Most Enjoyable & Most Disappointing of 2015
Here are my lists of the most enjoyable and least enjoyable/most
disappointing/most overrated films I saw during 2015. The negative
category includes some films that, while not the worst, were
disappointing or overrated, or, while enjoyable, had huge flaws. The
positive category is just how much I enjoyed them, not rated as I would
rate an Oscarģ-winner. The "Most Disappointing" are listed by rank of
how much I loathed them with #1 the most loathsome.
This list doesnít include two films I havenít seen, Brooklyn and
The H8teful Eight. The former I probably wonít see, but everyone
Iíve spoken with (not critics) says itís very good.
There were more enjoyable films this year and the bad list is shorter,
but the bad films were really bad, maybe the worst since Iíve been
writing this column. Some, like Trumbo and Truth, are
especially despicable in their outright lies, failure to tell the truth,
and intention to falsify history.
Testament of Youth: Based on the true exploits of an English
woman during WWI, if there was ever a better actress in Hollywood
than Alicia Vikander, I havenít seen her.
Hitchcockian brilliance from writer/director/co-star Joel Edgerton;
the tension never lets up.
Far From the Madding Crowd:
Blew me away.
Winter on Fire: Ukraineís Fight for Freedom:
This documentary of the Ukraine Revolution is the most captivating
action film you will ever see and itís all shot on site as the
events are unfolding.
Woman in Gold:
Another true story with very little Hollywood added; if it werenít
for Alicia Vikander, Helen Mirren would be the best actress
Hollywood has ever seen.
Terrific documentary about Amy
This one really snuck up on me. I liked just about every minute of
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon:
Also wonderfully funny.
Alicia Vikander shines as a robot.
Mad Max: Road Fury:
One of the pleasant surprises of the year for me. A more
peripatetic, high octane, testosterone-fueled chase film you will
After a slow first hour, Melissa McCarthy sparkles in a riotous last
Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
Much better than I expected with star turns by veteran Harrison Ford
and newcomer Daisy Ridley.
An eye-opening different take on Mother Teresa.
I never dreamed watching a guy stranded on Mars for several hours
could be this good.
The Salt of the Earth:
This is not just a wonderful documentary about one of the greatest
social photographers of the generation, Sebasti‚o Salgado, itís a
picture of the brutal life of survival in the worlds far beyond our
While Weíre Young:
The story of idealism facing up to the way things are in the movie
industry. The ending is surprising but in touch with the real world.
Kingsman: The Secret Service:
An entertaining thriller/spoof of the James Bond genre.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Hollywood meets
Bollywood in this excellent sequel highlighted by fine acting and
While this seems on its surface to be a Racinian tragedy evolved in
a complex love triangle, the music (Bruno Coulais) is constantly
signaling that itís as much a thriller as it is a love story.
This story of a sensitive robot has a lot of action but is still
appealing and humorous at the same time, especially if you don't
take it too seriously.
A Danish film with an international cast headed by Danish superstar
Mads Mikkelson, this is in the grand tradition of Sergio Leone and
his Spaghetti Westerns set in the American Old West but shot in
A tense thriller set in Soviet Russia in 1953; one of Tom Hardyís
many terrific performances of the year.
Clouds of Sis Maria:
A lot of talk but a lot of psychological tension, too, along with
scenes of the actual titular cloud (called the ďMajola snakeĒ).
How can you go wrong with Spielbergís dinosaurs? This is better
than the original.
Run All Night:
Nonstop Liam Neeson action highlighted by tension-enhancing music,
exceptional cinematography, and good dialogue.
160 years of tradition of the Jewish delicatessen; who knew!
This exceptional view of these magnificent mammals in IMAX 3D is an
exhilarating film-viewing experience you can get nowhere else. I
hated to see it end.
In the Heart of the Sea:
Spellbinding tale of the story of the destruction of the whaling
ship, Essex, in 1820, upon which Moby Dick was based; I was
rooting for the whale.
Hitchcock would have made this story a tense thriller; Woody Allen
makes it a light-hearted comedic presentation, despite the dark
Pitch Perfect 2:
Highlighted by outstanding production values and upbeat,
entertaining music, this sequel far outpaces the original, which I
A good dog movie.
While I generally loathe boxing movies, this one is different in
that it doesnít lionize the anachronistic activity and shows it for
the brutality it is.
This atmospheric romantic thriller starring Bradley Cooper and
Jennifer Lawrence, set in late-20ís Carolina mountains, molted in
the can for three years before it was released and I think I was the
only one who liked it.
Terrific, if absurd, no-basis-in-fact, special effects picturing
events that could never happen.
Dalton Trumboís Hollywood 10 were traitors who owed their allegiance to
Joseph Stalin, but Hollywoodís fellow travelers and useful idiots (like
Kirk Douglas) continue to portray them as heroes.
Hollywood canít handle the truth, so its answer is to lie.
Bridge of Spies:
Steven Spielberg rewrites history portraying his protagonist as an
ďinsurance lawyerĒ inexperienced in international affairs when, in fact,
he had already played a vital role in The Nuremberg Trials, and affirms
his leftwing credentials by casting a sympathetic eye on a KGB soviet
spy, Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance, who gives a bravura performance, the
only reason for seeing this).
No All the Presidentís Men, this is as boring as they come.
A slow, uninvolving whitewash that misses the point of the NFLís fight
against taking responsibility for all the injuries suffered by its
worst chemistry between romantic leads Will Smith and Margot Robbie ever
filmed with nauseatingly awful love scenes that looked like they
couldnít stand to touch one another, exacerbated by an absurdly
Do Oscarģ-winners Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore really need the money
so bad to take part in this piece of junk?
This didnít lose something from the TV series; it lost everything.
Nothing fails like weak attempts at humor like this.
Magic Mike XXL:
Itís no surprise to me that the genius behind this low intellect rubbish
is Channing Tatum; itís hard to believe that heís trying to be a
producer when he hasnít reached first base as an actor yet.
Fifty Shades of Grey:
put the book down after 100 pages, but I had to stay until the end of
this thing, so I liked the book better.
Iíve always thought that Channing Tatum acted like an automaton. But
thatís what he plays here and he canít do that, either.
This is just an ego trip for a rapidly aging actor, Sean Penn, who
apparently canít get a role in a good movie, to show heís still alive,
to try to prove he can be an action hero at his advanced years, and to
narcissistically display a buff body.
Plot holes and situations that simply boggle the mind. I saw it at The
Directors Guild and when we left the theater the guy sitting next to me
said, ďNext time, I pick the picture.Ē
Man From U.N.C.L.E.:
Tell me they werenít seriousÖplease!
See ďGet Hard,Ē above.
These movies are junk.
is two too many.
Iíll stay home.