Thursday, January 7, 2016

MOVIES: best of everything of 2015

by Melissa Parkin

As we kick off the New Year and struggle to keep our resolutions, it only seems fair that we give 2015 a proper sendoff. And what better way to do it than highlighting the best films of the year? But what makes a "Best" list anyway? Are they the Oscar bait films that make critics drool? The highest grossing movies of the year? One man’s poison is another man’s treasure. Genres, fandom, filmmakers, and more influence this choice.

Sure, I can talk about how Leonardo DiCaprio might finally get an Academy Award, or that Tarantino released yet another cult classic, or rave endlessly about just how amazing Star Wars: The Force Awakens is. But here at Look to the Cookie, I’m going to shake things up a bit by recognizing some otherwise overlooked films in a “Best” list.

Best Original Concept:

The passionate kiss in the rain, the good guys defeat the baddies,  the underdogs save the world at the last minute, blah, blah, blah, blah. We know the drill, because we’ve seen it all….

Or have we?

When a truly original concept hits the silver screen, it earns the respect of humble moviegoers. We revel at the thought because it's only once in a blue moon that such a pleasure comes our way. For this treat to arrive in the form of the horror genre simply blows our minds, as the category is plagued by even more cliches than chick flicks.  

When said concept is about a sexually transmitted demon stalking its prey being played in all seriousness though…

You may have just lost us.

Admittedly, the pitch to this John-Carpenter-esque film sounds like a Syfy channel movie that could rival the ridiculousness of Sharknado. But in the hands of Robert David Mitchell, It Follows surprised audiences worldwide in the best way possible.

After having sex with her new boyfriend for the first time, Jay (Maika Monroe) discovers that she’s the latest victim of a fatal curse transmitted only through intercourse. Death will follow her wherever she goes, taking the guise of either a loved one or a stranger, until it catches up to her and murders her in brutal fashion. It may not seem like much of a threat given that it only ever moves at a walking pace, but this demon is unrelenting. It can’t be killed and will haunt you the rest of your life.

Like that drunken wedding video of you…

Only worse.

Accompanied by Rich Vreeland’s ’80s inspired electro score, It Follows pays homage to classic horror films with a genuinely unnerving premise that leaves its viewers in deep discussion concerning its overall message. Any fan of the original Halloween will eat this up like a kid at Wilky Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

Best Surprise:

Married couple Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) run into Gordo (Joel Edgerton), an acquaintance from Simon's past, after relocating back to Los Angeles. Their perfect lives soon enter a tailspin as mysterious gifts and uninvited encounters plague the pair at their home. Sensing an unspoken tension between her husband and his old classmate, Robyn delves into their past, only for her to begin questioning the very man she married.

Trailers can be a powerful thing. A brilliant one can make even a bad movie look amazing, à la Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. In unfortunate cases, it can have the reverse effect. Dramatic moments of silence, background ticking effects, jump scares, screen static, sinister music, and the Insidious producer namedrop put together, and Joel Edgerton’s full-length feature debut couldn’t look anymore generic. Cue the eye rolls and head banging.

Among last year’s slew of underwhelming thrillers like Return to Sender, The Boy Next Door, and Knock, Knock, this character-driven chamber piece about past ghosts turned out to be a resounding breath of fresh air. Despite its underwhelming and cheesy trailers, the film actually subverts the clichés and conventions of the genre with masterfully crafted storytelling and its superb cast. For any moviegoer wishing for an escape from the by-the-books formulaic thriller, The Gift is most certainly for you. Let the creepy stares ensue.

Best Underviewed Feature:

James Ponsoldt’s "The End of the Tour"

The End of the Tour focuses on late author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel), recounted by journalist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) who interviewed the novelist during a Midwest book tour twelve years prior to Wallace’s suicide. This film doesn’t require any flash to tell its story, focusing solely on the provoking conversations exchanged between the two lead stars. 

Reflecting on the brilliant perception of the late writer, The End of the Tour shows just how thought provoking a film can be purely on the merit of its sophisticated, yet natural dialogue. Its execution allows viewers inside the mind of a tortured writer without ever resorting to the pretensions typically found in these biopics. The End of the Tour is a heartbreaking, thought provoking, and insightful rollercoaster ride of emotions. The fact that it only brought in a measly $3 million at the box office makes it criminal.

Best Soundtrack:

Forced to fill in for her sick roommate, shy college senior Anastasia Steele interviews the mysterious billionaire Christian Grey for the newspaper. After literally stumbling through the meeting, she discovers she’s left an impression on the man. Given Ana’s sexual inexperience, Christian sees her as the perfect submissive partner, and he inserts himself into every aspect of Steele’s life. The pair enters into an affair, and Ana soon discovers her new man’s dark secret playing on the boundaries of pain and pleasure.  

Officially written as Twilight fan fiction, E.L. James set the literary world on fire with this dark contemporary romance that was only destined to hit the silver screen.

Okay, if you’d have told me a year ago that 50 Shades would be on any "Top List," especially one written by me, I would have undoubtedly been like….

Yet, here we are.

The story centers on a rich, yuppie businessman with peculiar extracurricular activities.

No, we’re not talking about Patrick Bateman here. But this concept is equally disturbing.

With Mr. Grey’s behavior drawing comparisons to that of manipulative cult leaders, it’s really, really hard for us to think of him as a plausible love interest. Anastasia even refers to him as a serial killer, at the sight of his hardware shopping list! Run away, girl! Just run away!

Yet, Christian still manages to brainwash the impressionable young woman and gets her to do his bidding.

Not weird at all….

Say what you want about the movie, but it’s not so easy to knockdown the soundtrack. With Beyoncé’s “Haunted” and the 2014 remix of “Crazy in Love” taking place on this playlist, it’s pretty hard to go wrong from there. Then add Annie Lennox’s rendition of “I Put a Spell On You,” The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” Skylar Grey’s “I Know You,” and Ellie Goulding’s critically acclaimed “Love Me Like You Do,” and you have record gold. Just try not to picture Christian Grey stalking you, as he's quite notable for….

Best of luck to Leo come Oscar season.

And on that note....


  1. Very funny ! That boy meets world gif still has me in stitches!

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