I know I am way late on this, but I had to wait for 2015 films to be released on blu-ray and DVD to finally see as much as I could. A great year for cinema and one of hell of awards race. These are my top ten film and best of for 2015. If only I could become a good enough writer and get published, maybe I would get some invites to screenings, or receive screenings. Keep working!!!
10. Mistress America
d. Noah Baumbach
Generational brilliance from one of the best directors working today. Baumbach and Gerwig are in top form, and newcomer Kirke quietly, I mean quietly, steals the show. The film is one that gets better as it sits and it is still working on me. Smart, funny, and a coming-of-age story that gets it, especially in the social media, have-to-have-it-now society. Baumbach is the closest director we have that is comparable to the great Woody Allen.
9. Steve Jobs
d. Danny Boyle
What a ballsy piece of cinema! Three acts. Three different periods of failure and success for Jobs and his mammoth company Apple. The film gets to the heart of his intenseness, madness, and, most importantly, is apparent lack of empathy towards family. It was all about the work. Another film that stews in the mind and is one of the truly unique and original films of 2015. Great performances from Fassbender, Winslet, and Rogen.
d. Denis Villeneuve
Villeneuve is on fire and continues with this solid drug war thriller. Everything feels lived in and full of deception and corruption. Nothing in this tight thriller felt off beat or unnecessary, and that adds to its success. Sensational cinematography from Roger Deakins always helps too. Del Toro and Blunt give some of the best performances of their careers, and this film is just gritty and loaded with political substance.
7. Ex Machina
d. Alex Garland
Then you get this absolutely brilliant sci-fi film from writer/director Alex Garland. Obsession with technology and the next big thing, but what happens when the creativity gains a mind of its own and sees the hypocrisy of its creators ways. Garland created the best sci-fi film of the year, easily better then the very good The Martian, and one that gets better with each viewing. Vikander is a sensation, and Isaac, and that fantastic dance sequence, are amazing.
6. Love & Mercy
d. Bill Pohlad
A biopic for the ages. I have never been a crazy Beach Boys fan, but this film made me want to learn more about troubled founder Brian Wilson. Balancing between the young and middle aged Wilson, Pohlad delivers a film with contextual vibrance and courage. One that never meddles in the traditional quagmire of average biopics. Dano and Cusack are phenomenal, and give easily the best performances of their careers. Both deserved Oscar nominations!
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
d. George Miller
I have to be honest, when I first saw this film I thought it was just okay. Everything worked but nothing overpowered me. Then, after watching it at home, I was won over. The unbelievable production and costume design. That fucking kinetic editing by Sixel and wild cinematography from Seale. Miller directing the best film of his career and seeing his big smile everywhere he went promoting it and all over the awards circuit. He was so apprecitive and unpretentious. Then the story that was so unexpected. A film where women save the world and do not need men to do so. I cannot stop watching it when it is on and think the world of what Miller and his team created. A blockbuster without all the Hollywood sell out shit in it. Loved it!!!
4. The Revenant
d. Alejandro G. Iñárritu
What spectacular filmmaking. A film that is very simple in premise, but contains all the goods required for something special: a story of great depth if you look beyond the surface, powerful direction, quiet and gritty performances, exquisite cinematography,and a haunting score. Iñárritu never disappoints, and I have loved every one of his films. The darkness in ourselves is captivating to me, and this film is one of his bests.
d. Tom McCarthy
Old school, no bullshit filmmaking, revolving around one of the most sickening scandals in the history of mankind, Spotlight has it all. A brilliant screenplay that never wavers or gets sidetracked, and filmmaking that feels like it came straight out of the 70s. Acting that is impressive, grounded and caring.That cast is profoundly good. A film beloved by all and an important one at that. This is how indie filmmaking should be.
2. Beasts of No Nation
d. Cary Joji Fukunaga
An absolute stunner. A masterpiece from the insanely talented Fukunaga. Acting that is full of honesty, fear, and insight. Goddamn is Elba and first time actor Attah superb. Elba should have been nominated and one the Oscar for best supporting actor. This is powerful, important, social and cultural filmmaking at its best. This film never hides from anything and lays it out there with no regrets. It shows a world of terror and economic upheaval. This was almost my top film, until I saw what is my number one…
d. Todd Haynes
No other film won me over with its utter sincerity and melodramatic perfection. Its penetrating gaze into another world, another time, where the world seemed so much older than it is today. Carol is a film that slowly takes you over and never lets go once the credits roll. A film about love, heartache and desire in a time of social ignorance. Blanchett and Mara are about as perfect as you can get, and Haynes just knows exactly what he is doing with every frame. Haynes should have been nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, and should have received a DGA nomination. The best screenplay of the year by Phyllis Nagy, a beautiful score from Carter Burwell and intoxicating cinematography from Ed Lachman add to the luster and prestige of this old school film. The look between Blanchett and Mara at the end is priceless. It sticks to your heart and Carol is without a doubt the best film of 2015.
BEST OF FOR 2015
BEST PICTURE: Carol; runner up: Beasts of No Nation
BEST DIRECTOR: Todd Haynes (Carol); runners up: Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation); Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant); George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
BEST ACTOR: Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation); runner up: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
BEST ACTRESS: Brie Larson (Room); runner up: Cate Blanchett (Carol)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation); runner up: Paul Dano (Love & Mercy)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Rooney Mara (Carol); runner up: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Phyllis Nagy (Carol); runner up: Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer (Spotlight); runner up: Oren Moverman & Michael A. Lerner (Love & Mercy)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant); runners up: Ed Lachman (Carol) & John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road)
BEST FILM EDITING: Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road); runners up: Tom McArdle (Spotlight) & Affonso Gonçalves (Carol)
BEST SCORE: Carter Burwell (Carol); runners up: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight) & Junkie XL (Mad Max: Fury Road)
MOST OVERLOOKED PERFORMANCES: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation); Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation); Greta Gerwig (Mistress America); Lola Kirke (Mistress America); Paul Dano (Love & Mercy); John Cusack (Love & Mercy); Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy); Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road); Michael Keaton (Spotlight); Sarah Paulson (Carol); Benicio Del Toro (Sicario)
MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM (BUT HAVE TO SEE IT AGAIN): Crimson Peak
Photo credits by indiewire.com.