Backcountry, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, The Walk, We Are Your Friends, Spring, Tangerine, Chappie, Ex Machina, Steve Jobs, Creed, Beasts of no Nation, Lace Crater, The Night Before, Kingsman, Predestination
10. Crimson Peak
If you didn't see Crimson Peak in Imax, you absolutely fucking missed out. In Imax, Crimson Peak was the most visceral, immersive horror movie experience I've had at a theatre The movie didn't even need 3-D to give me that immersive, "I am there in that haunted house" feeling. All this talk of "Crimson Peak is not really a horror, but it's a Victorian romance with horror", STFU! It's a horror movie with a Victorian romance to it.
This is horror filmmaking in its absolute top form. It's maybe the most beautiful looking horror film I've ever seen. I know it won't win, but god damn it, give them an Oscar for best art direction, as the haunted house is absolutely incredible and gorgeous to look at, might I add Oscars for cinematography, and sound editing/mixing as well. Name me one horror movie with more effective sound effects than this one.
All that aside, I think the performances are solid, I dug the romance, and while the movie picks its few moments of violence, holy fuck does the movie deliver on its violence and it really makes it count. If you haven't seen Crimson Peak, and if you don't have a big TV, try to seek out a friend with a big ass TV (at least 50 inches) with a damn good sound system as well. This is a horror movie to truly lose yourself in this world.
9. Cop Car
I thought TAKEN had the single best threatening scene of all time with Neeson's iconic, "I will find you and I will kill you" speech, but Cop Car has a scene where a character issues a threat to two children, and it's darkly hilarious, demented, and absolutely fucking menacing and it's a speech you will never ever forget. Cop Car states a case that sometimes simplicity is a good thing. A simple premise, two children find a cop car with keys in it, and they go for a joy ride, not knowing what's in the trunk, or the fact that the cop that the car belongs to is one crooked, evil fucker played by Kevin Bacon in one of his best roles.
I've ranted about this a lot, but I'll do it again. You don't always need a big budget to make a thrilling movie. Cop Car had probably 1/100th of Fast and Furious Seven or MI's budget; while those movies were fun eye candy, they sure as hell didn't have the intensity and raise my pulse like COP CAR, where the action scenes are low key and subdued, but intense as fuck. That's what happens when you take the time to establish and develop the characters; you make the audience more invested in the action scenes (and kudos to the filmmakers for their leisure pace as I'm sure some people would get restless, but I thought the pacing was perfect). Very good dark comedy as well. It was sort of like Stand by Me meets Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
8. The Big Short
My picks for #8 and #7 are both movies about the real estate economic collapse clusterfuck of 2008, which take different approaches to the subject matter. My pick for #8 is a bigger, more grand scale explanation of the financial collapse, while my #7 pick tells a much more personal story. Both movies are great in their own ways, and it was almost tempting to make this spot a tie between both movies...but ties are for pussies.
Of all the movies nominated for best adapted screenplay, I really hope The Big Short gets this Oscar. It was also robbed of the best comedy golden globe award. What these filmmakers have done is incredibly difficult. To be able to take such a dry, complicated subject matter like the real estate - world economy collapse of 2008 and turn it into such an entertaining, hilarious as fuck comedy movie, while being educational and explaining every little detail about the financial collapse in simple terms to people who don't understand this financial shit at all is a huge fucking accomplishment. This must have been one difficult script to write. Credit goes also to Adam Mckay for directing this movie such an energetic, unique style. It's a movie that very well could have been boring, but a boring moment is rarely ever found.
What a solid cast! Steve Carell was robbed of an Oscar nomination as his role was far more memorable than Christian Bale's. And Ryan Gosling makes for one of my all time favorite narrators. Every time he's on screen, he never fails to make the audience laugh. Adam Mckay has manged to make one of the funniest movies of the year out of a subject matter that really seems difficult to make funny, so kudos to him! I now forgive Mckay for Anchor Man 2.
7. 99 Homes
I'm giving this one the slight edge over The Big Short. Is it necessarily the better movie? They're both great movies in what they try to achieve, but I think this one resonated with me a little more as it tells a more personal story. 99 Homes moreso than Big Short puts a lot more focus on the victims; the low income people who's lives have been completely turned upside down due to the greed of the richest 1%. An early scene of our protagonist (Andrew Garfield) and his family getting evicted is so fucking raw and intense, and unless you're one of the heartless 1%, that scene will absolutely make your blood boil.
99 Homes is fascinating because it does present an interesting moral conundrum. After being evicted, unable to find work, and moving his family into a fucking motel to live, through perhaps contrived circumstances, he ends up getting a job with the ruthless business man that evicted him (a role that absolutely should have won Michael Shannon an Oscar, let alone nominated...what the fuck, Oscars?). Michael Shannon's character teaches him the business and all the shady illegal ways to make a fuckload of money, and Andrew Garfield's character soon enough takes over the job, evicting poor people from their homes.
It makes for a very interesting moral conundrum. It's easy to judge him, but for the rough shit he goes through, can you really blame him? Can you say with all certainty that you wouldn't do the same thing if your family was evicted and living in a motel? Maybe greed is within us all. If we had the same opportunities to get rich as the Wallstreet bankers, how do we know we wouldn't jump all over that shit?
99 Homes has been described as the Wallstreet of real estate, and the similarities are definitely there including the relationship between the young man and his mentor (Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas/Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon), the borderline villainous greedy rich guy that takes the young man under his wing and teaches him the business. Michael Douglas's Gekko and Michael Shannon's Rick Carver even both have a monologue justifying greed. The similiarities are definitely there, but 99 Homes to me the much better movie, with better developed characters, a more interesting moral conundrum, and as good as Michael Douglas's "Greed is good" speech is, I think Michael Shannon's Noah's Ark speech about how America only bails out the winners is phenomenal, and yes, the latter takes a huge shit on the former.
6. Inside Out
Pixar's best movie since Toy Story 3, and a definite return to greatness! This is what we want from Pixar movies which has been lacking for the past few years, a visually dazzling movie that will entertain the kids, but an intellectually stimulating movie for adults, as well as one that will emotionally resonate as well, with an original premise.
Inside Out is probably the most psychologically complex movie Pixar has done so far. The human brain is the single most complex object in the entire universe, and the representation of the world of the brain in Inside Out is done with so much imagination. Making characters out of each human emotion and how it controls the person is brilliant. I have read a complaint which I do agree with, which is that Joy and Sadness's journey does go on a little long (this is mostly to entertain the kids), but their journey does lead to the movie's big moral which I won't give away, but god damn what an important life lesson it is.
5. The Stanford Prison Experiment
Here's a rare movie that gave me Psychology 101 nostalgia. Instead of the excitement of seeing a novel come to life in a movie screen, I felt like a huge nerd exclaiming, "This study I read about in my psychology textbook over a decade ago is being adapted to the big screen! Can't wait!" The experiment in a nutshell: Dr. Philip Zimbardo designed an experiment, taking 18 students, then splitting them up: 9 guards and 9 prisoners, using a school basement as a makeshift prison, and the experiment was supposed to last for 2 weeks. Keep in mind these are all smart, educated students, with the identity roles picked at random. The results were truly shocking when the guards ended up taking their roles way too seriously, abusing their powers to no end, while the people playing the role of prisoners ended up being passive, folding to the power of authority, even being convinced of their fake wrong doings to end up in prison. It's a fucking weird thing about the human psyche, someone can appear to be a very normal, nice, level headed person...slap a cop uniform on, give them a little power, and they completely transform into a different person.
This is a fascinating, disturbing psychological study of conformity, authority, and identity roles and the roles that it plays on the human psyche. What was the most interesting insight the movie provided which I don't remember reading in the textbook, the actual psychologists who designed the experiment themselves, the experiment even turned them into monsters; in fact Dr. Philip Zimbardo who designed the experiment arguably became the biggest monster himself out of everyone; even worse than the guards and couldn't even see it. A small part of me was rooting for the prisoners to revolt, but...that didn't happen in real life and showed that ultimately humanity bows down to power and obedience prevails. This is not an easy movie to sit through as it's frustrating and bound to anger you to no end, but it's the truth about humanity. I don't remember the last time the very last line of dialogue in a movie sent chills down my spine the way this one did.
4. What We Do in the Shadows
Easily the funniest movie of 2015. If I had seen this movie in theatres, there would have been cases of missing certain jokes due to laughing so hard at the previous one. At least watching at home, I was able to pause the movie, wait for my uncontrollable laughter to stop then resume. It is unfortunate the movie loses a bit of steam towards the last act, but for the number of gargantuan belly laughs this movie gives, it's very forgivable.
Vampire movies and shows have been done to death, but I love the idea of a mockumentary/reality show premise of simply following the lives of 3 vampires living in the same apartment. Among vampire problems such as sunlight, this movie addresses a bigger issue such as, how do you bite into a human without hitting one of the main arteries? Although this movie is a comedy, it sure as hell doesn't hold back on its gore which it uses to a hilarious effect. Premises like these, I often think like a comedy writer and think and complain about potential jokes that they missed. This one however, I can't think of any missed opportunities.They took the premise and made the absolute funniest movie possible.
A horror movie that takes place entirely in a Skype chatroom,where the horror comes in the form of some sort of cyberghost. Talk about an idea that's audacious as fuck, but also could have been a colossal failure as well. Whatever doubts I had were silenced immediately in the opening scene of the movie where my jaw just dropped wide open. Unfriended is creative as fuck in how it gets its scares.
It's easily the most under-rated horror movie in the...forever? It got very little love from the critics and tanked at the box office. But, perhaps seeing it in the theatre may not have been the best way to experience it. I very heavily recommend that the best way to watch Unfriended is on your computer, by yourself, in the dark with your headphones on. It'll almost make you feel like your in that chatroom with the characters.
Over the past decade, a lot of the best horror movies have leaned a little more to the comedic side, like Cabin in the Woods and You're Next, but Unfriended really is the best pure horror since The Descent (Which is saying a lot, as The Descent is my all time favorite horror). Generally in horrors, when a suspenseful moment is happening, I smile in anticipation, in my brain I'm saying, "Give me a good scare! Come on! Give me something good." While watching Unfriended, I actually sat there, tense as fuck, not asking for a good scare at all, and it's so rare for a horror movie to have that effect on me.
Talk about a gimmick and running all the way with it, Unfriended finds such unique ways to get scares out of its skype format. For example, even something like a computer lag is so good at building up suspense and tension. Beyond a horror, it's a very relevant parable about the horrors of cyber bullying and how easy it is to use the internet to ruin someone's life. While most horrors have shallow, 1 dimensional characters, here's a movie that constantly presents the characters with tough moral choices, and presents a bunch of normal, seemingly good people and slowly reveals more and more, challenging these characters' notions of themselves, seeing how they all believe they are good people who haven't done anything wrong.
In our present technological age, where smartphones dominate, people feel the need to document everything in life, and privacy is slowly being stripped away, and anyone can get caught doing anything and put on youtube for the world to see, I think Unfriended really is the most relevant horror movie of our time.
It's cliched to say that Dope was dope. Maybe I'll use this analogy and say that Dope is the equivalent of the finest, stankiest, crystal laden purple kush you can find. (Maybe a bad analogy as the drug used in the movie is MDMA, or "molly", a term I had never heard until I saw this movie) This is easily the most entertaining movie of the year, and one of the funniest. It's like a mix of Boyz N the Hood, Friday, a tiny little bit of Dear White People and maybe a bit of a black version of Better Luck Tomorrow. When it comes to black people comedies, I think this one just might be my all time favorite...and yes, I'm picking this one over Friday. None of the comedy feels forced. All the humor feels so natural to the situation and it never feels like the filmmakers are trying to get laughs.
What is a harder life than being a black guy living in the ghetto? Being a black nerd living in the ghetto. I know some people will complain that the narrative is all over the place, but I enjoyed just going with it, as it's nice when you're unable to predict where the movie's going. To quote James Berardinelli's review as he sums it up a lot better than I could, "Criss-crossing genres like an out-of-control hip hop song, Famuyiwa dabbles in the teen sex comedy, the urban gangster story, and the fish out of water scenario. He gives us suspense, gross-out humor, a cute romance, and a sermon about the status of race in America."
Sadly Dope under-performed at the box office, and I hope it can find an audience when it's out on DVD. I hope that Dope can join the likes of Do the Right Thing, and Boyz N The Hood as the most iconic black movies as I think it's every bit as good.
1. The Voices
This movie easily gets the #1 spot, as it's simply the most out there movie by far this year. It's the most fucked up, most audacious, most original, and unforgettable movie of the year. If you look up the word "audacious", the end credits of The Voices appear...granted you're using some sort of new-age dictionary that actually has voices. K, let's move on from this "looking shit up in the dictionary" cliche.
I do have to start this by saying that this is a really really fucked up movie. I would even say that Dexter comes off as a Disney show in comparison to how dark and fucked up The Voices is. You've been warned. This movie is not for everyone, but if you're willing to go into really dark place, you will appreciate The Voices. Once the violence starts...oh man.
Talk about transcending my expectations, this is the best serial killer movie I've seen in a very long time. The trailer makes it look like a one dimensional dark comedy (our main character has full on conversations with his pets...who are awesomely hilarious characters might I add); fact is, I don't remember the last serial killer movie that went as deep into the psychology of a psychopath, and his slow descent into madness as well as this one, which include his past and the mental problems of his mother.
The filmmakers sucessfully put you into the guy's head. When he's off medication, he imagines that his pets actually talk to him (hilariously his cat is constantly shit-talking him and sort of like his id, convincing him to do evil shit, while his dog is the loyal one, always making him feel better about himself, and sort of his super ego, being the voice of reason)...and shit gets darker from there. The relationship between psychopath and his talking pets is really funny stuff. You'll never see a movie like BABE the same again after seeing The Voices. When he take his meds, you can see how bleak his world seems, and you kind of understand why he wants to go through life without his meds, which unfortunately leads to him being a huge danger to society.
The Voices is a phenomenal character study, on top of being such a morbidly dark comedy, and being pretty fucking suspenseful as well. I was surprised to learn that this was directed by the same girl who directed Persepolis. Talk about a female filmmaker with much bigger figurative balls than the majority of male filmmakers to make a movie this fucked up.
Worst Movie of the year:
If this movie didn't come with such a wave of praise, I might be easier on it, but this is one case where I truly feel the critics got it wrong. This movie is irritating! Instead of trying to be an authentic dramedy about someone dying of cancer, it becomes a big self indulgent, hipster, try so hard to be quirky and hip wank fest. First time I'll say this, I think intellectual, postmodern pandering is every bit as irritating as pandering to the lowest common denominator. This movie reeked of filmmakers being all pleased with themselves being like, "Hey look, we're referencing Ingmar Bergman, look how smart we are! We know our classics." Or even more irritating, having our main character read his college essay in a Werner Herzog accent. Right, like every teenager in highschool knows who Werner Herzog is. It feels like a movie that panders to intellectuals who are pleased with themselves for getting all these obscure references. It's a movie that lacks its own identity. Enough with this meta shit already! I don't see how people can be annoyed by JUNO trying so hard to be hip and quirky, but defending this movie. This one is 1000 times more irritating, with a much shittier sense of humor.
While I haven't seen every cancer movie, from what I have seen...worst cancer movie ever!
Best use of 3-D in a movie: The Walk
by a fucking landslide. No 2015 movie was even close. If you didn't see The Walk in imax 3d, you missed out.
Best pot dealer character/performance of all time: Michael Shannon in The Night Before
Best movies to watch stoned: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Kingsman, and The Night Before
Best action scene: Kingsman...the church massacre...holy fucking shit! Maybe one of the best action scenes ever made.
The metaphorical bonerific award for most beautiful film to look at: Crimson Peak
Most unfairly shat on movies that were actually kind of awesome: We Are your Friends, and Pan
Single best line of dialogue: I won't give away the line, but What we Do in the Shadows, a vampire explains why virgin blood is the best, and uses a sandwich as an analogy to explain it. All I can say is, I laughed so hard, I had to pause the movie to calm down.
Best opening scene: Spring (I was in tears in the first 3 minutes. Absolutely fucking powerful)
Best Ending: The end credits of The Voices. All I have to add to that is an, "Ahahahaha!" and you'll only understand if you watch it. The fucking audacity of these filmmakers! (I mean that in a good way)
Runner up: The Stanford Prison Experiment