Every year there are lists for the ” best ” movies. You’ll mostly find lists for either prestigious or commercial hits, and going through those lists will easily grant you the experience of having witnessed the movies most worthy of anyone’s time.
Now in case you’re a movie sponge like me, watching only the best just doesn’t cut it. I can’t just watch the best ones because, frankly, there aren’t enough of such best ones. Fine, technically, that attitude obviously leads to lowering the bar, but there’s lots of good works to look out for. Stuff that could have been great if they had just spent a little more money on it, if the talents involved had just been a bit more enthusastic, if the creative team had just been a little bit more talented or experienced, or both. My dearest colleagues already mentioned some of those underdogs in a beautiful little collection, but in case you’ve already burned through those in a frenzy, here are some more of 2015’s forgotten:
(fyi I’m a foreigner, please excuse my endless mistakes)
What do Jon Bon Jovi, David Duchovny, Michael Dudikoff, and Juergen Prochnow have in common? Right, they’ve all starred in submarine flicks, and 2015 had one starring Jude Law. Directed by the man behind The Last King of Scotland, Captain Law attempts to steal Nazi gold from a sunken submarine. Sure, it’s cheaply made and focusses a little too much on A) Law’s sweaty forehead, and B) dirty men angrily breathing into each other’s faces, but it does pretty much everything you could demand from a low budget submarine flick.
By the way, have you ever set foot inside a real submarine? You should definitely do that, you’d be surprised how tight it actually gets down there.
Find out what happens when kids steal the car of corrupt cop Kevin Bacon. The director of the next Spider-Man movie got said job for having directed this, and the way the kids are shown is really well done and convincing for once. He’s good at reminding you of how it felt like as a boy to go on a possibly illegal adventure. The boys are naive and stupid, but luckily never act as an annoying Hollywood cliche. Unlike the unwatchable brat of, say, Pan, these kids do a great job, and their short odyssey learning it the hard way is much fun. A little bit bloodier than the equally recommendable Mud.
Fine, this is another disappointing Jackie Chan venture in general, but it has Jackie Chan fighting John fucking Cusack in period garb. Nicolas Cage’s Outcast co-starring Hayden Christensen was dumb fun as well, but this one easily takes the crown for the year. Also, Adrien Brody visibly chews scenery like it’s going out of style.
Technically, this was a big movie, you could even say a blockbuster. Still, I’m sure that many haven’t seen it. You’ll probably be disappointed by the lack of thrill as this isn’t a straight action packed thriller. This isn’t Cliffhanger, not even Vertical Limit, more of a dry matter-of-fact dramatization of a rather non-spectacular tragedy, but it’s gorgeously filmed and a great representation of the actual ordeal that is climbing. You’ll develop new respect for anyone brave enough to go up there.
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter
Lie down, try not to be sad, be really sad. Depressing, but nevertheless oddly charming little movie about a young woman suffering from a mental breakdown. The poor thing tries to find the treasure that was hidden in the movie Fargo. In the hands of the Coens this would have been a quirky gem, but the delicate acting choices of Babel’s Rinko Kikuchi do more than enough to keep your interest.
Ryan Gosling’s debut as a director is a clumsy, but lovingly Lynch-esque tale with stunning imagery. Not all of it works, it’s actually as much a mess as Only God Forgives, but just like that Gosling work, it’s an exciting and fascinating movie. Undeniably, an intriguing start. Dennis Hopper would have loved it.
What seems to be an annoyingly loud and childish movie in the vein of fucking Alvin and the Chipmunks actually is a rather clever and warm lession in slapstick. Just like the fantastic surprise Shaun the Sheep Movie was, the makers managed to create a kid’s movie inspired by Pixar, not by DreamWorks or Blue Sky.
Tobey Maguire plays a majestic asshole of a chess mastermind who endlessly annoys everyone to the bone, including his Russian archenemy, played by Liev Schreiber. Remember the evil Peter Parker scenes of Spider-Man 3? This is it, for 100 minutes and without dancing. Which means: with a few tweaks this could easily have been a player at the Academy Awards.
Relies a bit too much on twists, but Ethan Hawke and newcomer Sarah Snook make for one of the best time travel flicks of the last months. If you enjoyed Source Code and Safety not Guaranteed, check this out. It’s not as heady as Primer, and it obviously thinks it’s more clever than it it actually is, but Snook is a great discovery and it’s so much fun to witness less twist movie experienced guests being fooled by Predestination‘s strengths.
One of the least prominent Platinum Dunes releases turns out to be a subtle surprise. The movie that feels like a companion piece to Chronicle deals with a bunch of kids who find out about time travel. It looks like Chronicle, it feels like Chronicle, and the cast could have been best buds with characters played by Dane DeHaan and Michael B Jordan. It’s not as thrilling as Chronicle, and Trank had better shots, but as a found footage flick it stands out above total crap such as Chernobyl Diaries or The Pyramid.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
What looked like absolute garbage throughout all of its marketing is an overly ridiculous, but honestly fun horror comedy in the vein of Zombieland. The cast is not that great, there’s no Bill Murray, the writing isn’t that sharp, but you get David Koechner, zombie tits, zombie cats, and lots of clever scenes Edgar Wright would easily approve of. American Ultra wishes it was as funny as this turned out to be.
What might have sported the worst one-sheet of the year (Dick-in-a-Box: The Movie?) is actually a rather typical flick about a weirdo invading the life of a wealthy couple. Although there’s never a moment of either greatness or outstanding originality, Joel Edgerton’s timid debut is a truly competent piece of work. If you have seen this, add the Asian flick 3-Iron. It does similar things in a way more elegant, romantic way.
A friend of mine told me about a certain documentary he saw which apparently made him suffer from real nightmares afterwards. Of course I didn’t believe him, so stupid me went on to see The Nightmare, and I shit you not, I also got to have nightmares afterwards. It’s a movie about the rare phenomenon of sleep paralysis, a state in which the body is technically already asleep but you’re still awake and can’t move anymore. It only takes a while until you get to meet a certain man with a hat, and boy you don’t wanna experience that.
Z for Zachariah
You might know Margot Robbie from being the hot chick in The Wolf of Wall Street, or from being the hot chick from the Suicide Squad trailer, but sweet Margot already shone twice as an actress. In the rather dour Focus co-starring Will Smith she easily outacted her partner, but in this little movie co-starring Chris Pine and Chiwetel Eijofor, she’s really fine as a naïve survivor in a postapocalyptic future. It’s a slow movie without action scenes, and it’s not a depression fest such as The Road. It’s a small, dialogue driven story, albeit one about hope and naivety. Nearly as good as Young Ones from 2014.
Encore – Further Recommendations:
Mommy, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Spring, Survivor, The Age of Adaline, The Duff, The Keeping Room, The Look of Silence, Victoria, What we Do in the Shadows, Wolf Totem
Have you seen any of the titles mentioned?