At this time of year top ten lists abound everywhere, so Who am I to disappoint, also I love a good countdown. So with that in mind here are my top ten films of 2015, though just to start here are a few Highly Commended films that fall just out of the Top 10 – Pitch Perfect 2, Jurassic World & Chappie
It is telling that in a year that we have a Bond Film, it is not on my top 10 list, but the movie that is basically Matthew Vaughn “this is how I would do Bond” is. It has a great cast, with the old hands Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong and Michael Cane really killing it, and newcomer Taron Egerton really showing his action chops. The story was interesting, the effects top-notch, and the action was some of the best I have seen all year, in fact, the Church sequence would have been the best fight scene of the year (if Daredevil hadn’t taken that crown). It would be higher on my list but a really unnecessary and ill-placed ‘joke’ right at the end drags it down for me
Is it as good as the first Avengers, no, but it is still really good. Honestly, I am surprised that we got here, 11 movies and still going strong. The cast fell comfortable in their roles, the action is good, and James Spader nails it as Ultron. There is a little weakness at the end of the second act and given how much this movie had to do, not everything worked. But the action sequences are really good, it was great to see it take on a more world focused aspect, visiting, Seoul, Johannesburg, Eastern Europe, and being a bit less US-focused than past Marvel films. It will be really interesting to see if this experiment can continue or if we will eventually get burnt out of the Marvel universe, but until then I am all aboard.
There were a lot of historical biopics this year, and the Bridge of Spies was the only one of them that was any good. What elevated it above its competitors was firstly its attention to detail, from costumes to sets to filming in the real locations, it helps to ground the film. As well as this, the subject material was simply far more interesting than underworld figures getting their comeuppance. Also, Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance are wonderful in their respective roles. Sure the aerial reconnaissance parts fell a bit tacked on, but Bridge of Spies was a class act from start to finish, and a reminder that occasionally rational minds can prevail.
The second Marvel film in this list, Antman was the film that had the most potential to fail, it bounced around in development hell for ages, lost its key director just before filming, it should not have worked, but by golly it did. The cast was great, the report between Paul Rudd and Michael Peña was really fun to watch and Evangeline Lilly had some really great moments. The effects were great, jumping between sizes felt strangely like, yes this is how it should happen. The real technical accomplishment was creating the ants themselves, which were rendered amazingly, so good you can’t help but like them, I mean he names one of them Antony. The story had a really great pace from start to finish and while it traded across very familiar themes big evil corporation is going to use science for evil, the humour, and the staging made it feel fresh/. I honestly didn’t expect to be wanting to see a sequel, but I am now really interested to see what they are going to do with Antman and the Wasp.
Creed was one of the surprises of the year, I was not planning to go see it because I am not really a sports film person, but it got recommended to me and wow, I am glad I saw it. The story felt fresh which for a sixth movie in the series is honestly pretty good. The key driving force behind the film is the rapport between Michael B. Jordan. Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson and it actually felt believable, which I not something that usually happens in these mentor/student films. What helped elevate Creed above many of its contemporaries is the emotional undercurrent throughout the film which grounds it and also gives it substance, gives it tension. The real star was the fight choreography which was some of the best in I have seen in any film. It had emotional beats, action beats and a training montage, what else do you want.
I thought The Dressmaker was just about someone coming home to their small town and reconnecting with their past through the medium of dressmaking and topless Liam Hemsworth and to be fair it is just that, but it is so much more. The dark themes come out of nowhere and set this film apart from the many other ‘Australian’ films that get released every year. Kate Winslet is pure class, and Judy Davis outstanding, and together they are a riot. The Dressmaker made me laugh, made me cry, made me gasp out loud and made me feel really bad at laughing at something but then really ok with laughing at it. It is a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish, and oh the finish, the build-up and then the climax of the film is one ‘oh I can’t believe they just did that’, after another.
“Chewie we’re home” It is so nice to be talking about a Star Wars movie in a positive light after so many years in the dark, but here were are a new Star Wars film and it is really good. The new cast is a delight to watch, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, BB-8 and Adam Driver stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park. The moment of nostalgia were timed perfectly so as to not happen all at once, that moment when the Millennium Falcon was revealed you could feel the surge of excitement from the audience. The visual effects and set were spot on, and it just felt like it was a Star Wars film. The action was great, moments of real laughter and moments where it will hit you right in the feels. It was a good start and bring on the next one.
Inside/Out beside being an amazing film in the 4th Disney film on this list, Disney made a metric ass tonne of money this year, but I digress. This film encapsulates Pixar at its best, it is a story about depression, loss, sacrifice, coming of age and everything not being ok and all of this is in a ‘kids film’. Not only is this film a wonderful narrative with a great voice cast, it is also an incredibly well-researched film, indeed there may be more science in this film then say Interstellar or Gravity. This was a beautiful story and frankly I never though an imaginary friend would cause me to cry “Take her to the moon for me”. It was a return to form for Pixar and I hope it continues to get better for them.
2) The Martian
I love this film, and not just because I love Mars and space exploration, but because it is a funny, thought-provoking, emotionally charged, well filmed, well acted, well-scripted movie. It really helps that the source material for this movie is so good and the movie nailed its adaption. The movie is full of wonderful highs and devastating lows and it is Matt Daemon’s spot on acting that helps sell it. But of course not just his, there is a really good ensemble cast for this film, and hey Sean Bean is in it and he does not die, good for you Sean. In the end how could you not love a film which has this line in it, and it actually means it “In the face of overwhelming odds, I’m left with only one option, I’m gonna have to science the s#!t out of this.”
So why is Mad Max my pick for 2015, when it was not my highest rated film on this list? Well for me it is the film that has stood up the most after repeat viewings and that is through the care and attention to detail that the filmmakers put into this movie. When you watch it again, there are more and more details that you pick up. As well as this, it is a smart film and an action film, this is something very difficult to pull off but when everyone brings their A-game, the cast, the writers, the set designers, the musicians, the cinematographers, the stunt team, everyone. Also, it is just a whole lot of fun, explosions, guys on giant pole jumping between cars, car crashes, a guy playing a flamethrower/guitar on top of a giant Doof Wagon whilst all hell breaks around them. Mad Max is a work of art and I am glad it has done so well, and I am looking forward to seeing what is coming next.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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