2015 – The Year in Review – The Year in Film

2015 was a year of traveling everywhere and watching movies on a laptop or hotel TV, patched with an HDMI cable and bypassing the terrible in-room content delivery service.  I did see a *few* films in theaters. But by and large I wound up viewing most entertainment on a small screen, crammed into a seat on an airplane, or late at night in a hotel bed.

Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road

Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road

First up, let’s talk about the movies I saw in theaters… which were pitifully few. I did see Star Wars twice, though! What a great film. But, ultimately, it fell second to Mad Max: Fury Road, the most incredible cinematic feat, in my humble opinion, in the past decade or so.

What Fury Road and Force Awakens share in spirit is a return to practical special effects. They look spectacular. So much is being done in-camera. With Fury Road, almost every single insane stunt is happening for real.

They also both share a keen awareness for how to use action set pieces to drive narrative storytelling. And Mad Max‘s story is quite possibly the simplest one imaginable: a sustained chase sequence. Characters must travel from A to B. Here’s how we unfold that story: characters run, they get chased. Lather, rinse, and continue for roughly 2 hours.

Behold, my epic list of the top 5 films I saw in an actual theater!

Favorite Theatrical Viewings

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  3. Inside Out
  4. Bridge of Spies
  5. Inherent Vice

Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair in Marty

Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair in Marty

Next up: my favorite films seen for the first time in 2015.

I watched, in all, 102 films (although one qualifies as a miniseries) in 2015. Out of all of these, I have chosen 20 that I really, really liked. And at the top of that heap, is Marty.

Paddy Chayefsky’s excellent 1953 teleplay Marty, originally written for The Philco Goodyear Television Playhouse, and starring Rod Steiger in the titular role, was expanded into a feature length film in 1955. Ernest Borgnine played the lonely butcher with a heart of gold, Marty Pilletti. Burt Lancaster produced. Delbert Mann directed.

I’ve long known that Marty was a classic film, winner of 4 Oscars: Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture at the 1956 Academy Awards. But I never watched the film until 2015, 60 years after its original theatrical debut.

Marty is a love story with all of the classic tropes, and none of the lazy storytelling that plagues 99.9% of all similar films today. It’s the kind of film that will push every button you have, and leave you with a smile in the end. Nothing else I watched on the small screen last year punched more holes in my emotional defenses and left me more filled with joy.

Favorite Films Seen For the First Time in 2015

  1. Marty
  2. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
  3. It’s Such a Beautiful Day
  4. The French Connection
  5. Whiplash
  6. Panique au Village (A Town Called Panic)
  7. The Guest
  8. What We Do in the Shadows
  9. Ex Machina
  10. C’era una volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West)
  11. The Running Man
  12. The Immigrant
  13. Philomena
  14. Ida
  15. The Wolf of Wall Street
  16. In Bruges
  17. The World’s End
  18. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  19. It Follows
  20. V/H/S

Behold: every movie I watched in 2015… alphabetized… 102 in all.

  1. A.I.
  2. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
  3. The Avengers: Age of Ultron*
  4. Barbarella
  5. Behind the Candelabra
  6. Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  7. Blades of Glory
  8. Blue Velvet
  9. The Book of Life
  10. Brave
  11. Boogie Nights
  12. Bridge of Spies*
  13. Burke & Hare
  14. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
  15. Cosmopolis
  16. Crimson Peak*
  17. The Devil’s Advocate
  18. Dirty Pretty Things
  19. The Double
  20. Double Indemnity
  21. The Empire Strikes Back
  22. Encounters at the End of the World
  23. Ex Machina
  24. The Fifth Element
  25. Fantasia 2000
  26. Fletch
  27. The French Connection
  28. Gambit (2012)
  29. Godzilla (2014)
  30. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  31. Grabbers
  32. Gravity
  33. The Guest
  34. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  35. Hitch
  36. Home Alone
  37. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  38. Housebound
  39. Howard the Duck
  40. Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle)
  41. Ida
  42. Idiocracy
  43. The Immigrant
  44. In Bruges
  45. Inherent Vice*
  46. Inside Out*
  47. Insidious: Chapter 3*
  48. It Follows
  49. It’s Such a Beautiful Day
  50. Johnny Dangerously
  51. The Last Unicorn
  52. La Legge (The Law)
  53. Lilo & Stitch
  54. Listen Up Philip
  55. Longford
  56. Mad Max: Fury Road*
  57. The Master
  58. Marty
  59. Men in Black
  60. Mystery Men
  61. Never Let Me Go
  62. A Night in Casablanca
  63. Night Train to Munich
  64. Noah
  65. Oleanna
  66. Olive Kittredge**
  67. C’era una volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West)
  68. Pacific Rim (x 3)
  69. Philomena
  70. Pitch Perfect
  71. Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo)
  72. Return of the Jedi
  73. Revenge of the Pink Panther
  74. The Ridiculous 6
  75. Robin Hood
  76. Rocky Horror Picture Show
  77. The Room
  78. The Running Man
  79. Rush Hour
  80. Scanners
  81. Shallow Hal
  82. Sleepless in Seattle
  83. Star Wars
  84. Star Wars: The Force Awakens* (x 2)
  85. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
  86. Stonehearst Asylum
  87. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
  88. Kaguyahime no Monogatari (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)
  89. Taxi Driver
  90. The Terminator
  91. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  92. Panique au Village (A Town Called Panic)
  93. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  94. V/H/S
  95. V/H/S 2
  96. Watership Down
  97. What We Do In The Shadows
  98. Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger
  99. Whiplash
  100. The Wind Rises
  101. The Wolf of Wall Street
  102. The World’s End

* = denotes theatrical viewing
** = denotes a “mini series” or “television movie”

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