Best Films of the Year
1. Anomalisa. Such a clever movie, so moving. It made us look at the mundane realities of life with fresh eyes.
2. The Revenant. Stunning film craftsmanship.
3. Bridge of Spies. Best traditional movie of the year. A great history lesson for adults.
4. The Martian. Science wins!
5. The Hateful Eight. Lots of really really good talk by great actors.
6. Mad Max: Fury Road. More spectacular craftsmanship.
7. Brooklyn. It’s just sort of perfect.
8. Carol. Haunting and oh so beautiful.
9. Inside Out. Even Sadness can be the hero!
10. Room. Beautiful and horrifying adaptation of a beautiful and horrifying novel.
11. 99 Homes. Beautifully written and acted Faustian fable set during the housing market crisis.
Honorable Mention: Welcome to Me, The Big Short, Chi-Raq, Spotlight, The Truth, What We Do in the Shadows, Shaun the Sheep Movie, The Gift, Meet the Patels, Love and Mercy, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, While We’re Young, Far From the Madding Crowd, Predestination, Maps to the Stars, Love and Mercy, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, 45 Years, White God, Straight Outta Compton, Creed
Won’t hurt you to watch if you’re interested in the movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Five Flights Up, Spy, Trainwreck, Ricki and the Flash, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Walk, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, The Final Girls, Labyrinth of Lies, Very Semi-Serious, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, People Places Things, Joy, Hitchcock/Truffaut
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
*Brie Larson, Room
Kristin Wiig, Welcome to Me
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Honorable Mention: Teyona Parris in Chi-Raq, Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van, Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, Cate Blanchett in The Truth, Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, Jennifer Jason Leigh in Anomalisa, Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Carey Mulligan in Far From the Madding Crowd, Lily Tomlin in Grandma
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Matt Damon, The Martian
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies
*Ian McKellan, Mr. Holmes
Honorable Mention: Jason Segel in The End of the Tour, Taika Waititi in What We Do in the Shadows, Andrew Garfield in 99 Homes, Michael B. Jordan in Creed
*Sarah Snook, Predestination
Rooney Mara, Carol
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Banks in Love and Mercy
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
*Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Jacob Tremblay, Room
Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight
Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
Ridley Scott, The Martian
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant
Todd Haynes, Carol
*Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
The Wrecking Crew
An Honest Liar
The Best of Enemies
We Come as Friends
*Meet the Patels
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine
Honorable Mention: Very Semi-Serious, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict,
While We’re Young by Noah Baumbach. Really smart, wistful, and surprising.
Inside Out by Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley. One of the smartest kid movies I’ve ever seen.
The Gift by Joel Edgerton. A brilliant thriller for grownups.
Steve Jobs by Aaron Sorkin
Room by Emma Donoghue
Bridge of Spies by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers
*Anomalisa by Charlie Kaufman
99 Homes by Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi and Bahareh Azimi
Charlotte Bruus Christensen, Far From the Madding Crowd
John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road
Roger Deakins, Sicario
Janusz Kaminski, Bridge of Spies
*Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
Edward Lachman, Carol
Joe Passarelli, Anomalisa
*Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
*Mad Max: Fury Road
The Hateful Eight
Foreign Language Feature
Son of Saul
Best Adaptation of a Property I Love and Assumed Hollywood Didn’t Know About
Predestination: A stunning film version of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic time travel short story “All You Zombies.”
Creative Match Made in Heaven
Creepmeister director David Cronenberg and Hollywood Babylon scribe Bruce Webber teamed up for the acidic and irresistible Maps to the Stars.
A Year of Bio-Documentaries! So Many to Enjoy!
The Wrecking Crew. The story of the amazing studio musicians behind, as Joni Mitchell’s David Geffen would put it, “the popular song.”
An Honest Liar. The indispensable debunker James Randi.
The Best of Enemies. Gore Vidal vs. William F. Buckley, Jr.
Being Evel. Easy to forget how influential Evel Knievel was.
Best Movie Ever About a Pack of Dogs Taking Over The City of Budapest
Unfriended. Clever little horror film that takes place entirely on one computer screen.
Truth. Why did people hate this movie so much? I really liked it and I thought Cate Blanchett was sensational.
Busy Actors: I saw the following actors in THREE films this year
John Cusack: Love and Mercy, Chi-Raq, Maps to the Stars
David Thewlis: Macbeth, Legend, and Anomalisa (okay, you don’t actually SEE him in that one, but still)
Busier Actors: FOUR Movies in 2015!
Tom Hardy: Mad Max Fury Road, Legend, The Revenant, Child 44
Kristen Wiig: The Martian, Nasty Baby, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Welcome to Me
Domhnall Gleeson: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina, The Revenant, Brooklyn
WOW: Five Releases in 2015!
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, Burnt, Testament of Youth, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
A Word about Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It’s fun. It didn’t change my life. It’s a fun remake of the first movie. It was nice to sit through a Star Wars movie without wanting to jab knitting needles deep into both of my eyes. That said, it IS merely a redo. And it didn’t treat Leia very well. Or her relationship with Han. And Kylo Ren is a huge bore. And that Super Weapon was the stupidest weapon ever, and that’s saying something.
Great Set Pieces
Sneaking around the opera in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
The first Indian attack and the bear attack in The Revenant
That part in Mad Max: Fury Road right between the beginning and the end
Though the movie disappointed me, the dinner table confrontation at the end of Sicario was genuinely surprising and shocking.
Stop-action cunnilingus in Anomalisa.
The escape attempt in Room.
The final Canine/Human confrontation in White God.
The first eviction in 99 Homes.
What happens when you have an insane sheep dog in Far From the Madding Crowd.
Julianne Moore has a close encounter with an acting award in Maps to the Stars.
Judy and Matthew Shepard intervene in the sentencing process of one of the men who murdered their son Matthew in Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine.
Proof That Ed Harris MUST GET A NEW AGENT
Run All Night. We love Ed Harris. Why does he appear in stuff like this?
“Werewolves, not Swearwolves.” Lycanthropic self-control in What We Do in the Shadows.
“Petyr’s 600 years old. He’s not coming to the breakfast meeting.” Apartment politics in What We Do in the Shadows.
“He wants more than he has. I want precisely what he already has.” The grass is always greener in The End of the Tour.
“Now, Daisy, I want us to work out a signal system of communication. When I elbow you real hard in the face, that means: shut up.” Kurt Russell gets physical in The Hateful Eight.
“Mars will come to fear my botany powers.” Matt Damon gets his agriculture on in The Martian.
“Let’s castrate.” Kristin Wiig takes her role as a source of enlightenment seriously in Welcome to Me.
Year’s Best Catch Phrase
“Would it help?” in Bridge of Spies.
The Year’s Single Greatest Cinematic Moment
Jennifer Lopez is given “a first edition” of THE ILIAD in the spectacular The Boy Next Door. This is also the film that features Kristin Chenoweth’s final transformation into E.T.
Lenny Abrahamson directed one of the most obnoxious movies of 2014 (Frank) and then lo and behold made one of this year’s best: Room.
After years in Ray’s Doghouse, scrappy Jennifer Jason Leigh has finally re-arrived, valiantly doing heavy lifting in TWO of the year’s best films.
2015 MVP Goes To…
The versatile and daring Kristen Wiig, who appeared in no fewer than four 2015 releases. She gave tremendous performances in Welcome to Me and Diary of A Teenage Girl, appeared in the edgy indie Nasty Baby, and was a pillar of sense in the big budget hit The Martian. This on top of a ton of television work. Do you ever sleep, Miss Wiig?
E For Effort
Chi-Raq isn’t completely successful, but I give props to Spike Lee for attempting something challenging, literary, and timely. We need more film adaptations of the comic Greek plays.
Best Movie Villains
Mitchell Winehouse, Amy
Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), Maps to the Stars
Please Let’s See More Of…
Teyona Parris. She commanded the screen in the brash Chi-Raq.
Hamish Linklater. I keep noticing him shoring up the supporting casts of films like 42 and The Big Short. Give him more lines, already.
Donald Glover. Stopped the show with his demo of a rescue plan in The Martian.
John Magaro. Charmed in both Carol and The Big Short. Keep hiring this dude.
Finn Wittrock. Has the looks and the muscles of Taylor Kitsch but, unlike Kitsch, has charisma and talent.
Sarah Snook. Her gender-bending turn in Predestination knocked out both of us who saw it.
Emory Cohen. Utter charm and authenticity in Brooklyn.
The Year’s Worst
Most Inconsistent Polish Accent
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Most Inaccurate Title
Mad Max: Fury Road. It wasn’t about Mad Max. Mad Max is barely in it. The movie should have been called Imperator Furiosa: Fury Road.
Wolf Pack: Great setup, ultimately lame storytelling.
Most Disappointing Production of Macbeth Since That Tedious One I Walked Out of at A Noise Within in Glendale
Macbeth: GOD this movie was boring and terrible. You know, if you don’t want to film the “Double double, toil and trouble” scene… then you really don’t want to do Macbeth, do you?
It Follows. It was just plain bad.
Ex Machina. It was good, but it wasn’t the second coming of Jesus, which you’d have thought it was from the reaction it got.
Sicario. The movie’s main character (Emily Blunt) had no agency. The main character clearly should have been Benicio Del Toro.
Jodie Foster Award For Worst Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role
Maika Monroe, It Follows
Worst Motion Pictures of 2015 by a Mile
Tomorrowland. Such promise, such a great director, such a crushing disappointment. The most incoherent major release since Prometheus.
Leonard Nimoy, actor
B.B. King, musician, demigod
Maureen O’Hara, actress
Jackie Collins, author
Fred Thompson, actor
Omar Sharif, actor
Marty Ingalls, actor
Cory Wells, founding member of Three Dog Night
Joan Leslie, actress (High Sierra)
Jack Larson, played Jimmy Olsen in “The Adventures of Superman”
Wes Craven, director
Alex Rocco, actor
Gary Owens, radio announcer
James Horner, composer
Haskell Wexler, two-time Oscar winning cinematographer
John Guillermin, director (The Towering Inferno)
Bud Yorkin, producer
Jerry Weintraub, producer
Melissa Mathison (wrote E.T.)
E.L. Doctorow, author
Please feel free to comment!
And yes, the asterisks indicate the winners.