Everyone loves a good Top 10 list, and why not introduce our own Top 10 movies of 2015 into the mix. Our lists are a little bit late as there were a couple movies that we could not watch until 2016 had rolled around.
2015 has been such a great year for film, where there were great films being released quite regularly throughout the year. Although there was no one big movie that really stood out this year in terms of awards (sorry Star Wars), that is what makes this year great, that the films being released were of consistently quite high quality.
My list takes a combination of how much I loved the films plus how well they were made. Just because a movie may be a favourite of mine doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll go in the final Top 10 that our reviewers will put together for next week. Here we go!
Brooklyn was a film that was very close to being a perfect film. Interlaced with comedy, sadness and joy, it is about a young woman adjusting to life in a new city all on her own. There were many times where certain aspects of the film could’ve veered off and taken a more antagonizing view on the film. However, Brooklyn didn’t require any surprise twists; rather it was simply for some a love story and, for others, a coming of age story which remained positive right to the end credits.
#9. Ex Machina
I’m extremely sorry for all those who have not yet watched Ex Machina. Even though this film came out all the way back in April, it has still stuck around in my Top 10 films of the year. A simple three-hander between Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander, it explores a fascinating realm of Science Fiction that hasn’t been seen since the likes of Blade Runner and Terminator: AI. No, not the movie AI, but artificial intelligence, and just as with Brooklyn above, it can be seen as a coming of age story, but the story of an AI. Yeah, sounds weird, right? Just wait until you guys watch it. Definitely one of the best sci-fi films in a very long time.
#8. Inside Out
When Pixar Studios is on their game, they really are on their game (i.e. Toy Story series, Up, WALL-E). However, when Pixar puts out inadequate films that do not appeal to the masses, they truly are awful (i.e. Cars Franchise and even The Good Dinosaur this year). I can proudly state that Inside Out hails from the former group and is one of the greatest films that has come out from Pixar Studios. Inside Out does a great job in being a film that hits the spot for both children and for their adult companions. It’s entertaining for the children but also has an emotional heft to it that makes people of all ages ponder not only what’s on screen, but the underlying message of the story. That is a hallmark of all the great Pixar films.
Denis Villeneuve has proven to be a very creative filmmaker with recent releases like Prisoners and Enemy and is the director of the future Blade Runner sequel. He has shown that he has a very tight grasp on creating character dramas, with each of his three mainstream movies focusing on either one or two characters. In Sicario, it’s the focus on Emily Blunt‘s Kate Macer, who is thrust into the war on drugs between the FBI and the Mexican cartels. Blunt’s Macer is exposed to the atrocities being committed in Juarez and has to deal with how the war on drugs is dealt with at an international level rather than the local level that she has been dealing with during her career. Had The Revenant not been released this year, there is a good chance that this movie would’ve been the Oscar frontrunner for best cinematography with the great Roger Deakins at the helm. Unfortunately, it looks like he will be overlooked once again for the great Emmanuel Lubezki. Regardless, the film is not one to be missed.
PS. We may do a re-issue of our review sometime in 2016 as there is a lot to talk about this film, and our review so far only covers the bare bones.
#6. The Martian
Along with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian was some of the most fun I’ve had in a movie theatre all year. The beautifully adapted film by the great Sir Ridley Scott from the novel of the same name was beautifully crafted and held up to everyone’s great expectations. Granted, there isn’t a lot of substance to the story, but that is mostly due to the thin source material; the vision of Scott in his portrayal of the vast Martian landscape coupled with Matt Damon‘s very funny Mark Watney lends itself to a very enjoyable 144 minute running time. It is not only Damon who is great, but all the characters as part of the ensemble play their parts to a tee. One of the things that work great is that the actors employed for the specific parts resemble the characters from Andy Weir‘s novel. It’s a shame that Ridley Scott hasn’t been nominated for the Best Director Oscar, as the greatness of this film would certainly have garner him a nomination in another year.
PS. Once again, we may be doing a re-issue of our review for The Martian as it is garnering quite a bit of Oscar Buzz.
Beasts of No Nation hasn’t exactly been garnering the awards talk that people had thought it would when it was released by Netflix back in October. One of the reasons that may be is the immense quality of the films that have been released since but also that once again there isn’t a lot of substance to the story itself. However, the two reasons that allow this film to get in my top 5 (which becomes a common theme as you read onwards) is the harrowing nature of the film itself, as well as the portrayals by the actors, notably that of Abraham Attah and Idris Elba. Elba was considered to be a favourite to be nominated for an Academy Award, however, that was not the case. The nature of the film is quite harrowing in terms of its depiction of the use of child fighters in war. It wasn’t the story that kept me gripped, but everything around it and is one of the reasons why this movie has been overlooked.
One of the craziest films of the year so far and now Oscar-nominated is the newest addition to the Mad Max story, Mad Max: Fury Road. Tom Hardy in the lead as Max taking over from Mel Gibson from 30 years ago, isn’t even the main protagonist of this film despite being the titular character. That main protagonist is Charlize Theron‘s Imperator Furiosa, who is a woman on a mission to take the wives of Immortan Joe away from him and help them escape their fate as his prisoners. Fury Road can only be described as a constant chase from start to end for its entire 2-hour length. With the minimal dialogue and all the craziness of the apocalyptic wasteland, the movie harks back to the second Mad Max film, The Road Warrior, but is amped up to a level which is constantly requiring the need for some form of intoxication.
Here’s one of those other movies that really leaves you, as a viewer in a state of anger, but at the end of the day is an emotional redemption film that makes you feel a little nicer on the inside. Room is held together by the Golden Globe winning and odds on favorite to for the Oscar, Brie Larson. Alongside her, is Jacob Tremblay, the young 8-year-old Canadian actor who plays the son of Larson’s Joy. The film adaptation of the novel of the same name depicts the kidnapping of the Joy and the eventual birth of Jack (Tremblay) during captivity. Of course, the two get away but that’s not where the story ends. The first half may be their struggle in captivity, but the second half is their struggle in the real life world with Joy dealing with her own struggles and Jack adapting to a world that he’s never seen in his five years. The performances throughout are what hold this film together and are what have gotten director Lenny Abrahamson and Brie Larson Oscar nods along with Room as a Best Picture nomination.
Son of Saul is the Hungarian contender for the Best Foreign Picture Oscar Award. The story centers on Saul, a worker within a Sonderkomanndo in Auschwitz, Poland during World War II. Saul is on a mission to give his “son” a proper burial after he has been put through the horrors of the holocaust. This film has been playing at all the film festivals and is the odds-on favourite to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It is an absolutely harrowing (as I said, common theme of my favourite films) depiction of the atrocities that were committed during WWII and is one of the most accurate portrayals of Nazi Germany. It is not an easy watch, but if you can find it in the theatre or on demand, please do watch this film.
Spotlight is a movie on its own this year. The amount of frustration and anger that I had after I left the theatre, I have not felt after very many movies I’ve seen. Spotlight is the story of the Boston Globe special reporters team labelled Spotlight, who began an investigation into the Boston Catholic Archdiocese and their massive cover-up of child molestation and sexual abuse. To think that director Tom McCarthy would go from one of the worst films (The Cobbler) to one of the most important stories ever made is unfathomable, but it goes to show that a single project like this can bring about the best in any member of the cast. It is beautifully directed moving from scene to scene with such grace that it allows the film to move along its runtime without getting too heavy for the viewer. Spotlight also works well because of the work of the ensemble cast. With heartfelt and emotional performances from everyone throughout, they complement this important story in a way that it boosts the effectiveness of the story-telling and rips your heart apart just watching what happened to these children.
My only Bollywood entry on this entire list. I’m a much more cynical fan of Bollywood unlike our very own Samar Khan. Which is why you haven’t seen half my list filled with B-Town flicks. But a good film is a good film and Drishyam certainly is one which is a heart-wrenching thriller from start to end.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Not the best film made this year, but some of the most fun I’ve had. The Force Awakens has me very excited for what’s to come in future incarnations of the space opera.
For a franchise that had fallen into disarray with the old “Rocky” name. Ryan Coogler‘s vision to retell this story using a new character with Sly Stallone‘s Rocky off to the side has seemingly worked to perfection.