Sunday, January 10, 2016

2015 Movie Rankings

It turns out I didn't see too many movies in 2015. Probably the fewest I've seen in a long time, but in my defense, not a lot of good high profile movies came out. And as always the low profile movies slip through the cinemas and I tend to catch them on Netflix or as part of the film society to which I belong. My list contains movies that I saw in a cinema last year for the first time, regardless of release year.

Before the list, just a reminder of my ranking system. It's from 1 to 5. 1 is bad, 3 is good, 5 is exceptional. There are four categories and then an average score for all four. More detail after the list...

Title Stor. Dir. Act. Vis. Overall
Calvary (2014) 5 5 5 5 5
Room 5 5 5 5 5
Leviathan (2014) 5 5 4 5 4.75
Timbuktu (2014) 5 5 4 5 4.75
Force Majeure (2014) 4 4 3 5 4
Mad Max: Fury Road 3 5 3 5 4
About Elly (2009) 4 4 4 3 3.75
Bridge of Spies 4 3 3 4 3.5
Creed 4 4 3 3 3.5
Straight Outta Compton 3 4 4 3 3.5
The 100-Year-Old Man Who... (2013) 4 3 4 3 3.5
The Martian 4 3 3 4 3.5
Tangerine 4 3 3 3 3.25
Citzenfour (2014) 3 3 - 3 3
Iris (2014) 3 3 - 3 3
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2 3 3 4 3
Avengers: Age of Ultron 2 3 2 2 2.25
Terminator: Genisys 1 1 2 3 1.75

Before anyone gets their underwear in a knot over "zomg y u gav star warz low score it was baest move of yer!" It was a good movie. I liked it. But that doesn't make it a master-work of cinema.

A score of 3 means "it did all the things a movie should do correctly". In a metacritic world that's a "fresh" review.

The problem with my list is that there are some movies from previous years on there. If you remove them my top five released in 2015 would be:

1. Room
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Creed
4. Straight Outta Compton
5. The Martian

I only saw two movies that were ultimately mediocre. Avengers 2 and Terminator: Genisys. Everything else on my list I would totally recommend, depending on the audience. If you think the Transformers movies are "kinda dumb, but they have some good action in them", you're the kind of person who isn't going to like Room, where there are no unintelligible robot fights or random explosions, but I bet you'll dig Star Wars or Mad Max. If you only watch movies directed by non-binary gender asexual blind Inuits; Mad Max is not your thing, but you really might like Tangerine, I sure did.

More detail on the rankings:


1 - The story made no sense at all.
2 - The story had more than a few "... for some reason" moments or was completely derivative without finding its own voice.
3 - Standard story telling. Effective. Limited plot contrivances or questionable moments.
4 - The story was solid, interesting, and engaging.
5 - The story was compelling, masterfully structured, and stays with you for weeks.

Direction (also includes editing)

1 - Questionable blocking and scene flow. Nothing makes sense. Bad takes are left in the movie.
2 - Confusing set and scene choices. Bad performances from typically decent actors. Off-putting tonal shifts.
3 - Good flow. Performances match the material.
4 - Interesting set and scene choices. Good performances from typically mediocre actors.
5 - Excellent pacing. Exceptional performances from everyone. Perfect tonal control.


1 - Awful performances from everyone
2 - Mostly awful, good actors are "phoning it in", but some redeeming performances.
3 - Everyone is fine. Nothing stands out good or bad.
4 - Mostly good, a few performances stand out.
5 - Everyone is great, and several standout performances.


1 - The movie is poorly shot, poorly lit, and doesn't look good at all. If there's CGI in the film it's used inappropriately or poorly.
2 - Movie doesn't look terribly good. If there's CGI it stands out as inappropriate or bad.
3 - It looks like a movie should look. If there's CGI it's used appropriately and doesn't look too terrible.
4 - Some interesting visual choices. If there's CGI it stands out as being really good. If there are stunts they look practical and impressive.
5 - The look of the film is striking. If there's CGI it's mostly indistinguishable from practical elements.

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