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 breaks my heart a little bit. It features two of the films I was most excited about in all of 2015 and a bunch of my favourite actors… just barely cracking the top 100. But, while all ten of these films were disappointments compared to my high expectations, they’re mostly actually pretty decent.
I’m that annoying person who is petty enough to kind of resent Bradley Cooper’s overwhelming mainstream success because I loved him for years before he made it really big in The Hangover. It started with Alias in 2001 and continued on Jack & Bobby then reached pinnacle in the too-soon-cancelled 2005 FOX sitcom where he essentially played Anthony Bourdain (they changed his first name to Jack but it was Anthony Bourdain). What I’m saying is that Bradley Cooper has already played a sexy genius bad boy chef; this is not as good.
92. Woman in Gold
This formulaic drama combines every trope of WWII, odd couple and David vs. Goliath narratives. The main plot is incredibly obvious but the flashback subplot features Tatiana Maslany as a young Helen Mirren and she is, of course, a revelation.
93. Don Verdean
Jemaine Clement is a hoot with his full-tilt possibly-a-little-racist performance as an Israeli opportunist in this very weird but wonderfully original comedy about a corrupt “biblical archaeologist”. It’s all very silly and wraps up a bit too neatly (with a romance that comes out of nowhere) but the cast is great and we all need more Sam Rockwell in our lives.
94. The Living
There are two movies in this domestic abuse drama- one starring Kenny Wormald as a protective brother who hires an ex-con to kill his sister’s abusive husband (egged on by a one-dimensional dud of a mom) and one starring an incredibly ripped Fran Kranz as said abusive husband. The first movie is okay; the second is really good. The violence is kept entirely off screen (we only see it through makeup and the characters’ reactions), allowing Kranz’s sweet charm and quiet sex appeal to play with the audience’s minds. He’s so enticing that even we start to take Jocelin Donahue’s cue and forgive him for the unforgiveable. It’s half an overdramatic thriller, half a complex psychological drama.
95. We Are Your Friends
I will root for Zac Efron forever. I think he’s cool and doesn’t give nearly as many fucks as he’s supposed to about whether you think he’s behaving the way he should. I also think he’s got decent taste (I’ll never forget you, That Awkward Moment) and infinite charm and both of those come into play in this weird DJ drama about the limits of friendship. It’s kind of silly and definitely flawed but it’s ambitious and clear-sighted and has Wes Bentley playing a celebrity DJ balanced precariously on the line between mentor and villain, which is exactly what 2015 was lacking before We Are Your Friends. The manic intensity of Jonny Weston is also not to be missed.
What if psychotic jealousy was actually psychosis? Cool premise. The results could have been more insightful but it’s still a cool premise and a likeable cast (welcome back, Ashley Williams!) and, like Sam Rockwell, we all need more Adam Rodriguez in our lives. Or at least I do.
97. Ricky & The Flash
This film has no structure, no story and so so many clichés but it has Meryl and Mamie playing opposite each other (Mamie steals it, because the universe is a cool place), supporting turns from Kevin Kline and Sebastian Stan (one of those actors who should be So Much More Famous than he is) and the best character is an incredibly affecting Rick Springfield, of all people, because, again, the universe is a cool place.
98. I’ll See You in My Dreams
A sweet, if overly simple, coming-of-age-in-old-age tale about love and friendship and finding the joy in life. Blythe Danner shimmers in the lead role alongside an enchanting against-type Martin Starr (he’s always surprising me and this might be my favourite yet) with a trio of memorable gal pals in the form of Mary Kay Place, June Squibb and Rhea Perlman.
Why didn’t people like this movie? I thought it was perfectly lovely. A little silly, perhaps (what is up with Rooney Mara’s headdress?), but perfectly lovely. The classic rock-singing miners are a fun, weird detail, Hugh Jackman is having a ball as Blackbeard, Levi Miller is a sweet kid hero and Garrett Hedlund is best when that smooth, deep voice is delivering wry humour. Not necessary or brilliant, but not terrible either.
100. Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of
I elaborated on these thoughts in my shockingly long review of the Backstreet Boys documentary but it basically boils down to three things: 1) this is a very badly made film, 2) but it tells a really pretty interesting story, 3) I love the Backstreet Boys unconditionally and forever and there’s nothing even terrible documentary filmmaking can do about it.