Listening to: Dean & Britta, “Mistress America.” Saw the movie, loved it, and this soundtrack is killer too. I could listen to this first song forever.
Having spent most of the year in Taiwan, I felt like I missed a lot of the big hitters this year. But looking over the final movies watched list, I guess I managed to see a good amount and ended up with lots of A and B grades. Here is the list of no hesitation recommends, A or A- grades: The One I Love, Wild, Whiplash, In a World…, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Mad Max: Fury Road, Magic Mike XXL, Amy, Tangerine, Mistress America, The Martian, Sicario, Spotlight.
Then again, as I was watching David Ehrlich's "The 25 Best Films of 2015: A Video Countdown," I realized I saw most of the mainstream stuff and missed almost all of the indie ones. (Thanks to Slate Cultural Gabfest for the link to Ehrlich though.)
If I had to pare that list down to my favorite movies of the year, I'd go with The One I Love, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tangerine, Mistress America, and Sicario. Mad Max and Sicario were just pure adrenaline rushes and both are imminently rewatcheable and so brilliant. It's criminal to not watch either in the theater but I guess at this point you don't really have a choice if you missed them.
Mistress America was Noah Baumbach's second film to come out in 2015, but the only one with Greta Gerwig's fairy dust. I’m basically ready to declare that I’m over solo Baumbach but when Baumbach teams up with Gerwig I’m all the way in. I loved Mistress America so much, and need to give it some time to see how it fares against Frances Ha in my heart. The One I Love was the first movie I saw in 2015, and it actually released in 2014, but it's stayed with me all this time, both for concept and execution. I mean, what couple wouldn't want to meet the version of themselves that first got into that relationship? I love Elisabeth Moss and respect the hell out of Mark Duplass and this movie was just fantastic.
And then there's Tangerine, which was just, well, everything you’d want in a quirky movie. I recently rewatched it with a group of friends, not really knowing their movie tastes, and it passed the smell test. Funny, crazy, unexpected, plus diverse and shot on an iPhone 5, with quotable lines aplenty, Tangerine was probably my favorite movie of 2015. But not the most fun, for which I'd suggest Magic Mike XXL. The sequel gave up all pretensions of being a movie movie and just let Channing and crew dance and have fun. Somehow I have friends who didn't love XXL but I've de-friended those people already, so no matter.
As for most disappointed movies, the list runs to Dear White People, Beyond the Lights, While We’re Young, My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, and Ex Machina. Too much hype, or just not good period. And I can’t even talk about the new Star Wars, which made me almost yawn in boredom midway through.
You'll notice a real dearth of Taiwanese, even though I said that I would try to dive into some Taiwanese stuff. My friend gave me a list of essential Taiwanese movies, such as Millennium Mambo, but I've been handicapped by very slow Internet, so that has curbed my ability to download this stuff. So I saw a handful of Taiwanese/Chinese movies in the theater but didn't get far beyond that.
As a year ender, I'll drop this for you, a short film recommended to me: Gang by Stuart Winecoff. It's pretty great.