I recently saw Creed, the latest installment in the Rocky series of films, and even though I went into it as someone who's not seen any other Rocky films (I know, I know), it was brilliant. The directing, the photography, the performances, everything was great. Looking back on last year (as this is a 2015 release), I think it might have to be my film of the year. The lack of Oscar recognition was disappointing, but no surprising (Creed definitely doesn't ave any Slave Sauce on it).
I loved how it showed lots of different interpretations of masculinity: Adonis was allowed to be a fighter, an office worker, a lover and a carer. It also didn't go for cheap drama; characters were almost entirely honest and straightforward with each other, and where they weren't, a) They had understandable reasons for it, and b) Whoever they'd been less than honest with reacted understandably. Avoiding the cheap dramatics certainly made me more invested in the characters, and want things to turn out well for them.
Some people have commented on the fact that Creed includes a very rare portrayal of black love on the big screen, and I thought Adonis and Bianca's relationship was really fun and sweet to watch. I also like that the script didn't make Bianca have to be the 'strong black woman' and suck up her anger at Adonis to help him care for Rocky. She wasn't portrayed as a heartless bitch, just as someone who was being reasonable in taking care of themselves and, having done that, was there for Adonis when he needed her and she was able to be.
Michael B Jordan's performance and the direction literally had my heart pounding at certain points, especially in the fight scenes. Now that Ryan Coogler has got the job of directing Black Panther, he certainly has shown that he can do exciting combat scenes. The dirtbike training scene was another holdout, and served as a great tribute / update of Rocky's iconic stair sequence. It deserves to become equally iconic.
There's more I could praise in it: Stallone's performance, which is a great reminder that he can be a good actor, the amazing score which moved so effectively between orchestral, to retro-original-Rocky style disco, to hip-hop. Also, personal note: I loved the old guys in Adonis' training team. I would watch a spin-off movie of them just hanging around, chatting.
If you've seen it, or if you have a different filmof the year, let me know in the comments, or tell me on Twitter.