2015 turned out to be a pretty solid year for film. Plenty of good movies, a few great, but not sure if any will truly be classics 10 years from now. If anything stands up to that title, I'd say Mad Max probably has the greatest chances. Not because its a modern day Godfather by any means, but for the memorability factor, I expect it will age the best. Other than that, I'd say its a bit of a crapshoot if anything else will. Time will tell. I'm sure I'll feel different in six months anyhow. Of course, I didn't manage to see many movies this year that have gotten acclaim, but of the ones I did see, these are the handful I enjoyed the most.
1. The Hateful Eight - I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did, which is possibly why I ended up liking it so much. Certainly not in contention for my favorite Tarantino film, but it’s got a whole lot going for it, most exquisitely being the glorious 70mm film. If he just would’ve left out god damn Tatum, could've been close to perfect.
2. Mad Max - Fury Road - Pound for pound the most entertaining and easily recommendable movie from last year. A masterful example of big budget entertainment, and what should be Exhibit A for all studios on how to craft an original* and exciting spectacle.
*I know its a sequel, shut up
3. Sicario - Director Denis Villenueve once again proves that he is a force to be reckoned with. Every year he has released a movie, it has made it on my year end list. Potentially the most consistently great director working today.
4. It Follows - Disregarding the hype, hyperbole, and subsequent backlash, this little horror diddy has tons of style to spare. Unnerving as hell and consistently original, more modern horror films should look this great.
5. Wild Tales - Six shorts that all deal with revenge in a fairly dark but comedic way. This came out of left field and I couldn't have been happier not knowing much going in.
6. The Revenant - I was probably looking forward to this more than any other film this winter, which is never a good way to go into a movie. Luckily, it still turned out pretty fuckin beautiful and awe-inspiring, especially knowing what went into the production. A little heavy on the Malick-ish influences, but hard to get away from that when you share the same fantastic cinematographer.
7. What We Do in the Shadows - No American comedy even came close to approaching the quality of this New Zealand gem.
8. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - My requisite outlier art film that will likely only appeal to 2% of anyone reading this. But if you like immaculately staged/produced, ultra-dry Swedish humor that seems like a Far Side panel come to life if it were written by Friedrich Nietzsche, this might be up your alley!
9. Son of Saul - Its a Holocaust drama, no two ways about it. But it is a pretty masterfully made Holocaust drama.
10. End of the Tour - If you got a low tolerance for Jesse Eisenberg, best to steer clear of this one. But Jason Segel is fantastic here as revered writer David Foster Wallace and convinced me to give Infinite Jest another shot.
11. Inside Out - When Pixar hits it right and isn't cashing in on sequels, their creativity knows no bounds. Not quite on the level of The Incredibles or Wall-E, but certainly ranks in their top 5 productions.
12. Victoria - A 2 hour and 20 minute single take thriller has gimmick written all over it. But god damn if they didn't pull off something miraculous here. It’s like if the Before Sunrise films met Miss Bala and got in bed with The Russian Ark. I wish it were 90 minutes, but I understand why letting the story breathe to make the relationship more natural makes sense.
13. The Big Short - I won't lie, I'm still confused as hell regarding the 2008 financial collapse. But this helped slightly and was entertainingly constructed at least.
14. Spotlight - Never showy or overly sensational to play up the drama, just a straight forward, by the numbers look at cracking a giant story. Mark Ruffalo also looks like he's 12 in this and it’s pretty funny.
15. Beasts of No Nation/Ex Machina - Both of these films depressed me in equal measures, but in different ways. Beasts cause it is a savage story that is just naturally depressing. Ex Machina because it is a good movie that should've been great.
1. The Russian Woodpecker - If you're into conspiracy theories, this one's a doozy. And even if you're not, still a well crafted and engaging doc.
2. Cartel Land - Incredible access and footage to the ongoing cartel wars in Mexico and on the border. Crazy stuff.
3. Call Me Lucky - This starts out in one place, as a fairly traditional look at an old school abrasive comedian, and takes a hard left turn into something completely different. Fair warning, this gets extraordinarily heavy, but is still important and illuminating in many regards.
4. Meru - Mountain climbing docs seem to be fairly common these days, and usually trace the same kind of story. I won't say this one reinvents the wheel, but it proves to be a very well made wheel. The footage in this one is at least aided by fantastic photographer Jimmy Chin, who also happens to be a crazy expert climber who made this ascent.
5. Everybody Street - As someone who aspires to be a street photographer of note someday, this overview of the scene in New York is incredibly inspiring. Some giants of the genre give great insight here.
6. Going Clear - Pretty "talking head" heavy, but unquestionably still fascinating when diving into the murky depths of Scientology.
TV has clearly matured into the coolest kid in class on the media landscape. And with good reason, as there is an embarrassment of riches to be had on TV these days! And with the surplus of great shows out there, it’s proving even harder to keep up with the on-going titles and new releases that seem to be premiering every other week. But it’s not a bad problem to have. I won't wax poetic on each title listed here, but I will note how crazy it was to see Fargo become phenomenal after a very good first season, and True Detective totally screw the pooch and blow the goodwill it earned after its historic first season. Also, The Jinx was incredible to experience live as the real shit was going down. Would be surprised to ever see that happen again with a serialized documentary series.
- The Jinx
- The Knick
- Rick and Morty
- Mr Robot
- Last Week Tonight
- Documentary Now!
- Game of Thrones
- Also a good time: Better Call Saul, The Leftovers, Mad Men, Master of None, Louie, Wet Hot American Summer, Making A Murderer, Parts Unknown