Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie from the Year You Turned 15

We played this game last year when we discussed Favorite Movies from the Year You Turned 10. For this week’s Roundtable, let’s move ahead a little to identify our favorite movies from the year we each turned 15.

Age 10 was interesting, because that’s right around the time when kids start to understand a little about movies, and figure out that some are better than others. For most adolescents, age 15 is a prime movie-watching time in their lives, when they voraciously consume as many movies as they can – good, bad or indifferent. At least, that’s how it worked for me. By 15, we’re pretty opinionated about what’s “awesome” and what “sucks.” Often, those first impressions stick around a long time and are hard to shake later in life, even when we really ought to have developed better taste. That’s one reason why many people form such strong emotional attachments to their favorite movies from their teenage years, even though many of those movies probably aren’t objectively very good.

The rules for this topic are as follows:

  • The movie must have been released to theaters during the year you turned 15-years-old (even if you saw it earlier in the year before your birthday).
  • You must have actually seen the movie during its original run. We’re not talking about movies you caught up with years later and recognized as artistic masterpieces in your adulthood. I want to know which movie the 15-year-old you thought was your favorite from that year.

Shannon Nutt

I turned 15 back in 1984, and though I wouldn’t actually roll the ol’ odometer over until December of that year (meaning I was actually 14 when I saw this movie), there’s no doubt that my favorite film of the year was ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom‘. Yes, I realize this is the same year we got ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (although I never saw the latter in the theater… you couldn’t sneak in the way teens can today). ‘Temple of Doom’ is my last memory of a movie actually being an event.

I still remember the long line waiting to get in. I still remember a packed house and I still remember the movie being delayed starting for about 20 minutes because of the line and because management wanted to get every seat filled. I even remember the manager coming in, asking everyone to move toward the center of the rows and telling us that people had driven from as far as an hour away to see the movie (which got some chuckles from the crowd as I grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh and there were plenty of movie house options in the area). And, of course, I remember that thrilling opening (still my favorite part of the film) with the big musical number, Indy chasing after that antidote, and his big escape from Lao Che and his henchmen.

I don’t remember much from the other films I saw in 1984 (other than the fact that I saw them), but I do remember this one, and it’s one of my best movie memories.

Mike Attebery

I have a good movie from the year I turned 15. ‘Jurassic Park’! Easily the best movie of the year, right? But it’s not my favorite. My favorite is ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery‘. Did you know the script for ‘Annie Hall’, when it was originally called ‘Anhedonia’, had a murder mystery subplot? It’s true. But that storyline was eventually dropped. Sixteen years later, Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman wrote another movie together, and we got to see what might have become of Alvy and Annie years later, when neighborly suspicions of murder help to jolt their dead shark of a relationship back to life.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I set a record in 1993 that, more than twenty years later, I still haven’t surpassed: watching the same movie theatrically six times.

As excited as I’d been to see so many different movies throughout my life up to that point, nothing had ever whipped me into a frenzy as ‘Jurassic Park‘ had. Kind of like that awful kid in the ‘Foxtrot’ comics, I was very literally counting down the days until I could see these dinosaurs stomp around on the big screen. I was there, front and center, on day one, and I spent entirely too much time that summer coming back for more.

As head over heels as I was in love with ‘Jurassic Park’, it actually got to be a bit much. You see, I was visiting family that summer, and they lived down the road from a discount theater that we kept turning to as a cheap way to pass the time (and avoid the searing Arizona heat). It only had three screens, though, and my choices always seemed to be “romantic comedy,” “awful family flick,” or, well, ‘Jurassic Park’. Sorry, but I’d rather stare down a flock of velociraptors over ‘Dennis the Menace’ any day.

I watched ‘Jurassic Park’ so many times that summer that I kind of overdosed. It was one of the defining movies of my youth and very likely my single favorite movie that I’d seen at that point in my life, yet I haven’t been able to bring myself to see it again since.

Aaron Peck

Fifteen was that formative age where I started experimenting with ways to get into R-rated movies, and 1998 had some great ones. Even though 1998 was the same year of ‘Saving Private Ryan’, I had my mind on another R-rated film. I even asked my dad to come with me because I’d heard that it was pretty tame. He ended up agreeing. I think it was the one and only time my dad went to an R-rated movie with me in the theater.

Perhaps that’s why ‘Snake Eyes‘ still appeals to me today. I’ve always been a sucker for Nic Cage, and honestly, I think he’s great in it. Yes, the entire movie is surrounded by a personally intrinsic nostalgia that could easily be clouding my judgment. I’ve come to terms with the idea that most people think it’s somewhere between a bad and terrible movie. That doesn’t matter to me, because in 1998 it was the best movie 15-year-old me saw.

M. Enois Duarte

Man, I remember the late ’80s and early ’90s as some of the best years for movies, especially because those were the years when I was driving friends and myself to see something new every single weekend. (Of course, I didn’t actually have my license yet for a couple of those years, but that will be our little secret.) Sometimes, we’d go back for a different feature the following day, practically spending our weekend gorging on movies.

In 1989, I drove us to the drive-in to see ‘Batman’ and ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’. One of my all-time favorite theaters, Century Cinedome, is where I enjoyed ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, ‘Back to the Future Part II’, ‘The Burbs’, ‘Harlem Nights’ and so many more. I could go on, but the point here is personal favorite of that year, and since I’m a sick-in-the-head horror hound, what kind of genre fan would I be if I didn’t pick a horror movie?

With so many to choose from that year, and believe me, there’s a wealth of gruesome goodies to choose from, I’m going with the Stephen King adaptation of ‘Pet Sematary‘. I read the book about a year or two earlier, so I was pretty excited to see it on the big screen, especially after seeing creepy commercials with Pascow’s ghost, the dead cat Church hissing at the dad, and little Gage’s disturbing march down a hallway with a scalpel. Admittedly, the movie hasn’t aged very well over the years, losing a good deal of its scare factor, but I remember fondly enjoying the movie at the Cinedome. For that time, it effectively scared the bejeezus out of me and I enjoyed how faithful it was to the book.

Luke Hickman

As much as I loved and theatrically revisited the summer tentpole ‘Waterworld’, dumb 15-year-old Luke would be disappointed if I didn’t name ‘Batman Forever‘ as my (then) favorite movie from 1995. My pubescent eyes were blinded by Joel Schumacher’s inflicted neon haze and couldn’t see how much better the Tim Burton ‘Batman’ flicks were compared to this one.

Casting handsome Val Kilmer was cool. Coming off ‘The Fugitive’, watching Tommy Lee Jones ham it up as Two-Face Harvey Dent was great. Seeing Jim Carrey as a smart-yet-zany scientist version of Ace Ventura was pure gold. And the little perv in me especially liked seeing Drew Barrymore in white lingerie. The only thing I didn’t much care for was the introduction of Robin. Even at 15, I was aware of Chris O’Donnell’s bad acting. If only the 25-year-old Luke could show the 15-year-old Luke ‘Batman Begins’. It would blow that pimply kid’s mind to see the night-and-day contrast. In the defense of 15-year-old Luke, at least ‘Forever’ was better than ‘Batman & Robin’!

Josh Zyber

Like E., I turned 15 in 1989. Man, that was a really big year for movies that would appeal to a 15-year-old: ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, ‘Back to the Future Part II’, ‘Lethal Weapon 2’, ‘Ghostbusters II’ (hey, I liked it at the time), ‘The Abyss’, ‘Turner & Hooch’, ‘Tango & Cash’, ‘Bill & Ted’… the list goes on. Not all of them hold up, but I couldn’t get enough of them. That year was a bounty of riches for a movie-obsessed teenager.

Looking back as an adult, I’d name ‘Do the Right Thing’ or ‘Glory’ or ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ as among the best movies released that year. But as a 15-year-old, I was fully on board with ‘Batman‘ fever.

Honestly, that movie shocked the hell out of me. As a kid who didn’t read superhero comics, my only association with Batman was the campy 1960s TV show. When I heard that somebody was making a Batman movie, I scoffed and was certain that it would bomb. Then the trailers came out and they looked really cool. Then it opened and was an absolutely explosive success. All of my friends told me that I HAD to see this movie. And when I did, it blew me away with how much fun it was. I went back to see it at least four times in the theater. (My best friend at the time saw it eight times.)

I can appreciate what Christopher Nolan did with his first two ‘Dark Knight’ movies as much as anyone (the third one, not so much), but for me, Tim Burton’s is still the definitive movie Batman.

What movies were you crazy about the year you turned 15? Tell us in the Comments.


  1. 1996 was a fine year for film. Fargo, Sling Blade, the much-praised and then maligned The English Patient, Breaking The Waves, Shine…the list goes on. But for me it’s another Oscar-winking film that melted my heart as a 15 year old in the cold December of the Midwest. Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire is still one of my favorite films to this day. Sure it doesn’t feature the power of Emily Watson’s performance in Waves, or the sheer maniacal fun of Fargo, but it does capture a certain romantic spirit that I’ve found appeals to me.

  2. moremovies85

    I turned 15 in 2000, and the movie that blew me away that year was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. My dad and I had passes to see a different movie that didn’t work for some reason, so I said we should see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon instead. The story really grabbed my attention and the fight choreography was unlike anything I had seen before.

    I liked it so much that I went to see it in theaters again. When I asked for tickets, the theater employee said, “you know you have to read that, right?” And I replayed, “yes, I have already seen it, and I want to see it again.” I’ve always loved the movie since. My dad and my friend were less thrilled with the movie.

    • Josh Zyber

      That reminds me of one of my worst theater experiences. When I went to see Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s City of Lost Children, the theater’s volume was turned down so low you could hear everyone in the audience breathing. I went to the lobby to complain, and the dipshit attendant actually said to me, “What do you need to hear it for? That movie’s subtitled, duh.”

      • moremovies85

        That’s awful. My worst experience was seeing 127 Hours and the projector was not focused. We told them multiple times and they would not fix it. So, we got our money back and left. I later emailed the manager, and he said “I personally checked, and it’s definitely a blurry movie.” That’s not a thing. So insulting.

  3. Charles Contreras

    Okay, get ready for a real blast from the past! I turned 15 back in 1977, so I got to see on the big screen some of the modern day classics, such as Star Wars, The Deep, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, The Spy Who Loved Me, and yes, even The Car starring James Brolin. My mom, bless her heart, encouraged me to see Saturday Night Fever, and I don’t mean the PG rated version. Oh, and how could I forget Smokey and The Bandit, which was a good substitute when the line for Star Wars was way too long to wait in. That truly was a good time for me.

  4. Mike H.

    Summer of ’89. A great summer for movies and a great summer to be 15. Batman and Indy 3 were big that’s for sure but I really was stoked for The Abyss. An emotional and visual experience for sure with real jaw dropping moments and absolutely amazing to see on the big screen. Very thankful for the extended edition that came out years later to really flesh out the movie better. It still stands as THE premiere underwater movie in my opinion and is a travesty that we are not able to enjoy it on blu-ray.

  5. Mike H.

    Ohh and how could I forget Edward Zwick’s masterpiece Glory also from 1989. Man what a great year for movies! Too many to choose from.

  6. Shayne

    Oh man, 1996 has some lasting favorites:

    Kids in the Hall: Braincandy
    Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood
    The Craft
    Romeo + Juliet
    Independence Day

    Of those I saw The Craft, Romeo + Juliet, Scream and Independence Day theatrically, the rest I snatched up on video immediately.

    • Jakdonark

      Although my favorite movies are from the late 70s, early 80s, my favorite year for movies was 1996. I saw almost a movie a week, and that summer had some good ones: Mission Impossible, Twister, the Rock, The Cable Guy, The Phantom, Eraser, Dragonheart, Independence Day, Maximum Risk, and the rest of the year had First Contact, Romeo and Juliet, Broken Arrow, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Probably missing some, since that’s just off the top of my head.

  7. Lots of great movies from my 15th year. This topic is easier sometimes than others.

    Tossup between Top Gun or Aliens. Aliens was packed full of action, Top Gun was awesome in its 70mm high-flying projection. I saw Flight of the Navigator like 6 times as well.

    Honorable mentions for 1986 that I saw at the theater:
    Stand By Me, Ferrie Beuler’s Day Off, Platoon, Labyrinth, The Fly (remake w. Jeff Goldblum,) Karate Kid 2, Howard the Duck, Short Circuit, Cobra, Star Trek IV, American Tale, Police Academy 3, The Wraith, Night of the Creeps. Tons of B titles to list but I think y’all get the gist.

  8. Looking at the discs in my collection from 1970:

    Ballad of Cable Hogue, The (1970)
    Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
    Bird With the Crystal Plumage, The (1970)
    Blood Mania (1970)
    Brewster McCloud (1970)
    Catch-22 (1970)
    Cheyenne Social Club, The (1970)
    Cindy and Donna (1970)
    Colossus The Forbin Project (1970)
    Conformist, The (1970)
    Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)
    Doctor Who (051) Spearhead from Space (1970)
    Five Easy Pieces (1970)
    Horton Hears a Who! (1970)
    Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)
    Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
    Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
    Molly Maguires, The (1970)
    Monte Walsh (1970)
    No Blade of Grass (1970)
    Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The (1970)
    Ryan’s Daughter (1970)
    Sometimes a Great Notion (1970)
    Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
    Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
    Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
    Vampire Lovers, The (1970)
    Waterloo (1970)

    …the only one I saw in the theater was “Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)”. I can’t claim it is my favorite, but I didn’t get to the theater very often until I was older.


  9. William Henley

    1994 has SO many good movies. I mean, it was the year of Lion King, Little Women, Little Rascals, True Lies, Ace Ventura, The Mask, The Santa Clause, Star Trek Generations (still my favorite Star Trek movie).

    So it was a great year, but there is one movie that stands out above all the rest, a movie that I read the book to three times and the audio book once, and I have probably seen the movie a dozen times since I first saw it six years ago. The title for Favorite movie of 1994 goes to….. Interview With the Vampire (Its actually really weird to think that Kristen Dunst was in that and Little Women in the same year). I LOVE this movie – brilliant script actually written by Anne Rice herself, a confident director and production team, then throwing in the fantastic Christian Slater, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, but most importantly, the performance given by Kristen Dunst as Claudia makes me forget half the time that it is a movie and these are actors. I watch this movie 3-4 times a year, even with my To Watch list getting larger and larger, and with my To Read list getting larger and larger. Great story, and fantastic movie adaptation.

  10. I turned 15 in 1980 and there is one film from that year that stands head and shoulders above the rest, especially to a 15 year old, The Empire Strikes Back. There was a ton of anticipation for it and it delivered amazingly.

  11. Timcharger

    15 years old in 1989, there were 2 hotties on my mind.

    First was:
    Ione Skye of Say Anything. It was too hot and weird to be wearing
    a trenchcoat like John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler, but I thought about
    doing it. So influential was that movie. Till this day, I refuse to
    have any job connection to sell or buy things that are processed.
    I did think about kickboxing, but I never took up a martial arts at
    15, so I thought I was too late. The whole boombox outside a
    girl’s windows thing. Yup, I did that. It was to an existing girlfriend
    as a joke, so it had no drama.

    2nd hottie on my mind was:
    Ariel. 1989 was Little Mermaid. Of course my hormone crazed mind
    thought of real hotties, but Ariel in a seashell bikini, I was hooked in.
    Part of Your World. Kiss the Girl. This was Disney animation good
    again. I knew it then, Disney had a hit like the Sleeping Beauty and
    Snow White that would be replayed and cherished into the future.

    Like E, I remember Pet Cemetery at the theaters. That might have
    been my first boob grab at the theater. Accidental of course! You
    know, scary movie, arm around around my date, it happens. It was
    either Pet Cemetery or Dead Calm (forgettable Nicole Kidman, Sam
    Neill film). Some jump scare caused the boob grab. I do remember
    like a minute later, she did say, it’s not scary anymore. You can let
    go of my boob now.

    My date was 16, so she could drive us to the movies. Great time
    being 15!

  12. Csm101

    1991 was the year I would turn 15. Don’t hate on me because I got Terminator 2: Judgement Day for my 15. What an experience! We were all stoked and went and saw the first showing at around 1:00pm (they didn’t do morning shows back then) at Cobb theaters. I remember me, my dad, brother, sister, uncle (dad’s brother) and maybe a few others. I wouldn’t turn 15 until November, which brings me to another defining movie for me. Beauty and the Beast. Pure magic. Those two movies are in my DNA and I always look back fondly on those theatrical experiences. I saw a lot of movies that year, but none of them come close to the awesomeness of T2 or Beauty and the Beast.

    • Eric

      Same here. 1991 was dominated be T:2. I saw it several times in the theater. Now, I can hardly watch it. Edward Furlong is obnoxious. Linda Hamilton is incredibly annoying, and the subplot about not killing anyone is so childish and silly. Great topic though, guys!

  13. photogdave

    Thanks for this post. It’s reminded me of just how many great movies came out in 1988! It’s really hard to pick one but I think it’s a tie between Die Hard and A Fish Called Wanda.

  14. Aaron

    The year 2000, I remember it well. Y2K didn’t happen and I was pretty happy about it because the first big time Marvel movie was coming out, X-Men. Sure, Blade had already come out, but that was one of those movies that you caught on VHS when your friend recorded it off TV.

    X-Men was going to be an event, and holy shit, what an event. I loved that movie so much and I made sure to tell everyone that they needed to see it.

    It’s funny going back and watching it now because it’s so small scale compared to every X-Men movie since, but at the time it was great to see all of these comic book characters I loved come to life. I imagine people who saw Superman or Batman felt the same at the time of their release.

  15. itjustWoRX

    Had to go back and look at “2002 in Film.”

    That was around the time I really stopped going to the movies a lot and just waited for DVDs because we had a dedicated home theater with a 120″ screen.

    But of what I did see in the theater…I’d have to say “Jackass: The Movie,” “Signs,” and “LOTR: The Two Towers.”

  16. Jakdonark

    My teenage years I lived in a small town of under 2000. There was a theater that closed down around 95, but from 91-93 I saw a number of movies in the few hundred seat house, and it was some fun times because I knew almost every one in the theater. It was open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, I think two shows a night and a different movie each week. Looked up a list for 1992 and didn’t see as many as I thought, but there were some interesting titles:
    Death becomes her
    Distinguished gentlemen
    Home alone 2
    Honey I blew up the kid
    My cousin vinny
    Passenger 57
    Rapid fire
    Stop or my mom will shoot
    Under siege
    Wayne’s world
    That summer I went to Nova Scotia to visit relatives, and my aunt and uncle took me to the theater. For years I was certain my choice was Batman Returns or Jurassic Park, but I don’t know how my memory failed me on that one because Jurassic Park was 93. Anyways Batman Returns was my favorite for that year. I’ve seen every Batman movie theatrically since 1989 and they all have been very memorable.

    I do remember the nudity in Dracula and Under Siege was well received by the couple hundred teenage boys in the theater, and I was 14 for most of the year. Those were some fun times in that small town.

  17. Thulsadoom

    It’d have to be Beauty and the Beast, I definitely saw it at the cinema. 🙂 Still love that, and think it’s the best animated Disney film (And yes, I think it’s better than Frozen!)
    Other films that I probably didn’t see that year at the cinema, but got to see the year after on video and really loved (at that age, and still) are obviously Terminator 2, The Addams Family, Star Trek Six, The People Under the Stairs, Nake Gun 2&1/2, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Hot Shots…. And special mention to Hudson Hawk!! I LOVED that film. Haven’t seen it in years, but must do again. Terribly underrated silly fun! 😀

  18. Ivan

    Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. It is the weakest of the original Trilogy, but still entertaining. American filmakers made less of these movies after Return of the Jedi, which makes it more memorable for me. I thought that Hollywood would never return to the space-fantasy genre. Today the world gets them every year, including one of my favorite movies, Guardians of the Galaxy which owes everything to Star Wars.

  19. Charles M

    The only movie I saw in the cinemas in 1995 was Species, so it’s Species then. Sorry, but the 90s was the videostore generation, and that’s where we saw most of our films. So if that can be included, then Braveheart.

    • EM

      Well…as the trailer for the first Austin Powers sequel said, “If you see only one movie this summer, see Star Wars.” Too bad that’s all you went to see that year!

      • Oh, I also saw ‘Toy Story 2’ (better than ‘Episode I’), ‘The Matrix’, ‘Wild Wild West’, ‘She’s All That’, ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut’, and ‘The World Is Not Enough’, but I just wanted to emphasize that 15-year old Julian liked one of the more reviled movies out there. In fact, 30-year old Julian still likes ‘Episode I’.

        • EM

          Obi-Wan’s first line is good…all the more so for its foreshadowing.

          Glad you clarified…and matured. After the very real menace that was The Phantom Menace, The Iron Giant restored my faith in the potential of contemporary filmmaking, and Toy Story 2 restored my faith in film franchises.

        • William Henley

          99 was a good year – I saw all those, plus Pokemon, Carrie 2, Wing Commander, Muppets from Space, Blair Witch Project (not good in retrospect, but it was the first movie of that genera), Sleepy Hollow, Bicentenial Man, Galaxy Quest, Fantasia 2000 at the Imax, and Coyote Ugly (pretty much went to the theater every weekend)

          • EM

            William, are you sure it was in ’99 that you saw Fantasia 2000? I’ve always understood its IMAX premiere to be on January 1, 2000. There were showings before that, but I’ve always understood them to be concert showings (i.e., with live orchestra) in a very limited run that began at Carnegie Hall the previous December 17.

          • William Henley

            You are right, it did open up at the Imax on January 1, but it was in limited release before then, therefore its a 1999 film.

  20. theHDphantom

    I had a few from 2003, but I’ll have to go with Willard and Master and Commander. Willard was such a kooky film, but in such a good, good way. Terrific performance by Crispin Glover and loved the way Glen Morgan directed it and the way the film was shot. And Master and Commander, well, that film speaks for itself. Just fantastic.

  21. jrob

    I turned 15 in 2003, and I definetely remember seeing LOTR: ROTK and Master and Commander. I am unsure if I saw Finding Nemo. I think I did, but then that means that I probably didn’t. Good selection, though!

  22. As I came from a family that didn’t go to the theater (money reasons, mostly), I can’t truly participate in this discussion, but I’m going to anyway! HA!!

    The year was 1992, and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York was a super hit. I would have been able to see it once it became available on VHS at the local Blockbuster (man, those were the days!!).

    My whole family loved Home Alone, and this one is a personal favorite. Yes, the formula was exactly like the first movie, and yes, the bad guys were human cartoons in their ability to cheat death repeatedly, but I loved that romp. To this day it remains one of my all-time favorite films!!

    • Excellent choice! It truly is a fun sequel, and it includes the best line in the franchise: ‘Howdy-doo. This is Peter McCallister. The faaaaaaather.’ Cracks me up every time.

  23. I was 15 in 1977. So I had Close Encounters, Saturday Night Fever, Smokey and the Bandit,The Spy Who Loved Me, and some little movie: Star something or another. Funny enough, I can still remember going to see that movie (Star Wars). I remember the theater, the time, the day. Funny how something like that stays in your brain.

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