Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top 10 “Rotten” Films of 2015

As is my tradition (albeit one started by Alex from Time for a Film), here is my list of my favorite films from 2015 that Rotten Tomatoes deemed “rotten.” Do feel free to share your favorite “rotten” films as well!

10. Irrational Man
Rotten Tomatoes score: 42%
Okay, yes, I know, lesser Woody Allen, but still, I had fun with it. Joaquin Phoenix was, for better or worse, doing something I hadn’t seen him do, the film looked amazing, and hell, is it ever a bad idea to watch Parker Posey?

9. San Andreas
Rotten Tomatoes score: 50%
Upon reflection, I suppose San Andreas was the best balls-to-the-wall, no-holds-barred, end-of-the-world action flick I saw in 2015. Also, Carla Gugino.

8. Lost River
Rotten Tomatoes score: 30%
It was warped, it was gorgeous (cinematographer Benoît Debie in all his neon-infused glory), it was manic and depraved and wholly unique. And that was enough for me to appreciate it. Also, Matt Smith played one of the most haunting psychos of the year.

7. Every Secret Thing
Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%
Amy Berg, one of the most audacious documentarians currently in the game, made her first venture into narrative features with Every Secret Thing, and it absolutely bombed. However, I adored the film, and respected how it depicted the shame and guilt one has as a result of violence. Plus, the film boasted one of the most impressive (mostly female) casts of the year.

6. The Green Inferno
Rotten Tomatoes score: 35%
Okay look, here’s the thing: if a movie knows exactly what it is doing and owns it from the beginning, then I’ll respect it. Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno was far from a great film, but I must admit that it was one of the most entertaining theater-going experiences I had in 2015. It was just me and one other dude in the theater, laughing our asses off the whole time. Which was exactly the intention of the film. Have fun with it.

5. Knock Knock
Rotten Tomatoes score: 32%
This was Eli Roth as we’ve never seen him – emotive, somewhat restrained, taunt – and I dug it. The flick was freaky, sexy, and kind of fun. Things got a little wonky in the end, but, overall, I enjoyed my time with it.

4. By the Sea
Rotten Tomatoes score: 31%
The critical disdain for Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea was baffling. The film was a smart, patient, European romance about a failing marriage. Sure, it took its time revealing itself, but that was most certainly time well spent. Jolie’s directorial eye was so confident, and her acting with husband Brad Pitt was brutal, effective, and, most importantly, real.

3. Blackhat
Rotten Tomatoes score: 34%
I don’t apologize for my complete and utter love of Michael Mann’s films. But love them I surely do. Blackhat was no exception.

2. I Smile Back
Rotten Tomatoes score: 54%
I get why people wouldn’t like I Smile Back. It’s an unflinching look at what manic depression really is. And look, it isn’t my intention to crap on other films in this post, but so many movies gloss over manic depression, using it as nothing more than emotionally intense backdrop. So, as well as a film like Silver Linings Playbook was received, that movie depicts a PG version of what the disease really is (I say this knowing, of course, that the disease is different for everyone who has it). I Smile Back is a hard R, brutally honest depiction of a misunderstood affliction. Sarah Silverman is absolutely revelatory (her SAG nom was so well deserved); the film rests on her shoulders, and she goes all in.

1. Love
Rotten Tomatoes score: 41%
Yeah, I just can’t let this one go. Love is one of two films from 2015 that I would give an A+. The film is an uncompromising examination of a brutal, young love, and how one man is unable to let go of that love years later. Yes, the actors engaged in real sex why filming the movie. And, yes, every other scene in the film felt as real as those moments of intimacy. I’ve seen the movie three times now, and although its effect is slightly diminished in standard format (I first saw the film in 3D, and it changed my entire outlook on what that format can do), Love still holds up for me. I can’t recommend this film highly enough. It’s been stuck in my head for months, with little sign of going away.

 2015 in Review

45 comments:

  1. Never thought i would see the day where two Eli Roth movies would be on one of your top 10 lists. Personally i have zero interest in seeing The Green Inferno, but Knock Knock looks like something i might check out one day. If only for Keanu Reeves alone. I still dig that man. The only movie i have actually seen here is Blackhat. It's far from as bad as most critics made it out to be, but it's still my least favorite Michael Mann movie i believe. Chris Hemsworth was just so miscast. The cinematography alone made the movie worth watching though. No one shoots night scenes as well as Michael Mann.

    Anyway, i can't really think of 10 other "rotten" movies i liked from 2015, but a few of them were Wild Card (Jason Statham is always fun to watch in action movies), The D Train, American Ultra (mostly because of Walton Goggins), True Story, and most of all Skin Trade. That was a movie i had zero expectations for and actually ended up kind of loving. It's an action movie starring Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Ron Perlman and Peter Weller. Being a huge fan of old school action movies it was that cast that made me curious about the movie, and this really felt like a movie straight out of the 80's or early 90's. Definitely worth checking out for any fan of that era of action flicks.

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    1. I do think Blackhat would've been better with different lead casting. Hemsworth has never really done it for me.

      I didn't know Goggins was in American Ultra - I have to watch it now. I love that guy.

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    2. Yeah, i didn't know Goggins was in American Ultra until i watched it either. That was a fun surprise. But they do kind of mess it up though. He plays a character that doesn't talk much, and when he does he has a terrible lisp. You don't cast someone like Walton Goggins in your movie and barely give him any lines. That's just not right.

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    3. Oh man, that's a travesty. That dude's voice is amazing. Almost no lines?! Huge fail.

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  2. I only saw 2 films in that list. Blackhat which I thought was alright and of course, you know my opinion on Love ;)

    And I have Lost River in my DVR list which I'm going to watch later in the year for my Cannes Marathon.

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    1. Yep, I sure do! Lost River is a trip. Like, really out there. But I enjoyed parts of it.

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  3. You know I'm on board with your pick of Blackhat. It isn't my favorite Mann film, but it still has great sequences and deserved a lot more. Can't wait to watch it again.

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    1. You and I, man... we do love our Michael Mann!

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  4. I've only seen Blackhat. Normally, I really like Michael Mann as well, but that one was a misfire for me.

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    1. And hey, fair enough. I rewatched it the other day and it really held up for me. I just love Mann's style.

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  5. I've only seen Every Secret Thing. I remember talking to you about it -- I liked it a lot too. I thought it got an unfairly bad rap.

    You recommended I Smile Back to me on Twitter, if I remember correctly -- perhaps because of our shared love of mental illness and substance abuse movies? :-) So it's on my list. I tend to be highly critical of how movies portray mental illness because of my counseling background and because someone very close to be has a severe mental illness. So your description intrigues me.

    I also put Love on my list based on the props you gave it on your blog. It definitely sounds like a very unique movie. I am curious about it, but it isn't one of my top priorities. :-)

    Great post! I miss talking to you -- I am not online as much these days. ;-)

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    1. Thanks! Miss talking to you too! But I'm certainly not online as much anymore either. I also have a tendency to be critical of films portraying mental illness and addiction. Only because so many films gloss over it and use it as a punchline. TV is the worst. I love when one of the main characters of a show becomes an addict in, say, season 3, and then by season 8, they're sitting there at dinner, casually drinking beers/wine, no big deal. Ha, yeah, no big deal.

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    2. I hate that too. Some substance abusers do achieve moderation, but it isn't the norm. For most, it's a lifelong journey.

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  6. Of those 10 I've only seen San Andreas. It succeeded at being what it was supposed to be - an entertaining summer action film - and that's good by me. I liked it. I'd just add one more thing to your comments - "And Alexandra Daddario"

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    1. Yep, exactly. And yeah, Alexandra Daddario, can't go wrong there.

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  7. I really liked The Green Inferno, that was a hell of a horror movie. Lost River I enjoyed too for the most part, especially Iain De Caestecker. I also liked Every Secret Thing and I'm looking forward to I Smile Back. Great list!

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    1. Thanks! The Green Inferno was such a sick trip. I thought it was effective for what it was doing. And it was funny as shit!

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  8. Just added Every Secret Thing to my queue after reading your list! I also really want to see I Smile Back and the 2 Eli Roth movies. Another (barely) rotten movie that I thought was fun and fine popcorn entertainment was Focus. I don't know why people gave it such a hard time.

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    1. Oh yeah, Focus. I didn't have any major problems with that film either. A decent, ordinary con thriller for sure. Hope you get to I Smile Back... it's a real doozy.

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  9. I've watched Irrational Man (agree with everything you said 100%), Lost River and Love and I don't think any of them deserve the rotten rating. Nice list :D

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    1. Thanks! Irrational Man wasn't so bad, right?! I mean, Parker Posey wins my heart, and I thought she was great in it.

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  10. Oh no. Knock Knock is the most horrendous movie I've seen in years. I was hoping it would be funny but nope, just awful.

    every Secret Thing was very decent and I kinda loved Lost River specifically the music and Mendelshon

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    1. Obviously, most people/critics agree with you about Knock Knock, but I dunno. I watched it hungover as hell one Sunday morning, and it made the time go by fine for me.

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    2. If I watched it hungover I'd throw up! :P

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  11. I'll admit I haven't seen all the movies on the list, but being a Gaspar Noé fan, I sure saw Love early on. I appreciated it, but I really didn't dig it as much as I thought I would. Irrésistible and Enter the Void were a lot better if you ask me, but hell, maybe I should revisit it.

    Still, I'm giving you props for sticking to your guns. Keep on the good work!

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm determined to not let Love die. I certainly think it's a challenging movie to take (as is all of his films), but it really spoke to me. I guess being in some rather explosive relationships in the past allowed the film to resonate with me. Heh.

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  12. AW...what you said about San Andreas? That shit brought the house down.

    I couldn't agree more. Like, I was floored by how much I loved that f--king ridiculous movie. Also, Carla Gugino. (though her onscreen daughter ain't so bad either..[damn])

    Now, I need to tackle the nine other movies on this list.

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    1. Haha, thanks man. I think balls-out action flicks definitely have their place! I had a blast with that flick as well.

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  13. Good to see you keeping the tradition going! I'll get my act together soon, haha! I'll probably try to check out Blackhat now, as I've seen a few rate it. Love was not my favourite cinema going experience, but I can see the appeal for sure!

    I've pretty much got 5 comedies in my best rotten films:
    5. MINIONS
    4. ENTOURAGE
    3. AMERICAN ULTRA
    2. TED 2
    1. CHAPPIE

    Chappie the only one I really enjoyed though!

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    1. For sure man! Such a great idea of yours. The blowback for the Entourage movie was very interesting. I mean... the movie was exactly like the last season of the show, but people shit so hard on the flick. But it's like... what the hell did you expect? Poise? Restraint? It's fucking Entourage! Must have been a slow news week for the snowflake millennials. After all, they have to be bitching about something.

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    2. Haha spot on mate! I thought a lot of the negativity was from people who hadn't seen the show, at least that's what I hope, can't really complain otherwise!

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  14. I really want to see By the Sea, but I don't even think it got a release in New Orleans. I'll watch it somehow, but I'm disappointed that Jolie's directing career is tanking with the critics :(

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    1. Oh me too, it's a real bummer. I thought the film was so confident in its style and direction. It's like a melodramatic Italian flick from the '60s. She knew exactly what she was doing with it, which I guess wasn't what (most) modern audiences wanted.

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  15. Ha ha. I keep hearing about Green Inferno, but I just can't take Eli Roth seriously. He's an admitted sociopath with such a strange twisted perspective. I do kinda want to see By the Sea. I know it's gotten bad reviews, but sometimes you have to be in the mood for a quiet film. When I'm in the mood for that one I'll watch it on Netflix.

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    1. If you go into By the Sea knowing it's a quiet film, I think that will help a lot. I'm also not the biggest fan of Roth's films, but I think part of the key to them is not taking them seriously, you know?

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  16. They are putting Gaspar Noe's Love on Netflix soon, and I can't wait because of how much praise you are giving it. I am so excited to watch it. I really like Gaspar Noe's other films, particularly Enter the Void, can't wait for this one.

    Favorite "rotten" film of the year though? It's gotta be The Green Inferno. My friend, who is also quite into film, and I both watched it separately a day before we had a long road trip with each other. Favorite discussion I've had in ages. So much fun not just tearing it apart (no I will not apologize for that pun), and dissecting it (that one either).

    Have to find I Smile Back soon, sounds interesting and up my alley.

    Great post as always though!

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    1. Nice! The Green Inferno made it clear that, for better or worse, Roth makes the films he intends to make. And I respect that. Plus, stuffing the dead guy full of weed... come on, that's hilarious.

      I feel as though I am destined to love LOVE alone, and that is okay. A few other people I know have liked it (namely thevoid99), but it is a tough film to appreciate, as all of Noe's films are. LOVE isn't like anything else he has done, yet it is distinctly a Noe film. The film really is about love. The love I like seeing on film. The messy, unrelenting, all-in, ecstatic love. So many movies make love look easy, but Noe's film is unflinching. I really hope you like it.

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  17. Nice work! Irrational Man is fine, albeit far from Allen's best stuff. Lost River is a mixed bag, but I really liked it overall. Silverman carries I Smile Back, which is hardly "bad", and Blackhat has its moments. Looking forward to By the Sea.

    Some of mine (mostly guilty pleasures):

    Pan (26% - B+ for me)
    Chappie (31% - B)
    Tomorrowland (49% - A; Loved it, but I need to give it another look.)
    Burnt (29% - B)
    Jupiter Ascending (26% - B; A fun mess.)
    The 33 (43% - B)
    Insurgent (29% - B)
    Victor Frankenstein (26% - B-)
    Aloha (20% - B-)
    Terminator Genisys (25% - B-)
    Mortdecai (13% - B-; Silly, but it has a zany energy. Didn't hate it.)

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    1. Good stuff. I was wondering if Burnt was worth it. I may still have to check that one out.

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  18. Green Inferno looks interesting. I hadn't heard of that one.

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  19. Hi Alex,

    Regarding your Eli Roth picks :-)

    I didn't like The Green Inferno as much as I hoped I would do, probably because my expectations were off. Had been looking forward to it for a long time and when it finally came to blu ray, it just wasn't the remake of Cannibal Holocaust I was hoping for.

    Knock Knock on the otherhand did surprise me. On a strange level it was intriguing to see what would happen and why it was all happening. Despite the goofy and the totally unbelievable portrayal of a father by Keanu. This was my "pizza movie" of the year, you know it isn't great but you enjoy it nonetheless.


    You should defenitely give Aftershock (2013) a try, another Eli Roth movie in the same style as the other two. But I thougt this pizza was a bit better than his last two :-).


    PS. I LOVED Sarah Silverman in I Smile Back, an amazing performance!!

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    1. "Pizza movie" is a great way to describe a flick like Knock Knock (or many comedy/action/horror movies of the like). I did enjoy Aftershock, but the sexual assault stuff was too much for me. Like... if civilization is wrecked by a natural disaster, all men turn into rape-crazed savages...?

      SO glad you loved Silverman in I Smile Back!

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