The Best Video Essays of 2015
December 30, 2015 4:12 AM   Subscribe

Tony Zhou [prvsly] and others polled for the best video essays of 2015. [via]
posted by KMB (7 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Ya know, I do have stuff I need to do today, KMB.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:01 AM on December 30, 2015

I watched a lot of these the other day and liked most of them, but I have to grumble a bit, even as a film buff. Why are video essays almost only about film?
posted by kandinski at 5:25 AM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think there are two main reasons.

1) Video essays are a good format for film criticism, using footage from actual films and some common filmmaking techniques (editing, generally) to make their points.
2) The availability of DVD and Blu-ray ripping software means there is a practically limitless pool of highly relevant, high-quality footage for essayists to appropriate and utilize in their work.

Video essays (or "essay films") on other subjects definitely exist, but the relative difficulty of gathering relevant visual supporting materials for a film that's not about film discourages many of the talented amateurs who might try their hand at it. Maybe this will change over time, with the rush of user-generated content online that might be appropriated by essayists, as well as the continued development of YouTube and other alternate distribution channels for serious film work. But for now, Adam Curtis makes excellent films that I would consider video essays. Jean-Luc Godard, too. Laurie Anderson released a very successful one this year, but of course she has a built-in audience. At his best, Michael Moore verges on essay-film status, as does Errol Morris. Essay films are not the easiest thing to do well and (Moore and Morris aside) they don't tend to be especially commercial. Chris Marker probably made the best essay films the world has ever seen (hell, he made some of the best films the world has ever seen), and still he lived and died in relative obscurity.
posted by Mothlight at 7:29 AM on December 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Maybe we could have a metafilter poll for Best non-Film Video of the Year? I bet there are some...

Right now I'm enjoying visualizations of molecular biology, so I like this presentation about Molecular Machines. (Not sure if TED talks are really what's needed, but I can't think of anything else at the moment.)
posted by sneebler at 7:33 AM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, surprised by the absence of Bitter Lake.
posted by fullerine at 8:14 AM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bitter Lake is more like a Film Memoir.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:34 AM on December 30, 2015

Here's my runner-up for 2015*: This 3-minute animation will change your perception of time.

I think the most mind-bending thing I learned in university was the faintest idea about the scale of Earth's timeline, and the major events in the history of life. This is the only video I've seen recently on the subject, and it gets extra points for being amazingly US-centric.

*I haven't been looking very hard...
posted by sneebler at 3:04 PM on December 31, 2015

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