It has certainly been a mixed bag in terms of the quality of films that have come out this year. I’ve been up and down with what has come out in 2015 – there have been some real surprises – films that snuck up on me and then just took all of my attention and hoarded it for itself. But there have also been long stretches this year where I’ve been left disappointed or underwhelmed by the offerings. In particular would be 2015’s summer blockbuster season which compared to last year has been a bland assortment of films or in some cases complete disasters (I’m looking at you Jurassic World), feel free to see my fuller thoughts on that film here.
But I’m not here to focus on the negatives; this piece is all about me sharing with you some of the films that I loved from 2015. Not a best of per-say (that always feels too definitive to me – plus everyone’s doing their best of lists at this time). This is more about me taking the time to highlight some truly special pieces of cinema or some films that didn’t necessarily get the attention they first deserve and I’m now taking the chance to make you aware of them and how great they are.
The last thing I’ll say before I get to the part that I know you’re probably more interested in and is the only reason you really clicked onto this piece (thank you for doing so I might add) is that these films are in no particular order. I’m just going to run through the films in the order that suits me and then will give a little detail on what makes them so great – I may even sneak in what is by personal favourite film of the year – actually there’s no may about it, I will be talking about my favourite film of 2015. Anyway that’s me done with this rambling section, now onto the next rambling section; the films that I think deserve your attention from 2015.
To see my full review of Ex Machina click here.
Ex Machina is what I want more of from science fiction. When I look back at my experience with this film I think about how much it did right when the presentation and execution is concerned. Director Alex Garland (this was his first time directing I might add) brought every element together and packaged them in a way that worked brilliantly.
I think the scene that stands out to me as the moment when I realised that this film was so smart yet relatable was the scene (no spoilers don’t worry) when Domhnall Gleeson’s character is speaking to Oscar Isaac’s character after he had just experienced his first life changing interaction with the A.I. What made this moment so great was how it was executed. Instead of the two characters standing in a lab and wearing silly looking outfits, the characters are instead relaxing around a coffee table, enjoying some beers and attempting to help one another understand what they had just done/experienced.
It was something small in the grand scale of the film but it was decisions like this that pulled me into this film and showed me that films of this brainy calibre could me more than just the sterile, expository Sci-Fi that takes up the cinema now.
Ex Machina is a film that an almost every level is new, exciting, sexy and disturbing. From the impeccable performances, to the unsettling tone, this is a film that delighted me from beginning to end and is very much worth your time.
To read my full review of Crimson Peak click here.
So I have to admit that I’m not the biggest Guillermo Del Toro fan, quite a few of his previous films have left me more than a little underwhelmed. So it came as some surprise when I left the cinema and all I could think about, was how much I loved my time with Crimson Peak.
This is a film that is chalk full of style; from the incredible sets, great costumes and the always reliable practicality of Del Toro’s monsters. Crimson Peak is a film that screams for attention, and it certainly deserves it.
This was a film that offered so much and kept me glued to through every scare, scream and intriguing mystery. The only thing that saddens me when it comes to Crimson Peak is that not more people saw it. With the state of how films are these days (remakes and sequels) it’s nice when a film like Crimson Peak (or even some of the other films on this list) come along and treat us with something new and different.
This is one of the reasons why I want to shed some light on not only this film but the others as well. We need to support films like these; we don’t get them as often these days. I’ve given a taste of why I liked this film and my review also goes into much more detail as to why I liked it and why think it deserves some of your time but I just want to reiterate the joyful feelings I got from experiencing the attention to detail and the level of detail that Crimson Peak offers.
The film is exciting; it is intriguing and every so often gets you to jump. I’m hoping that we get more films like this from Guillermo Del Toro going forward.
To see my full review of The Gift click here.
When I first saw the trailer for The Gift my immediate response was, “Nope”. I couldn’t have been more wrong and I’m annoyed at myself for judging and dismissing it so quickly. Sure I could blame the marketing, the trailer is in no way representative of the film but blah blah, excuses.
This film is a triumph of uncomfortable watch-ability. The Gift is a film that is not only smart but also is a film that treats the audience as being intelligent themselves. I was continuously pleased to see film present things to me in a realistic and engaging way. This film is refreshing – it finds itself in a genre that is filled with weak, dumb films and thus it stands tall above them.
Why I think this film is so brilliant at what it does is because it takes you, the audience member and presents you with a simple enough story, one that pulls you in and intrigues you, and before you realise it you’re hooked and The Gift has your unflinching attention. What it then does is bring you along on a journey that is unsettling, it is dark and it is addictive. I was hypnotised by the film from the very beginning and at the end finally felt like I could breathe fully again.
The Gift delivers suspense, it delivers brilliantly constructed characters, it commands your attention and it does all this in a wonderfully sadistic way.
This is certainly a film that will surprise you with the level of depth to it and will take you on one hell of a messed up journey.
To see my full review of Macbeth click here.
Macbeth is a film that bleeds unrelenting emotion. This is of course in part because of the faultlessness of both Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard but it is also because director Justin Kurzel (who like the others on this list is somewhat of a newbie) just seems to have a true understanding of how to present a film.
This is a film that looks and feels like a stunning piece of cinema, while also looking like the most high production theatre performance ever. Macbeth is an undeniably gorgeous film and it is executed with such attention to detail that it’s all encompassing.
From beginning to end I couldn’t get over the intensity of this film. I remember one scene in particular with Marion Cotillard in an abandoned church – I couldn’t at any point take my attention away from the screen, nor did I want to. There was something (many things in fact) that just pulled me into Macbeth and once I was in I was in deep.
Macbeth is… to put it simply a true achievement of cinema. Everything works, and its devotion to the original story (including the Shakespearian rhetoric) is rewarding and impactful. This is certainly a film where you should turn off all the lights, settle in on your couch (or where ever you prefer) and just soak it all up.
Mad Max: Fury Road
To read my full review of Mad Max: Fury Road click here.
Mad Max: Fury Road is a truly special piece of cinema. I remember the first time I saw the trailer for the film and 1: was blown away that I was actually going to get a new Mad Max Film, but 2: was absolutely blown away by just how perfect each scene was. The score, the visuals, Tom Hardy being the new actor to portray Max, everything just seemed too good to be true.
When I left the cinema I couldn’t do anything but want to talk about the film or preach to people about how much they must go and experience/support the film.
Mad Max: Fury Road was a constant goose bump inducing ride. One moment (of many) that stands out to me is when the convoy hits an apocalyptic looking sandstorm and almost every sense of mine was taken over by the film. The incredible and never flinching score, the unreal visual perfection that I was seeing and how at no point the momentum of the film ever stopped. I couldn’t stop smiling, while also welling up slightly at how perfect it all was. I was getting a new Mad Max film and it was living up to my every expectation. I couldn’t believe it.
I feel like I keep saying this to people but Mad Max is a special film. This film shouldn’t exist. With the structure of Hollywood right now and how films are interfered with and expected to hit certain marks so that the people in suits feel comfortable – means it is baffling to me as to how this film slipped through and delivered exactly what George Miller wanted to do – it’s a miracle.
George Miller and his team gave us a film that surpassed what I think any of us were ever expecting it to do, and even better is that the film is now a buzz with people pushing it to receive the acclaim and awards that something as wonderful as this film deserves. I will continue to beat the drum of support for Mad Max: Fury Road. This is a film that will stay in the mind of people (me included) for a long time. The joy I feel every time this films enters my vicinity is wonderful, and I will hold onto for a long time.
See Mad Max: Fury Road, love Mad Max: Fury Road and then share it with anyone that you know who loves films. I’ll say it again, a truly special film.
To read my full review of It Follows click here.
Now we come to the last film on this list – It Follows. I’m just going to put it out there that this is personally my favourite film of 2015, there I said it.
I’ve loved horror films since I was a young boy – too young to be watching half the films I did but oh well. In recent years horror films have gone down a path that is… well pretty awful. It Follows was the film that brought me back. I have watched more horror films this year than I have in a very long time and it is because of this film.
It Follows is a film that nails almost everything that made me love horror; intelligent an genuine fear, score, an uncompromisingly simple idea that just works, and the fact that this film is a wonderful pseudo commentary on the themes of horror films from the 80s and 90’s.
I came away from the film with a cacophony of emotions and all of it just made me happy to have watched something that seemed so familiar while also feeling like something completely new.
I can’t get over the fact that when you break this film down to its bare bones, it is something that at first seems silly but once you get it, you get it. “Simple yet wholly engaging”, is what I like to say.
But what can’t go unsaid is the score throughout It Follows – oh man that is a score that haunts me while also sending happy shivers down my spine. Everything just comes together in this film in such a perfect way. It’s sexy, scary, smart and fun. I Love it.
Necessary Mentions + Wrap Up
Before finishing this up I just want to give a little attention/love to some films that certainly still deserve your attention but for one reason or another didn’t get the full insight that the films above did, but these are still brilliant films so check them out.
- Sicario. This film is brimming with tension and a film that left me exhausted and wanting more. You can read the full review here.
- What We Do In The Shadows. Because this film came out in 2014 I can’t put it on this list officially but goddamn do you need to see perhaps one of the funniest comedies in quite a few years. You can read the full review here.
- The Martian. I read the book for this film while on holiday and fell in love with it. So when I heard the film was coming out and Ridley Scott was directing, well you could be damn sure that I was excited, and it did not disappoint. You can read the full review here.
- Maggie. This was a surprising little film and one with perhaps the best ever performance by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unexpected heart felt and wonderfully done. You can read my full review here.
- Everest. I had no expectations for this film, in fact I almost didn’t even see it, but after leaving the cinema and dealing with the emotional mess that the film left me. I knew I had seen a great film, one that many people have over looked, give it a go. You can read the full review here.
- Carol. This is perhaps one of the most all round perfectly done films I have seen in quite some time. Carol as a film is technically faultless. Every shot, each performance, this is a film that nails exactly what it is wanting to achieve and has no room for anything unnecessary. You can read the full review here.
So there you have it, those are all the films from 2015 that I think deserve your attention. Now one question you may have is “Where’s Star Wars”? Good question and thank you for asking. At the time of writing this I haven’t seen Star Wars but if needs be I’ll update this with some quick thoughts if I feel it necessary. Either way it doesn’t matter because everyone under the sun knows about and has probably already seen it. Thus drawing any attention to it is pretty worthless. Update: I have now seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens and you can read my full review for it here.
Anyway, so there you have it. These are the films that stuck out to me and the ones that I think are deserving of you sitting down and losing yourself within. If there are any films that your think I missed or have unfairly not given their due, then please let me know in the comments down below. Finally thank you for taking the time to read this or skim through it and look at the titles and nothing else. Either way I’d love to know any thoughts, opinions or critiques about anything within this piece so throw me a comment down below or go ahead and follow me on Twitter, @GavinsTurtle to keep up with my other ramblings. Thank you and enjoy a new year of films.