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Creed II

It's all about the importance of character and the ability to face life's challenges. —Matt Anderson (review...)

Creed II

" They should have sent a poet "
— Jodie Foster, Contact

MRQE Top Critic

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In 2015 I saw as many movies as ever, but my focus is trending away from the mainstream and toward film-festival fare: I haven’t yet seen The Force Awakens. I feel like I’ll have plenty of opportunity to see it in 2016, just not until my last festival commitments wrap up.

TIFF turns 40, but it seems like it's always existed
TIFF turns 40, but it seems like it’s always existed

Much of my annual film consumption happens in Toronto, where I kept wondering when I would see “the one” — that single film that stood head and shoulders above the rest. It didn’t happen, but along the way I saw lots of good movies from around the world, and hardly any duds.

Closer to home, we do surprisingly well, considering it’s a thousand miles from L.A. As always, the International Film Series in Boulder showed a slate of excellent selections — some new, some old (including Miracle Mile with a generous intro and followup from Denver critic Walter Chaw). And for a festival that lasts only 3 days, BIFF packs a lot of surprising, early punches (unknowns such as Meet the Patels, Racing Extinction, and Sunshine Superman garnered critical praise later in the year). I admit I’m less familiar with the Boedecker Theater than I should be, but Glenn programmed a delightful documentary called Beer Runners on my recommendation.

I suppose I’m saying that if you want to read about Star Wars, you can find 300 other critics on Rotten Tomatoes (including 2 others here on Movie Habit). But if you like to peek into the far and dark corners of cinema, maybe I still have something to say.

A bootlegger and a taxi driver keep culture moving in Iran
A bootlegger and a taxi driver keep culture moving in Iran

Here is my list of top movies from 2015.

  1. Jafar Panahi’s Taxi - Jafar Panahi keeps culture circulating in repressive Iran
  2. The Lobster - a film about love as an absurd cultural act of conformity
  3. Chevalier - a film about masculinity as endlessly measured by men
  4. Love & Mercy - John Cusack opens up as a damaged Brian Wilson
  5. 45 Years - Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay still surprise each other after 45 years of marriage
  6. Spotlight - A tight and talented ensemble show the irreplaceable social value of the press
  7. Ex Machina - Oscar Isaac upstages impressive visual effects and set design
  8. The Hateful Eight - Kudos to Quentin Tarantino for his deep appreciation of cinema as spectacle with the 70mm Road Show
  9. Sicario - A twisted tale of Mexican cartels
  10. Call Me Marianna - A second timeline adds a lot of depth to the story of a Polish transgendered woman

Also worth mentioning are