Mark Stevens is an actor and screenwriter living in Hollywood. We publish his Top 10 films
every year as a guest critic.
Here are his picks:
1. THE BIG SHORT - it is a movie of its time that might not be a classic film, but it makes you laugh, get angry as hell, and tear up within the same 10 minutes. That is an amazing accomplishment.
2. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD - Pure, beautiful chaos. A feat of movie-making. Literally a non-stop, two hour chase that lets up for ...ninety seconds in the middle.
3. SICARIO - Realism. No rules. This is the nature of the drug trade and its horrors, and this movie does not shy away. Masterfully shot by Roger Deakins. Movies like this grab you, demanding your attention. A+ acting all around. Benicio got robbed of an Oscar nod.
4. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - Yes, a carbon copy of the original trilogy, but an engaging and emotional return to the space saga. It leaves a lot, plot wise, to the next episode, but it is masterfully directed.
5. THE HATEFUL EIGHT - A smash-em-up second half almost destroys the great buildup of the first. Basically, it's an homage to THE THING set in a Western backdrop, with a little bit of CLUE mixed in. Great acting all around, an amazing score by Morricone, and terrific cinematography in 70mm.
6. THE REVENANT - An amazing movie, but only an amazing one note. Dicaprio has had more to work with in other films before, but the simplistic brutality of this, and his amazing suffering through it, might finally tip the Oscar scales in his favor.
7. TRUMBO - Great look at the blacklisted writers and what they dealt with during the Red Scare.
8. ROOM - Going into this movie knowing NOTHING about the plot is the way to go. A revelation of freedom, and what beauty there is in the world that we all must appreciate, knowing how it wasn't even comprehended by a child.
9. EX MACHINA - the future is scary.
10. BLACK MASS - One of the most original angles to tell a story about the mob, and it's true. Perhaps the film should have been told from the perspective of the FBI Agent Connelly. Might have been a masterpiece then, due to the amazing arc of the character. Depp and Edgerton are fantastic.
Honorable Mention: KINGSMAN, SPOTLIGHT, BRIDGE OF SPIES, CREED