I’ve talked about movies a couple times on the blog before, but I’ve never done any sort of year-end favorites post before. But, I thought it might be a fun thing to try. My husband and I see a lot of movies – we subscribe to Movie Pass, a monthly deal for seeing movies in the theater, and we make good use of it. We don’t actually have normal television or cable channels at home, but we do stream television shows through Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, so I thought some shows would be a fun thing to throw in the mix.
I’ve successfully narrowed down my picks to 5, but they aren’t listed in any particular order.
Starting with movies…
Room: A young woman who’s suffered abduction and years of sexual abuse plots an escape for herself and her 5 year old son who has never seen the outside of their 10’x10′ confines. It’s dark, for sure, but everything is beautifully handled. It’s an intimate look at emotional trauma, survival instinct, love, and resilience, and it’s full of heart. If I had to choose, this might be my favorite movie of the year.
Sicario: The thing I loved so much about Sicario was that it didn’t turn out to be the kind of story I was expecting to see. The film circles in on the moral cost of our war with drug cartels, and it’s messy, unsettling, smart and relevant. It also has gorgeous cinematography and a handful of quiet, drawn out scenes that slow the pacing down but sustain an ongoing sense of dread.
Love & Mercy: Going into this one, I knew a bit about Brian Wilson in terms of his musical brilliance, but nothing about his personal life. Love & Mercy is a moving biopic, and I’ve actually seen it twice already – once in the theater over the summer, and then again this fall when it was already available on an airplane flight.
The End of the Tour: This movie follows the last five days of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest book tour, as a Rolling Stone reporter tags along for an extended interview. It’s basically one big, long conversation between Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as the reporter, and I kind of didn’t want it to end.
The Hateful Eight: This one seems to be super polarizing, and I can understand that it’s not for everyone. I came into it with tempered expectations, but loved it and think it shows off Tarantino’s talent for dialog, dynamic characters, perfect casting, and an uncompromising approach. It kept me laughing all the way through, even as heavier themes surface and the violence intensifies toward the end.
Honorable Mentions: Brooklyn, Crimson Peak, Dope
NB: I still haven’t seen a handful of holiday releases, so here’s a quick top-5 of the movies released at the end of 2015 that I’m most anxious to see:
– The Revenant
– The Lady in the Van
Time for some television. I’ve chosen to focus on shows that were new to me this year, as if I went with older picks (Game of Thones! House of Cards!) my favorites would likely look very similar year by year Here we go:
Mozart in the Jungle: This one’s freshest in my brain because my husband and I just marathoned the second season. The season 2 was only just released on December 30, and we watched the first season earlier this year, as well. It took me a couple of episodes to really get into it, but I love the characters in this show, and the story arcs feel quite natural and believable, I think. The show follows a group of classical musicians in New York City, and is an Amazon original series.
Transparent: Everyone talks about this one, and it obviously does really well with awards, too. I hadn’t seen it in time for last year’s award season but jumped in earlier this year and then devoured the second season as soon as it was released by Amazon. It’s an interesting group of likable/unlikable characters, and it all gets held together really well by Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) at the center of the story, who manages to remain my favorite character through all of the ups and downs.
Fargo: I’m a little behind the curve with this one since I catch it once the seasons reach Hulu rather than as it airs on FX, so I’ve only just finished the first season and can’t access the second season just yet. S1 was fantastic, though. Really punchy, intense, and satisfying, with fun connections and parallels to the 1996 film.
Casual: This is a Hulu original dramedy about a recently divorced mother who’s reentering the dating scene, her brother who’s created a dating website, and her high school-age daughter with an active sex life. All of the characters are dealing with varying levels of discomfort with themselves and disappointment in their lives. I think that ultimately they feel believable, and I just found myself really enjoying the show and sad when the season ended.
Master of None: I had no idea what to expect from Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix original series, but I right out of the gate I really, really enjoyed it. There’s a wonderfully strong voice, good humor, and lots of experimentation with different ideas.
How about you? Agree/disagree? What are your favorites from the last year?