Favorite Original Score of 2015:

The Hateful Eight by Ennio Morricone

Honorable Mention:

Mad Max: Fury Road by Junkie XL


Favorite Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of 2015:


Honorable Mention:

While We’re Young



These are the films that never really saw their worthy light of day. Whether it was due to an unfairly lame box office performance, a violent barrage of negative reviews that was completely uncalled for, or a limited release that just wasn’t enough, these five movies struck a chord with me and deserve much more attention and appeal.

Listed alphabetically

Eli Roth’s first directorial effort since 2007’s Hostel: Part II is a sick and nasty piece of work. Savage, taut, and surprisingly very funny, it’s the modern late-night horror cult classic that we deserve. Roth has outdone himself. Weak stomachs, beware.

 The latest actioner from the underrated Pierre Morel has all the strutting machismo of his earlier work with an added layer of global issue sentiment. Sean Penn’s physicality is borderline monstrous, and the international locations are used beautifully.

 It may be a wacky space adventure with flying lizards, bee queens, gravity skates and planet harvests, but it’s OUR wacky space adventure with flying lizards, bee queens, gravity skates and planet harvests.

“How much for the Cheetos and water?”
Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 4.01.51 PM 

I saw San Andreas in a D-BOX seat. So when downtown Los Angeles began to crumble, I was in the eye of the storm. It’s the coolest disaster movie I’ve seen in quite some time.


We Are Your Friends grossed $1,767,308 in its opening weekend, placing it at #14 at the box office. Box Office Mojo reports with a 2,333 theater count, the film grossed an average $758 from each venue, making it the fourth worst debut for a film with a 2,000+ theater average.”

We Are Your Friends is by no means the year’s worst offering as this box office information may lead you to surmise, but it certainly isn’t that great of a film either. A strangely moody attempt to bring the style and substance of Trainspotting to the world of EDM, this Zac Efron vehicle was better left off of the BPM charts.


Because assembling a Top 10 list is a very volatile operation, and the spillage has to land somewhere.

Listed alphabetically 

 Mann ditches his L.A. cityscapes and turns the global cybersphere into a minefield of terrifying threats. New world of terrorism confronts old world prayer at a Malaysian Nyepi parade, indicating the capriciousness of our modern enemies.


A film as big of a breath of fresh air as its scenic title suggests, Assayas’s latest is a sensitive and riveting portrait of aging and legacy.

Garland’s debut is a beautifully tense power play between three leads that raises questions at our understanding of human life, making decisions, and intelligence. For the longest stretch of the film we’re not certain who is the villain and who is the victim. But when it all comes full circle, it’s clear that Garland’s authorship is a unique treat.


Love him or hate him, it can’t be denied that Tarantino has made the world more cinematically literate. Sublime Ultra Panavision 70 photography, a blistering Morricone score, and a baker’s dozen of filmic magic tricks run rampant in this hilarious Western murder mystery.

In his most personal film yet, Noé tackles the passionate intimacy of youthful lust and its devastating fragility. Every moment feels genuinely organic, even if the expected stylistic flourishes overwhelm the story. But form is content, after all.

Pohlad’s flair for authenticity lets Love & Mercy stand out as a landmark music biography. Paul Dano and John Cusack share an identity in a beautiful dual performance, but Elizabeth Banks is the film’s secret weapon as the heart and soul of Wilson’s story.

Maps to the Stars scares us with demons of the past and reminders of the vulnerabilities that often come with fame and fortune. But because this is a Cronenberg film, these elements are delivered in a hauntingly weird, icy tone that first makes us laugh, and then makes us scream.

This year, I saw films about the sinister behavior of the Church of Scientology, ghouls who follow teenagers through a chain of sexual passing-ons, and a tribe of cannibals deep in the Peruvian jungle. But nothing in any of these films is more terrifying than an audio recording of Warren Jeffs’ voice as he calmly reads scripture or dispels what he thinks is prophecy. He is a true psychopath. Prophet’s Prey, a documentary about the corruptness of the FLDS denomination of Mormonism, is without question the scariest film of 2015.

Villeneuve is uncompromising with his tension and Jóhannsson is confrontational with his music. When images and sounds like these collide, they stand out as this year’s most visceral experience.


Spring is by far 2015’s best “less you know the better” recommendation. A naive courtship becomes an honest romance which becomes…well, I’ll stop there. But the picturesque scenery and Hilker’s wonderful performance add rich flavor to Moorhead & Benson’s unique love story.


Great Performances

Leads & supporting players, males & females, and old & young are all included.

Listed alphabetically












Michael Shannon.jpg









Bahrani, once identified by Ebert as “the next great American filmmaker,” demonstrates his ability to pull intelligent suspense and compelling drama out of an ongoing American crime. The tragic story of the financial crisis is made palpable and endlessly relatable by Shannon and Garfield’s searing performances.




A gold medalist in using film as a visual storytelling medium, The Tribe is an engrossing crime saga that shoves the comforts of dialogue, subtitles, and familiar scenery into a toolshed and throws away the key.




Wunderkind Dolan’s melodrama makes several bold choices, including but not limited to an unusual aspect ratio, its creative song placements, and a rolling current of emotional substance that doesn’t let up. It may sound cheeky, but Mommy is a pleasant reminder that sometimes you need to stop and smell the roses.



If I had my way I would never leave

Keep building these random memories

Turning our days into melodies

But since I can’t stay

I’ll just keep playing back

These fragments of time

Everywhere I go

These moments will shine 


Daft Punk, “Fragments of Time”


Smooth, confident, unmeasurably tense, and stirring—all without the slightest shadow of violence. Edgerton’s directorial debut is a rock-solid work that aims to snap scissors at the string we call “trust,” which, it seems, can often be too thin.


It’s fascinating that the lead characters of one of this year’s most rewardingly human stories aren’t people, but the button-pushing emotions themselves. Inside Out is a rich journey through the architecture of a young girl’s feelings, loaded with zeal and the urge to teach us all that feeling conflicted, unwelcome, or left behind is sometimes a healthy necessity.


Five-year-old Jack, newly welcomed into the world of a loving family after being born and raised in terrifying captivity, meets a dog. When his heart swells with discovery, ours melts with compassion. This moment of character evolution is one of many in a film that begs us to appreciate what’s most valuable to us.


Aristophanes’ Lysistrata proves to be timelessly applicable with Lee’s stunning urban satire. Equal parts hilarious and devastating, Chi-Raq’s irreverent style helps to establish it as the preeminent artistic outcry at the many injustices affecting our nation today, whether they be interpersonal or broadly political.



Demange’s shocking you-are-there atmosphere meshes with a political climate as palpable as the embers floating through Belfast’s cold night’s wind. ’71 touches on a piece of European history that deserves more retrospect, and does so with disquieting immediacy.


In his review for Lance Hammer’s Ballast, Ebert wrote “I always say I hardly ever cry at sad films, but I sometimes do, just a little, at films about good people.” I have been affected by plenty of films, but few sequences have grabbed me more cathartically than the final exchange between Furiosa and Max. The moments that lead to the end of their tale of liberation and new beginnings are operatic and emotional. It’s one of the best films of my lifetime.



Everything else I saw in 2015:


Taken 3 / Black Sea / Mortdecai / Kingsman: The Secret Service / Everly / Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau / Run All Night / Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief / It Follows / Furious 7 / Lost River / Slow West / Tomorrowland / Entourage / Spy / Jurassic World / Dope / The Overnight / Ant-Man / Trainwreck / Southpaw / Cop Car / Straight Outta Compton / The Visit / Goodnight Mommy / Black Mass / Everest / The Martian / Steve Jobs / The Final Girls Crimson Peak / Beasts of No Nation / Spectre / The Peanuts Movie / Macbeth / Spotlight / Evolution / Disorder (Maryland) / Legend / Youth / Krampus / The Big Short / In the Heart of the Sea / Joy / Anomalisa.