Top Films of 2015 | Cait Lore

2015MoviesCate Blanchett has become one of the most undeniable actresses working right now; I might even say she’s our best.

 




carol

  1. Carol | Since reaching legend status with her performance as Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ previous film I’m Not There, Cate Blanchett has become one of the most undeniable actresses working right now; I might even say she’s our best. Here we have another film that unites Haynes and Blanchett, but also Rooney Mara. Mara is probably my favorite young actress today. She’s got such a strong filmography behind her, though painfully short. Carol plays much like a passing of the torch from Blanchett to Mara. Simply put, there is not a finer-acted film to come out this year. It’s the year’s best picture, as it fires from all cylinders, offering the best in terms of art direction, script, and performances. Surely it’s the best Todd Haynes film, and miles above the rest of the movies on this list. I wouldn’t hesitate to call Carol a new classic.
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road | I later mention that what impressed me most in Victoria (#5) is how well the minimalistic character development works. Well, multiply that praise by 100 for Mad Max: Fury Road, and not only in regard to character development but also world-building. Charlize Theron’s Furiosa joins the ranks of great female action heroes alongside Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor. Tom Hardy does the impossible by making you forget Mel Gibson ever was Mad Max. I, for one, cannot wait to see all the Immortan Joe cosplayers at Comic Con. It is easily the best Mad Max film, and dare I say the best action film in 10 years? Believe the hype for this one: 70-year-old George Miller returns to his franchise 30 years later, and it feels like a fucking miracle.
  3. Spotlight | It’s been so long since we’ve had a great newspaper picture. Spotlight features some of the very best performances of the year. What I appreciate most about Spotlight is how intelligently it approaches its script. It never casts too harsh of judgment on the Catholic Church or glorifies its journalists. Instead, Spotlight is a film about systems and institutions, not heroes and villains. That’s what makes it so powerful.
  4. Mustang | Mustang excels at everything it sets out to do. It features a winning score by Bad Seed (of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) Warren Ellis. It manages to have a highly politically motivated script that never feels heavy-handed, and features authentic performances all around. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven couldn’t have put out a stronger debut feature.
  5. Victoria | Reminiscent of Birdman, Victoria is a German film that tells a story all in one take. (Note: Birdman’s single-take style was simulated; they didn’t do it for real. Victoria actually is shot in one take.) It tells the story of one girl’s night out clubbing that turns into a night of crime. The style of filming makes for perhaps the most immersive film experience of the year. I was greatly impressed by how such minimalistic storytelling managed to offer great character development. Laia Costa is nothing short of excellent as Victoria, and she has great chemistry with her impossibly hot costar Frederick Lau.
  6. It Follows | When It Follows and The Babadook first came out, I was certain I liked The Babadook more. It wasn’t until around October when I revisited both horror films that I realized how much my opinion had changed. What makes It Follows the best horror film of 2015 is that it feels in the vein of ’80s horror classics, while totally becoming its own animal. Disasterpiece’s score alone, which may be my favorite of the year, exemplifies this.
  7. The Assassin | As I was creating this list, The Assassin kept moving up and down the ranks. I’m not so happy with where I have it now, and I’m certain I’ll regret not moving it higher later, as its landscapes are still burned into my mind. Here it is plain and simple: The Assassin is the most aesthetically beautiful film of the year. The color palette is rich and the interiors are lush. Don’t let the title fool you: The Assassin isn’t exactly an action film. It moves far too slowly and indulges in silent moments too frequently for an action fan to feel satisfied. If you missed this one at this year’s SLIFF, rest assured: There’s hope! You can still manage to see it on a big screen at the Webster Film Series in early January.
  8. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl | Me and Earl and the Dying Girl suffers the same fate as Dear White People. Both films have the ability to reach a wide audience, but their titles risk alienating potential fans. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl passed me by in its theatrical release. I foolishly dismissed it as another sick-girl romance movie, like If I Stay or The Fault in Our Stars. Don’t be fooled like I was: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is coming-of-age film tailor-made for cinephiles. It might have a sick girl in it, but her story never feels like an audience-manipulation tactic. Every emotional turn of the film feels earned, and boy, is it fun to point out all its clever references to classic and cult films alike. As far as I’m concerned, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl might be the most uplifting film of 2015.
  9. Inside Out | Easily the best Pixar film in years, Inside Out is reminiscent of the Toy Story franchise in the way it brings you into the perspective of a child. There are some weak points with Inside Out: It has a hideous color palette combined with poor character design, making it seem far too aware that it’s a children’s film. None of that seems important when you consider how daunting Inside Out’s story is. I’ve long been lamenting the state of today’s children’s films, and their inability to address dark and complex feelings like the children’s films of ’80s. Inside Out boldly does just that, and is just so damn clever in its depiction.
  10. The Hateful Eight | It’s the most wonderful time of year to be a film nerd in St. Louis. By now you probably already know that we were one of 46 cities in North America to be included on the 70mm roadshow, which included an early release of the film. This 70mm version is a slightly different cut than the digital release, and features a longer runtime. I enjoyed The Hateful Eight more than Django Unchained, though I am a fan of both films. This is largely due to The Hateful Eight being a return to what made me fall in love with Quentin Tarantino as a director. It features lots of long talking scenes from a bunch of untrustworthy characters that build to intense moments of violence. Unfortunately, we’ve seen Tarantino do it better; that said, The Hateful Eight is a lot of fun. | Cait Lore

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