Why do we make lists at all?
It's a fair question, and one you probably think often when you're bombarded with list after list after list at this time of year. And it's one I ask myself when I spend hour after hour fine tuning my list every year.
After all, within moments of me putting this up, I will have people telling me why one thing should be higher than another thing or telling me why I missed another movie entirely or just how wrong/dumb/weird I am in general. It's a pretty familiar pattern for me, and for anyone who writes about movies professionally.
But every year, here we are again, and we've got lists to spare. Today, you'll get my top ten list, and tomorrow, I'll post about the fifteen films that I'm calling my “Runners-Up,” even though I think each and every one of them were also an essential part of my cinematic 2015. That's the way it works when you see 150 or 200 or, in some years, 250 new movies. If I really, really like 10 percent of what I see, that's not bad. The truth, of course, is that I like way more of what I watch than 10 percent, and if I didn't, I'd probably quit doing this. Sure, there's a lot of junk out there, but even some of the junk is fun. I know peep who seem to hate most of what they see, and I honestly can't imagine what a grind it must be to have to sit through hour after hour of what you see as punishment or just meat to be fed into the endlessly hungry snark machine.
So disagree with me. Get angry about the films that are or aren't here. Yell at me about contradictions in the order they're in. The only thing I can tell you is that when it came down to it, after moving titles up and down the list, this is how I feel about this year's movies today. There is no permanence in feeling, and if you were to ask me tomorrow, I might turn the entire list upside down. But I know when it feels right, and when I look at this list, these are movies that excite and amaze me, and movies that really affected me.
It is strange that this year's biggest trend was what Matt Singer dubbed the “Legacy Sequel,” films that look back to earlier films in very overt and direct ways while also updating and inverting them to interesting thematic payoff. There are three of them in my top ten, or four if you consider “The Hateful Eight” a sly remake of “Reservoir Dogs,” and I'm perfectly fine with that. That's the year we had, that's the year I enjoyed, and considering how much of my life is devoted to devouring pop culture of all stripes, it's little wonder movies that fully embrace and examine our relationship to the pop culture we love would play well for me.
On a side note, my favorite piece of pop culture of 2015 wasn't a movie, and this might be the first time in a while that's happened. I'm going to write about what it was as a separate piece, because it's got such a hold on me that I feel like it will be as much an exorcism as a review or a spotlight. But it's fun to be reminded that all of it matters to me, not just the thing that is my job. This is the best gig I could have ever asked for, and the only reason it's possible is because you guys all participate in the conversation and you've made room for my part in that conversation for almost 18 years now. Thank you for that.
Now, here's the video that Matt Perez-Mora (and follow Captain Adorable, as we call him in the office, on Twitter) cut for me, and with it, I feel like we've kicked off the home stretch for what I'll be writing and publishing this year. Enjoy!