Row Three Favorite Films of 2015

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A weak year or a strong year? You tell us. With an eclectic group of favorites from so many different people there’s an argument to be made that 2015 was one of the strongest years in film in a long time… but was it really? Well, in box office numbers, there’s no two ways about it. 2015 was the best ever (thank you Universal Pictures and Disney).

Whether you loved or were disappointed in 2015, we all found plenty to love and these are each of RowThree’s contributors’ favorite films of the year along with some honorable mentions, notable misses and even some stinkers. Each contributor is listed below – just start scrolling – or you can jump directly to any individual member of the group with a click of their name provided below.

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by the site, listened to any of the great podcasts hosted here and/or took the time to leave some comments in a post somewhere and some time throughout the year. We really appreciate each and every one of you. See you all in 2016!

Marina Antunes
Kurt Halfyard
Andrew James
Corey Pierce
Matthew Brown
Bob Turnbull
David Brook
Matt Gamble
Bryan Dressel
Chewie Darsow
Ryan James
Matt Price

Consensus

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Row Three Favorite Television Series of 2015

Round here, it’s pretty easy keeping track of all of the film we watched throughout the year; being cinephiles and all. Whether we meticulously log and rate everything on LetterBoxd, keep an album ongoing in Facebook galleries or scribble down thoughts and dates in a spiral bound notebook. But with television, since there are so many episodes and odd airing dates and ways to access the media, it can be a little more daunting.

Still, a couple of us managed to keep things logged and rated and ranked throughout 2015. Because let’s be honest, the TV shows these days very often trump a lot of what we saw in theaters. At any rate here’s a look back at some of our favorite shows streaming and airing over the past year…

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Row Three Favorite Albums of 2015

2014-albums

You know what’s great about music? Well of course you do: an infinite amount of tangible and intangible things. But in the internet’s “need to list everything” context, what I like is that there’s very little overlap. Because there is so much music released in any given year and it’s so incredibly diverse and there are so many different tastes, everyone’s list is unique and interesting and inspiring and full of frisson.

So it is with much pleasure that Row Three presents all of our favorite music from the year. If you’re looking for something new to whet your ear’s appetite for resonance, I can all but guarantee you’ll find something great in the list of artists below…

Enjoy!


Bob Turnbull
Andrew James
David Brook
Jim Laczkowski
Corey Pierce
Scott Olson

 

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73rd Annual Golden Globe Winners

Not too many surprises here; except that apparently The Martian is the best comedy of the year. Still, the always streamlined and tight Golden Globe Awards were a fun watch as Ricky Gervais was back to take verbal jabs at Mel Gibson, women drivers, NBC and HFPA itself. Teraj P. Henson clearly had a few before getting up on stage (“here, have a cookie”) and Tarantino pisses off social media (and apparently Jamie Foxx) after uttering the word “ghetto.”

Then it was on to the presentations and the awards. The class act award goes to Tom Hanks however, who delivered one of the best introductory speeches for an award I’ve heard in a long time – maybe ever – for Denzel’s “Cecil B. DeMille” award. Too bad Denzel just looked like a bumbling idiot on stage.

At any rate, here were all the nominations and winners at tonight’s presentation. The winners are IN RED. Feel free to leave your commentary in the appropriate section below.

===========
Carol = 5 nominations = 0 wins
The Revenant = 4 nominations = 3 wins
Steve Jobs = 4 nominations = 1 win
The Big Short = 4 nominations = 0 wins
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Best Picture, Drama
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy
The Big Short
Joy
The Martian
Spy
Trainwreck

Best Director
Todd Haynes, Carol
Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott, The Martian

Best Actress, Drama
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Saorise Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Actor, Drama
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Will Smith, Concussion
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
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CASTcast 2015

cascast15-feat

The Cinematic Appreciation Society of Toronto returns for more drinking and merriment and incidental discussion on the highlights of 2015 in film. Dozens of film lovers in the Toronto area (including many contributors here at RowThree) submitted their top ten lists and the results were tallied into a consensus top ten.

Our hosts for this podcast gather around a round table (literally) and work their way through the list one at a time and spend a few minutes discussing the pros (and some cons) of each title. Though there was surprisingly little RowThree representation on the recording panel, our own Corey “Goon” Pierce contributes to the on-mic revelry.

Enjoy the listen!

Dave Voigt – In the Seats | @intheseats

Corey Pierce – Soundtrack of Your Life | @coreypierceart

Hillary Butler – Live for Films | @petdochill

Ryan McNeil – The Matinee@matinee_ca

Corey Atad – @coreyatad

Norman McGlashan – Flick Hunter | @mcstay12

Jorge Castillo – Prairie Dog Magazine | @jicastillo

Heidi Morales – Hye’s Musing | @HeidyMo

James McNally – CAST organizer, Toronto Screen Shots@toscreenshots

Super Ticket Episode 7 – The Death Gantry

sw-super-ticket

The dream has become a reality. We now live in a world in which the sequel to Return of the Jedi is actually in existence. New heroes, old Jedi. Wookies, story board decisions, gender politics. Poor casting, use of CGI vs practical, box offfice numbers. Prognostication, the generational differences, the marketing. And it’s cold outside, so put on your coat!

Yes, there’s so much to get into with the latest installment of the Star Wars saga from director J.J. Abrams so we cover as much as we can in 75 minutes. The majority of the Super Ticket cast was completely enamored and in true wonder with the spectacle; but there is a vocal minority in here and he will not be silenced. Come forth young Padawans and receive your lesson for the day from Mamo! and The Cinecast. This is The Super Ticket: Episode VII.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and may the force be with you!

 

 
 

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Andrew Guests on TheMatineeCast – Episode 149 The Gay Straight Man

awkening-matinee

You would think I’d eventually tire of talking about Star Wars. But there’s just so much green in the entire galaxy and I haven’t slowed down one iota since I was about five years-old; so why stop now when there’s so much more to say!? Hence, our buddy Ryan McNeil brought me on for Episode 149 of the MatineeCast as a guest for what is arguably the most anticipated film of all time, Star Wars Episode VII.

We chat on some of my “know your enemy” questions for a bit before talking Star Wars. We keep it spoiler-free for a spell, then dive head-long into all of the nitty gritty.

I’m sure you’re in no short need of more Star Wars talk this week (there’s a lot more coming to this site, I assure you) but this one is definitely worth the download. If you want to speak your mind on the episode, please leave your comments on TheMatinee rather than here.

Thanks Ryan, it was fun. May the force be with you.

Review (kinda): Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens

sw-review-image

NOTE: This is hardly what I wold consider a “proper” review. These are words that came pouring out in a semi-state of euphoria at about 2am following my screening. This is merely a place to get the conversation going before all of the podcasts are released in the days to come.

Also, if you want to know absolutely nothing, then do not read ahead. For the rest of you, this is a relatively SPOILER-FREE stream of un-consciousness.

2D version

It’s tough to put thoughts to paper right at the moment. The entire experience was kind of a mind trip. There were nostalgic tears of joy (and maybe partly of relief) on at least three occasions and I have no idea what the opening crawl said. Something about Luke Skywalker I think.

I’m sure every review out there will call this essentially a remake of “A New Hope” or (at best) a greatest hits of the original trilogy. And they wouldn’t totally be wrong. But I don’t care. Some may call it lazy, other may call it playing it safe, others may call it pandering. I say all the better for it. Grow balls when and where needed, keep everything else just how we like our Star Wars universe: fun, exciting and familiar. Keep it simple, keep it fun and keep it real. Abrams excelled at this on almost every front.

That isn’t to say there’s nothing new. The three (four?) new leads/heroes are fantastic. Poe and Finn are great new characters that have their own swagger, but with flaws they must conquer. Kylo Ren is a fascinating villain and Adam Driver brings it home. Though the clear front-runner here is absolutely Daisy Ridley as Rey, in a career making role and performance.

Han is back in a big way thanks to the return of Harrison Ford finding his inner movie star again (it’s only been 20 years, Ford. Where ya been?). Even Carrie Fisher, who is clearly the weakest link, works out alright for what she’s been given to do. The short of it is, all characters hit their mark and make us care and believe and grow with anticipation on where they journey will lead next. Hashtag Chewbacca!

Outside of the opening battle (which does feel a lot like your typical JJ Abrams joint), the set design, locales and side characters all feel remarkably old-school; in the best possible way. In other words, this is the Star Wars Universe I remember really growing attached to throughout my younger days and adolescence (and beyond!).

There are moments here and there that don’t work perfectly and there are minor quibbles; but that’s just what they are: minor. They don’t come anywhere close to casting any sort of dark shadow over the enjoyment I got from the rest of this film. This is pure, simple entertainment with strong characters, wonderful performances, charismatic and beautiful action sequences, perfect pacing (seriously, I have no idea when the best time to go pee is during this movie – I don’t think there really is one) gorgeous effects, sound design and that John Williams score coming home at just the right (yes, pandering but I love being pandered to) all with a nice setup for a much deeper and meaningful story to carry the fans into a whole new adventure with all new heroes, but with a familiar face. I liked the end of one review which simply said, “your move Rian Johnson.”

I am very very pleased.

 

Trailer: Independence Day: Resurgence

As you may or may not be aware, I’m a pretty big fan of the goofy awesomeness that is Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day from 1996. Even then, I was told there would be a sequel including a land invasion. After fifteen years I had pretty much given up hope.

Until today. President Sela Ward and General William Fichtner and many returning members of the original cast as well as an impressive Asian cast have given me hope and excited my anticipation. It’s just too bad Robert Loggia won’t be around to help win the day. It’s also weird that it comes out almost two weeks before the fourth of July, but whatever. Jeff Goldblum/Bill Pullman represent.

Enjoy. See you for the fireworks.