2015

The Best, Worst and “In-Betweens” of 2015

Happy New Year 2015. 3d

2015 was…let’s face it…a pretty rough year as far as news goes, but it was also a year that brought us Star Wars, Jurassic Park and more adventures with The Avengers. Traditionally, I like to use the last weeks of the year to take a look at the Best and Worst parts of 2015, but not everything is bad or good, so I like to look at the “meh” moments as well. It’s no secret that since starting this blog 5 years ago, the “Best, Worst and “In-Betweens” list is my absolute favorite thing to write for my site. It’s a great way to talk about things I didn’t dedicate an entire article to and it’s a great way to spark conversation as well. So without further adieu, Here’s 2015’s Best, Worst and “In-Between” list

THE BEST OF 2015

2015 may be one of the best pop-culture years of the decade. This year brought us so much ranging from Star Wars to awesome future movie announcements to high speed llama chases. Here’s what made 2015 great at times:

Movies

forceawakensStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens-  This movie was A LOT better than it needed to be. It’s still super new, so I won’t go into any details to avoid spoiling it for anyone, but it was the most fun I’ve had watching Star Wars in a very long time.  Kylo Ren makes for a very interesting villain, as Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and BB-8 are awesome new characters to rally behind.  We also get to catch up on some old friends as well. I was super happy with the movie. Can’t wait to see what Episode 8 brings!


raptor squadJurassic World- I really loved this (shocking right?).  The movie had a lot of the original in it (dinosaurs escape and eat people), which might be why a fair number of people didn’t like it but for me it was still a really fun ride. It hit all the right nostalgia notes and definitely cements its place as the true sequel to Jurassic Park. I do have concerns as to where the next movie goes because I wasn’t a big fan of the military use subplot with the raptors. It was just really fun for me to see Jurassic World functioning as an operational theme park. As a kid that’s what I envisioned as I played with my dinosaur figures (of course daily dinosaur breakouts were common). This was a very fun trip back to Jurassic Park.


antmanAnt-Man- While Guardians of the Galaxy might have been Marvel’s biggest gamble with finding an audience, the same could almost be said about Ant-Man. As a founding member of the Avengers, Ant-Man is a lot more well-known than the Guardians of the Galaxy, but as a concept he comes off almost as risky for being a smash hit. Fortunately this movie turned out to be really cool. Of course we get a pretty disposable Marvel villain with Yellow Jacket but by using humor in the form of Michael Pena’s character and having the climax of the movie taking place fighting on a little girls Thomas the Tank Engine playset, this was a great movie. I’d probably throw it a little on the higher end of the middle as far as Marvel movies are concerned. I still wish I could have seen what Edgar Wright would have done with it, but I’m glad he still got a substantial amount of credit for the movie (he was attached to the film since the first Iron Man and ended up dropping out due to creative differences).


insideoutInside Out- Pixar finally let  us know what it’s like when our emotions have emotions. The movie was a lot of fun and I’m glad that this movie didn’t allow Sadness to take over like UP did. Sure, with it being a Pixar movie there’s definitely some sad moments, but overall this was a really cute movie. I especially loved the end when we saw the emotions of dogs and cats.


madmaxfuryMad Max: Fury Road- The return to the world of Mad Max topped many “best of” lists and for good reason. This was a fun trip into the wasteland.  Probably more entertaining than the film was the War Boy invasion on Amazon reviews for silver food coloring spray. “What a spray! What a lovely spray!!!”


kingsmenKingsmen: The Secret Service- This was sort of the Kick Ass for James Bond movies. Much like Kick-Ass did for superhero movies;  Kingsmen: The Secret Service takes the well-dressed British spy movies and flips it on its head.  Samuel L. Jackson was a great bad guy and it was really awesome to see Colin Firth murder-fight an entire church.

Honorable Mention: John Wick.…They killed his puppy so now he’s gonna kill all of them!!!

TV

Ash vs Evil DeadAsh vs Evil Dead– I literally wrote on my last blog update my spoiler-free review of the first episode of this series. I am loving what I’m seeing with this show. It’s great to have Ash back in the world of the Evil Dead and now with Burn Notice under his belt, Bruce Campbell has become a much better actor than when we last left Ash. The show hones in on the humor than made Army of Darkness great (unfortunately the only part of Army of Darkness they can do due to a rights issue with the AOD), but it also calls back to the original films as well. The show has been greenlit for another season which means we’ll see at least another year of Ash and that’s a good thing!


game-of-thrones-night-king1Game of Thrones- This show manages to top itself every season. This season the White Walker army vs Wildlings battle made the trial by combat with The Red Viper vs. The Mountain look like a playground skirmish. It might be my favorite moment of the series thus far. In addition we saw Stannis the Mannis display his questionable parenting skills, Ayria learn the ways of the assassin, and Danarys finds herself having trouble keeping her conquered city of Meereen under control. Oh then there’s that big debate of a certain character’s fate….but honestly it’s a pretty bad kept secret but I hope a certain kid gets murderized at the beginning of the new season.  It became pretty uncomfortable with the Sansa Stark storyline but the awesome White Walker battle was the coolest thing I’ve seen on TV and securely locks in a “Best of” spot.


wethotsummerWet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp- WAAAYYY back in 2001 when Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks and Paul Rudd were relatively unknown actors, they were in a great cult movie called Wet Hot American Summer.  Now just under 15 years later, we can see how it all started with the entire cast returning to play themselves while ignoring how much they’ve aged since the movie came out.  The series gives us very fun origins of the camp cook Gene, his talking can of vegetables, Associate Professor Henry Newman and Elizabeth Banks’ character of Lindsay.


John OliverJohn Oliver- I was a fan of John Oliver when he was a Daily Show correspondent and it just seems that when Last Week Tonight aired this season, it really hit a home run! Every few months a John Oliver segment becomes one of the highest trending stories on Facebook.  His segments on Standardized Teaching and Televangelism this year has been solid gold.


KimmyschmidtUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt- A few years ago 30 Rock aired their final episode.  Thankfully, some of the same creative minds carried over to this comedy and it felt very much in the same vein of humor. Kimmy Schmidt follows a former cult member that was locked away in an underground bunker as she adapts to life in New York City. This was definitely one of Netflix’s crown jewels this year. Catchy theme song too!


johnnykarateParks and Recreation Ends- I’ve grown to really enjoy the adventures in Pawnee, Indiana over the years. However, 2015 marked the Bittersweet but funny end to the series. I personally enjoyed a full episode dedicated to the Johnny Karate show and the finale allowed for us to see the future of Ron, Leslie, Ben, Andy, April, Crazy Craig, and Jerry.


daredevilNetflix Marvel- Daredevil was returned home to Marvel and rather than spend a lot of money on a reboot movie, Marvel and Netflix made a series. The series allowed for Daredevil to really come into his own as a street level hero taking on mobsters. The series is gritty, violent and way cooler than a 2 hour movie would have been. Next season we’ll see it with The Punisher!! Marvel also released AKA Jessica Jones. I have NOT seen that yet, but by all accounts of trustworthy friends it sounds like another awesome series.


jinxThe Jinx/Going Clear-  HBO documentaries were awesome this year.  The Jinx was a perfect hold over for fans of True Crime podcast Serial and focused on Robert Durst. The documentary was interesting in its own right but the real treat was the jaw-dropping final moments when Robert Durst  goes to the bathroom unaware of his microphone being left on rambles to himself “What did I do? Killed them all of course.”  The recording likely led to Durst’s arrest the day before the final episode aired. Going Clear on the other hand, was a scary expose on Scientology (I got sent one of their tests a few years ago… turned out that I’m filthy with thetans since I like to chew my nails, sometimes feel sad, and other human traits). These were very thought-provoking documentaries and worth a watch.


dave lettermanDavid Letterman Goodbye- Dave said goodbye to the Late show after 23 years.  I grew up with occasional watching of his shows and still love his crazy guest moments such as Joaquin Pheonix’s bizarre interview Drew Barrymore flashing him, and his general grouchiness when he was stuck in an interview he didn’t care about. Dave ended a very awesome career and I was glad that his final show contained one of his classic Drive Thru worker routines, candid moments with staffer kids where he just annoyed them as well as a performance by the Foo Fighters.


Music, Memes and Events

watermarsEvents (Best)-  2015 was a progressive year. We started to normalize relations with Cuba (bring on the cigars and rum!), the big hack of cheating website Ashley Madison revealed that a lot of people were talking to bots and the hack also gave the company an nice dose of Karma,  NASA found strong evidence of water on Mars, Harper Lee re-emerged to write a book, USA won the Women’s World Cup and the Supreme Court ruled that Gay and Lesbian couples could marry just weeks after the Confederate Flag was removed from several government buildings and was banned from being sold in retail stores (or as Rednecks liked to call it “the no good terrible summer”). So even though 2015 may not have been a great news year for good events, there were some good moments peppered throughout.


plutoPluto!-  Pluto gets a special event shout-out  because our solar system sort of broke up with it and didn’t include it anymore but then we got some photos of how good it looks now and to be honest I want Pluto back in! So does everyone else!


sofaritaSofaritas- Vegan/Vegetarian Chipotle! So I very late this year decided to become a part-time Veggiesaurus (seriously look up the health AND conservation benefits of doing 1-2 vegetarian meal days each week…it’s a good and healthy choice to make) . Anyway, it’s good to have take out options. My wife went full on veggiesaurus and finding good options can be a challenge for days you don’t wish to cook. It was nice to have this available.


bornsMusic- I’m not as heavily into music as I am movies and TV shows, but 2015 did bring some awesome stuff. People went nuts over Adele (rightfully so), but for me my favorite albums and songs came in the form of Borns, Chvrches, Misterwives, Iron Maiden, Of Monsters and Men, 21 Pilots and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.


llamasThe Llamas!- This was the most fun that helicopter footage has been  since high speed police chases became a thing.


pizza ratPizza Rat- Some people were grossed out by this, I on the other hand admired this little guy’s ambition. Be more like Pizza Rat next year!


raccoonToronto Raccoon– Sadly a raccoon died on a sidewalk in Toronto.  A man called the city to remove it, but 14 hours later due to a trend on Twitter with hourly updates, the Raccoon was given candles, photos, cards and a memorial fund before the city removed it.


hotline blingHotline Bling- Drake’s dancing was funny to begin with, but when the video edits of him playing tennis, tossing peperoni on a pizza and kicking a spider made its way online, this rapidly became a fun meme.


john cenaJohn Cena!– Unexpected John Cena stemmed from a fantastic radio prank call and sort of took off to have a life of its own by having the unexpected announcement of JOHN CENA followed by his obnoxious entrance music just as a TV or movie character begins to introduce themselves. It sort of ran its course now but it was funny for a little bit.


THE WORST OF 2015

2015 had a lot of bad moments, it just sort of became a year when Political Correctness clashed heavily with people, violence raged and some heroes fell pretty far from grace. On the movie side of things; I from all reports avoided watching a disaster of a Fantastic 4 movie, Jem and the Holograms lacked the fun of Josie and the Pussycats and the 40th Steve Jobs biopic released in the last few years was pulled after 2 weeks (although I believe it went up for some awards). Anyway, here’s some of the stuff (and mostly people) that gave 2015 a black eye :

parisEvents (Worst) –2015 sadly was a banner  year of terrorism, several public shootings,  a boiling point was hit with racial tensions and thorny police relations. Let’s be better humans next year, let’s stop being douchebags to one another, let’s stop killing each other, Jeez is it really that hard? Getting real sick and tired of this crap.


bluebellBlue Bell Shortage-  These days I prefer Ben and Jerry’s, but I felt the pain of those that were deprived of Blue Bell all summer following a recall after a listeria outbreak.  People love their Blue Bell and had to go 9 months without it. I mean completely first world problems, but 60% of my friends and family on Facebook are Texans and it was literally the Great Depression for them. It’s back now though!


christopher leeNotable Deaths- We saw Christopher Lee (aka Dracula, aka Saruman, aka Count Duku, aka real-life badass),   Leonard Nimoy (aka Mr. Spock) , Wes Craven, Yogi Bera, Yvonne Craig (original BatGirl), Rowdy Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, Scott Wieland and BB King among those that departed from our realm this year.(Edit: RIP Lemmy from Motorhead)


clock boyClock boy- What a mess this turned out to be! This started out as a Muslim boy in Texas  being detained for bringing a homemade clock to school.  A debate raged on whether the school  and police overreacted, if this was another case of xenophobia (news comment sections were rife with racism), ect. While not as heavily covered as his arrest, many were appalled to find out that his family moved out of the US after meeting the president and now is trying to sue the school for 15 Million, a notion that even offended some of his defenders.


caitlynCaitlyn Jenner- Goodbye Bruce, Hello Caitlyn. The issue for me wasn’t the sex change, it wasn’t necessarily all the PC back and forth.  It was that it just made the Kardashian family more of a talking point for the rest of the year.  This family just annoys me, but yet the Kardashian effect happens when people like me can’t stop talking about how they are annoyed by them being in the news all the time.  The entire family could get made into Wookies for all I care.


martin_shkreli4Pharm Dude-Bro Douche- When I began writing this list last week, this guy was a lock for the worst of 2015, but just days ago Karma caught up so I’m at a loss now. So Martin Shkreli became the most hated person for 2015 after his company acquired a lifesaving drug and raised the cost from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill (a 5,500% increase). He controversially showed no remorse for the outrage and even responded very poorly to people on Twitter (I just linked his actual verified account because he’s still making himself highly unlikable). He further angered people when it was revealed that he solely purchased a Wu-Tang Clan album for 2 million dollars while everyone was still angry with him. Throw in a highly punchable face and you can see why people hated him so much this year. Luckily he was arrested a few days ago due to securities fraud when an investigation revealed that he was running a Ponzi Scheme through some of his hedge funds. So at least this tale had a good ending.


jaredJared Fogle-  What happened Jared? You just had to promote sandwiches….instead he had sex with kids and now is going to jail.


hulksterHulk Hogan- “Whatcha gonna do Brother if a tape of saying the N-word surfaces of you?”. Well, if you’re the WWE, what you do is fire Hulk Hogan! You REALLY REALLY got to piss off Vince if you get fired for a racial slur. I mean this is the company that once had The Mexicools and had Virgil as the Million Dollar Man’s servant. They probably are being a lot more P.C.  these days, but just saying this is a company with a history of not giving tasteful gimmicks to minorities. They could have just said that was “Hollywood” Hogan (aka evil Hulkster) saying those things.  On one hand it was a private conversation recorded but the other hand….Jeez Hogan!!!! The damage has been done so don’t expect to see Hulkamania running wild any time soon.


kim davisKim Davis- Gay marriage was a big deal this year. The Supreme Court ruled in favor for allowing it. Some people weren’t happy but to each their own (People have a right to disagree). However, a clerk refusing to issue licenses or as some would say “not doing her job” became way too political of a situation. There’s multitudes of jobs that don’t require her to issue marriage certificates to gay couples, but just saying if I didn’t do my job I’d be told to find another job. Also she pissed Survivor off for playing Eye of the Tiger at a celebration after she was released from being jailed.


the dressThat #&%(ing dress!!!- I see blue and black…others see some white and gold Power Ranger color scheme.  This stupid photo spread like wildfire and became the most talked about garment of the year. I’m mostly mad because I seemed to be the only person at work that saw black and blue.


netflixNetflix and Chill- It’s 2015’s version of going upstairs for some coffee after a date….by coffee I mean sex…obviously (keep up people). I’ve been out of the dating game for quite some time, so maybe that’s why I give a smirk at best over memes showing what happens 15 minutes into Netflix and Chill. I’ll leave that for the single people. For me, Netflix and Chill means taking 45 minutes to decide what the hell to watch and then realizing I probably won’t finish watching whatever movie I end up selecting.


The “In-Betweens” of 2015

Not everything in 2015 was as clear cut “Best” or “Worst” for me. There were some things that I kinda liked but also had issues with and vice-versa. That’s why I never do a cut and dry Best and Worst list. There’s needs to be a shout-out to the “In-Betweens” as well!

ultronAvengers: Age of Ultron–  I love the Avengers movies. I even overlook the fact that in the solo movies, if Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor just called on the Avengers the problems they faced would have been neutralized.  The second round of Avengers gave us Ultron and his robotic army. New Allies came in the form of Quicksilver, Scarlett Witch Vision, and we got a lot of hints of Black Panther. However, the movie didn’t seem as awesome as the first adventure. It just felt like it lacked at times (maybe when we saw Hawkeye’s family….who might get killed by Thanos) but it just overall didn’t seem as strong as some of the other adventures we’ve already seen. It was still enjoyable but I guess my hopes were too high.


spectreSpectre– I liked that we got to see some iconic James Bond characters come into the Daniel Craig era, but some of the motivation of the film’s main villain came off as really odd to me and quite honestly it’s just one single line in the movie, but even though it seems like a stupid tacked on line, it really does some damage to the Bond mythos. It’s a newer movie so I won’t spoil it, but feel free to hit me up or comment below and I’ll gladly discuss the main issue I took to the new film. Otherwise, I enjoyed watching it (save for the tentacle porn nightmare montage…I kept laughing during it).  I do like where the film leaves us in the end should Daniel Craig return for another movie in a few years and Dave Bautista might have been one of the best henchmen since GoldenEye.  So I’m pretty balanced over it. Fortunately the movie isn’t too complicated with its plot (Quantum of Solace) but I felt it had too many callbacks at times to establish Craig-Bond as the Bond of old. Unfortunately, doing so sort of leans to Bond being a cold war era relic stuck in our current time as an weird anomaly rather than the badass post-9/11 terrorist hunter that made Casino Royal so awesome and fresh.    It was still fun to watch, but I’m confident in Bond’s next adventure.


birdmanBirdman- This movie came out as best picture,  I actually liked it in the theater  but it was sort of a movie I wanted to see once. I didn’t dislike it; I loved how it was all a one-shot 98% of the time,  Ed Norton basically played himself (probably his conflicts in this movie mirrored his real-life conflicts with Universal and Marvel over The Hulk “wasn’t he in…did he get fired or did he quit?” one person asks only to be answered “I think both”).  It was awesome to see Michael Keaton in a big role again and I liked how there were some moments best left to interpretation.  Other than that, I was fine just seeing it and moving on (same for Boyhood) while some of its competition at the Oscars The Grand Budapest Hotel, Intimidation Game and Theory of Everything were more likely to be  rewatched for me.


leftsharkLeft Shark- I gave this a meh. A lot of people really liked it, I was very lukewarm because Left Shark is still a way better dancer than I am.


john travoltaJohn Travolta- This is right in the middle because Confused John Travolta is rapidly climbing the ladder on best memes for me. However earlier this year, he really went bonkers at the Oscars….somewhere between WTF entertainment and a hint of sadness that Travolta might have completely lost it. It was an entertaining trainwreck to see as he creepily hugged Scarlett Johansson and then his uncomfortable face squeezing of Idina Menzel.

That’s another list in the books. If you want to time-travel be sure to check out the archive of my previous year end lists.

Well guys, did I leave something off? Did you disagree with any moments? Was I too hard on Avengers or Bond? Sound off below!

Have a fun and safe 2016!

-Brad