Phew. That was tough. It has been coming for a long time so I’m extremely excited to share my list with you, feel free to offer your comments 🙂 There’s always something special, a sort of child-like excitement that comes along with reviewing the whole year in film, and giving special praise to the ones that stood out and the ones that left its presence on me. 2015 was extraordinary. Films ranged from art-house to Indie to Blockbusters to personal projects, spanning all kinds of genres from oddly introspective animation to psychological thrillers to coming-of-age stories. There were spies, and teenagers, and a guy being mauled by a bear, another guy latched on a 2-hour mad drive, transgenders, homosexuals, child soldiers and people who fought to expose the church; This is probably the best year in film. Ever. I honestly believed any of the 10 films here could easily replace most of previous year’s Best Picture. That’s how much 2015 films rock!
Alright then, without further ado, these are the best of the very best.
10 . Spotlight
Spotlight is about the Boston Globe’s successful attempts to expose the paedophilia and sexual abuse that the Church has long hidden from public. It depicts all of the the systemic atrocity in a clinical way, without fuss nor extravagance, and unearths the truth with a resounding determination. I’ve always been quite critical of the Church in this regard, so the film naturally resonated with me quite deeply.One team can question an entire belief. One team can bring light to the darkness. One team can spark the advent of justice. I feel that Spotlight isn’t about being flashy, it’s all about the cohesive team effort that when united, exposes the greater truth; It is in essence just like its acting. The sum of its parts are greater than the individual. Without a doubt, this is the most important film of 2015.
9. The Revenant
Pulsating and cerebral. The Revenant is this years most rugged and ravishing film, brutal yet beautiful, which captures one man’s journey of vengeance. Left for dead in the hardy (pun intended) winter bulwark by his friend after being mauled by a bear, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass with an utmost conviction. Did you know he ate raw bison meat? Yeah, just give him his Oscar already! I liked this one better than Birdman by a mile. Alejandro Inarritu is more deft here, and alongside cinemtographer Emanuel Lubezki, serve up one exceptional visual experience. Dusk. Dawn. Snowfall. Bloodshed. Gunpowder explosion. Savage ambush. Glass’s grunts. Horse’s corpse. And raging fires in the darkness; It would have ranked higher if it had not been in such a packed year.
Sicario isn’t usual fodder for fans of action and thrillers. It’s framing psychological element pervades the screen with an unsettling presence. Violence takes on several meanings and significance. Denis Villeneuve’s best work till date projects the raging warfare in the war on drugs, but more importantly, exposes bare the raging tempest of the mind. Emily Blunt’s stunning performance as a female field agent rises above the masculine displays showed by both Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. What I love about her character was she embodied the essence of the film; How one can be so strong and yet so vulnerable, which humanizes one in the land of the dead. It’s a psychological twist on an action-thriller that keeps you perpetually on the edge of your seat.
Charlie Kaufman’s second film is one bizarre, weird, oddball spectacle of life. It’s effects that is. In it’s plot and characterization, it’s pretty much one of the most realistic films ever.It’s a deep exploration of our psychology using a medium that’s so unique. I love it! Anomalisa makes use of stop-motion, a laborious process of filming, to shoot a moving picture using puppet figurines. Sounds totally preposterous. But it has been made. And it has moved me. Anomalisa draws from the fact that life is one vapid mess of the mundane and the ordinary. Whether we can escape that and make life more fufilling is a question it explores with nuance, leaving much for our own interpretation. It’s characters, namely Michael and Lisa, are projections of our very own personalities. They continue make an impression long after the film has ended.
6. Inside Out
This one equals Forrest Gump in the number of times it made me cry. 3. 3 times I looked like the wettest thing in the cinema. I didn’t care. Because Inside Out shows me, and all of us, why being sad is actually good. It is the most introspective and insightful Pixar film ever, I’m not sure how it can ever top this. Alternating between reality and the mind of Riley, we are given the inside scoop of how complex and goofy our minds can be. It’s fun, wacky, childish but also deep and meaningful. Best of all, it doesn’t go with the usual grain of ‘Life is all good and happy’ or ‘You can be sad but then you will be happy and that’s the most important thing.’ No. Inside Out is a bold and accurate psychological expose unlike so many animation and non-animation films whose perspective is either limited or doesn’t want to tackle a hard truth; It is only through sadness that we can grow. It is just as important as happiness.
Literally just watched this along with a few other films to finish off the ones that I missed. Oh man. I missed this one big time. Dope is the funniest coming-of-age film I’ve ever seen. It’s full of retro and rap in a bag of dope. Seated at the heart of a drug-trade gone wrong, Malcolm and friends are thrown into the clandestine and messy world of money and crack. And essentially, Malcolm’s point of growth depends on everything thrown at him by society; The things which he can and cannot control. How he struggles and then finds his own ingenious and adaptive resolve can only be experienced by watching this truly magnificent film. It is funny, modern, nostalgic and simply a ball of a time. Dope has a magical effect of making itself a comedy and a drama whilst being groovy and deep all at the same time. That’s dope!
4. Beasts Of No Nation
Cary Joji Fukanaga’s name is synonymous with True Detective. But his latest film Beasts Of No Nation is about to change his reputation. Set in Africa, it depicts the bleak journey of Agu and an endless number of child soldiers whose life have been wrecked by civil war. Idris Elba, the commandant, is the enigmatic and rousing rebel leader whose presence in the film is unforgettable. And together, they feature at the heart of a violent war, throbbing in rhythm and violent is nature. Beasts Of No Nation truly explores what makes war a violation on the unpainted canvass of a mind, even its violating presence tears through the fabric of the screen to haunt us.
One of a kind film. Ex Machina delves into the very heart of human existence, our motivations, flaws, desires and purpose. Set in the claustrophobic subterrea of scientist-entrepreneur Nathan’s home, Ex Machina shows it doesn’t need special CGI, or blazing guns, or action scenes to make an interesting sci-fi film. Paying close attention to relationships, the interaction between man and machine is grounded upon literary aspects of dialogue, diction, emotion, power play and imagery. Ex Machina also has a brilliant cast of Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, their acting and on-screen connection ehances the film’s grip on its viewers. The moralities of Machine from Man, the birth of God from Machine, or whether Machine is just like Man are all fascinating questions that challenge and haunt you in unimaginable ways.
Tangerine is Sean Baker’s wondrous creation that hits you like a storm full of doughnuts. It’s outrageously funny with its dead-pan humour, hilarious expletive-laden dialogue and a sharp eye for irony. Running alongside this however is a storyline woven right in the fabric of a transgender segment in Tinsel-Town. It’s plot becomes increasingly connected as narratives converge, bringing together one sub-culture with the wider society in many surprising ways. The bold and innovative directing has paid off. It’s humour doesn’t wash away it’s seriousness. It enhances it. But the film is most effective when it isn’t flashy; It’s hardest and most bittersweet moments come from it’s most subtle and soft scenes. Tangerine is one film that extremely different from all other films ever made. Yes, ever made. More importantly though, it shines its most vibrant light and glow on a subject matter deemed so taboo by society in general. Ultimately, it’s a touching story of their struggle and hustle.
Room is this year’s most touching film. The movie is one complete and touching experience that doesn’t try to shake off its disturbing undertones. Left bare for all to see, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay capture their characters struggle to hold on to life, and their growing strength in hope. It’s ultimately an universal expression of undying and unfailing love. It’s saddest moments serve to mount an even greater and more uplifting message. Provovative, delicate, charming, lovable, touching and triumphant; Room is all of it. By embracing the intimate connections between mother and son that transcends all boundaries, Room is the most heartfelt thing I’ve ever seen. It is for all these reasons and more, that this epic story of love is the best film of the year.
- Ex Machina
- Beasts Of No Nation
- Inside Out
- The Revenant
- Me & Earl & The Dying Girl
- Far From The Madding Crowd
- Steve Jobs
- The Big Short
- 45 years
- Wildlike (One of the smallest and most obscure films, but check it out, it’s about a troubled teenage girl and a self-reliant 50+ year old man. Their hiking trip, purely out of chance, enlightens one with the other’s perspectives. It’s also a trip which helps both of them in unimaginable ways.)
- Straight Outta Compton
- It Follows
So what do you think? Which movies made your coveted list?