Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Top 10 Films of 2015

2015 was another great year for film. Narrowing the year’s best down to just 10 was extremely difficult, but here goes…

10- Slow West

John Maclean’s Slow West achieved the near-impossible – it brought something new to the western genre. Blurring the line between pure art and entertainment, Slow West was a visually gorgeous slow-burning feast full of fantastic performances, beautiful music by Jed Kurzel and a brilliant script by director Maclean. Clocking in at 80 minutes, the film is rather short for the genre but remember – it’s not the length, is it lads? It’s how you use it. A fresh, brilliant piece of work.

9- Legend

I know what you’re thinking – “where’s Mad Max – Fury Road on this list?”. Yes, I had a great time with that film but I enjoyed Tom Hardy’s other big film this year, Brian Helgeland’s Legend, a lot more. As both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, Hardy delivered a mesmerising dual-performance showing great versatility and proving you can have incredible chemistry with yourself on screen. Despite some narrative misfires, Legend was a stunningly acted era-authentic crime film and a hell of a lot better than 1990’s The Krays.

8- Me & Earl & The Dying Girl

Next up, we have the delightful indie Me & Earl & The Dying Girl. Despite a somewhat predictable story, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s sweet and endearing dramedy is a touching tale about the power of friendship and film itself. As well as making the film buff inside me sing, the film also made me think about all the friends I’ve had and still have, and how important it is to truly feel accepted and loved. It is an unforgettable little film and truly deserves a spot on this list. Just remember to bring tissues.

Me & Earl & The Dying Girl at CeX

7- Jurassic World

After years of development hell, 2015 brought audiences in long-awaited return to Isla Nublar. Set 20 years after the original Jurassic Park, Jurassic World features a new park, new characters and new, genetically-modified dinosaurs. But of course, chaos ensues. Because if there’s one thing the original trilogy showed us, it’s that making dinosaurs is a bad idea. With amazing CGI, exciting action and a whole lot of respect for the original film, Jurassic World is a perfect example of how to reboot a franchise.

Jurassic World at CeX

6- Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A late entry to this list, JJ Abram’s Star Wars – The Force Awakens is, thank goodness, a return-to-form for the intergalactic franchise. After unprecedented hype, the film was everything audiences wanted and more. Full of thrills, humour and a big ol’ dose of nostalgia, The Force Awakens is vintage Star Wars and perfectly lays the foundations for this third trilogy. What a relief. I don’t think the fans could’ve handled another Phantom Menace.

Star Wars at CeX

5- Birdman

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning Birdman was released in January here in the UK, so finds itself eligible for a spot on this list. In an award season that featured modern classics like Whiplash and The Grand Budapest Hotel, one unique and complex meditation on the concept of ego and theatre soared highly above the rest, and rightly won all the biggies including Best Picture. Featuring a fantastic ensemble cast led by Michael Keaton and a flawless script, Birdman is one that’ll stay with you for a long time.

Birdman at CeX

4- Macbeth

Justin Kurzel, the man behind the highly-anticipated Assassin’s Creed movie, brought us the year’s 4th best film in the form of Macbeth. A visually breath-taking and powerfully performed piece that stands mightily among the best Shakespearean adaptations in the history of cinema, Kurzel’s Macbeth takes a fresh and gritty approach to the play while maintaining the Bard’s original vision. Bravo. I cannot wait to see what he comes up with for Assassin’s Creed now.

Macbeth at CeX

3- Straight Outta Compton

F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton was a film I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did, but it well and truly blew me away. This passionate story of 5 young men standing up for what they believe in and making their voices heard was a powerful portrayal of a hugely important moment in cultural history. And if you’re thinking to yourself “but I don’t like hip-hop, why would I enjoy this?” - it doesn’t matter. This isn’t just a story about music. It is a story of passion, anger and taking a stand. It is inspiring. And it is timeless.

Straight Outta Compton at CeX

2- Steve Jobs

Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs is an incredible piece of work. With a unique 3-act structured screenplay – the film takes place in real-time, with 3 acts across 1984, 1988 and 1988 showing the lead-up to 3 product launches – and a phenomenal performance from Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs does something new with the biopic genre by creating a theatrical character study rather than your average birth-to-death story of success. And it is a significant step up after the awful Ashton Kutcher attempt of 2013.

Steve Jobs at CeX

1- Love & Mercy

And lastly, Bill Pohlad’s Love & Mercy is without a doubt the finest film of the year. Despite initial festival screenings in 2014, the film went on general release this year and so makes it onto the list. My love for the film doesn’t just come from being a huge Beach Boys/Brian Wilson fanboy, but from being a film fan in general. Delivering an astonishingly crafted double timeline structure set in the ’60s and ‘80s, and featuring 2 complex and stunning performances from John Cusack and Paul Dano as the deeply troubled but endlessly talented Brian Wilson, Love & Mercy is one of the most passionate and respectful films ever made. Unsurprisingly, it’s got a bloody brilliant soundtrack too. I’m pickin’ up good vibrations, indeed.

Love & Mercy at CeX

So, there you have it. Naturally I couldn’t put every good film from 2015 into this list but believe me, I could’ve easily done a Top 50. If you haven’t seen any of the films on this list yet, I urge you to check them out. And if you’re angry that I’ve missed one of your favourites out, it might have been #11 in my list if I had more space so don’t hate me too much!

Sam Love

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