The Best Movies of the Year 2015 (So Far)

We are now halfway through the year and as has become an annual tradition here at The End, it’s time to look back at the best movies of the year so far. As I discussed in the 2013 halfway post, the consensus movie-dating system is nonsensical and posits New York as the center of the universe. Far more logical (and much easier to use) is a system reliant on imdb’s dating system, which locates a film in whatever year it first played for an audience. That’s what we use here at The End as it’s the most fair to all eras and areas. (A dating system reliant on playing in a certain locality I think can be valuable for a publication that is geographically specific, like a local newspaper or website. We’ll be putting together a Seattle-specific lists for Seattle Screen Scene later this week, for example. But here at The End, we have a global reach.)

A by-product of the system is that a number of films that first go into wide-release in any given year actually had their premiere in the year before. A number of the films on many critics’ halfway-thorough lists include these films, films that find their proper home here on my 2014 list. And so here we have two lists: the Best Movies of 2015, following the strict imdb dating system, and the Best 2014 Movies of 2015, which includes those films from last year that you might find on a more chronologically-illogical list. In new additions this year, I’m adding a third list, of 2014 films that have yet to see a New York release and therefore don’t (yet) exist by the standards of most critics. And a fourth list, a halfway version of my annual Best Older Movies list, counting the top movies I saw for the first time this year that are more than a few years old.

The Top 10 Movies of 2015 (So Far):

1. Blackhat (Michael Mann)

2. Mistress America (Noah Baumbach)

3. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)

4. World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)

5. The Royal Road (Jenni Olson)

6. Results (Andrew Bujalski)

7. Jupiter Ascending (The Wachowskis)

8. Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland)

9. Bitter Lake (Adam Curtis)

10. Pitch Perfect 2 (Elizabeth Banks)
The Top 17 2014 Movies of 2015 (So Far):

1. Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)

2. The Taking of Tiger Mountain (Tsui Hark)

3. La Sapienza (Eugène Green)

4. Ballet 422 (Jody Lee Lipes)

5. Heaven Knows What (Josh & Benny Safdie)

6. Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve)

7. Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)

8. While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach)

9. Approaching the Elephant (Amanda Wilder)

10. When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi)

11. The Last Five Years (Richard LaGravenese)

12. Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón)

13. Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg)

14. The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)

15. Ned Rifle (Hal Hartley)

16. Amour fou (Jessica Hausner)

17. Kung Fu Jungle (Teddy Chan)
The Top 25 “Unreleased” Movies of 2014 (So Far):

1. The Midnight After (Fruit Chan)

2. Hill of Freedom (Hong Sangsoo)

3. Horse Money (Pedro Costa)

4. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)

5. A Matter of Interpretation (Lee Kwangkuk)

6. Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang)

7. Tokyo Tribe (Sion Sono)

8. Hit 2 Pass (Kurt Walker)

9. White, Heat, Lights (Takashi Nakajima)

10. The Coffin in the Mountain (Xin Yukun)

11. Dearest (Peter Chan)

12. Uncertain Relationships Society (Heiward Mak)

13. Welcome to New York (Abel Ferrara)

14. Black Coal, Thin Ice (Diao Yinan)

15. Beyond Zero 1914-1918 (Bill Morrison)

16. The Rehearsal (Carl-Antonyn Dufault)

17. Natural History (James Benning)

18. Women Who Know How to Flirt are the Luckiest (Pang Ho-cheung)

19. The Iron Ministry (JP Sniadecki)

20. A Hard Day (Kim Seonghun)

21. Transformers: the Premake (Kevin B. Lee)

22. The Teacher’s Diary (Nithiwat Tharathorn)

23. Inside Voices (Ryland Walker Knight)

24. Golden Chickensss (Matt Chow)

25. Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (Wong Ching-po)
The Best Older Movies I saw in 2015 (So Far):

1. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)

2. Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)

3. It Felt Like a Kiss (Adam Curtis, 2009)

4. Gimme Shelter (The Maysles Brothers and Charlotte Zwerin, 1970)

5. Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956)

6. Three Crowns of the Sailor (Raúl Ruiz, 1983)

7. The Terrorizers (Edward Yang, 1986)

8. The Sun Shines Bright (John Ford, 1953)

9. Pride and Prejudice (Simon Langton, 1995)

10. The East is Red (Ching Siu-tung & Raymond Lee, 1993)

11. Alexander (Oliver Stone, 2004)

12. The World of Apu (Satyajit Ray, 1959)

13. Taipei Story (Edward Yang, 1985)

14. The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet, 2003)

15. A Borrowed Life (Wu Nien-jen, 1994)

16. Balloon Land (Ub Iwerks, 1935)

17. ¡Que Viva Mexico! (Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov, 1932)

18. Lady Snowblood (Toshiba Fujita, 1973)

19. Into the Woods (James Lapine, 1991)

20. The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (Adam Curtis, 2007)

21. Ali (Michael Mann, 2001)

22. Christine (John Carpenter, 1983)

23. Company (Lonny Price, 2011)

24. Twin Dragons (Tsui Hark & Ringo Lam, 1992)

25. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2009)

26. The Spring River Flows East (Cai Chusheng & Zheng Junli, 1947)

27. Himalaya Singh (Wai Ka-fai, 2005)

28. The Power of Nightmares (Adam Curtis, 2004)

29. The True Story of Wong Fei-hung: Whiplash Snuffs the Candle Flame (Wu Peng, 1949)

30. Red Line 7000 (Howard Hawks, 1965)

31. Fay Grim (Hal Hartley, 2006)

32. The Century of the Self (Adam Curtis, 2002)

33. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Justin Lin, 2003)

34. J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011)

35. Where Danger Lives (John Farrow, 1950)

This Week in Rankings

This update includes all the rest of the movies I saw at the Seattle International Film Festival. After the festival, I essentially watched nothing for two weeks (well, I watched seven movies in fifteen days, which for me is essentially nothing), so I don’t have a whole lot else to update. The only thing I’ve written about at any length was The Fifth Element over at Seattle Screen Scene. And here is our SIFF Recap episode of The George Sanders Show. I’ve also updated my indices here at The End: the Review Index and the Essay and Podcast Index.

These are the movies I’ve watched and rewatched over the last few weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings. Links are to my letterboxd reviews, which range from single words to short comments to proper capsules.

After the Ball (Georges Méliès) – 1897
A Trip to the Moon (Geogres Méliès) – 1, 1902
Metamorphosis of a Butterfly (Gaston Velle) – 1, 1904
A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire (The Miles Brothers) – 2, 1906

Tit for Tat (Gaston Velle) – 3, 1906
San Francisco: Aftermath of the Earthquake (Billy Bitzer) – 4, 1906
Kiri-Kis (Segundo de Chomón) – 1, 1907
Le papillon fantastique (Georges Méliès) – 3, 1909
The Acrobatic Fly (F. Percy Smith) – 2, 1910

Gertie the Dinosaur (Winsor McCay) – 2, 1914
The Love Nest (Buster Keaton & Edward Cline) – 6, 1923
Cave of the Spider Women (Dan Duyu) – 15, 1927
¡Que viva México! (Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov) – 14, 1932
Balloon Land (Ub Iwerks) – 8, 1935

Cave of the Silken Web (Ho Meng-hua) – 24, 1967
The Road Warrior (George Miller) – 5, 1981
The East is Red (Ching Siu-Tung & Raymond Lee) – 17, 1993
Pride and Prejudice (Simon Langton) – 12, 1995
The Fifth Element (Luc Besson) – 20, 1997

Love in a Puff (Pang Ho-cheung) – 8, 2010
Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve) – 32, 2014
The Teacher’s Diary (Nithiwat Tharathorn) – 66, 2014
Lava (James Ford Murphy) – 86, 2014
Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) – 8, 2015

Inside Out (Pete Docter) – 11, 2015
Eisenstein in Guanajuato (Peter Greenaway) – 12, 2015
The Chinese Mayor (Zhou Hao) – 14, 2015
The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle) – 17, 2015

This Week in Rankings

I’m still lost in the never-ending saga that is the Seattle International Film Festival. We’ve been covering it in detail over at Seattle Screen Scene, and as of right now I’ve seen 25 movies or so, with another week to go before the thing is finally, blessedly over. I have a couple posts here started but not finished, on Jackie Chan’s Project A movies, which are pretty good, and Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur, which is a crime against history, but festival stuff has slowed the momentum on them enough that I doubt I’ll ever actually finish them. Everything else I’ve written recently has been at SSS, obviously given that the last post here was also a This Week in Rankings. In addition to all the festival coverage over there, I also have reviews of The Triplets of Belleville, Clouds of Sils Maria, Kung Fu Jungle, and Tales of Hoffman.

Recent episodes of The George Sanders Show include discussions of Linda Linda Linda and The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, Clouds of Sils Maria and Centre Stage, Jauja and Three Crowns of the Sailor, and Days of Thunder and Redline 7000. It’s been a really long time since I’ve done an actual episode of They Shot Pictures, hopefully I’ll be able to put something together this summer, after this festival is over and before the Vancouver Film Festival rolls around in September.

These are the movies I’ve watched and rewatched over the last several weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (Don Weis) – 15, 1953
Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray) – 3, 1955
Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray) – 6, 1955
Aparajito (Satyajit Ray) – 8, 1956
The World of Apu (Satyajit Ray) – 8, 1959

The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Parajanov) – 10, 1968
Gimme Shelter (Albert and David Maysles & Charlotte Zwerin) – 1, 1970
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (George Miller) – 23, 1985
Centre Stage (Stanley Kwan) – 5, 1991
Ballistic Kiss (Donnie Yen) – 63, 1998

The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet) – 11, 2003
Camp (Todd Graff) – 29, 2003
King Arthur (Antoine Fuqua) – 68, 2004
Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita) – 2, 2005
Himalaya Singh (Wai Ka-fai) – 15, 2005

Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke) – 73, 2008
Overheard (Alan Mak & Felix Chong) – 50, 2009
Let the Bullets Fly (Jiang Wen) – 6, 2010
Romance Joe (Lee Kwangkuk) – 8, 2011
Overheard 2 (Alan Mak & Felix Chong) – 65, 2011

Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore) – 17, 2012
Crossfire Hurricane (Brett Morgen) – 63, 2012
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (Stephen Chow & Derek Kwok) – 10, 2013
Phoenix (Christian Petzold) – 8, 2014
A Matter of Interpretation (Lee Kwangkuk) – 11, 2014

The Coffin in the Mountain (Xin Yukun) – 25, 2014
Noah (Darren Aronofsky) – 27, 2014
Dearest (Peter Chan) – 32, 2014
Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas) – 36, 2014
Beyond Zero 1914-1918 (Bill Morrison) – 38, 2014

While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach) – 39, 2014
When Marnie was There – (Hiromasa Yonebayashi) – 43, 2014
Temporary Family (Cheuk Wan-chi) – 50, 2014
Natural History (James Benning) – 58, 2014
A Hard Day (Kim Seonghoon) – 61, 2014

Amour Fou (Jessica Hausner) – 67, 2014
Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore) – 72, 2014
Kung Fu Jungle (Teddy Chan) – 74, 2014
Back to the Soil (Bill Morrison) – 75, 2014
Virtuosity (Christopher Wilkinson) – 83, 2014

Snow on the Blades (Setsurô Wakamatsu) – 86, 2014
Haemoo (Shim Sungbo) – 88, 2014
Overheard 3 (Alan Mak & Felix Chong) – 93, 2014
Mistress America (Noah Baumbach) – 2, 2015
Mad Max Fury Road (George Miller) – 3, 2015
World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt) – 4, 2015

The Royal Road (Jenni Olson) – 5, 2015
Results (Andrew Bujalski) – 6, 2015
Pitch Perfect 2 (Elizabeth Banks) – 9, 2015
Unexpected (Kris Swanberg) – 12, 2015
Dreams Rewired (Manu Luksch, Thomas Tode & Martin Reinhart) – 13, 2015
Chatty Catties (Pablo Valencia) – 14, 2015