Top Ten Biggest Disappointments of 2015

I do not actively seek out bad movies. Sure, they're fun to watch every now and then (especially with a steady amount of intoxicants) and can help to reset your proverbial mental taste buds after one too many prestige pics, but that still doesn't mean I've seen enough to curate a Worst of 2015 list. Just because I don't watch a lot of bad movies, however, doesn't mean everything I see is good. Whether it be through cultural hype, the recommendations of other movie geeks or even just my own overly-heightened expectations, some movies just don't measure up to their potential or reputation. And, since I still have quite a few movies to see before comfortably presenting my Top Films…

  • Kingsman: The Secret Service

    1.Kingsman: The Secret Service

    ★½

    Every year, there's a movie with a trailer so good and so exciting whose actual release fails to measure up in every way. (Looking at you, Gangster Squad) Words cannot express how much I was looking forward to Kingsman. With X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn, a cast that included Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine and Stanley Tucci and that (still amazing) trailer, my hopes were beyond high. Instead, what I found was one of the ugliest, dumbest and most unpleasant films of recent memory. Maybe I'm a tad ignorant on the silly retro vibe of 1970's spy flicks that this film is trying to capture, but that doesn't still doesn't make up for the line, "If you come back, we can do it in the asshole?". All of the action is editing into a coked-up frenzy that would make Baz Luhrman jealous, and the allusions to various high-profile celebrities and politicians (who aren't actually in the movie, by the way) only highlights the utterly ludicrous nature of this premise. I stated in the description of this list that I have no intention of making a Worst of 2015 list, but I'm certain that if I did, this repugnant excuse for a movie would take the top spot there as well.

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  • Jurassic World

    2.Jurassic World

    ★★

    How could a movie with a poster featuring Chris Pratt leading a team of raptors be this unenjoyable? Climactic dinosaur fight aside (which is admittedly a lot of fun) this film takes a good premise and does absolutely nothing with it, replacing the terror of the first film with spectacle-laden schlock and featuring cardboard characters with '50s-era gender dynamics. I can honestly say I'm as unexcited for a Colin Trevorrow-directed Star Wars Episode IX as I am excited for Rian Johnson's Episode VIII.

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  • Ant-Man

    3.Ant-Man

    ★★★

    Original review: More like Ant-MEH, amirite??

    Yes, I'm STILL sore about the Edgar Wright departure. Apart from that, though, this movie is just a mess, wasting most of its talented actors on two-bit characters and a screenplay that takes its premise way too seriously. The script retains some of it Wright-written humor, but a lack of the director's visual panache only emphasizes this movie as a missed opportunity. Easily in contention for the weakest Marvel entry to date.

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  • Steve Jobs

    4.Steve Jobs

    ★★★

    Maybe I'm finally growing tired of the Aaron Sorkin brand, but this film never came together for me. While I appreciated the effort to depict Jobs as the very flawed individual he was, the movie failed (as many biopics do) to really sell his revolutionary "genius" that made his contemporaries put up with his asshole demeanor. There's so much talent here (Danny Boyle directing, Michael Fassbender starring, and a screenplay by Sorkin) that it could have easily been another Social Network. As it stands, Steve Jobs is just another late-to-the-game biopic with a slightly more interesting narrative structure and a decent Seth Rogen performance. (Which itself might be worth the watch)

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  • Phoenix

    5.Phoenix

    ★★★½

    The best ending of 2015 doesn't necessarily mean the best movie. I'll admit that this film might perform better under a rewatch, but I was unconvinced that Phoenix's gut-punch finale was earned by the preceding film.

  • Ricki and the Flash

    6.Ricki and the Flash

    ★★★

    I'm still a little confounded as to how this film received so much love from critics and cinephiles alike when it came out in early August. The musical numbers are enjoyable enough, everyone gives a passable performance, and there's even a funny line here or there, but this movie's positive reputation seems to exist solely on good will for Meryl Streep and Jonathan Demme.

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

    7.Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

    ★★

    I've been burned enough in the past not to expect much from fan-favorite Sundance fare (hence why this is so low on the list) but even I was taken aback at the utter terribleness of this film. Trite, manipulative and quietly racist, this would have been a 1-star film had it not been for the best-named feline in all of cinema: Cat Stevens.

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  • The Hateful Eight

    8.The Hateful Eight

    ★★★

    A good spot for the 8th film by America's most popular and divisive auteur. I've argued before that Quentin Tarantino will one day be regarded as the D.W. Griffith of his generation (a masterful filmmaker with morally troubling content) and his newest work only adds to that assertion. The technique is masterful here, from the self-touted glorious 70mm-captured snowy mountain landscapes and claustrophobic haberdashery to the captivating performances by the titular eight that proves Tarantino's still one of the best directors around. But there's a nihilistic rot at the center of this film, so determined to capture the nastiness of America's past and present that it instead validates all of the criticisms directed at the filmmaker's previous work. Hateful Eight is a well-made film, but its thematic sensibilities are as antiquated as its intended screening format.

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  • While We're Young

    9.While We're Young

    ★★★

    But really it's about ethics in documentary filmmaking.

    The first two-thirds of this movie are fairly solid, with plenty of enjoyable Baumbach-esque observations on generational differences and mid-life crises. But the last act completely falls apart, attempting to make an moral statement that feels both underdeveloped and out-of-place. Also, the final shots might be some of the worst in recent memory.

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  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    10.Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★★

    For the record, this movie is also on my Top Films of 2015 list. Very fun but very derivative, which I feel aptly describes Abrams as a director. Also, I'm not crazy about the more broad sense of humor employed in this new iteration of Star Wars. Call me stuffy, but I prefer the dry wit of the previous entries, Jar-Jar poop jokes excluded.

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