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Special Eyes: The Aro St. Video Shop Newsletter


Happy New Year fellow film fan,

A lot has been happening at AroVideo which we will update you about very soon, but in the meantime we want to focus back on something that got a little neglected amid all the business hoopla: the films themselves!

It might have been our annus horribilis, but 2015 yielded a suprisingly solid crop of films on DVD/Blu-Ray. Our Top 50 ranking might be less democratic in process than it is in spirit, but it’s designed to give reliable guidance to what might be a "typical" AroVideo customer. We usually favour those "outside the box" over the formulaic, though sometimes the formula can be exceptional in execution.

Agree? Disagree? We’d love you to add your own star-rating and review/comment on any film to our website, or add any of those listed here to your personal wishlist when logged in to your My-Aro account.


Salt of the Earth
1. Salt of the Earth

Peerless portrait of fearless artistry and humanitarianism

Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Mad Max: Fury Road

This propulsive, epic freak show was the event picture of the year


3. Nightcrawler

A bracing, razor-sharp satire of news media cynicism

Inside Out

4. Inside Out

Immaculate Pixar animation about the human mind and maturity


5. Pride

A broadly appealing yet authentic account of 1980s gay activism

6. Birdman

Oscar-winning backstage drama that wrestles art and commerce

7. Boyhood

A bold cinema experiment 12 years in the making

8. Interstellar

Bravura space epic from the dir. of Inception

9. Whiplash

Intense, dynamic melodrama of musical obsession

Ex Machina
10. Ex Machina

Sterile but sensationally stylish sci-fi drama

Gone Girl
11. Gone Girl

Brilliantly twisted Hollywood thriller for our times

12. Wild

Vividly cinematic account of one woman’s lone trek

Force Majeure
13. Force Majeure

Piercing Swedish black comedy about gender politics

Love is Strange
14. Love is Strange

Delightful NY drama about modern family dynamics

The Drop
15. The Drop

First-rate, slow-burn NY crime drama

16. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Dazzling "politically incorrect" secret agent spoof

17. Spy

Hilarious, girl-empowered secret agent spoof

Man Up
18. Man Up

London-set romantic comedy packed with wit and chemistry

Love and Mercy
19. Love and Mercy

Sensitive and nuanced portrait of troubled Beach Boy Brian Wilson

20. Marshland

Gritty yet sumptuous Spanish noir thriller set in the 1980s

21. Leviathan

Mournful, vodka-soaked fable of Russian corruption

The One I Love
22. The One I Love

Inventive magic-realist meditation on monogamy

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet
23. The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

Resplendent family-friendly Americana from dir. of AMELIE

The Broken Circle Breakdown
24. The Broken Circle Breakdown

Sensual, toe-tapping Belgian romantic drama

The Ground We Won
25. The Ground We Won

Elegiac portrait of a rural Kiwi rugby team

26. ’71

Riveting dramatisation of Irish conflict circa 1971

27. Amy

Soulful doco about fallen pop angel Amy Winehouse

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
28. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Elegant Asian-American tragicomedy

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
29. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Hynoptic, exotic Iranian vampire tale

A Most Wanted Man
30. A Most Wanted Man

Classy John Le Carre thriller with Philip Seymour Hoffman

Big Eyes
31. Big Eyes

Ebullient account of art fraud and sexism in the 1950s

Going Clear
32. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Cogent expose of an egregious tax-haven

Mr. Turner
33. Mr. Turner

Fastidious artist portrait from dir. Mike Leigh

Listen to Me Marlon
34. Listen to Me Marlon

Sensitive, insightful portrait of a Hollywood enigma

It Follows
35. It Follows

Critically-lauded teen horror pastiche

Inherent Vice
36. Inherent Vice

Faithful adaptation of Thomas Pinchon’s barmy novel

37. Paddington

Adorable, affecting reboot of the beloved Brit bear

Dior and I
38. Dior and I

Fabulous fly-on-the-wall film for fashion freaks

39. Foxcatcher

Mature meditation on the American dream gone awry

Slow West
40. Slow West

Off-beat, stylish Western shot in NZ

Winter Sleep
41. Winter Sleep

Patience-rewarding Cannes-winning Turkish drama

The Lunchbox
42. The Lunchbox

Aromatic, appetizing Indian rom-com

Clouds of Sils Maria
43. Clouds of Sils Maria

Insightful thespian drama starring Juliette Binoche

Hip Hop-eration
44. Hip Hop-eration

Life-affirming doc about an aged Waiheke dance troup

The Dead Lands
45. The Dead Lands

Visceral historical actioner shot entirely in Te Reo Maori.

The Guest
46. The Guest

Gleefully ghoulish comic-thriller about an unhinged war vet

The Homesman
47. The Homesman

Haunting, auteur Western from Tommy Lee Jones

Song One
48. Song One

Overlooked indie gem boasts sentimental restraint

Night Moves
49. Night Moves

Satisfyingly low-key indie eco-thriller

The Congress
50. The Congress

Live/animated hybrid is a weird/wonderful film biz deconstruction

2015 was a particularly strong year for Children’s cinema, with these additional contenders: The Boxtrolls, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Cinderella, Big Hero 6, Tomorrowland, Minions, Paper Planes, Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot, Alexander, Japan’s When Marnie Was There and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and France’s Nicholas on Holiday.

These also made the not-so-short list for the Best of 2015 ~

In Drama (US): Selma, Still Alice, The Immigrant, The Skeleton Twins, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. In Drama (UK/Ire): The Imitation Game, Theory of Everything, Mr. Holmes, Far from the Madding Crowd, Testament of Youth, X+Y, Noble, Jimmy’s Hall, My Old Lady, Lilting, and The Falling. In Comedy: While We’re Young, What We Did on Our Holiday, St. Vincent, Obvious Child, Results, Dope, Dear White People. In Documentary: Particle Fever, Advanced Style, Women He’s Undressed, Dinosaur 13, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Rewind This!, Tim’s Vermeer, National Gallery, Finding Vivian Maier, Sunshine Superman, Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia, Banksy Does New York, The Green Prince, Citizenfour, Life Itself. In Foreign language: Diplomacy, Eden, Eastern Boys, Siddharth, The Nightingale, Love at First Fight, In Bloom, The Keeper of Lost Causes, In Order of Disappearance, The Mafia Kills Only in Summer. In Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Ant-Man, The Hobbit - Battle of Five Armies, Jurassic World, Chappie, Coherence, Spring. In Action/Crime: Fury, A Most Violent Year, American Sniper, Rosewater, The Salvation, The Gift, John Wick, Cop Car, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Black Sea. In Music: Into the Woods, God Help the Girl, Get On Up, Jimi: All is By My Side, The Punk Singer, Cobain: Montage of Heck, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. In Young Adult: Trash, The Kings of Summer, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Maze Runner, Project Almanac. On from the Edge: Turbo Kid, Deathgasm, Wetlands, Welcome to New York, Maps to the Stars, Amer, Love 3D, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, Paradise: Love.

For further recommendations, you can browse the AroVideo Top 50 Films of 2014 newsletter and stand-by for our Best TV shows of 2015 and also our Staff Picks of 2015 (the jury is still in session)...

Utu ReduxSpeaking of "Best of’s", the inaugural release of Utu Redux on our own AroMedia label received a significant accolade from the world’s most famous videostore clerk, Quentin Tarantino, who dropped by NZ last week and named Utu as "absolutely, hands-down the best New Zealand film of all time" in this interview. Thanks, QT!


And thanks to you for reading, and your interest and investment in what we do. If you find this newsletter useful please forward to a friend, or you can like, share or give feedback on our Top 50 post on Facebook to spread the love and discussion!

Cheers from the Aro Team,

AroVideo Online

The Aro St Video Shop
97 Aro Street, Wellington, NZ
ph/fax. 64-4-801-7101

"We Specialise for Special Eyes" ~ since way back in 1989

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