The Horror Honeys: Sci-Fi Honey's Best & Worst in Sci-Fi – 2015

Sci-Fi Honey's Best & Worst in Sci-Fi – 2015

A Sci-Fi Honey Year-End Recap by Katie

As another year in cinema comes to a close, let us take a moment to reflect on the year in sci-fi: the good, the bad, and the truly out-of-this world. While 2014 was a year chock full of sci-fi goodness, the very best of sci-fi in 2015 came largely from the indie circuit – with one major big-budget, high-octane exception. If you’re still cramming in a Best of 2015 watch-a-thon as we head into the new year, let my recap of the best sci-fi offerings of the year be your guide – and be sure to avoid my Worst of the Year at all costs!

Let's begin!

Best of 2015:

5. Turbo Kid
The fifth best sci-fi movie of the year is an indie from Canada reviewed by our Head Honey during the film’s run at SXSW. A throwback to 1980s action films in all the best ways, Turbo Kid tells the story of a boy BMX-er pedaling his way through a “futuristic” (1997) dystopian wasteland, befriending robots and doing battle with post-apocalyptic tyrannical overlords. With over-the-top gore, a cool retro tone, and a whole lot of heart, Turbo Kid is like a tiny, bargain-bin Mad Max for a new generation.

4.  Predestination
The very first great sci-fi film of 2015 arrived all the way back in January, and flew in mostly under the radar. Sure to live on as a cult classic in years to come, The Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers) collaborated yet again with Ethan Hawke to craft a modern-day film noir-style fable about the paradoxes involved with time travel. Featuring a breakout performance by the captivating Aussie actress Sarah Snook, Predestination will have you thinking about the story and the characters long after the credits have rolled – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll put it on for a repeat viewing immediately.

3. Closer to God
Perhaps the scariest sci-fi film of the year is this modern spin on the Frankenstein tale, with human cloning serving as the contemporary means of creating life out of the ether. Writer/director Billy Senese has crafted a film that is rich in atmosphere, suspense, and subtext, rounded out by actors who lend an impressive emotional depth to their roles. The monsters in this movie are all human – some more than others – but they’ll leave an impression on you nonetheless. Just wait until you meet Ethan, the failed product of a cloning experiment – he’s a real cutie.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road
Who DOESN’T want to take a ride on the Fury Road, especially when mad mastermind George Miller is back behind the wheel? This movie is what the big screen experience is all about: high-definition sound, beautifully rendered compositions, riveting action, and eyefuls of fiery, supercharged stunts and collisions. Tom Hardy was an apt casting choice to take on Mel Gibson’s original rogue role of Max Rockatansky, but the real star of this vehicle is Charlize Theron as Furiosa – a role destined to distinguish her as the most iconic female action hero of the decade. 

1. Ex Machina
The very best sci-fi film of the year accomplishes many things in the course of its runtime –techno-horror, black humor, and a pervasive sense of dread – but the most surprising is that first-time director Alex Garland is able to capture such a mesmerizing variation on a (seemingly) familiar A.I. narrative. While Garland already had a solid grasp on the sci-fi genre from his previous work as a writer, his direction in Ex Machina is a revelation, and features some of the most vivid, daring, and unforgettable imagery in recent cinematic history. The core performances by Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Swedish newcomer Alicia Vikander keep you engaged from beginning to end, often turning your expectations upside down in the process. Ex Machina also features hands-down the best scene of the year in any movie; if you’ve seen it, you know the one. If you haven’t seen it, well… what are you waiting for?

Last-Minute Entry:
In the short time that worldwide audiences have been able to experience the big-screen glory of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the film has already had a profound impact – and not just in box-office dollars – on die-hard fans and newcomers alike. J.J. Abrams has accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of making yet another legendary, decades-old fixture in the cosmos of beloved science fiction feel simultaneously fresh and familiar at the same time. The seventh installment in any series should feel stale at this point, especially for today’s jaded audiences who aren’t afraid to nitpick every detail that’s out of place; yet somehow The Force Awakens carves out its own identity while remaining respectful to the world that Lucas and co. had brought to life nearly four decades ago. The Force, indeed, is strong with this one.

Honorable mention:
While neither wholly science nor fiction, Alex Gibney’s powerhouse documentary Going Clear, centered on the controversial Church of Scientology, is arguably even more bizarre than anything a sci-fi writer could dream up. Whether you’re tolerant of this “religion” or see it more as a manipulative and mysterious pyramid scheme, the toll that this organization takes on the personal and financial lives of its congregation and those who abandon the faith is both heartbreaking and devastating. For fans of documentaries, this one can’t be missed. 

Worst of 2015:
What do a handful of painfully clichéd characters, one mind-numbing plot, and an asleep-at-the-wheel Bruce Willis add up to? That is a recipe for Vice: one sorry excuse for a movie, and my only zero-star review of 2015. Unless your vice is terrible movies, stay as far away from this one as you can.
Don't be fooled by the promise of Bruce Willis!