I don’t have New Year’s Resolutions, but I did make a list of goals at the beginning of the year: read some nonfiction (I got to three books), write every day, and see more film. I read a lot when I was growing up, so my film credentials aren’t great. Then I started listening to the /Filmcast, and I made an effort to go and see some of the films they talked about. I managed to see every Best Picture nominee for the Oscars, but not every film that was nominnated, because this is not my full-time job, and I got sick of biopics after seeing Selma, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything in the space of two weeks. This is going to be a reflection of films I saw this year, some of which were released this year – some of those are 2014 films elsewhere in the world – some were not. So I’m making up awards for some of these films because I can.
Most pretentious film of 2015: Birdman
Back before I started recapping Australian shows, my Birdman review was the most read post on this blog. What I’ve learned about Birdman is that you’re either on its wavelength, or you’re not, and I was not. The /Filmcast loved it, Margaret and David loved it, and Annabel Crabb loved it. I did not. This could also be my most disappointing film for the year, because after listening to the /Filmcast and watching Margaret and David both give it five stars for their last ever on-air film review, I was really looking forward to it. What I found was a film that was technically great but lacking in substance, and also Whiplash was RIGHT THERE (this was released in Australia before it was in the States, so it’s unfortunately a 2014 film for the purposes of this on-the-fly list).
Film I was more emotionally invested in than I realised: Mad Max: Fury Road
I watched Fury Road on my laptop a couple of weeks ago when I was house sitting, because I couldn’t get the Playstation to work and couldn’t watch it on the TV. I was also not sleeping much at night during that period, because that’s what happens when you sleep on an unfamiliar bed. So, I took a nap in the middle of watching this film, because I knew it wasn’t the film’s fault I was so tired. I paused the film, set an alarm for half an hour later, and then watched the last hour. I was invested in Furiosa and Immortan Joe’s wives, but I didn’t expect to be crying when they made it back at the end. The award for worst Australian accent goes to Tom Hardy.
Film I loved much more than I probably should have if I was a real feminist: Trainwreck
Trainwreck wasn’t a perfect film, and it’s the film I loved blindly to the extent that I refused to acknowledge any of its flaws. We all have our feminist blindspots, and I’m not a fan of all of Amy Schumer’s work (here’s my review for the very first episode of Inside Amy Schumer, which took a bit of time to find its feet), but there was something about Schumer and Hader’s chemistry that worked. I still don’t know what it was (possibly LeBron), but it was a ton of fun.
I saw these films very close together, so they’re linked in my mind because they seem so similar. I haven’t read the source material for Me and Earl (see, that title is way too long, so we cut out the girl), so I can’t speak to its faithfulness as an adaptation, but both the Dying Girl (the only character’s name I can remember is Earl, and that’s because it’s in the title) and Margo in Paper Towns serve as character development devices for the male protagonists. The big issue in this for Paper Towns is that that book was written to deconstruct that very trope, which Green had been criticised as using in Looking for Alaska (still probably my favourite John Green novel), and the film fell back on it.
Most significant step down for Oscar nominated director: Joy
I saw Joy last night, and you know what? That is a film that made absolutely no impression on me. I also wrote about it last night, so I’m not writing a lot here.
Sequel that I didn’t expect to love but did: The Force Awakens
I’ve written a bit about how I went to see the original trilogy when they were re-released in cinemas but didn’t love them, so I was immune to all the Star Wars madness for the most part. Then I saw The Force Awakens, and I loved it. Rey is awesome, BB8 is my new favourite droid and Rian Johnson is directing the next one! I don’t mind the structure being almost exactly the same of that as A New Hope, because I love the idea of history repeating itself, and you can’t just create a democracy overnight, especially not an intergalactic one.
There are more of these because I kept remembering films I saw this year, but I’ll put them in a different post, which will include both the best and worst non-2015 films I saw in 2015, as well as some of my other favourites from the year.