TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2015
It’s that time again – my favorite movies of 2015! But if you want to see what I liked previous years, check out these links:
Wow, 2015 was an amazing year for movies. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time narrowing down to ten favorite films. This was a year that genre films ruled – horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and action all got amazing contributions to their field.
After an extremely weak showing in 2014, horror bounced back this year. While art-horror family dramas are still receiving all the buzz (I’m looking at you, GOODNIGHT, MOMMY) there was plenty of weirdo, gory, and transgressive movies being released in the underground. Hell, there were so many that I didn’t even get to see everything I wanted to this year (namely a ton of underground Japanese movies that I wasn’t aware of until the end of the year).
Mainstream mass release movies were also bit by the genre bug this year with MAD MAX, THE AVENGERS, and STAR WARS dominating the box office and best-of lists (but none of those movies are on my top ten). It’s hard to miss the fact that those three movies are all sequels. I frequently hear people bemoan the number of sequels and remakes released and that “there’s no new ideas.” In reality, there’s plenty of original and great movies coming out – you just have to look for them/actually watch them. I was very pleased when I realized that my top ten list doesn’t have a single sequel or remake.
In terms of original filmmaking, 2015 may have been the best year of the 10’s thus far.
Enough buildup, let’s get to the list!
HONORABLE MENTIONS OF 2015: THE VOICES, IT FOLLOWS, GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, CAM GIRLZ, EX MACHINA, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3, ATTACK ON TITAN, UNFRIENDED, THE VISIT, and DEEP DARK.
All those movies listed above are worth checking out – there was just so much good shit this year! But I had to have favorites, and here they are:
10: CHAPPIE (Neill Blomkamp, United States)
We got two sci-fi movies this year that dealt with the concept of artificial intelligence. EX MACHINA was the critical darling and I get why – it’s technically excellent. But I preferred CHAPPIE. While EM stuck to one aspect of A.I. to explore it fully, CHAPPIE gloriously throws everything against the wall and doesn’t give a shit if it sticks – family, religion, government, law, personal responsibility, and tons more weighty topics are hit one after another in a movie over-flowing with ideas and passion.
Plus, Die Antwood playing the main characters was the most inspired casting of any film this year.
9: EVERLY (Joe Lynch, United States)
Joe Lynch (KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM) finally returns and this time he has a movie that he actually had full control of! Salma Hayek plays a prostitute (Everly) who is targeted by the Yakuza after they discover she has been working with the police. What follows is ninety minutes of pure blood-soaked chaos. Lynch shows what a creative mind can do with a relatively low budget and amazingly sets almost the entire movie in one room and hallway. The limited sets and claustrophobic feeling only add to the desperation as Everly fights off wave after wave of attackers.
In a year in which female stars in action movies got a lot of attention, EVERLY went sadly beneath most viewers’ radar. Fuck Furiosa. Fuck Rey. Everly was the most badass woman on the silver screen this year.
8: CLOWN (Jon Watts, United States/Canada)
I love movies like this, an absolutely ridiculous premise but played deathly serious. The movie is about a man who puts on a demon-possessed clown costume and now he is turning into a clown/demon with a taste for children. As absurd as that sounds, the movie never goes for laughs and instead embraces the surreal terror of the situation. This was the surprise body-horror hit of the year for me. If you dig twisted shit like early Cronenberg, TUSK, or the HUMAN CENTIPEDE series – you need to check this out.
Plus, the entire movie is about killing children. Which I always argue we need more of in film.
7: CALL ME LUCKY (Bobcat Goldthwait, United States)
Who would have thought that a documentary made by Bobcat Goldthwait about stand-up comedian Barry Crimmins would be the darkest film of the year. The movie starts off as a documentary about a comedian but then the viewer finds out about a violent rape Crimmins suffered as a child. The documentary shifts then into the story of Crimmins being one of the first people to begin to expose the predatory online practices of pedophiles.
By the end of this movie you will be furious at law enforcement, organized religion, and internet providers that all “allowed” more children to become victims. This is powerful, disturbing, and, yet by the end, strangely life-affirming.
Goldthwait has been proving himself over recent years to be one of the most interesting working filmmakers out there (GOD BLESS AMERICA, WORLD’S GREATEST DAD, and SLEEPING DOGS LIE) and this is his best, and heaviest, yet.
6: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (Matthew Vaughn, United States/United Kingdom)
From the wonderfully crass and over-the-top combination of Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar (that gave up the glorious KICK-ASS series) comes another ultra-violent destruction of genre tropes. This time they set their eyes on James Bond and other spy movies. They ramp up the sexism, nationalism, and violence of the spy genre to eleven to create a vicious satire pointing out how fucked-up those movies are. Crass, irreverent, and gleefully nihilistic – if more spy movies were like this, I might actually care about the genre.
And the church fight was one of the best scenes in any movie this year.
5: WE ARE STILL HERE (Ted Geoghegan, United States)
This was a wonderful horror shocker that seemed to come out of nowhere. A haunted house story with some very, very gory surprises. I can’t say much about the plot without spoiling things but I haven’t seen a movie in many years that invoked so much of the feel of the 70’s and 80’s Italian horror. Nightmare logic, surreal villains, and vicious violence made this the best straight-up horror film of the year.
It feels so much like a lost Fulci film. Seriously, what else do I need to say?
4: DUDE BRO PARTY MASSACRE III (Tomm Jacobsen, Michael Rousselet, and Jon Salmon, United States)
From the people behind 5-Second Films comes the greatest slasher parody of all-time. Presenting itself as a lost movie from the 80’s, this movie hilariously deconstructs and gender-flips every trope from the era to create movie where you truly have no idea what will happen from minute to minute.
I could go on and on about the creative brilliance on display here but that would take away from the film’s many surprises. If you like stupidly clever, low-budget trash (think Troma and Astron-6), you’ll love this movie.
3: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, New Zealand)
Considering that this movie is practically on everyone’s top ten of the year list, I don’t have much to add to the conversation. Other than the fact that there’s a reason this was on everyone’s list – it’s easily the funniest movie of the year. If, somehow, you haven’t heard of this vampire mockumentary, unfuck that and watch the trailer below.
2: YAKUZA APOCALYPSE (Takashi Miike, Japan
Takashi Miike (ICHI: THE KILLER, HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS, DEAD OR ALIVE, and many more) finally returns to his weirdo cult roots and gives us a film packed with vampires, martial arts, and the world’s greatest terrorist wearing a full-body frog costume. This is a special type of movie for a special type of person – most people would HATE this movie. But if you’re like me and enjoy absurdism, nonsensical violence, and scenes over-flowing with pure weird, you’ll find a lot to love here.
1: SPRING (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, United States)
Here we are, my favorite movie of the year and it’s a romance. Seriously.
SPRING is the second film from the genius writer/director pair that gave us RESOLUTION (which is one of my favorite horror movies of the past few years) and they have returned with a film that is truly something special and completely unique. Combing romance with pure Lovecraftian cosmic horror in a manner that neither genre overwhelms the other was a balancing act that should be impossible but, somehow, SPRING nails it.
I wish I could tell you more but it is really best to go into this movie blind. Great acting, amazing cinematography, gorgeous sets, and a fantastic script made this into the standout of the year for me.
Between RESOLUTION and now SPRING, Benson and Moorhead are at the top of my list of new horror filmmakers to keep an eye on.
WHAT AM I LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2016
ABATTOIR (Darren Lynn Bousman, United States)
I’m a sucker for a good haunted house movie and ABATTOIR has one of the most original spins on the concept that I’ve ever heard. It’s about someone who “makes” a haunted house by taking rooms from other houses that were the scenes of violent crimes and assembling them together into a new house. It’s such a simple and brilliant idea. There’s no release date yet but I’m hoping I don’t have to wait too long to see it.
So that’s my list for 2015. Agree? Think I’m full of shit? Let me know in the comments.
And before everyone starts asking, I didn’t like MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (yep, there are people that didn’t like that movie) and I didn’t see STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (I’m more of STAR TREK and DOCTOR WHO kinda guy).