Each December, Artforum asks cult director John Waters to compile a list of his favorite films of the past 12 months, and this year he has responded with an eclectic roundup of both mainstream and indie selections. Topping Waters’ 2015 list is Andreas Horvath’s apparently unflattering documentary Helmut Berger, Actor about which Waters asks, “Maybe the best motion picture of the year is also the worst?” The 71-year-old Berger, an Austrian actor best known for films like Salon Kitty and The Damned, now lives “a sad life” in a “ramshackle apartment” and is apparently comfortable masturbating on camera these days. Other films Waters has singled out for praise this year include Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room, Todd Haynes’ Carol, and Marielle Heller’s The Diary Of A Teenage Girl. He calls the latter “a powerful, realistic, and amazingly well-acted comedy about sex between adults and teens that isn’t creepy but authentic, ballsy, and totally unpredictable.”
As for movies that actually played in plenty of American theaters, Waters has a few of those on his list as well. Mad Max: Fury Road is his fifth favorite film of the year. “Big-budget tentpole movies can be art, too,” Waters writes, “and this ultimate nonstop demolition derby is downright insane from the moment it takes off.” Perhaps the most shocking inclusion on Waters’ list, however, is the movie that comes in second, only one notch below the Helmut Burger doc: Kenneth Branagh’s live action reimagining of Cinderella. “Yes, you heard me, Cinderella. I fucking love this Disney film.” In retrospect, though, this is in keeping with the rest of Waters’ career. His own movies, particularly 1977’s Desperate Living, are heavily influenced by Walt Disney’s fairy tale films. And he’s long been a champion of high-profile movies that received little affection from critics, such as Interiors, Ice Castles, and the entire canon of Randal Kleiser. Welcome to the club, Cinderella.