Best Films of 2015

2015 was a great year for film. As usual, I missed a lot of big ones, some of which haven’t been released yet and may make my 2016 post. Those include 45 Years, Embrace of the Serpent, The Club, The Lobster, The Revenant, The Tribe, Mustang, Arabian Nights, The Forbidden Room, 99 Homes, The Kindergarten Teacher, and Ixcanul.

Those notwithstanding, here are the best that I saw, in no particular order:


Hard to get much better than this Todd Haynes gem. Cate Blanchett is outstanding as always, and the film is so measured and controlled, while still surprising.


So energetic, often hilarious, and really, really colorful. I liked this one a lot.

Cemetery of Splendour

The most mysterious film on this list is also one of the prettiest. Weerasethakul’s movie is playful and moody.


I’m pretty surprised at how much I like this Sorrentino film. Sure, maybe it’s an 8 1/2 knockoff, but it’s a glorious one.


This movie is precise and methodical. Its no-frills, old-school approach pays off.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Thank god for Roy Andersson. The third film in his trilogy is darkly comic and nearly perfect if you’ve got the patience and sense of humor.


This is in contention, probably with Girlhood, Carol, Clouds of Sils Maria, and Li’l Quinquin for my favorite of the year. This feels like new-New Wave.


My favorite big budget director working. This one’s suspenseful as hell.

Welcome to Leith

I was lucky to catch this at the Philly Film Festival. One of those “stranger than fiction” documentaries that’s pretty affecting.

I Am A Soldier

My favorite from the Philly Film Festival that I think got under-hyped. Just good characters, a bit of social commentary…and dogs!


The last of my favorites from Philly. This one’s simple and feels like the Dardenne brothers (always a good thing).

The Duke of Burgundy

After his last two films I’ll watch anything else Peter Strickland makes. This film is enigmatic. It reminds me a bit of early Polanski, perhaps crossed with The Servant.

Meet the Patels

Probably the funniest film I saw all year. If reality TV was like this I might watch reality TV.

Li’l Quinquin

Second funniest film of the year? I know this is technically a mini-series, but Bruno Dumont outdoes himself here.


I thought I’d see Cristian Petzold’s film on more year-end lists. This is a hell of a slow-burn. Yeah, its style is (very) muted, but that just adds to the terrific performance from Nina Hoss.


Such a memorable film! Fresh new performances and a pulsing style. One of my favorites of the year.


This would be right out of my top 5. A powerful, menacing film.

Clouds of Sils Maria

I can’t really explain why I like this film so much. A friend told me that only an older director could have made it, and somehow he’s right. Also, Juliette Binoche.

The Big Short

I didn’t get a chance to blog on this one, but I just caught it. There’s some risky direction in here that pays off – it’s a director’s film. The movie is really funny and really depressing at once.

The Wonders

With Meet The Patels, these two films could make me believe in reality TV…not really. This is a surprising, strange film, unlike much else I know. Love the 16mm photography!


I Also Really Liked

A Hard Day

Kumiko The Treasure Hunter

Mad Max: Fury Road

Goodnight Mommy


Human Capital

A Wolf at the Door


White God

Beasts of No Nation



My Favorite Films that I saw for the first time in 2015, not made in 2015

I do this list every year and this was the hardest year for me. I saw so much great stuff. So, somehow this list doesn’t include Despair, $, Bitter Moon, Garden of the Finzi-Continis, The EntertainerEl Norte, Il Sorpasso, The Wind Journeys, Peppermint Candy, Mother Joan of the Angels, or Lola.

Although, honestly, in a few days this entire list of films could switch and re-order. That said:

15. The Man Without a Map

14. Straight Time

13. Wake in Fright

12. La Promesse

11. Tito and Me

10. Save the Tiger

9. Darling

8. When Father Was Away on Business

7. Deep End

6. 12:08 East of Bucharest

5. Scattered Clouds

4. The Soft Skin

3. The Hill

2. Mahanagar

1. The Joke


And Last

I don’t usually say much about TV, but I watched three things this year (none on an actual TV) that are awesome:

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared

A friend turned me onto these five short episodes. I haven’t seen much like them before. They’re fantastic, hilarious, and terrifying. They also give some credence to the good old fashioned low angle shot.

Master of None

Lots of stereotypes being called out here! Really enjoyed the writing on this show, especially the flashbacks to the parents.


Some of the best acting I’ve seen in a series in awhile. I’m not done season 2 yet, but this show is pretty perfect.





About dcpfilm

Shooting, teaching, writing and watching the Phillies.
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8 Responses to Best Films of 2015

  1. John Charet says:

    Very interesting list 🙂 On my site cinematiccoffee, I just posted a blog entry regarding my favorite films of the year as well. Come see for yourself If you would like 🙂 I will give you some hints: 4 films under your Best category made it on my top 10 as well. One film under the ones you really liked, made it in my top 10. One film in your top 10 made it on my stocking stuffers list and one film in your really liked category, made it on my worst 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always and feel free to view my blog entry any time 🙂

  2. Lory Ghertner says:

    I haven’t seen many of these films yet (I call them films I haven’t seen yet as I can’t stand the sticky floors and smell of fake butter in theaters) as I wait for them to come out on dvd. But you list
    tangerine which I have not seen but should add Tangerines, which like Timbuktu, which I also list as a top film, uses nuance and pacing to make a political statement, missed on the crowd who likes Mad Max (that’s you! How can you possibly like a guitarist strapped to the front of a desert hot rod and still watch that incredible choreography of Kids playing soccer without a ball (this has to go down as the height of cinematography.)

    • dcpfilm says:

      Thanks for the comment, Lory! I remember Tangerines, but I never did see it. Good rec!

      You know, I don’t really care for the plot of Mad Max at all. That part’s pretty forgettable. I also disagree (as my post about it says) with people who call it a new type of action film. The reason I like it is because it’s patterned after old action films: basic coverage, planned well and cut cohesively. You know how you don’t watch every film for the story (I’m assuming. I don’t)? Well I like Mad Max for the energy that it starts off with and somehow sustains for an unreasonable length of time.

      But that soccer sequence. Yes. One of the best of the year.

  3. Lory Ghertner says:

    Replying to John here. I appreciate both of you for writing about your personal experiences with film unlike what recent film reviews seem to do: pontificating about their own intellect without a clear sense of good, bad, or evil.

    Except, I have to take one step back John, and say it is hard to look at your blog site and not get the sense that you are in love with films, all films, or at least your ranking of films is too loose for some minor person like myself. I can look at Neal’s site and get a feeling of what the blogger likes and why. Giving highest ratings to dozens of films makes it impossible to use your list to find a new gem. I use a simple rating with examples (may not all be 2015)

    5 Unforgettable: Two Days, One Night/ 24 Days
    4 A best of the year quality: The Syrian Bride
    3 Worth watching: Zero Motivation
    2 I watched it to the end, but why?: Phoenix
    1 I couldn’t even see the end: Mad Max

    And don’t ask me about my 6 star ratings: unrecognized classics.

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