Sean’s Top 10 Video Games of 2015

Hey, the podcast is going to be a little late this week, here’s a personal top 10 to tide you over. When I finished Dragon Age: Inquisition way back in 2014, I had no idea that basically every big game in 2015 would go for that same epic approach. Last year was the year of the open world game, and also the year of me having a full-time job for the full year for the first time ever. So I played less video games, I admit it. I made time for movies and TV shows and music and podcasts and friends and as a result, didn’t play as many video games as a professional game critic. I’m sorry to have let you all down.
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T3 97: Top 10 Movies of 2015

The best movies of last year are here and ready to party! Yeah, whether it’s grueling physical suffering in the name of brutal revenge, the world turning into a monotone hellhole, or some good old-fashioned destruction of the American economy, no one can deny 2015 sure was a blast. What’s that? You want to hear us talk about a movie in which journalists hopelessly battle against the Catholic church’s institutional abuse of children? We’ve got that! A woman and her child forced to live in a box smaller than most people’s bedroom for years? We’ve got that too! The reality that the one thing the futile war on drugs can accomplish is turning idealists into cynics? No, Sicario didn’t make anyone’s list, we don’t have that. But check out the podcast, it’s a lot of fun.

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John’s Top Ten Movies of 2015

Every year I try to watch movies I don’t think will be on anyone else’s list. I watch under appreciated dramas, foreign films and documentaries, but rarely do these pan out. Meaning, most of my favorite films of 2015 were yet again some of the most popular. You might see one “outsider” pick, but not much else you haven’t already seen on a dozen other top ten lists. 2015 was Not a bad year by any means, but certainly not one with as much variety as I would have liked.

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Colin’s Top Ten Movies Of 2015

I don’t really have much to say about 2015 in movies, as Sean pretty much summed up my feelings, since as he failed to mention, I saw a lot of the movies to come out last year with him as my wingman.  And I agree that there are a lot of different ways of watching movies these days, but I still don’t think you can beat the communal experience of seeing a movie on the big screen in a theater.  Especially when you’re seeing a weirder, more off-the-beaten-path film, where you don’t exactly know what you’re in for.  Though I suppose it’s that fear of the unknown that fuels the thinking behind the “I just wanna go watch a sequel/reboot/rehash mentality”.  Anyways, here are the films that made those risks into completely worthwhile endeavors… Continue reading

Sean’s Top 10 Movies of 2015

When I think back to 2015, I’ll remember John falling asleep at the most exciting part of Furious 7. I’ll remember the last-minute “dream team” viewing of the second Avengers movie with friend-of-the-blog Paul Otteni and my dad. I’ll remember exhaustedly dropping myself into a Washington, DC theater seat to watch Tomorrowland, just because I couldn’t bear any more walking. I’ll remember my car not getting out of the shop in time and my friends having to make multiple trips between Seattle and the Eastside just so we could all be disappointed by The Good Dinosaur (dinosaurs were such a letdown in 2015). Basically, I’ll remember how fun it is to go to the theater and give yourself over to a movie. It’s an experience I cherish, and one I think I did more often than any other year.
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You’re Tearing Me Apart, Lisa!


I think I’m a huge fan of Charlie Kaufman’s brand of introspective cinema. I certainly love his combination of quirk, genuine weirdness, existential terror he managed to blend into movies like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But there was a loftiness to those films that I just felt Anomalisa didn’t have. It’s a question asked knowing no one can answer, more like a poem than the novels I want from Kaufman.

Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis, this is a stop motion movie, I should mention) is a man living in isolation. He’s on a trip to Cincinnati to speak at a conference, but can’t work up much enthusiasm about that, nor his ritzy hotel or really anything. So alone is he that it sounds like everyone, literally everyone else in the movie, has exactly the same voice – Tom Noonan. He’s not sure if he’s losing his grip or if there’s a massive conspiracy going on, but Michael’s monotone world is definitely pushing him to his breaking point – until he hears another voice: Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a woman just down the hall.

There are certain traces of one of my favorite movies, Lost in Translation, in Anomalisa. Both tell the stories of older men, deep into dealing with existential crises, who seek revitalization in a younger woman who is staying in the same hotel. But the crisis of Anomalisa is a nightmarish one, despite it often being played for laughs, Michael is genuinely in a bad place and finding a way out won’t be easy.

There are so few stop motion movies these days, and even fewer of them have anatomically correct puppets. Anomalisa is a decidedly adult story, steeped in sophisticated ideas that would probably be quite alarming to a child. Does the story of a customer service expert losing the ability to distinguish between people have to be animated? No, but it’s not for you or I to question such things.

After doing so much wonderfully, Anomalisa really left me hanging with its final scenes. It’s easy to guess that just as indignant as I was, just as confused as Michael, so too was Kaufman, who was probably dealing with his own similar problems and trying to address them by making this movie. I guess the great lesson in all this is you must look for answers within, which is something. Not damn near enough.

Dead Man Crawling

The Revenant

I think a lot of us heard something about Hugh Glass sometime after Michael Punke’s novel The Revenant came out about a decade ago. I certainly heard the story about the man who was torn in half by a bear, put back together, left for dead, and crawled six million miles just so he could kill the guys who left him. And sure, a lot of movies are about revenge, but how the hell do you turn that into a film?

One way is to give the project to Alejandro González Iñárritu, hot off of turning a person’s state of mind into an aesthetic in Birdman, and reteaming him with Emmanuel Lubezki, one of the masters of showing insane events from one person’s point-of-view. That’s a good start, what gets them the rest of the way? Well, a script that changes events in smart ways and good performances, of course.

The Revenant is set in the harsh west, the scary, untamed American wilderness of the early 19th Century. Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is guiding a band of trappers led by Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), a man with utmost respect for Glass’ expertise. Their group includes Glass’ Native American son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), another boy, roughly the same age, named Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), and the guy who disagrees with everything Glass says, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). The trappers are attacked by an Arikara war party and forced to book it back to the nearest fort, which leads to new route choices, which eventually leads to Glass ending up between a bear and her cubs.

There’s no coincidence that the bear which mauls Glass is trying to protect her offspring, one thing The Revenant is about is a parent’s instinct to protect their child. We’ll soon learn that the leader of the Arikara is looking for his daughter, who was kidnapped by white men. Similarly, Glass’ great motivation throughout the film is his son, who he is ready to die to protect. It’s a safe choice, since revenge movies about dudes trying to save/avenge their wives/sons/daughters have a long track record of success in Hollywood, but I wonder if what could have been a pure story of survival needed to be turned into this.

Plus, it’s not that The Revenant is even solely about the toxic nature of revenge. This movie has a loftier ambition: to show just how hard it is for humans to survive in nature. We forget how powerful the earth is, we romanticize it – pretty flowers and sunsets and all that. When we speak of nature’s danger, we focus on disasters like floods or earthquakes. But even just cold of winter was enough to kill people for pretty much all of human history. During one pivotal scene, a character is shot to death and then immediately an avalanche falls in the background, as if mother nature is roaring “you people have nothing on me.”

An adventure this big deserves to be seen on the big screen, and that’s the legacy of The Revenant to me. As much as I respected to work done by DiCaprio and Hardy, it was the commitment to filming outside using only natural light that wowed me the most. That I think this is the best shot movie in a year that Sicario came out is hopefully a testament to how well Iñárritu and Lubezki honor the old film axiom “show, don’t tell.” They show us a harsh world that we tried to hide from in our apartments, malls, and parks.

Life is bleak and short and hard and it can get ripped away from you in an instant unless you’re willing to fight to hold onto it. I love a lot of stories that try to tell us that there’s a beauty in that, but this is the opposite. The Revenant shows that it’s an ugly, hopeless struggle. You have to measure yourself against that fact. Does it make you want to quit, or does it make you want to fight even harder?