The Talkhouse is dedicated to the proposition that filmmakers can also make fine film critics: Check out Terence Nance on “Chi-Raq” or Barry Jenkins on “The Knick” for proof. But as next week’s Oscar nominations are about to remind us, the people who make films and the people who write about them don’t always see eye to eye on the best of the best. (See: the apparently likelihood of multiple nominations for “Trumbo,” which didn’t even make the Top 50 in Indiewire’s critics poll.) The nearly 60 filmmakers The Talkhouse polled on the best movies of 2015 are a hipper bunch than the fusty Academy, but their collective Top 10 still diverges from critics’ favorites in a few interesting ways.
For one, there’s the relatively high ranking of “Tangerine,” which finished second after inevitable winner “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Sean Baker’s film, famously (and beautifully) shot on an iPhone 5s, ranked 13th in Indiewire’s poll, fifth in the Village Voice’s, and 17th in Film Comment’s — all plenty respectable showings, but it’s not surprising that people who make movies for a living are that much more impressed with what Baker pulled off with his limited resources. “Ex Machina” — 11th in Indiewire and the Voice’s polls, 34th in Film Comment — is substantially farther up The Talkhouse’s list, as are “Sicario” — 25th in Indiewire’s poll, 32 at the Voice, and a lowly 47’s chez Film Comment — and “It Follows” (23rd Indiewire/43rd Voice/22d Film Comment).
The biggest standout, however, is Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight,” which ranked 41st on the Voice’s poll and didn’t place at all in Indiewire’s or Film Comment’s. That’s, no doubt, in large part because the film hadn’t screened for many critics before those votes were cast. But the wildly mixed reviews the film has received since its release make it doubtful it would have been much of a contender anyway. Even though The Talkhouse’s balloting closed December 21st, before the movie had officially opened, enough of the Talkhouse’s respondents — among them Rodney Ascher, Simon Barrett, Bret Easton Ellis, Pat Healy, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, and Rupert Wyatt — had seen and loved it to place it in fifth, above “Spotlight” and “Inside Out.” Like “Tangerine,” “The Hateful Eight” is a movie premised on a technical challenge, even though by reviving 70 mm, Tarantino was reaching to the past rather than the future. Maybe that predisposes filmmakers to like it more; or maybe they’re less put off by the film’s politics than its critics; or maybe they just like a nicely composed shot of an exploding head.
Scan the full ballots, and note the number of voters who, when asked to name their favorite Talkhouse piece, respond “Anything by Terence Nance.” If you’re not reading him already, now’s the time to start.
The Talkhouse’s Best Films of 2015
1. “Mad Max: Fury Road” 186
2. “Tangerine” 104
3. “Carol” 95.5
4. “Ex Machina” 79.5
5. “The Hateful Eight” 73
6. “Sicario” 72
7. “Inside Out” 70.5
8. “Spotlight” 67.5
9. “The Look of Silence” 67
10. “It Follows” 66