Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Films of 2015 - The Final Three

Here we go...

My top 3 films of the year. No.3 and No.2 are pretty interchangeable but No.1 was a clear winner by miles.

Previous winners of this accolade include...

2014 - Wolf of Wall Street
2013 - Silver Linings Playbook

Lets put all 8 of you out of your misery.


A Most Violent Year

I had this downloaded for about 3 months and kept putting it off but once I pressed play, I was captivated. It's unlike most crime films I've seen because of the main character played by Oscar Isaac. I've never seen such a moral and foolhardy portrayal like it. The premise of the film is quite simple...Isaacs plays an owner of a gas company in New York City. His company gets pushed around by the larger corporations but a deal poised to put him ahead of the rest starts to get too dangerous for his rather honest principles. Bored yet? I don't blame you. But honest to god believe me, it's a revelation. It's likely to be pushed aside for awards given its release early this year, but Oscar Isaacs, recently seen flying around in Star Wars should get a nomination or two. As with Sicario, the cinematography is immense along with the score. The director made my top 10 last year with All is Lost and the main plot strand of a man trying to overcome the odds set against him to survive is repeated albeit in a city sprawl rather than a deserted ocean.


Inside Out

Probably the film that nearly everyone has seen this year. I haven't met anyone who didn't like it and why should they, it's a masterpiece like many, many other Pixar efforts in the past. Funnily enough, I wasn't sold on the idea when I heard the premise, saw the poster or even when I watched the trailer. I don't feel that I need to explain the film as you have all seen it. Any film that can successfully build a entire landscape like I.O did with the inside of a young girls brain and what's weird is that as proposterous as it looks, I want it to be real and how I actually think. All the fads I give myself, I can imagine a team building my infatuation as I speak only to see it go dark and topple when I find my new fad. It did so well because of the simplicity of the idea and the fact that every single person on the planet can relate to the emotions on show and the memories we hold inside. It's not just a good film or a great one, it's important.


Surely you know by now...


Absolutely no question!

The fact that my last three films of the year came out in January should have quashed any doubt.

Originally a short film that was adapted into the long form we now know. Winner of three Oscars. Winner of my acclaimed film of the year.

A young man's struggle to reach his potential spurred/hindered by a unique and tempestuous music teacher.

I saw this back in January whilst I waited to meet a friend before seeing Birdman and on a different day, maybe Birdman would have resonated with me more than it did. The reason it didn't was because I'd just left Whiplash. This has no car chases or gun fights, births, deaths or marriages. Just raw emotion and determination coupled with a dose of mano a mano action that you'd normally see in a fight but instead set in a class room.

The two players in this drama are Miles Teller (student) and JK Simmons (Teacher). The former, a John Cusack esque actor who has since seen his star power dim quickly with the terrible Fantastic Four, the latter is a character actor most known for the editor of the Daily Bugle in the Tobey Maguire Spidernan flicks. Simmons was also involved in the short film version of Whiplash but the feature length won him every supporting actor nomination going which culminated in the Oscar in March. It's well deserved and his performance is both electric and terrifying.

It's not perfect by any means. There are a couple of typical Hollywood beats which are completely unnecessary given the strength of the core story but they are minor quibbles.

Even without the last 15 minutes, Whiplash would make my list but during the final scene I don't think I exhaled. It's the kind of ending that some people (myself included) would appreciate but would enfuriates others (my missus) and anything that annoys my wife just makes it even better.

Plus it has a fuck load of drums!

Adam Yates 

Films of 2015 Part One!

So here is MY opinion of what were the best films released in 2015. 

First it's worth to know a couple of things. Bear in mind that I work full time with a wife and child. I'm also not a film critic hence I have not seen every film released this year. That means films such as Steve Jobs, Black Mass and even Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 have not had a chance to inflict praise as I haven't seen them yet and maybe never will as I will prioritise 2016 movies over older ones.

Some who read my last post will already know that Mad Max Fury Road just missed out on the top 10, while I'm as surprised as anyone, I simply found the following 10 films more entertaining and/or more captivating, emotional, funny or tense. MMFR is a great film and I've watched it three times to be safe but it remains out of the running. Sorry to my brother from another mother.

Anyway here we go...



Emily Blunt is a solid performer in anything that she does but nothing can be doubted about that fact after seeing Sicario. A character strong willed but ultimately emotionally charged and vulnerable, smart yet stubborn, sassy but also naive. From the director of 2013's brilliant kidnapping drama Prisoners, this could be seen as a natural sequel to Steven Soderburgh's Traffic. The drug trade is as vibrant as ever and as the cartels think of new ways to get the product out to the masses, governments can only slow down the process. The one thing that sets this apart from being a solid 3* film is the cinematography. It is sublime, the best looking film of the year by far! It's almost another character in the movie. Sicario's not perfect, the ending in my opinion makes sure of that, but just like with the real life drug war, an ending is nowhere in sight.

See also : Traffic (2000).



All the following films have a certain calibre and known talent behind them meaning that they had more of a chance to be on this list. Unfriended is not one of those films, it was a complete and utter surprise to me that this made the ten but when I paired it up to the runners up, this won each time. But why?
A cyber thriller told through the constant gaze of a Apple Mac and its various pieces of software (Facebook, Skype etc) we find ourselves in the middle of a online group chat featuring a group of high school friends. Except that a recently deceased classmate is taunting them from beyond the grave. Or could it just be an elaborate prank? High concepts flicks can be disasters (Nick of Time, Pixels) but history shows they can provide a level of entertainment that can supersede any other genre if executed properly (Panic Room, Phone Booth). I watched this on my iPad on my daily commute to work (along with two others on this list) and I couldn't wait until my lunch so I could finish the film off. A hidden gem if ever there was one.

See also: Project Almanac, Catfish.


It Follows

Actress Maika Monro made the list last year with 2014's The Guest and she charts once more here with a sexually charged horror film if ever there was one. The concept is simple, A supernatural entity is following people with the sole purpose to kill them. The only way to stop it? Have sex with someone to pass the curse onto them. Who doesn't wanna watch that!? To make things more tense, the entity in question simply walks towards you, they don't hide, they don't stop, they don't check their email. They are relentless. Catch a train to escape it? They will simply walk the distance to get you even if it takes 2 weeks. That's the terrifying thing about It Follows. The gore in the film is minimal because it doesn't need to be, it also asks certain questions about how you would save yourself even if it means knowingly putting someone else in danger.

See also : Ringu


Cop Car

Last year, Snowpiercer made my top 10 and I said then the film was not yet released in the UK. That is still the case, even the DVD copy you can buy are imported. Cop Car is likely to fall in this category and as such may not appear in many of any top ten lists but it makes mine. Two kids running away from home come across an abandoned cop car and take it on a gentle joyride playing out their adventures for real. Except the car belongs to corrupt beat cop Kevin Bacon who was busy committing the very crimes he sworn to prevent. A sequence of events pits the desperate police officer against two children who are unaware as to what danger they have walked in on. Cop Car is completely understated featuring a bare bones cast (18 entire cast members, 3 of which are dogs). It has the kind of ending that enfuriates the missus but the hard hitting nature of a plot featuring revenge and murder is only more intense when children are involved.

See also : Good Kill



The only documentary you need to see this year. I'm no real fan of Amy Winehouse although I can admit to seeing her as a support act many years ago. But just as I had no vested interest in Aryton Senna, the recent documentary gave me a new insight into the racing legend and this is just as, if not better. Here we see a girl who was partially damaged from a young age whose rise to fame only fanned the flames of her addictive and self destructive personality. Her parents are sculpted to look partly to blame and it's hard not to agree given the facts. Her true friends are cast aside for heroin and alcohol and a dream duet with childhood hero Tony Bennett is painful to watch even when brilliance sneaks through that trademark beehive hairdo. We all know the ending to this tragic life and it even sneaks up on us but it's still captivating and you get the feeling that even if we got in a time machine and warned Amy of her future, things may have turned out exactly the same.

See also : Senna, Cobain : Montage of Heck.


Big Hero 6

The closest Disney have come to making a Pixar quality film. Which is strange seeing as Disney effectively own Pixar. Additionally, Pixar's head honcho Bob Lassiter has been given charge over both animation studios so the recent success with Tangled and that let it go movie isn't much of a surprise. This is a strange one to add to the list morally because it's the one I've seen 46 times. This is 97.7% down to the 3 year old child that has seemingly nested in my house and for a 2 month period wanted nothing else but to watch the cuddly white robot named Baymax. The design of the movie is an interesting choice mixing the location of San Fransisco (another Pixar trait) with Tokyo injected architecture, which isn't hardly explained in the movie itself but is divulged on the greatest of movie geek assets, the IMdB trivia page.
Excuses aside, BH6 is a great film and appeals to the classic Pixar market...children and adults.

See also : The Incredibles, How to Train Your Dragon.


Kingsman : The Secret Service

Matthew Vaughn's latest venture into adapted comic books after (Xmen First Class and Kick Ass) and also his best. The big difference between this and other spy movies of the year (Spectre, Man from Uncle, Spy, Mission Impossible) is the risk of making it an edgier, more violent affair. As much as the 12A certificate has allowed more violence, it's still more about what you think you saw rather than what you actually saw. In Kingsman, you SEE it. The church scene alone is one of the best action sequences in recent years and the finale is outrageously and gloriously OTT along with a very very risqué joke that James Bond would shudder at. But overall, it's just a real joy to watch and fun, which is the whole point. There's only so many dead inside, broken man, nothing to lose spies we can watch where as the only thing this wants to do is save the world and look good doing it.

Next week - The top 3