18 January 2016
For the past three years, I’ve been ranking every film I see- just the new releases, from January 1st to December 31st. The rankings are subjective, based entirely on how much I enjoyed and/or connected with or appreciated the film rather than on some sort of objective artistic criteria. Basically, this is a list of 140 films released in 2015 ranked according to how much I liked them.
Read the Full 2015 List HERE.
Here is where you’ll start to see a few films I kind of liked. This lot left me a little bit cold but, for the most part, they’re actually pretty well-made films.
101. 5 Flights Up
This charming little movie showcases lovely chemistry between Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton while the flashbacks tell a great, small, tender love story. There’s also some fun “all these people are crazy!” comedy. But all the good things in this movie are obscured by an elaborate non-plot about the New York real estate market and a sentimental subplot about a dog who needs surgery.
This beautifully shot drama about two women who fall in love is unconvincing in its love and left me entirely cold. The guys on the Vidiots Podcast (my favourite podcast, in case you were wondering) called it “a Cate Blanchett delivery system”, which it certainly is, and I don’t care enough about Cate Blanchett for that to be enough. They also said that it’s possible audiences are “reading Rorschachian depth into Rooney Mara’s blankness” which I think is the most accurate thing anyone has ever said about Rooney Mara. That said, our brilliant Boston editor Fabiana completely disagrees and has lots of wonderful things to say about Carol so maybe I’m just missing something.
This little-seen film about James Dean (played with maximum mumble by Dane DeHaan) and the photographer who shot him for Life Magazine (played with moving precision by the greatly underrated Robert Pattinson) is like the photojournalism version of The End of the Tour. It’s about two men, one assigned to do a portrait of the other, whose reluctant connection plays out over a largely plotless two hours or so. Perhaps appropriately, the cinematography of Life is more composed and arguably artful than The End of the Tour and its script far less compelling, this film being about pictures while the other is largely about words. But while every meandering moment and careful silence in The End of the Tour holds a thousand different feelings, the nothingness here ultimately feels more like nothingness.
104. Digging for Fire
So little happens in this star-packed mumblecore drama that I started anticipating twists that would never come (at one point I was Completely convinced that Sam Rockwell was all in Jake Johnson’s head). I don’t generally mind plot-less meanderings if the character storytelling is incisive enough, but these people are simply not interesting enough to invest in as they do nothing for two hours, despite the presence of almost every single member of the indie royal family (Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Rosemarie DeWitt, Chris Messina, Ron Livingston, Mike Birbiglia, Brie Larson seconds before the rest of the world learned her name and, for some reason, Orlando Bloom, all directed by, of course, Joe Swanberg).
Cute. Nothing more or less than that.
Did we really need to remake Family Vacation? Definitely not. But oldest son Skylar Gisondo is honestly funny (not “you like him so you giggle politely even when the writing doesn’t support it” funny like Christina Applegate and Ed Helms, both slumming it hard) and who doesn’t love a good Chris Hemsworth-in-a-comedy cameo? Also, Charlie Day doesn’t work enough. Let’s fix that.
107. Road Hard
This half self-discovery indie, half rom-com directed by, co-written by and starring Adam Carolla as a former sitcom star tired of schlepping it as a road comic has its moments of really likeable sweetness, and hints of interesting, underexplored subplots (I really would have liked more Jay Mohr) but it also has plenty of dull self-pity and predictable turns.
108. Going Clear
This competent documentary is full of creepy weird stuff and it ends on a particularly moving note (with a forth wall-breaking “thank you” from the filmmaker to an interview subject who dared to speak out) but it also has some flaws that I think most people are perhaps too happy to overlook (there are a few too many “so and so denies this ever happening” disclaimers that flash quickly across the screen in tiny font) and it ultimately didn’t do much to change my general lack of concern about Scientology, despite trying really really hard to stir my outrage.
Whatever. This franchise is so derivative but at least the film was entertaining. I’m really just going because it’s a thing I do with my little cousin, see all these YA adaptations. Bonus points for Miles Teller.
110. No Way Jose
There’s something really engaging about Adam Goldberg’s peculiar screen presence. He’s always so memorable, so engaging, so heady but reluctantly vulnerable. Unfortunately, his plot is none of those things.