35 Pretty Good Movies from 2015

Thirty-five images from my favorite films of last year. Scroll down below the gallery for the list.

Lists from previous years: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

1. The Lobster
2. Brooklyn
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Sicario
5. High-Rise
6. The Big Short
7. Anomalisa
8. Steve Jobs
9. Best of Enemies
10. The Hateful Eight

11. Green Room
12. While We’re Young
13. The Duke of Burgundy
14. A Most Violent Year
15. Carol
16. Mistress America
17. Inside Out
18. Le Tout Nouveau Testament (The Brand New Testament)
19. Room
20. The Diary of a Teenage Girl

21. Macbeth
22. Queen of Earth
23. Spotlight
24. Crimson Peak
25. Bridge of Spies
26. Tangerine
27. Predestination
28. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
29. Phoenix
30. Schneider vs. Bax

31. Ich seh, Ich seh (Goodnight Mommy)
32. Il racconto dei racconti – Tale of Tales (Tale of Tales)
33. Honeymoon
34. Justice League: Gods and Monsters
35. Ant-Man

30 Pretty Good Movies from 2014

My favorite films from the year before last. Yes, this is even later than usual. Maybe I’ll do a list for 2015 soon.

Scroll down for text.

Lists from previous years: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

RT = Rotten Tomatoes score
MC = Metacritic score

1. Mr. Turner (RT: 98% / MC: 94)
2. Boyhood (RT: 98% / MC: 100)
3. Calvary (RT: 89% / MC: 77)
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (RT: 92% / MC: 88)
5. The Babadook (RT: 97% / MC: 87)
6. Deux jours, une nuit/Two Days, One Night (RT: 97% / MC: 89)
7. Show Pieces
8. Inherent Vice (RT: 73% / MC: 81)
9. Coherence (RT: 85% / MC: 64)
10. Turist/Force Majeure (RT: 92% / MC: 87)

11. Whiplash (RT: 95% / MC: 88)
12. A Most Wanted Man (RT: 91% / MC: 73)
13. The Immigrant (RT: 88% / MC: 77)
14. Nightcrawler (RT: 95% / MC: 76)
15. Under the Skin (RT: 87% / MC: 78)
16. Borgman (RT: 85% / MC: 66)
17. It Follows (RT: 96% / MC: 83)
18. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (RT: 92% / MC: 88)
19. Starred Up (RT: 98% / MC: 74)
20. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (RT: 89% / MC: 70)

21. Jodorowsky’s Dune (RT: 98% / MC: 79)
22. Night Will Fall (RT: 100% / MC: 85)
23. The Guest (RT: 89% / MC: 76)
24. Vi är bäst!/We Are the Best! (RT: 97% / MC: 87)
25. Housebound (RT: 96% / MC: 76)
26. Guardians of the Galaxy (RT: 90% / MC:76)
27. Død snø 2/Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (RT: 85% / MC: 59)
28. Snowpiercer (RT: 95% / MC: 84)
29. The Lego Movie (RT: 96% / MC: 83)
30. Frank (RT: 93% / MC: 75)

50 Pretty Good Films from 2013

Every year around this time I make a list of my favorite films from the year before. (Or thereabouts. A few of these may technically be 2012 releases, at least in some parts of the world.) Lists from previous years: 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

RT = Rotten Tomatoes score
MC = Metacritic score

1. Gravity 1. Gravity
RT: 97% / MC: 96
After two decades of good movies (including the best, but least profitable, Harry Potter film), Alfonso Cuarón finally achieves greatness. Gravity was visually spectacular, thematically rich and ultimately quite moving. The best space movie since Kubrick’s 2001 half a century ago.

2. 12 Years a Slave

2. 12 Years a Slave
RT: 96% / MC: 97
It doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while the winner of the Academy Award for best picture is among my favorites as well. Considering its topic (it’s based on a slave memoir from 1853), Steve McQueen’s movie was almost disturbingly entertaining. Incidentally, McQueen’s previous film Shame was #7 on my 2011 list.

3. All Is Lost

3. All Is Lost
RT: 93% / MC: 87
An old man (Robert Redford!) versus the sea. Very little dialogue. For a moment I felt like putting this at #1, since it’s been much less celebrated than Gravity and 12 Years, and is very nearly as good. Almost unbearably exciting at times. Director J.C. Chandor’s debut feature Margin Call was #22 on the 2011 list.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

4. The Wolf of Wall Street
RT: 77% / MC: 75
One of Scorsese’s most purely entertaining movies ever. Three hours that fly by. In many ways it’s similar to GoodFellas, except in this case the bad guy arguably won in real life.

5. Before Midnight

5. Before Midnight
RT: 98% / MC: 94
The third installment in the decades-long project by Linklater/Hawke/Delpy is at least as good as Sunrise (1995) and Sunset (2004). Can’t wait for the fourth one in 2022.

6. Upstream Color

6. Upstream Color
RT: 87% / MC: 80
Shane Carruth’s follow-up to the brilliant time travel movie Primer, one of my favorite films of all time. This one’s about the cornerstones of life: pigs and orchids and love.

7. Frances Ha

7. Frances Ha
RT: 92% / MC: 82
Mumblecore princess Greta Gerwig tries to learn to how to live in New York.

8. The World's End

8. The World’s End
RT: 89% / MC: 81
All the Cornetto films are excellent, but this might just be the best one. Funny and poignant.

9. Her

9. Her
RT: 94% / MC: 90
Leaf Phoenix falls in love with his ScarJo-voiced operating system, mild drama ensues.

10. Sightseers

10. Sightseers
RT: 84% / MC: 69
Black comedy by Ben Wheatley, whose even darker Kill List made #5 on my 2011 list.

11. The Counselor

11. The Counselor
RT: 34% / MC: 48
Written by Cormac McCarthy, one of my favorite contemporary authors. Audiences hated it and quite a lot of critics trashed it. I kind of loved it. It’s definitely a little pretentious, but how often can you say that about a Hollywood thriller with an all-star cast?

12. Captain Phillips

12. Captain Phillips
RT: 93% / MC: 83
Tom Hanks versus pirates. Based on a true story – although in real life the Tom Hanks character was a captain, named Phillips. It wasn’t actually actor Tom Hanks who met the pirates, is what I’m saying. He’s just acting.

13. A Field in England

13. A Field in England
RT: 88%
Ben Wheatley again. Black-and-white low-budget hallucinatory historical weirdness.

14. Stories We Tell

14. Stories We Tell
RT: 95% / MC: 91
Sarah Polley documentary on family secrets and parenthood. Made me cry.

15. Only Lovers Left Alive

15. Only Lovers Left Alive
RT: 85% / MC: 77
This is how I like my vampires: laid-back and cultured.

16. The Congress

16. The Congress
RT: 86% / MC: 65
Robin Wright plays an aging actress named Robin Wright. Partly animated, partly live action. Flawed but sometimes pretty awesome. Loosely based on a Stanisław Lem novel.

17. Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

17. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
RT: 84% / MC: 63
The first motion picture with the charismatic star of Knowing Me, Knowing You, I’m Alan Partridge, and a bunch of other endeavors. I also read his book last year.

18. Much Ado About Nothing

18. Much Ado About Nothing
RT: 84% / MC: 78
What Joss Whedon did while on vacation from The Avengers (which I put at #8 on the 2012 list). But the best Much Ado adaptation is still the Branagh/Thompson version.

19. Blue Jasmine

19. Blue Jasmine
RT: 91% / MC: 78
Woody Allen’s portrait of evil. I put Midnight in Paris at #8 for 2011.

20. American Hustle

20. American Hustle
RT: 93% / MC: 90
Over-hyped, but still a decently entertaining film. Robert De Niro steals the show in a bit part. Based on a true story – though Hollywoodized.

21. Inside Llewyn Davis

21. Inside Llewyn Davis
RT: 94% / MC: 92
Comparatively weak Coen film, still worthwhile. Their True Grit remake was #8 on my 2010 list and A Serious Man was #2 in 2009.

22. Filth

22. Filth
RT:78% / MC: 70
Fun and depraved. Based on the Irvine Welsh novel, which was even sillier.

23. Nebraska

23. Nebraska
RT: 92% / MC: 86
Road movie by Alexander Payne. His The Descendants was (surprisingly) #3 two years back.

24. It’s a Disaster

24. It’s a Disaster
RT: 77% / MC: 57
The second best (after The World’s End) of the many recent comedic end-of-the-world movies. David Cross ftw!

25. Blue Ruin

25. Blue Ruin
RT: 95% / MC: 76
Revenge is a dish best served not at all.

26. Europa Report

26. Europa Report
RT: 79% / MC: 68
Mostly realistic found footage film about space exploration that might have gotten a bit more attention if not for Gravity.

27. Smashed

27. Smashed
RT: 84% / MC: 71
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an elementary school teacher and Aaron Paul as her non-working husband – both alcoholics. Plausible and moving.

28. Cheap Thrills

28. Cheap Thrills
RT: 88% / MC: 64
As if Funny Games was actually funny! This movie feels slightly dirty and immoral, but it’s still better than watching Fear Factor or something.

29. Short Term 12

29. Short Term 12
RT: 99% / MC: 82
Troubled teens in a group home. The setup is so interesting on its own, it’s disappointing that the film eventually introduces some unnecessarily dramatic (and predictable) elements.

30. The Place Beyond The Pines

30. The Place Beyond the Pines
RT: 81% / MC: 68
Crime drama by Derek Cianfrance, whose Blue Valentine was #20 in 2010. The title is the literal translation of Schenectady.

31. Berberian Sound Studio

31. Berberian Sound Studio
RT: 83% / MC: 80
Psychological thriller set in a fictitious Italian horror film studio in the 1970s. Fun for fans of the period.

32. Computer Chess

32. Computer Chess
RT: 86% / MC: 74
A very strange period piece, made with archaic technology.

33. Philomena

33. Philomena
RT: 92% / MC: 76
Journalist Steve Coogan helps Judi Dench search for her son, given up for adoption 50 years ago. Based on a true story, with surprisingly few changes. (Incidentally, the Coogan-starring The Look of Love just barely didn’t make the list. It would probably have been #51.)

34. Dallas Buyers Club

34. Dallas Buyers Club
RT: 94% / MC: 84
Matthew McConaughey (star of the unintentionally offensive Tiptoes) gets AIDS, starts smuggling pharmaceutical drugs. Based on a true story, though perhaps a little too fictionalized.

35. Iron Man 3

35. Iron Man 3
RT: 78% / MC: 62
Not based on a true story, as far as I know. I thought it was fun, although for my money the least fun of the Iron Man movies. (I know everyone disliked Iron Man 2 but I enjoyed it. Admittedly that might be partly because I watched it in a completely empty theatre, which made it a slightly surreal experience.)

36.Drinking Buddies

36. Drinking Buddies
RT: 82% / MC: 71
The third movie on the list (after #8 and #27) that’s all about drinking and relationships.

37. In a World...

37. In a World…
RT: 92% / MC: 79
War of the voice-over artists. Amusing, but not all it could have been.

38. The Hunger Games Catching Fire

38. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
RT: 90% / MC: 75
It used to be rare that a sequel was better than the original, but in the current franchise-heavy cinema landscape it’s become fairly common (The Dark Knight, X2, the Raimi Spider-Man 2, Toy Story 2 and 3…). So too with The Hunger Games, even though the first book was superior to the second.

39. Kaze Tachinu The Wind Rises

39. Kaze Tachinu/The Wind Rises
RT: 88% / MC: 83
Far from Miyazaki’s strongest work, but weak for Miyazaki is still better than, say, Frozen, which took home the Academy Award. Somewhat controversial, but a lot milder and more tasteful than I expected.

40. First Cousin Once Removed

40. First Cousin Once Removed
MC: 96
Documentary about a poet who got Alzheimer’s disease.

41. Puhdistus Purge

41. Puhdistus/Purge
The Sofi Oksanen adaptation, not the scifi hit. (I haven’t seen the latter, but from all appearances it should be avoided.)

42. Mama

42. Mama
RT: 65% / MC: 57
Weak ending aside, not too shabby. But I prefer the original short film.

43. Room 237

43. Room 237
RT: 93% / MC: 80
A plethora of interpretations of Kubrick’s The Shining. Some are more convincing than others. I’m actually a (hesitant) subscriber to one of them myself.

44. Justice League The Flashpoint Paradox

44. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
The DCUAOM have been hit-and-miss. This was one of the better ones. (Another couple I liked were the Morrison adaptations Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, which I put at #45 for 2010, and All-Star Superman, which was all the way up at #19 for 2011.

45. This Is the End

45. This Is the End
RT: 84% / MC: 67
Yet another end-of-the-world comedy (see #8 and #24 above). I blame the media attention surrounding the Mayan calendar ending. Many cameos from actors of the Judd Apatowniverse.

46. Don Jon

46. Don Jon
RT: 81% / MC: 66
Joseph Gordon-Levitt writes, directs and stars as an Italian stereotype addicted to porn.

47. Side Effects

47. Side Effects
RT: 84% / MC: 75
A minor effort from Steven Soderbergh. Slightly silly but mostly effective.

48. Byzantium

48. Byzantium
RT: 62% / MC: 66
Mother-and-daughter vampires by Neil Jordan. Not all it should be, but plenty of atmosphere.

49. The Conjuring

49. The Conjuring
RT: 87% / MC: 68
Competent horror. The first five minutes are the best.

50. Thor The Dark World

50. Thor: The Dark World
RT: 66% / MC: 54
Amusing, if mostly because of Stellan (pantsless above) and Loki.

And that’s it. Barring disaster or debilitating disease, I’ll be back in a year or so with ”X Pretty Good Films from 2014”.

40 Pretty Good Movies from 2012

As tradition dictates (2009, 2010, 2011), I’ve once again tried to arrange my favorite movies from last year in order of ”greatness”, i.e. how much I liked them. However, I thought 2012 was a mediocre film year, so the post title is even more accurate than usual – many of these are only pretty good (especially towards the bottom of the list). I did thoroughly enjoy the top five or so, but even the year’s best movie – Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master – didn’t really improve on There Will Be Blood, did it?

Anyway, you can either click on the image gallery or scroll down for a list in text form.


1. The Master (Rotten Tomatoes: 86% / Metacritic: 86)
2. Moonrise Kingdom (Rotten Tomatoes: 94% / Metacritic: 84)
3. The Cabin in the Woods (Rotten Tomatoes: 90% / Metacritic: 72)
4. Zero Dark Thirty (Rotten Tomatoes: 94% / Metacritic: 95)
5. Lincoln (Rotten Tomatoes: 89% / Metacritic: 86)
6. Django Unchained (Rotten Tomatoes: 89% / Metacritic: 81)
7. La piel que habito/The Skin I Live In (Rotten Tomatoes: 81% / Metacritic: 70)
8. The Avengers (Rotten Tomatoes: 93% / Metacritic: 69)
9. 21 Jump Street (Rotten Tomatoes: 85% / Metacritic: 69)
10. The Bourne Legacy (Rotten Tomatoes: 56% / Metacritic: 61)
11. Excision (Rotten Tomatoes: 81%)
12. Beyond The Black Rainbow (Rotten Tomatoes: 42% / Metacritic: 49)
13. Amour (Rotten Tomatoes: 94% / Metacritic: 94)
14. Sound of My Voice (Rotten Tomatoes: 74% / Metacritic: 67)
15. Chronicle (Rotten Tomatoes: 86% / Metacritic: 69)
16. Serbuan Maut/The Raid: Redemption (Rotten Tomatoes: 84% / Metacritic: 73)
17. Prometheus (Rotten Tomatoes: 82% / Metacritic: 62)
18. The Dark Knight Rises (Rotten Tomatoes: 87% / Metacritic: 78)
19. Skyfall (Rotten Tomatoes: 92% / Metacritic: 81)
20. Damsels in Distress (Rotten Tomatoes: 76% / Metacritic: 67)
21. Killer Joe (Rotten Tomatoes: 77% / Metacritic: 62)
22. The Queen of Versailles (Rotten Tomatoes: 95% / Metacritic: 80)
23. Killing Them Softly (Rotten Tomatoes: 76% / Metacritic: 64)
24. Seven Psychopaths (Rotten Tomatoes: 82% / Metacritic: 66)
25. Haywire (Rotten Tomatoes: 80% / Metacritic: 67)
26. Les Misérables (Rotten Tomatoes: 69% / Metacritic: 62)
27. The Loneliest Planet (Rotten Tomatoes: 70% / Metacritic: 76)
28. Bernie (Rotten Tomatoes: 92% / Metacritic: 75)
29. Äta sova dö/Eat Sleep Die
30. Looper (Rotten Tomatoes: 93% / Metacritic: 84)
31. The Hunger Games (Rotten Tomatoes: 85% / Metacritic: 67)
32. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Rotten Tomatoes: 65% / Metacritic: 58)
33. Flight (Rotten Tomatoes: 78% / Metacritic: 76)
34. Arbitrage (Rotten Tomatoes: 84% / Metacritic: 73)
35. Wreck-it Ralph (Rotten Tomatoes: 86% / Metacritic: 72)
36. Silver Linings Playbook (Rotten Tomatoes: 92% / Metacritic: 81)
37. Livide (Rotten Tomatoes: 88%)
38. Premium Rush (Rotten Tomatoes: 76% / Metacritic: 66)
39. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Rotten Tomatoes: 86% / Metacritic: 86)
40. Argo (Rotten Tomatoes: 96% / Metacritic: 86)

53 Pretty Good Movies from 2011

Once again, here are a bunch of films from last year that I liked (or kind of liked), listed in order of decreasing greatness. Metacritic score in parentheses. 1. Drive (79) Stylish neo-noir. I wouldn’t have guessed it would turn out to be my favo…

Once again, here are a bunch of films from last year that I liked (or kind of liked), listed in order of decreasing greatness. Metacritic score in parentheses.

01_drive

1. Drive (79)

Stylish neo-noir. I wouldn’t have guessed it would turn out to be my favorite movie from last year, but there you go. ’80 nostalgia!

Fortsätt läsa 53 Pretty Good Movies from 2011

55 Pretty Good Movies from 2010

Fifty-five films from 2010, listed in order of decreasing greatness. Metacritic score in parentheses. 1. Dogtooth (73) Greek drama horror sf thriller. 16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (65) Surprisingly indie-ish (read: mopey). I li…

Fifty-five films from 2010, listed in order of decreasing greatness. Metacritic score in parentheses.

01_dogtooth

1. Dogtooth (73)
Greek drama horror sf thriller.

02socialnetwork

2. The Social Network (95)
Everybody liked this. Much more entertaining than it had any right to be. 

03blackswan

3. Black Swan (79)
The Wrestler for ballet. 

04inception

4. Inception (74)
Christopher Nolan may be the most consistently great action director currently working. 

05theghostwriter

5. The Ghost Writer (77)
Political thriller by Roman Polanski. Pierce Brosnan plays Tony Blair, more or less. 

06greenberg

6. Greenberg (76)
Fun, depressing character study by Noah Baumbach. 

07wintersbone

7. Winter’s Bone (90)
Country noir. 

08truegrit

8. True Grit (80)
Apparently the Coen Brothers’ greatest commercial success ever.

09

9. The Fighter (79)
Boxing biopic by David O. Russell. 

10mother

10. Mother (79)
South Korean drama thriller. 

11exitthroughthegiftshop

11. Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film (85)
A Banksy film! 

12carlos

12. Carlos (94)
5½ hours on the life and work of Carlos the Jackal

13aprophet

13. A Prophet (90)
Absorbing French prison drama. 

14

14. The King’s Speech (88)
The least adventurous and most conventional of the year’s ten Oscar nominees for Best Picture, and thus the obvious winner. But it is good. 

15scottpilgrimvstheworld

15. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (69)
The proper follow-up to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (ignore Paul). 

16

16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (65)
Surprisingly indie-ish (read: mopey). I liked Part II as well.

17

17. Let Me In (79)
Very well-made (albeit entirely unnecessary) US remake of Let the Right One In

18toystory3

18. Toy Story 3 (92)
The best one. 

19

19. The Illusionist (82)
Nice-looking follow-up to The Triplets of Belleville, based on an unproduced script by Tati

20

20. Blue Valentine (81)
Devastating look at a relationship in crisis. 

21splice

21. Splice (66)
Trashy science fiction fun. Vincenzo Natali’s first artistically successful movie since Cube

22

22. The Special Relationship (67)
Michael Sheen’s third outing as Tony Blair (one, two). 

23

23. Tamara Drewe (64)
Stephen Frears’ likable adaptation of the Posy Simmonds comic strip.  

24

24. Youth in Revolt (63)
Michael Cera is the Youth. 

25

25. Animal Kingdom (83)
An Australian GoodFellas

26

26. The American (61)
Minimalistic George Clooney hitman drama, similar to The Passenger

27

27. Heartless (58)
Satanic UK thriller, somewhat reminiscent of Angel Heart (although not as good). 

28machete

28. Machete (60)
Based on the Grindhouse trailer. Popcorn fun with a (very blunt) political edge. 

29

29. The Trotsky (59)
High school student thinks he’s Leon Trotsky reincarnated. 

30

30. 127 Hours (82)
Based on Aron Ralston‘s experiences. Begins and ends well. 

31

31. Get Him to the Greek (65)
Spun off from 2008’s excellent Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Some great songs. 

32

32. Mother and Child (64)
Written and directed by HBO veteran (and son of Gabriel García Márquez) Rodrigo García. 

33

33. Shutter Island (63)
Not entirely successful. But it’s Scorsese. 

34

34. Four Lions (68)
British Muslim suicide bombing comedy. 

35

35. Tangled (71)
Disney’s 50th animated movie. Pixarian in feel and tone. 

36

36. Iron Man 2 (57)
Sam Rockwell (AKA Moon Rockyfeller) steals the show. Incidentally, I watched it in an entirely empty theatre.   

37super

37. Super (50)
Much better than the similar Kick-Ass

38

38. Cyrus (74)
Mumblecore with a budget.  

39

39. The Town (74)
Crime drama by/with/for Ben Affleck. 

40

40. How to Train Your Dragon (74)
Computer-animated vikings. 

41

41. I Love You Phillip Morris (65)
A gay Catch Me If You Can

42

42. The Kids Are All Right (86)
Overhyped but alright. 

43

43. Somewhere (67)
Lost in Translation redux – though Stephen Dorff is no Bill Murray.  

44

44. Fair Game (69)
Inspired by the CIA leak scandal. 

45

45. Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths (-)
Not as good as the Morrison/Quitely graphic novel, but pretty fun anyway. 

46

46. The Killer Inside Me (-)
Stylish, uninvolving. 

47

47. Get Low (77)
Robert Duvall is ornery sumbitch and Bill Murray is his funeral director. Doesn’t quite live up to its promise. 

48

48. Temple Grandin (84)
Biopic on the autistic superstar.  

49

49. Cemetery Junction (-)
Disappointingly conventional coming-of-age movie from Gervais/Merchant.

50

50. Easy A (72)
Utterly cliched teen version of The Scarlet Letter, saved by Emma Stone’s charismatic performance. 

51

51. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (-)
Pretty faithful to the comics by Tardi

52

52. Unthinkable (-)
Absurd but highly watchable torture porn with questionable morals. 

53

53. Buried (65)
Ryan Reynolds in a box. 

54

54. Megamind (63)
Slightly better than the similarly themed Despicable Me. Worth it for the Brando references, probably inexplicable to the movie’s target audience. 

55

55. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (51)
Woody Allen’s latest. Critically panned, but I enjoyed it enough to include here. Just.

 

So. Did I miss anything?