We’ve spent the past year in the company of some wonderful movies — heartrending romances, boisterous comedies, and the sort of action and adventure films that remind you just how thrilling a trip to the theater can be. But, no matter where we aim to lay our focus for any given two hours, these 11-and-a-half months have been lined with one consistent cinematic concern: the upcoming release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens , which finally hit theaters on December 18. However, we all should have been prepared for more reasons than one, because the movies of 2015 prepared us for Star Wars.
I may pride myself on devoting my attention to the sheer mass of movies that came out in 2015 — seeing everything from Age of Adeline to Z for Zacharia — but there’s no denying my unending obsession with the first in this generation’s string of Star Wars pictures. Everyone is obsessed. I'm obsessed. So much so that I've even caught myself watching one or two (or 70) of the year’s feature films through the lens of anticipating my return to that galaxy far, far away.
Sure, it may not have been entirely fair to the movies at hand to view some of their strongest scenes as little more than prompts of memories of past Star Wars glory, or anticipation of that yet to be. But what are you gonna do? The Dark Side has take me, corrupting my views of these and many other great 2015 films…
Mad Max: Fury Road
What we watched: Reformed baddie Nux ramming his rig between the walls of a tiny stone pass in order to save his new friends from pursuing war dogs.
What I saw: A once ambivalent Han Solo returning to the side of his pal Luke Skywalker just in time to aid in the delivery of proton torpedoes into the space station’s minuscule, but highly vulnerable, opening.
What we watched: Our adorable hero Paddington falling frightfully down a fiery building shaft to what looks to be his certain doom.
What I saw: The malevolent Emperor Palpatine tossed to his demise… or Luke Skywalker dive-bombing to escape the wrath of a lightsaber-wiedling Darth Vader… or Boba Fett knocked unceremoniously into the Sarlac Pit. A lot of people fall in Star Wars.
What we watched: Road-tripping lovers Therese Belivet and Carol Aird betrayed by a friendly traveler who turns out to be a private investigator spying on the pair on behalf of the latter’s ex-husband Harge.
What I saw: Han Solo betrayed by his supposed friend, Cloud City bigwig Lando Calrissian, to a menacing Darth Vader.
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter
What we watched: The titular Kumiko undone by the unforgiving climate of a wintry North Dakota.
What I saw: Hoth.
Age Of Adaline
What we watched: Harrison Ford, giving a damn for the first time since The Fugitive.
What I saw: A new hope.
What we watched: The Wachowskis creating strange realms, alien races, and interplanetary governing conflicts.
What I saw: Everything we loved — and plenty that we didn’t — about all six Star Wars films. Say what you will about Jupiter Ascending, but it’s the closest thing to a Lucasfilm picture that we’ve gotten in over a decade.
What we watched: The crowd going wild over that climactic resurgence of the original, unmistakable Rocky theme song.
What I saw: The opportunity to get just as excited about John Williams’ immaculate Star Wars score.
What we watched: The ascension of an ingenious wunderkind through the folds of an unforgiving, war-laden realm to claim his stature as a god, ruling mercilessly over a galaxy of helpless souls.
What I saw: Does this one really warrant clarification?
What we watched: A sociopathic Oscar Isaac breaking out some sweet dance moves.
What we saw: Promise of the greatest musical number to hit the Star Wars universe since Max Rebo played the Mos Eisley Cantina.
What we watched: Double-whammy! In this one, we got incestuous siblings — played by Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain — and characters taking ghastly form after death.
What I saw: Another reminder that Luke and Leia totally kissed once, and that Jedi really aren’t bound by the margins of mortality.
See what I mean? The movies have been preparing us for Star Wars this entire time, and we didn't even realize it.
Images: Disney; StudioCanal; The Weinstein Company/StudioCanal; Amplify; Universal Pictures (2); Lionsgate; Warner Bros (2)