Monday, February 8, 2016

My 10 Fave Films of 2015

I may be a bit late in finally compiling and releasing my annual top ten list, but here it is. Better late than never, as they, whomever they happen to be, like to say. But enough is enough. Let the wait end now. Here is my list.

1. The Hateful Eight - So, I think that anyone who knows anything about your humble ole narrator here, is not even close to being surprised at my choice for the best film of 2015. In this critic's mind, Tarantino can do no wrong. Well, at least he has yet to do any wrong. I know QT has many a detractor out there in the cinema loving community (he's sort of a love him or hate him kinda guy) but those people can just suck it. Okay, seriously, from a critical standpoint, The Hateful Eight is what we in the biz call a masterpiece - and that is a word I do not use lightly. The auteur's third best film, after Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, this 70mm parlour piece western is a gorgeous and succulent film, replete with Tarantino's deft dialogue-heavy style. Simply brilliant, and well deserving of the title, Best Film of 2015.

2. The Revenant - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu took home the Oscar last year for his film Birdman. This year he may do it again for The Revenant. A richly succulent work of art, Inarritu's film, probably taking the top spot in any Tarantino-less year, tells the rather brutal story of one man's struggle to survive unbelievable hardships, in order to find the man who murdered his son. Leo DiCaprio is better here than he ever has been, and the same goes for the villainous Tom Hardy. Perhaps, with its bitterness and harsh reality, the film is not everyone's tastes, but it works damn well for this critic.

3. Carol - Todd Haynes has made beautiful films before, so there should be no surprise that he has done it again, and this time he brought the great Cate Blanchett along for the ride. Probably Haynes' best film aside from Far From Heaven or I'm Not There, Carol tells the so-called forbidden story of sapphic love in 1952 America, and does it with stunning beauty, both exterior and interior. 

4. Ex Machina - Here is a film that was overlooked by many this year (though we critics loved it). A tiny sci-fi film about artificial intelligence, written and directed by Alex Garland, the guy who wrote the novel The Beach, and did the screenplays for 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go, The film stars Oscar Isaac (ya know, Poe from Star Wars, and one of the best damn actors working today), Domhnall Glesson (ya know, General Hux in Star Wars, and Bill Weasley in Harry Potter), and Alicia Vikander (an actual Oscar nominee this year, for The Danish Girl). Trust me, ya'll wanna see this one.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road - The big surprise hit of 2015. Whoulda thunk it, that George Miller would make another Mad Max film, thirty years after the last one in the series, and the damn thing ends up being the best one of 'em all!? Well, that is exactly what Fury Road is! A pure adrenaline rush of a motion picture, whose motion almost never stops. And now Miller is poised to maybe win the best director Oscar. Take note Michael Bay and Jimmy Cameron, this is how you make a blockbuster that matters

6. Chi-Raq - With all the controversy over the lack of diversity at the Oscars, and the snubbing of a film like Straight Outta Compton (see a few spots down on this list), this Spike Lee Joint gets little said about it. A hip hop musical version of the Greek comedy Lysistrata, that is done in almost complete rhyming verse, and tells the story of gang life in Chicago, should be up for Best Picture and Best Director, at the very least. Granted, I don't have an Oscar vote, but if I did, Lee's best film in over a decade, would get some of them.

7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - I have been waiting for more than thirty years for Han and Leia and Luke to return to the big screen, and finally that time has come. J.J. Abrams, through his use of filming in 35mm, has made this new film look more like the originals, and less like those digitized glossy messes we called prequels. Combine that with the nostalgia of seeing childhood heroes back in the swing of things (at least, for me and my fellow Gen Xers), and a vibrant array of newcomers (more Poe in the next film, btw), and you have one hell of a film. It may not be the original, but this film comes a lot closer than any of those damn prequels could ever dream of coming.

8. Straight Outta Compton - This sometimes brutal, sometimes charming, sometimes infuriating, sometimes gorgeous, sometimes laugh out loud funny (bye Felicia!) film about the uprising of old school hip hoppers NWA, may have been snubbed at the lily-white Oscars (it's only nomination is for the three white guys who wrote the screenplay) but I won't snub it here at All Things Kevyn. 

9. The Martian - Granted, when compared to the likes of Blade Runner or Alien, or even American Gangster or Thelma & Louise, The Martian may seem a bit on the lighter side of Ridley Scott's ouevre, but it is still a solid film, filled with a bunch of equally solid performances, and highlighted by Matt Damon's lead. A fun, beautifully shot film, and hey, even lesser Ridley Scott is better than many a director's best work. So there.

10. Room - 2015's beautifully nightmarish little film that could. This tiny indie film, currently nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Picture, jumps right into the tragic story of a kidnap victim and her young son, who knows of nothing outside of the room he and his mother are kept in by their captor. Brie Larson's performance as the mother is a brilliant turn, only upstaged by 8 year old Jacob Tremblay as her bewildered son. It may sound cliche to call Room, a haunting film, but damn if it isn't.

So there ya go kids. The best films of 2015. Sorry again, for the tardiness. Now on to 2016. For now...that's it gang. See ya 'round the web.