Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Flashback

And now, a bittersweet farewell to 2015. It was a year filled with ups and downs like any other, though I can't help but feel the knocks were harder and the joys were brighter. This was the year I graduated college, started a podcast, first got published on a real web site with real readers. But this year, the horror community suffered tremendous blows. We lost our Mrs. Voorhees, our Leatherface, our Nada. And I lost my singularly impactful role model, author of our nightmares Wes Craven. And we don't do political news here at Popcorn Culture, but man if there ever was a time to retreat into the bunker...

But, happy and sad, it's time to say goodbye. Goodbye to homework, goodbye to the peaks and valleys, goodbye to Mr. Craven. And let's cheer ourselves up with some damn LISTS! I adore end of the year wrap-up lists, and I've prepared for you another gloriously excessive batch of them covering every corner of 2015 in movies, music, and television. A caveat: I write what I know. if your favorite film/TV show/etc. is not on here, I probably hated it. Well, that or I haven't seen it and thus can't in good conscience comment on it. And so we go.


The Ten Best Films of 2015

#10 The Visit

The Visit is the film that, unfortunately, means we have to keep an eye on M. Night Shyamalan's career once more. Let's be careful with that. But this low budget found footage shocker is decently chilling, proving eerily effective despite some pretty major missteps. It's a fun time at the movies, and it's been a long time since the man has achieved anything even close to that.

Read my original review here.

#9 The Big Short

Frankly, The Big Short is kind of a miracle. A heavy Oscar reel drama that mashes through thousands of pages of economic theory, all led by the director of freaking Anchorman, it could have been a heavy-handed failure. But as it turns out, it's an engaging, delightful, and terrifying Brechtian drama that is so well-directed it stings. A horror film for the financial set, it's an even more powerful call for change than a documentary could have ever been.

#8 Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A thoroughly modern nostalgia trip, The Force Awakens is a gas. With Disney and J. J. Abrams at the reigns, this seventh Star Wars could have been a corporate slog, but instead it's a blissful return to form. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but sometimes a good solid wheel is all you need. Plus, BB-8 is my guardian angel.

Read my original review here.

#7 It Follows

Friend Hunter put it best: "Exceptional technique meets a great idea, yet somehow the result is only a very good movie." Though It Follows matches a powerfully creepy low budget concept with some endlessly debatable and thus valuable subtext, its technical inadequacies and lack of focus on the rules governing its monster prevent it from being totally top tier. Nonetheless, it's the horror flick like you've never seen it before, with some stunning camerawork, an excellent premise, and an eerie atmosphere.

Read my original review here.

#6 The Boy Next Door

Sure, it's a spectacularly stupid movie, but I have a soft spot for cripplingly ludicrous filmmaking. The Boy Next Door knows it's a tacky erotic thriller ad it delivers the goods, sandwiching a shockingly steamy love scene and some primo male exploitation between the cheese ball dialogue and "first edition copy of the Iliad" nonsense, eventually slamming full tilt into R-rated horror. It's over-the-top, wet, wild, and endlessly fun, profundity be damned.

Read my original review here.

#5 Kingsman: The Secret Service

Slick, sexy, and fun, Kingsman is what comic book adaptations should strive to be. It's silly and self-aware, but frequently intense and violent. It's basically a spy movie as directed by Quentin Tarantino and it's a ridiculous success.

Read my original review here.

#4 Cooties

Thanks to a stunning cast of hilarious seasoned professionals, this zombie comedy lark rises above its limitations as a story. With an excellent visual sense and a pitch black sense of humor that isn't afraid to push the gore envelope, Cooties is a rollicking good time from start to finish.

Read my original review here.

#3 Spy

Possibly the best film to ever emerge from the Apatow stables, Spy is a raunchy and sweet exercise that combines a genuinely pretty good espionage tale with a laugh-out-loud funny comedy that proves Melissa McCarthy can nail roles that don't center around fat jokes. It's telling that, in a year with a new James Bond movie, this is the spy thriller that stands out.

Read my original review here.

#2 The Final Girls

By all accounts, The Final Girls should be a spectacular failure. With a too-slick cast and dated horror satire that doesn't have the teeth to exploit gore or nudity, it could have been a snoozefest. But instead it's a vibrant jaunt through a visually audacious fairy tale realm of nostalgia with a teeming undercurrent of sentimentalism that will tug at your heartstrings like you're a weeping marionette.

Read my original review here.

#1 Mad Max: Fury Road

I almost ditched out on seeing this movie to watch Pitch Perfect 2. That would have been the single worst mistake of my entire life. Mad Max: Fury Road is a masterful endeavor to crank the loony energy of the original trilogy up to 11 that succeeds in every way. Not only is it a Part 4 that proves itself the best of a franchise composed mostly of cinematic tours de force, it's a Part 4 popcorn flick that could unironically sweep the Oscars, if the Academy were so inclined. I'm hardly a huge action fan, so I come from a very unbiased place when I state that this is the best movie of the year, perhaps the decade. It's an adrenaline pumping, nonstop thrill ride that never slows down to clue the audience in, yet remains jammed with solid, empowering storytelling in every nook and cranny. Throw in a cornucopia of excruciatingly creative high octane action that avoids CGI wherever possible, and you have yourself a new classic of world cinema.

Read my original review here.

The Five Worst Films of 2015

#5 [REC] 4

The worst thing about [REC] 4 isn't necessarily quality but sheer disappointment. Despite the original director and star returning, it's just a bland, non-found footage bore that totally ignores the developments of the surprisingly stellar [REC] 2. This is supposed to be the end of the franchise, and I really hope they stick to their word.

Read my original review here.

#4 Poltergeist

What's better than a shot-for-shot remake that replaces the original's showstopping effects with half-rendered CGI? Practically anything.

Read my original review here.

#3 The Gallows

The stark badness of The Gallows is even more severe in the light of its genuinely enthralling trailer. This forgettable found footage flop might have been spared its "worst" slot if not for a truly deplorable ending that disintegrates the film from teenybopper fluff to radioactive waste.

Read my original review here.

#2 Jupiter Ascending

The Wachowskis have plotted plenty of wacky ideas into cinematic gold, but queen-worshipping bees and doppelgänger royal lineage are just too stupid to save. Eddie Redmayne gives the single worst performance of his entire career in this macrobudget turd.

Read my original review here.

#1 Knock Knock

Not that I expected anything less than a misogynistic trifle from Eli Roth, but Knock Knock is still surprising in its punishing badness. Chock full of the dumbest decisions I've ever seen characters make in a horror movie (and if anybody has seen thousands of those decisions, it would be me), Knock Knock is massively idiotic and poisonously, inconsistently hateful. At least there's one Keanu Reeves monologue that deserves to be immortalized as a YouTube meme. Hilariously bad beats frustratingly abysmal every time.

Biggest Surprise: Dakota Johnson

If you're anything like me, you went into Fifty Shades of Grey locked and loaded for some quality hate-watching. While the movie certainly delivers (six spanks is "the worst?" That couldn't get me to walk away from Brussels sprouts, let alone Jamie Dornan), Dakota Johnson was shockingly untouchable. She approached her meaningless cypher role with heart and more than a little humor. It's hardly Stanislavsky, but it' much more than I ever bargained for.

Read my review of Fifty Shades of Grey here.

Biggest Disappointment: Lava

It's blankly infuriating that Pixar would have the gall to weld this execrable treacle to Inside Out, their best film in several years. A hopelessly generic anthropomorphic romance married to an excruciating ukelele noodle, if this is how far the mighty have fallen in the five short years since Toy Story 3 (and its nigh-on miraculous short, Day & Night), I shudder to contemplate what rock bottom might look like.

Read my original review of Inside Out here.

Most Underrated Film: Ted 2

I really hate to admit it, but I actually kind of liked Ted 2. It isn't a cinematic magnum opus, but it's certainly an improvement on the original and received about as little buzz as the latest Eddie Murphy picture. It doesn't deserve adoration, but certainly more people should have paid attention to it.

Read my original review here.

Most Overrated Film: The Gift

As much as I enjoyed The Gift, the rapture with which it was received never fails to mystify. It's a serviceable boilerplate thriller with a much-touted "twist" that remains indiscernible to me. Those who were shocked by the third act clear have not sat through as many Blumhouse pics as I have.

Read my original review here.

Best Actor: Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Contrary to popular belief, portraying a mostly silent roles is not an easy paycheck. Voice is one of an actor's biggest weapons, and Tom Hardy managed to carry an entire complex character on his back with nothing more than a series of feral grunts. His body language is beyond compare, creating Max in a series of clipped, animalistic movements that are so stunning, I'd be willing to grant him an Academy Award right here and now.

Worst Actor: Charlie Hunnam (Crimson Peak)

This is no slight on the man, who I actually rather like. It's just that his atrocious and pointless American accent strangles him from the inside out. Why he had to be one of the only two people in the cast to play Americans is beyond me.

Read my original review of Crimson Peak here.

Best Actress: Jillian Bell (The Night Before, Goosebumps)

No, Jillian Bell is never a lead, so this is an unusual choice. But this Workaholics actress is the secret weapon of comedy cinema. Whatever scene she's put in, she steals. She's like a cat burglar, out to make your life more funny.

Worst Actress: Sky Ferreira (The Green Inferno)

Apropos of nothing, pop star Ferreira's hit single is called "Everything is Embarrassing." Let's just say that I'm glad her character didn't accompany the protagonist to Peru, because more of her vacant emoting might have made me give up on movies altogether.

Read my The Green Inferno review here.

Best Cameo: LeBron James (Trainwreck)

Who knew this guy could act? James is one of the best parts of Trainwreck, as the woefully deluded best friend. It's a left field performance that tickles you with unexpected exuberant wit.

Read my review of Trainwreck here.

Worst Cameo: Barbara Crampton (Tales of Halloween)

This is no knock on Crampton's acting abilities, I just thought that she was criminally wasted in a role that hid her signature blonde hair and have her one measly line. This is not how we treat scream royalty.

Read my review of Tales of Halloween here.

Best CGI Creation: Ava (Ex Machina)

The best CGI effects are subtle, nuanced designs that don't call attention to themselves, like Furiosa's arm in Mad Max. Ava is a spectacular triumph of that form, building off from the beautiful Alicia Vikander and creating something gorgeously, surreally inhuman out of her basic shape.

Read my review of Ex Machina here.

Worst CGI Creation: Robots (Tomorrowland)

Rather than textured, three-dimensional objects, the robots here looked like they were peeled off an In N Out sticker sheet. As far as we've come with technology, we still can't outpace studio rush jobs.

Read my review of Tomorrowland here.

Best Monster: Jack in the Box (Krampus)

Honestly, I'd be happy if this demonic Jack in the Box was the only monster in the entire damn movie. His distended jaw and wicked blank eyes are pure, premium grade nightmare fuel.

Read my original review of Krampus here.

Worst Monster: Moby Dick (In the Heart of the Sea)

Look, I'm all for realism in cinema. But this giant "white whale" is a mottled khaki and hardly distinguishable from the other million CGI beasties. In a film where a stranded Chris Hemsworth can have a scraggly beard but a perfectly waxed chest, I think I could probably suspend my disbelief enough for a Moby Dick that is actually, you know, big and white.

Best Robot: BB-8 (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Was there even a contest? Moving on.

Worst Robot: Vision (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Yeah, yeah, nerds. Vision isn't a robot. He's an AI in a carbon-based body or whatever. He's still a totally useless character shoehorned into an already bloated movie. He's just a callow bit of fan service that does absolutely zilch for narrative service.

Read my original review of Avengers: Age of Ultron here.

Best Sidekick: Michael Peña (Ant-Man)

Peña is such a show-stealer in Ant-Man that I wouldn't be surprised if Marvel tried to wing out an ill-advised spin-off. With his flawless deliveries and inimitable storytelling style, he's literally the only reason to watch the film.

Read my original review of Ant-Man here.

Worst Sidekick: Snoopy (The Peanuts Movie)

I'm sorry, Peanuts lovers, but at least in this new movie, Snoopy was a huge waste of time. If you cut out his interminable Red Baron interludes, you'd have a more or less perfect hour long movie. Albeit with a bit too much Meghan Trainor, but still.

Read my original review of The Peanuts Movie here.

Biggest Cry: Christmas Eve (The Night Before)

The Night Before was a pretty fun comedy, but by far the most memorable moment comes from a flashback to the Christmas Eve when JGL and his friends grieve the loss of his parents. not only was it unexpected, it had a little too much impact. Not fair!

Read my original review of The Night Before here.

Biggest Scream: Medical Malpractice (Insidious: Chapter 3)

Insidious 3 wasn't the scariest movie I've watched this year, but a possession scene where Jem and the Holograms' Stefanie Scott walks on her broken legs will give you the squirmies like no other. That crunching noise will grind your bones and bake bread with them.

Read my original review of Insidious: Chapter 3 here.

Biggest Laugh: The Mouse (Spectre)

One idle moment where Bond points his pistol at a mouse and asks it who it's working for is both a clever gag and an intriguing look into both Daniel Craig and his character's fatigue at being a superspy.

Read my original review of Spectre here.

Best Title: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

If there's one thing I love more than sublimely silly sequel titles that haphazardly cram in numbers, it's titles that announce their inferiority right off the bat.

Worst Title: Our Brand is Crisis

Maybe I'm just a stickler, but the grammar here makes me want to call the FBI. This just shouldn't be allowed.

Best Line: "I love your mother's cookies." - The Boy Next Door

Of all the cheese puff lines that overflow from The Boy Next Door, this inane innuendo is by far my favorite. It was papered all over the trailers and has quickly been incorporated ingot he lexicon of the Brennan household.

Worst Line: "He's trapped in a goddamn trash can without any hope." - The Sand

The sheer earnestness with which this abysmal line was delivered by Hannah Montana's Mitchell Musso pushed this one over the top for me. With a script like this, how could anyone give a good performance?

Read my review of The Sand here.

Best Poster: Crimson Peak

For all its faults as narrative, Crimson Peak boasts a spectacular aesthetic that carries over into the poster design. A stunning superimposition of a blood red body over a bone cold blue castle, it starts things off on the right, chilling track.

Worst Poster: Spectre

This one sheet is Bland, James Bland. Couldn't they at least have stuck a cool background behind him? This looks like an outtake from Daniel Craig's school picture day.

Most "What the Hell, Hunger Games?" Poster: Mockingjay - Part 2

Just once I'd like an ounce of creativity in the main posters for this franchise, which are always outdone by the character one sheets, which have no right to ever be as good as they are. This was their last chance and they blew it.

Read my original review of Mockingjay - Part 2 here.

Best Poster For a Bad Movie: Dude Bro Party Massacre III

I guess I'm just a sucker for throwback designs, but this poster completely understands the over-the-top stylized art of the slasher genre far more than the actual movie did.

Read my Dude Bro Party Massacre III review here.

Worst Poster For a Good Movie: The Boy Next Door

Who the hell is Ryan Guzman looking at? Is that supposed to be a reflection or does he live in Jennifer Lopez's left boob?

Best Use Of A Song: "Bette Davis Eyes" The Final Girls

It's only appropriate that a film so steeped in 80's culture should more or less center around the Kim Carnes hit. Her husky tones score the movie's most sentimental and beautiful scenes, churning real man tears out of many a Brennan's eye.

Worst Use Of A Song: "Only Girl" Home

I mean, we all know that Home only exists to sell the EP of Rihanna songs written for the film, but the inclusion of her previous hit "Only Girl" in a makeover montage is gratuitous and irritating. Just like most of the film, come to think of it. Although I do love the concept that Rihanna music is what unites cultures across the universe.

Read my review of Home here.

Best Song From a Musical: "The Monkees" Minions

Pretty much the only song that really fits the time period the film inexplicably takes place in, "The Monkees Theme" is a jaunty, effortlessly fun motif that totally fits the exuberance and joy of the Minions.

Read my original review of Minions here.

Worst Song From a Musical: "Flashlight" Pitch Perfect 2

This song for Pitch Perfect 2 is an irresponsible mixture of lyricists. Combining the worst droning of Sia's repetitive output with the syrupy Sam Smith, it's a nigh-on inedible trifle. Although, if they were attempting to achieve a song that sounded like it really could have been written by a college freshman, they really hit the nail on the head.

Read my original review of Pitch Perfect 2 here.

Top Five Pretty Guys

#5 Michael Ealy (The Perfect Guy)

He played the grown-up Boy Next Door in The Perfect Guy, and with his piercing eyes and a jawline that could crush coal into diamonds, the title ain't too far off.

#4 Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Testament of Youth)

Exploding onto the scene this year, British actor Taron Egerton is a lean, mean, fighting machine. He can rock the chav look or buttoned-up gentleman poshness with equal skill, a talent not many possess.

#3 Jake Gyllenhaal (Everest, Southpaw)

Although Nightcrawler proved he could still channel his inner Donnie Darko creepiness, Gyllenhaal only improves as he ages, growing into his handsome, scruffy mug.

#2 Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina)

Along with his Star Wars/Ex Machina co-star Domhnall Gleeson, Isaac is ruling cinema this year. His turn as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron is a heaping slice of movie star charisma yet his Ex Machina neurotic mad scientist is a nearly total opposite end of the spectrum, endlessly creepy and unsettling. His range is incredible, and he always looks impeccable doing it.

#1 Ryan Guzman (The Boy Next Door, Jem and the Holograms)

The thrill of new love is doubly fun, and Ryan Guzman's sudden omnipresence in 2015 media following his welcome exploitation in The Boy Next Door has launched his chiseled features to the top of the list.

Bonus: Chris Evans (Before We Go)

This is a bonus, because I don't include directors in my Top 5 list. That's right, Captain America directed a movie in 2015: the indie romance Before We Go. And he looked fine as hell with a nice beard and a bit of a less roided-up physique.

Top Five Pretty Girls

#5 Malin Akerman (The Final Girls)

Akerman is so supernaturally gorgeous that the filmmakers actually had to put wrinkle makeup on her to make her look her own age. Now, that's good genes.

#4 Nasim Pedrad (Cooties)

I think Pedrad is supremely underrated, both as a comic actress and a charming beauty. She's so willing to commit to wacky hijinks that sometimes people don't notice just how stunning she really is, which is even sexier, come to think of it.

#3 The Wives (Mad Max: Fury Road)

If these women can still be born from an irradiated wasteland, maybe the post-apocalypse won't be so bad after all.

#2 Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Charlize Theron utterly destroys her "feminine" attributes by shaving her head, losing an arm, and smearing herself with grease, but she's all the better for it. I'll take badass over model any day.

#1 Jennifer Lopez (The Boy Next Door)

A cunning businesswoman and an ageless beauty, you can never go wrong with a classic.

Bonus: Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

In The Danish Girl, Redmayne plays a transgender pioneer with grace and style.


Top Ten Songs

#10 "Stay" Steve Grand

Steve Grand made a splash two years ago as "the world's first openly gay country artist." However, that label was a little premature considering that his artist status was riding on just one single. Well, that year saw the release of his first album and he's on his way. "Stay" is a Kentucky fried paean to a  good time that weaves his gay identity into a universal song about love and lust for life.

#9 "Always Be One" Night Terrors of 1927

Night Terrors' lead single "When You Were Mine" blasted onto my top ten immediately following its late 2014 release. The album that followed was good, but not quite as immediately captivating. "Always Be One" is the exception, an experimental stadium anthem that plays with computers, but only to augment its raw, angsty humanity.

#8 "Third Eye" Florence & the Machine

Florence Welch must have listened to a lot of Queen growing up, because her songs take you on a journey through a sonic wonderland. Perfectly theatrical and lavishly produced, "Third Eye" is a tidal wave of music that sweeps through your very soul.

#7 "Geronimo" Sheppard

I discovered this song thanks to my mom, who has way cooler taste in music than I will ever have. This is one of those songs that's perfectly built to be screamed by an adoring crowd. Uplifting staccato patter and a sublimely melodic bridge bring this one home.

#6 "Pressure Off" Duran Duran

Duran Duran is still making music! And it's good! No, it's not 1987, it's Paper Gods, their fun new album that brings the boys into the modern age. "Pressure Off" Compresses their airy new wave harmonies into a thumping club track for the ages.

#5 "Ex's and Oh's" Elle King

Throaty, flirty, and bold, Elle King slam dunked onto the scene this year with a rousing, winking tune about being the one that gets away. There's a lot of power in that tiny body, and she brings it all onto this track along with an instant classic video packed with sultry charm.

#4 "Hello" Adele

I tried so hard not to include this song on my list. I like Adele, but her weepy anthems aren't really my style. However, "Hello" holds an iron vice grip over the eardrums. Adele's amphetamine voice gets you hooked, and the song only gets better with every listen. Something I've done an embarrassing number of times.

#3 "Anarchy Road" Carpenter Brut

Listen here.

Our favorite John Carpenter-inspired electro artist is back, and this time he brought lyrics! "Anarchy Road" applies smooth as silk vocals to Carpenter Brut's signature dark, rumbling synths.

#2 "El Perfume" Fanny Lu

When I discovered that Fanny Lu, my favorite Spanish-language pop artist, had a new music video out, Shannon and I were discussing her talent for writing peppy songs with dark themes. When we saw the video's opening and heard the dolorous first notes, we were shocked. of course, we were tricked. "El Perfume" is an ecstatic return to form for Lu, combining tropical beats with a soaring ode to passion.

#1 "Staring at the Sun" MIKA

MIKA's new album was somewhat of a disappointment following his magnum opus Origin of Love. However, "Staring at the Sun" is heads and tails above its peers, transforming a cute metaphor into a throaty world music triumph. This song has been eternally stuck in my head since I heard it, like my brain was encased in cement.

Bottom Five Songs

#5 "Watch Me" Silento

Maybe we should all give novelty rap songs a break. They're just doing what they're asked to do. but if I have to hear this gratingly repetitive, inane jump rope chant one more time, I might just have an emotional breakdown.

#4 "Focus" Ariana Grande

The verses of this song are totally tolerable bubblegum, but when that squeaky hinge voice comes on in the chorus, it totally shatters everything this track had going for it.

#3 "Kick the Dust Up" Luke Bryan

Whenever a song like this climbs the charts, I suddenly remember that the South exists. There sure as hell ain't anybody in my neck of the woods buying this crap. The verses aren't the worst, just generic country piffle, but the trap-inspired chorus is just mortifying. That's right, this is Luke Bryan's "Turn Down for What." As much as he thinks he's Yeezy, he's just Queasy.

#2 "My Way" Fetty Wap

I don't think an artist has ever exploded to such heights so quickly or for less reason. Fetty's hooks are decent, but his vocals grind like a cheese grater to the soul.

#1 "7/11" Beyoncé

Is there an artist more insanely overrated than Beyoncé? She has some great songs, but they're spaced miles apart between dreadful filler like "7/11," an attempt at a booty-popping anthem that sees Queen bey rhyming "alcohol" with "alcohol" with "alcohol" in a nasal sneer. There's nothing to this song's productions, just mildly vocal whining. What is even happening to the R&B scene right now?

Best Mashup/Remix: "50 Shades of Pop" DJ Earworm

You can never go wrong with DJ Earworm. His end of the year Top 50 mashups are only as good as the music of the year, but this laid back jam perfectly encapsulates the tone of 2015's exceedingly strange music scene.

Worst Mashup/Remix: "The Hanging Tree" Jennifer Lawrence (Rebel Remix)

Why does the radio assume we have the attention span of a goldfish? This song, from 2014's Mockingjay - Part 1, was an intense, almost patriotic slow jam, and it's completely trashed by this lazy cut-and-paste drum beat.

Best Song for a Movie: "See You Again" Charlie Puth feat. Wiz Khalifa

While I'm not exactly ecstatic that Wiz Khalifa was invited to the party (what has he been up to since 2007?), "See You Again" is an appropriately somber yet joyous celebration of life and loss in the wake of Paul Walker's untimely passing.

Worst Movie Song for a Movie: "Writing's on the Wall" Sam Smith

I see what Sam Smith is going for. I really do. But "Writing's on the Wall" is to James Bond as "7/11" is to my ears. It's too soft, too croony, and it doesn't put people in the right mood for the action movie overspill that is Spectre.

Biggest Surprise: One Direction

Who knew they'd still be around after Zayn dropped out? Not I!

Biggest Disappointment: Owl City

I'm probably the only person on the planet who was till excited for new Owl City music, but unfortunately his new album left me high and dry. If I'm the only holdout left, maybe avoid filling your LP with overbearing preaching about Jesus. He might has well have read passages from the scripture over a dumb beat. Give me a break.

Most Pointless: "Love Myself" Hailee Steinfeld

No one in the history of ever has uttered the words, "You know, I wish that girl from True Grit would just make an album already."

Most Overrated: The Weeknd

My anger over hearing The Weeknd is disproportionate to his quality, I'm aware. But he started off on the wrong foot for me with the droning egotist anthem "You Earned It" and his sudden ubiquity is a constant mild irritant.

Most Underrated: "FourFiveSeconds" Rihanna feat. Kanye West & Paul McCartney

Yes, Kanye and the weird shrieking baby behind his track need to be scrapped. But otherwise, "FourFiveSeconds" is a throaty, poignant song about yearning for something more and the damage that can cause to the people in your life. It's poetry, dammit.

Best Collaboration: "Locked Away" R. City feat. Adam Levine

I tend to like Adam Levine's collaborations even more than his work with Maroon 5. Melodic and angsty, "Locked Away" is the perfect opportunity to display his falsetto voice and puppy dog eyes.

Worst Collaboration: "Only One" Kanye West feat. Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney must really be hurting to find the need to play second fiddle on this over-Autotuned bore. Then again, he did join Wings, so maybe his musical taste is just questionable.

Best Guilty Pleasure: "Love Me Like You Do" Ellie Goulding

I'm more ashamed that I like anything that came out of 50 Shades of Grey than anything to do with the song itself. "Love Me Like You Do" is a peppy, youthful expression of love that has no idea it's secretly about bondage.

Worst Guilty Pleasure: "Lean On" Major Lazer & DJ Snake

There's nothing remotely redeeming about this song, which sounds like a parakeet choking to death, but hell if I can't seem to get it out of my head.

Best Music Video: "I Really Like You" Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen's new album has some pretty great tracks on it, go figure. "I Really Like You" is not one of them, but pitting the jump rope-y childlike rhythm against no less a Hollywood pillar than Tom Hanks was the single best decision she could have made. This video is adorable and then some.

Worst Music Video: "Thinking Out Loud" Ed Sheeran

Watch here.

This is no knock on the lighting and cinematography (by Daniel C. Pearl of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - true story), but there's something infuriating about Sheeran's lazy choreography, moving as little as possible, then flat out lying on the ground while the lady does all the work. I get that some pop stars can't dance, but why don't they at least prop him up, Weekend at Bernie's style?

Best Album Cover: American Beauty / American Psycho, Fall Out Boy

It's simple, but simple can be grand. The fun of this album cover is that it calls back to the juvenile pop punk ethos of the 2000's that Fall out Boy continues to deliver with impressive regularity.

Worst Album Cover: Rebel Heart, Madonna

Come on, this mess is hilarious. It looks like somebody pelted her with silly string right before the photo shoot. The best thing is how deadly serious she seems to be taking everything.

Best Cover Song: "Animal" Chase Holfelder

By switching songs from a major (happy, triumphant) key to a minor (dolorous, haunting) key, Holfelder gives them raw beauty and new life. This reimagining of the Neon Trees hit is eerily gorgeous, and the way he layers his voice is beyond compare. I hope somebody is paying him for this.

Worst Cover Song: "Blank Space" Ryan Adams

Much has been said about Ryan Adams' self-indulgent album, which covers Taylor Swift's 1989 in its entirety, but I'd like to add this: By converting a bubblegum pop gem into a dreary, dysfunctional indie rock slice of tedium, he strips away everything that made it special in the first place.

Top Five Pretty Guys

#5 Nicholas Petricca

Maybe he just looks good with a hand over his mouth, but for whatever reason, the "Shut Up and Dance With Me" video is working for me.

#4 Jason DeRülo

In order to hang upside down in that doorway, your core has to be insane. And that word hardly even describes a shirtless DeRülo.

#3 Justin Bieber

Believe me, I'm just as upset about it as you. But the Biebs has been producing adult contemporary music of irritating quality, and his looks are maturing. Let's hope his personality strives to catch up.

#2 Adam Levine

Sometimes you just can't deny the classics.

#1 Álvaro Soler

This Barcelonan singer burst onto the scene this year with "El Mismo Sol," a charming if unchallenging Spanish pop song. But who cares about the music when you've got hair this perfect?

Bonus: Scott Eastwood

Taylor Swift's music video guys have nabbed this spot two years in a row, but for very good reason.

Top Five Pretty Girls

#5 Fanny Lu

Would you believe that Fanny Lu is 42 years old? The Dorian Grey of the Colombian pop scene, Lu is utterly flawless in every way.

#4 Selena Gomez

I'm not a huge fan of Gomez's musical output for 2015, but there's no denying those luscious locks and whatever her face is nice too.

#3 Lady Gaga

OK, I guess technically she's a "TV star" this year thanks to American Horror Story, but Gaga had a single out this year and her style is unquestionably indelible.

#2 Adele

Adele is wonderful in every way it's possible to be wonderful. I'm glad she found happiness. And gorgeous hair and makeup.

#1 Rihanna

Rihanna's flawless beauty almost makes up for her annoyingly cryptic refusal to announce her new album.

Bonus: Ke$ha

Ke$ha may not have made an album this year due to factors outside her control, but she's been a real beacon of hope for the music industry, openly admitting to her eating disorder and seeking treatment. Her struggle resonated with girls around the world and her efforts to stay strong and spread awareness are truly commendable.


Top Ten Episodes

#10 "The Shunning" Fresh Off the Boat

While Fresh Off the Boat's societal commentary is occasionally rocky, you can't go wrong with a solid Jessica storyline. In this episode, the Huang matriarch bonds with a neighbor over their shared love of Stephen King, an endearing relationship that births the best gag of the entire show: Jessica's ghostly paranoia after watching The Shining.

#9 "Mommie Dearest" Scream Queens

Like any Ryan Murphy venture, Scream Queens has been touch and go from the very first episode. With gut-busting moments bundled one to two per episode, sometimes the show was a bit of a slog. but in "Mommie Dearest," the stars align. It too has its rough patches, but a Psycho-referencing Jamie Lee Curtis kicking the ass of a serial killer dressed as Justice Scalia, the uproarious Secure Enforcement Solutions security guard Denise Hemfield leaping back into the fray after a two week absence, plus Chad and Chanel's Night of a Thousand Compliments? If every episode was this funny, Scream Queens would be the best show on TV.

#8 "Episode 4" Cucumber

There is little love lost between myself and the Russell T. Davies series Cucumber, much to the chagrin of my recap audience. but this episode is a trim, almost sentimental look at human interaction, framed between five separate dates all taking place on the same night.

#7 "Ladies and Gentlemen" Master of None

Master of None has a lot to say about entitlement, but this episode that explores the extreme, sometimes scary differences between the worlds of men and women explores that concept to its fullest. Aziz Ansari's character learns that the expectations that come with being male don't always extend to the opposite sex in a clever mirror image exploration of dating and nightlife.

#6 "Looking for a Plot" Looking

This is the episode where season two of Looking finally proved it could match the low key drama of the stellar first season. Set at a parent's funeral, this episode isn't shrieking histrionics, but a mournful and sober look at life and loss. Main character Patrick is still being a self-centered wang, but everything around him is serenely beautiful.

#5 "Tweek x Craig" South Park

I've never been much of a South Park guy, but this season - which is focusing on the rise of social justice bloggers and hipsterism - has been pumping out some seriously solid episodes. The best of the batch is "Tweek x Craig," which uses the background of yaoi (gay fan art) to explore deeply clever, satirical themes about the way small towns deal with homosexuality. Plus, it has three of the best musical cues of the year, all packed into one 22 minute span. You'll never listen to Peter Gabriel the same way again.

#4 "Bait" Ash vs. Evil Dead

This sophomore episode was where the show really settled into its earnest zaniness. With perhaps the funniest dinner table sequence ever created, this silly, gory episode deserves to be an instant classic. Hail to the king, baby.

#3 "Bear Left Then Bear Write"The Muppets

Between Fozzie getting tranquilized, Pepe the Prawn rightly lusting after Liam Hemsworth, and a droll celebrity tag team of Nick Offerman and Christina Applegate, this is by far the best episode from an already stellar puppet packed sitcom.

#2 "Charlie Work" It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It's Always Sunny has been producing stupefyingly fantastic content for over a decade now, at an intimidating breakneck clip. As the season numbers keep climbing, the series gets even more daring, and this hilarious single shot farce is perhaps their most dazzling, hung ho experiment yet. It's a triumph of vulgar audacity.

#1 "Phoebe" Scrotal Recall

I do wish this Netflix/BBC show had a better name, because that tile is scaring people away from one of the best sitcoms of all time. The plot is well-trod territory, but the humor is impeccably sharp. This finale episode takes some of the show's funniest dialogue and character dynamics and rolls them into a neat little ball of poignant humanism. Hilarious, sentimental, and real, this episode sums up the credo of the entire show as a whole.

Bottom Five Episodes

#5 "Episode 1" The Casual Vacancy

I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who enjoyed J. K. Rowling's non-wizarding novel The Casual Vacancy, but even I couldn't survive more than 20 minutes of this blisteringly dull, overcrowded claptrap.

#4 "Episode 6" Cucumber

I was hardly a fan of Cucumber on an average day, but this episode attempted an extremely bold move that didn't pay off in the slightest and resulted in the most lethargic, pointless episode yet. Also, why can't British TV writers come up with episode titles? Seems a trifle lazy.

#3 "A Very Murray Christmas"

People seemed to love this, but my only theory is that Bill Murray love is blind. And deaf. Amateurishly sung comedic musical numbers that could have been over in 30 seconds are taken ludicrously seriously and sung in full. And in between these stretches of pain are miserably dull, awkward sketches where Murray fumbles through a haphazardly improvised hash. If I wanted to watch celebrities doing awful Christmas karaoke, I could just - Actually, you know what? I don't want that.

#2 "Jagged Little Tapestry" Glee

Alanis Morisette and Carole King? Didn't exactly break the bank on that one, did you? Tack on a storyline that totally trashes a beloved character to shoehorn in more After School Special moralizing and you've got yourself a class-A stinker in a season almost exclusively populated with them.

#1 "Episode 8" Banana

Where could I possibly begin? This shrill, irksome episode closes out a mostly palatable series with nauseating histrionics and social commentary that misses the mark so thoroughly that it lands somewhere in the realm of torture. And while I'm never averse to a spontaneous musical number, the arrhythmic bleating of its finale is a woeful misstep that stomps all over the show's inherent realism and sours one's perspective on ever episode that came before. Hideous.

Best New Show: The Muppets

I love the Muppets as a species. I might be a blood and guts guy, but my heart is made of felt. Their new incarnation could have just been a nostalgia trafficking gumdrop, but instead it's downright genius. A mockumentary office sitcom about the 'real" Muppets putting on a late night talk show, the show lampoons modern television tropes and allows the Muppets to widen their scope of humor and include more adult topics without sacrificing the sweetness and heart of the classic characters. It's an unnaturally perfect balance with genius celebrity cameos. How? I don't know. But I'm eternally grateful.

Worst New Show: The Odd Couple

I love Matthew Perry, but not enough to sit through more than half an hour of this backwash. I think producers forgot that people are only nostalgic for properties they were alive to see.

Best Returning Show: Empire

Empire is finely-tuned soapy trash perfection. Not convinced? In the "previously on" summary from the season two premiere, which recaps the entire first season, a woman bashes a man's head with a hammer, whirls around, and announces that she's pregnant. Who wouldn't want to watch this show?

Worst Returning Show: American Horror Story: Freak Show

What began as only a mildly promising season swiftly devolved into a self-indulgent foam of absurd, pacing-killing musical numbers, sloppy overacting, and unnecessary cameos. Worst of all? it was boring. Say what you will about he show's previous three seasons, but they were never boring.

Best Cancelled Show: Looking

I've got a bit of a love-hate relationship with Looking. I recapped the second season for The Backlot, and my opinions fluctuated practically by the minute. Although they made the unfortunate decision to turn the central character into a snotty whine bucket, they still knocked out some killer episodes filled with heart, love, sex, and humanity. Plus, they got Damien from Mean Girls. He can totally sit with us.

Worst Cancelled Show: Glee

I'm not ashamed to admit that I watched this show until the bitter end. The final three seasons of Glee were about as fascinating a train wreck as you'll ever see as it rushed to paper pop songs over every single possible problem that could befall an American teen. Bulimia, gender transitions, cat fishing, school shootings, dyslexia, Tumblr, breakups, being trapped in a fake elevator by a Jigsaw-imitating cheerleading coach. it was like a twelve-car pileup of trying too hard.

Best Actor: Glenn Powell (Scream Queens)

Powell's Scream Queens character Chad Radwell is nothing more than an archetypical preppy douchebag, but his line readings are unlike anything I've ever seen before. Spoken in bravado, staccato hurts, our Chaddy is a fountain of unexpected humor with his surreal patter.

Worst Actor: Tommy Wiseau (The Neighbors)

Yes, The Room auteur Wiseau has created a sitcom. Obviously, it is not good. But where 100 minutes of deranged TW action is hilarious, stretching that out across a whole season is just plain miserable. Did I mention that he plays three separate characters? Have strength. Don't do The Neighbors to yourself.

Best Actress: Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat)

Fresh Off the Boat suffers from a severe imbalance. Although any scene with the central character Eddie (who's memoir this is drawn from, so he unfortunately can't be killed off) is execrable, Constance Wu dazzles as his deadpan mother. Unequivocally the best part of the show without lifting a finger. She breathes life into even the wonkiest of scenes. Even a simple setup (She reads Stephen King and thinks she sees a ghost) becomes pure gold in her hands. i want a spin-off show just about her.

Worst Actress: Ariana Grande (Scream Queens)

I guess I shouldn't have expected much from the pop starlet who can't even lip sync her power ballads properly. If music videos trip you up, TV episodes knock you down and spit in your face. Her death scene was one of the funniest in the show, but otherwise she performs like a styrofoam cup brought to reluctant life.

Biggest Surprise: Carol Kane (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

I mean, who has seen Carol Kane since When a Stranger Calls? And how could she possibly have become so stunningly, deadpan hilarious in the meantime? This is the single casting choice that made Kimmy Schmidt sparkle even during its rougher patches.

Biggest Disappointment: House of Cards

[SPOILERS] I wasn't necessarily disappointed in the season, just that they held off on showing my favorite character until the finale, whereupon they unceremoniously offed her.

Most Overrated: Wet Hot American Summer

As a big fan of the original film, I was supremely excited for the Netflix series. I should have learned that riding the nostalgic reboot train anywhere past the Muppets was a fool's errand. Although there were a few shining absurdist moments scattered in every episode, for the most part it's an unfocused effort to shoehorn in major stars for twelve seconds at a time. And the major focus on Michael Showalter's character was a big mistake. His storyline is exhaustingly dull and let's just say his visage isn't quite as encouraging as Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, or Ken Marino, who seem to have aged backward since 2001.

Most Underrated: Lauren Weedman (Looking) 

The secret gem hidden among the gay bedrock of Looking, Lauren Weedman is an invaluable performer. This season really allowed her to maintain her acerbic comic banter while exposing a talent for exhibiting real, raw emotion.

Best Theme Song: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

In an era where the art of the TV theme song is woefully underutilized, Kimmy Schmidt has the gall to create an instantly lovable earworm that not only gets you pumped up for he show, but actually is integrated with he plot in a way that's never ever been seen before.

Worst Theme Song: Fresh Off the Boat

You know those theme songs where you can't wait for them to come on so you can sing along? This ain't one of those. Every time this nasal shrieking erupts, I have to fight the urge to kick a hole through the TV.

Best Glee Cover: "I Want to Break Free"

This was one of the first and only times Glee showcased the New New New Directions, and it was actually pretty great! If only they weren't so devoted to clearing out the loose ends that previous seasons left tangled up like iPod headphones in your pocket.

Worst Glee Cover: "A Thousand Miles"

At this point, I shouldn't have let the stupidity of Glee shock me, but a piano driving down the highway is something I couldn't have cooked up in my wildest of 90's Furby fever dreams.

Best Musical Performance: "Chandelier" Sia & Kristen Wiig

I can take or leave Sia. She's like the shy kid in class attempting Lady Gaga karaoke. but Kristen Wiig's surprisingly stellar dance technique caught me off guard. I'm still flabbergasted at who could have possibly come up with this idea and how the hell it could have worked so well.

Worst Musical Performance: "Everything is Awesome" Tegan & Sara

I love Tegan & Sara and I love "Everything is Awesome," but this performance quickly whirled into glittery, shrieking excess. Kind of like Madonna's career.

Best Use of a Song: "What's Up?" Sense8

Of all the characters on the slow burn but entertaining show, I respected Icelandic DJ Riley's contributions the least. but at least she got to pick this stellar tune for the show's best non-orgy montage.

Worst Use of a Song: "Heroes" American Horror Story: Freak Show

I kinda ironically appreciated Freak Show beating "Life on Mars" to death, but dragging in "Heroes" as a last ditch Hail Mary is inexcusable.

Best Guest Star: Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)

If Niecy Nash was not in Scream Queens, I would not have watched that show all the way through to the finish, believe you me. Nash's presence is like a shot of pure adrenaline. She chews up the over-wordy Ryan Murphy dialogue and spits it out like little pearls of sublime comedy.

Worst Guest Star: Naomi Campbell (American Horror Story: Hotel, Empire)

She fared better in the lunatic universe of Hotel, but Campbell's Empire arc could have used a good alchemist. That's the only way they could have made TV gold out of that heap of lead she calls acting.

Best Muppet Cameo: Dave Grohl

Brennan love Animal! Brennan love drum! Also, "Learn to Fly" is still a masterpiece.

Worst Muppet Cameo: Laurence Fishburne

A lot of celebrities aren't really sure how to act around puppets, and I get it, but Fishburne over-emotes like he's talking to his six-year-old niece. Come on, man! Kermit is older than you are! I know you can do better than this.

Best Commercial: Scream: The Series

As an MTV series, this show was built to appeal to teen consumers. but the product placement was so extravagant, Sergio and I actually built a running joke out of the show's habit of announcing where you can buy whatever mopey rock song they were playing via an enormous pop-up that covered literally half the screen. I couldn't see the bottom halves of their faces, but at least I knew who was crooning about angsty tattoos this week.

Worst Commercial: "Who Pneu?"

Aside from showcasing the most stilted acting this side of a Magic Bullet infomercial, this commercial is just baffling. If a D-list celebrity overheard me ordering a pastry and cheerfully harangued me about my looming mortality, I'd add a piping hot coffee to my order so I could splash it in his face and scald his pedantically wagging tongue. Who comes up with these things?

Top Five Pretty Guys

#5 Daniel Ings (Scrotal Recall)

Although part of the beauty of Scrotal Recall is that it cast people who look like regular human beings, Ings' manwhore character Luke is still a major cutie pie, far more believable as a lothario than, say, Matt Le Blanc.

#4 Matt Bomer (American Horror Story: Hotel)

Vampirism is all about sexuality, and pale, leather-clad Matt Bomer is fang-licking good.

#3 Bobby Campo (Scream: The TV Series)

Everybody on this show looks like they were airbrushed into existence. I have a major soft spot for Bobby Campo thanks to his performance in The Final Destination and he hasn't let me down here. Looks-wise, at least.

#2 Jussie Smollett (Empire)

It's hard for me to get behind his character's decision-making sometimes, but his penchant for wearing V-necks that dip down to his ankles help me out a bit.

#1 Miguel Ángel Silvestre (Sense8)

Where has Miguel been all my life? He is unbelievably good looking, in that I am not entirely convinced that he's a real human being.

Bonus: Soapy Joe (Looking)

Soapy Joe is a moniker I bestowed upon the character played by Matthew Risch, who made an indelible appearance in the rugby showers that melted the comments section of my recaps.

Top Five Pretty Girls

#5 Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)

For her age, Jamie Lee looks impossibly good. That Activia is really working wonders. Plus her fashion is always on point. Keep on keeping on, girl!

#4 Antonia Thomas (Scrotal Recall)

OK, Antonia puts a wrench in my idea that the Scrotal Recall cast is imperfect in any way. With gorgeous green eyes and fabulously curly hair, she is a dream even in a cardigan and jeans.

#3 Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat)

Constance Wu deserves every award. No contest.

#2 Tina Desai (Sense8)

Sense8 is pretty much exclusively cast with perfect 10's. It's a little upsetting.

#1 Grace Gealey (Empire)

With ultra tight dresses and blood red lipstick, Grace Gealey is a stiletto dagger of a woman, sharp and perfect.

Bonus: Betsy Palmer (I've Got a Secret)

OK, you got me. Betsy Palmer is far from a current TV actress, but the Voorhees matriarch made quite a name for herself back on 60's television and she was unbelievably gorgeous. The only upside of the miserable number of losses horror has suffered is the chance to go back and revisit all this forgotten content.


The Ten Blog Posts I'm Most Proud Of

#10 Halloween marathon (October 1st - Um, I'll get back to you on that)

And with one fell(ish) swoop, my second October franchise marathon polished off the third of the big three tentpole slasher franchises. Freddy, Jason, and Michael are now all thoroughly dissected on the autopsy table of Popcorn Culture. Plus, I got some great angry rants in for parts 5, 6, and the remake. Gotta love a good rage blog.

Best Line: "It’s enough to make you want to tear out your eardrums and staple them over your eye sockets so you never have to see or hear them ever again."

#9 "Fleisch ist Fleisch" (Anatomy, May 7th)

Some of my favorite posts are when I get creative with the formatting. And if I do say so myself, the dissection framework I used here was killer.

Best Line: "I swear, nothing turns on Gretchen and her cronies more than the prospect of some illicit bangers and mash next to a couple dozen goggle-eyed corpses."

#8 "Arrow in the Head: I Can't Sand It" (The Sand, October 13th)

My very first review for Arrow in the Head, I have a fond attachment to this film. Too bad it wasn't any good.

Best Line: "The performances range from exhaustingly shrill to competently forgettable, but it’s not like the actors were hired for anything more than filling out a set of bathing suits."

#7 "Driving Me Mad" (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, June 3rd)

My Mad Max marathon was the event of the summer in my apartment. Culminating in this messy, extravagant Tina Turner opus, it was a wild ride from start to finish.

Best Line: "Works with... just about everything that was available on short notice from the costume department of the damned."

#6 Back to Back to Skull (January 20th - January 25th)

There's no two genres I love more than college movies and slashers. Throw them together and I will sit through even the wateriest of smears. This last hurrah of my college career led me to two new classics (Night School and Girls Nite Out) and a week of pure carnage candy.

Best Line: "Far too many of these unnecessary teens fail to die, but the important ones include..."

#5 "Fright Flashback: Bear Sequels" (Grizzly II: The Concert, June 24th)

This was one of Popcorn Culture's finest hours, the discovery of this unfinished, extravagantly ludicrous killer beat flick packed with unlikely celebrities (Laura Dern! Charlie Sheen! Gimli the Dwarf! George Clooney?!) and camptastic 80's musical performances, including every single song by Toto Coelo except for their actual hit.

Best Line: "Grizzly II is a film in which a group of poachers can't figure out their character names and end up calling each other 'Drew' for a whole scene."

#4 Fright Flashback (May 20th - July 29th)

I can never quite reach my goal of watching a thematically linked old and new movie every week, but I at least did a lot better than last year! Maybe come 2025, I'll actually achieve a full slate. Here's hoping!

Best Line: "One minute Tangina is soliloquizing about some nonsensical Power of Purity or some such, the next she's appearing in a cloud of water, tossing magical necklaces about like she's Oprah and giving cryptic advice."

#3 "This Is Your Captain Speaking" (Five Unforgettable Deaths by Arrow, June 22nd)

My commemorative post for starting my career at Arrow in the Head, I feel like this is one of my more creative lists. I always have a bloody good time with them.

Best Line: "Nolan's Application for Arrow in the Head is Rejected in Friday the 13th 2009"

#2 "Women in Horror Month: Topless Crusaders" (Top Ten Designated Sluts Who Are Secretly Awesome, February 7th)

I have an appreciation for horror archetypes of every shape and size, but I think the Slut gets a bad rap. Frequently the most enjoyable character in any film, I'm glad I could pay them proper homage.

Best Line: "Way to bust stereotypes, girl! I love your Mickey shirt."

#1 "Endless Summer" (I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, September 6th)

I'm quite proud of this takedown of a notorious 90's slasher sequel, in which I invented a myriad of new words to adequately express how stupid it is.

Best Line: "Idiotsplosive: This is a word for something that’s loudly, obnoxiously idiotic. You can’t possibly ignore it because it’s in your face with a bullhorn shouting “Here I am!’ and sharing Facebook posts about Donald Trump."

My Top 5 Podcast Episodes of 2015:

#5 Episode 11: Silence is Golden with Sergio

This was the episode featuring my boyfriend, purveyor of non-horror movies, and guest writer Sergio. If our bizarre mind meld moment isn't reason enough to listen, you have to hear his hilarious analysis of the scene between Catherine Martin and Precious the Dog.

Listen here!

#4 Episode 10: Take a Ride in my Volts Wagon

This episode was an extended tribute to the life and work of my idol Wes Craven. It was sad, it was comprehensive, and it was silly. I think he really would have liked that last part.

Listen here!

#3 Episode 7: Shock Talk with Mark Rosman

The director of The House on Sorority Row was the very first guest on our podcast, can you believe that? We were just two kids docking around on our laptops and suddenly we were plunged into one of the coolest, most electrifying experiences of our lives. The man has directed cane murders, Jennifer Coolidge, and Hilary Duff. What a great day!

Listen here!

#2 Episode 19: Now Screaming with Andrew Furtado

We were lucky enough to get Andrew Furtado, one of my favorite people ever, on the show. His brash and honest story of editing the Nightbreed director's cut is hilarious and always worth a listen.

Listen here!

#1 Episode 9: Shock Talk with Stephanie Hodge

The fruition of a long-running dream to have our favorite characters from the first movie we reviewed on the show, just hearing from Stephanie Hodge was exciting enough. But, even better, she turned out to be an unadulterated delight with incredible insight into horror and Hollywood. And her biker bar story? F**king legendary.

Listen here!

My Top 5 Song Discoveries of 2015

#5 "I Know There's Something Going On" Frida (1982)

I heard this sublimely 80's song for the first time on Scream Queens and was instantly transfixed. A solo song from Anni-Frid Lyngstad, it's further proof that I love literally anything even remotely related to ABBA.

#4 "New Orleans Medley" Baby Gramps (2010)

Now, this track I found when visiting friends up in Portland. An artist called Baby Gramps was playing at a nearby venue so we looked him up. We were delighted to discover this deranged, awful, joyously catchy mess and became instantly obsessed.

#3 "Waiting for the Bus" Chumbawamba (2007)

I discovered this song when, as a joke, I asked my parents' Amazon Echo to shuffle Chumbawamba over dinner. Expecting "Tubthumping," I was perplexed to receive this sweet, bitter folk song. About the wrongful arrest of Louisianan Gary Tyler in 1975, it's quiet, peaceful, meaningful, dark, lyrical, and about as far from chanty pub rock as I ever could have imagined.

#2 "Amsterdam" Guster (2003)

I've always loved Guster, so it might seem strange that I never heard one of their hit songs before this year. I mean, it is, but I'm utterly ecstatic that I could discover something so deliciously moody and melodic within a band I already respect.

#1 "When You Were Mine" Cyndi Lauper (1983)

This is technically a Prince cover, but as far as I'm concerned, that guy lives up to his royal title (self-important and kind of pointless). I bought She's So Unusual at a garage sale for a dollar and got a hundred's worth of enjoyment, especially out of this bouncy, synth dripping bisexual anthem.

My Top 5 Movie Discoveries of 2015

#5 Getting Go: The Go Doc Project (2013)

However pretentious this Weekend-y slice of life modern romance might be, it's one of the better gay films out there. I've always thought the found footage cinema vérite style could be repurposed to a new genre and I was right about this fun pseudo-doc. I'm a genius!

#4 Road Games (1981)

One of the last Jamie Lee Curtis horror flicks I hadn't seen, I was massively surprised by how little Road Games resembled anything I'd ever seen before. Closer to Duel than Halloween, Road Games is a fun road trip flick where a thriller occurs around the edges, framed by an infinitely clever use of traditional car games.

Read my original review here.

#3 Ballad of a Soldier (1959)

I can be serious sometimes. This Russian film is a remarkable journey acres a war-torn country that sets up the infinite potential of the titular soldier before ripping it away with his inevitable death. The film is alternately fun, adventurous, and earnest before it rips a hole right through you. It's one of the most emotionally impactful looks at the losses garnered by war I've ever seen, and coming from a country that has so frequently been at odds with our own. It's a must-see for cinema fans.

Read my original review here.

#2 Black Lightning (2009)

What do you know, another Russian film! I never thought my Russian Cinema class would actually be worthwhile, but it just goes to show that random class requirements might not be total crap after all. This superhero flick is a fabulously generic origin story, only with a flying car instead of actual superpowers. It's a high octane, over-the-top, wonderful thrill ride with some cool subtext about the Russian auto industry.

Read my original review here.

#1 Night of the Creeps (1986)

A cheery pastiche of 50's and 80's horror that effortlessly combines hilarious humor and genuine frights, Night of the Creeps is an underappreciated classic. Plus it features genre royalty Tom Atkins in his best role ever. The film certainly thrills me, to say the least.

Read my original review here.

Here's Some Stuff That I Did in 2015:

The Backlot

I got my first official online writing job at The Backlot, writing snark for the gay masses. Although I will always be grateful, the sarcasm-heavy recaps that I slaved over were not always received well by fans of the show. Not to perpetuate nasty stereotypes, but don't provoke the gay community if you're allergic to cattiness. Check out my writings (now hosted at NewNowNext) here!

Arrow in the Head

After The Backlot crumbled and merged with NewNowNext, I hopped ship and headed to Arrow in the Head, which is much more in tune with my horror lifestyle. I'm happy to actually be paid to write about horror, which is pretty much what I've been doing for free this whole time. Check out my writings here!

Super Geek Supreme!!

I was lucky enough to have enough notoriety to be invited onto a Halloween episode of the trivia podcast Super Geek Supreme!! to host a Nightmare on Elm Street round. I poured my heart and soul and poetry into those questions. Check it out!

Now Streaming

One of my newest friends, Andrew Furtado, has a super cool Netflix-based podcast called Now Streamin, which I was pleased to be invited onto two times this year. You can check out this episode, where I report back on being forced to watch My Best Friend's Wedding. Or you can check out this one, which also features my Scream 101 co-host Shannon and Robert Parigi, producer of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Word Count: 10898


  1. Thoughts as they come to me:

    -"Is there an artist more insanely overrated than Beyoncé?" Possibly not, no.

    -There are ten Halloween films, B. Ten!

    -I really loved Master of None--it's kind of a Nicer Seinfeld--and that was my favorite episode, too. However, it's bracing as all hell to watch it, then go back--just a few years!--and look at Ansari's standup. To the extent that Master of None is Social Justice: The TV Show, his older standup bits can be embarrassingly awful. My (least) favorite joke was the one where he says (I paraphrase, barely): "But what if the stereotype is true and it's good? Like how all black people love and are mystified by magic?" I.e., the joke is that black people are too stupid to understand sleight-of-hand. Ha ha ha. I mean, damn, Aziz, even one's putative enjoyment of fried chicken and watermelon is neutral in and of itself. Then there's a lot of relationship humor that rests on gross-ish gender essentialism and in no discernible way prefigures "Ladies and Gentlemen."

    But how about the way it's shot, huh? A 'Scope sitcom, that makes NYC look kind of glitzy but also rather warm and inviting? It's really good-looking for a TV show, especially one of such apparent frivolity.

    -I'm jealous that you managed to get to In the Heart of the Sea. (Maybe I shouldn't be?) I was going to go yesterday, when it turned out Google was wrong about the local AMC still playing it. Bad year for Hemsworth: first Blackhat, now this. The poor hot man.

    -"Geronimo" is a great song. The other video (the Frankenstein one) is insipidly terrible.

    -"Lava," man. Jesus.

    -DreamWorks' Home sucks. I just watched it. It sucks worse than you and Tim made it sound. Ugh.

    -Mark me, everybody's gonna eat their words regarding The Force Awakens within the year!

    -That Spectre poster is so *lazily* bad that I thought it wasn't real the first time I saw it.

    1. This will be apologized for in a little more detail soon, but yes I AM aware there's a missing Halloween film. Also a Cardboard Science has been unfortunately neglected. This will be rectified.

      And Chris Hemsworth still had Avengers, so I think he's doing alright.

      Honestly, I would have given Lava the #1 worst slot if I felt it counted as a feature. Or entertainment.

      And I feel like I had the most tempered possible positive reaction to Star Wars, so I'm pretty confident I'll only slip one point, if any. Its flaws are numerous, but I really did have a great time watching it.

      What the HELL is going on with that Daniel Craig poster? If his interview hadn't convinced me he didn't care, this lazy-ass marketing campaign sure did.

      Thank you, as always, for reading!