Monday, January 11, 2016


Hello, Treehousers!
I saw Hot Pursuit on a flight to Denmark last year. I thought it was a pleasant diversion. I try not to watch movies on flights, as they’re often edited for content, and the screen is usually three inches from my face courtesy of the a-hole who reclined the seat in front of me. But my reading light was broken, so I wound up on the movie channel. Vergara and Witherspoon were amusing in this movie! I’d rather watch Hot Pursuit than Witherspoon’s The Revenant, I mean Wild. The adaptor of Wild, Nick Hornby, made it up to me by adapting the love story of the year, Brooklyn, and giving Saoirse Ronan the best actress performance of 2015.
Of course, Brian hasn’t seen Brooklyn, my #2 movie of 2015. Hell, Dennis hasn’t seen my #1 movie, Creed. I should just take my movie marbles and go home!
Seriously, though, I’m sure there’s enough shared movie fodder for us all to get into trouble. First up, my top 10 of 2015. When I made this list, I hadn’t seen The Big Short (I saw it on 1/8/2016), but it wouldn’t have made my top 10 list anyway. It would be a runner-up somewhere.
1. Creed
2. Brooklyn
3. Inside Out
4. Straight Outta Compton
5. Call Me Lucky
6. Mad Max: Fury Road
7. Tangerine
8. Spotlight
9. Chi-Raq
10. The Walk
My runners-up:
11. Bridge of Spies
12. I'll See You In My Dreams
13. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
14. Amy
15. What Happened, Miss Simone?
16. The Farewell Party
17. I am Big Bird
18. The Martian
19. Shaun the Sheep
20. Magic Mike XXL
This was a year where I enjoyed performances more than the movies that contained them. You’re right about it being a richer year for female roles than male roles. Let me add a few more to the list:
Tessa Thompson, Creed
Jada Pinkett Smith, Magic Mike XXL
Patricia Clarkson, Learning to Drive
Anne Hathaway, The Intern
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (though her Polish accent sucks)
There were also several Polish films that I saw at the Gdynia Film Festival that highlighted great female performances, including my fave of the lot, These Daughters of Mine, and the not quite successful Body/Cialo (which won the festival’s Golden Lion). Also, Enemies, A Love Story’s Margaret Sophie Stein is fantastic in the film Walpurgis Night. It was one of the best performances I saw in 2015. If these find their way to American shores, look them up.
Kristen Stewart deserves the Oscar she won’t get nominated for in Clouds of Sils Maria. But I like that Blythe Danner’s getting some love here; she gave one of my favorite performances of last year, and I’ll See You in My Dreams is such a richly drawn little movie. I wrote about her performance over at which, as you mentioned, Dennis, is my primary base for reviews.
I know that watching movies on watches and phones is de rigeuer, but I find the entire concept to be de trop. (You work those French lessons, boy!) I can’t watch squat on my Android, but I am guilty of laptop viewing. In my defense, I have a TV sized monitor on this laptop when I’m home. Part of the critic’s life is dealing with the wonderful movie delivery system known as an online screener. These screeners run about as quickly as a stoned turtle, and have watermarks in the least convenient places (once the watermark covered the subtitles, forcing me to work those French lessons, boy!). Once, it took me 13 hours to watch a movie I had to review. Unfortunately, that movie was The Stanford Prison Experiment, #7 on my 2015 ten worst list.
So I try to get out to a theater to see most movies. It’s my preferred method of watching a movie, even if I have to do it in a critic’s screening room that feels like a mausoleum. Which reminds me: At some point, we should touch on the current conversations about critic diversity.
For now, though, let us join our fellow cinephiles for a moment of silence to mourn the death of cinema.
Just kidding! Cinema has been dead and resurrected so much that even Jesus is rolling His eyes. I’ve never understood this woe-is-me phenomenon put on every other year by whiny ass thinkpiece writers. Cinema, like rock ‘n roll, will NEVER DIE. If TV didn’t kill it, it will last forever. However, all these franchises may cripple it, especially the Marvel and DC ones. I hated Age of Ultron but I dug Ant-Man. And I was meh on Star Wars but I gave it three stars out of four. Any 2015 franchise movies you’re willing to go to bat for?
Regarding TV shows: I work 50-60 hours a week writing code, so I really don’t have much time to commit to a TV series. Plus, I’ve been burned before—BIG TIME—by my slavish devotion to a TV series (see St. Elsewhere and House for two examples of my wasted time). I got through 8 episodes of Mad Men before I gave up on it for good. Tech people hate marketing people, so I get why I couldn’t stand the show. I’ve taken swings at people who condescendingly tell me I should revisit the show. Screw that.
I have a few shows I watch/DVR. I do the recaps for Silicon Valley over at, and I love black’ish and Empire (one can never have too much Taraji P. Henson). I will say that TV HAS become a richer outlet for writers than movies have.
Do you agree that 2015 was a banner year for documentaries? There were so many good ones, I could have made a separate list of docs alone.
I admit that I’m kind of an awards junkie. I look forward to this time of year, though I usually wind up infuriated. If you had an award, what performance/movie would you single out for it?


Odie Henderson is based in Clifton, New Jersey and makes his living writing computer code, but is better known in online circles as a film critic for who also writes extensively for his own sites, Big Media Vandalism and Tales of Odienary Madness. In 2013 he programmed a film series at the Off Plus Camera Film festival in Krakow, Poland and has been known to perform a karaoke version of EU’s ”Da Butt” upon request.





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