It’s that time of the year where we all gather and decide which films should make our Top 10 list. 2015 as a whole has seen films of nostalgia, superhero action, and box office hits all face off throughout the calendar year. In fact, 2015 has been one of contrasting films and genres coming into the mix. As for me? I’ve watched enough from each corner to be able to come up with a Top 10 list – one that I imagine will divide opinions and spark debate!
10. Scorch Trials
Scorch Trials is, in my opinion, an excellent follow up to its predecessor, Maze Runner. While Maze Runner set the tone and action in an isolated space, Scorch Trials ran with it and exploded on a bigger and wider scope where stakes are far higher than ever before. A lot of people will frown at the mere mention of Wes Ball’s film but I think something has to be said for how it is able to market itself as a Young Adult fantasy while still remaining true to the gruesome and pretty violent book series that it is based upon. All in all, a solid and very enjoyable follow up.
9. Inside Out
Inside Out is without doubt one of the most creative, intriguing and yet heartwarming display of puberty and teenagehood I have ever seen. For some, this may even be Pixar’s best film to date. While for me that is a stretch too far, I will have to say it is up there. Once again Pixar put forth a film that appeals to the younger audience while still making it ever accessible and relatable to the older generation. There is a lot to be taken away from what is otherwise a quirky but complex world created through the emotions and mind of a young girl.
Yes, I am a complete and utter sucker for comedies. Good comedies. The type that makes you laugh no matter how many times you watch it. The type where its gags and reels never lose originality points. Spy, for me, is one of those comedies. Melissa McCarthy gets a lot of slack for milking the old clichè of oversized woman doing funny things but in Spy, she shows us exactly why she’s so good at it. It’s essentially a film about an overly ambitious woman wanting to channel her rather dubious inner Lara Croft. By the end of the film, however, it’s not so dubious any more. Looking for a good, hearty laugh? Spy is for you.
7. It Follows
Whereas Inside Out is a creative exploration of puberty, It Follows is a murky look at sexuality and one’s coming of age through sexual acts. The great thing about this film is that you can’t ever actually say sex is bad. It isn’t telling you that sex is bad. From what I’ve gathered, It Follows is an attempt to teach its audience that sex is precious and valuable and should not be taken lightly. Throughout the film, you feel haunted, disturbed and pretty creeped out by how this one girl is stalked by a metaphorical image of unclean sex. It’s a psychological horror film but the horror isn’t a spirit or ghost or any of that sort. The horror is something more human than any of that. Give it a watch, you may find yourself questioning that one night stand…
6. Wild Tales
Foreign films, much like indies, do not get near enough love than I’d like. Many a time have I seen foreign films deal with issues pertinent to society in a much more enclosed way, abandoning the usual dramatic Hollywood tropes. For me, that’s refreshing. One film that does that very well is Wild Tales. An Argentinian film that deals with several different stories entwined through common things, the humour, character developments and creativity is second to none. That wedding scene at the end will forever stay with me. Damian Szifron put forth six memorable tales in one full length film. It is the most successful Argentinian film of all time and, believe me, it’s a deserving title.
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller, you are in your 70s and you still managed to produce a film that blew everything out of the water. The directing and cinematography in this film was something magical. Furiosa is hands down one of the most important, fierce but emotionally troubled female characters in film history. I felt dirty and enslaved to the violence while watching this. The mere thought of being in the middle of that infamous car chase makes my heart pound so fast. Yes, Mad Max: Fury Road is essentially about a group of people attempting to get from point A to B all the while being tracked by their adversaries but it’s everything that happens during, before, after and in between that makes this a classic action film. Perhaps even the best in the last decade.
I love any and all depictions that get Shakespeare’s vision completely and utterly right. ‘Macbeth’ has always been a popular and loved choice amongst the Shakespeare faithfuls but it is also incredibly difficult to portray in cinema. Justin Kurzel, however, directed a fine attempt. The cinematography in this film rivals Mad Max – that’s how good it is. To have the characters speak in the way Shakespeare had intended while still making sure the audience follow the plot through mesmerising visuals and excellent character development is no small feat. Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) is up there as one of the most strongest female characters of the year while Michael Fassbender put forth one of the most twisted, emotionally flawed displays of Macbeth I have ever seen or imagined. That battle scene at the end? Yeah, that alone puts some films to shame.
Southpaw is, in my opinion, a surprise package this year. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. What I actually expected was Jake Gyllenhaal to carry the film. While Gyllenhaal did an excellent job as always, he most certainly did not carry it. Oona Laurence, who plays the onscreen daughter, is the star of the show. For me, she is amongst the list of strong child actor/actress performances of 2015 for her display in Southpaw. As for the film itself, once you accept the old clichè of any sport-based movie, you begin to enjoy Southpaw for what it is: the trials and tribulations of a boxing hero’s fall from grace. The directing in this is incredibly well done; it makes you feel like you’re right there in amongst the crowd watching the fight in all its glory. The training montage is one of my favourite scenes in cinema this year. If you’ve seen it or yet to, I dare you to say you didn’t get goosebumps during that.
2. Hotel Transylvania 2
I love animated films. I mostly love animated films that deal with issues in society or childhood fears in creative ways. Hotel Transylvania 2 does exactly that. Much like its predecessor, Hotel Transylvania, it carries on with the notion of humans and monsters coexisting as one. The difference is, in number 2 of the franchise, we watch a family struggle to accept a child for what it is or isn’t. Like Inside Out, it deals with growing up, changes in everyday life and the emotions that come with it in an adventurous, funny but nonetheless meaningful way. Why does Hotel Transylvania 2 deserve to be so high up on the list, however? Because it’s hard for an animated film to keep up with its quality, appeal and general success if it’s not Disney or Pixar. That’s why. Well done to the team at Sony Pictures Animation.
1. Straight Outta Compton
Yes, NWA stole the show for me! I admit, there is a level of nostalgia to be found here. I grew up listening to Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E, MC Ren, the whole lot. Let’s be honest though, who hasn’t? While I was excited for this film, I did keep my wits about me. I already knew it would be biased, that some key information would be left out, and that scenes would be dramatised for entertainment purposes. But what I really got was a well shot, well acted, incredibly moving and raw film that served to drill home just how difficult it was for NWA to reach the heights that it once did. The cast is cohesive and well chosen and the characters were portrayed in such a gritty, flawed manner that you find yourself questioning the decisions of those you once idolised growing up. Straight Outta Compton makes me want to visit the ghettos of South Central L.A just so I can see for myself why exactly this place is a fortress for Rap moguls. I think for every one involved in this film, who worked hard for it to be pushed on such a wide scale, did an excellent job in making us all relive the great years of NWA.
And there you have it. My Top 10 movies of 2015, all of which I will vouch for and rewatch many times.
What are yours? What did you agree or disagree with? Let me know.
See you at the cinema in 2016!