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2015 wasn’t a bad year, but I’m calling it a “bag” year.

What am I talking about?

Well, you know how sometimes movies just aren’t your bag? In an attempt to be a well-rounded cinema goer, I try to appreciate things that aren’t necessarily my bag. It’s one of the reasons that I do things like complete film lists, because then not only will it force me to confront things that aren’t my bag, it might also help me find new things that are my bag that I’d never have suspected were my bag. Most years I end up trying to catch up with some critical favorites which, on the surface, would seem not to be my bag. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t watched nearly enough movies to even have favorites. For example, what if instead of the ~60 new movies I saw this year, I had watched a different 60? That’s entirely possible. What if I have a bunch of favorite movies that I don’t know are my favorites because I never saw them?

Yet I feel like this year has been uncommonly predictable in the sense that I pretty much knew what I was going to like and dislike before I ever watched it. Most of the stuff that I thought would be my bag was my bag, and there weren’t a lot of surprises when I went looking for things that weren’t my bag. I mostly enjoyed movies from directors that I already favor (Baumbach, Tarantino, Villeneuve, Inarritu, Del Toro) and from genres that I favor (thriller, sci-fi), and disliked movies I didn’t expect to like (Jurassic World, Pixels). There were a couple of minor surprises – I liked Tomorrowland more than the consensus, didn’t love The Martian – but when I sought things a bit off the beaten path, like Tangerine or The Duke of Burgundy, none of it really made a big impression.

So while I’m pleased as punch to be a film aficionado right now, I can’t help but feel my own habits – and by extension, my year-end list – failed to capture the breadth of what filmmaking looked like this year. There’s no Holy Motors on my list, and no A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, no Sleepwalk with Me. It just feels like I didn’t see any stalwart indies or ambitious art films that I really fell in love with. Maybe that means I missed out. Or maybe it means mainstream movies were uncommonly good this year. I’d be more than happy to recommend Buzzard, for example, but to say I liked it better than any of the movies on this list would be dishonest – and there’d be no point in doing a personal list if it isn’t honest.

So with 2015 in the bag, here are the movies that are my bag this year:

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LeBeouf
Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min
Rated: PG-13


Indiana Jones: The Animated Adventures

How do you know when your movie franchise has really taken off? How do you know that it has mass appeal? That it’s really going to stick around? That it has something to offer every member of the family? Happy Meal toys are a great start, but sometimes they just aren’t enough for fans who have fallen deeply, strangely in love with your characters and their universe so that they feel the need to extend it in any way possible. Countless viewings of a sacred trilogy, for instance, will only take you so far. Sometimes authors will write expanded universe books on the subject, but honestly who reads books? This is the 21st century after all. FULL REVIEW

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson

Running Time: 2 hrs. 46 min
Rated: PG-13


Review by Brother Reed

Thinking back on my viewing of Benjamin Button, I like it a bit less than I originally thought. It seemed engaging enough at the time. It even seemed pretty good. However, it quickly becomes apparent that qualifiers such as “engaging enough” and “pretty good” are faint praise, damning a film that sought to ignite our imaginations. This is the latest Fincher/Pitt combo, the duo that turned out hits like Se7en and Fight Club. It garnered a staggering 13 Academy Award nominations and picked up 3 wins. A movie with such accolades ought to blow our minds, not settle for being merely acceptable fare. FULL REVIEW