This is a list of films I watched and rewatched in 2015. My year started with a big fire in my village, and with Rumi’s Bismillah echoing in my head: “Bismillah your old self / to find your real name.” I watched the black smoke turn to white, a broken beer bottle in my hand, which I had removed from my dog’s mouth after I discovered her taking one out of the case, a guilty look on her face. It was the first time I have ever seen Sam looked shamefaced; she’s usually blithe when caught in the middle of her mischief. I wonder now if she experienced some intuitive voodoo that gave her an idea what the year ahead might look like, and if that’s the reason why maybe she felt she needed a drink, too.
I ended the year holding a bottle of cervesa negra, standing on a chair, looking outside, again. But this time it wasn’t smoke from the fire littering the sky, but fireworks. Isn’t it strange—my very own bookends. So here is another year to see what happened in between, film-wise.
The year that was
There have been lots of rewatches. Also: lots of damn good TV, which I watched on my computer. Make of that what you will. The first quarter is probably when I saw the ‘best’ films on this year’s slate.
• Season 3 of The Following (Williamson, 2015). A classic example of a horrible show that I kept on watching to the bitter end, because I am also teaching myself not to abandon things.
• Survivor (McTeigue, 2015). Because it was a poor execution of Brosnan and Jovovich sharing the screen, which could’ve been fantastic. I mean—that’s the whole reason why I went willingly with this. That and McTeigue’s work for Ninja Assassin (2009) and V for Vendetta (2005), both of which I will watch again and again should I have a chance. Yeah, I was really disappointed.
• Jupiter Ascending (The Wachowskis, 2015). I had no expectations going in, but was still let down. The visuals were beautiful but I felt like it called too much attention to itself, as if hyper-aware that this was slated as a blockbuster, with a female messianic-like character at the helm.
• Skin Trade (Uekrongtham, 2014). Why I was roped into watching another Dolph Lundgren flick with my father I’ll never know.
• Season 2 of True Detective (Pizzolatto, 2015). I wasn’t anticipating the eerie enchantment of Carcossa, but this one left me high and dry. The cinematography was still good, but the story was too miserable, even for me. Everyone was miserable, which made me miserable, and I am the kind of person who’s miserable all the time.
• Chappie (Blomkamp, 2015). I think the problem is that I’ve seen films which feature aliens or robots—or just a tangible form of an Other, really—who were humanised despite, or in addition to, whatever level of intelligence they have. And these portrayals were quite successful, and have touched me, so I know it can be done. Heck, Blomkamp did exactly that in District 9 (2009). In this film though, Chappie was intensely, er, campaigned by the plot to be a sympathetic character, short of shoving it down my throat, and my gut reaction was to run away as fast as possible to the opposite direction.
• Lockout (Mather, 2012). A version of other mediocre action movies before it. In space.
• Terminator: Genisys (Taylor, 2015). Aside from the terrible spelling, why would you even want to mess with the time travel plot? It’s what made this whole franchise great, in my opinion, and not the Terminator himself.
• Barely Lethal (Newman, 2015). No. Just no.
• Insurgent (Schwentke, 2015). Another no.
• American Heist (Andreasyan, 2014). Apart from learning that Hayden Christensen is still alive, it was mostly a waste of Adrien Brody’s talent.
•Blackhat (Mann, 2015). I am a fan of Michael Mann’s work, let me say. Collateral (2004) was so elegant. So I am really baffled with myself why I didn’t like this. Was it the fact that I was wondering the whole time if buff hackers exist in the real world? Was it the trite love story woven throughout?
• Certified Copy (Kiarostami, 2010). There were conversations upon conversations that stayed with me for days.
• Nightcrawler (Gilroy, 2014). It was compelling and gave me just the right amount of shivers.
• Whiplash (Chazelle, 2014). Pure adrenaline, this one.
• Pride (Warchus, 2014). This film made me cry and clap and laugh to myself as I watch it during the wee hours of the morning, in the dark. It was so full of heart.
• This is Where I Leave You (Levy, 2014). I have a special place in my heart for this Jonathan Tropper book adaptation.
• Silver Linings Playbook (Russell, 2012). I stayed away from this film since it came out but was pleasantly surprised by how it made me feel.
• The Lunchbox (Batra, 2013). Both sweet and bittersweet.
• Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (Gibney, 2015). It was riveting and exhilarating in its outrageousness.
• Ex Machina (Garland, 2015). It was much about our perceptions of machines as it is about machines’ perceptions about us, don’t you think?
• Inside Out (Docter, 2015). A film that promised to go as far as it needs to to explore emotions, and I went to it willingly, without hesitation or remorse.
I admit I expected more from the following—The Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, 2014), Birdman (Inarritu, 2014), Under the Skin (Glazer, 2013), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alfredson, 2011), The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (Jackson, 2014), and Season 1 of Mr. Robot (Esmail, 2015). These are relatively good and visually interesting films (and one TV show), and I quite liked them. I can discuss them for hours. But there’s still a missing piece, a deep, unsatisfied sigh.
Others I watched which doesn’t seem to be in the database: Looking for Horses (Lawrence, 2001), Sortie de Bain (Heward, 1994), and Sherlock: Many Happy Returns (Moffat & Gatiss, 2013).
Notable things I’ve seen elsewhere
Better Call Saul (Gilligan, 2015), which is proof that prequels can be just as good; The Americans (Weisberg, 2013), a near-perfect spy show that interweaves the philosophies of trust and marriage; Netflix’s Daredevil (Goddard, 2015), as well as House of Cards (Willimon, 2013); Vicious (Janetti, 2014), starring the spectacular Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi; other British greats like Broadchurch (Chibnall, 2013) and Luther (Cross, 2010); Rectify (McKinnon, 2013), which is lush and dense and grows even more so every season; Broad City (Glazer and Jacobson, 2014) and its ridiculously fun characters; and Cinemax’s Strike Back series (2010). I also watched Singin’ in the Rain, the Broadway musical, and it was everything I’ve ever dreamed of and more. Lastly: video game walkthroughs of The Walking Dead (Telltale Games, 2012) are a guilty pleasure I’ve discovered that made me lose hours, the highlight of which is me, crying in bed in a hotel room in another island, because of the death of a video game character. Yep.
Films on this list arranged in order that I’ve watched (or rewatched) them within twelve months. List created purely for my own curiosity.Read less