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.
This section of the list has one big blockbuster flop that was better than reputed but still pretty terrible, one coulda-been awards bait prestige film that’s way dumber than my father thinks it is, one misguided sci-fi thriller and one broad comedy but, mostly, this section is full of the kind of small, sincere movies I like best. If only these ones were better.
Helen Hunt surfs in this mother/son story she both wrote and directed. I really like Helen Hunt. I think Helen Hunt should be in more movies. I’m not convinced she should write and direct more movies and I’m definitely not convinced she should surf in more movies, but she should definitely be in more movies (and also maybe return to TV where she did her best work). In unrelated Ride news, Brenton Thwaites has a really great face.
The racial politics of this Sundance drama from Mrs. Joe Swanberg are a little tricky but strong performances from (in order) Gail Bean, Elizabeth McGovern and Cobie Smulders help it along. Anders Holm plays yet another nice guy who sometimes seems not that nice. He plays that well. Too often, but well.
This cheesy hero’s tale is too much about Will Smith’s valiance and not enough about the NFL’s corruption. Smith is dreamier than he’s been possibly ever with his great suits and that beautiful accent but the story is too simplistically told and none of the liberties taken with the true story actually make the characters deeper or raise the tension in any way. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is, as always, sublime but she has less than nothing to do in this total one-man show.
114. Black or White
Anthony Mackie had a really good year but this overblown family drama is not one of the brighter marks. André Holland is great as a deadbeat dad but Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer are way too obvious in the lead roles.
One of my most anticipated films of the year, this insular coming-of-age drama turned out to be so formulaic I wanted to scream.
116. Fantastic Four
Man, I was really rooting for this one. The director is young, cool and anti-establishment and the cast is up-and-coming indie film royalty (Miles Teller and Michael B Jordan are basically an entire generation of prestige actors all on their own; the Awkward Moment legacy is strong). Alas…
117. Get Hard
I love me some Kevin Hart (most of the time) but the Will Ferrell-ness of this movie is too much for me. Just not a taste I ever developed.
118. Love Rosie
This schmaltzy romantic drama would be so much better if it was a schmaltzy romantic comedy or- far better yet- a painfully honest drama. It takes a lot to make me root for people who both know they want to and should be together but are letting stupid crap get in their way, and that’s really all Love Rosie is (also pretending Sam Claflin is a nerd and people being really bad at using birth control). This would be potentially cured (if the film were a rom-com) by them being wildly charming and witty people who are delightful to spend 90 minutes with on the way to an assured happy ending. This would be definitely cured (if the film were an honest drama) by a bittersweet ending that gave the movie a larger point, be it “life’s not fair”, “fairytales aren’t real”, “just because it’s not perfect doesn’t mean it’s not alright” or “I know that men and women can technically be friends because it’s 2015 and orientations are fluid and we’re just so beyond this argument but, sometimes, a lot of the time, men and women really just can’t be friends because the word ‘love’ has too many meanings and none of us understand our feelings well enough to be able to navigate our relationship boundaries when friendships are intimate and relationships are casual and everyone is always lying to everyone to spare everyone’s feelings”. Alas, Love Rosie is neither of those better movies, it’s just Love Rosie and Love Rosie is, well, frustrating to say the least.
119. Mr. Holmes
I didn’t care about a single moment of this dull retreading of too-tread territory. Leave Sherlock Alone! Write a new god damned story!
The main problem with this predictable sci-fi drama is that it has Ben Kingsley then it quickly turns him into Ryan Reynolds. That’s literally the premise of the film. I think Ryan Reynolds is an underrated actor but he’s definitely not an upgrade from Ben freaking Kingsley.