2015 saw a multitude of impressive releases, a bevy of which I unfortunately have not seen. A number of those unseen films I would assume would have ended up taking residence on this list, or not (you can never tell). Films like Kurt Walker's Hit 2 Pass (of which I've heard nothing but good things), Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence, Baumbach's Mistress America, Dumont's Li'l Quinquin or Guzmán's The Pearl Button. Even without seeing any of these aforementioned films, I would venture a guess that all are worthwhile in one way or another.
I saw a number of festival-run films yet to be distributed in the US, but yet not enough to warrant a stand-alone list, so I’ve decided to combine those yet-to-be-distributed films alongside a handful of honorable mentions from this year.
Now it’s time to cover the best of the best in terms of male performances from this year. I hate to keep piling it on when it comes to discussing the male performers this year, but I couldn’t help but notice the difficulty I experienced while compiling this list. Sure, there were a number of standouts but compared to their female counterparts the list of exceptional male performances were a bit lacking, in comparison.
Year-end list creating time is upon us. First up, a rundown of the best performances throughout the year from the female performers. Why the females, you ask? Because, I flipped a coin - keeping it simple. While creating both lists one thing became abundantly clear, the entries for female performances was far more robust than the male performances this year. It took me a while to whittle down the longlist, but through perseverance and an excessive, inordinate amount of time spent tweaking said list I’ve come upon an end product. So, in no particular order, here is a curated collection of my favorite performances from the year.
Having only recently discovered the brilliantly funny comic strips of Joan Cornellà, I was extremely delighted to see an upcoming animation project from her while perusing Kickstarter this week. The campaign is to raise money so that she can create 30 animated
This week’s Kickstart Sunday pick is writer-director Jody Lambert‘s comedy Brave New Jersey, which centers around the lives in a small New Jersey town who believe it’s their last night on Earth after Orson Welles’ 1938 War of The Worlds radio
Giving the impression of operating from a place of aggressive indifference, Cameron Worden’s feature debut, The Idiot Faces Tomorrow, is a bizarre concoction of mixed film formats and styles forever staunch in its outright refusal to tip its hand in regards to intention and/or purpose. The Idiot Faces Tomorrow is a cinematic testament to giving exactly zero fucks when it comes to narrative cohesion, relatability, or anything that even comes close to garnering a descriptor resembling hospitable. Worden’s debut is the apex (or, perhaps more appropriately, the Marianas Trench) of unlikable character cinema.
Billed as a black as tar comedy, Nathan Silver’s 1990s period piece, Stinking Heaven, plays with the idea of a ramshackle commune of sorts, a house full of recovering addicts desperately attempting to overcome their addictions, as well as their pasts; although, I am not sure if tar is a black enough descriptor for the type of comedy found within the close quarters of this suburban home in Passaic, New Jersey.
Gloomy and gritty, both in terms of content and aesthetics, Frownland revolves around Keith - a meek, socially-stilted man attempting to navigate the cruel circumstances of his life along with juggling the mounting social interactions with friends and acquaintances that leave him floundering and flailing endlessly, a deluge of awkwardness hemorrhaging forth from one uncomfortable situation after another. The discomfort-from-awkward-social-situations saturation point is immediately reached and exceeded within Keith’s first exchange with another person, continuing onward through various points of the discomfort spectrum.
Just ending its successful run at some of my favorite festivals like Slamdance and Fantastic Fest, Jason Kupfer‘s 6-minute gory comedic gut-punch Invaders is now available to watch for free via Vimeo.
This week’s Kickstart Sunday pick comes to us from director Matthew Lessner and his upcoming feature film Automatic At Sea. I had the opportunity to check out this director’s last project, Chapel Perilous, at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, and
The narrative, co-written with Kate Johnston, found at the center of Empire Builder happens to deal with one uncomplicated action, an elementary development seen as inevitable based on the build and structure of the storyline. Throughout the entirety of the beginning portions of the film, there doesn’t appear to be much of an effort placed on shrouding what could happen in mystery and/or ambiguity. Swanberg and Johnston’s interests lie in the field of the emotional, taking the time to display the emotional states of each character in an unembellished fashion relying on nothing but the body languages amid solitude and socialization, oscillating between fleeting moments of reflection and intimate interactions of playfulness and consideration.
I remember walking into my local arcade when I was a kid and first discovering Dragon’s Lair. I couldn’t comprehend how amazing this game looked in comparison to the other offerings at the time, with its bright and colorful hand drawn animation. It