Sunday, February 28, 2016

Best Films of 2015

Happy Oscars Sunday!! 

It's a day for reflecting, looking ahead. Realizing what film has accomplished this year and the advances yet to be recorded. Apart from the drama that will for sure go down tonight, the collection of motion pictures from 2015 has been the most eclectic in years. This was the Year Of Women and Real Talk. 

I mean, they killed it. I have been behind Brie ever since United States of Tara and she has only blossomed ever since. OK, maybe I did choose a winner...

Brooklyn was the most unexpectedly fascinating film this year for me (see below); Saiorse's tour de force brought me to constant tears. Expect a picture with her and Mátyás Erdély (cinematographer of Son of Saul) in the near future. Carol is like watching a Dirty Harry-John Wayne standoff. Not only is it one of Rooney Mara's best performances, it packs a powerful and emotional story that couldn't be better told by Mara and Blanchett. Lastly, Vikander is another beautiful creature that never has a bad moment on screen. Not to mention the fact that she is nominated for two movies in dos categorías (what distinguishes her between Supporting and Lead has yet to be determined...). The list goes on and on with the non-nominated actresses as well, not limited to: Charlize Theron, Mya Taylor, Nina Hoss, Marion Cotillard, Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Stewart, and Juliette Binoche.

It has also been a year of very mixed emotions, re: three different winners for the PGA, DGA, and SAG. If The Revenant ends up winning both the Best Director and Picture categories tonight, I'll only be OK with it for this creation:

 It is already winning for being a 160 min grunting session and its raw, sweeping camera work. So consider me stubborn but I'm Team Spotlight all the way. In an ideal world, Spotlight wins Picture and George Miller wins Director. *mic drop* 

I will post my predictions before the show (always cutting it close) but there are more deserving films that also need to be acknowledged. Enjoy this list of my favorite films from the past year! 

Side note: Picking and ranking my Top 5 this year seemed almost impossible. Just look at the range of films: romance, action, foreign, drama, animation. Past, apocalyptic future, Dolan's blurred timeline, present day. Desert, the largest city in the US, a brain, backstreets of LA, Montreal. So, yeah: eclectic. 

1.     Brooklyn
The most emotion-packed film since About Time and a powerful, relatable coming-of-age story of family, hopes, dreams, maturity, and new experiences.
2.     Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller has thrown the action/blockbuster genre out of the water with this immensely intense experience. If there is one movie in all of history to boast "On the edge of your seat the entire time," this is it. Fury Road has teamwork written through every layer: cinematography, performances, art direction, editing, direction, costumes, even Mother Nature. Cast all of your doubts aside and see this NOW.
3.     Mommy
Dolan amazes me time and time again. He has accomplished more before turning 27 than most people aspire to complete in a lifetime. Mommy is a further evolution of his personal and political values that he has developed since J'ai tué ma mère. The chemistry between Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément, and Antoine-Olivier Pilon is touching, thrilling, and makes you want to experience the film over and over. The most impressive scene comes late in the film and left me in between not being able to breathe and on the verge of tears.
4.     Tangerine
Shot on an iPhone on location in Hollywood. Merry Christmas, bitch.
5.     Inside Out
If you've ever imagined how your brain interprets and creates emotions but you haven't recently enrolled in a neuroscience course, you should definitely start here. Once again I was unexpectedly blown away by how well so many complex topics (depression, growing up, psychology) were presented so clearly. 
6.     Wild Tales
Ok, maybe this was from last year's list of Best Foreign Film Oscar nominations, but it wasn't released in the US until late winter. This masterpiece is a collection of very very dark comedy vignettes rooted in daily experiences. Road rage? City towing? Infidelity? Yep yep yep. By far, Wild Tales is one of the most shocking, uninhibited, and hilarious experiences I have had in theatres to date. 
7.     Spotlight
Very few times do I leave a theatre and say, "This film is important." This was one of those times. Spotlight is a terrific piece of narrative journalism behind the Boston Globe's uncovering of the Catholic Church child abuse scandal. 

8.     It Follows
One of the best horror films in years. See my previous post where I spill my heart out for this film. 
9.     The Big Short
An informative and sharp-witted piece on the 2008 housing market crash. Michael Lewis sure knows how to crank out Academy Award crowd pleasers (see The Blind Side and Moneyball).
10.  Ex Machina
If this isn't enough, add in a creepily believable robotic Alicia Vikander. 'nuff said. 

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
James White
Steve Jobs
White God


Beary Punches

1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup greek yogurt
Honey to taste
1/2 OJ (to desired consistency)

Blend and top off with a healthy splash of bubbles. Treat yo self like a celeb walking the red carpet back to your couch!

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