Thursday, December 31, 2015

Movies for Music Lovers: 2015 Edition

Jack O'Connell couldn't be better (and look more right) in '71
Click here 
for the 2014 

I'm not sure whether this is a first or not, but I'm pretty sure I listened
to more new records than I saw new movies in 2015--and I saw over
250 of the latter (not counting concert films and music documentaries
that never played theatrically)--so if you notice any notable omissions,
check out the list of films I missed below, and you'll probably find
them there. If not, feel free to give a shout. All of this isn't to say that
I didn't have a fantastic time at the movies this year. I did. I always do.

The links lead to my reviews for The Stranger, Portland Mercury, SIFFBlog, and the SIFF program guide (some also appeared in East Bay Express). My reviews for Video Librarian live behind a paywall.  

Sidse Babett Knudsen in The Duke of Burgundy
Top 10
1. '71 (Yann Demange)

The best film about The Troubles since Steve McQueen's Hunger. And for those who know nothing about the politics, it's still a great thriller in Odd Man Out-goes-digital mode. Surprisingly, the filmmaker isn't Irish--and nor is his protagonist--but a Brit of Algerian extraction. '71 is every bit as essential as In the Name of the Father and Bloody Sunday 

2. The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)
3. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)
4. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
5. Carol (Todd Haynes)
6. While We're Young and Mistress America (Noah Baumbach)
7. White God (Kornél Mundruczó)
8. Girlhood (Céline Sciamma)
9. The Mend (John Magary)
10. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)

11. It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)
12. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson)
13. Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson)
14. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
15. Hard to be a God (Alexei German)
16. The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller)
17. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
18. Tu Dors Nicole (Stéphane Lafleur)
19. Creed (Ryan Coogler)
20. Love & Mercy (Bill Pohlad)

Note: I count home-video debuts as new releases, since I review so many of them. I caught Tu Dors Nicole on a Blu-ray that I reviewed for Video Librarian, though it also played SIFF's French Cinema Now festival in 2015. Other films I caught on video include Amy, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Mississippi Grind, Mommy, Why Don't You Play in Hell?, and Z for Zachariah.

Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years

Second Runners-up
1. 45 Years (Andrew Haigh)
2. Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven)
3. Tangerine (Sean Baker)
4. The End of the Tour (James Ponsoldt)
5. Mr. Holmes (Bill Condon)
6. Mommy (Xavier Dolan)
7. Heaven Knows What (Ben and Josh Safdie)
8. The Martian (Ridley Scott)
9. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour)
10. Jobs (Danny Boyle)

Top Documentaries
1. The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer)
2. Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll (John Pirozzi)
3. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution (Stanley Nelson)
4. The Wolfpack (Crystal Mozell)
5. Best of Enemies (Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon)
6. Amy (Asif Kapadia)
7. Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson)
8. Iris (Albert Mayles)
9. Sunshine Superman (Marah Strauch)
10. Courtship (Amy Kohn)

Laurie Anderson at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Also worthy of note: 808, All Things Must Pass, The Assas-
sin, The Automatic Hate, Be-
ing Evel, The Big Short, Black Coal, Thin Ice, Borrowed Identity, Boy Meets Girl, Cherry Tobacco, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, The Color of Noise, The Critic, Dope, A Fuller Life, Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel García Márquez, Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Good Kill, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Hafu, I’ll See You in My Dreams, Jaco, Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows, Joy, Korla, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, Listen to Me Marlon, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau, Love Between the Covers, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Mississippi Grind, My New Girlfriend, My Prairie Home, Name Me, Mr. Turner, Of Girls and Horses, People, Places, Things, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Queen of Earth, Queens and Cowboys, Results, Revenge of the Mekons, Room, Saint Laurent, The Salt of the Earth, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, Sicario, Slow West, Song of the Sea, Spectre, Spy, Straight Outta Compton, Trainwreck, The Tribe, Unexpected, The Walk, We Monsters, Welcome to New York, Wet Bum, When Evening Falls on Bucharest, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, Wild Canaries, Z for Zachariah, and Zero Motivation.

Yana Novikova of The Tribe at the Northwest Film Forum. 

Missed or haven’t seen yet: 99 Homes, About Elly, Advantageous,  
Amour Fou, Arabian Nights, Ballet 422, Blackhat, Bone Tomahawk,  
Breathe, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn,* Cemetery of Splendor, Chevalier,
Chi-Raq, Clouds of Sils Maria, Court, Eden, Experimenter, Franco-
fonia, The Good Dinosaur, Grandma, The Hateful Eight, Hitchcock-
Truffaut, Horse Money, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, The Hunting Ground, In the Shadow of Women, Inside Out, The Iron Min-
istry, Irrational Man, Jackson Heights, Janis: Little Girl Blue, Jauja, The Kindergarten Teacher, Li’l Quinquin, Love, Magic Mike XXL, Man from Reno, Maps to the Stars, Moana with Sound, Mountains May Depart, Office, Nasty Baby, No Home Movie, The Pearl Button, The Revenant, Ricki and the Flash, The Royal Road, La Sapienza, Seymour: An Introduction, Shaun the Sheep: The Movie, Son of Saul, Suffragette, Taxi, Tokyo Tribe, Trumbo, Truth, We Come as Friends, Welcome to Me, What Happened, Ms. Simone?, What We Do in the Shadows, Where to Invade Next, Wild Tales, The Wonders, and Youth.

* I saw Brooklyn on 1/2/16. I liked it, but this should come as little surprise since I also liked John Crowley's Boy A, An Education (which featured an adapted screenplay from Nick Hornby), and every performance Saoirse Ronan has given, from Atonement to Hanna.  

Final thoughts: Some of these films, like Son of Saul, haven’t opened
in Seattle yet; others never will, but many have appeared on other top
10 lists. Though I’m not interested in seeing everything, all are signifi-
cant in some way, and I plan to catch up with most in the next year or two. And yes! I missed the latest films from Cronenberg and Assayas. How does that happen when they’re two of my favorite filmmakers? It happens because whenever I have free time, I’m broke, and whenever I'm not broke, I have no free time. I reviewed hundreds of videos this year, many of them fairly obscure (films designed for the educational market and the like). It keeps me occupied, but it also makes it hard
to keep up with the movies everybody's talking about, from the new James Bond to the new Star Wars. Also, Frederick Wiseman has had an arrangement with PBS for as long as I can remember. I always wait for the broadcast premiere to catch up with his documentaries.

Endnote: Jack O'Connell image from Roadside Attractions.  

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