Favorite Films of 2015

While already halfway through 2016 I finally had some time to sit down and write up my list of films from last year! I missed a ton of films last year (Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Trumbo, The Danish Girl, Joy, Carol, The Hateful Eight, Son of Saul), some of which I may never catch up with, but of what I saw, here goes, my favorite films of 2015 (in no particular order)

Inside Out

After the disney-sequalification of Pixar, and a few less than stellar movies, was totally over joyed to see this them roar back to form with this genius film. A suprisingly complex teaching in animated form, the personification of interiors and the relationship between emotions this movie climaxes in exploring was straight up brilliant.  Incredibly tight script, imaginative settings, and fun all around.  An incredible gift to the famillies of the world.

LOVE

Enter the Void stands as one of the most unique cinematic experiences I’ve had, and I couldn’t wait to see Gaspar Noé‘s latest film. As poetic as it is erotic, it’s definitely a challening film and was fascinating to see in 3D.  Easily some of the most viscerally real intimate scenes I’ve seen on film, wrapped in a store of some severely damaged masculine learning to open it’s heart.  Like many films I react strongly to, this one is low on the plot, but heavy on state.  I still think about the final scenes of this film often.

The Martian

Ridley Scott is BACK!  One of the best directors of all time returns to form in a tight adaptaion of the novel.  Incredibly engaging and found a way to make science inspiring and fun again on the big screen in a way that hasn’t happened since many Apollo 13 back in the day.  The groundedness of the novel really balanced well with Ridley’s precision directing, and I enjoyed the hell out of this.

Sicario

A beautiful, riveting film.  Exceptionally well crafted, with a tight script and wonder control of tone throughout. Still bummed Roger Deakins didn’t win for cinematography in this, as the texture and framing of this picture was a huge part of what impacted me.  Another film that masterfully generates a state, there are moments of cinematic beauty throughout this rather dark tale.  Emily Blunt cements herself as one of the finest actors around in a script that focuses on her as a human, and doesn’t just reduce her to an “on screen woman.”  An excellent example of the “it’s not what a story is about, but HOW it’s about it”.

CREED

I think Rocky movies are the equivalent to romantic comedies for me.  Achievement! Goals! Believe in Yourself! Perservere! Mastery!  This was a surprsingly great film for the “seventh” film in this franchise.  Ryan Coogler shows he’s the real deal with a fantastically directed film (that long take first fight, wow!), and subverts so many cinematic cliches while managing to keep the deep archetype of the Rocky mythos in tact. Great acting, great cinematography, great music, tons of fun to watch.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Easily the best “Summer” movie of last year, a non-stop blistering chase big ass action movie in the best of the mainstream sense – that was ALL about the need for the Feminine to arise and heal the ails of a badly damaged world.  Strong women abound in this movie, and as great a visual spectacle as one could want – powered by an incredible amount of practice effects that make it feel grounded in a way so many CGI films never feel like.  The plot is minimal, there’s dialogue but little of it matters, and yet the stakes of this world are obvious in the brilliant script.  Take note screenwriters at the complete lack of cheesy exposition dumps.  Everything we need to know is expressed through action, and it’s a hoot.

Ex Machina

I’m always aching for good sci-fi, and while this film turned out to be more thriller than sci-fi in my book, I loved it.  A master class on a mid to low budget genre piece, the confined setting felt totally organic to the story.  Taking the basic premise of artificial consciousness as a fact, the film turns to a dark thriller that’s fun from start to finish. Alex Garland wrote some of my favorite Danny Boyle films, and the fantastic adaptation of Never Let Me Go in 2010, and great to see his skill extended into directing. Definitely check it out.

Honorable Mentions

Room

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay hold down the fort in this fantastic indie. Way more complex and interesting than I though it’d be, covering much of the really hard stuff that begins when most movies end.

Anomalisa

Charlie Kaufman filmed probably the most “realistic” sex scene I’ve ever seen, which is saying something since this film uses puppets.  Some deep somber themes and incredible craftmenship on display, but didn’t quite stick the landing to me.

Spotlight

The type of adult film that’s disappearing from modern cinema about a the type of reporting that’s disappearing in the world.  I remember when the news of this tale broke, but didn’t realize the depth of the disfunction.  I’m not sure how anyone could watch this movie and not be filled with rage, especially given how much of it is still happening and unfurling.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Sure, yes, it’s basically a note for note remake of A New Hope, but the fact that we got a big budget modern star wars movie that didn’t suck is AMAZING.  Has primed the new trilogy for great things, and what a find in Daisy Ridley, she was born for this film.  When John Williams score for the big chase in the beginning climaxed, I literally clapped in joy.  Star Wars is back!

The Revenant

A brutal movie all shot on location, the imagery of this film is unforgettable.  Iñárritu is one of the best working directors today.  An epic film on every level.

Biggest Disappointment:

Jupiter Ascending

An interesting failure. I wanted to like this so much, and give the Wachowski’s an A for effort in terms of trying to birthe original sci-fi into the world  Unfortuantely it was pretty much non-sensical junk.  The script just needed a lot more work, and can we move on from the “chosen one” stories already?!?!

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