J.D.'s Best of 2015

I'm feeling a little under-prepared this year for my usual best of. My typical movie watching behavior puts me at around thirty films a year, about one every other week. This year, I think I've seen maybe a dozen. Of those, most were pretty darn good, a couple were not so good and a handful were surprisingly wonderful. Since that list isn't as robust as usual, that left me to think up a different kind of "best of" list for this year.

Here are my favorite things in 2015.

My new favorite network show of 2015:

The 100

I'm not the first person on this site to bring up The 100 in their "best of". There is something both unique and special about this mix of post apocalypse and survival tropes that make it a visceral experience to watch. Ignoring the first few episodes of teenage angst and the mostly forgettable love triangle, the series tackles complex emotional, political, and moral issues with an ease that most shows could only dream about. It asks its characters to make bold, often morally murky choices, and doesn't try to backpedal when that choice turns out to be a bad one. I'm very much looking forward to season three, and where the show goes from those cliffhangers.

My least favorite new network show of 2015:

Quantico

I don't get it. Why is this show even still on the air? With the horrible acting, clich├ęd plot, over use of soap opera-level drama and forced romance, the pilot was one of the worst things I watched all year. So can someone tell me why is it popular?

My new favorite streaming service show of 2015:

Jessica Jones

Sure, it's a bit of a cheat to have two shows on this list, but network shows and their yearlong episode structure are a very different beast from Netflix and the instantaneous binge fest drop of all its episodes at once. So with that flimsy excuse I give you my favorite streaming service show, Jessica Jones.

JJ is one of those series' that elevates the genre. Don't get me wrong, shows like Arrow, Flash, Daredevil, and Supergirl are doing things that we haven't seen before. But this one was different, and not just because of the adult content. Jessica Jones did a lot of the same things that I love about The 100. It forced its characters into morally compromising positions, and asked them to make tough choices. It didn't shy away from making them look human, which is interesting given that the show is about a woman who isn't entirely human.

My new favorite new network show of 2015:

Limitless

I know, I'm stretching my flimsy categories to the breaking point, but I had to mention this show. Taken as a direct sequel to the movie of the same name, it expands upon the potential of that movie and takes it to a very creative place. The FBI. Um, yeah, so it is basically a procedural on the surface, but at the same time it isn't one at all. Our main character is pretty much the reason why. The show takes his personal narration and point of view and runs with it, often times to pretty wild places. There was a recent episode where our hero Brian basically played out the first few scenes from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and it worked so well. Limitless is playful, and character driven, well written and funny. This is the kind of show I love, and I never would have guessed it would be my breakout favorite for this new crop of fall shows.

My new favorite video game of 2015:

Fallout 4

Immersive, funny, dramatic, exciting, and huge. Fallout 4 does a lot of things I haven't seen before in a video game. Of course that is probably because this is my first foray into this particular series, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. From the small touches of detail, to the vast effort to describe this alternate reality where nuclear power became our primary source of energy, everything has a place in this crazy world. I'm not too terribly far into the story yet, but from what I hear it is as impressive as the world building.

My new favorite character of 2015:

Supergirl

I don't really love the show yet, but I really love the main character. She is strong, but still feminine. Bright and emotional and vulnerable without feeling whiny or weak. I'm invested in her story, and I wish the plots were as strong as she is. Mostly it is because of the actress playing her, Melissa Benoist. She is the heart of the series, and I doubt anyone would still be watching if it were not for her.

My new least favorite character of 2015:

The Doctor

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but there is something off with the new Doctor. I know I'm a couple of seasons late to the party voicing this opinion, but what happened? Everything I loved about the Doctor as a character from the Tennant era seems to have been systematically removed from this incarnation. I know he's supposed to be more like the original Doctors, but if that is the case I really have no idea what the appeal is. Capaldi's turn as the Doctor has driven me from a show I've watched faithfully for seven years, that's definitely something I'm not too happy about.  Maybe the next incarnation will work for me.

My new list of favorite movies of 2015 (except for the top 2):

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Insurgent, San Andreas, Terminator: Genisys, Jurassic World, Furious 7, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant Man, Creed, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Mad Max: Fury Road. 

Each of these had something I liked. Granted, some were not as good as the rest, and a couple were more of a guilty pleasure than actually quality films.

My new second favorite movie of 2015:

The Martian

For an adaptation of a book that I loved, I couldn't have been more thrilled with the result. Not only was this movie well made, the casting was excellent, and the writing, direction, and cinematography were all top notch. But the acting choices were what really stood out to me. Specifically Matt Damon, and this is coming from someone who is definitely not a fan of his previous work. He managed to capture the heart of what made Andy Weir's character so great, and that is why this is such a good movie.

My new favorite movie of 2015:

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I'm guessing for most of you, this isn't much of a surprise. There were a lot of sequels this year, but for me, the biggest question mark was Episode VII. The question of whether the franchise could survive both Lucas leaving and the Mouse taking over. Would J.J. Abrams pull another 'Into Darkness'? In some ways yes, the film suffers a bit from an overuse of homage. But that turned out to not be such a big flaw for me, as much as an easy foundation to launch this new trilogy of stories. That big negative was also more than balanced by the sheer fun of the experience. From the nearly perfect new characters, to the amazing visuals, this movie was everything I hoped it would be and more. That is why it is my new favorite movie of 2015.

I'll call out Mission Impossible, Mad Max, and The Avengers as the lower three of my top five.

Here's to another year of fun and exciting new shows and movies in 2016!
---
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

5 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

JD, thank you for this list! I'll definitely check out Limitless--I had wondered if it was any good.

ChrisB said...

I've been looking for a new show and Limitless looks right up my alley. Thanks for the suggestion. Great post.

Billie Doux said...

I'm enjoying Limitless, too. It even got me to try the movie. I like the movie less.

Mallena said...

Totally agree about Doctor Who. Matt Smith was so warm and emotional that the new (Old) Doctor, Peter Capaldi, turned me off from his first moments on screen. I've stopped watching and won't watch again until the next regeneration. It's like the new doctor lost his recent memories. I don't get it.

Lamounier said...

J. D., you nailed the point of why The 100 is so good. It has its flaws but it is so unique and it has delivered great drama on several occasions. The second half of season two, sans The Peregrination of Jaha, is brilliant.

Your flimsy excuses to have three favorite new shows on your list made me laugh.