Resurrecting my 2013 choice to include all my best-ofs into one omnilist, here are 15 films, books, and albums I loved from 2015.
There’s a scene about five minutes into Brooklyn that setup the whole film for me. Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), soon bound for a new life in 1950s America, watches as her friend disappears into the dance crowd with a partner, leaving her alone, on the outside looking in at what will soon be her old life. The camera holds on her face, which betrays a tender bittersweetness that characterizes the whole of John Crowley’s exquisite and humane film. Even while still at home she is homesick, a struggle she will have to endure long after she sails away from Ireland and attempts to forge a new meaning of home. Saoirse Ronan carried this film, and me with it.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road (if only for this shot)
5. Slow West (review)
1. The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levenson (review)
I’m a sucker for concisely written popular histories that uncover forgotten pockets of history and render them understandable and entertaining to the general public. This book does just that. Having read Isaacson’s biography of Einstein last year I was a little better equipped than I otherwise would be when reading about Einstein’s role in this narrative, yet I found Levenson’s distillation of the theories revolving around the Vulcan episode even more accessible than others. I’ve been pimping this one at the library with hopes more people will enjoy it as much as I did.
2. Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker
3. H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald (review)
4. Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton (review)
5. The Typewriter Revolution by Richard Polt (review)
1. Psalms by Sandra McCracken
“All Ye Refugees” was quite timely this year, given the animus surrounding immigration. It’s heartening to remember public policy need not and should not be influenced solely by politico and demagogues. Though this album is explicitly based on the Psalms, like her previous albums The Builder and the Architect and In Feast or Fallow its blend of modern and ancient style lends it a timeless sound even the irreligious can appreciate.
2. Didn’t He Ramble by Glen Hansard
3. Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens
4. Such Jubilee by Mandolin Orange
5. Strange Trails by Lord Huron