ByCaleb Lail, writer at

So, somehow, 2015 is completely dead. New movies are coming, faster than we can take them. I'm getting psyched over movies that I haven't even seen trailers for *coughs, Hail,Caesar!, coughs* and the awful movies hide in every corner. But with hidden pitfalls come hidden gems, and I just need to shine my quick, opinionated light on the ones that made 2015, a year that did a lot of limping in the cinemas (and other departments), worth feeling great about in the end.

No, these are not in any friggin' ORDER.


1. The Final Girls

No, I have no idea why the picture is THAT big.

But yeah!

The Final Girls, from Director Todd Strauss-Schulson, was a smashing good time! I will have to say this was my favorite movie of 2015. Until I contradict myself later, anyways.

The premise is a little odd, but is pulled off BEAUTIFULLY. Max is dragged into seeing a double feature at a local theatre, Camp Bloodbath and Camp Bloodbath 2, in which her late mother was one of the stars. In a pretty bizarre (yet totally cool) directorial moment, the theatre catches fire, and to escape, Max and her friends tear open the cloth movie screen and step through. This (somehow) puts them inSIDE the movie Camp Bloodbath, where they attempt to survive the movie following slasher-movie tropes, like 'don't have sex,' which, honestly, is the biggest one in the movie.

After that, I start ranting(?)

The actors were very good (Taissa Farmiga will continue to be seen in the not too distant future) and the direction was new, stylish, and very artful, but not crushingly so. It reminds one a lot of Edgar Wright's fast, and funny style, but this director also plays with some new shots that will please any cinephile. The story is interesting, and the comedy is smart, not entirely quick, but very at home. Adam Devine even manages to keep it at ground level and make the story closer to the viewer. It pulls at the heartstrings a good bit too, and I walked out of this one feeling great. Did it have a great budget? No, some of it can come off a little cheap. But the quality of writing, the solid performance by the actors and actresses, and the innovative directorial style trumps any doubt that this movie will be loved by any who are blessed to see it.


(crap, just realized some of my movies aren't entirely 2015...)

Okay, These Two AREN'T from 2015. They're, like, late 2014. Or something. They're still in the new section at Family Video, so don't GUT me for it.

2. Love and Mercy

Okay, yeah, I like WATCHED this one in 2015. It was definitely a 2014 release.

But it was specatacular! Now, I AM a musician, so I might be a little biased in that avenue, but this movie also served it up well in the cinematic way.

This is a rock-bio of sorts, following the Beach Boys around the time of their release "Pet Sounds," which recently has been considered the best album of all TIME by Rolling Stone, but was not received as well around its initial release. Specifically, it follows Brian Wilson, who was the brains behind the record, and who battled serious mental disorders for a large portion of his life. This plays a vital role especially with the flip side of the film, where it follows Brian in the 80's, where he meets a woman who soon discovers that his therapist is not necessarily behaving for Brian's improvement.

Paul Dano and John Cusack both share this character and both really GET it. Paul Dano is a brilliant young actor and also happens to sing quite shockingly like Brian Wilson and represents him very well. John Cusack also captures a piece of Brian Wilson as he battles his psychosis beneath the glare of Dr. Eugene Landy, who is played artfully by Paul Giamatti. You'll hate him, but you'll love his scenes.

This movie is interesting, intense in the right spots and eye opening in others. It actually got me into the Beach Boys.


3. St. Vincent (I promise this is my last 2014-er)

Just seeing this in the store made me want to watch it.

This is a very lo-fi comedy, starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy. Vincent is coerced into watching Maggie's young child as she has recently earned a medical job with late hours. Vincent's very in for the money. Vincent is basically the seediest old man you can imagine (yes, he plays your and my grandfather VERY well) and drags the boy into the worst of situations which serve as the best of situations for this comedy to thrive.

Writer/Director Theodore Melfi is sure to capture all the awkard moments with a combination of his script and film. Lazy camera angles (in the best way possible) coupled with very REAL dialogue gives you a similar satisfaction to watching your neighbors yell at each other as you water your dead petunias, or whatever the heck people plant. I'm not a flower guy. LOVE flowers. Don't plant them.

Melissa McCarthy is great at playing your mother (she manages to NOT be Melissa McCarthy for one movie, which is, I believe, success for ANY actor) and Bill Murray closes his eyes and pretends he's in a Wes Anderson movie. This movie stays right at your heart level, but makes sure to act tough whenever it catches itself being soft. Like your grandpa. Or... or my grandpa...


4. Cooties (2015, SUCKERS!!)

This film does some things, namely, it plays on an overused genre and makes certain that it doesn't die with it, that genre being zombie movies. Scout's Guide may have killed it though.... (OOOHHHH!!!)

Just kidding, but for real, Cooties is a horror comedy where some chemical in school chicken nuggets turns anyone pre-adolescent into blood-thirsty zombies. Now the teachers are forced to fight their way through and make it to the outside world.

It has a bunch of writers and directors, so I'm just going to say they were AWESOME, no, you don't get to be listed. The movie kills in the funny factor and makes great use of actors like Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson, while also throwing in a bunch of favorites like Jorge Garcia and Jack McBrayer. Everyone plays their parts great and the characters are well defined, but the writers carry this movie on their friggin' shoulders. The movie literally uses zombie movie tropes and, well, CINEMA tropes, and beats the living CRAP out of them. Like random people being killed and then the characters all scream and say stuff like "Who WAS she?!?!" and then lathers, rinses and repeats... except, like, conditioner too...

Now, if you are NOT a fan of gore, this movie might turn you off at points. This movie darkly plays on gory bits and pieces (literally), and occasionally is struck with gross humor, which I've never personally been a fan of. Honestly, it was one of the hardest zombie comedies that I've watched and still loved the FLIP out of, next to Dead Alive, of course.

It was fun, violent, rude, and the enjoyment is easily measured in gallons.


5. The Voices (ooh, he's gonna mention THAT one...)

(by this time, you realize, movies that make me laugh get priority. again, totally opinionated)

This movie is SO good. I will never watch it again.

This movie messed me up BAD and, I was just informed, it was a 2015 release, so heck YEAH!

Ryan Reynolds is a schizophrenic who is REALLY a nice guy, but stops taking his pills on account that he is lonely and his dog and cat talk to him (both voiced over by Ryan, quite ironically) Well, they encourage him to kill people, in a way. In his mind, they are all accidents, but ya know, probably weren't. Anna Kendrick is the other actor I can name off the top of my head from this film.

This movie is so DIFFICULT, because it makes you sympathize with Jerry (Ryan), but leaves you knowing that he IS murderer and needs serious medical attention. It hurts to watch this movie, and its ending will literally make you want to give up on film. I loved it. Sorry.


6. Krampus (reader holds face)

Ok, so this movie wasn't received very well, but it WAS a major theatrical release, unlike most of the other movies above.

The plot is fairly simple. A boy tears up his letter to Santa as he is convinced the spirit of Christmas is dead, and this in turn summons Krampus, AKA [pronounced] Krumpus, AKA the "Shadow of St. Nick." He basically kills everyone in town and fierce snow keeps the family inside, and they are in turn forced to fight off Krampus' minions home invasion style as they are picked off one by one. The movie does NOT care about your feelings, does NOT care about cliche, and kicks serious butt at maintaining an enjoyably irreverent film near a season where everyone pretends to love each other whil nursing broken toes earned from Black Friday (which is so addressed in this movie)

The acting is pretty typical comedy acting, with names like David Koechner (Anchorman) and Conchata Ferrel (Two and a Half Men) showing up on the cast listing. It also sports Adam Scott, from Parks and Recreation. The actors are fun, though in an offbeat way slightly stereotyped, and are unforgivingly hateful and ridiculous.

Yeah, I wrote that line. It's early for me, ok?

I walked out of this movie buzzing with excitement and claiming that it was the second best movie of the year, next to Final Girls, but I'm not as sure now. Maybe? Star Wars was pretty sweet though.


In Conclusion

Darnit, this was a long article to write. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I liked writing it. Please hate me in the comments, or, if you're feeling up to it, spark discussion, speak your mind, etc. etc.

(Not on the list: The Babadook. It is the scariest horrror movie I have seen. Ever. The director was a boss. I'm just lazy. Also, gosh DARNIT, Insidious 3 came out this year. I totally forgot about that. Well, it wasn't a HIDDEN gem, anyways. It was great too. Insidious movies kill)


What do you guys think?


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