1. THE APU TRILOGY – From watching the Sony DVD’s from my local library and listening to Filmspotting review them as part of their Satyajit Ray Marathon to seeing the new PATHER PANCHALi restoration distributed by Janus Films, 2015 was the year of Apu. Now THE APU TRILOGY is a permanent part of my film library thanks to the Criterion Collection. More than any other films these simultaneously deeply dismantled and fulfilled me. Honorable mention: Satyajit Ray’s THE MUSIC ROOM and its music and dance gave me a new appreciation for Indian classical music.
2. SECRETS & LIES - Mike Leigh’s NAKED was my entry-point into his work and a great place to start. This year SECRETS & LIES was another Mike Leigh revelation into his prowess in directing actors. NAKED featured a brilliant performance from David Thewlis and Brenda Blethyn in SECRETS & LIES may be equally as brilliant. Other than THE APU TRILOGY of films this may be the best film I saw in 2015.
3. DAY FOR NIGHT – Francois Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT seemed tailor-made for a Criterion Collection release, and in 2015 they delivered. Self-reflexive starring the director as…a director, Truffaut’s friend Jean-Luc Godard famously called the film a lie which led to a rift between the two directors. Criterion’s release is a supplement-stacked release and, oh yeah, Aaron West and I reviewed it on the Criterion Close-Up podcast.
4. MY DARLING CLEMENTINE – 2015 was time to finally see a film about the gunfight at the O.K. Corralin Tombstone, Arizona, and I have a hard time believing there could be a better one out there than MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. In 2016 we should have another version of the O.K Corral events told from various viewpoints from the Indiegogo campaign to fund Alex Cox’s TOMBSTONE RASHOMON. MY DARLING CLEMENTINE opens with one of my favorite title sequences, the title character does not show up for almost forty minutes, and Henry Fonda is perfect as Wyatt Earp. Featuring most gorgeous black & white cinematography I saw this year, a reminder that the western is a genre that deserves more of my time, and what better director to spend more time with than John Ford?
5. Nuri Bilge Ceylan and CLOUDS OF MAY – My local film society was showing the Cannes Palme d’Or winning WINTER SLEEP so I decided to engage with most of Turkish writer/director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s other films before the screening as I had previously only seen ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA. CLOUDS OF MAY was Ceylan’s second full-length feature and is like a mix of Kieslowski’s CAMERA BUFF with a movie within the movie and maybe Altman’s NASHVILLE with each character’s story told in longer separate scenes. Ceylan is a modern art-house auteur whom I would love to see the Criterion Collection give some attention.