I don’t have ten movies – I have nine. I’m not trying to be cute and glib like a Godless Buzzfeed article, but I really didn’t want to shoehorn an extra film in here in order to be a completest. There just weren’t that many movies that I liked in 2015. Here are nine that were super dope, though.
09. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Parkour Chav would have been my title, but this one works, too. What a ridiculously fun action film that succeeds on nearly every front. From Sam Jackson dressing like 2003 Puff Daddy to the carbonated use of music during fight sequences. Really, really good.
08. The Martian
I haven’t seen Boston’s favorite son – second only to Ben Affleck – have this kind of fun in nearly a decade. Damon imbues The Martian with a warm levity that has laid dormant in his frame for so long that I had forgotten why I liked him. All of the weighty dramatic platitudes have just eaten away at this poor guy. Syriana, The Good Shepherd, Invictus, Green Zone, Contagion, the list goes on and on. It’s like this dude’s agent is out to bury his personality in the middle of a Nevada desert like a mob boss. Here, he shines and lifts the armor off of himself and says, “I STILL HAVE A PERSONALITY.”
More of this, please.
07. Mad Max: Fury Road
You’ve all seen this film, right? Ok, moving on.
An airy fantasy film that could have worked as a fun 1940s destination picture. Cameron Crowe’s whimsical escapism softens my charred oak of a heart. He directs as if he’s in awe of life, and that kind of squid-eyed optimism is infectious. Some of the dialogue is hokey, sure, but Crowe knows how to film his actors. Rachel McAdams’ eyes are smoky and weathered, clipped by time and disappointment. Emma Stone’s enthusiasm is sunk into the corner pocket with one swift, gratifying stroke. And Bradley Cooper manages to distract viewers enough to make them forget about his groan inducing role in Serena. I even cried at the end of this, like I was seeing Alderaan being blown up for the first time. I don’t want to hear it, guys.
05. It Follows
A haunted house movie where the world is a haunted house. Shadows, palpitating hearts, and opportunists with cobra-like restraint. It Follows is a live wire of discontent, where the nihilistic hum of Disasterpeace’s electronic score is the true faceless villain.
04. Ex Machina
The assignment of emotion is probably the most utilized weapon in all of humanity. Chemically, are we simply a misdirected amalgam of pride and power? Ex Machina isn’t quite Tarkovsky’s Solaris, but it still needles at our inherent, teeth masticating insecurity.
03. What We Do in the Shadows
A clever mosaic of cultural references and adept, incisor flashing line deliveries. This is too good to be a spoof, as it lives in its own fully functioning world. During most of this film, I was laughing like a Shutter Island lunatic. One of the most brilliant comedies of the decade, the effectiveness of What We Do in the Shadows cannot be understated.
2. Mistress America
Too many ideas, references, and cultural amoeba. The consequence of instant gratification in a world that demands both excess and morality to carpool. Mistress America is a love letter to the clumsy pirouette of our generation. Noah Baumbach is doing Whit Stillman through a rapid-fire Howard Hawks filter. Greta Gerwig does her best mid-nineties Alicia Silverstone impersonation, and Lola Kirke provides the right amount of confusion and charisma. No movie, modernly, has chased the dull electricity of being in your early 30s so tragically well. But for Kirke’s character, Gerwig is so antiquated that she must be admired from behind an ornate rope, like one of the masters at a museum. Here is a screenplay where hope lives in the airless lungs of optimism.
1. The End of the Tour
There is a finite and bruised magic in the misery of travel. It uncoils, slowly, like a wet straw wrapper on a roadside diner. For a few moments, the artifice of pop culture seems erudite and necessary. The smiles of two people, over a smudged glass of flat soda, perforates the repressed feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. The ethereal whir of a passing car, the curled receipt from a bad meal. And then a pop song, like a rogue wave, forms over your conversation. The Association’s “Never My Love” plays with the omnipotent, ever present sadness of someone else’s dreams. And none of this will last.