January through April is a time typically made up of award season leftovers, pre-summer spectacle, and more than a few throwaways. Here are PopMatters' choices for the best and worst of the last four months.
In case you haven't noticed, the summer movie season is upon us. In fact, many would argue that, with its stranglehold on the box office over the last four weeks, Furious 7 began what traditionally occurred between May and August of every year. Of course, when money talks, no one connected to the studio system walks; they run to the nearest script doctor and demand their piece of the plentiful pot.
This makes the months between spring and fall a free for all of repeats, remakes, sequels, serializations, copycats, and crap. The times both before and after those periods are dumping grounds, places for pictures that don't have an easy selling point, an obvious (or appreciative) demographic, or enjoy a contractual obligation regarding a release, and/or any old write-off sitting up on the shelf.
Indeed, winter 2015 had its fair share of noble failures (Jupiter Ascending), pure financial pandering (Disney's Cinderella), and unusual indies (The Voices). There was also a plethora of excellent documentaries, including looks at rape on campus (The Hunting Ground), the horrors at Penn State (Happy Valley), and a telling take on Scientology (Going Clear). We also witnessed some flawed family films (Strange Magic), the continuation of a YA property audiences no longer care about (Insurgent), a safe sex version of a famed soccer mom erotica novel (Fifty Shades of Grey), and what should be the final installments in Liam Neeson's middle-aged action hero streak (Run All Night, Taken 3).
Out of all this aesthetic turmoil, we've come up with our choices for the five best and worst offerings of the last four month. We've even thrown in an extra title on each side as a Dishonorable/Honorable mention.