Reel Charlie’s Best of 2015

reel charlie best of 2015As 2015 draws to a close, it’s time for another year-end best of list from Reel Charlie’s film and television review site. 2015 saw a huge rise in my television binging, er watching – both new shows and visits with old favorites. Compulsive viewing is apparent in Downton Abbey, Gilmore Girls and Six Feet Under. I had a lot of fun. I also read a lot more this year, so there’s an extra book on my favorites list. I’m trying to balance compulsive viewing/reviewing with a lot more reading, so I’ve already queued up books on GoodReads and Amazon (Kindle) for 2016 in hopes I can beat my 2015 record.

As in previous years, Reel Charlie’s Best of 2015 list begins with books and music, then digs deep into film and television. The final category this year – 30 Days of Gay highlights Reel Charlie’s 30 LGBT film reviews in 30 days of June for Pride 2015. Enough with the intro, enjoy my favorites list for 2015!

Books (links to Goodreads):
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan – two words: Infinite Darlene. The high school you wish you attended. No one does celebratory gay boy YA quite like Mr. Levithan.
Hide by Matthew Griffin – heartbreaking story of an elderly gay couple who’ve lived in obscurity their entire lives so they could be together. This is a pre-pub 2016 book release.
London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp – a wonderful story of interwoven lives from the 1890’s, 1950’s, and 1990’s. Beautiful, sexy, and pitch perfect.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – beautiful YA story about a teenage boy who’s emailing (so old school!) another boy in his school sharing secrets. Simon gets outed and reluctantly begins living the life he was meant.
Honorable Mention: The Burnt Toast B&B (A Bluewater Bay Story) by  Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz – a love story between a gay man and a trans man written by two straight women. We are definitely living in the 21st Century. Burnt Toast spins a delightfully new twist on the well-worn Romance genre. Bravo.

Music (links to Amazon):
25 (Adele) – the perfect album from the voice of a generation.
85 Percent Proof (Will Young) – Will continues to create brilliant pop music.
Red Kite (Sarah Cracknell) – beautiful new solo album from the lead singer of Saint Etienne.

Movies (click on the links to read Reel Charlie’s review from 2015):
Banksy Does New York – crazy fun look at our obsessive culture through artist Banksy and NYC.
The Best of Enemies – William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal spar during the 1968 Presidential election.
Birdmana risk-taking colossal extravaganza stream of consciousness theater piece.
Boyhood my favorite Hollywood film of the year.
Citizenfour – documentary on whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Must-see.
Dark Passage – watch it for Agnes Moorehead’s stunning performance.
Dogs on the Inside – dogs and inmates and the many definitions of rehabilitation.
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – scary good doc on the cult of Hollywood.
Good Morning Vietnam – Robin Williams’ tour de force.
The Great Dictator – Charlie Chaplin made miracles.
Great Performances – Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert – the Queen in concert.
The Imitation Game – Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing.
Jongens (Boys) – Holland does coming out perfectly. – doc on the fetish, kink, and hardcore (mostly straight) sex industry.
The Lady Vanishes (1938)  – beautiful, suspenseful pre-Hollywood Hitchcock.
Life Itself – doc on Roger Ebert’s amazing life.
Match – Patrick Stewart shines brightly in this indie adaptation of a stage play.
A Most Violent Year – a movie about fuel oil companies in the NYC 1980’s. Who knew?
Mr. TurnerMike Leigh and Timothy Spall do artist Joseph Mallord William Turner.
Selma – a perfect Hollywood film starring MI-5 favorite David Oyelowo. 
The Slap (Australia) – great adaptation of the wonderful Christos Tsiolkas novel.
Skallamann (Bald Guy) (short) – hysterical coming out musical short film.
A Star is Born (1954) – finally saw the Judy Garland/James Mason masterpiece.
Still Alice – an Oscar for Julianne Moore, Richard Glatzer’s final film, adapted from the novel.
Surprise (short) – surprise is an understatement for the poor teenage boy in this short film.
Tangerinethe best indie of the year. 
To Be Takei – warm and fuzzy feel-good doc on Star Trek actor and LGBT civil rights activist George Takei.
Twilight: Los Angeles – Anna Devaere Smith’s amazing stage performance broadcast on PBS.

Take 2/3/4… (watching again and again):
Addams Family Values – the sequel is LOL funny thanks to a script from Paul Rudnick.
All Over the Guy – still one of the best easy breezy gay male RomComs.
The Bat – best Halloween b-movie choice.
Best in Show – laugh just thinking of this film.
The City of Your Final Destination – Merchant Ivory’s final film together.
Gods and Monstersbased on the Christopher Bram novel Father of Frankenstein. A masterpiece.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch. Watchman does not spoil this perfect film. 
Making Love – a risk-taking Hollywood film that deserves high praise.
Rear Window – the original, the master, one of Hitchcock’s best.
Rosemary’s Baby – another Halloween must-see. Camp meets 60s’ hipster.
Shawshank Redemption – a film in a category of its own.
Star Trek: First Contact – comfort food favorite from TNG era.
Trick – a sweet simple gay male RomCom based in New York City in the late 90’s.

Borgen: S1
Borgen: S2
Borgen: S3 – this outstanding Danish political/media drama explodes with suspense.
Bloodline: S1 – took two tries to love this but now I do, I surely do.
Downton Abbey: S2
Downton Abbey: S3
Downton Abbey: S4
Downton Abbey: S5 (twice)  – obviously I never get enough of Downton Abbey.
Gilmore Girls: S2
Gilmore Girls: S3
Gilmore Girls: S5
Gilmore Girls: S7 – re-watched the entire series this year. Kooky Stars Hollow fun.
Glee: S6 – the final season of the ground-breaking show.
Good Girls Revolt – Amazon pilot – hope it gets picked up in 2016.
The Good Wife: S6 – comfort food goodness. The Good Wife just keeps getting better.
Grantchester: S1 – sexy vicar mysteries. The Brits know what we want.
The Fosters: S2
The Fosters: S3 – love, love, love this family show about two Moms and their kids.
Looking: S1
Looking: S2 – yes, I loved it. Crushed that it was cancelled.
Nurse Jackie: S7 – the end of our favorite addict.
One Mississippi – Amazon pilot starring Tig Notaro.
Recify: S2 – this slow burn is so atmospheric and heady.
Red Oaks S1 – smart coming of age disguised as a retro bromedy.
Sense8: S1 – I want to live in this world. Excuse me while I go watch this again.
Six Feet Under: S2
Six Feet Under: S3
Six Feet Under: S4 – Alan Ball is my hero. LOVE this show.
Transparent S2 – the sophomore season digs deep into female sexuality and the dysfunctional Pfeffermans.
The Walking Dead: S5 – still the king of finding meaning in gore.
The Wire: S4
The Wire: S5 – what can I say about this perfect series? Sure I’ll watch it again with you.

30 Days of Gay
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – the classic drag queen road trip film holds up beautifully.
Beautiful Thing – the perfect coming out film set to a Mama Cass soundtrack. I have the one-sheet framed on my bedroom wall.
Blue – Derek Jarman’s final film – a masterpiece.
Un chant d’amour (Song of Love) – Jean Genet, 1950, revolutionary, classic.
Drôle de Félix (Adventures of Felix) –  mid-90’s HIV+ sex positive gay boy road trip movie.
Four – Wendell Pierce’s (The Wire) character and his daughter both go after inappropriate men. 
The Joy of Life – Jenni Olson’s indie film on butch dykes and San Francisco.
The Killing of Sister George – a lesbian big budget 60’s film that retains stereotypes while paving the way.
Maurice – my favorite film of all-time. A Merchant Ivory masterpiece.
Milk – Hollywood does Harvey Milk good.
Orange is the New Black: S3 – the girls are still trippin.
Parting Glances – early AIDS NYC gay male indie masterpiece.
Prick Up Your Ears – biopic on playwright Joe Orton from Stephen Frears.
Shortbus – NC17 pansexual post-9/11 love story to NYC extravaganza.
The Sticky Fingers of Time – lesbian sci-fi time traveling indie perfection.
Victim – first major British film to openly discuss homosexuality in the 1960’s.
The Watermelon Woman – Cheryl Dunye’s New Queer Cinema lesbian hybrid beauty.
Wild Combination – doc on openly gay musician Arthur Russell.
Zero Patience – John Greyson’s AIDS musical full of camp and wonder. 

Thank you for taking this cinematic journey with me each year. Reel Charlie continues to be more love than labor. Blessings in 2016 and beyond. Looking forward to reviewing more great films and television series.


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