The Best Old Movies I Watched in 2015

“Old” defined as anything made and theatrically released in the U.S. before 2015.

City Lights (1931)

The workplace and career anxieties of Modern Times will always make that movie my favorite Chaplin, but the unimpeachably excellent City Lights is nothing to sneeze at either. Chaplin zips from one set to the next without sacrificing any narrative coherency (a feat some modern films have difficulty recreating). While the actual city lights themselves don't shine so bright as you might expect given the title, Chaplin explores with his alternately comic and pathetic touch the city's tendency to make possible a multiplicity of identities. “In New York you can be a new man,” indeed.

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“That's the kind of person she is”: Mistress America (Noah Baumbach, 2015)

Occasionally I'll settle in for a movie I originally had no intention of seeing. When I saw the trailer for Noah Baumbach's Mistress America a few weeks ago, and after giving my gag reflex a minute to settle down, I relegated it to the "NOPE" bin. 

Yet sometimes the itch to just get out and go to a movie needs to be scratched, and so it was that I found myself losing my Mumblecore virginity this weekend at the geriatric matinee showing of Baumbach and Greta Gerwig's latest collaboration.

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A College Education in 50 Films

Everyone knows me by now as the resident movie expert, so it will come as a surprise to many of you to learn that just four years ago I was a total film philistine. Were it not for the devious Mr. Alan, Sophomore Honors English and Creative Writing teacher, who forcibly transferred me into his second-semester film class to work on a short screenplay I had written for a final, Tim's love affair with cinema would have remained unconsummated to this day. 

In my second week at Georgetown, after the dust from New Student Orientation and the start of classes had settled, I decided to start taking advantage of our library's vast DVD reserves to start catching up on all the movies Mr. Alan and others had been insisting I see. I simultaneously started keeping a journal of every film I watched from that day out, and before long I was in the grips of mankind's primal cataloguing urge, searching out films both near and far, old and new to fill my lazy hours.

My Georgetown education happened in a number of places, the classroom being only one of them. In honor of the 300 or so films I devoured throughout my collegiate years, I've picked out 50 pivotal films that will forever define my time here. Some of these movies are good, others atrocious; quality is not the primary criterion for selection so much as capacity for creating fond memories. I deliberately limited myself to movies I watched during the academic calendar year, so while vacation hits like MargaretMysteries of LisbonRosetta, and Laurence Anyways (to name a few) made their own indelible marks on my impressionable psyche, this is not the space to speak of those. Part of what makes a moviegoing experience memorable for me is the company I share it with; as you'll see with most of these selections, it's the people you freak out with while leaving the theater who make the endeavor worthwhile.

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The Tim Markatos Oscars

Honoring the actual best in movie quality since 2015.

Best Picture

Boyhood · The Grand Budapest Hotel · Force Majeure · Foxcatcher · Only Lovers Left Alive · Selma · The Tale of the Princess Kaguya · Two Days, One Night · Under the Skin · Whiplash

  • Best Director
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
  • Xavier Dolan, Mommy
  • Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
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Will the Real Film Lovers Please Stand Up?

It would seem nowadays as though anyone over the age of 30 with a vested interest in the movies will proudly flaunt their membership in the "Cinema is Dead and/or Dying" club. The refrains are common: sequelitis has ruined Hollywood for original projects; even the biggest-name auteurs have to beg tooth and nail outside of every Starbucks in LA for funding; and if you're a minority group, good luck seeing yourself realistically represented on the big screen. Film may be an art form, but the movies are a business, and in the absence of studio executives who know how (or simply care) to reconcile these two halves of the same coin, the most exciting, visionary, and boundary-pushing works are pushed to the sidelines at best and kept out of existence at worst.

Naturally, one might think that the solution to the lack of creativity and representation in Hollywood would be to look to foreign markets and venues. Indeed, there's plenty of exciting cinema happening in the rest of the world, and this year alone has given us gems as accessible as Ida and as obtuse as Winter Sleep. In the same breath that they condemn the Hollywood studio system for the apparently irreparable damage its left on their beloved medium, your friendly neighborhood film critic will find the room to praise one or two of these foreign imports in the hopes of expanding their readership's cinematic purview.

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