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Bryan has written 47 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ during 2015.

  • Hobson's Choice

    Hobson's Choice


    A terrific comedy with perfectly etched characters played by an ensemble of fantastic actors and a good comedic and interesting story. You can't beat this. Perfect Criterion transfer, with nice doc about Charles Laughton. Script by David Lean, Wynyard Browne and producer Norman Spencer from a 1915 play.

  • The Hill

    The Hill


    This movie is so awesome - brutal, tortuous, harsh, literate, well-acted and well-constructed. Sidney Lumet does a British military prison in middle of the Sahara. All of the characters are nuanced and the atmosphere and tension is incredible. Sean Connery is great, but he melds with the strong ensemble. Ian Bannen outdoes them all as the ruthless prison commander who's cunning and human (here's a lesson on how to do a villainous jarhead, James Cameron). Script by Ray Rigby from his play. It's so cinematic, I can't imagine how it was done on stage.

  • Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day


    Yes, I'm a nerd that watches "Groundhog Day" on Groundhog Day. Here's a movie that is blatantly literal with its theme but subtle and gentle with its character arc. It's would have been easy to reverse that and make this the broadest comedy, and Hollywood probably would have preferred that. It would be much easier to sell a movie that relies on manic performance than profound ideas. It's not a perfect movie - the soundtrack sucks, the tone wavers, and…

  • The General

    The General


    A masterpiece.

  • America America

    America America


    Kazan's forgotten masterpiece tells the story of his family's epic immigration to the United States, and it's a stunning piece of filmmaking. Haskell Wexler's neorealist cinematography is amazing and it's one of the most foreign-looking American films ever made. Shot mostly in Greece, it vividly captures life in Turkey at the turn of the century. The only thing that betrays the film is the New York accents, which take a little getting used to, although it makes the film even…

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox

    Fantastic Mr. Fox


    It's starting to look like most of the recent great movies were largely ignored by audiences. Here's a charming, witty, unique, and entertaining film that people should see and kids will enjoy. Should have been a huge hit, or at least made a profit.

  • Dead End

    Dead End


    A masterful social drama that manages to maintain a stage-like claustrophobia without feeling like a stageplay. The story and structure is very unusual, an early template for true ensemble storytelling. There's more attention given to the villain Humphrey Bogart than to regretful good guy Joel McCrae, and Bogart makes it one of his first great villains. It remains a great character study even though it's real subject is the social classes of New York, which it skewers with precision. Script by Lillian Hellman from a play.

  • Back to the Future

    Back to the Future


    A perfect film in every way.

  • WALL·E



    Superb storytelling with some of the most human robots you've ever met. Not without numerous faults - the reasons for NOT going back to earth aren't very strong, and the humans becoming aware of the world around them is never fully realized. The objects Wall-E collects are distinctively 70s and 80s retro, even though it takes place several hundred years from now. But those are pretty minor complaints when a movie looks this good and owes so much to silent cinema. It's also the most mature film Pixar has put out and handles environmental issues without getting preachy.

  • The Virgin Spring

    The Virgin Spring


A religious parable that's simple and direct and powerful. Bergman excels at medieval period films and is one of the few filmmakers that can deal seriously with religion in a positive way. I'm impressed. Script by Ulla Isaksson.

  • Titanic



    Hate me for loving it but it's truly awesome at doing what it wants to do - which is being an enormous hunk of populist entertainment - exactly the kind of stuff we're all so adverse to. I actually have issues with the theme, which is that when push comes to shove, class differences are irrelevant, and yet the film spends most of its time relishing the upper class and presenting one wealthy character after another while leaving all its…