Top 25 Films of 2015


Top 25 Films of 2015 HeaderIt’s the New Year of 2016 so that means it’s time for the annual Top 25 Films of the Year post in which I select my favourites from 2015. I didn’t get to catch everything that I wanted to see this year (from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation to Clouds of Sil Maria) but I managed to catch almost ninety throughout the year and I found it difficult enough to narrow it down to 25 compared to last year (Can check out the list of films I’ve seen in 2015 here). There’s a few noticeable absentees on this list if you’re reading this from the US (Creed, The Revenant, Spotlight and basically anything up for Oscar contention) and that’s because these Oscar big guns aren’t released here till early 2016. Without further ado, let’s get on with the list….

 

25. Beasts Of No Nation

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Beasts Of No NationReleased: 16th October

 

We’re placed in West Africa as a civil war is breaking out in the region and we follow a young boy named Agu who lives in a small village with his family. Soon the government has fallen and the military-aligned rebels are seizing control of the country and attack Agu’s village, with his father and eldest brother murdered in the massacre, leading him to being found and trained by a rebel battalion led by the Commandant. The feature debut under the Netflix banner, Beasts of No Nation is a harrowing, brutal tale of war told from a child’s point of view as his innocence is completely removed from his identity as the film progresses. Abraham Attah gives one of the best young acting performances I’ve seen in years and Idris Elba is a commanding presence amongst the young cast as the charismatic Commandant, Cary Joji Fukunaga directing and also his cinematography for this film are at times exceptional as he has a wonderful eye for particular shots of blending the natural environment with the brutal horrors that are occur in certain moments of the film. Not a film for the faint of heart yet an important milestone in not only telling the story that needed to be told, but in terms of the film industry as to how this will shape original feature film content for the small screen.

 

24. Furious 7

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Furious 7Released: 3rd April

 

Furious 7 picks up right after the events of the last instalment where Owen Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw, is out for revenge and what they did to his brother, hunting them one by one. Not only are they being hunted, a shady government official called ‘Mr Nobody’ is looking to use Dom and his crew to rescue a hacker called Ramsey from evil terrorist Jakande. The reason for saving Ramsey? She’s created a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, which can turn any technological device into a tracking device and Mr Nobody doesn’t want the technology falling into the wrong hands which will take them from Tokyo, the Dominican Republic, Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles. With James Wan taking over the directing duties which had been held by Justin Lin for the last four in the Fast & Furious franchise, the premise is easy to follow, the action sequences ridiculous and yet with the chemistry amongst the cast that have been together for a number of years now further cements the fact that you’d believe that they are one big family, which is why the film has such a global appeal. Of course the tribute to the late Paul Walker in the final moments of the film I thought was incredibly well handled and the whole production of the film as a whole done a tremendous job to work around his tragic passing in terms of the story. Could we possibly get a Shaw Brothers against the ‘family’ in the eight instalment? Time will tell on that one.

 

23. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Kingsman The Secret ServiceReleased: 29th January

 

In late January, Matthew Vaughn brought Mark Millar’s comic book series to the big screen where we’re taught that manners maketh man in Kingsman: The Secret Service, where we follow Harry Hart taking it upon himself to take a young kid named Eggsy under his wing (more to it than that though) as he puts him into an ultra intense training program to become a Kingsman. Vaughn brings a confident spy thriller in a violent mould of Kick-Ass which could potentially lead to a healthy franchise for the studio as it has that blend of James Bond and Kick-Ass working tremendously well in its favour. Colin Firth is an absolute joy to watch here playing a character that he normally would in terms of politeness…but now can kill you within a heartbeat. Taron Egerton is great casting for the role of Eggsy and it’ll be interesting to see where his career goes from here on as well as continue the Kingsman journey (hopefully). Also whoever is responsible for Samuel L. Jackson deciding to give his villainous character a pronounced lisp for added comedy effect…I salute you for that choice.

 

22. Song Of The Sea

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Song of the SeaReleased: 10th July

 

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, Song of the Sea definitely lived up to the increased hype by that recognition not only for Irish film, but for animated features overall as it is deeply rooted into irish folklore and is crafted in a way that even Hayao Miyazaki himself would be impressed with its visual storytelling. Beautifully animated and directed by Tomm Moore and those at Cartoon Saloon, it helps that the characters are relatable and the story itself is filled with heart and emotion, leaving you feeling inspired by the films end. Can’t wait to see what comes next from Cartoon Saloon!

 

21. Still Alice

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Still AliceReleased: 6th March

 

The one film that you can view only watch and it’ll still leave a long-term impact on you is Still Alice. Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland go for the understated approach in telling the story of Alice being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and we witness how this affects her through the course of the films duration and does so in a way that it’s not melodramatic, but brutally honest in its portrayal. Julianne Moore gives the best performance to date as Alice, showing us the struggle, confusion and isolation that Alice feels as the disease slowly begins to strip her of her identity and is supported well by Alec Baldwin as the supporting husband and Kristen Stewart as the youngest daughter.

 

20. Dope

Top 25 Films of 2015 - DopeReleased: 4th September

 

If I was to hand out the number one spot for best soundtrack of 2015, it would be a landslide victory for Dope in that department. Dope tells the story of a trio of geeks growing up in The Bottoms, a tough neighbourhood in Inglewood, California where after a chance invitation to a big underground party, Malcolm’s life turns into an L.A adventure filled with offbeat characters and bad choices. It’s a coming-of-age tale that feels fresh compared to the other in its genre, as in it’s more about surviving in an area filled with gang violence rather than getting ready for the prom final act. Rick Famuyiwa’s directing style and choices here play into the films strengths to the script he wrote and the young cast here have great onscreen chemistry with one another, especially on the focused trio played by Kiersey Clemons, Tony Revlori and the highlight performance by Shameik Moore as Malcolm.

 

19. Bridge of Spies

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Bridge of SpiesReleased: 27th November

 

After a summer filled with mega-blockbusters, Steven Spielberg brings a nice change of pace to the bring screen and relying on his storytelling capabilities rather than giving us a big epic scale tale. Bridge of Spies is a political espionage thriller that relies heavily on the scripts dialogue in keeping the viewer invested and intrigued throughout than adding spectacle and though I know a few that felt letdown by the film, I was thoroughly impressed with the collaboration of Spielberg’s direction on the material penned by the Coen Brothers as we see this ordinary American lawyer who is asked to represent a man believed to be a KGB spy and then is brought in by the CIA to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union. It’s a Cold War period piece that is compelling to watch as we follow James B. Donovan look at all the angles and try to get the best possible outcome for everyone involved and he’s played by Tom Hanks who gives a predictably great performance, while Mark Rylance makes a memorable impression as Rudolf Abel, giving a great story about Stoikiy muzhik aka Standing Man in one particular scene he shares with Hanks. It may not be one of the best in Spielberg’s filmography, yet it’s better than most of the films I’ve seen this year, which says a lot about the man.

 

18. Coherence

Top 25 Films of 2015 - CoherenceReleased: 13th February

 

Okay so Coherence may have been out a good while for some folk, but over here it didn’t get finally released on the big screen until February 2015 and I was completely invested in the story of a group of people are having a dinner party when a passing comet causes a blackout which leads to strange happenings for the group. As one of the characters tells the story about the time strange phenomena that occurred after a comet passed back in the early 1900’s, I realised something strange was going to happen….I ended up being completely transfixed with the story and it’s such a beautiful surprise of a small budget film, well written by James Ward Byrkit (storyboard artist Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) and this also happens to be his feature directorial debut, the concept is grand in scale and is so engaging to watch, you partly forget the film is taking place in one set. The cast ensemble is good here, with the only recognisable face going into viewing this film was Nicholas Brendon, who is really good here as Mike, while Emily Baldoni is a relatable lead as Emily.

 

17. Danny Collins

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Danny CollinsReleased: 29th May

 

Insomnia, 2002. That’s honestly the last time that I can say that I loved a performance from Al Pacino on the big screen, which says a lot considering his resume that came before and that I think he’s a goddamn legend. Thankfully in 2015 he came out with his best big screen performance in years as Danny Collins, an ageing rock star who receives a 40-year-old undelivered letter from John Lennon, which causes him to change his life and attempt to reconnect with his son Tom. Danny Collins has that gap where a few blocks of cliche can fall into place here and there, but Dan Fogelman’s screenplay is light-heartedly enjoyable and heart to the film that will keep you engaged with a back on his game Pacino, sharing good on screen moments with Annette Bening and especially Bobby Cannavale.

 

16. The Gift

Top 25 Films of 2015 - The GiftReleased: 7th August

 

Joel Edgerton had a really good year in 2015 which was officially stamped when it came to him giving us his directorial debut with The Gift, following a married couple named Simon and Robyn Callen moving to Los Angeles where they come across Gordon ‘Gordo’ Moseley, an old classmate of Simon’s back in High School. Edgerton gives a great performance as Gordo, balancing the fine line between likeable and awkwardly creepy as a man that reaches a new level of invading personal space to the point that he’ll ‘break and enter’ into your property to live you gifts and personal letters. Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman are terrific in the lead roles especially the latter giving the performance of his career so far in a serious role. A film well executed in its direction and storytelling with a very memorable final act that’ll make your skin crawl.

 

15. It Follows

Top 25 Films of 2015 - It FollowsReleased: 27th February

 

This year’s film release that is the least likely film to put on with a significant other and expect some sex afterwards, It Follows is a horror film in which the monster that chases you is in fact a significant STD (Sexually Transmitted Demon) in which to make matters worse for those that catch it, you can’t kill the damn thing so you’re only hope of survival is to try and outrun it and also pass your STD along to the next poor sod. With a noticeable nod to the 80’s horror genre right down to the synth score, the film does a great job in handling the premise with paranoia and physiological dread as the entity can come in any form and can only be seen by those that it has infected. It’s a beautifully shot film with great cinematography and a really good performance by Maika Monroe to followup her role in The Guest, it’ll be interesting to see what lies ahead in her career beyond the Independence Day: Resurgance film.

 

14. Macbeth

Top 25 Films of 2015 - MacbethReleased: 2nd October

 

The latest adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play for the big screen is tremendously well handled, visually and acting wise across the board as Justin Kurzel directs one of the most beautifully shot films this year, with a terrific all-round cast, especially Michael Fassbender is mesmerising as Macbeth, carrying an incredible amount of intensity from his mannerisms right down to the look in his eyes, becoming obsessed with power and his paranoia over his actions as the film progresses and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth is throughly well acted as the woman who adds fuel to the fire for her husbands ambition and fulfil the prophecy as the future King of Scotland though I think (could be wrong and wouldn’t be the first) that her role is underplayed in comparison to the play itself. If you didn’t grow up on the Shakespeare dialect then the film may be a bit difficult to follow at a feature film length as it may be like watching a foreign language film without subtitles.

 

13. Inside Out

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Inside OutReleased: 24th July

 

Altogether now…Triple Dent Gum will make you smile….Inside Out is, predictably, the latest big hit from Pixar and under the direction of Pete Docter it’s their most imaginative, original and colourful feature film in years, as the premise focuses on duelling emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, within the mind of an eleven-year-old whose life changes as her family moves homes from one city to another. The screenplay is terrific as we see floating islands representing the core values that shape a person, be it family to friendship to personality traits (e.g. clown), we’re taken through this almost theme park ride within the mind of Riley as Joy and Sadness attempt to make their way back to HQ before big decisions are made without them leading to terrible consequences. The voice acting on show is terrific, especially with Poehler and Smith providing the heart and Black providing the laughs as Anger. Bold and beautiful to watch, it’s interesting that still after all these years Pixar are willing to challenge themselves with uniques and daring concepts and the heart and effort that they put it is easy for all to see.

 

12. Southpaw

Top 25 Films of 2015 - SouthpawReleased: 24th July

 

Since Creed ain’t out here till the middle of January 2016, Southpaw ran away with the best boxing film category of 2015. Coming off his iconic performance in Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal chews and brawls the scenery anytime he’s on screen as Billy Hope, a boxer that takes a path of self-destruction after a tragic loss in his personal life and attempts to rebuild not only his boxing career but also the relationship he had with his daughter. The supporting cast around him are very good in their roles, from Rachel McAdams playing his wife who happens to be the brains behind his career, while young actress Oona Laurence givers a natural performance as Billy’s daughter and to Forest Whitaker as the mentor that reinvents Billy’s mind on boxing and life, adding gravitas to a cliched role. Is Southpaw original? No. Is it hella-cliched? Yes. Is it still a well directed film by Antoine Fuqua and well performed by the cast? Absolutely and with an on-form Jake Gyllenhaal carrying the film, it’s definitely worth a watch. Now just imagine what Southpaw would be like if it was still a vehicle for Eminem?

 

11. The Final Girls

Top 25 Films of 2015 - The Final GirlsReleased: 12th October (DVD)

 

What do you get when you blend Friday the 13th and The Last Action Hero? The Final Girls! Following the tragic loss of her mother, Max is coerced into attending a double bill screening of the classic slasher film Camp Bloodbath, in which her mother had a role in the first one as a scream queen. As the screening is accidentally set ablaze, Max and her friends find themselves trapped inside Camp Bloodbath film and must team up with the fictional characters, including Max’s mother, to tackle the masked killer. With a concept that could’ve gone horribly wrong is crafted well by Todd Strauss-Schulson,  M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller in terms of directing and screenwriting with some clever techniques in the story used here, most notably the way flashbacks are handled, and the cast themselves appear to have a blast in their roles, with Taissa Farmiga and Malin Åkerman providing the films heart as the daughter and mother duo. It’s just an absolute shame that this didn’t get the big screen treatment over here that it richly deserved. 

 

10. Spring

Top 25 Films of 2015 - SpringReleased: 22nd May

 

As Evan travels around the Italian landscape after the passing of his mother, he comes across local girl Louise that he becomes fixated with and decides to stick around and see where this connections goes as her mysterious nature intrigues him. A unique romance film with a kink of a horror element added to it with some beautiful cinematography, this has the makings of gathering a cult following over the next few years and that’s down in part to the story and the organic performances provided by Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker, who share terrific chemistry together, with Hilker in particular being one to look out for. I’ll be keenly interested to see what Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead do next.

 

9. Selma

Top 25 Films of 2015 - SelmaReleased: 6th February

 

Selma is not only a feature biopic brought to the big screen finally focusing on the man that is Dr. Martin Luther King, it’s almost a documentary style film telling the events that led to the advancement in the Civil Rights Movement back in the 60’s. Ava DuVernay does a terrific job of directing this film, especially the scenes such as the initial march over the bridge that leads to police brutality, to the scene in which Dr. King consoles the father of Jimmie Lee Jackson after his sons life was cut tragically short. The cast is well rounded and David Oyelowo is powerful as Dr. Martin Luther King, you can almost see the moment from his first initial monologue that he transforms into character and doesn’t look back and it’s just a shame that he didn’t get the Oscar love that he deserved.

 

8. Birdman

Top 25 Films of 2015 - BirdmanReleased: 1st January

 

Birdman is not only a terrific technical achievement, it’s also terrific in that Michael Keaton is finally put back in the spotlight of public consciousness after his performance here as Riggan Thomas, a man looking to reinvent himself and his career to the point that his mental state reaches breaking point before his retelling of a Boardway play has its premiere launch. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction here is fantastic as he attempts to give it that one continuous shot feel throughout the films runtime, the script is really well written and the dialogue is often sharp and at times hilarious and not only is Riggan’s mental state in question, but we see the people around him dealing with their own personal demons. The cast ensemble is terrific, with Keaton giving his best performance in years that earned him an Oscar nom, to Edward Norton being hilarious as method actor Mike, to Emma Stone as Riggan’s daughter Sam and Naomi Watts as Lesley, still chasing that dream of being a known Broadway actress.

 

7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Star Wars The Force AwakensReleased: 17th December

 

Indeed The Force Awakens for Star Wars as it hits the ground running with this new instalment, recapturing some of the original magic while establishing the new characters to make us care for them. From the word go the film brings a key ingredient that felt missing from the prequel instalments (in my opinion) was that sense of fun, the action sequences themselves are actually shot and edited really well especially when it comes down to the dog fights in the sky. It helps that the practical effects take up most of the screen time. In terms of mixing the balance of the old guard with the newcomers, I like how it established the new set of characters to take the story forward, particularly Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron and in terms of performances they brought it to the table, especially Ridley and Boyega in terms of they’re still relative newcomers in the early stages of their career while Oscar Isaac feels like he was just born to fit into this universe with that amount of charisma and charm he carries as Poe. The returning cast in particular are fine in their roles, though it’s the duo of Han Solo and Chewbacca that get the most screen time and Harrison Ford possibly gives the best performance in the film as Han.  In terms of Adam Driver playing Kylo Ren, visually the character looks the part, I’m not entirely sold in his motivation. Sure it feels familiar to the original to the point of doing similar things but the base has been set to build foundations on. Also I’m pretty sure I want my own BB-8 now.

 

6. Mad Max: Fury Road

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Mad Max Fury RoadReleased: 14th May

 

Every action film released this year ended up being MEDIOCRE compared to George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Miller cranks everything you would’ve witnessed from the original Mad Max films, the chase scene, the destruction, the over-the-top performances of the past brought back to life and rodded up to full effect. He gives us glimpses into the tribal culture of The War Boys, men that have become brainwashed pale zombies, buying into Joe’s empty promises of Valhalla awaiting them, which we get from the viewpoint of one particular War Boy called Nux. We see certain traits from them in battle, such the electric guitar flamethrower to silver spray-paint in the mouth, never explained to the viewer but allowing them to make their own conclusions. With Max himself suffering some serve PTSD, he takes a supporting role (more or less) in terms of character development as really the lead here is infact Furiosa and she is an absolute badass. Tom Hardy’s performance is not to shadow that of his original successor Mel Gibson, but to do his own thing, going more growls and grunts than being talkative. No question he’s good in the role for the film, but for the character we shall have to wait and see in the sequels. Charlize Theron’s performance however is going to be the stuff of classic heroines down the line as she’s the real heart of the film and being more fleshed out than Max, giving Theron a range to bring to the character that’ll be looked back upon being iconic in a decades time. Another performance in the film that almost steal the film for me was Nicholas Hoult as Nux, the War Boy that eventually showed us that they actually are human and have heart. What a film! What a lovely film!

 

5. Straight Outta Compton

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Straight Outta ComptonReleased: 28th August

 

While a few particular events in the history of the real life characters are left out (i.e Dr. Dre and Dee Barnes incident) Straight Outta Compton happens to be one of the best biopics I’ve seen in a long while. F. Gary Gray manages to bring us a thoroughly entraining and gripping film while also giving us some terrific shots of Compton and glimpses to the life affecting the black community by the police especially during the late 80’s/early 90’s which seems as timely as ever with the current struggles between the community and the police in America at this time. Visually the night time sequences in Compton outside of gig venues and actual tour venues/sets are just a sight to behold with the N.W.A songs etc. hitting with real venom….I reckon being a fan of hip hop the film might work for the film viewer moreso than just a regular film viewer. With a fine script penned by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff and some great directing from F. Gary Gray, it still falls on the leads to provide the interaction and emotional intrigue into the characters and the young cast do a terrific job with Corey Hawkins providing a solid performance as Dr. Dre, O’Shea Jackson Jr. being a ridiculous version not only being a spit of his father but portraying him in a way that he did so that no one else could, he completely owned the role and as for Jason Mitchell…considering where Eazy-E goes in the films final act and how he portrayed the character generally, he has a bright future ahead of him.

 

4. The Martian

Top 25 Films of 2015 - The MartianReleased: 30th September

 

This is easily not only the best film that Ridley Scott has done in years, but it is also the most humorous one that he’s worked on. Part of me believes that is in small part due to Drew Goddard (of Cabin In The Woods and Daredevil fame) adapting the screenplay from Andy Weir’s work and from a scientific explosion to Watney having to suffer through Commander Lewis’s disco collection because he has nothing else to work with for me worked wonderfully in the context of the film, even though the latter use of that disco collection being used in certain scenes and montages may take some people out of the film briefly. The location use of the Wadi Rum in Jordan works marvellously as the backdrop of Mars and with some of the gorgeous shots captured on film I did start to wonder if it was the same Cinematographer here that worked in Ridley Scott’s previous film Prometheus and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was indeed Dariusz Wolski that done the work here and I won’t be ashamed to call this one early in saying that he could be considered for a few nominations come awards season. Matt Damon gives arguably his best performance in quite a while as Mark Whatney, who is likeable stuck in a dire situation in extreme surroundings and yet when he initially seems to await his demise it suddenly dawns on him ‘I’m not going to die here,’ and gets down to the survival instinct of adopting his knowledge of science to help him through this jam and get into contact with NASA. Chiwetel Ejiofor is terrific as NASA Mars mission director Vincent Kapoor, Jeff Daniels is a firm commanding presence as NASA Director Teddy Sanders and Jessica Chastain as NASA Ares III leader Melissa Lewis who is haunted by the call she made to leave Watney behind.

 

3. Ex Machina

Top 25 Films of 2015 - Ex MachinaReleased: 21st January

 

Ex Machina is a confident directorial debut from Alex Garland where Caleb is assigned to evaluate the reactions and emotions of an artificial intelligence in a female body named Ava. Ex Machina is a small film (the film is 95% in one location) with grand ideas in questioning what it means to be human and it’s pretty suspenseful from the moment a power cut happens, though there’s moments of humour in places from a Ghostbusters reference here to a rather spontaneous (and yet infectious) scene of Nathan ‘Tearing up the fucking dance floor’ along with Kyoko to Oliver Cheatham’s ‘Get Down Saturday Night’. The plotline may appear familiar territory for some film viewers, the acting performances here are what elevate the film. Oscar Isaac is terrific as the mind behind BlueBook (basically think that they couldn’t get to use the Google name so went with that) and creating an AI. Isaac balances the fine line of playing a man you wouldn’t mind hanging out with and yet underneath you can tell there’s something kind of…off about him, besides he can be fine to binge himself on alcohol as a one man party to hitting the punching bag the next morning to get rid of the hangover.  Alicia Vikander is great as Ava, the subject of the Turing Test, selling her performance with a degree of sensuality and body movements as an artificial intelligent being (with great visual effects work on her body). Domhnall Gleeson does a good job as Caleb as the tester that ends up being placed in a closed environment between a cat and mouse game between Nathan and Ava.

 

2. Sicario

Top 25 Films of 2015 - SicarioReleased: 8th October

 

Sicario was a cinematic experience like no other this year, as Denis Villeneuve gives us his view on the subject of the ‘War On Drugs’ angle and it completely got under my skin with the grey world in which it lives and breathes. The film in the most part has us following FBI Agent Kate Macer being thrown into this wilderness in Mexico and pretty much the character is kept in the dark as much as us the audience as in the precise definition as to what the mission is here other than the explanation she’s given from Matt Graver which is to ‘dramatically overreact’ and to watch and learn…yet he won’t show and tell. Villeneuve does such a terrific job in directing not only the action sequences that take place but also the build up to those moments, from pretty much the opening scene of the kidnapping raid party to the initial arrival in Juarez, where there’s people playing handball in one block then just on down is beheaded bodies hanging from a bridge to the point that when the elite squad they extract a prisoner across the border, a potential shootout builds…and builds. Roger Deakins once again collaborates with Villeneuve after working together on Prisoners and thanks to the specific shots that he gets in the night sequence in the films final act, maybe, just maybe this could get him an Oscar for Cinematography let alone a nomination. Another Villeneuve/Prisoners collaborator returning is composer Jóhann Jóhannsson and I thought he done a really damn good job in cranking up the tension and menace of what lies ahead, especially when the score track ‘The Beast’ hits during the entrance into Juarez…it’s awesome. As great as Emily Blunt is here, the film will be remembered more for Benicio Del Toro’s character Alejandro, which happens to be Del Toro’s best performance in years and I will be stunned if he doesn’t get any Oscar love this award season. I still stand by my statement that it’s the best Michael Mann film that hasn’t been made by Michael Mann.

 

1. Whiplash

Top 25 Films of 2015 - WhiplashReleased: 16th January

 

Top of the pile this year that was quite my tempo and hasn’t budged since January is Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash.  The film brings to life abuse of power and obsession in a way that I haven’t seen in a long time. Damien Chazelle finally got to make this film length feature (originally he couldn’t get funding, so he done a short film of Whiplash back in 2013 for the Sundance Film Festival, which ended up winning the Short Film Jury Award and the rest is history) and really cranks up the tension with the class scenes and especially in the competition performances that Andrew comes to the front and you tense up every time Fletcher glances over at him, waiting for something to go wrong in an instant. Taking this student/mentor film and making it an abusive thriller, mostly handling the obsession and ambition that Andrew and Fletcher have within themselves: Andrew, seeking to gain the approval of his talent by Fletcher, we witness the effort he puts in only to be teared about in mere seconds come the next class comes around, he literally eats and sleeps music the band performs. Fletcher on the other hand seeks on going to extreme measures to mould his own ‘Charlie Parker’, one that many may refer to him as one thing…an egomaniac. The film comes with terrific performances from its lead stars, starting off with Miles Tellers bringing actual blood, sweat and a single tear to his performance that is as raw as I’ve seen him yet. I can understand why some might be initially turned off by Miles Teller for previous films he’s appeared in (particularly in the comedy genre), but with his performance in The Spectacular Now and now Whiplash, he is definitely one that can take off now as a future indie starlet with these kinds of roles….though we’ll see how he and The Fantastic Four have to say about the matter. As terrific as Tellers performance is, really the man that brings forward some of the most memorable quotes of tearing someone apart since Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket is JK Simmons as Terence Fletcher. In an alternate universe, Vern Schillinger did not get placed into prison but instead decided to mentor the future musicians of the jazz world, yet was still as verbally and emotionally manipulative as his namesake, there you have Terence Fletcher. Simmons deserved that Oscar love for a reason!

 

That’s the Top 25 Films of 2015. Any of your favourites missing on the list? What is your favourite film of 2015?

4 responses to “Top 25 Films of 2015

  1. Great choices. Best film of the year for me was The Martian, with Still Alice a close second. Also highlights how many great films I missed as well.

    • It was a better year than people give it credit for. Quite a few small budget ones I enjoyed didn’t make it in the list (e.g The Voices and Predestination).

  2. Pingback: Top 25 Films of 2016 | Irish Cinephile·

  3. Pingback: Top 25 Films of 2018 | Irish Cinephile·

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