Monday, December 21, 2015

Recapping Steve’s Selections for 2015

As you may know Steve Honeywell at 1001plus and I selected twelve films for the other to watch and review in 2015.  We have completed those and so I am doing this post to recap and rank those selections.  I have also included links to Steve’s twelve reviews of the films I picked for him.

Steve’s Selections - ranked:

1.      The Orphanage (2007) – 5 stars

If you had told me going in that a horror movie would end up being the one I picked as the best I would have had a lot of doubts.  As it turns out, The Orphanage is far more than “just a horror film.”  In addition to having great suspense, it has fully developed characters, a terrific story, and a reveal that I did not see coming.   My review.

2.      The History of Future Folk (2012) – 4 stars

This one was the most fun of the twelve.  It may be too “weird” for some, or too nice for those who are grumps, but for everyone else it should bring lots of smiles to your face.  My review.

3.      The Train (1964) – 4 stars

There is some great action as Burt Lancaster tries to stop a Nazi train loaded with valuable and historic art from making it to Germany, while also avoiding attacks from the Allies.  My review.

4.      My Favorite Year (1982) - 3.5 stars

Peter O’Toole carries this film and it rests entirely on his shoulders as he plays a version of Errol Flynn in the 1950s who is supposed to appear on a TV show and whose drinking and womanizing causes lots of havoc for them.  My review.

5.      The Changeling (1980) - 3.5 stars

There is some great suspense in this movie as George C. Scott moves into a haunted house.  The ending is a little too over the top for the rest of the film, but it’s a good journey before that.  My review.

6.      Seven Psychopaths (2012) - 3.5 stars

This is a very “meta” movie – perhaps the biggest example I’ve seen since Adaptation (2002).  A character reveal is pretty obvious, but it doesn’t detract from the film.  My review.

7.      I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay (2006) – 3 stars

This is a sweet, albeit off-kilter love story that is let down some by an ending that is not very clear.  Reading up on it afterwards showed me that if I had understood what the director was trying to convey then I would have liked it a lot more.  My review.

8.      The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) – 3 stars

There is some great cinematography in this, especially with the opening scene of a train at night.  The story could use some trimming, with less time spent on fringe characters.  My review.

9.      Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984) – 3 stars

As you might expect there are tons of great fight scenes in this martial arts film.  They even had some pole fighting styles and weapons that I had never seen in a movie before.  My review.

10.  Auto Focus (2002) – 3 stars

This is a perhaps more fictional than true look at the life of actor Bob Crane from his rise to stardom on Hogan’s Heroes to his still as yet unsolved murder in the late 1970s.  In between is lots of filmed sex with groupies and swingers.  My review.

11.  Jesus Camp (2006) – 3 stars

This is an unvarnished look at what far Right Christians do to indoctrinate their children into their core beliefs.  It’s a little sad when you realize how messed up it’s going to make some of these kids as they get older.  My review.

12.  Elevator to the Gallows (1958) – 2.5 stars

This was the only one I did not give a recommendation rating to, although it still works out to “it was okay”.  I’m in the minority in not liking it.  It just didn’t connect with me and I didn’t know why at the time I reviewed it.  Thinking back now I believe it’s because it started with the heist.  While that was different for a noir and probably got it some praise, it didn’t allow me to connect with the characters since there was no build up or getting to know them.  The result, for me, was that I didn’t much care what happened to them.  The film still had a good impression on me in some areas, especially the jazz score from Miles Davis.  My review.

And here are the ones I chose for Steve and his reviews of them (click on the titles):

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Finally, Steve and I have agreed to continue this for 2016.  We’ve each chosen twelve more films and we’re taking a few more chances this time.

Here are the ones Steve selected for me:

The Collector (1965)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
He Who Gets Slapped (1924)
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002)
Nighthawks (1981)
Quadrophenia (1979)
Rollerball (1975)
Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)
Stake Land (2010)
Testament (1983)
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)
Went the Day Well? (1942)

Here are the ones I picked for Steve:

Another Earth (2011)
Departures (2008)
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Incendies (2010)
Iron Sky (2012)
Ondine (2009)
The One I Love (2014)
Ruby Sparks (2012)
Scotland, PA (2001)
Stoker (2013)
The Way We Get By (2009)
Widow’s Peak (1994)


  1. I'll be posting a recap on the 31st, although I'm writing it now.

    After all, I did two lists this year, and I need to recap both of them...and the year itself.

    Interesting to see how they ranked. All I knew coming in was that The Orphanage would be on top (the only 5-star review) and Elevator to the Gallows would be on the bottom (the only one to not merit at least three stars).

  2. The top three, and the bottom, were pretty clear for me going in. I had to take a little time to rank within the 3.5 and 3 star ones, though. A week from now those might have been in a different order.

    I could say the same for yours. I'm pretty clear on what your top rated and lowest rated films from me are - Mary and Max and Ong-bak - but I'm curious about the ones inbetween.