The past year was quite a strange one for me, marked by drastic, mostly negative changes in my personal life, and drastic, mostly positive changes in my professional life. I never write about my private life on the blog, and I’d like to keep things that way; as for my professional life, the aspects of it that relate to cinema are already known to any of you who still bother to drop by here and read the blog; namely, I worked with TIFF Cinematheque on their “I for Iran: A History of Iranian Cinema” series in multiple capacities, and served as the artistic director of the inaugural edition of the Cine-Iran Festival of Toronto, a position I will continue to hold over the coming years, hopefully.
All these changes had a significant impact on what films I watch and how I watch them. I watched even more Iranian films than before, for a start. I began to watch TV, which I had resisted for as long as I could due my inherent lack of focus and patience for longform storytelling. Yet, the medium is far more forgiving of a depressed mental state you’d always rather see old friends than new ones, especially when the world has turned on you, wouldn’t you? so Mad Men and Arrested Development and Bob’s Burgers and BoJack Horseman and Making a Murderer became a significant chunk of my diet.
Still, I managed to watch 221 films, so I couldn’t let the year go by without a final list. The large majority of my screenings were of new releases, but below are the top 15 older films I watched (or re-watched) in 2015 that I cherish most. You’ll notice a lot of Iranian films on this list, but I guess that’s what happens when you try to reacquaint yourself with your favourite national cinema.
1. Where’s the Friend’s Home (Kiarostami, 1989)
2. Still Life (Shahid Saless, 1974)
3. Underground (Kusturica, 1995)
4. The Night It Rained (Shirdel, 1967)
5. La Jetée (Marker, 1962)
6. La Strada (Fellini, 1954)
7. The Cow (Mehrjui, 1969)
8. The Tenants (Mehrjui, 1986)
9. Singin’ in the Rain (Kelly/Donen, 1952)
10. The Night of the Hunchbank (Ghaffary, 1965)
11. About Elly (Farhadi, 2009)
12. The Runner (Naderi, 1985)
13. Secrets & Lies (Leigh, 1996)
14. Beyond the Fire (Ayari, 1990)
15. The Circle (Panahi, 2000)