Top 20 of 2015: 20-16

20. Spy

“While there are a few plot contrivances and inconsistencies… the strengths of the comedy involved, from hilarious lines, to sight gags, to the physical comedy involving McCarthy, and Statham’s great supporting performance are so solid that they mask any weaknesses of the film.  Spy is easily one of the funniest movies of the summer, one of the funnier movies this year so far, and it makes me hopeful for future Feig/McCarthy projects, while hoping that more directors figure out how to properly use her in their films.”

19. The Revenant
The Revenant 2

“The film portrays a lot of brutality in the wild frontier.  The scene where Glass is attacked by a bear (misconstrued by the media as a bear rape; it’s a mother protecting her cubs) is harrowing and difficult to watch, even if it is a CGI bear.  There is a grittiness to this world.  I’ve seen several reviews that called it primeval or primordial, and it is an apt description.  It’s a savage, barbaric, and unrelenting place that seems to be fighting back against the attempts of these trappers to tame it and bend it to their will.”

18. Trainwreck

Trainwreck is a welcome addition to this string of films we have had that are giving women something of substance to do in movies.  Whether that is something that will be sustainable through the remainder of the year and beyond remains to be seen. [SPOILER ALERT: IT WAS!!!!]  The question of whether women can be funny that cropped up when Bridesmaids came out a few years ago was stupid; of course women can be funny and have been in movies for years.  The question is about the quality of comedies that they are given and the relative quality of the rom-com genre to other genres.  Amy Schumer in Trainwreck is just the latest example of how funny women can excel when they have strong material to work with.”

17. Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation

“Every Mission: Impossible film has a new female lead, and, though Paula Patton was no slouch in Ghost Protocol, Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust is the best yet.  She is given the biggest role next to Cruise’s and has the most complex character in the most complex circumstances.  She and Cruise have terrific chemistry working together in several scenes as two agents whose skills highly complement one another.  The interaction between the two is mostly platonic too, surprisingly.  She is another strong female performance in a year of great female roles.”

16. Phoenix
Phoenix 3

“It culminates in a truly aching, poignant ending, which I thought was the best ending to any film all year.  And it is this ending that has stuck with me, as everything is laid bare during a song.  Again, it is powerful because it is subtle; subtle in the glances between Nelly and Johnny, subtle in the gestures that are made, and subtle in the limited camera angles and how the camera lingers on both of them.  No words are shared between them, but their eyes speak volumes.”


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