MIKE’S TOP 10
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Last year’s list included the final film from one of Studio Ghibli’s two master directors. This is the other one. It’s even better.
- Spider Baby – The “maddest story ever told” has been available in a host of cheap formats (including free on YouTube) for quite some time but Arrow finally gave it the handsome release it deserves this year.
- The Train – This brutal black-and-white action film from 1964 stars Burt Lancaster as a member of the Resistance tasked with saving a locomotive full of priceless paintings from the Nazis.
- Mad Max: Fury Road – The best action film of the millennium blazes its own path by bucking every convention in the book. This is how reboots can be done. They so rarely are.
- The Decline of Western Civilization Part III –
Penelope Spheeris’ landmark underground music trilogy finally saw the light of day on home video in a comprehensive box set. The third film is the least heralded and the most heartbreaking.
- Inherent Vice – This labyrinthine comic conspiracy is audacious, technically astounding, and funny as hell. A movie magic melding of two unique artistic minds.
- Inside Out – Pixar returns to glorious form by depicting the emotional inner lives of a girl who is growing up.
- Tangerine – A lot of attention-grabbing headlines surround this hilarious and captivating slice-of-life but all you really need to know is that it is hilarious and captivating.
- Whiplash – A propulsive portrayal of the sacrifices one makes in pursuit of perhaps foolish perfection.
- The Duke of Burgundy – The most meticulous and august depiction of love involving human toilets that I can think of.
FRANK’S TOP 10
- What We Do in the Shadows – Four roommates – who happen to be vampires –struggle to adjust to modern life in this ridiculously riotous comedy from the makers of Flight of the Conchords.
- Tangerine – Shot on an iPhone, this film about transgender sex workers and their clients in Los Angeles is raw and touching, and 110% authentic.
- Love & Mercy – This unconventional biopic about Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys is a fascinating portrait of artistic creativity and mental instability. Paul Dano singing “God Only Knows” is my favorite scene of the year.
- Ex Machina – A thought-provoking sci-fi flick about an A.I. that may be as smart (or smarter) than humans is slick, thrilling and intelligent, and a masterful example of efficient storytelling.
- The Jinx – This 6-part documentary about (and with unprecedented access to) Robert Durst, accused of killing three people, is chilling. The final moments will haunt you.
- The Overnight – This sex comedy about two couples whose dinner party turns into an all-nighter is as thoughtful as it is naughty.
- The Gift – A well-to-do couple are visited by the husband’s acquaintance whose gifts give way to dark secrets from their youth. This well-executed thriller breathes new life into a worn-out genre.
- Particle Fever – An international team of scientists set out to discover if the Higgs boson is the key to the origin of the universe by recreating the conditions of The Big Bang in this gripping doc.
- Slow West – This fresh look at the American west in the 19th century features a multicultural cast rarely seen in the genre.
- Olive Kitteridge – Complex characters and finely-tuned performances are on display in this HBO miniseries based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel.