Mention: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Other Honorable Mentions: 

The Drop – Because of two words: Tom Hardy

Boyhood – Best movie that took years to make, haha

Birdman – Great acting and cinematography

Movies That Disappointed Me or Wanted To Enjoy But Just Didn’t

Men, Women and Children – A rather uncomfortable movie to sit through.

Under The Skin – No amount of Scarlett Johansson nudity could relieve my boredom

Movies That Sucked

Lucy – Just a bad year for Scarlett Johansson movies for me, I guess.

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction – Longest 3 hours of my movie watching life…well maybe except Alexander.