Best Film Performances of 2015

Leave a comment

OscarIsaac-ExMachinaDance

Here is a rundown of the excellence in individual performances in films in 2015, starting with my choices for the 2 best and then the rest in alphabetical order. At the top are a fellow who talked and talked his way through a freaky-cerebral premise, and a lady who cracked her buoyant starting point into a heartbreakingly complicated interior.

Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina
Alison Brie, Sleeping with Other People

alison-brie-sleeping-other-people-dance

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Elizabeth Banks, Love & Mercy
Angela Bassett, Chi-Raq
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Josh Brolin, Sicario
Steve Carell, The Big Short
John Cusack, Chi-Raq
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
Robert De Niro, The Intern
Deanna Dunagan, The Visit
Joel Edgerton, Black Mass
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight
O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Straight Outta Compton
Michal B. Jordan, Creed
Brie Larson, Room
Peter McRobbie, The Visit
Jason Mitchell, Straight Outta Compton
Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Seth Rogen, Steve Jobs
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Phyllis Smith, Inside Out
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lily Tomlin, Grandma
Stanley Tucci, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

Advertisements

Best Film Ensembles of 2015

Leave a comment

When the folks who say the words and act out the movements flocked together, these were the groups who made the most thunder.

big_short_yelling

More

Best Films of 2015, 11-20

Leave a comment

FuriosaScream

I already posted my top 10 list on Starpulse, but wouldn’t you know it, there were plenty of other great movies. Here are three less than a baker’s dozen worth:

11. Mad Max: Fury Road – Charlize barks at the moon, giving us our most iconic image of 2015.
12. Krampus – The tricks are a treat, as is the teamwork among a dysfunctional family.
13. Creed – Adonis unapologetically forges ahead to be true to his identity and establish his family.
14. Sleeping with Other People – The question this time isn’t, “Can men and women be friends without wanting to sleep with each other?” but “Why wouldn’t they if they like each other enough?”
15. The Visit – Right at home on the corner of creepy and hilarious.
16. Brooklyn – Even when Eilis Lacey’s life is hard, there is so much love in her world.
17. Unfriended – The most formally ingenious movie in years, perhaps decades even.
18. The Peanuts Movie – Charlie Brown is preternaturally neurotic; ergo, this one’s a thinker.
19. Room – Tight corners promote empathy.
20. Furious 7 – The first F&F movie in which I actually remembered some of the plot aftewards.

The Best TV Episodes of 2015

Leave a comment

12AngryMenInsideAmy

If you binge through this list, you will get a good sense of the televisual excellence of 2015. These selections lean heavily toward comedy, for two reasons: I watch more comedies than dramas, and comedies naturally distill their greatness more readily into individual episodes while dramas do so more naturally in multi-episode arcs. The top 5 are ranked below, while the rest are unranked and organized alphabetically by show.

More

Best TV Shows of 2015 by Platform

Leave a comment

review-210

I have already posted my picks for the top 10 shows of the year on Starpulse, but of course I wanted to expand that list, because there are obviously much more than 10 excellent programs in any given year. This year I decided to do something little different and organize my rankings by platform. So we have the best of network TV, the best of basic cable, the best of premium/subscription cable, and the best of streaming. The organization of these categories is a little informal, considering, for example that whether a cable channel is basic or premium can depend on the cable provider and/or location. But I did my best to stay consistent. Basic cable is easily the most impressive field (as it has the most channels).

More

Best Songs of 2015

1 Comment

All songs on this list were released as singles in 2015, or late 2014, or earlier in 2014, but didn’t make an impact until 2015.

LetItHappen

1. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen” – Tame Impala are just about singlehandedly keeping psychedelic rock alive, with their good vibe-filled soundscapes keeping minds as open as possible. This 7 minute-plus magnum opus is a crunchy, lovely, hooky, addictive ode to allowing the best possible future to come into existence. Settle in, let it wash over you, and watch the fear slip away.
2. Miguel – “Waves” – Hands down, Miguel is currently making the sexiest music on the planet. This cowbell backbeat-driven paean to lovemaking is the cream of his crop.
3. Wolf Alice – “Moaning Lisa Smile” – Alternative rock can actually call for an end to gloominess, as in this story of a Lisa Simpson-type.
4. Major Lazer ft. MØ & DJ Snake – “Lean On” – An American DJ, a French DJ, and a Danish singer break out the moombahton for Major Lazer’s hottest beat yet.
5. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” – This is what pop music needs to thrive: someone who can write killer hooks and isn’t afraid to grunt alongside his silky falsetto.
6. Beck – “Dreams” – My dream for 2016 is that Beck’s new album will be released as soon as possible. In the meantime, this funky little psychedelic number from Mr. Hansen’s dancy side played on repeat will tide me over.
7. Taylor Swift – “Style” – Tight, tingly composition and hauntingly resonant lyrics about the path of love in an endless night’s journey.
8. The Weeknd – “The Hills” – An intro of pure distortion and an outro sung in Amharic (the language of Ethiopia) makes for the most unusual Number One hit in ages.
9. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away with Me” – That sax intro – and everything else featured in this beautiful pop number – makes it clear that you will be swimming in bliss for four minutes.
10. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta” – Kendrick follows the examples of Edwin Starr and Public Enemy in demonstrating that the best protest music is also a lot of fun.
11. Selena Gomez – “Same Old Love” – With an assist from Charli XCX on the snappy lyrics and a deliciously wonky piano, Selena shot for the cranial stars with this earworm.
12. Disclosure ft. Lorde – “Magnets” – The Lawrence brothers provide the wooshy tropical beat as Lorde gets in too deep with her lover.
13. Florence + the Machine – “What Kind of Man” – Florence Welch has a knack for making 3 ½-minute ditties feel like 8-minute epics.
14. Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding – “Outside” – If Calvin Harris is not singing on his own tracks, then it ought to be Ellie Goulding, as on this nugget of emotionally tense dance music.
15. Tove Lo – “Talking Body” – Tove Lo realizes that part of being healthy is fully and lusciously embracing our physical desires.
16. The Pretty Reckless – “Follow Me Down” – The Sing-Along With Attitude Anthem of 2015.
17. Cold War Kids – “First” – The Cold War Kids have found their niche of tight riffs guiding the way through everyday existential crises.
18. MisterWives – “Reflections” – Mandy Lee’s infectious vocals set the irresistible tone for this burst of indie pop effervescence.
19. Elle King – “Ex’s & Oh’s” – Groovy, bluesy guitars + feisty, funky attitude + snappy, playful wordplay = a no-brainer addition to your rock playlist.
20. Modest Mouse – “Lampshades on Fire” – It sounds like something that was written over the course of the raging party recounted in the lyrics.
21. Adele – “Hello” – Spare, unfussy production just gets out of the way of one of the most powerful instruments on the planet.
22. U2 – “Every Breaking Wave” – The beautiful, heartbreaking lyrics are as bottomless as the ocean from Bono and company.
23. Halsey – “New Americana” – Halsey gets away with brazen bluntness in this anthem for a new generation by making the straightforwardness part of the message.
24. Carly Rae Jepsen – “I Really Like You” – Incessant repetition should be avoided most of the time, except when you really, really, really, really, really, really cannot say it any other way.
25. Joywave – “Somebody New” – It’s a whole new genre: Sleepy Alternative Power Nap Rock.

Newer Entries