Saturday, 19 December 2015

The 15 Best Films of 2015

So, once again we've reached the time of year where I think about how much money I've spent in the cinema in the last twelve months and begin wallowing in self pity. To try and make the best of the situation, I compiled a handy list of what I believe to be the best films of this year: 2015. This time I'll be counting down my favourite fifteen films released between January 1st 2015 and today, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the roller coaster that is this list of words and pictures.

Honourable Mentions:

Big Hero 6
Crimson Peak
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation


15. Still Alice

14. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II

13. The Martian

12. Brooklyn

11. Anomalisa

10. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

9. Macbeth

8. Steve Jobs

7. Carol

6. It Follows


5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Undoubtedly the most anticipated film of the year, it was an enormous relief when the seventh entry to the Star Wars franchise was not only one of the best films the series had offered, but one of the best releases of the year period. Director J.J. Abrams found the perfect space to fill his new characters
with personality and genuine development, whilst perfectly capturing the feel and tone of the original trilogy that we all know and love. A potential disaster was elevated into something brave, exciting and genuinely quite special. And, nowadays, that is pretty damn rare. 

4. Whiplash

Whiplash was one of those films that almost screamed "Oscar-Bait". A struggling musician, tortured mentality, various generations...etc. It could very easily have been an award grab and little more, yet this could not be further from the case. Whiplash is not only a superbly performed film by all involved, but a testament to the real strengths of writing, pacing and editing when pieced together masterfully. Building on intricate characters and a simple narrative, Whiplash becomes unbelievably intense, raising the emotional stakes a great deal without the viewer even realising until it's too late. It also deserves props for making one drum solo one of the most dizzyingly intense sequences cinema has ever seen. Whiplash was unanimously acclaimed around the world, and it's very easy to see why. 

3. Inside Out

After a string of subpar sequels and original ideas that didn't quite hit the nail on the head, Pixar were due another win and Inside Out was exactly what they were looking for. Known for their inventive topics, bold humour and impressive emotional impact, Pixar upped their game for the umpteenth time, creating arguably both their funniest and most emotional film yet. But, simultaneously, it was a delicate and affecting portrayal of the human mind, discussing human psychology and mental illness with an unprecedented awareness of how to do so. Impeccably scripted, wonderfully voice acted and seamless with regards to humour and emotion, Inside Out soared immediately to the top of Pixar's rankings, and it'll take something truly truly special to ever replace it. 

2. Sicario

Sicario was a film that went relatively unnoticed by many film-goers, and is seeming likely to go unnoticed at this year's Academy Awards too (UPDATE: It's nominated for three. Yay!). Sicario is a showcase for Emily Blunt, who transcends an already excellent script by portraying her character''s troubled psyche and aggressive nature sublimely, supported by stellar performances by Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro. Sicario opens with a sequence so intense it could cause cardiac arrest, but somehow keeps the tension up relentlessly, hitting its peak within the highway shootout in the film's middle act. Taking on impressively bold subject matter, Sicario's grim nature and relentless intensity is likely to warn off those with a faint heart, but for anyone who dares to be tested and is perfectly on board with two dark, grisly hours of heart stopping cinema, this is an absolute must see. 

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Yes, this is an action film. Yes, it is packed with guns and cars and explosions and almost half naked women. Yes, this sounds almost exactly like a Michael Bay movie. In fact, on paper this is probably an average idea at best. But in execution, Mad Max: Fury Road became something quite wonderful. This is a film that dares to be like no other before it. This is a film that not only understands who its characters are, but creates an enormous amount of development for each of them. This is a film that takes on a simple premise, but expands on it superbly with effective world building and powerful thematic content. This is a film that raises the bar on what we consider an action movie, delivering two solid hours of fast paced, explosive carnage that is both thrilling and revolutionary in equal measure. Mad Max: Fury Road is visually breathtaking, every last frame is a sight to behold, and its narrative and character work matches it. It is explosive film-making, obliterating the "action movie" mold and almost creating a genre of its very own. Sharply written, excellently acted, skillfully edited, masterfully directed, tremendously well told and utterly, utterly thrilling, Mad Max: Fury Road is modern cinema at its very, very best. What a lovely day, indeed, and what a movie. 

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