Rather than do a Film Friday review, I thought I'd just take a look at what the film landscape has been like this year and what lies ahead as we get into the good season.
My top 5 films so far are as follows:
1) Guardians of the Galaxy
2) The Lego Movie
3) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4) Gone Girl
5) X-Men: Days of Future Past
But as good as those five films are, we've had an unusually high number of films that were less than stellar. I went with friends to The Expendables 3 expecting nothing and found myself underwhelmed. Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Maleficent were easily the two biggest disappointments of the year. I thought Godzilla was just okay and unintentionally hilarious in some scenes.
Based on the upcoming fall and holiday slate, I fully expect my top 10 to look radically different come January. In terms of other book-based movies, The Fault in Our Stars is in the top 10, but Divergent missed the cut. Frankly, I thought Divergent could have been trimmed, but it was by no means the worst adaptation of the year. That honor belongs to Maleficent. Audiences can tell when a script or book is written scattershot (this summer's Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a textbook example of how not to create a superhero movie — and audiences promptly blasted it online for its shoddy plot). Guardians, Lego and Gone Girl were the total opposite and very well composed. Other factors I look at include the acting, the level of anticipation vs. the payoff and memorable dialogue. In these categories, all five of the top films delivered.
Comparative to last year, I think the quality is down. We had an amazing October last year (Gravity, Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave were released in back-to-back-to-back weeks) after a decent summer. Because some films underwhelmed in public opinion this summer, the market feels more down than it probably is. I don't think we're going to get that same kick in quality we got this time last year until late November.
As far as upcoming films go, the schedule is dominated by Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. Arguably the most important movie to come out of Hollywood in years and my No. 1 overall most anticipated of the entire year, the film could allow certain filmmakers to pursue original projects. Audiences like to rip the industry for running out of ideas and at times, that pessimism is warranted (Exhibit A: The Transformers series). If Interstellar is as good as it looks, audiences and the industry as a whole could get a lasting ripple effect of quality, original films that tout ideas and make viewers think rather than cater to the lowest common denominator.
Other films I'm dying to see are Unbroken and Big Hero 6. I'll do a more detailed look at the holiday slate as it gets closer, but now it's your turn: What was your favorite movie this year so far? Is there one you're looking forward to later this year?