Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best Films of 2015 1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Directed by George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

The film is a cross between a road movie and a western from hell, in which Mel Gibson’s Max Rockatansky, scrabbling for survival in a future world blighted by drought and fuel shortages, helps defend a remote oil refinery from a band of raiders. I loved the climactic 20-minute chase.

Miller's long-delayed return to the Mad Max series. The movie is more interesting this time than the world in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, but this feels more like a spiritual sequel to The Road Warrior, the far superior 1981 installment.   

The story has two rebels who just might be able to restore order; Max (Tom Hardy), a man of action and few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos, and Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman of action who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.

2. The Martian

Directed by Ridley Scott
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover.

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only few supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring "the Martian" home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. 

3. Brooklyn

Directed by John Crowley
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen

The film tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother's home for the shores of New York.
Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) lured by the promise of America. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within. 

4. Carol

Directed by: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, Cory Michael Smith, Jake Lacy

In a classic Haynes visual sense, Carol is gorgeous, gently groundbreaking, and might be the saddest thing you’ll ever see. More than hugely accomplished cinema, it’s an exquisite work of American art, rippling with a very specific mid-century melancholy, understanding love as the riskiest but most necessary gamble in anyone’s experience.
It’s hard to imagine a director handling this project more surely than Todd Haynes, a supreme chronicler of feminine emotional pain reminding us of Far From Heaven who reasserts his status here as one of the great American Directors.

5. Macbeth

Directed by Justin Kurzel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Sean Harris, David Thewlis, Paddy Considine, Jack Reynor, Elizabeth Debicki

This has already been nominated by several critics as "one of the great Shakespearean movies, built around a pair of amazing performances from Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard." The text is pared back and key scenes have been ingeniously re-interpreted. "Everything here is so perfectly in tune with itself that you might expect the film to feel a little too neatly self-contained, the opposite is true: raw, visceral and contagious."

6. 45 Years

Directed by Andrew Haigh
Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells

 This is English director Andrew Haigh’s follow-up to his acclaimed indie film Weekend, is a strange wedding anniversary to celebrate with a full-scale party, as the venue coordinator in this shattering, shivery marital drama remarks. Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) is quick to explain: the party for their 40th was cancelled at short notice, you see, when her husband Geoff (Tom Courtenay) underwent bypass surgery. 

Comfortably off, Left-wing, childless, this provincial couple has a week to go before the much-postponed occasion: theoretically a week of planning, dress purchasing, a bit of social fretting. Instead, it becomes the week when a cold, stony nugget of realization sinks to the bottom of their marriage and stays there. It’s spurred by a letter to Geoff from the Swiss authorities, explaining that the perfectly-preserved body of his ex-girlfriend, Katya, has been found, 50 years after she slipped into an Alpine crevasse. This film shattered Rampling’s own relationship in real life.

7. Spotlight

Directed by Thomas McCarthy
Cast: John Slattery, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci.

Spotlight tells the riveting true story of the investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delve into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. The movie reminded me of great films like All the President’s Men.

8. Sicario

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Jeffrey Donovan, Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber.

In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent (Emily Blunt) is enlisted by an elite government task force official (Josh Brolin) to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past (Benicio Del Toro), the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive. It portrays a sad reality of the drug problem in Mexico. Amazing acting job by Benicio Del Toro.

9. Ex-Machina

Directed by Alex Garland
Cast: Domhal Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander

"Ex Machina," the directorial debut by novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland ("28 Days Later," "Sunshine"), is a rare and welcome exception to that norm. It starts out as an ominous thriller about a young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) orbiting a charismatic Dr. Frankenstein-type (Oscar Isaac) and slowly learning that the scientist's quest to create artificial intelligence has a troubling, even sickening personal agenda. But even as the revelations pile up and the screws tighten and you start to sense that terror and violence are inevitable, the movie never loses grip on what it's about; this is a rare commercial film in which every scene, sequence, composition and line deepens the screenplay's themes, which means that when the bloody ending arrives, it seems less predictable than inevitable and right.

10. Inside Out

Director: Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions: Joy Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness . The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.