Dustin Chase Top 10 of 2015
Things didn’t start off too well in 2015, indeed it wasn’t until the end of April that I even found one movie worth liking. That was the widely unseen and unheard of 5 to 7 starring Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) and former Bond girl Bérénice Marlohe (Skyfall). I didn’t even want to review the IFC film at first, but after about 30 minutes I saw a relationship film, yes a romance, from a male perspective that I had never seen before. The writing was so forward and unguarded it was moving and refreshing. But I am getting ahead of myself here…
2015 offered up a lot of films that I felt before seeing them were going to be great. The moment I saw the trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Martian, I knew that would be one of, if not the best film of the year (WRONG!). I just knew after that emotional trailer for Suffragette, with tears streaming down Carey Mulligan’s face, it would be an unforgettable experience (WRONG!). And the studio moving Ron Howard’s epic In the Heart of the Sea to awards season means surely meant it would be the high seas adventure I had been anticipating (WRONG!). Nearly every film that ended up on my top 10 list this year was a film I had no preconceived notions about, almost didn’t even see or was urged to see from someone.
5 to 7 stayed at the top of my list for most of the year because I didn’t see another A/A- grade film until early fall when Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to Prisoners landed with Emily Blunt in the performance of her career. Sicario is basically an intense drug infiltration thriller but shot like a horror movie. The same week, I was encouraged to watch the Chinese film Coming Home and was completely floored by the subject matter of memory loss and true love presented in a historical war time setting. As usual, the deeper into fall, the better the films get, and 2015 proved to be one of the most bottom heavy years I can remember.
Not since Cast Away has visionary director Robert Zemeckis delivered something so powerful, but The Walk (not to mention its breathtaking visual effects and 3D presentation) is a beautiful journey and determination of Phillipe Pettit (Joseph Gordon Levitt) to walk between The Twin Towers. It recalled other passionate characters from his films like Jodie Foster in Contact or Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump that get so much character development than normal movies, you walk away feeling like you met that person.
When I saw Room coming off its win at TIFF, I knew it had awards potential for indie darling Brie Larson, but I was unprepared for the effect it would have on me (and the rest of the audience). Each year I look for films that offer slices of people, places, culture, filmmaking or access to themes I have never experienced. When you see 200+ movies every year, this becomes extremely difficult when you don’t care about entertainment and are looking for experiences. Room does all of that and more, it’s understanding of how to combine almost two different films in one was a brilliant idea and it’s one of those that take hold of you and never lets go. After seeing Room (which the less you know about the better) I knew nothing in 2015 could match it.
After seeing Room I knew nothing in 2015 could match it.
Brooklyn in so many ways is the perfect traditional film. It doesn’t use thrills or fancy effects, it’s just simply good story telling with one of the years very best performances. Saoirse Ronan has already played a more varied slate of characters than actors twice her age. An Oscar nominee for Atonement, this is her most gracious and movie-star like role yet. The entire film, top to bottom, in every corner is just stunning and it delivers a story that everyone should be able to relate to in some capacity.
The Danish Girl, The Revenant and Carol all have really great elements to them but each lack a little something. The Danish Girl is probably one of the best looking films of the year and boasts two really incredible performances, especially from the 2015 “it” girl Alicia Vikander. The Revenant ended up getting bumped from a B+ to an A- because I couldn’t get it out of my head, and has the best original score. The camera work and sheer trail blazing filmmaking experience is something I will never forget. Carol gets better the more I watch it, but that film lands on my list due to its atmospheric understanding, not to mention the continued vision of Todd Haynes.
Finally I took away Truth, a film I really liked because of its performances and “what not to do in journalism message”, and Blanchett’s best role of the year, not to mention it seemed to get people on both sides of the isle so fired up (what other movie did that this year?). Instead I put Mad Max: Fury Road in because even after re-watching it outside of IMAX, it really holds up; Ironically for the same reason Brooklyn does, it’s essentially just good old fashion filmmaking. The other element I loved about Mad Max, is that it was so far outside of what most people were expecting (the females in the film being the strongest hero’s) that it ticked those male chauvinist pigs off enough to boycott it. All that goes without even mentioning the visionary accomplishments on screen and Charlize Theron’s performance, also among the best of her career.
Of course of out 220 movies reviewed, with only ten A/A-‘s, that means there were some equally terrible films. There is so much mediocre junk with superhero films every weekend, sequels, prequels, you know the usual offenders. My worst ten films actually fell below all of that, movies that you wonder how they got made, why they were made, and who did they actually think would pay to see them?
Worst of the Year
1. The Gallows
3. The Boy Next Door
6. Mississippi Grind
7. Victor Frankenstein
8. The Nymphets
9. Rock the Kasbah
10. Hitman: Agent 47