Features, In Our Opinion

BEST OF 2015

By , • Jan 26th, 2016 •

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BEST OF 2015

ROY FRUMKES

DVD/BLURAY

JAMAICA INN (Cohen Film Collection) BluRay. A superb presentation both visually and aurally, where in the past fifty years there were none. Much more fun now, and great art direction that at times unfolds the plot as distinctly as the narrative.

LOST SOUL (Severin) BluRay. Very high on the short list of films about film disasters (THE EPIC THAT NEVER WAS, HEARTS OF DARKNESS, LOST IN LA MANCHA, DEMON LOVER DIARY, etc.). This time it’s Richard Stanley’s THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU that is cursed. After the writer/director got the boot, at least Brando’s unearthly performance transported the doomed production from plain terrible to camp classic.

KWAIDAN (Criterion) BluRay. A hitherto unseen director’s cut that sheds all kinds of new light, and shadow, on the Kobayashi ghost masterpiece.

SUNDAYS AND CYBELE (Criterion) BluRay. Unduly neglected for half a century, this tale of platonic love between a man crippled by PTSD and a precocious little girl is still as moving and potentially dangerous as it was so many decades ago.

SPARTACUS (Universal) BluRay. Robert A. Harris gets the colors right in this new restoration release.

MY FAIR LADY (Fox) BluRay. Harris at it yet again.

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (Kino) BluRay More than any other film this year, CALIGARI boggles the mind, looking so pristine that it could have been made last year and passed off as a hoax.

THE SHOOTING & RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND (Criterion) BluRay. Monte Hellman’s ultra low budget Westerns are given such loving treatment that the director insists they look, for the first time, like what he intended but never achieved back in the day.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (TWILIGHT TIME) BluRay. 4K transfer with Bernard Herrmann’s isolated score. (Also feel free to add in SOLOMON AND SHEBA with Mario Nascimbene’s isolated score)

EDDIE CANTOR/SAMUEL GOLDWYN COLLECTION (WB Archives) DVD The fried-egg-eyed vaudevillian, who just didn’t cut it against the comic greats, actually ascends to laudable heights under the producership of Samuel Goldwyn in three wonderful pre-code films and one post-code. Not to mention Lucille Ball nude at Busby Berkeley’s request, and a spectacularly impressive chariot race that concludes ROMAN SCANDALS.

THE APU TRILOGY (Criterion) BluRay. India, we’re told, takes miserable care of its gargantuan film heritage, and this world-class poetic trilogy almost bit the dust. Apparently Criterion has been working on the release for years, and deserves great credit.

THEATRICAL (* DENOTES ‘BEST OF THE BUNCH’):

BEST FILMS:
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 5: ROGUE NATION*
THE KINGSMAN
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
THE REVENANT

PERFORMANCES:
DE NIRO (THE INTERN) *
HARRISON FORD (THE AGE OF ADALINE) *
TOM HARDY (LEGEND) *
AOMI MUYOCK (LOVE) *
ED OXENBOULD (THE VISIT) *
JESSE EISENBERG (AMERICAN ULTRA)
STEVE CORELL (THE BIG SHORT)

ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCES:
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
THE GUNMAN
IRRATIONAL MAN
SPOTLIGHT

DIRECTION:
THE REVENANT
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
EVEREST
FURY ROAD: MAD MAX
THE KINGSMAN
MI5

SCREENPLAY:
HOT PURSUIT
THE HATEFUL EIGHT

MUSIC:
CHAPPIE
THE GUNMAN
FURY ROAD: MAD MAX
LOVE
CRIMSON PEAK
THE WALK
THE REVENANT
MACBETH
STAR WARS
CAROL

ART DIRECTION:
CRIMSON PEAK *
CHAPPIE
FURY ROAD: MM
MI5 – ROGUE NATION
THE MARTIAN
THE REVENANT
IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
CAROL

EDITING:
THE KINGSMAN
THE GUNMAN
FURY ROAD: MM
TRAINWRECK
LOVE
NO ESCAPE
ZOMBEAVERS
STAR WARS

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
IT FOLLOWS *
THE REVENANT *
CHAPPIE
THE GUNMAN
MI5
NO ESCAPE
EVEREST
CRIMSON PEAK
MACBETH

SPECIAL EFFECTS:
THE WALK *
THE KINGSMAN
CHAPPIE
FURIOUS 7
TOMORROWLAND
ANT-MAN
EVEREST
THE REVENANT

SOUND DESIGN:
EVEREST *
THE REVENANT *
FURIOUS 7
HOT PURSUIT
FURY ROAD: MM
NO ESCAPE
LEGND
I SMILE BACK

MAKE-UP:
EVEREST
MR. HOLMES
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
THE REVENANT

EXPERIMENTAL:
THE TRIBE

LOCATIONS:
KILL ME THREE TIMES
CHAPPIE
THE GUNMAN
MI 5
EVEREST
SPECTRE
THE REVENANT

ANIMATION:
INSIDE OUT

WORST TITLES:
THE KINGSMAN
CHAPPIE
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
THE REVENANT

3D:
EVEREST
THE WALK

COMEDY:
CNN QUIZ SHOW (HOSTED BY ANDERSON COOPER)

BEST MOMENTS:

SOFIA VERGARA (“I WON MS. PLAINTAIN.”)

AMY DOES CHEERLEADING (TRAINWRECK)

(ON PLANE RIDE FOR KIDS) “MR. TRUMP;” “YES?” “ARE YOU BATMAN?” “YES, I’M BATMAN.”

EJACULATING INTO THE 3D LENS – (LOVE)
ENDING A 60-YEAR RECORD-HOLDING BEST GRATUITOUS 3D SHOT – THE PADDLE- BALL IN (HOUSE OF WAX.)

THE LITTLE GIRLS IN SLO MO BEING TOSSED OFF THE ROOF (NO ESCAPE)

3RD ACT SURPRISE (THE VISIT)

LEO’S NEXT TO LAST LOOK (THE REVENANT – UP THERE WITH CHAPLIN’S LAST LOOK IN CITY LIGHTS)

TRANSCENDENT CINEMA:
THE FAREWELL TO PAUL WALKER (FURIOUS 7) *
HARDY KRUGER REMEMBERS MAKING SUNDAYS & CYBELE, AND GENEROUSLY AGREEING TO TAKE A FEW DAYS TO EASE PATRICIA GOZZI OUT OF HER CRUSH ON HIM. *

GLENN ANDREIEV

100 BIRTHDAY CANDLES

Right now, in Heaven, Orson Welles is remaking his own film TOUCH OF EVIL, with Frank Sinatra as the heroic Vargas, and Priscilla Lane as his wife. Ann Sheridan is playing the girl biker gang leader, Ingrid Bergman is in the Marlene Dietrich role, Zero Mostel is in the slimy Akim Tamiroff role and Anthony Quinn is in the skittish Dennis Weaver role. Why this wacky casting? These new cast members, and Orson Welles, would have turned 100 in 2015.

2015 had some truly special centennials – all these people – Welles, Sinatra, Bergman etc., were born in 1915, and were in their late twenties – the start of their creative zeniths – in the early 1940’s when cinema was entering adulthood both technically and creatively. All of Orson Welles’ celebrated techniques in CITIZEN KANE were not new; he just used them in a fresh, highly exciting way. That same year, 1941, saw Ingrid Bergman as the really loose good-time girl Ivy in MGM’s DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. She made Ivy a nuanced, alluring human being, not just a pretty lady for director Victor Fleming’s lens. The next year, fellow 1915er Ann Sheridan appeared in what may be 1940’s Hollywood’s most mature, compelling film – KINGS ROW. In this haunting masterpiece, Ms. Sheridan plays Randy, the girl that steals the heart of local bad boy Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan’s best role). As Drake’s once pampered world financially and physically collapses all around him, she is always by his side. KINGS ROW is proof positive that cinema is starting to take on mature subject matters in an unashamed way. That same year, fellow 15er Priscilla Lane would be the female lead in Alfred Hitchcock’s nightmarish, comic, and inventive SABOTEUR. Filled with eye-popping visuals, a wild cross country chase, and delicious Hitchcock-styled “giggling at a funeral” humor, SABOTEUR is an underappreciated gem.

Frank Sinatra would have turned 100 in 2015, and what a movie legacy “Ol’ Blue Eyes” had. Even if he never made a single film, he would still be world famous as a singer. His film work glistened with quality from the start. In 1945, he stars as himself in the still timely, anti-bigotry short THE HOUSE I LIVE IN. Along with appearing in some of Hollywood’s best-ever musicals, like ANCHORS AWEIGH, ON THE TOWN and HIGH SOCIETY, he proved himself a top notch actor in roles in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, as a drug addicted musician in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, and as a shell shocked veteran in the science fiction gem THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.

Let’s not forget Zero Mostel- who embodied an ultimate crusty old New Yorker in such comedy classics as THE PRODUCERS and THE HOT ROCK (Criminal to Zero: “Are you his father?” Zero: “Guilty!”)

2015 – You saw some great 100 year olds!

Writer’s note – thanks to fellow historian and film guy Phillip Harwood for building up this list.

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