287. That’s the number of movies I saw this calendar year (including re watches and not exclusively films released 2015). Of the ones released in 2015 I’ve settled on these 10 representing the best of what this year had to offer. 

10. Me & Earl & The Dying Girl

Teen orientated movies are often cliche and generic. Teens are often modelled to fulfil specific archetypes (the nerd, jock, stoner etc.) or have unrealistically perfect dialogue. Me & Earl & The Dying Girl embraces the awkwardness of adolescence understanding that teens are far from perfect. Rather than fulfilling a certain archetype its characters are just people who are mutually trying to survive high school.  Crafting a strong story behind these characters, Me & Earl shows charm and maturity far beyond their peers.

Read my full review: here

9. Inside Out

The power of Pixar resides in their ability to appeal to a wide demographic and Inside Out is yet another demonstration of that power. Smart and funny, the film about emotions hammers your inner emotions throughout culminating in a climactic scene that perhaps resonates more with adults rather than children. As Pixar prepares itself for a number of sequels/prequels, sit back and enjoy this semi original (Herman’s Head did it first) emotional roller coaster.

8. Anomalisa

 

The progression of this movie is extremely slow but by the end there’s a realization that this simply mirrors daily life. This film will be polarizing if only because some may disagree with the final conclusion director/writer Charlie Kaufman makes. However he reaches this point with a beautifully constructed film utilizing a stop motion animation style to its fullest potential. Similar themes have been explored in films like Lost in Translation or Kaufman’s own Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but that doesn’t stop this film from being a wonderfully unique and poignant take on the mundane nature of our day to day lives.

7. Room

When the bulk of your cast consists of two actors you’d best hope that they deliver which Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay do fantastically. The range of emotions that Tremblay is able to convey is particularly impressive given he is a child actor and both he and Larson are able to use the emotion to drive home what it is like inside the mental/physical prison that is Room. The framing of the shots are remarkable shifting the viewers perspective on the size of the room (feeling much larger than it actually this) helping chronicling the struggle of mother and son as they enter (or re enter) the world.

6. End of The Tour

Like 1981’s My Dinner With Andre, End of The Tour is low stakes but highly compelling. Eisenberg and Segel play off each other extremely well as David Lipsky and the late David Foster Wallace respectively as they discuss the ins and outs of human nature, often with profound results. Segel gives one of the more underrated great performances of the year channeling the eccentric, modest brilliance of the late author. These understated words of wisdom stay with you as the human condition is seen from Foster Wallace’s perspective.

5. Brooklyn

Saoirse Ronan deserves all the awards for her role in Brooklyn. She steals every single scene in this period drama. By the end of this film you are fully behind this brilliant love story, it is sharp with subtle humour throughout and secondary characters each have their moments. Visually the sets and costumes are well done helping the tone of the film as does the score contributing to a grand ambience regardless of which side of the ocean the scene is set. I am comfortable selecting Ronan for Oscar gold as she leads the best female field in years.

4. Spotlight

It’s hard to make a film about journalism interesting. The process in itself is rather dull and shouldn’t in theory make for strong subject matter but Spotlight succeeds atdoing just that. McAdams is the best she’s ever been on screen and Ruffalo/Keaton carry their momentum from last year into another Oscar worthy performance. One of Keaton/Schreiber/Ruffalo should be a lock for supporting Oscar come February in this gripping tale to uncover the truth.

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Well on its way to becoming the highest grossing film of all time, The Force Awakens is not simply a movie, it is an experience. Every time I’ve sat in the theatre for this, there has been an air of excitement that stems from nostalgic fans and new fans all feeling the same thing: “This is fucking amazing”. This energy high maycloud some of the problems that the film has- it’s not perfect-but the new cast is likeable ( I may be in love with Daisy Ridley) and the action scenes are the best the series has ever seen (That Millennium Falcon scene I could watch all day).  J.J Abrams has crafted something that grasps some of the magic of the original trilogy restoring faith in the franchise and giving me the best theatre experience of the year.

Read my full review: Here

2. Sicario

The most thrilling movie of 2015. Sicario will make your palms sweaty and your heart race. Unlike many films in the genre, it is much more muted and it is in these scenes where you can feel the tension flow off the screen. From the opening scene the tension is apparent carrying through till the final scene . This is accomplished through excellent visuals and wonderful performances from Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro making the film feel authentic and high stakes.

1. Ex Machina

Ex Machina quickly downplays the need to understand the need to understand the science behind the AI and instead places focus on characterization. Simplifying it down to this degree allows the question of morality and the debate over our own control in the creation of these machines ; one that becomes increasingly relevant as technology continues to progress. In this regard the story is polished but open ended leaving the viewer to think about these questions long after the credits have rolled. Visually the film tells as much of the story as the dialogue channelling a strong David Fincher (Se7en, Zodiac) vibe . Utilizing heavy imageryto hint at the final conclusion (reflections and subtle looks being key), these shots are minuscule nods to the eagle eyed viewer but adds to the film’s brilliance as a whole. Ex Machina executes well on almost all cinematic elements delivering a film that ranks among the best in the sci-fi genre.

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