Movie Favorites: SF/F/H 2011-2015

For a while now, I’ve been catching up on science fiction, fantasy, and supernatural horror movies released from 2011-2015. Counting short films, I recently logged my 300th title, meaning I would have seen well over one per week if I’d been watching them as they came out. It’s easy to imagine serious fans seeing many more, but to me, it feels like a milestone worth summarizing. So here are very brief notes on the ~17-18% that I still recall with particular interest (categorized and alphabetized but not ranked).

Action / thrillers (very few surprises here)

Attack the Block (2011; trailer): awesome concept/situation
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014; trailer): superheroic spy thriller
Chappie (2015; trailer): Chappie’s dialogue is the best part
Gravity (2013; trailer): especially exciting to see on the big screen
Hanna (2011; trailer): barely SF, sometimes quiet/thoughtful thriller
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015; trailer): nearly a requirement for cultural literacy
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015; trailer): yay!
The Avengers (2012; trailer): Avengers fan since 1979; director’s issues relevant though
The Hunger Games (2012; trailer): among the best of SF novel adaptations

Anime (rated 9+ to 13+ on Common Sense Media)

A Letter to Momo (2011; trailer): sweet, simple, slice of life story … with yōkai
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Beginnings (2012; trailer): a re-edit of the awesome TV show
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Eternal (2012; trailer): the re-edit continues; skip the third movie
The Boy and the Beast (2015; trailer): thumbs up for the spectral whale
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013; trailer): a beautiful film that gets even more beautiful
Wolf Children (2012; trailer): poignant story with scenery that reminds me of my own childhood

Children’s movies (rated 4+ to 7+ on Common Sense Media)

Arthur Christmas (2011; trailer): out of a straightforward premise, some pretty funny moments
Big Hero 6 (2014; trailer): made something great out of a mediocre 90s comic
Ernest & Celestine (2012; trailer): nice friendship story with origins as a children’s book
Frozen (2013; trailer): my sympathies to folks who had to watch it too often, but I still love this
Inside Out (2015; trailer): just a charming, funny story about emotional self-regulation
Paddington (2014; trailer): I have no Paddington nostalgia, but I really liked this
Rise of the Guardians (2012; trailer): the premise is bananas, and it works out pretty well
Secret of the Wings (2012; trailer): the best of several good Tinkerbell videos
Song Of The Sea (2014; trailer): delightful animation; resembles a children’s book
The Book of Life (2014; trailer): fun movie with great character designs

Horror-themed (mostly not scary though)

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014; trailer): tries a bit hard to be cool but still succeeds
He Never Died (2015; trailer): tough guy urban fantasy story with just enough deadpan wit
Housebound (2014; trailer): hilarious and also scary ghost story; great premise
It Follows (2014; trailer): maybe my most favorite; beautiful & dreamy, yet tense & rule-driven
The Cabin in the Woods (2012; trailer): brilliant & funny, though director’s issues still relevant
The Lure (2015; trailer): very strange and often beautiful fairy tale—good music too
Under the Skin (2013; trailer): tries a bit hard to be mysterious & cool but also achieves it
What We Do In The Shadows (2014; trailer): more smiles than lols but still brilliant

Miscellaneous (e.g. romance and SF with a ‘literary’ feel)

About Time (2013; trailer): very sweet time travel / romance story
Cemetery of Splendour (2015; trailer): quiet, subtle, warm & captivating magic realism
Circle (2015; trailer): wow; like a trolley problem crossed with a game of Werewolf
Her (2013; trailer): problematic premise redeemed by posthumanism akin to written SF
Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013; trailer): sort of an art history documentary, full of fun SF content
The Beauty Inside (2015; trailer): makes Hallmark films look gritty, but I liked it a lot
These Final Hours (2013; trailer): low-budget wonder akin to The Last Policeman

Short films (many free online)

A Single Life (2014; watch): packs a lot into almost no time at all
Bag Man (2014; watch): SF short film evidently being made into a feature film
Cargo (2013; watch): clever zombie short, now already a feature film too
Get a Horse! (2013; trailer): cute 4th-wall-breaker; resurrects Disney’s actual voice too
One-Minute Time Machine (2014; watch): cute, silly, and surprising
Possessions (2012; trailer): nice; in Japanese the title evokes old objects becoming self-aware
Poulette’s Chair (2014; watch): reminded me I had a little chair I liked when I was very small
Prospect (2014; watch): good little story; I loved the greenery too
The Answers (2015; watch): simple idea, well-executed; poignant
Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation (2011; watch): this series > Marvel One-Shots
Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex (2012): I lol’ed; best of this series
Toy Story Toons: Small Fry (2011; watch): the discarded toys were delightful
World of Tomorrow (2015; trailer): super smart, super funny, and in tune with very current SF