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Behind on the Times: 2015 Edition

It's that time of year again.  While everybody else with a blog and enough income to buy movie tickets write a top ten list of their favorite films from the year, I've put together my list of the top ten movies I saw for the first time in 2015, regardless of the year they were actually released.  You can also check out past editions of the ol' "Josiah's Getting More and More Out of Touch Each Year" game from 2014 and 2013.

10. A whole bunch of documentaries that I can't decide between

...and I'm opening my list by immediately throwing the rules out the window, because I can't decide which of the many documentaries I watched this year is the one I want to call the best of all.


I'm using the poster for Dear Zachary, but I could just as easily have chosen the poster for The Imposter, 30 for 30: Of Miracles and Men, Going Clear, The Search for General Tso, An Honest Liar, or Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau.

Each was well made and did a terrific job of examining its subject matter either in a neutral and wide-encompassing way or through an innovative lens that provided a riveting perspective.  If I had to give one of them the edge, I'd probably give it to General Tso only because it uses a topic that appears at first to be somewhat light, superficial, and fluffy (the origin of a popular dish) as the springboard for a surprising breadth of topics related to the Chinese American immigration experience.  Considering the intended audience and the importance of the subject matter being discussed, that makes it a better film on a more pragmatic level than the rest.

I know it's kinda lazy to just dump a bunch of movies all at number 10 like this, but honestly, documentaries are the easiest type of movie to make, so whatever.  Not to diminish the hard work of documentarians everywhere, but... it's non-fiction, bro.  That shit literally writes itself.

9. JCVD (2008)


If I hadn't just seen Birdman before I watched it, I wonder if I would have loved JCVD as much as I did.  It's basically the same movie, but far more intimate, honest, and powerful.  Considering that I gave Birdman a perfect score, that should be a good enough recommendation, right?

Read more about my reaction to JCVD here.

8. Blue Ruin (2013)


I'm a sucker for a good thriller, and Blue Ruin is one of the best I've seen in ages.  It's also one of those rare movies that is charitably described as "deliberate," but which holds my attention instead of putting me to sleep.  I'm not a fan of movies that use long tracking shots in place of rising tension.  Seems like a lot of critics get fooled into thinking these are "atmospheric" when they mean to say "boring."

Anyway, Blue Ruin isn't boring.  It's a great slow burn that relies on an almost extreme form of realism to keep you wondering what will happen next.

7. Clearcut (1991)


If you're into moral ambiguity and movies that make you feel uncomfortable for days, then Clearcut's for you.  That probably doesn't sound like a great sales pitch, but trust me on this.

If Clearcut had been a better known movie, there's a good chance I wouldn't have put it on this list, but as it stands, this is the most powerful drama that I had never heard of until this year.

Read more about what I thought of Clearcut here.

6. A Simple Plan (1998)


A Simple Plan is another great thriller.  It probably would have made my list of recommended movies no matter what, but what specifically made me love it moreso than other thrillers was that I actually believed its characters and their actions.  There's a lot of crime capers where I have to shrug and say, "Eh, it's a movie. Of course people are going to be stupid."  But not this one.  It's a situation that spirals out of control due to legitimately unexpected events.

You can read a brief post about A Simple Plan here.

5. The Lunchbox (2013)


Despite being an excellent meditation on loneliness, frustration, and regret, The Lunchbox is not a soul-shattering movie.  It's too somber to call it uplifting, but it does reaffirm basic human emotions and responses to day-to-day challenges.  It's the movie equivalent of somebody holding your hand through a crisis and saying, "It's okay. We all have those moments, but it'll pass."

4. Targets (1968)


Targets is a movie made all the more terrifying and relevant by the constant stream of headlines in 2015 related to mass shooting sprees.  Ironically, even though it was made right around the time when the thought of a stranger anonymously picking up a gun and killing a bunch of random people seemed like a new concept, almost impossible to comprehend, its empathy toward its villain is so much deeper and more rounded than our understanding of grief and violence is today.  I can honestly say I haven't seen another movie that tries to do the same things that Targets did in the fifty years since it was made, although I guess Falling Down comes close.

Read more about what I thought of Targets here.

3. Housebound (2014)


Even though I put it at number 3, I don't actually have a lot to say about this movie.  I just really, really, really liked it. Housebound is a fun adventure of movie that does everything right even when it's not being terribly original.  Since I plan to incorporate it into my regular rotation of repeat viewings, I think it's safe to say it's one of my new favorites.

2. 3 Idiots (2009)


I'm a sucker for any movie about dream-chasers and parent issues, so 3 Idiots was right up my alley.  It's definitely not a movie for everyone - it's sooooooo incredibly loaded with pathos, melodrama, and repurposed jokes that I'm sure many will find it predictable or sentimental.  But it hit home for me in a big way and I was won over by its sheer enthusiasm to make its points.  This is an excellent feel-good movie.

You can read more about what I thought of 3 Idiots here.

1. The Babadook (2014)


In terms of cultural relevance or innovative filmmaking, I'm sure there were far better movies I saw this year.  But nothing made as much of an immediate and lasting impact on me as The Babadook.

It's not just scary, it's terrifying.  I have not been frightened as much or as long after watching any other movies in years as I was after watching this.  That kind of reaction is too strong to ignore, so out of sheer effectiveness, I have to call this the best movie I've seen all year.

And Now Some Other Nonsense....


Most Obscure Movie I Watched in 2015: My Streets

The IMDb user ratings on this have yet to crack double digits, which may be for the best.  Having seen this movie puts me in a very exclusive and somewhat lamentable club.

Read more about what I thought of My Streets here.

Most Disappointing Ending: Parallels

Continuing my tradition of attracting readers to my site by writing reviews of movies with shitty non-endings, Parallels was a halfway decent movie that turned into absolute garbage when the final half hour arrived and my whining about it has ended up becoming one of my most popular posts.  Go figure.

You can read my review of Parallels here.

Most Disappointing Public Reaction to a Movie: Chappie

People really hated on this movie, which I just don't get.  You guys seriously couldn't see any merit in this one?  I can understand a middle-of-the-road rating or ambivalence, but the amount of shit talked about this movie in the same country that gave the Thor movies a pass is a new level of cognitive dissonance.


Worst Movie I Saw in 2015: Sirius

The moment I finished this movie, I knew it was going to take this title.  It's not even fair to call it a "movie."  It's not anything.  It is drivel committed to celluloid.  There is no continuity of thought or action, no thesis statement, and most importantly, no basis in reality.  It's not even technically made well - there are sound and lighting issues throughout and jarring, terrible edits.  I can think of no other movie in recent memory that failed on all levels as this one did.

You can read more about how much I hated this movie here.

Runner-Up: The Club, which was pretty terrible, but which actually had a plot and a decent set.

All the Other Nonsense That Got Pushed Off the Main Page (Post Archive)