In what now seems like a new tradition (see: my 2013 and 2014 lists), I am posting my Top Favorite Films of 2015 List today, on Oscar Sunday. These extra weeks allow me to catch up on 2015 releases, and since I'm not getting paid to write any of this, I say why not wait until I've seen a good amount of them before finishing a list.
As always though, even with all the extra time, I still haven't seen a boatload of things (especially Oscar nominees), including Carol, The Big Short, Spotlight, Son of Saul, Steve Jobs, Straight Outta Compton, Crimson Peak, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, The Assassin, Magic Mike XXL, Mustang, Macbeth, Krampus, Goodnight Mommy, The Forbidden Room, 45 Years, Brooklyn, Beasts of No Nation, or The Revenant. So keep all that in mind..
Out of the 50 or so movies I did see from 2015, these were my favorites:
TOP 15 FILMS OF 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom Hardy as Max is amazing, tough and silent, and I love how the movie isn't afraid to have one of his best action moments offscreen. His throwdown his Furiosa is fantastic too, as is Furiosa herself (Charlize Theron has an all-timer character here; she's so badass)... So many great things in this movie: the car designs, the car crashes, the tight editing and framing, the crisp visual action choreography, the set and art design, the eye popping color tones, "I live! I die! I live again!," The Doof Warrior, the guys on poles, Mother's Milk, that freaky tiny guy in the chair, the non-corny nods to the previous films, the spray paint, the religious symbolism of the steering wheel, and of course, Immortan Joe: Darth Vader of the wasteland.
Fury Road is an action masterpiece and a brilliant piece of pure cinema. If you don't like it you're a crazy smig who eats schlanger!
The Hateful Eight
The comparison between Craven's and Tarantino's films is made implicit with the use of a song by David Hess (who starred in and provided the soundtrack for Last House), a track called "Now You're All Alone." In Last House it is used in the lead up to poor Mari's execution and in Hateful Eight it creeps up in the scene where Joe Gage shoots helpless Charly. Both scenes involve the murder of an innocent and invoke the mournful inevitableness of death, the cold approach of forever.
Tarnatino has never been accused of being a political filmmaker but with his last two films it would seem he has some things on his mind when it comes to the state of pain and divide within our nation.
Charlie Kaufman proves that no matter the medium he is the master of telling idiosyncratic stories about depression, life, love, existence, etc. He also proves that nothing good ever happens in hotel rooms. Or Cincinnati.
The Duke of Burgundy
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Frank and upfront, there's a realism coming through here (even with the moments augmented by animation) that I would imagine would make this a realistic and authentic portrayal of what it is like to grow up as a girl, emotionally speaking of course. I mean, I hope most young girls aren't sleeping with older men, even if they do look like Alexander Skarsgård.
Bridge of Spies
The Look of Silencefavorite film of 2013. The Look of Silence isn't as artistically daring with recreations or its locations as its predecessor, but the story is every bit as amazing and powerful. Following a military coup in Indonesian in the mid-60s there was a mass genocide of suspected communists and dissenters, most of them innocents. Up to a million people were killed. The men who perpetrated those crimes are still in power to this day.
While The Act of Killing focused on those men and getting them to discuss what they did, this film instead gives voice to the families of the victims, specifically that of a young optometrist who goes around interviewing some of these guys while giving them eye exams. Their reactions to the realties of what they did is chilling and you start to have grave concerns for this optometrist's safety, as talking about these things in such a way is something that just isn't done. It's quite a brave thing that's done here, the lifting of silence. A remarkable two film series.
What We Do in the Shadows
the next ten:
-Sicario - Doesn't add much new to the drug cartel movie genre, but it does have great cinematography, performances, and a couple superb suspense sequences.
-The Tribe - Ukrainian arthouse film, told only in sign language. Mesmerizing and meditative but also unflinchingly brutal and uncomfortable. A difficult film to be sure, but worthwhile.
-Queen of Earth - Elizabeth Moss cries her eyes out in Alex Ross Perry's lake house version of Repulsion.
-Love & Mercy - Surprisingly solid biopic that avoids becoming run-of-the-mill with its artiness and use of montage. Also, any chance I get to see Brian Wilson (even a fictionalized version) working in the studio recording Beach Boys magic, I'm going to take it.
-Ant-Man - Refreshing smaller scale Marvel superhero movie. The Cure "Disintegration" moment might be my favorite joke of the year.
-We Are Still Here - Effective and spooky grieving parents/haunted house movie with a great soundtrack.
-Mistress America -
"I think I'm sick, and I don't know if my ailment has a name. It's just me sitting and staring at the internet or television for long periods of time, interspersed by trying to not do that and then lying about what I've been doing. And then I'll get so excited about something that the excitement overwhelms me and I can't sleep or do anything and I just am in love with everything but can't figure out how to make myself work in the world."
"I think I have that too."
-The Martian - The funniest space movie since Space Jam!
Worst Movies I Mistakenly Thought Might Be Worth Watching:
-Cooties - Very disappointed in this weak zombie children horror comedy. Don't get Cooties.
-Pound of Flesh - Van Damme has been making some great movies in recent years. This is not one of them.
-Burying the Ex - I hate to rag on a Joe Dante movie, but this is a big *whiff*
-Jurassic World - The best part of this was, after the movie finished in the theater, some guy up in the balcony shouted out a displeased "booooo!"
-Slow West - The cartoonish "salt in the wound" scene made me fold my arms and shout "oh, c'mon!" at my TV.
-The Gift - A lot of people like this. I'm not one of them. It starts off with some promise, but descends into sub-mediocrity, like maybe just a step above "made for cable TV thriller." Jason Bateman leans hard into his natural unlikability, but the other two leads offer me nothing. Who am I supposed to be rooting for in this movie? And the ending, the big reveal, well, no spoilers, but seems to me some tests could alleviate some questions about the gift, am I right?
Well, there you go. What do you think?
Agree? Disagree? What were your favorites of 2015?