Well friends, it’s time to turn the calendar page on yet another year. And cinematically, 2015 was a pretty good one. What follows is every film with a 2015 release date I managed to watch this year (including TV movies and direct-to-DVD movies), with a little commentary on some of them to explain why they ranked like they did. Please note, this is ONLY accounting for those movies I’ve already seen. There are a great number of 2015 releases I’m very interested in but haven’t gotten around to watching yet, including (but not limited to) Creed, The Good Dinosaur, Concussion, Spectre, and The Hateful Eight. (I also have not yet seen Fantastic Four, I should confess. I suppose I will eventually, but at this point I’m looking at watching that movie that the same way I think about a prostate exam — I know it’ll probably happen eventually but that doesn’t mean I have to look forward to it. Also, I’ll wait until it comes on HBO.)
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — This movie did everything the prequels did not. It advanced the story of the Star Wars universe, introduced a wealth of new and engaging characters, and made me excited for the next film coming down the pipe.
- The Martian — Incredibly smart and well-researched, surprisingly funny, and altogether a joy to watch, Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the novel by Andy Weir was wonderful.
- Mad Max: Fury Road — Having never seen a Mad Max movie until the week before this came out (my wife Erin and I binged the previous three), this was an incredible surprise. Amazing effects, strong characters, and the most spectacular chase scene ever put to film.
- The Peanuts Movie — My love for the work of Charles M. Schulz is well-documented and without reservation. The fact that this movie won me over speaks volumes.
- Inside Out — Pixar once again nails it with a funny and heartwarming film unlike any other I’ve seen.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron — While not having the shock value of the first Avengers movie, where the very fact that we were seeing these characters together for the first time was enough to cause spontaneous geek explosions, Joss Whedon’s follow-up advanced the Marvel Cinematic Universe nicely, with a brilliant introduction to one of my favorite characters from the comics, the Vision.
- Jurassic World — Although not as mind-blowing as the original, Jurassic World swept me right up and reminded me of everything I loved about dinosaurs as a kid. And that Chris Pratt is simply charming.
- Tomorrowland — Many people have complained about Brad Bird’s vision, but I thought this story about allowing people to pursue what makes them exceptional was very well done.
- Black Mass
- Ant-Man — A middle-of-the-road Marvel movie, but that’s still enough to put it pretty high on my list.
- Krampus — Fun new Christmas horror flick.
- Circle — Surprisingly effective one-room sci-fi thriller I found on Netflix.
- A LEGO Brickumentary
- Back in Time — Fun documentary about Back to the Future. Would have been higher on the list, but there’s nothing really revelatory here. It’s all stuff we’ve heard before.
- Teacher of the Year
- Kingsman: The Secret Service
- Digging Up the Marrow — Bizarre and effective mocumentary horror movie by the creator of the Hatchet franchise.
- American Experience: Walt Disney
- Tales of Halloween
- LEGO Super Heroes: Justice League-Attack of the Legion of Doom!
- Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow
- Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
- The Leisure Class
- Batman Vs. Robin
- LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Vs. Bizarro League
- The Nightmare
- The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? — Like the Back to the Future documentary, this one is pretty thorough in examining its subject matter, in this case Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage’s failed attempt at a Superman movie. But also like that other one, there’s very little new here. It’s all stories we’ve heard before, and the presentation isn’t nearly as much fun as the former film.
- Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
- The Green Inferno — I don’t usually watch a movie if I actually expect to dislike it, and as a result, my average ratings often fall on the higher end of the spectrum. This is the first one on this list I genuinely disliked. To be fair, though, it’s not because it was poorly-made, but because Eli Roth’s horror film is simply too gruesome and intense for my tastes.
- Strange Magic — A CGI animated jukebox musical about fairies? What the hell was George Lucas thinking?
- Sharnkado 3: Oh Hell No! — At this point, I’m just watching them so I can watch the RiffTrax a year later.
- A Deadly Adoption — Will Ferrel and Kristin Wiig thought it would be fun to do a Lifetime movie and play it straight. I can only hope it was more fun to make than it was to watch.
- 88 — Tedious and dull “thriller” that inexplicably casts Christopher Lloyd as the bad guy. At least, I think he was the bad guy, this movie was all over the place.
In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!
(NOTE: For the first time since I started doing this, I just simply couldn’t choose a single favorite of the month, so I awarded a tie. Inside Out had the wonderful emotional punch of Pixar’s best, but Jurassic World grabbed my inner six-year-old and made me gleeful in so many ways.)
2. Big Hero Six (2014), A
3. Craigslist Joe (2012), B
4. Pet Sematary (1989), C+
5. Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension (2011), A
6. Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe (2012), B
7. Jurassic Park (1993), A
8. Jurassic World (2015), A
9. Batman (1989) B+
10. Batman Returns (1992) B
11. Batman Forever (1995), D
12. Batman & Robin (1997), F
13. Jason and the Argonauts (1963), B
14. Zoom (2006), D+
15. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) B+
16. Winnebago Man (2010), B
17. Starry Eyes (2014), B
18. Craig Ferguson: I’m Here to Help (2013), B+
19. The Painting (2011), A
20. Lava (2015), B
21. Inside Out (2015), A-
22. About Time (2013), B+
23. Chris Hardwick: Mandroid (2012), B
24. The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982), D; RiffTrax Riff, B
25. Hatchet (2006), B
26. Willow (1988), B-
27. Cars 2 (2011), B
Blake and Erin return this week for another Your Turn to Pick movie podcast! This time it’s Blake’s turn, and he pulls out Adam Green’s (Hatchet, Frozen) newest horror film Digging Up the Marrow. They talk about the monsters, the nature of characters in horror movies, and what kind of movie is creepy enough to make Erin jump at her own ringtone. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, check it out before the Petits get super-spoilery.