Thursday, 11 February 2016

20 Best Films of 2015

We've been in 2016 for over 40 days now, so it's about time this list got out there. So, these are the best films I was able to see in 2015.


Honourable Mentions:
*India's Daughter, a documentary about a horrific crime, which transitions into a view of gender politics in India.
*Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, a terrifying look into a toxic organization that's rather prevalent, while former members bravely give accounts of what they had to endure.
*Avengers: Age of Ultron, a worthy follow up that makes good use of it's huge cast.
*Macbeth, Justin Kurzel's tense and brutal adaptation that's shot to a stunning degree, beautiful to look at, and packed with phenomenal acting work.
*Ex Machina, an engaging piece of sci-fi that boasts fantastic ideas and topics alongside the trio of exceptional performances.
*World Of Tomorrow, an emotional 17 minutes that's ambitious, and gets across important messages with beautiful dialogue.
*Cobain: Montage of Heck, an intimate look at the Nirvana frontman's life before fame and behind the scenes.
*The Martian, which balances humour, tension, drama and impressive feats of science alongside an ensemble acting the hell out of their every scene.
*Slow West, a film that wastes not one word of dialogue, showcasing the terrors of the west as encountered by the fascinating characters.
*Amy, a heartbreaking and illuminating view of the late singer's life, and her struggles both hidden, and on show due to the paparazzi.

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20. Creep

With his directorial debut, Patrick Brice delivers a tale which takes you off guard with it's awkward moments of humour, before the mounting tension and chills descend upon the viewers. Found footage is effectively utilised, ensuring the tension never lets up, while delivering a reasonable excuse to use jump scares.



19. Brooklyn

John Crowley's adaptation of the 2009 novel was one of the better surprises had in 2015. Be it the sincere take, both on the immigrant experience and relationships, or Crowley's deft direction. The earnest performances stand out above all else, with Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen being particularly impressive.

18. The Big Short

If this is Adam McKay's attempt to prove himself as more than the "Will Ferrell comedy" guy, then consider it proven. His unique vision handles the 2008 housing crisis with a sense of surrealism and fun, where Selena Gomez explains synthetic CDO's, while using Blackjack as a visual aide. Yet the films never forgets it's the ordinary people who truly lost during that time, nor that it's protagonists are far from heroes, or what caused this crisis to occur. An important film about a subject matter deserving of your attention.

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17. The Gift

Joel Edgerton establishes himself as a triple threat with just one film, boasting confident directing, writing both taut & smart, and giving a performance that goes deeper than his character's overly friendly nature. But it's far from just Edgerton's show. The ever-reliable Jason Bateman is stellar as Simon, a man who's trying to move on from his past, while never truly managing to escape it. Rebecca Hall shows how fantastic an actor she can be, when given the opportunity to portray an actual character. Whatever project Edgerton next handles, consider it highly anticipated.

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16. The Voices

Delightfully off-kilter, blackly humorous, rather eccentric. Marjane Satrapi's latest can be called numerous things, but it all manages to work thanks to her fantastic hold, which ensures the dramatic moments hit as well as the humorous ones. What helps is how on form Ryan Reynolds is, managing to be unconventional, yet well meaning, and even a tad unsettling. Satrapi ends things on her own terms with a musical number, as fantastically odd as the rest of the film, making it far from a left field inclusion. A gem from 2015.



15. Krampus

Considering the majority of Christmas releases tend to be syrupy affairs delivering heavy handed messages, it's completely refreshing to see a festive film willing to bare it's teeth. A seamless integration of genres, with a relevant message about keeping in the Holiday spirit, and treasuring the moments with your loved ones.

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14. Tangerine

From early on, it's clear that Sean Baker has directed one of the year's most gorgeous films. The vibrant colours and cinematography remain one heck of a treat for the eyes, which makes it all the more shocking it was all shot on an iPhone 5s, as opposed to a professional movie camera. While the film's received a great deal of attention due to that aspect, by no means should it be where the acclaim ends.

Crimson Peak theatrical poster.jpg13. Crimson Peak

The latest from Guillermo Del Toro is more than just a ghost story. It's a wonderfully woven period tale that engages the viewer and delivers chills, while containing ghosts to compliment the story as metaphors for the past. Fernando Velázquez's luscious score is a treat for the ears, perfectly accompanied by the sumptuous visuals of Dan Laustsen's cinematography. Tom Hiddleston has an air of mystery surrounding him, with some kind of plan clearly formulating in his mind, yet bearing moments of genuine humanity. Mia Wasikowska is a wonderful lead,, but it's Jessica Chastain who threatens to steal the film, clearly having a ball as she sinks her teeth into her role.
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12. The Final Girls

Todd Strauss-Schulson utilizes a unique and stylish direction to make a distinctive beast out of this self-aware love letter to 80's slasher films. The comedy and horror elements are handled so effectively, while holding a clear appreciation for 80's slashers. But the biggest surprise lies in the strong emotional core, as our lead has to accept her mothers death, through the possible death of the onscreen character her mother once played. It's a delicious allegory, and helps to elevate what's already a darn smart meta-horror comedy.

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11. Carol

A romance film is only as strong as the couples caught in the focus, be they together or separate. Thankfully, Carol is a strong piece of work. Todd Haynes utilizes dreamy visuals and a beautiful score to make an entrancing combination, which helps transport viewers. But what holds attentions is the wonderful characters, whose relationship grabs draws viewers in, and leaves them caring for how it'll turn out.
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10. Room

Lenny Abrahamson perfectly captures the harrowing nature of this tale, about a mother and her son who live their lives captives within a single, windowless room. However, unexpected paths are taken to set this apart, allowing for moments which are uplifting and heart wrenching to make their way through. But the real story are the performances, as Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson deliver some of the best acting seen in a 2015 film.



9. Breathe

Mélanie Laurent's second feature film shows confidence, delivering an affecting piece of work which showcases the harmful nature of passion, at excessive levels. Adolescence and friendship are captured extremely well, with a sensitive handling. Yet the disheartening aspects are close to the bone, crafting a film which feels utterly real. Sorry for the painfully obvious wordplay, but this is breathtaking stuff.


SteveJobsposter.jpg8. Steve Jobs

Formulaic biopics are commonplace, so thank goodness Danny Boyle was hired, making the film about the Apple mogul anything but. Set behind the scenes of three separate product launches, the focus lies on the masterful acting and Aaron Sorkin's impeccable writing, with Boyle's kinetic direction adding to those components, rather than distracting from them. Yet the real surprise lies in the overarching relationship betweens Jobs and his daughter, Lisa, as the father/daughter bond keeps on building, until the result leads to quite the heartfelt climax.

Relatos salvajes.jpg7. Wild Tales

Damián Szifrón puts across a good argument for the potential of using the anthology format in black comedies. The six separate tales are only connected by their focus, which is on the catharsis that comes from losing control and giving into your anger, and the black comedy is mined from that. The opening tale alone is a masterful piece of hilarity which goes places you wouldn't expect, and while the following tales don't manage to top it, Szifrón ensure they certainly give it a try.

Creed poster.jpg6. Creed

It was eventual that the Rocky franchise would make a comeback, but thankfully, the now 70 year old doesn't return to fight once more. Instead, he takes on a new protégé, the son of his former nemesis turned friend, Apollo Creed. Michael B. Jordan gives a powerful performance that ranks highly as one of the best of 2015, perfectly getting across the rage of living in his famous fathers shadow, a man he'll never know, while fearing he'll take on the Creed surname, only to fail in living up to it. The fights are thrilling and raw, as Ryan Coogler delivers one fight in one impressive shot, and the final fight with a great deal of emotional investment. Tackling the theme of legacy to a great degree, I'm going to have to use a cheesy line that's probably been used by everybody. Creed is a knockout!

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5. The Revenant

If there's one word which can be used describe the overall picture, it's breathtaking. It's an effective description for many aspects of the film. From the visuals, boasting masterful work from Emmanuel Lubezki, as the unforgiving, snowy landscape gives you chills just from looking at it. To the unflinching brutality, vividly brought to life by Iñárritu's stunning direction, are left seared into your mind. What Alejandro González Iñárritu has delivered is more than just a way of seeing how far Leo will go for that Oscar, it's an unforgettable experience.

The Hateful Eight.jpg4. The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight is the closest we'll see to a Quentin Tarantino stage play, as the isolated set-up works to the films advantage. Viewers bear witness as the most graphic and bloody game of Cluedo unfolds, and the colour red is brought in to paint Minnie's Haberdashery with. Samuel L. Jackson takes on the role of Hercule Poirot, looking to unravel the lies and weed out those who've not been forthcoming with the truth. Tension oozes all throughout as claustrophobia sets in, and scenes feel reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing, while the lodge becomes a closed off version of hell for the characters we've been following.

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3. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

It could've been easy for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens to be another lazy blockbuster. Thankfully, the film is a true sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi, managing to pay respect to what previously came before, while laying the groundwork for the remaining entries into the trilogy. From the moment the familiar opening comes on-screen, you'll feel like a child once more. The franchise is in good hands.



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2. Inside Out

At this point, Pixar could easily churn out a soulless picture lacking in any good qualities from their past work, and still watch the money add up (or at least that was the cast until The Good Dinosaur). Instead, Inside Out comes packed with imagination, humour, likeable characters, laughs and, well, emotion. Pixar has returned to their creative highs, delivering one of 2015s best films. It'll stay in your mind for longer than a jingle from a Chewing Gum advert.

Theatrical release poster1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Considering franchises regularly switch directors, it's a marvel that George Miller has handled every Mad Max entry . But what's even more astonishing is how, despite it being 30 years since the release of Beyond Thunderdome, it's as if Miller never truly left. The world is built with panache and imagination, showing nobody knows this world better. The action powers the plot forward, whilst being a never-ending thrill-ride, as Junkie XL's score pulsates to the breathtaking vehicular carnage. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy perfectly embody their characters. I could go on, as every aspect of this film is deserving of praise. It's an all-round masterpiece, and set the bar high early on in 2015.


Agree/Disagree with my choices? Be sure to voice your opinions in the comments below.

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