Movie Matters #38 supplement - listener lists

Wednesday, 24 February, 2016

We hope you enjoyed our Top 10 of 2015 special. Once again, we were overwhelmed by the response to our call for listeners' top ten lists. Several of you wrote in, either with text lists or MP3s. Many of you also included detailed comments on your choices – which, in the interests of keeping the running time down to a brisk(ish!) 6 1/4 hours, we weren't always able to read out in full.

The full lists are captured below for posterity, along with (where applicable) links to more detailed discussions of the listeners' choices. As always, they are listed on a "first come, first served" basis.

Tony Black (Black Hole Media)

10. Crimson Peak
9. Ex Machina
8. Spectre
7. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
6. Kingsman: the Secret Service
5. Fast & Furious 7
4. The Martian
3. Amy
JOINT No. 2. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens / Inside Out
1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Pleasant Surprise: Ant Man
Biggest Disappointment: The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay - Part 2
Worst Film: Unfinished Business

Ian Hill

10. The Falling
9. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
8. Inherent Vice
7. Jauja
6. The New Girlfriend
5. Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter
4. The Lobster
3. The Duke Burgundy
2. Enemy
1. Black Coal, Thin Ice

Most Pleasant Surprise: A Most Violent Year
Biggest Disappointment: The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)
Worst Film: The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)

Cevin Moore (Lapsed Gamer Radio podcast)

10. Housebound
9. TimeLapse
8. Slow West
7. Turbo Kid
6. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
5. Ex Machina
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service
3. Coherence
JOINT No. 1. Spectre / Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Pleasant Surprise: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Biggest Disappointment: It Follows
Worst Film: Jupiter Ascending

Daniel Sardella (Focus on Film podcast)

10. What Happened Miss Simone?
9. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
8. Bridge of Spies
7. What We Do In The Shadows
6. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
5. The Hateful 8
4. Sicario
3. A Most Violent Year
2. Inherent Vice
1. Ex Machina

Top 20, honourable mentions and disappointments at The Danman Can.

Miles Hamer and Kit (Not the Special Edition podcast)

10. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
9. Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD
8. Kingsman: The Secret Service
7. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
6. Spectre
5. The Martian
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Inside Out
2. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
1. It Follows

Most Pleasant Surprise: Pixels
Worst Film: Birdman

Mark C

(UK cinema releases)

10. Mr Holmes
9. Selma
8. The Lady In The Van
7. The Goob
6.The Theory of Everything
5. Legend
4. Spectre
3. The Falling
2. The Duke of Burgundy
1. Mad Max Fury Road

Biggest Disappointment of 2015: Suffragette
Still Want to See: Sicario

Joshua Garrity (Cane and Rinse video games podcast)

Hello Gents!

I was pretty overwhelmed by great (but LONG) Video Games over the course of 2015, so I only have a top 8 to offer up unfortunately.

Ok, in alphabetical order and based on UK release dates:

Ex Machina - It has nothing new to say, but is an exceptionally well executed example of this particular sub-genre.

Inside Out - A return to form for Pixar, and a profound examination of mental health.

It Follows - The scariest film I've seen in years, accompanied by one of my favourite soundtracks of 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road - My biggest surprise of the year. Expected a soulless action movie, but got a visual storytelling masterpiece.

Song of the Sea - In many ways this film feels like the Irish Spirited Away. A beautiful 2D animated film, that moved me to tears.

The Martian - This optimistic tale of survival against extreme odds went some way to restore my faith in Ridley Scott.

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya - A fantastic swan song for one of the greatest animation studios ever.

Whiplash - An uncomfortable but masterful examination of what it takes to be truly great.

Biggest disappointment? Avengers: Age of Ultron. Bit of a mess wasn't it?

Tristan Lofting

Hi guys,

I again didn't see one movie this year at the cinema.

I did however see one 2015 release--Mad Max: Fury Road. I think it had been out on Blu Ray about a week or so when I saw it. What a huge surprise! I wouldn't say I'm a hard core Mad Max fan, but I love those movies a lot (despite Mel Gibson starring in them), & have since I was a kid. I remember not being allowed to see Beyond Thunderdome in the cinema. Fury Road did not seem like a remake or reboot or reimagining or anything like that. It just seemed like another Mad Max movie for Max Max fans. I had been worried about it looking too "pretty" or "clean". It definitely wasn't. I was worried about Tom Hardy being the new Max, but he was okay. Charlize Theron was amazing! She & Tom worked so great together! Overall, I was just blown away! (What irritated me though were younger people who had not seen the older movies, & had no interest or intention to. What gives?!?)

As for TV, Bron III Broen series 3 was more than completely worth the wait! I even ended up watching episodes 7-10 without subtitles because of the anticipation. I can't wait to rewatch it. I also managed to see a bit of London Spy, & loved what I saw.

Thanks again for putting on a great show.

Take care,

Wilson McLachlan

My 2015 top ten, based on the 81 UK general cinema releases I saw this year:

10. Sunset Song
9. Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
8. By the Sea
7. Beasts of No Nation
6. Song of the Sea
5. Blackhat
4. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
3. Steve Jobs
2. 45 Years
1. Carol

Big disappointment - it has been a year of disappointments to me. I think that 2015 has probably been the most disappointing year I can remember. I will only mention three, but I could have thrown ten or fifteen into the mix. Inside Out was probably the most disappointing, solely because of the amount of love it is getting. The film is terrible. A emo story for whining white rich kids, with McDonalds visuals. Awful. I hated the new Bond film SPECTRE. Pretty much you summed up everything I disliked about the film, then gave it a positive review in your episode! My review is the same, but with the negative conclusion. And finally, I found Birdman to be contrived misogynist nonsense.

Pleasant surprise - Song of the Sea being the best animation of the year, despite going up against lauded Pixar and Ghibli efforts. It is a wonderful film. Also, I was pleasantly surprised by how good Mad Max: Fury Road is, but I do think this film of the year stuff is going way over the top. It is a good CGI action film, and so bereft we have been of good action, people are calling it film of the year. Nah, not having it... 😊

Worst film of the year - a toss-up between Child 44, Tom Hardy is becoming to accents what Johnny Depp is to hats and make-up, and Jurassic World, which was like sticking your head into a blender of shrill stupidity.

Have a good new year!

Ben Robinson

Hi Guys

Happy New Year to you both

Here's my list of top 10 films form 2015, based on UK release dates:

10. Birdman
9. Girlhood
8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
7. Wild Tales
6. Song of the Sea
5. Inside Out
4. Ex Machina
3. Whiplash
2. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
1. Mommy

Special mention goes out to Kingsman, in a year where the latest Bond instalment was a big disappointment, this proved to be a hugely entertaining alternative



Here is my top list for this year's Movie Matters review of the year special.

My criteria: Official release date.

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron - 6/10
9. Chappie - 6/10
8. Terminator: Genisys - 7/10
7. Spectre - 7/10
6. The Martian - 8/10
5. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night - 8/10
4. Ich seh, ich seh (Goodnight Mommy) - 8/10
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - 9/10 - Both Mad Max and Star Wars are great new entries in their franchises, but while "The Force Awakens" managed to capture the atmosphere of the original trilogy (what the prequels mostly failed to do), it also felt a bit like a remake of the first 1977 Star Wars film. "Fury Road" on the other hand reinvented the Mad Max series by taking elements from the previous films and putting them together in a fresh new vision at a much faster pace. There's a lot of creativity in the film and it works surprisingly well. Thus it gets the #2 spot here.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road - 9/10
1. Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - 9/10 - I have to start right away with an exception to my own rule: Birdman had its official US release in 2014, but I didn't see it early enough in Germany in order to include it in my Movie Matters top list last year. Thus I include it in this year's list: It definitely deserves the top spot!

Biggest disappointment:
Here I have to go with "Avengers: Age of Ultron". I'm not a big fan of superhero movies in general, but I liked the first Avengers movie. In contrast "Age of Ultron" often felt overlong and bloated. The character interactions didn't work well for me, but to be honest I don't remember enough of it to be more specific here.

Most pleasant surprise:
This is definitely "Ich seh, ich seh" (Goodnight Mommy). This intelligent Austrian horror thriller plays with perception, both that of the viewer and of its protagonists, and has a very unsettling atmosphere throughout that ranges from the subtle to the extreme.

Worst movie:
Takashi Miike's "Yakuza Apocalypse". I did get some enjoyment out of this and it definitely is the weirdest movie of the year. But often it was just too silly for me and as a whole I found it to be too incoherent and its cinematography too bland. It's difficult to rate a movie with Yakuza vampires, a knitting circle of prisoners kept in the basement and a martial arts legend wearing a full-body frog costume in it though.


Natasha Grabham

2015 cinema releases:

10. Big Hero 6
9. Ex Machina
8. Macbeth
7. Kingsman: The Secret Service
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
5. Birdman
4. The Martian
3. Whiplash
2. Inside Out
1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Honourable mentions: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, Cinderella, Testament of Youth, Spectre

Kirsty Grabham

Hi guys, happy new year! Here is my list of my top ten films of 2015. Based on UK cinema releases.

10. The Hunger Games: Mockinjay - Part 2
9. Ex Machina
8. Inside Out
7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
6. Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
5. Macbeth
4. The Duke of Burgundy
3. Amy
2. Whiplash
1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Honourable mentions: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, The Falling, Spectre, The Martian, Big Hero 6


Hello. Hope you are all well and looking forward to another year of great viewing. Firstly I'd like to apologise for not sending in an MP3 this year but unfortunately I left it too late so I could get in lots of movies before your show & then when I did start recording my wife & dog kept interrupting whilst I tried to talk to myself alone in my room. It was a mess. In fact it was like the scene from The King of Comedy but without the humour.


10. At number 10 I have everyone else's favourite film of 2015 .....'Chappie'. (Yes I am the one who liked this film.) All the negative reviews were wrong about this one. It was a blast. Yes it has faults but it is fun and never takes itself too seriously.

9. Number 9 is 'Last Shift'. This is a cross between 'Assault on Precinct 13' & 'The Shining'. It has a low budget but has big ideas & plays them out creepily.

8. Number 8 goes to 'Tangerine'. Shot on an iPhone yet more beautiful than most other films this year. The choice of camera is not why this film should be seen though. It is filled with great characters, compelling story and a group in society that is not usually explored in films. Highly recommended.

7. Number 7 is 'Starry Eyes'. This is a mix of Cronenberg, Lynch & a 1970's film I adore called 'The Day of the Locusts'. Hollywood is a terrifying place.

6. Number 6 is 'We are Still Here'. The effects in this film are superb & like 'Last Shift' & 'Starry Eyes' feels like a throwback but without it ever being gimmicky.

5. Number 5 is 'Inherent Vice'. The Score, Direction, Editing, etc are all first class. Paul Thomas Anderson proves here that he is easily one of the best directors out there. Buy the soundtrack. It is the best score I've heard in years.

4. Number 4 goes to 'Krampus'. A PG rated Christmas film that suddenly gets invaded by 18 rated horror characters and a few killer gingerbread men to keep things light. Not since Gremlins has a film been such horrid festive fun. I will watch this every year so it has to be in my list.

3. Number 3 goes to 'Deathgasm'. If 'Braindead' & 'Trick or Treat' fucked this would be their baby. It features Death by dildo's & garden strimmers on dicks so miss this one at your peril.

2. Number 2 is a film that was released in 2014 everywhere else but only came out 2015 in the UK on DVD. This is a crime. The movie is another New Zealand film called 'Housebound' and it deserved a lot more respect. It is already getting a US remake too which is ridiculous as its an English speaking movie anyway so what is the point? Watch this original as it is fantastic fun.

1. Number one goes to another film that was a 2014 release but was only given a limited release then pushed out on DVD & streaming 2015. It is South Korean crime thriller called 'A Hard Day'. This film is hilarious, suspenseful & tons of fun. How all the critics and movie fans aren't shouting from the rooftops about this is beyond me. Seek it out now.

Biggest disappointment was...

It Follows. This film was like watching spunk dry out. If it hadn't been so serious & had a little fun injected I may have liked it more but because it took its stupid plot deathly serious I tuned out & it became unintentionally funny. The characters were so ridiculous it was laughable. The worst offender was Scooby Doo's Velma, the one with the clam phone who was so bad she wasn't even one dimensional. It also felt dirty. So dirty in fact that if Jimmy Savile had thought up a film I reckon this would've been it. I can see him pitching it now. "Kids fuck and pass on images of old naked people slowly coming towards them" "It will end in a swimming pool like a film about fucking which I like called Shivers". (Please insert the infamous Savile groan)

Biggest surprise of 2015 go to...

'A Scouts Guide to a Zombie Apocalypse'. Daft fun but a hell of a lot better than I expected it to be. The gore was great, zombies were sexualised & Dolly Parton will never sound the same again.

Best piece of TV in 2015 goes to a an episode of 'Inside No.9 called '12 Days of Christine' directed by Guillem Morales. (Julia's Eyes) In its short 30 minute running time it managed to mix drama, comedy, horror & tragedy, better than any movie I saw and even reduced me to tears in the end which is no easy feat. A shorthand I've heard people say is that If you are a fan of Black Mirror and have never seen Inside No.9 you must seek it out. They are two of the best anthology shows since the Twilight Zone.

All the best for 2016
Alan aka @HalloweenFury on Twitter

Thomas Rostock

Hi Michael and Lee,

Sending this Top 10 list all the way from Rome with love and a big hello to you both from a feisty Luigi Cozzi at the Profondo Rosso Store who is eagerly flogging Arrows Blu-ray releases over the counter. That's our man!

Have been terribly remiss in my feedback to your excellent podcasts, especially considering I've heard all of them and enjoyed the in-depth thoroughness of the discussions. Your Steven Spielberg feature was especially intriguing and had me re-evaluate some of his later works for the better. Talk about having an positive impact. Well done, lads, keep 'em coming! :-)

Here is my bid for best films of 2015. I have to confess that these are all highly personal choices as the film year of 2015 did not yield any definitive masterpieces nor any gobsmacking failures. Rather it was a somewhate "mediocre" year for me, which is particularly strange as I've seen 2 to 3 times as many films in 2015 due to working on the Danish Filmfestival Copenhagen PIX in April. So no mainstream commercial fare like Hateful 8, Star Wars: Force Awakens or Mad Max Fury Road anywhere to be seen on this list. And no art favorites like 45 Years, Mommy and Two Days, One Night either. I've seen them all and found them terribly wanting with a slightly disturbing narcissistic self-contained bent as many films of 2015 did. A year with a huge amount of films, just not any truly great ones. It also got me thinking: Maybe it's the price paid for mass-producing media entertainment at an increasing rate. A levelling of the quality and personal vision in turn for quantity. Food for thought? Or maybe am I being hysterical? How do you, Lee and Michael, feel about the increase in quantity. Is it fruitful competition or will it be more difficult to find the diamonds in rough? I think these end of the year top lists might reflect this change with more scattered choices than common ones.

1. OBIETNICA (The Word) (Anna Kazejak) - Best film experience of 2015 goes to Poland?! Yes, it is a High School "Macbeth"-like morality drama with pin-sharp commentary about the internet as a breeding ground for sociopathic behaviour amongst teenagers. Heated digited words may have no immediate visible consequence but in the analog world their intend becomes shockingly real. Avoid the godawful trailer for this fine film which highlights none of the above and is probably the reason why it went directly to DVD in Poland only. Fortunately with English subtites.

2. MIA MADRE (My Mother) (Nanni Moretti) - Moretti's most humanist film to date. Some describe Moretti as Italy's answer to Woody Allen, but it sells the actor/director short: His gentle approach favours genuine love for his characters over jokes at their dispense and as such the laughter ties with the tears in a genuine heartfelt way.

3. THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY (Peter Strickland) - Strickland strikes again. Intimate, sensual and with powerhouse performances by Chiara D'Anna and Sidse Babett Knudsen. Jesus Franco as an art film with wit and a sonic landscape out of this world.

4. SICARIO (Denis Villeneuve) - So much more than a simple thriller. Villeneuve infuses the drugtrafficing cities and barren landscape on the border of Mexico with contorted Francis Bacon-inspired imagery. It is as if the very scorched earth is infested with the dead flesh of hitmen and victims of the drugcartel wars of the story. A notch up from Prisoners.

5. KNIGHT OF CUPS (Terrence Malick) - Extremely difficult Malick film will win him no admirers but has heart, soul and battle for the spirit at the center core of its breathtaking imagery. Worth the effort to engage, if you embrace the non-linear storytelling and surrender to the visual flow.

6. IT FOLLOWS (David Robert Mitchell) - Quietly subversive and social commentary on teenage anxieties with sex, parents and the pains of growing up and facing the monster that is adult life. Scary stuff!

7. RESPIRE (Breathe) (Mélanie Laurent) - French coming-of-age sleeper about introvert girl striking up a rocky friendship with popularl new girl at school, who hides disturbing family secrets. Forceful and emotionally truthful acting from the leads drives this one home. A festival favorite.

8. WILD (Jean-Marc Valée) - A film that has grown on me ever since the first viewing. Images keeps coming back to me. You know how that happens? Reese Witherspoon is on form, but it's the journey of the mind that stays with us. Probably works best if you're into hiking.

9. BROOKLYN (John Crowley) - Old-fashioned drama is a darling all the way. Saoirse Ronan radiates in understated lead which might actually cost her the Oscar. It really shouldn't.

10. INCOMPRESA (Asia Argento) - Dario's daughter finally makes good on talented film genes. Fascinating and surprisingly funny autobiographical account of Asia's childhood years. With Charlotte Gainsbourg as Daria Nicolodi, this might as well be called "Living with The Argento's".

Did this interview about Incompresa (Misunderstood) with lovely Asia for the Copenhagen Pix festival TV:

Best Documentary: LOST SOUL: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau.- Would make a great double bill with Apocalypse Now doc. "Hearts of Darkness".

Best DVD/Blu-Ray release of the 2015:

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (Arrow Video) - Despite some controversy about the OAR (original aspect ratio) of this seminal Giallo masterpiece, it is still, hands down, THE single most important home video release of the year. Wow, What colors and what camera moves from Italian Maestro Mario Bava. And not least of all a very thoughtful video essay on the film by a certain Giallo-expert Michael Mackenzie. Very cool stuff indeed!

Worst film of 2015:

MISTRESS AMERICA (Noah Baumbach) - Sigh... What an embarrasment of a wanna-be screwball comedy this turned out to be. Now, truthfully I'm not crazy about Baumbach's films, but even I was amazed at how much MISTRESS AMERICA borders on outright amateur filmmaking. Baumbach should have passed it to close friend Peter Bogdanovich who's miles ahead of ever making this kind of sorry mess. And, no, for the record: Greta Gerwig is in no way cute nor funny. Just plain awkward in a stunningly bad way.

That's it, folks! Can't wait to hear all the other top lists. Thanks for a fantastic podcast!

All my best,

Andy P (Lapsed Gamer Radio podcast)

Hi guys,

Sorry there's no audio, since I have a heavy cold and sound more like Darth Vader then usual :)

So here's my list:

10. Spectre
9. A Most Violent Year
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron
7. Selma
6. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Big Hero 6
2. Ant-Man
1. Bridge of Spies

Worst - Hot Tub Time Machine 2 - Appalling film to a funny original.

Biggest Disappointments:

1. Whiplash - Poor second half of the film.
2. Chappie - Great ideas, but poor execution.
3. Monsters: Dark Continent - Rubbish follow up to a really great first film.
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Just the one scene where one of my favourite characters dies.

Pleasant Surprise - A Most Violent Year

Andrew Pidhajeckyj

Vanessa Vinci

Hi guys,

Loved the podcast this year. Here are my top films of 2015 (11-15 are honorable mentions):

10. The Hateful 8
9. Ex Machina
8. Buzzard
7. Tangerine
6. Star Wars- The Force Awakens
5. Kingsman: the Secret Service
4. Inside Out
3. The Witch
2. Spotlight
1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Honourable Mentions:
11. Crimson Peak
12. Krampus
13. Spring
14. The Wolfpack
15. Jurassic World

Biggest pleasant surprises:
The Witch

The Witch tells the story of a Puritan family driven out of an unnamed New England to make their way in the wilderness and the evil that may or may not await them there. It had some of most disturbing imagery I've seen in a horror movie in a long time, but most of the time relies on an almost repressively eerie atmosphere rather than gore.

I was expecting Krampus to be a fairly lazy holiday themed horror movie and instead it was darkly funny with a macabre sense of imagination, reminiscent of Gremlins or Labyrinth. It felt like the kind of movie that would have scared me as a child but would have been totally worth the nightmares.

Biggest disappointment:

Terminator Genysis - Schwarzenegger returning to the Terminatorverse and Emilia "Khaleesi" Clarke as Sarah Connor? I expected so much more. I at least didn't expect to be bored.

Tomorrowland - I did not think I'd ever dislike a Brad Bird movie. But I did.

Worst movie:

Knock Knock - Eli Roth's home invasion movie with Keanu Reeves. This movie hates all its characters and everyone who ever watches it. Imagine Hard Candy if all the characters were appallingly stupid and the acting was terrible. If Hostel was torture porn this movie is torture two-girls-one-cup.

Best of luck in 2016 and happy movie watching!

-VV (New York)

Jason Coffman

As always, this is not some kind of attempt at an objective "Best Films of 2015," these are my personal 10 favorite films of the year [And yes, I know there are 11 films listed. I listed Tokyo Tribe and Love & Peace as tied at #5]. Since it's my personal favorites list, films in consideration were those that I could have legitimately seen in 2015 in the States (theatrical/festival screening, VOD, cable, DVD/Blu-ray) which received their first official screening or release in the States during 2015 and that I actually watched during the 2015 calendar year. If I didn't see it between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2015, it's not eligible for my list. Them, as the man said, is the rules.

NOTE: See Jason's Letterboxd list, which includes links to his full write-up of his Top 50 at Medium, and a run-down of all the films in contention for his list.

10. Inherent Vice (USA, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
9. Hard to Be a God (Russia, dir. Aleksey German)
8. Liza the Fox-Fairy (Hungary, dir. Károly Ujj Mészáros)
7. The Witch (USA, dir. Robert Eggers)
6. Tangerine (USA, dir. Sean Baker)
5. Tokyo Tribe/Love & Peace (Japan, both dir. Shion Sono)
4. Bombay Velvet (India, dir. Anurag Kashyap)
3. Green Room (USA, dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
2. The Forbidden Room (Canada, dir. Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson)
1. The Duke of Burgundy (UK, dir. Peter Strickland)

Peter Strickland's previous feature BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO was a tribute to Italian genre cinema of the 70s that took a completely unexpected approach, focusing entirely on the aspect of sound in those films. The audience is never shown any footage from THE EQUESTRIAN VORTEX, the film Toby Jones's increasingly unhinged sound editor has been hired to work on, other than its opening credits sequence. But that hardly matters; Strickland's attention to detail in the film's score and sound design is more than enough to evoke the lurid images that the viewer would expect to see. BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, in short, announced Strickland as a filmmaker concerned with and influenced by "disreputable" genres and film styles who translated those interests into something totally different.

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY does something similar with 70s European erotic and genre cinema, using films like Jesús Franco's A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD and Radley Metzger's THE IMAGE as a jumping-off point for something even more brilliantly unpredictable than BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO's behind-the-scenes psychological thriller: a mature, finely nuanced portrait of two adults involved in a committed long-term relationship. The fact that both of these adults are women (and seem to live in a world in which men do not exist) and that their physical intimacy includes elements of BDSM is beside the point. Like the role-playing that threatens to overwhelm its central characters' relationship, the film's imposing artifice -- the gorgeous costumes, the impeccable cinematography, the florid scoring and unsettling sound design-- is all "extra." Beneath that exquisite facade, this is a film about how each love may be unique, but any love will be defined by how its participants navigate difficulties and compromise to each other's mutual benefit to the best of their abilities.

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY is perceptive, surprising, disarming, touching, and often quite funny. It is a miracle that this film exists. It's not just my favorite film I saw in 2015, it's one of my new favorite films Of All Time.

Most pleasant surprise: CHI-RAQ (dir. Spike Lee)

After the confoundingly awful DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS (his inexplicable remake of Bill Gunn's 70s cult classic GANJA & HESS), I was not particularly looking forward to what Spike Lee was going to do next. So it was a huge surprise that CHI-RAQ is one of Lee's best films in ages, a very funny updating of Lysistrata for modern-day America. The tone veers wildly from cartoonish broad comedy to deadly serious drama, but that feels right for a subject that directly impacts the lives of so many people every day. This is Lee's DR. STRANGELOVE: facing down a subject that is so overwhelmingly horrific, the only way to even begin to process it is to go totally absurd. Lee and his excellent cast and collaborators have made a passionate, daring satire that demands attention.

Biggest disappointment: LOVE (dir. Gaspar Noé)

ENTER THE VOID is one of my favorite films of the last decade, so it would have been tough for him to follow it up regardless, but LOVE is still a massive disappointment. It's technically flawless, as to be expected, but it's way too long and the sex scenes are not that visually interesting, especially since many of them are shot, framed, and cut almost identically. I'm still excited to see what Noé will do next, but I felt like this film really fell short.

Worst film: VANish (dir. Bryan Bockbrader)

I'm actually loathe to even talk about this and possibly give it more attention than I think it deserves. It's the kind of embarrassing, ugly Tarantinoesque that should have died out altogether sometime around 1999, saddled with the hook that the camera never leaves the van in which the action of the movie takes place. Mean-spirited and utterly pointless.



I made it! Hopefully. The list is much shorter this year, and I heard that sigh of relief. ;) Didn't watch STAR WARS and others yet.

Top 10 Films:
WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (The director is Hiromasa Yonebayashi, also made ARRIETTY. Gorgeous, fluid animation. Tt seems to indeed be "their" final film despite a new merger with European studios. Sayonara, Studio Ghibli, thank you for this haunting and beautiful swan song...)
COMING HOME [The Zhang Yimou movie?]


Biggest Disappointment: 2015 Brought Us Another Mediocre Daniel Craig Bond Film Mention: SPECTRE.

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