Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
The /Film team has spent the first week of 2016 saying goodbye to 2015 in the best way possible – by assembling our personal top 10 films of the year lists. Each of these lists represents one writer’s specific viewpoint, celebrating the movies that matter the most to them. These lists are, by their very nature, deeply personal.
But what would a year-end list representing the entire site as a whole look like? Could we take these personal lists and merge them into one uber-list that reflects our combined tastes?
That’s what we set out to discover. Blood was spilled. Tears were shed. Numbers were crunched. But we did it. This is the official, mathematically proven /Film Top 15 Films of 2015.
We deliberately kept the process for building this master list extremely simple. Each writer (meaning Angie Han, Ethan Anderton, Jack Giroux, and myself, Jacob Hall) submitted their top 15 list. Their choice for number one was awarded 15 points, their choice for number two was awarded 14 points, and so on, with the film in the final slot earning 1 point. This allowed for some pretty interesting rankings, as a film totally beloved by one or two writers stood a chance against a film mildly liked by three or four.
What follows is essentially a look at how the sausage gets made, except that this is a case where the sausage is made up of opinions about movies and not assorted animal meats. It’s not always pretty and it’s not always exciting, but this is how it went down. If you’d like, you can skip straight to the end and check out the final assembled list. We won’t judge you.
With a combined total of 34 films represented across four different top 15 lists, a whole bunch of movies had to axed. Here are are the films that didn’t make the final cut, along with the number of points they received.
How to Dance in Ohio: 1 point
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck: 1 point
Magic Mike XXL: 2 points
The Mend: 2 points
The Duke of Burgundy: 3 points
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: 3 points
Jupiter Ascending: 4 points
Room: 4 points
Mississippi Grind: 5 points
Cinderella: 6 points
Sleeping With Other People: 6 points
Son of Saul: 6 points
Crimson Peak: 8 points
Mistress America: 8 points
Bridge of Spies: 9 points
Carol: 9 points
Creed: 10 points
It Follows: 10 points
The Look of Silence: 13 points
And now, we move onto the main event: /Film’s final and official best of the year list. As noted in the various descriptions, the order of films that tied on points was decided by a separate vote.
15. Diary of a Teenage Girl
Although it only ended up on one of our top 10 lists, Diary of a Teenage Girl snuck into the overall /Film list because it just-so-happened to be the number one film on that list, giving it just enough points to elbow its way in. After seeing Jack Giroux’s passionate response to Marielle Heller‘s film, the rest of the team was appropriately shamed for not finding room for it.
“This directorial debut left me in tears at the Sundance Film astival. The immensely talented Marielle Heller has made an honest and vibrant coming-of-age tale. Between the beautiful hand-drawn animation, the enlightening and clever narration, and Bel Powley’s versatile performance, this is an incredibly intimate subjective picture.” -Jack Giroux
14. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It’s certainly no secret that the site and our readership loves Star Wars, which means we’re fully prepared for this relatively low ranking to be most controversial thing to come out of this whole endeavor. With the exception of Ethan Anderton, who ranked The Force Awakens very high on his personal list, the team decided that J.J. Abrams‘ film is very good, but not quite good enough to crack the top 10.
“No movie this year came with as much pressure to deliver as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That it actually lived up to the hype is a minor miracle. Sure, we can quibble over some of the details, but it’s great where it counts.” -Angie Han
“It wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, but it was probably the most fun I’ve had at a movie theaters in a long time. I laughed, I cried, and I got excited like a little kid. The Force Awakens isn’t Best Picture-worthy or anything like that, but it’s the perfect place for Star Wars to begin again.” -Ethan Anderton
13. The Martian
Just about everyone likes The Martian, which lingered in the bottom five or six spots on most of the ballots. While it only cracked one top ten, the film had enough support to slip on the master list, edging out the mighty Star Wars is a close tie-breaking vote.
“The story of a single astronaut (Matt Damon at his most endearingly Matt Damon-y) stranded hundreds of miles from home becomes a paean to the resilience of the human spirit, and a pep rally for the importance of science.” -AH
“Scott, Godard, and Damon make you root for Mark Watney’s survival, and partially because he’s so damn charming. What could have easily been two hours of misery is instead one of the year’s finest feel-good movies.” -JG
12. Slow West
The first of several dark horses that came from out of nowhere to find footing in the /Film lists, John Maclean‘s oddball western was liked well enough by the right number of voters to give it a solid foothold in the overall top 15. This was not the last time I muttered “Huh, I didn’t see that coming” while compiling this list.
“This would make for a terrific double feature with Jim Jarmusch‘s Dead Man. Like Jarmusch’s unconventional western, writer-director John Maclean’s directorial debut is wacky and melancholic. The last 20 minutes of this perfectly paced 85-minute movie hit you like a ton of bricks.” -JG
“Some movies romanticize the Wild West as a mythical land of possibility, where heroes duke it out with villains. Others zero in on the unrelenting brutality of the environment, and the steeliness of the people who live there. Slow West unfolds at the crossroads, following a young man (Kodi Smit-McPhee) whose idealized visions — of love, of courage, of the New World — are continually punctured by unwelcome truths.” -AH
Sicario came this close to breaking into the top 10, with only another close tie-breaker vote snatching that honor from its grasp. Still, Denis Villeneuve‘s tense drug war thriller effectively flew under the radar, snatching this spot like some kind of black-ops assassin.
“The sparse exposition, the moral ambiguity, and the three excellent performances make for an unforgettable experience. Sicario is almost more of a horror movie than it is a thriller. Even a shot of a wristband sends a chill down your spine.” -JG
“Benicio del Toro steals the show with just some silent glances, but Blunt is still a force to be reckoned with, making this one knockout of a thriller.” -EA