1/12/16

MY TOP 10 BEST FILMS OF 2015

2015 was a strange year for movies: a lot of Oscar-bait, a lot of mindless blockbusters, some gems in-between. Oddly, it turns out I didn't go to the movies quite as much as past years so take this top 10 with the knowledge that I shall amend the list eventually when I'm finally all caught up with some key indie flicks.

In the meantime, here are my 10 Best Films Of 2015:

10
RUN ALL NIGHT


You could be forgiven for purposely missing this movie when it came out. Armed with an awful title and a synopsis not too dissimilar from every other Liam Neeson B action flicks, Run All Night could have had Neeson in a bikini on the poster and people would have still not wanted to see it. Which is a shame since it was actually a really good thriller with Ed Harris on top intimidating form as the main baddie, lots of well put-together, tense action sequences and some nifty cinematography. Like last year's A Walk Among The Tombstones, this is not only far better than Taken but a really suspenseful, well written movie that's worth taking a chance on.

9
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS


The fact that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is so low on my list is a bit of a shame since I was hoping it would blow me away somehow but it fell quite short of that. That said, I did have a good time with it and, as a blockbuster, it had enough cool spacey action, decent world building, nostalgia and... lightsabers to keep me pretty entertained. Plus it's a Star Wars movie on the big screen in 3D with that text crawl, that immortal John Williams theme and everything, what more could you ask for? Here's hoping Episode VIII makes it to higher than 9th on my 2017 Best Of list.

COP CAR


Cop Car was kinda sold as a midnight movie and it really does feel a lot like that. You could definitely picture this movie having a full-on Grindhouse trailer attached to it. Kevin Bacon is on full creepo mode as a dodgy cop whose car is stolen by the two dumbest kids in the universe, and that's no overstatement, I assure you. Expect lots of cool twists and turns, some very suspenseful sequences and a very game Bacon giving his best performance in a long while.

7
ANT-MAN


Marvel's new entry into their vast cinematic superhero catalogue, much like Guardians Of The Galaxy, did not seem like much more than a one-joke project at first but it proved to be so much fun, we all soon accepted that a man could ride an ant towards a Thomas The Tank Engine toy and soon after transcend matter itself. Was Ant-Man silly? Yes. Was it perfect? Nope. But even some cheesy moments here and there couldn't prevent Ant-Man from being so darn likeable. Paul Rudd is now officially part of the Avengers universe and that alone is a comforting thought.

6
BRIDGE OF SPIES


Zero effort may have gone into the marketing for Bridge Of Spies (the trailers were forgettable, the posters dull) and it's yet another historical kinda-courtroom drama from Steven Spielberg, so soon after Lincoln, but it's still a good movie. Tom Hanks plays a lawyer who is tasked with defending a man suspected of being a Soviet spy and what follows is a tense journey through Cold War politics. The performances from the whole cast are flawless, the cinematography and score are reliably slick and the story is surprisingly involving. This could be the dark horse at the Oscars.

5
EX MACHINA


This indie sci-fi written and directed by Alex Garland looked intriguing from the trailers and it definitely delivered. The story of a guy being called in by a wealthy entrepreneur/recluse to "test" his new creation: an artificially intelligent robot woman, could have come off as silly or too predictable but it was a meticulous slow-burn with plenty of bizarre surprises, eerie encounters and a scene in which Oscar Isaac disco dances with a mindless robot girl. Ex Machina is one to check out if you haven't already.

4
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON


I don't think another film was nitpicked to death quite as much by audiences than Avengers: Age Of Ultron last year. I, for one, had a great time with this superhero sequel which not only delivered loads more (better) action but introduced one hell of a slimy (and better) villain in Ultron (a brilliant James Spader) plus a handful of new characters who didn't suck! Fans of this type of absurd big-budget comic-book blockbuster will have a ball with this one, I know I did! Easily one of the best Marvel movies, there I said it.

3
INSIDE OUT


Like everyone else, I totally expected to "meh" Inside Out and adore The Good Dinosaur and yet that soon all got turned around and the former ended up being all kinds of awesome, the latter not so much. The trailers for Inside Out may have left me cold but as soon as the film introduces its genial concept, you find yourself transported into a plot so nuts yet so well thought-out and so creative that you want it to keep going long after the movie's over. It's funny, a bit of a tear-jerker at times, it's just really, really good. Right up there with the likes of Up and the Toy Story movies, for sure.

2
THE HATEFUL EIGHT


The (sort-of) 8th film from Quentin Tarantino sure prompted a lot of hoo-hah since its conception with the script being leaked, Tarantino refusing to make it, a live reading of it with the cast being organised before the film finally got made. The critics, in the end, gave the film mixed reviews but those who saw the film in 70mm complete with an Overture and an Intermission know just how good The Hateful Eight was. Surprisingly not the action-packed Western we all expected, the film is instead much more like Reservoir Dogs in that it resembles a play with most of the action taking place in one location. The writing is as sharp as ever, the cast is fantastic (especially Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh), Ennio Morricone's score is amazing and the film itself is intense but also very funny. Highly recommended.

1
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD


Pay attention Hollywood, this is how you reboot a franchise: get the original director, let him do pretty much what he wants and make it look goddamn pretty. Mad Max: Fury Road may, I'm sad to say, be a bit overrated since everyone's acting like it's the only Mad Max movie out there and the best film ever but it remains a very good one. The look of it, the characters, the kickass cars, the villain, everything just clicks and what the film lacks in complex storytelling it makes up for in sheer spectacle. Charlize Theron shines as Imperator Furiosa, the baddies are appropriately ghoulish and the whole thing has an old-fashioned post-apocalyptic feel we haven't seen done successfully in a while. It's a sequel and a reboot yet it feels completely original somehow and thanks to that it reminds us what we loved about George Miller's franchise and polishes it up a bit for a new audience. The best blockbuster of 2015.

Honourable mention to Johnny Depp-starring gangster flick Black Mass, Guillermo Del Toro's gothic whodunit Crimson Peak and Jurassic World, which was way more enjoyable than it had any right to be.

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