Sunday, January 24, 2016

2015 Year In Review: Introduction Part I

I saw fewer films from 2015 than I do in do in most years. Normally, I see somewhere between 220-240, and this year I’m right around 190. This is probably due to a number of factors – I spent time earlier in 2015 revisiting some favorites from the 1990s, spent time later on going through all of David Lynch and Oliver Stone’s films. In fact, while apparently I’ve only see 190 films from 2015, according to Letterboxd, I watched 365 films in 2015 (to be fair, I watched way more short films than I normally do). Another reason though is perhaps a little simpler – with each passing year, I try and avoid more and more crap. There was a time where there would be no doubt that I would have watched films like The Cobbler or Pan – but I really don’t have as much interest in doing that anymore. Unless I really have to see a film I pretty much know is going to be terrible, I try avoiding them. And then, there’s something else – as I get older, I need more sleep. Even as little as two or three years ago, heading out to the movies for 2 or even 3 late shows a week (which, since my children were born is when I see most of my movies in theaters) wasn’t an issue. Now, I get tired more – so I found I skipped more films that I thought I might enjoy – films like Krampus, Goosebumps and The Night Before jump to mind, if I didn’t view them as essential. I am still likely to see all three at some point – and others from 2015 – but now that I’m getting to be an old man, I am slightly choosier about what I see. 190 films a year is still WAY more than most.

I also take it as a good sign that I did manage to see most of the critically acclaimed films of the year – and those I didn’t see, I really cannot be blamed for. Every year, I do a critics top 10 list survey, where I collect 650 film critics top 10 lists, and compile the data (I’m an accountant remember – I love data). Of the top 50, I have seen 46. Of the four I “missed”, I am most upset about not being able to see Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq – I’m a big Spike Lee fan, and this has gotten the best reviews of any of his films in years. Yet, for some reason, the distributer hasn’t seen fit to let anyone in Canada see the film yet (no theatrical release, two months after it hit American screens, and no VOD release, a month after that happened in America). If I STILL cannot see it by this Tuesday (the 26th), I’m ordering the “Import” Blu-ray from The other three I missed were Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights – which is playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox right now – all three parts, and six hours, but I haven’t had the time to see it. The other two were Frederick Wiseman’s In Jackson Heights, which outside of TIFF I had no chance to see, and Pedro Costa’s Horse Money, which outside of TIFF 2014, I had no chance to see either. I hope to see all three eventually – especially Horse Money, as I am an admirer of Costa’s. I like Wiseman as well, but past experience tells me not to hold my breath waiting for In Jackson Heights to hit a VOD platform. (I like Gomes less, but haven’t seen as much of his work).

Other films that ranked in the top 100 that I missed include three films that only played festivals in North American in 2015, and will get real releases this year – The Lobsters, Cemetery of Splendor and No Home Movie. Then there was also The Pearl Button and Bone Tomahawk (the latter of which is like Chi-Raq – heading on a month since it has been available in America on VOD, but not in Canada – at least not to rent) – that I didn’t have much of a chance to see. As for the others – Mustang (which just opened at the Lightbox), Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, Saint Laurent, Grandma, The Wonders, Entertainment, Buzzard and The Second Mother – I have less of an excuse. I could have seen them, and wanted to, I just ran out of time.

But all of that is just housekeeping really. No one can really see everything, and while in the coming days I’ll give my rundown of the best movies, performances (in each of the four Oscar categories, plus ensembles), debut films, animated films, documentaries, my own personal Oscar ballot (if I had one), plus lists of the most disappointing and worst films of the year (not the same thing), I’ll never really be done with the 2015 movie year – just like we’re never really done with any movie year. There’s always more to explore. Part II of the introduction will be more specifically about the movie I did see.

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