I liked a lot of movies in 2015, so I decided to do a Top 30.
There were a wide range of movies I liked in 2015, so I thought a longer list would give a better view of what mattered to me this past year.
Despite all it’s flaws, Ant-Man won me over with its enthusiasm and sense of fun. Its ties to the greater Marvel cinematic universe do feel like a drag on it, and (And many movies this year had a similar problem.) it’s too close to a retread of Iron Man. There are enough shades of the Edgar Wright movie that could have been still in here that I like it, but it also has a ridiculous opening segment structured around product placement, and an unnecessary scene involving the Falcon so I can’t say it was that great either.
I barely care about this documentary as a movie in an of itself, but it’s important to me because it exposed me to the amazing interview (And Book.) that it’s about. Truffaut’s comprehensive interview series with Hitchcock is both fascinating as a critical discussion, and for how it changed the trajectory of critical opinion about Hitchcock in America. Hitchcock/Truffaut served as my entry point to a rabbit hole that I really enjoyed diving down, even if the movie itself isn’t bringing that much to the table on its own.
28. Best of Enemies
Another documentary that basically just gets by because its source material is so strong. Specifically because the movie is about the Televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley in 1968, there is a wealth of film content for this movie to lean on. The movie works specifically because that material is so strong, and because of the long term import of those debates beyond the political landscape that they took place in. This is the story of how modern political media was forever, and accidentally, changed and shaped by these two men; and how the entire idea of debate was ruined in the United States for the sake of entertainment.
27. Black Sea
Two great tastes that go great together; Black Sea is a submarine heist movie and the combo just works. Jude Law as the grizzled ship’s captain is the real draw here and he carries the movie. The third act is a little weak and bloated, but this is a very solid genre picture.
“Boats are like whores. The old ones know how to look after you the best.”
26. Project Almanac
Time traveling teens! Project Almanac owes it’s existence to Chronicle and is kind of the corporate sellout version, but it just stuck with me all year. There’s just something so appealing to me about teenagers using time travel for the dumbest reasons and making such obviously bad decisions.
25. Run All Night
I’m a pretty big fan of Liam Neeson’s run of Non-Taken action movies, and while this one is barely an action movie at all, more of a drama, it still totally worked for me. The Taken movies themselves don’t quite work for me because they just assume that Liam Neeson is just the greatest, whereas in the other ones he’s still a complete badass but he’s also clearly a garbage human being. The story of Run All Night isn’t too far off from John Wick, except played straight and not hilarious. (Which is not an improvement.) The scenes of Liam Neeson and Ed Harris talking to each other are legitimately great and the reason to see this movie.
24. Jupiter Ascending
I’m a pretty big fan of The Wachowskis’ work (Particularly Speed Racer, that movie is just great.) but I also have no idea how they keep getting such large budgets to make these giant flops. Jupiter Ascending is an overstuffed mess, but it’s also one that’s clearly from the vision of the weirdos who made it. We so rarely get that kind of earnest weirdness in our blockbusters and I really appreciate it here. I really like this dumb movie.
“Bees don’t lie.”
23. The End of the Tour
I can imagine a world where I saw The End of the Tour and found it insufferable, but when I saw it it worked for me. As much as this movie is about a particular conversation, the reason it works for me is because it’s also about conversation more generally. I dunno, this one hit me in a way that’s hard for me to verbalize and I’m not sure how much of that even has to do with the movie itself. Specifically the reason this movie isn’t higher is because the fact that David Foster Wallace went on to kill himself years after this conversation warps the entire movie, and that part of the proceedings kinda bothers me and isn’t part of why I like it.
22. The Salvation
The Salvation is just a solid western. It doesn’t do anything to really stand out, but it’s just good. I guess what’s different about this movie is how quickly our hero gets his revenge. After that it’s actually the repercussions from that, and the villain’s revenge against our hero that drives the plot. Some things about how it wraps up don’t make sense but whatever. I just like this kind of movie.
21. White God
Ok, there’s a big portion of White God that I don’t really think is any good, and there’s a parable here that I also don’t think quite works… But the turning point in this movie is one of the greatest things I saw in a movie all year. Holy shit do I love the climax of this movie. It takes too long to get there for the movie to be any higher on this list, but man is it good.