Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, actor John Krasinski and directors Ang Lee and Guillermo del Toro let the world know the nominees for the 88th annual Academy Awards, survival epic The Revenant, dystopian action effort Mad Max: Fury Road, journalism procedural Spotlight and housing crisis comedic satire The Big Short instantly emerging as Best Picture frontrunners.
By my count, there were roughly 35 motion pictures I’d consider top tier or better, with another 20 or so I’d rate just behind them. All of which leads me to say, yes, I do believe 2015 was a great year for cinema, and I can’t help but think history will bare me out on that proclamation as the years mercilessly go by.
Writer/director Olivier Assayas’ latest drama is perfect, the movie a stunning portrait of a middle-aged actress (a dazzling Juliette Binoche) who comes face-to-face with her own career mortality when she’s asked to play the older role in the play that made her a star two decades prior. Funny, thought-provoking, intimate and authentic, the film is a nimble surprise that builds to an emotional firecracker of a climax.
Tangerine – “Baker’s film is so confident, so honest, so gosh darn friendly, of all things, that the tatty seediness of the underlying facets of the subject matter are never as off-putting or as uncomfortable as they potentially could have been. He never belittles his two heroines, never pokes fun at their respective situations. Instead, he celebrates their fearlessness while recognizing with gut-wrenching honesty the lengths they feel as if they must go to in order to be true to themselves and what it is they want out of life.”
Not every movie is Mad Max: Fury Road or Carol. Heck, they’re not even The Water Diviner, The Duff or even No Escape, perfectly acceptable genre fair that even with a misstep here or there proves to be hugely enjoyable in and of itself all the same. No, some movies are nothing but lost causes only worth sending to the dung heap, while others should be buried deep, deep within it never to be heard from again. The following ten titles are sadly some of those.
For the past couple of years I’ve been tracking everything I watch for the first time. This year that number came to 410 films that I’d never seen before, and of that number 241 were features that were released to domestic theatres at some point during 2015. Here to my mind are the top 100 of them, ranked in as close to semblance of order as I feel comfortable assembling them into.
As we’re now well into Oscar season, the following are my picks for the absolute pest performances, screenplays and what-not for 2015. Many of these individuals and films will certainly get singled out for Academy Award consideration; quite a few of them sadly will not. To my mind, however, all are worthy of recognition, and push come to shove were arguably my favorites in their individual categories.
Maybe it was because I’d been read the book as a kindergartner by my mother. Maybe it was because it was one of the first pieces of literature I set out to read on my own. Whatever the reason, Ballard’s visually sumptuous take spun me round in such deliriously entranced circles I almost didn’t know how to react, [The Black Stallion] a poetic realization of everything I myself had imagined yet also at the same time so much more.
There will be those that who try to convince people 2014 was a weak year for film. They would be wrong.