The 2015 Seattle Film Poll

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Seattle, weirdly enough, is one of the few major film cities in the country that doesn’t have an established, functioning critics group. This means that come awards season, we don’t have an organization to announce to the world our city’s pick for the best film of the year. So we here at Seattle Screen Scene asked a selection of local critics and programmers to send us their Top Ten lists for the year and, after adding them up, the result is that, well, we pretty much agree with every other city and critics group that George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is hands-down the best film of 2015. Michael Mann’s Blackhat is the clear second-place finisher, with Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin rounding out the top three. In all, 65 films received votes, spanning the depth and variety and unique character of the Seattle film scene.

Here is our Top Ten:

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1. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)

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2. Blackhat (Michael Mann)

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3. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)

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4. Carol (Todd Haynes)

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5. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin)

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6. Taxi (Jafar Panahi)

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7. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)

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8. The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)

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8. Tangerine (Sean Baker)

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8. Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)

Full results are listed after the break, along with each voter’s ballot.

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Brian Alter, Programmer/Top Dog at the Grand Illusion Cinema

1. Buzzard (Joel Petroykus)
2. Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson)
3. Taxi (Jafar Panahi)
4. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
5. The Martian (Ridley Scott)

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Neil Bahadur, Seattle Screen Scene and Mubi

1. Horse Money (Pedro Costa)
2. Blackhat (Michael Mann)
3. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
4. Welcome to New York (Abel Ferrara)
5. Taxi (Jafar Panahi)
6. Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg)
6. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard)
8. Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
9. Hit 2 Pass (Kurt Walker)
10. Office (Johnnie To)

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Ryan Davis and the Smarthouse Creative Team

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller) – Visuals were killer and the first 30 minutes sucked me in. I also loved how Tom Hardy really wasn’t the main character even thought the movie was named after him.
2. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy) – Every actor was amazing and even for an uncomfortable topic I wasn’t THAT uncomfortable because of the way the story was told. Plus, I love Mark Ruffalo and Micheal Keaton.
3. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Christopher McQuarrie) – As much as it pains me to put Tom Cruise in my top 4, I’ve always been a fan of the Mission Impossible movies and they started to let me down over the years until this one. Great ending and full of action that made me cringe most of the time. I guess Tom Cruise isn’t THAT bad.
4. Wild Tales (Damián Szifron) – So dark, so delicious, with great camera work to boot.
5. The Keeping Room (Daniel Barber) – This tale of ladies kicking butt didn’t make nearly as much of a splash as I expected. It’s an interesting twist to the horror “home invasion” genre, with an effective (subtly low budget) period setting.
6. Wild Canaries (Lawrence Michael Levine) – Who said indies needed to be small town dramas? This film refreshingly broke the mold. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from these filmmakers again.
7. My Last Year With the Nuns (Bret Fetter) – seen it a dozen times, never gets old! A must for all Seattleites.
8. The Breach (Mark Titus) – excellent documentary will spur you to action and give you hope for a sustainable future.
9. The Play (Peter Vogt) – Are you in the mood to grin? Of course you are! Kick back and enjoy this fast-paced look at the wackiest moment in college sports.
10. The Gift (Joel Egerton) – Everything you need in a slow burning mystery thriller. A married couple moves to LA for a fresh start. They start to hang out with a blast-from-the-past weird guy that went to the husband’s high school. Who these people were in high school starts to creep-out their current lives. Written and directed by Joel Edgerton.
11. Ex Machina (Alex Garland) – An eccentric inventor designs a fem-bot to be as human as possible, and invites a wide eyed QA tester to analyze the results. Are these two men testing the robot’s computed reflection of humanity, or is she testing their actual humanity? The drama between these characters in an isolated high tech architectural mansion laboratory is well polished sci-fi.
12. Inside Out (Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen) – My favorite new family movie from Pixar. Young Riley’s Dad gets a tech job in San Fran and she feels uprooted by the move. Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness are the little creatures that run the control center in her brain and help navigate the good days and the bad. Clearly, it’s so much better when the little brain creatures are working in unison.

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Sean Gilman, Seattle Screen Scene

1. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
3. Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)
4. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin)
5. The Royal Road (Jenni Olson)
6. Blackhat (Michael Mann)
7. Horse Money (Pedro Costa)
8. Carol (Todd Haynes)
9. Mistress America (Noah Baumbach)
10. World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)

Best Local Repertory I saw in 2015: The Hou Hsiao-hsien Retrospective (Northwest Film Forum, Grand Illusion & Scarecrow Video), The Apu Trilogy (SIFF), Cat PeopleI Walked with a Zombie (Grand Illusion), A Day in the Country & French Cancan (Seattle Art Museum), Serge Bromberg’s Saved from the Flames compilation (SIFF).

Top diasporic Chinese-language releases: The Taking of Tiger Mountain (Tsui Hark), Office (Johnnie To), Go Away, Mr. Tumor (Han Yan), Wild City (Ringo Lam), Kung Fu Jungle (Teddy Chan).

Best Locally Unreleased 2015 Films: 88:88 (Isiah Medina), Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke), Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes), The Thoughts That Once We Had (Thom Andersen), Li Wen at East Lake (Luo Li), Kaili Blues (Bi Gan), Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sangsoo), Port of Call (Philip Yung), Murmur of the Hearts (Sylvia Chang), A Tale of Three Cities (Mabel Cheung).

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Jhon Hernandez, Seattle Screen Scene

1. Baahubali: The Beginning (SS Rajamouli)
2. Blackhat (Michael Mann)
3. Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)
4. O Kadhal Kanmani (Mani Ratnam)
4. Mistress America (Noah Baumbach)
5. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
6. Tamasha (Imtiaz Ali)
7. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
8. Office (Johnnie To)
9. The Mend (John Magary)
10. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)

Top diasporic Indian releases: Baahubali: The Beginning (SS Rajamouli), O Kadhal Kanmani (Mani Ratnam), Tamasha (Imtiaz Ali), Bombay Velvet (Anurag Kashyap), Dil Dhadakne Do (Zoya Akhtar), NH10 (Navdeep Singh), Piku (Shoojit Sircar).

Top Undistributed Films: SPL 2: A Time for Consequences (Soi Cheang), La La La at Rock Bottom (Nobuhiro Yamashita), Ryuzo and the 7 Henchmen (Takeshi Kitano).

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Matt Lynch, Scarecrow Video and In Review Online

1. The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)
2. Blackhat (Michael Mann)
3. Carol (Todd Haynes)
4. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
5. Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
6. Bitter Lake (Adam Curtis)
7. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Christopher McQuarrie)
8. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
9. Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
10. The Martian (Ridley Scott)

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Brent McKnight, The Last Thing I See

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
2. Deathgasm (Jason Lei Howden)
3. The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
4. The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer)
5. Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
6. Carol (Todd Haynes)
7. Pitch Perfect 2 (Elizabeth Banks)
8. Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
9. Tangerine (Sean Baker)
10. Brooklyn (John Crowley)
11. The Martian (Ridley Scott)
12. Turbo Kid (Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell)

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Benjamin Nason, The MacGuffin

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
2. Carol (Todd Haynes)
3. The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)
4. Blackhat (Michael Mann)
5. Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
6. Creed (Ryan Coogler)
7. The Martian (Ridley Scott)
8. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
9. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
10. The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle)

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Seema Pai, Seattle Screen Scene and They Shot Pictures

1. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
2. Gangs of Wasseypur (Anurag Kashyap)
3. Blackhat (Michael Mann)
4. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin)
5. Office (Johnnie To)
6. Baahubali: The Beginning (SS Rajamouli)
7. O Kadhal Kanmani (Mani Ratnam)
8. The Taking of Tiger Mountain (Tsui Hark)
9. Eisenstein in Guanajuato (Peter Greenaway)
10. Tamasha (Imtiaz Ali)

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Courtney Sheehan, Artistic Director at the Northwest Film Forum

1. Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
2. Balikbayan #1 Memories of Overdevelopment Redux (Kidlat Tahimik)
3. Field Niggas (Khalik Allah)
4. Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson)
5. In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman)
6. Court (Chaitanya Tamhane)
7. Losing Ground (Kathleen Collins)
8. Taxi (Jafar Panahi)
9. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin)
10. Fresh Dressed (Sacha Jenkins)

Best Films Yet to Be Theatrically Released: Above and Below (Nicolas Steiner), Cemetery of Splendor (Apichatpong Weerasethakul), Men Go to Battle (Zachary Treitz), Uncle Kent 2 (Todd Rohal), My Golden Days (Arnaud Desplechin), A War (Tobias Lindholm), The Event (Sergey Loznitsa).

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Mike Strenski, Seattle Screen Scene

1. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin)
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
3. Inside Out (Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen)
4. Tangerine (Sean Baker)
5. World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)
6. Taxi (Jafar Panahi)
7. Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories (Phan Dang Di)
8. Blackhat (Michael Mann)
9. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard)
10. The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)

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Melissa Tamminga, Seattle Screen Scene

1. 45 Years (Andrew Haigh)
2. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-Hsien)
3. Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
4. Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
5. Tangerine (Sean Baker)
6. A Matter of Interpretation (Lee Kwangkuk)
7. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson)
8. Queen of Earth (Alex Ross Perry)
9. Taxi (Jafar Panahi)
10. GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Ronit Elkabetz)

Honorable Mentions: Rebels of a Neon God (Tsai Ming-liang), Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven) , Blackhat (Michael Mann), Selma (Ava DuVernay), About Elly (Asghar Farhadi), Ballet 422
(Jody Lee Lipes)

Best film not yet released locally: Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes)

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Andrew Wright, The Stranger

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
2. Blackhat (Michael Mann)
3. Carol (Todd Haynes)
4. It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)
5. Tangerine (Sean Baker)
6. Bone Tomahawk (S. Craig Zahler)
7. Creed (Ryan Coogler)
8. Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
9. The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)
10. Inside Out (Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen)

And here is the full list. Eligible was anything that played for the first time in Seattle in 2015. Points were assigned with 10 for first, 9 for second, etc. In the event that more than ten titles were listed, only the first ten received points. In all, 65 films received votes:

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (70 points)
2. Blackhat (59)
3. The Assassin (39)
4. Carol (33)
5. The Forbidden Room (26)
6. Taxi (24)
7. Phoenix (22)
8. The Duke of Burgundy (21)
8. Tangerine (21)
8. Sicario (21)

11. Magic Mike XXL (18.5)
12. Heart of a Dog (16)
12. Jauja (16)
14. Baahubali: The Beginning (15)
15. Horse Money (14)
16. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (12)
17. The Martian (11)
17. O Kadhal Kanmani (11)
19. 45 Years (10)
19. Buzzard (10)
19. Office (10)

22. Spotlight (9)
22. Deathgasm (9)
22. Creed (9)
22. Balikbayan #1 Memories of Overdevelopment Redux (9)
22. Inside Out (9)
22. Gangs of Wasseypur (9)
28. Mistress America (8)
28. The Revenant (8)
28. Field Niggas (8)

31. Wild Tales (7)
31. The Look of Silence (7)
31. Mr. Turner (7)
31. It Follows (7)
31. World of Tomorrow (7)
31. Welcome to New York (7)
37. Goodbye to Language (6.5)
38. The Keeping Room (6)
38. In Jackson Heights (6)
38. The Royal Road (6)
41. Tamasha (5)
41. Wild Canaries (5)
41. Bitter Lake (5)
41. A Matter of Interpretation (5)
41. Court (5)
41. Bone Tomahawk (5)
47. Bridge of Spies (4.5)
48. My Year with the Nuns (4)
48. Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (4)
48. Losing Ground (4)
48. Big Father, Small Father, and Other Stories (4)

52. Pitch Perfect 2 (3.5)
53. The Breach (3)
53. Queen of Earth (3)
53. The Taking of Tiger Mountain (3)
56. The Play (2)
56. Ex Machina (2)
56. Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2)
56. Hit 2 Pass (2)
60. The Mend (1)
60. The Gift (1)
60. Brooklyn (1)
60. GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (1)
60. The Wolfpack (1)
60. Fresh Dressed (1)

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