2015 Year in Review #BestOfList #Obligatory
2015 has come and gone, and like all of the other years that came before it, 2015 went by in a flash. Along the way to a full zodiac, a whole bunch of stuff happened. Movies were released, albums were recorded, unique and intriguing events transpired, and every year some goofballs all over the world decide to attempt to encapsulate the whole year in a handful of sentences by putting a list of all the best stuff that they think happened during that year. I am one of these goofballs, and this is my obligatory “best of 2015” list. Enjoy, or don’t… ya masochist!
Nerfed Llamas Official Best of 2015 List
Films of 2015:
Love and Mercy. I was woefully late to the party on this one, only just recently getting a chance to sit through this film via the home video market. I truly had wanted to see it in the theater, however the timing of the release combined with the fact that it was also in limited release only made it far too difficult to see at the time. Trust me, I really really REALLY wanted to see it, but just couldn’t fit it in. It’s a film about the tumultuous 1960s period of famed singer/song writer Brian Wilson’s (of the Beach Boys) life, and his subsequent march towards recovery in the 1980s. It stars Paul Dano as a young and troubled Brian Wilson of the 60s, and John Cusack as the broken and fragile Brian Wilson of the 80s, in a dual role that is truly phenomenal to watch unfold. Both actors light up the screen with inspired performances in each era, and both place a definitive, yet fully synced performance as the genius song writer. There are also stand out performances by Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti and Jake Abel. Ultimately, you are treated to a largely entertaining smattering of the highs and lows of the success that the Beach Boys enjoyed in the 60s, as well as better understanding of the events and circumstances that played a formative part in shaping Brian Wilson into the man he would eventually become. On top of that, you get a long look at the hard line that his current wife, Melinda Ledbetter, had to walk to help Brian and to get him reconnected to his family and to his music. It is an awesomely inspiring film, and one that I think everybody should see. Check out the trailer:
Ant Man. I know, right? Who’d have thunk that Ant Man would have made the list, but for me it was the surprise movie of the summer season. After the Avengers: Age of Ultron came in and massively underwhelmed me (read my spoiler free review here), I had set my expectations for Ant Man around my ankles. Full disclosure: I am a great big comic book nerd going well of 30 years back, and as such do not understand why Hank Pym (Ant Man) and Janet van Dyne (Wasp) were not one of the first characters introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) or at least in the first Avengers film. I could probably write a Doctorate level thesis about the mixture of great decisions that were marred by some absolute boneheaded decisions with regards to the MCU, but that will be for another post. Needless to say, it was with great trepidation that I sat through an Ant Man movie that did not feature Hank Pym as the main protagonist, but focused on Scott Lang as Ant Man, with Pym acting as more of a mentor for the new fledgling hero. To my surprise, even with the very liberal interpretation of the source material, the film was hugely entertaining. Having a very similar energy as Iron Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy, it focused on humor and exceptionally well planned action sequences. The scope of how small Ant Man gets is well filmed, and the breadth of how powerful his size can make him become is a wondrous and exciting thing to watch. Paul Rudd puts in an affable turn as Scott Lang, with Michael Douglas bringing swagger to the role of Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly rounding out this excellent cast as Pym’s estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne. The cast gels immediately, and what seems like a run of the mill super hero flick, quickly turns into a classic style heist flick that is pure popcorn fun from the beginning of the movie till the credits roll at the end. Marvel may have misstepped earlier in the year with Age of Ultron, but they regained their footing in a big way with Ant Man, and reminded audiences around the world why we love super hero movies in the first place: because they are fun! Check out the trailer:
TV of 2015:
Jessica Jones. Man, what a powerful show. Jessica Jones has so much going for it that it’s hard to wrap my head around where to start and/or what to include. Kristen Ritter absolutely nails it as the title character, bringing a perfect balance of humor, drama, and personality to the hard to love Jessica Jones. She is hard drinking, rudely blunt, and oddly sympathetic. I won’t spoil anything on this series, but be advised, David Tennant will charm you to death and break your heart. Check out this trailer, and then go watch this show on Netflix double ASAP!
Music of 2015:
The Mavericks “Mono”. I don’t listen to a whole lot of new music anymore. I have my favorites from over the last 30 years, plus a ton of music that I love from well before I was born. However, I do still follow a handful of groups and musicians. The Mavericks have been a favorite of mine since the mid 90s, and they went on hiatus for nearly a decade. Now on the second album back from their hibernation, they have found a wonderful mix between country, jazz, Latino, rock, and blues. Ultimately, they have morphed into something that is better than I think that they could have possibly imagined. Bottom line, “Mono” is a great album for a connoisseur of fine music. Listen to the single “All Night Long” and judge for yourself:
Video Games of 2015:
Until Dawn. This is the future of cinematic interactive storytelling! Gorgeous graphics, engaging story, unique and interesting characters, great digital acting, jump scares everywhere, and the butterfly effect system that has to be experienced to be believed. Trust me on this, this is interactive media done right. If you have a PS4, you owe it to yourself to give this game a spin. Also, Peter Stormare pits in an Academy Award winning performance I this game. On top of that, Brett Dalton (Agents of SHIELD), Hayden Panettiere (Heroes), and Rami Malek (Mr Robot) put in some exceptionally hammy performances. This is a great game, and an absolute blast to play with friends around. Check out the trailer:
Life is Strange. I don’t normally go for episodic games, but the layer of choice that is woven into this game, and how it affects all of the minute aspects of the narrative were too alluring to pass up. I am glad that I didn’t pass this one up, it is a tremendously deep and engrossing expeirence. Not an action game, or multiplayer only (as is popular these days), Life is Strange is a classic adventure style game that follows a high school student, Max, as she copes with learning that she can reverse time. Over the course of the game you make decisions as Max, and slowly they all start to build upon each other until it gets to the point that serious consequences or rewards are gained from your actions. It is a truly amazing and one of a kind experience. Watch the trailer and give it a go!
Most Pleasant Surprise of 2015:
Crowdfunding! I know what you are thinking, crowdfunding has been around a whole lot longer than 2015, and you would be correct. Normally, I would sneer at the very notion that any entertainment professional needs crowdfunding to get their project off the ground… that was until the 2 miracle Kickstarter campaigns hit my radar. Both franchises were legally dead for 15 years, and neither had a snowball’s chance in hell of ever coming back, until their respective creators put their projects up on Kickstarter and let the fans decide whether or not they should return. I’m talking about Shenmue 3 and Mystery Science Theater 3000, naturally. Both had campaigns on Kickstarter, and both were very successful earning more than enough money from the fans to justify the creation of a brand new fully featured video game and a new series of 14 episodes of TV, respectively. It was a win-win situation for me, I got to see 2 beloved franchises get resurrected from the dead, and at the same time receive validation that there were a ton of other people like me who where rabid for the return of these products, and that there was still a market for them, even if the powers that be at (fill in the blank) Corporation didn’t think so. I would definitely be down for supporting a variety of Kickstarter campaigns if they were to come to pass, including: a Director’s Cut of the 1998 film the Avengers, a televised series on the BBC chronicling the adventures of the Eighth Doctor in the Doctor Who series, and a new movie in the Trancers series… but only if it is starring Tim Thomerson (matter of fact, I have outlined the perfect finale for Jack Deth, if Charles Band at Full Moon is interested – send me an email… nudge, nudge, wink, wink!).
Best of All:
I finally got off my lazy arse and launched the very blog/website that you are currently reading at the moment: Nerfed Llamas! It’s been a long and bumpy road, with some weeks/months being better than others for posted content, but ultimately the blog is still here and I am still pumping out new articles and content as frequently as I can. From commentary to original short fiction works, to webcomics, playlists and everything else in-between, I have done my best in my spare time (I have full time employment to pay the bills, ya know) to keep this Llama boat afloat. I hope you have enjoyed it! If this is your first time here, I hope you will come back. You can subscribe via email, or through social media at Twitter or Facebook.
2016 has all of the promise of a new year, with none of the detractors at the moment. I hope to keep it a positive and fruitful experience, with tons of new content and a lot of fun ideas along the way. So stick around! 2015 was just the beginning… the Llama revolution starts in 2016! Viva la Llama!