Dan’s 2015 top 10 and watch list

12 months and 276 films. IT was a great year and here is my proof!

I started my list of films this past January as a way to track what I watched.  It was an overly ambitious endeavor especially for myself and I wondered how long I could keep it up.  As I continued watching through the year, I was able to witness my own viewing trajectory cruise along one way and then veer crazily in another direction.

A lot of the films on my journey this year comprised of Japanese Samurai and Exploitation films.  This year I fell in love with Toshiro Mifune and the sleaze of 42nd street.  Films that I had overlooked for years finally graced my screen (Demons, Akira, the Bicycle Thieves) and some were just crazy recommendations by everything from the BFI list to personal recommendations from Michelle Clifford, co-author of Sleazoid Express.  I watched every Kurosawa and as many Kurosawa inspired films that I could find and everything else in between.

Of these 276 films, it was difficult to narrow down the first run films that I watched in order to create my 2015 best of list.  Now that I have a toddler, getting out to the movies regularly is a huge undertaking, so this list is obviously compiled of the stuff I was actually able to see first-run.  There were many films that I know I missed out on, but of the movies I was able to see, I compiled this list:

Mad MaxMad Max: Fury Road – This one was an unbelievable wallop of a good time.  This has to be the most original reboot I have ever seen and I believe that the presence of director George Miller had everything to do with it.  The action looked great and was non-stop for the near two hours I sat with my jaw on the floor.  The performances from Tom Hardy and mostly Charlize Theron set this film apart from its predecessors and carved it own niche in the mythos of Mad Max.

 

 

 

 

PREDESTINATION_27X40_R3MECH.inddPredestination – I’m a total sucker for a good time travel movie, it started with Back to the Future and just continued from there.  Leroy turned me on to this ambitious sci-fi gem with the explicit instructions that I go in as blind as possible – it was essential.  I took his advice and what I saw was something the likes of which the Twilight Zone itself couldn’t have produced.  Ethan Hawke and Australian actress Sarah Snook carry this film, but special credit should be given to Snook who appears in multiple forms of the same character through the entire story.  Acting that I feel made this story compelling and created a character that I actually gave a shit about.

 

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At NightA Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – Director Ana Lily Amarpour has created a vampire tale complete with a noir tone that if put in the wrong hands could have been disastrous.  Shot entirely in black and white, the attention is drawn away from the gore that accompanies so many vampire films and allows you to focus more on the small batch of characters that make up this intimate little film.  The soundtrack is another aspect of this film that adds to its drive and charisma, a great mix of eastern and western tracks with my standout being Death by White Lies.  I had this song stuck in my head for weeks after this film thanks to its use in a delicate and intense scene between the two main characters that sets itself apart from the rest of the film.

 

What-We-Do-in-the-ShadowsWhat We Do in the Shadows – This is my favorite film of the year  – hands down.  As a fan of Taika Waititi’s work (especially Boy), this film was one that I had looked forward to since it hit the festival circuit in mid 2014.  This is another one that could have wandered right into cheese land, the concept was a little far out there, and the humor could have easily taken away from the pace and tone of the film.  The documentary style of the film was well balanced and definitely never took itself too seriously.  Word on the street is that a spin off film could be in the works focusing of the werewolves in the story.  That is something that I truly look forward to seeing.

roar-poster1ROAR! – How this film was ever made remains a shocking accomplishment in my mind and the minds of all who have ever had the chance to watch it.  Tippi Hedren and Noel Marshall’s ambitious endeavor to save big cats led them to cohabitating with them in their Beverly Hills home in a situation that has turned into a bit of Hollywood Legend.  As the tagline of this movie states “No animals were harmed in the making of this film – 70 cast and crew members were.”.  This film is equally fascinating and terrifying.  Hedron and Marshall’s family (including a young Melanie Griffith) were the stars of the picture and spend the entirety of the film managing themselves around lions, tigers, leopards, pumas, and other big cats.  In one scene of the film, Marshall himself breaks up a lion fight and survives.  If you want PG crazy, look no further than this blast of a film.

Dont Think2Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll – Cambodia is unfortunately not known for their cultural contributions to popular music.  Anyone even remotely familiar with the small country knows of the tragedy and genocide associated with it.  In the 60’s and early 70’s, Cambodia created a unique sound that was comprised of multiple cultural influences and themes that reflected the attitude of the young people of the nation.  The documentary tells the story of the rise and continued popularity of Cambodia’s rock and roll and follows it to the cultural downfall at the hands of the Khmer Rogue in April 1975.  This film is pieced together with the interviews of the remaining artists that either fled the country or went into hiding throughout the communist regime and tells the often tragic stories of the artists whose music would go on to influence musicians all around the world.

A Hard DayA Hard Day – After trying to cover up an accidental car accident, a crooked homicide cop is stalked and terrorized by a man claiming to have witnessed the accident.  Scenes in this film are so palpably dramatic that you can’t help but find yourself completely immersed in the story.  Filled with great car chases and action, the suspense of the situations carry the film and make it the best Korean import of the year.

Straight Outta Compton PosterStraight Outta Compton – This is another film that’s development I have followed for years.  From John Singleton being attached to finally getting all members and their families to agree and sign off on the project.  When director F. Gary Gray finally posted casting and release information, I was ecstatic.  O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Cube and Jason Mitchell as Easy-E make this film feel fresh but at the same time entirely true to the source material.  This is easily one of the best bio-pics of the year – even though many feel like it was a victim of the hype machine.

 

 

CreedCreed – Ever since I was a kid I loved Rocky and fighting movies in general.  Stories of the underdog coming in and proving his salt to overcome adversity is a concept that I always clung to.  Creed takes that idea and runs with it by including the many tropes of the original Rocky series all the while keeping it fresh and not feeling like a dull reboot.  The pace and story of the film kept me interested in characters and allowed the film to stand on its own as a testament to what Stallone created all those years ago.

 

 

 

 

yakuzaapcalypseposterYakuza Apocalypse – When I decided to check this film out, the one thing that I kept hearing about was simply how crazy this was and how Takashi Miike had done it again.  I was not disappointed.  This film is batshit and something that I won’t soon forget.  See this with an audience if you can to truly appreciate it.  The only thing that could make this even crazier would be a dubbed English audio track!

 

 

Honorable Mentions

’71 – The tense story of a British soldier caught behind enemy lines of Belfast during the “Troubles” in 1971.  Director Yann Demange creates a story that is suspenseful, emotional and compelling.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had at this movie, but the Star Wars pessimist in me had a hard time overcoming some aspects of the story to truly make it one of my best of the year.

 

2015 List

Akira

Rashomon

Yojimbo

Seven Samurai

Sanjuro

Predestination

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Inherent Vice

The Philadelphia Story

Ran

Double Indemnity

The Maltese Falcon

The Big Sleep

The Harder They Come

Samurai: Musashi Miyamoto

Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple

Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island

The Babadook

Night Tide

XTro

Throne of Blood

Hausu

Kuroneko

The African Queen

  1. The Uninvited

The Hidden Fortress

Dead of Night

The Searchers

The Bicycle Thieves

  1. The Lost Weekend

Ernest and Celestine

Obvious Child

Ikiru

Tokyo Story

  1. Jerkbeast

Holiday

In the Heat of the Night

Bonnie and Clyde

Bringing up Baby

  1. The Graduate

Two Lane Blacktop

Cockfighter

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Mad Dog Morgan*

  1. Illustrated Man

On the Waterfront

The Thomas Crown Affair 1966

Blow-Up

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff?

  1. The Interview

What We Do In Shadows

Whiplash

Night at the Museum 3

American Sniper

  1. Chinatown

Malibu High

Adam’s Rib

L’Aventurra

8 1/2

  1. Orca

1941

Life After Beth

John Wick

The Sword of Doom

  1. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Lone Wolf and Cub: the Sword of Vengeance

Samurai Rebellion

Shock Corridor

Harakiri

  1. An Affair to Remember

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at River Styx

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades

Repulsion

Picnic at Hanging Rock

  1. Hell in the Pacific

Incident at Blood Pass

Fistful of Dollars

The Bad Sleep Well

The Madness of King George III

  1. The Innocents

Lone Wolf and Cub IV

Lone Wolf and Cub V

The Magician

Lone Wolf and Cub VI

  1. Force 10 From Navarone

Blacula

It Follows

Soultaker

Red Sun

  1. KILL!

Lady Snowblood

Lady Snowblood II

Sword of the Beast

Life of Oharu

  1. L’Eclisse

Le Samouraï

The FunHouse

Boss Nigger

L’Notte

  1. Red Desert

Three the Hard Way

Black Caesar

Hell Up In Harlem

ROAR!

  1. The Visitor

The Hammer

Wolf Cop

The Beyond

Boy

110.Sonatine

Man Made Monster

Jubal

Downtown Torpedoes

Big Bullet

  1. Tongan Ninja

Avengers: AoU

Trailer Apocalypse

Spike and Mike volume 1

Message From Space

  1. Adjust Your Tracking (VHS doc)

April Fools Day

Salem’s Lot

Mad Max: Fury Road

Black Devil Doll From Hell

  1. Tales From the Quadead Zone

Seoul Searching

They Came Together

Paper Planes

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten

130. People, Places, Things

808

Turbo Kid

Montage of Heck

Electric Boogaloo

  1. Vincent

It’s So Easy and Other Lies

Animals

About Elly

Cub

  1. Incubus

Over the Edge

Massacre Mafia Style

Blind Woman’s Curse

It Happened One Night

  1. Kikujiro

Tokyo drifter

Gates of Heaven

Jurassic World (6.18.15)

We Are Still Here (6.28.15)

  1. R100 (6.29.15)

Inside Out (6.29.15)

Chappie (6.30.15)

Poltergeist 2015 (6.30.15)

Ex Machina (7.1.15)

  1. ’71 (7.1.15)

Spy (7.2.15)

Stung (7.7.15)

The Nightmare (7.7.15)

A Hard Day (7.9.15)

  1. The Death of Superman Lives (7.14.15)

Trouble Man (7.15.15)

Hard Core Logo (7.16.15)

Ant-Man (7.19.15)

Polk County Pot Plane (7.21.15)

  1. Gone With the Pope (7.31.15)

Fifty Shades of Grey (8.6.15)

The Raven (Bela Lugosi) (8.9.15)

Fantastic Four (8.13.15)

Devil’s Express (8.14.15)

  1. Twilight Zone Movie (8.14.15)

Minions (8.15.15)

The Boxtrolls (8.16.15)

Ninja Turf (8.20.15)

1990: The Bronx Warriors (8.21.15)

  1. Radioactive Dreams (8.23.15)

Street Law (8.25.15)

All of My Friends Are Funeral Singers (8.27.15)

The Education of Sonny Carson (9.1.15)

Kingsman: The Secret Service (9.1.15)

  1. Olga’s Girls (9.3.15)

The Touch of Her Flesh (9.3.15)

The Black Gestapo (9.4.15)

May (9.8.15)

Mandingo (9.9.15)

  1. Dolemite (9.10.15)

Ginger (9.10.15)

Enter the Ninja (9.10.15)

The Devil’s Rain (9.11.15)

Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (9.12.15)

  1. Tintorerra (9.14.15)

The Street Fighter (9.14.15)

Straight Outta Compton (9.14.15)

Monster on the Campus (9.15.15)

Something Weird (9.17.15)

  1. Vampyres (9.18.15)

Ilsa: Harem Keeper of Oil Sheiks (9.18.15)

Hold That Ghost (Abbott and Costello) (9.19.15)

Vacation 2015 (9.21.15)

Hunter in the Dark (9.22.15)

  1. Ban the Sadist Videos (9.24.15)

The Pom Pom Girls (9.24.15)

I Dismember Mama (9.25.15)

Boxer’s Omen (9.25.15)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (9.26.15)

  1. Age of Adaline (9.26.15)

Van Nuys Boulevard (9.27.15)

Machete Madness (9.28.15)

Not Quite Hollywood (9.29.15)

The Green Slime (10.1.15)

  1. The Man From Hong Kong (10.2.15) Cinderella 2014 (10.3.15)

The Big Doll House (10.5.15)

The Big Bird Cage (10.5.15)

Santo vs. Frankenstein’s Daughter (10.6.15)

  1. Psych Out (10.6.15)

Women in Cages (10.7.15)

The Trip (10.7.15)

Black Momma White Momma (10.8.15)

Love Camp 7 (10.9.15)

  1. Halloween (10.12.15)

Halloween II (10.13.15)

Pieces (10.15.15)

Deathgasm (10.16.15)

Summer School Teachers (10.16.15)

  1. Horror of Dracula (10.17.15)

The Baby (10.19.15)

The Burning (10.22.15)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (10.23.15)

Cards of Death (10.25.15) Shock & Awe

230. Run Coyote Run

Twisted Issues

Fresh Kill

Night Feeder

Eyes Without a Face (10.26.15)

235. Bone Tomahawk (10.27.15)

Cooties (10.28.15)

Spookies (10.29.15)

The Devil Rides Out (10.29.15)

Schizo (10.30.15)

240. Rape Squad (11.1.15)

Yakuza Apocalypse (11.3.15)

Ator: the Fighting Eagle (11.5.15)

Rolling Thunder (11.5.15)

Ganja and Hess (11.7.15)

245. Demons (11.9.15)

Penitentiary (11.9.15)

Witch That Came From the Sea (11.12.15)

Acid Eaters (11.14.15)

Q: the Winged Serpent (11.14.15)

250. Shock Waves (11.14.15)

Who Can Kill A Child? (11.14.15)

Dangerous Men (11.19.15)

They Call Her One Eye (11.22.15)

Stone Cold (11.25.15)

255. Creed (11.27.15)

Deadly Prey (11.28.15)

R.O.T.O.R. (11.28.15)

The Devil’s Sword (12.1.15)

They Call Me Bruce? (12.2.15)

260. Blood Cult (12.4.15)

The Wizard of Gore (12.10.15)

Blood Feast (12.10.15)

The House of Frankenstein (12.11.15)

Swamp Girl (12.15.15)

265. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12.17.15)

Satan’s Children (12.18.15)

Happiness of the Katakuris (12.19.15)

Meatball Machine (12.20.15)

The Monster and the Girl (12.21.15)

270. Krampus (12.23.15)

The Gruesome Twosome (12.23.15)

Blood Rage (12.29.15)

The Legend of Boggy Creek (12.29.15)

Shriek of the Mutilated (12.30.15)

275. Deathdream (12.30.15)

Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace (12.30.15)

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