Hello friends! I may have slacked off a lot this year, and really most of the years, but I’m gonna get in my year end post, gosh darn it!
I’ve been busy with work and school this whole month, so blogging has been pretty limited. But I’m back (sort of). A project I’m working on is almost wrapped up, I have a couple of days off and then a couple of weeks before school starts again, I got a new laptop for Christmas so I don’t have to bum one off someone else or walk to the library, and I am almost back in blogging business! But first, let’s reflect upon the year that was 2015.
As per usual, my list of top ten 2015 films won’t come until January, because I just haven’t had time to see everything yet. I don’t want to jump the gun and leave something off that should be there, so for now I just have my traditional top ten “New to Me” in 2015 list of films. I only saw 67 “New to Me” films this year (and reviewed 42 of them), so I though I’d make it a little more manageable for myself and just make the it a top ten instead of a top 20.
This year was my first year doing The Blindspot Series, so that was a challenge. I didn’t get to them all (missed four, I’m gonna get to December’s pick, The Seventh Seal, in January). I’m still gonna take a crack at it next year, and hopefully I’ll get to a bit more. Though none of them are gonna be in my top ten this year, I’m still really glad to have checked them off my list.
This year blogging was really sporadic because it’s the first year I’ve really been getting into filmmaking, at school and outside of it. It’s really hard to find the time and energy to blog about movies when you’re trying to make them. When I was deep into the spring semester, I didn’t blog for the entire month of April! I expect that to continue next year (and I hope it will, because that means I’ll have work after I graduate ha ha), but I’m gonna try to come back to the blog whenever I can. I’m not the most consistent blogger and I don’t expect that will change, but I’m going to try to keep the blog running in some way or another.
Thanks to everyone who commented on or read a post of mine this year. It really means a lot to me, especially when I haven’t been as consistent as I would like. I apologize to anyone reading this whose own site I haven’t really kept up with. It’s been a great year for me, even if it wasn’t all about the blogging, but I’m still glad it’s here when I can come back to it. So without further ado, here are some great movies from the past that I’ve been introduced to this past year.
Honorable mentions: Kiss Me Deadly, Dressed to Kill, The Innocents, Airplane!, Trainspotting, Breathless, The Crying Game, The Virgin Suicides, Sweet Smell of Success, Yojimbo, Letter from an Unknown Woman, The Invisible Woman
Coming in at number ten is…..
David Lean’s A Passage to India (1984)
David Lean’s final film, A Passage to India, may be a bit old fashioned for 1984, but I enjoyed it immensely all the same. Having Alec Guinness play an Indian is problematic to say the least, but the film still has an great sense of scale the only David Lean can muster up. There are a lot of things to appreciate about this movie, even if it might not work for everyone. It’s a very old school movie, and as somebody who appreciates old school literary epics, I really enjoyed this one. (3.5/4 stars)
Coming in at number nine is…..
Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast (2000)
Though he’s only made three films, I find Jonathan Glazer’s directorial style very intriguing. He always manages to present perplexing stories with striking and compelling visuals. This is apparent right from his first film, Sexy Beast. Giving Ray Winstone a rare leading role (at least I’ve only seen him in supporting besides this) and Ben Kinglsey a great villainous one, Glazer shows us the interesting casting choices we’ve come to expect from him. I don’t remember a lot of the specifics, but I remember really enjoying the movie. As with Glazer’s other films, the style is what sets it apart. (3.5/4 stars)
Coming in at number eight is….
Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981)
Brian De Palma’s update on Rear Window/Blow Up/The Conversation as just as satisfying as any of those other films. The fact that it is one in this sequence of related plots being riffed on by different directors makes it very interesting to me, but Blow Out is just a plain good film. Travolta is great in it, the story is thrilling, and the cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond is a standout. The ending is one of the most devastating I’ve ever seen. Though he may be using an old plot, De Palma definitely makes the film his own. (3.5/4 stars)
Coming in at number seven is….
Delmar Daves’ Dark Passage (1947)
Bogie and Bacall’s final collaboration on Dark Passage may be their best, at least it’s probably my favorite. Directed by Delmar Daves in a classic noir style, it employs an ingenious gimmick to tell its story. Bogie plays a man on the run from the law (sort of an innocent man wrongly accused Hitchcock sort of plot), and his face in hidden in shadow for the whole first act, or we just get POV shots. So when he gets plastic surgery to disguise himself in the second act, Bogie’s face is covered in bandages while he heals. When his well known face finally emerges, the film does fall off a bit. But until then, we engage with the Bogart persona in a completely different way from any of his other films. (3.5/4 stars)
Coming in at number six is is…..
George Stevens’ Woman of the Year (1942)
Oh how I wish I could have reviewed this one! It’s a very delightful film, and Tracy and Hepburn’s first collaboration. They are perfect in it together, and the film engages with feminism in a very smart way, even if it feels like it has that agenda at times. It’s surprising how balanced and thoughtful it is, and truly shows the give in take in their relationship. I’m very surprised I like a George Stevens film this much, and I really hope to review it on rewatch. (3.5/4 stars)
Coming in at number five is….
The Coen Brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
Though I may not always appreciate the Coen Brothers properly, I really loved The Man Who Wasn’t There. We watched clips of it in one of my classes for lighting examples, which is appropriate because the Coens and Deakins adapt an exaggerated noir style perfectly. Not only is it executed very well, but it makes sense with the existential nature of Billy Bob Thornton’s character and his story. It has the absurd humor and technical prowess that I’ve come to expect from the Coens in spades. (3.5/4 stars)
Coming in at number four is….
Joseph Lewis’ The Big Combo (1955)
Though The Big Combo doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of style, it’s execution is spot on. It’s style might not be groundbreaking, noir definitely had been around for a while in 1955, its inclusion of taboo subjects for the time is fascinating. The ending might be a bit strange, but it has so much going for it as an almost perfect noir that I just want to watch it over and over again. (4/4 stars)
Coming in at number three is….
Robert Altman’s 3 Women (1977)
3 Women can justly be called Robert Altman’s Persona. Showing the fractured and strangely interconnected psyches of (you guessed it) three different women, the film plays more like dream than most films. It’s one of those movies that is more about the experience of watching it than strictly about the specific themes its trying to depict. It wonderfully features Shelly Duval, so I’m happy about that. A very strange and entrancing film, and sometimes frustrating, it’s also a very rewarding one. (4/4 stars)
Coming in at number two is….
Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (1984)
Paris, Texas is a film that’s more about the idea of America than the reality, but it all the more compelling for it. With striking visuals and great performances, Paris, Texas is just about all you could want for in a film. Like Altman’s 3 Women, it has more to do with the experience of watching it than the actual themes, though its commentary on the American Dream is a fascinating one in how it develops. I’m still kicking myself for having to miss seeing this one on the big screen this past month, but I hope I’ll get to catch it one day. (4/4 stars)
Coming in at number one is……
Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973)
It might not be as obvious to those reading at home as it is to me, but there’s no question in my mind that Don’t Look Now is my favorite “new to me” film of this year. When I first saw it, the use of color inspired one of the projects I had to do for school. The setting in Venice is eerie, the film’s relationship to the supernatural unsettling and fascinating, the use of color fantastic, and the editing phenomenal. It’s a great, great film, all around if you ask me. I really look forward to revisiting it over the years. (4/4 stars)
Well that wraps up my wrap up list for this year! It’s a bit shorter than normal, but not because I couldn’t fill it, trust me. I just wanted to narrow down this list a bit more because of the small amount of films I saw this year. Watch any of these and you can’t go wrong. I’ll be back in January for more reviews of 2015 films, Oscar coverage, and my next top ten list. Until then, thanks again for reading and here’s to another great year on The Soul of the Plot!