Make Movies Great Again: 2015 Cinema in Review

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I’m writing this in the middle of 2016, and looking back to 2015 fees like looking back at simpler, more innocent times even though we’re only seven months removed. Writing about the films of the past year, looking at their themes, and then seeing the state of the world today got me thinking about the role of art, particularly films, has in shaping our perspectives.

Though not every film is important, even seemingly-disposable entertainment like Spy, MacFarland, USA, or Sisters have something to say about things like the importance of family, race relations, and gender issues. Admittedly a lot of people watch movies to kill time, but do these themes not manage to somehow get ingrained in people’s minds enough to at least challenge their perspectives even if for a second?

What about bigger and more blatant films? Do films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Inside Out, and The Revenant, which wear their morals on their sleeves, not make us open up our minds? Do films rooted in history like the widely-seen Bridge of Spies or the art-house hit Phoenix not teach us anything?

I honestly don’t know where I’m going with this. It’s just something that has been on my mind lately. This is partly why I titled this article the way I did. To me the movies (and television too) have become more important to me. The quality of the films vary, but in general cinema is always great. It shows me perspectives that I’ll never experience (even if the following list does seem limited in that regard, but I’m trying). I like to think that they make me understand a bit how the world works.

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So now we proceed to the usual festivities. As it’s tradition I have a few honorable mentions, followed by my top 25 films of the year, as well as superlatives in various categories.

There were some big films I missed for a variety of reason. Given the way things have been going, the thought of watching something with obviously heavy themes like Son of Saul or Arabian Nights puts them low on my must-watch list. Yes, I’m a hypocrite. Films like The Assassin interest me, but I feel like I’m not quite ready for it based on what people say about it. Finally you will notice a shameful lack of female-directed films. Once upon a time I would have blind-bought stuff like Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea without hesitation and despite what critics said, but these are harsh financial times, and if they are not available at the library, on Netflix, or available for very cheap I have to on them. Sadly, due to their minimal box office takes these are very expensive films to purchase, but I look forward to watching them one day.

On with the show!

Honorable Mentions

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Top 25

25.

imageTestamentTitleTestament

These days the last thing I want to spend my time doing is watching depressing war stories (which is why I haven’t bothered to watch Son of Saul). But then I did sit down to watch Testament of Youth, about Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander in her very best performance of the year), who volunteered to be a nurse during World War I, forsaking a future as a scholar, hoping to be near the men she loved who volunteered to fight. It’s not a movie with a happy ending, but it’s a powerful reminder of the price of war, and even in these dark times we must not forget this, especially since we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over.

24.

ImageMartianTitleMartian

The Martian may have its moments of bleakness as well, but it thrives on hope. The hope of an individual who is trying to stay alive in a forsake planet until someone comes to rescue him, the hope that a united world places on a group of brilliant scientists and engineers to bring him home. This is probably why it ended up being a hit with almost everyone. In a world where a very loud group of people is very much against facts, seeing the scientists win is such a pleasure.

23.

ImageSicarioTitleSicario

This is the first Denis Villeneuve film where I see the greatness that he has been praised for with his previous films. From the very first frame he and his crew create an intense atmosphere that doesn’t let up until the end credits start rolling. Thematically it may just be “Mexico’s War on Drugs 101” but it’s still a great film making showcase on every level, from Johann Johannson’s score and Roger Deakin’s cinematography to Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt’s performances.

22.

imageblackhattitleBlackhat

Another film about a very important subject that goes about it in a silly way but is made much better by its director. Under the guidance of a lesser filmmaker Blackhat would have been a throwaway thriller, but under thanks to Michael Mann it is able to rise above its script. The result is a flawed but gorgeous, nerve-wrecking, and very human cyber thriller.

21.

ImageMMTitleMMXXL

The original Magic Mike was a surprise because while we were expecting a fun romp about male strippers what we got was a dramatic look at the toll the recession had on someone who was trying to leave this world. This wasn’t a bad thing, of course, as we got a nice, brainy drama with a few great dance sequences in between. But many of us still wanted that fun romp, and Magic Mike XXL delivered just that and it was more than we could have hoped for. The film is about a group of ridiculously good looking men on an RV heading to Miami to perform in a convention for male strippers. Almost everything that would happen in such a situation happens and it is glorious because everything that occurs, no matter how ridiculous is taken so seriously and is so beautifully filmed that you can’t help but just enjoy every thing that happens.

20.

ImageMistressTitleMistress

Mistress America continues Noah Baumbach’s look into the trials and tribulations of white millennials, and it might be the most entertaining one yet. It starts out as an average coming-of-age comedy as Tracy (Lola Kirke) is trying to find her way around college life. But once her over-achieving, soon-to-be step-sister Brooke (Greta Gerwig) is introduced it becomes a screwball-esque comedy about a woman who seems to have everything figured out in her life and how she deals with the failure that she never even factored in. It also looks at how we tend to look up to people who seem to be in a better place than us even when they are probably as unprepared for the world as we are. The film is hilarious, features witty dialogue that got audible gasps from me, the performances are great (particularly Gerwig’s) and the direction is low-key but brilliant. It is not quite as effective as Frances Ha, but Baumbach is still at the top of his game.

19.

ImageJobs'TitleJobs

It seems odd to me that I’m putting Steve Jobs on the list. As I was watching I could see some pretty big flaw in it, mainly in that no matter how much they try to humanize the guy, he still ends up coming off as a god who has all the answers to everything. At the same time, I cannot help but be dazzled by what happens on screen. Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire, I’m-a-great-writer-and-I-know-it dialogue starts beating you into submission from the beginning. The actors not only play the characters beautifully, but also deliver all the dialogue flawlessly. Danny Boyle as always, directs with incredible energy. How can I possibly focus on it’s short comings when it has all of this going on?

18.

ImageBeastTitleBeast

Mamoru Hosoda’s The Boy and the Beast could very well be his best film so far. It plays out like an odd mix between Spirited Away and Dragon Ball as it follows a spirit looking for a protege to train in order to convince his own master that he is ready to become the leader of the spirit world. He finds it in the form of a human being who just ran away from home after a tragedy. What begins as an odd-couple story between these two different outcasts eventually, perhaps predictably, turns into a father/son tale. It’s not the most original material, but it’s heartwarming and told with some great humor and gorgeous animation. The denouement, like most his other stuff, takes a turn that doesn’t completely mesh with everything that came before, but it’s still thrilling, and doesn’t really betray the story that is being told. Despite the flaws, the great moments are what stayed with me, and that’s what made it worthy of being on this list.

17.

ImageAnomalisaTitleAnomalisa

Originally conceived as a radio play, Anomalisa could have only worked visually through animation. Only through this medium we could properly experience Michael Stone’s affliction without it feeling like a feature length-version of that one scene from Being John Malkovich. Only through this medium could we have experienced his elation when he finds someone that unique someone, and the horror of when it’s all falling apart. Only through animation could such a concept be told so humanely and beautifully.

16.

ImageJamesTitleJames

I have personally experienced what it’s like to have an ill parent and to be one of the few who can possibly take care of them. While in an ideal world you could be able to drop everything and care for them, this is not an ideal world. This creates a conflict in the mind between the way you want to live your own personal life and goals and the sense of responsibility we feel towards the people who gave us life. This is particularly tough for someone who is young and still hasn’t found his way in life. James White is one of the best representation of this that I’ve seen. Director Josh Mond, cinematographer Matyas Erdely, Christopher Abbot, and Cynthia Nixon capture a perfect visual representation of the depression, confusion, and the need to carry on with that one goes through in such situations. There were times when it all seemed too real and I felt like turning away from the screen, but I simply couldn’t. It’s a film that I don’t think I’ll be able to see again, but I’m thankful I got to experience it. I hope more people get the chance to do so too.

15.

ImageBridgeTitleBridge

Steven Spielberg has been making films for over 40 years. In that time he has tackled almost every genre (only the musical eludes him) and he has more or less succeeded in every one. Other than a stinker here and there, Spielberg can be easily relied upon to deliver a well-directed and produced film. This is perhaps why it seems more and more people take him for grated. Take Bridge of Spies, for example. When it premiered the critical reception was positive but kind of muted. “It’s just another well-made Spielberg drama” was more or less the consensus. That is very much true, but the way I see it, it’s one of the highest compliments you can give a modern film. It’s pretty much a masterclass in directing. It’s oozes style, but it never gets in the way of the story. The performances are flawless. The script is thrilling, and often dryly funny (courtesy of the Coen brothers). It has everything that you could possibly want out of a motion picture event. So why do people get so bummed out when they hear it is “just another Spielberg drama?”

14.

ImageSpotlightTitleSpotlight

Earlier this year Spotlight won the Best Picture Oscar, becoming, in my opinion, the most worthy winner of the award since at least The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. While that victory was indeed celebrated by many, some have said it didn’t deserve it because of how austere and matter-of-fact it is. However, that is its greatest virtue. This film’s greatness lies in how it doesn’t sensationalize the real-life events too much, in seeing the leg work that the reporters had to do in order to get the story right, and the emotional toll that it took on them (obviously nothing compared to the actual survivors, but I digress). The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team did the world a great service with this story, so seeing their story represented in an honest, non-glamorous way reiterates the importance of their work and reminds us that we must keep listening to the survivors in order to keep sexual abuse from happening.

13.

ImageCrimsonTitleCrimson

Crimson Peak is the film I’ve been waiting for Guillermo Del Toro to make since Pan’s Labyrinth. It is of course a grand visual spectacle, the best he’s ever put in that regard actually. What makes this worthy of being on the list, is how those visuals enhance a terrific, engaging Gothic romance. From the beginning, when we are introduced to Edith through her encounter with her mother’s ghost, we are drawn in by the creepy atmosphere. Then as we see her character grow and be conned into a possibly tragic journey by some shady characters, the stakes increase in every subsequent scene, leading to a thrilling finale that took my breath away. As enjoyable as his big action films are, let’s hope stays in this path and continues to give us compelling dramas, even if they have action in them.

12.

ImageShadowsTitleShadows

What We Do In the Shadows doesn’t want to be anything more than a funny take on what life would be like for Vampires in the modern world. It seems like a simple enough task until you realize that cinema history is full of failures in this regard. So, it would be fair to be weary of it. However, it achieved it’s goal, and the result is a glorious thing to behold. From the opening credits to the final frame, this thing is filled with all kinds of jokes, from one-liners and sight gags, to some that build up for a while before the punch line, and they all land. This all works because although the characters are still eccentric archetypes, the direction and performances give them relatable qualities. It’s easily the best live-action comedy of the year.

11.

ImageProphet TitleProphet

As you will see, this year there were animated films that I liked more than The Prophet, but there may not be a purer showcase of the limitlessness of animation. Producer Salma Hayek gathered some of the best animation directors in the world to bring to life Gibran’s poetry, including Tomm Moore and Bill Plympton. The poetry as read by Liam Neeson, or sometimes musically performed by Glen Hansard and Damien Rice, is obviously powerful, even when the visual interpretations don’t always completely work. But even these lesser segments, like Nina Paley’s “On Children” are bursting at the seams with creativity. But when things work completely, like Moore’s “On Love,” the results are extraordinary. Roger Aller’s storyline that connects the separate segments does suffer from some Disney-isms that were inevitably going to show up when they made the decision to make it a family film, but as a whole the film is so beautiful and profound that a few missteps can be easily forgiven.

10.

ImageInsideTitleInsideOut

Is there anything new that we can say about yet another Pixar triumph? Like all of their great films, Inside Out is a hilarious buddy comedy that has something meaningful to say about a certain aspect of the human condition (in this case the complexity of emotions and thought). The filmmakers trusts its audience to understand what they are trying to say without completely resorting to low-brow humor. It is a fantastic achievement in just about every craft, from the animation and designs to Michael Giacchino’s score. Finally, the acting ensemble is absolute perfection, particularly Amy Poehler, Phillys Smith, and Richard Kind, who give the film its heart and soul.

I feel like I could use the above to make a fill-in-the-blank format for every great Pixar film.

9.

ImagePhoenixTitlePhoenix

Phoenix is an intense drama about reconstruction. It’s about Germany putting itself back together after World War II. It’s about Nellie, a badly disfigured holocaust survivor who tells her plastic surgeon to maker her look like her old self despite the fact that he warns her she will not look the same. It’s about trying to get back to the life that gave you so much comfort before tragedy struck. But the new buildings they build will not be the same and as hard as the plastic surgeon may try, Nellie’s face will not the be the same. The same goes for her life. Most of the people that used to be her friends didn’t do anything to help her escape her fate, and even some closer to her betrayed her.

The plot of the film can feel far-fetched, but Christian Petzold’s atmosphere and Nina Hoss’s commitment to her role make it work, and results in one of the most emotional and compelling experiences of the year.

8.

ImageBrooklynTitleBrooklyn

Not every immigration story is tragic, but they are all involve hardship. Brooklyn, both the film and the Colm Toibin novel that inspired it, are brilliant because of how beautifully they tell this particular story about the internal struggle. Eilis’ struggle can be easily reduced to her biggest conflict being having between choosing two awesome dudes who love her. But that’s not it. It’s about the choice between the comfort of the familiar and the opportunity to have a much better, more adventurous life. It’s a struggle that many will identify with, but one that is particularly strong among immigrants. This is perfectly captured in the film by allowing the great Saoirse Ronan to carry the entire emotional journey on her shoulders. Her dialogue rarely spells out her feelings, but her facial expressions are the most perfect interpretation of the novel’s prose. I don’t want to sound repetitive, but “beautiful” is the best word I can use to describe this film, and yet it doesn’t quite cover it. It just has to be experienced.

7.

ImageSlowTitleSlowWest

The visual beauty, quirky personalities, and the love-driven quest that is at the center of Slow West makes you hope that everything will turn out right for our young Jay Cavendish. However, it’s still a western, and if the genre has taught us anything it is that the Old West is an unforgiving place that has no room for hopeless romantics. Not five minutes into the film and the dead bodies start dropping (not counting the ones responsible for this quest). The violence only escalates from there, but the beauty of the New World never changes, making the film more haunting as the short running time keeps ticking by. Love is a battlefield.

6.

ImageCarolTitleCarol

For part of Carol’s running time it feels like a dream. The atmosphere that Todd Haynes, cinematographer Edward Lachman, composer Carter Burwell, and the chemistry between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara create make us feel like we are witnessing the purest form of love. But reality permeates these moments and eventually comes crashing in and we are reminded that although things are different for the LGBT community today, it wasn’t so simple in the 1950s. These moments are made particularly heartbreaking by the loveliness of the other moments. Still, it’s a magnificent experience. It ends on a hopeful note, perhaps as a nod to what the future would bring, but still we must not take the past for granted and keep working towards having a brighter future for those in our community who still feel like they live in Carol and Therese’s era.

5.

ImageCreedTitleCreed

I never would have thought that one of the most essential films of the year would be a Rocky spin-off. Boxing movies are generally the same as far as plot goes, but by switching the focus to Adonis, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, you add more gravitas and urgency to the proceedings. The film is not afraid to tackles how his heritage and the side effects of being African-American have shaped and continue to shape his life. This is a very personal project for Ryan Coogler and it shows not only in the refreshing energy and creativity that he brings, but in how honest it feels. Like in the original Rocky, every challenge that the character faces feels like it is a matter of life or death. But as much as Coogler reveres the series, he made this completely his own. Fruitvale Station may have made him a director to watch for, but Creed made him one of the most vital voices of his generation.

4.

image45Y Title45

45 Years takes place in the week leading up to Kate and Geoff Mercer’s 45th wedding anniversary. They seem to be an average loving couple, and are looking forward to their big party. But then something happens that will turn their world upside down: Geoff gets a letter saying that Swiss authorities have found the body of a former lover he saw die as she fell into a deep crack in a glacier. He is obviously saddened and she tries to be supportive although she doesn’t know how involved the two of them were since this happened before they became a couple. As the days pass we witness how things begin to change. He becomes even more of a mess, and she starts to get jealous, especially after discovering the extent of Geoff’s connection to the dead woman, and how that relationship has affected her own life for over 45 years.

Like with Weekend and some episodes Looking, director Andrew Haigh keeps his camera at a distance in order to let the story and the characters speak for themselves and to not manipulate the audience’s emotion much more than necessary. This allows us to understand both sides of the equation. It’s understandable that Geoff would be sad that these tragic memories are brought back after such a long time, but hasn’t enough time passed or hasn’t his life been good enough? With Kate, whose point of view we follow the whole time, she has every right to be upset about how her husband is acting particularly after she has tried to be supportive, but at times it does feel like she’s too being irrational. Haigh doesn’t want to judge the characters, and I really appreciate that that.

Watching this play out is hypnotizing, and the performances had as much to do with it as Haigh’s direction. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay have had legendary careers, and to see them working at the top of the game is a treat. Courtney’s transition into depression is very authentic and it’s what makes you feel for the character, even when his actions unravel.

Rampling’s performance is the standout, however. It is implied that Kate is from the upper class, and if the movies have taught us anything is that people from her particular generation like to keep their emotions guarded. Rampling is a master at playing characters with steely personalities, but seeing that façade crumble is one of the things that made the film as great as it is. There are two scenes in particular, where this happens. These are the only times that Haigh lets himself to zoom in on the actors, and in her face during those two sequences that last no more than two minutes each, we see a lifetime of pain slowly emerging. It’s a masterclass in acting.

Including this and Looking: The Movie, Haigh’s directing career so far only spans four short films, four feature-length films and 5 hours of TV episodes. To think that he’s pretty much only getting started makes keeps me excited for the future of cinema.

3.

ImageBoyWorldTitleBoyWorld

I went into Boy and the World thinking that it would be a feature length version of its trailer, a colorful celebration of Brazil through the eyes of a child. The film is indeed seen through that point of view, which gave director Ale Abreu a lot of room to play with visually, but I was not prepared for what it would be thematically.

It stars with Cuca playing around in his own little world, but that soon comes to m stop when he is summoned to say goodbye to his dad, who is presumably leaving their small rural home to find work. Cuca then decides to reunite his family.

What follows is a journey that shows us through his eyes the effect that corporate greed and a corrupt government has on its people. The message can be heavy handed at times with third Reich imagery popping up from time to time and about a minute of live-action stock footage of real destruction. This is balanced out because despite all of this, there is a message of positivism. The film is also about the people, about how no matter how many hits they take they will continue to rise up until they have the future they and future generations deserve (also driven home by heavy handed phoenix imagery).

The animation is what makes the film so special, though. Abreu and his crew used very little digital techniques to bring the film to life. Every character, every background was made by hand using crayons, Bic pens, water colors, acrylics, and paper collages to bring to life this child-lime view of the world. Every frame of this film is a work of art. And it’s not empty spectacle. Our main character is basically a few crayon lines, but he is so expressive and makes us so much more invested in his journey, and the settings are so alive that I felt the tension that the characters would feel.

Please seek this little gem out. You will not regret it.

2.

ImageShaunTitleShaun

Shaun the Sheep is one of my favorite shows simply because of the joy each ten-minute episode radiates. It’s obvious that the people who work on it absolutely enjoy every single minute. For this same reason its big screen treatment was my most anticipated film of the year. I was of course worried about whether the filmmakers would be able to take what makes the show what it is and make it work on a bigger canvas and a running time that is eight times longer than they are used to deal with. My worries were dispelled within the first ten minutes when I saw that the only thing that would be different were the production values. Much like the show, the movie has a very simple plot for its medium: a there-and-back-again structure that finds Shaun and his flock having to rescue the farmer from the big city after their plan to take a day of goes horribly wrong. But in between the “there” and the “back again” lie what made this such a great film.

First and foremost is the heart. The show, as great as it is, doesn’t really have time for a lot of character development. Yes there have been touching times when Shaun and Bitzer have buddy moments, but it wasn’t until this film that we get to see that everyone that lives in the farm is family. That concept is what drives the film and the filmmakers integrate it into the film beautifully, most notably in the scenes that feature the song “Feels Like Summer” that scores the opening montage.

Second but no less important is the comedy. Featuring classic slapstick, references to films like Silence of the Lambs, and blink-and-you-miss it gags, it is filled to the brim with so much comedy. There are so many that it is actually impossible to catch them all the first time around. The first time that I saw it in a screening room filled with kids and their parents and perhaps I was the one who was laughing the hardest, which is saying something.  The second time I laughed just as hard in the comfort of my living room.

I didn’t even get to go into detail of why the animation is so great, or how beautiful the score is, but it doesn’t really matter because all that makes this the animated masterpiece that it is.

1.

ImageMaxTitleMadMax

Mad Max: Fury Road is an awe-inspiring spectacle unlike any that has graced the silver screen in a long time. From the very first frame it catches your attention with its super saturated teal and orange color palette, and then completely grabs you once we first hear the engines of the Interceptor roar and doesn’t let go until the end credits.

George Miller’s reinvention of the world he began to build with the original Mad Max in 1979 is pure cinema. At 70-years-old he took every tool that was available to him, from CGI and digital color grading to stunt actors and in-camera effects to reinvent what an action film should be. Indeed, despite being the fourth film in its franchise, he reached his goal by creating a diverse group of edge-of-your-seat sequences, from a CGI-driven one that takes place inside a sand storm, to the lauded ones that involved real humans in real vehicles putting their lives at risk to bring us authentic entertainment.

But all the action is not quite what makes it a masterpiece. Contrary to what many believe, the action, the Oscar-winning costumes, makeup, and production design, and the over-the-top characters serve a much bigger purpose. All of these elements come together to tell a story that despite taking in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, very much reflects our world today. It is 2016, and today a large number of people, particularly women are still treated like cattle. This film shows the consequences of those actions. It is a story about liberation for the disenfranchised led by the iconic Furiosa (the fantastic Charlize Theron in the role she will be remembered for), who like a Fury out of Greek mythology, is a spirit of justice and vengeance. But unlike many films with a message, it doesn’t hit you in the head with it every chance it has. Miller rather does what cinema is supposed to do and lets the images speak for themselves, which makes the point even more powerful. All of this made for the single greatest movie-going experience of the year, and not a day has gone by since opening day that I haven’t thought about it. This is why it is the absolute best film of the year.

Superlatives

Dirpic2015Director 

  1. George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Mark Burton & Richard Starzak, Shaun the Sheep Movie
  3. Andrew Haigh, 45 Years
  4. Ryan Coogler, Creed
  5. Todd Haynes, Carol
  6. Christian Petzold, Phoenix
  7. John Crowley, Brooklyn
  8. John MacLean, Slow West
  9. Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
  10. Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies

ActorPic2016Actor

  1. Christopher Abbot as “James White” in James White
  2. Tom Courteney as “Geoff Mercer” in 45 Years
  3. Michael Fassbender as “Steve Jobs” in Steve Jobs & as “Silas Selleck” in Slow West
  4. Jacob Tremblay as “Jake” in Room
  5. Ian McKellen as “Sherlock Holmes” in Mr. Holmes
  6. Tom Hardy as “Reggie Kray” & “Ron Kray” in Legend
  7. Samuel L. Jackson as “Major Marquis Warren” in The Hateful Eight
  8. Michael B. Jordan as “Adonis Johnson” in Creed
  9. Matt Damon as “Mark Watney” in The Martian
  10. Tom Hanks as “James B. Donovan” in Bridge of Spies

actressPic2016Actress

  1. Charlotte Rampling as “Kate Mercer” in 45 Years
  2. Charlize Thereon as “Imperator Furiosa” in Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. Greta Gerwig as “Brooke Cardinas” in Mistress America
  4. Nina Hoss as “Nelly Lenz” in Phoenix
  5. Saoirse Ronan as “Eilis” in Brooklyn
  6. Cate Blanchett as “Carol Aird” & Rooney Mara as “Therese Belivet” in Carol
  7. Amy Poehler as “Joy” in Inside Out
  8. Jennifer Lawrence as “Joy” in Joy
  9. Maggie Smith as “Miss Shepherd” in The Lady in the Van
  10. Alicia Vikander as “Vera Britain” in Testament of Youth

SActorpic2016sActor

  1. Benicio Del Toro as “Alejandro” in Sicario
  2. Emory Cohen as “Tony” in Brooklyn
  3. Mark Rylance as “Rudolf Abel” in Bridge of Spies
  4. Michael Shannon as “Mr. Green” in The Night Before
  5. Walton Goggins as “Sheriff Chris Mannix” in The Hateful Eight
  6. Sylvester Stallone as “Rocky Balboa” in Creed
  7. Jason Mitchell as “Eazy-E” in Straight Outta Compton
  8. Nicholas Hoult as “Nux” in Mad Max: Fury Road
  9. Oscar Isaac as “Nathan” in Ex Machina
  10. Richard Kind as “Bing Bong” Inside Out

SActresspic2016sActress

  1. Cynthia Nixon as “Gail White” in James White
  2. Kate Winslet as “Joanna Hoffman” in Steve Jobs
  3. Mya Taylor as “Alexandra” in Tangerine
  4. Jennifer Jason Leigh as “Lisa Hesselman” in Anomalisa
  5. Rachel McAdams as “Sasha Pfeiffer” in Spotlight
  6. Tessa Thompson as “Bianca” and Phylicia Rashad as “Mary Anne Creed” in Creed
  7. Elizabeth Banks as “Melinda Ledbetter” in Love & Mercy
  8. Rose Byrne as “Rayna Boyanov” in Spy
  9. Jada Pinkett- Smith as “Rome” in Magic Mike XXL
  10. Sarah Paulson as “Abby Gehard” in Carol

OScreenplaypic2016oScreenplay

  1. Inside Out by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley
  2. Mistress America by Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig
  3. Spotlight by Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
  4. James White by Josh Mond
  5. Bridge of Spies by Matt Charman, Joel Coen, & Ethan Coen
  6. Love & Mercy by Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner
  7. Clouds of Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas
  8. Sicario by Taylor Sheridan
  9. Slow West by John Maclean
  10. Boy and the World by Alê Abreu

AScreenplaypic2016aScreenplay

  1. Shaun the Sheep Movie by Mark Burton & Richard Starzack, based on the characters created by Nick Park
  2. Brooklyn by Nick Hornby, based on the novel by Colm Toibin
  3. 45 Years by Andrew Haigh, based on the short story “In Another Country” by David Constantine
  4. Carol by Phyllis Nagy, based on the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith
  5. Steve Jobs by Aaron Sorkin, based on the book by Walter Isaacson
  6. What We Do In the Shadows by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi, based on their short film What We Do In the Shadows: Interviews With Some Vampires
  7. Room by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel
  8. Anomalisa by Charlie Kaufman, based on his radio play
  9. Creed by Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington, based on the characters created by Sylvester Stallone
  10. The Martian by Drew Goddard, based on the novel by Andy Weir

Cinematographypic2016Cinematography

  1. Carol
  2. James White
  3. Creed
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
  5. Slow West
  6. Blackhat
  7. Crimson Peak
  8. Ex Machina
  9. Sicario
  10. It Follows

Costumespic2016Costumes

  1. Carol
  2. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  3. Spotlight
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
  5. Kingman: The Secret Service
  6. Cinderella
  7. Mistress America
  8. Slow West
  9. Joy
  10. Crimson Peak

Editingpic2016Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Creed
  3. Steve Jobs
  4. What We Do In the Shadows
  5. Shaun the Sheep Movie
  6. Slow West
  7. Brooklyn
  8. Love & Mercy
  9. Bridge of Spies
  10. Carol

Makeup pic2016Makeup

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  3. Crimson Peak
  4. Mr. Holmes
  5. Legend
  6. Joy
  7. Brooklyn
  8. Steve Jobs
  9. Phoenix
  10. Carol

Scorepic2016Score

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road by Tom Holkemborg (Outstanding track: Blood Bag)
  2. Carol, Mr. Holmes, Anomalisa by Carter Burwell (Outstanding tracks: Opening, Mr. Holmes, Goddess of Heaven)
  3. Creed  by Ludwig Gorandsson (Outstanding track: If I Fight, You Fight)
  4. It Follows by Disasterpiece (Outstanding track: Title)
  5. Mistress America by Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips (Outstanding track: Mistress America)
  6. Inside Out  by Michael Giacchino (Outstanding track: Bundle of Joy)
  7. Steve Jobs by Daniel Pemberton (Outstanding Track: Jack It Up)
  8. Crimson Peak by Fernando Velasquez(Outstanding track: Allerdale Hall)
  9. Shaun the Sheep Movie by Ilan Eshkeri (Outstanding track: Humdrum Day)
  10. Brooklyn by Michael Brook (Outstanding track: Goodbye Eilis)

Songpic2016Song

  1. Hypnosis” from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet (performed by Damien Rice)
  2. Mean Ol’ Moon” from Ted 2 (performed by Amanda Seyfried)
  3. Feels Like Summer” from Shaun the Sheep Movie (performed by Tim Wheeler)
  4. One Kind of Love” from Love & Mercy (performed by Brian Wilson)
  5. It’s My Turn Now” from Dope (peformed by Awreeoh)
  6. Flashlight” from Pitch Perfect 2 (performed by the Barden Bellas)
  7. Love Me Like You Do” from 50 Shades of Grey  (performed by Ellie Goulding)
  8. I’ll See You In My Dreams” from I’ll See You in My Dreams (performed by Keegan DeWitt)
  9. Squeeze Me” from The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (performed by N.E.R.D.)
  10. Juntos (Together)” from McFarland, USA (performed by Juanes)

Prodpic2016ProdDes

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Bridge of Spies
  3. Room
  4. Cinderella
  5. Crimson Peak
  6. Tomorrowland
  7. Slow West
  8. Carol
  9. Boy and the World
  10. Anomalisa

Soundpic2016Sound

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. Sicario
  5. Creed
  6. Inside Out
  7. Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation
  8. Love & Mercy

FXpic2016FX

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Krampus
  3. The Walk
  4. Tomorrowland
  5. Ant-Man
  6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  7. Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation
  8. Crimson Peak
  9. The Martian
  10. Pixels

Ensemblepic2016ensemble

  1. Spotlight
  2. Brooklyn
  3. Love & Mercy
  4. Inside Out
  5. Carol
  6. Mad Max: Fury Road
  7. What We Do In the Shadows
  8. Joy
  9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  10. Magic Mike XXL

Debutpic2016Dirdeb

  1. Mark Burton & Richard Starzak, Shaun the Sheep Movie
  2. John MacLean, Slow West
  3. Josh Mond, James White
  4. Alex Garland, Ex Machina
  5. Gregory Jacobs, Magic Mike XXL

2016surprise

Age of Adaline

What We Do In the Shadows

Creed

2016Dis

Tomorrowland

2016Under

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Blackhat

2016Over

The Revenant

The Big Short

2016Failure

Aloha

2016Moment

The Final scene of Phoenix

The final training montage in Creed

“On Love” segment from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

2016Line

“Mediocre!”

– Immortan Joe, Mad Max: Fury Road

2016Shot

S057OQ2Mad Max: Fury Road

BrooklynShotBrooklyn

creedshot

Creed

untitled (2)

45 Years

Blackhatshot2

Blackhatshot1

Blackhat

2016OneCost

costume

2016Poster

ImagePoster

2016Trailer

2016worst

  1. Moomins on the Riviera– Sexism for toddlers
  2. Youth– Visually ugly, philosophically shallow, sexist. Harvey Keitel is great though.
  3. Fantastic 4– A giant, incoherent mess. Have no idea how any of this was approved. All the reviews don’t do the terribleness of this film justice, but please don’t waste your time finding oit as I did.
  4. Daddy’s Home– Antiquated and unfunny. This whole thing could have been avoided if Linda Cardellini’s character had been given any common sense.
  5. A Very Murray Christmas– Bill Murray, the character, is sad because his Christmas special is cancelled, yet it feels as if he, the actor, would rather rather be anywhere else. Rambling, poorly-shot, unfunny, creepy.
  6. Taken 3– I don’t remember anything about this.
  7. Jupiter Ascending– I’m glad someone out there tried to make a wild and original sci-fi film like this with a big budget. Shame the Wachowskis forgot to make the film feel alive and to give me a reason to care about what happens in this world.
  8. Home– Everything DreamWorks animation has ever been criticized for is featured here.
  9. Love the Coopers– Like Amélie, but without the colors and every character is despicable. Why does no one ever want to spend the holidays with their family?
  10. The Revenant– Top-notch production values and stories of a difficult production can’t mask the misguided vision that drives the film.

So that is that for 2015 (at least until I decide to make some changes). If you have any thoughts feel free to leave them in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Make Movies Great Again: 2015 Cinema in Review

  1. Great lists!

    Quite surprised Blackhat was in your top 25. And yeah, Shaun the Sheep Movie was an utter surprise to me as I didn’t think it could be as good as it was. And I also had never seen the original shorts before.

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