It’s time to close the door on 2015. Past time, even. But I wanted to round off this awards season, as patchy as my coverage of it may have been, with a poll (seen above), some statistical fun, and some reflection on my awards past.
This has been an interesting year. On one hand, there have been 18 **** films–far more than last year, and a comparable number to 2012, which was rather incredible in its own right. And my bottom 10 is far better than any year since I’ve been keeping track; my 10th worst film wouldn’t come close to any previous list, and if that’s in part because I haven’t sought out so many bad films, well…I’ll try and do better this year. There was still some real garbage that I sat through.
On the other hand, my #1 film this year would probably be #3 last year, and most of my **** films are 87s or 88s–the bottom end of my **** spectrum. That’s not to say my #1 film is any less of a great film or that I treasure any of those 18 films less, but I’m hoping that 2015 is a step up. I’ve got a lot of faith in this year’s releases (good and bad–I really want to check out Mortdecai), and I hope that, this time next year, I’m looking at a full list of **** films–maybe a top 25 will be in order?
But let’s not put the cart in front of the horse. Let’s count our blessings–and our curses.
Some years have a lot of overrated films, some have a lot of underrated ones (2012 springs to mind for both categories). This year was comparatively thin for both–there were a few notably overrated films, and a few underappreciated (if not truly underrated) ones, but I think the critics got it a little more right than usual this year–when Snowpiercer has 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, you can’t complain too much.
Still, there were some definite cases where the consensus was, to my eyes, off the mark. And that is what we’ll dig into today, starting with the overrated. Because I am that guy.
And now the mainstream awards start pouring in, with the NYFCC leading the way. I’m not really delighted with their picks, but we’ll deal with them and do a little prognostication while we’re at it.
On the other hand, the Satellite Awards, while nowhere near as prestigious, have delighted me with at least one of their choices. And the Gotham Awards were announced today, so let’s see what they have to say.
In the midst of a tense confrontation under the guise of an academic warning, President Hutchinson (Peter Syvertsen) tells campus firebrand Sam White (Tessa Thompson) that she longs for the days of lynchings and Jim Crow, because that would give her something to truly fight against. As ignorant and hateful as Hutchinson, he’s more right than even he might have guessed. For Dear White People takes place in a time and place where racial tensions are just as potent, but manifest themselves in ways which are hard to identify and harder still to combat.
The real crime, in the world of Dear White People, is not violence or exclusion, but that so many of the people who live and (try to) learn at Winchester University cannot be themselves, because they are stuck in a system which demands they label themselves, pick a side, and stick to it. The tragedy of Dear White People is the denial of the true self. That it manages to be incredibly funny at the same is its genius.
It’s been three months since my first attempt at predicting what I’ll nominate come January, and it seems to me, with the Venice and Telluride film festivals underway (and once the Toronto festival is over, I’ll go over what films are looking good, which are looking iffy or bad, which are now on my radar which previously weren’t, etc.), it’s a good time to take another look at what I’ll be trumpeting this year.
It’s time to update the list. First, I’ve removed all the films I’ve seen, purchased, or which have been released already (I’ll be seeing Snowpiercer next week, for example, so I pre-emptively removed it). Films that have been pushed back to 2015 will also come off. And I’ll be re-evaluating each film already on here, taking off those that really aren’t of much interest to me.
And I’ve scoured the Internet for films I might have overlooked, and factored in films I didn’t yet know about (especially festival releases), to create something more like a definitive list for the rest of the year.
The list is not precisely ordered, but by and large the higher up the list, the higher the priority it is for me to see it. (UPDATE 12/8: films with an asterisk (*) are films I’ve now seen.)