Thursday, 31 December 2015

NUTS4R2's Best Movies of 2015

Best Movies of 2015

Well this has been a mixed bag of a year for movies. I thought it was better but looking over my many cinema trips over the past year, I am forced to conclude that it wasn’t as positive a year for movies as I thought it would be. For the soundtracks in them, it was a fantastic year... but more on that when I do my review of the year’s best scores, coming up in a couple of weeks, which I’m expecting will be looking quite different in comparison to what I have in this list.

I feel I should offer a brief word or two of explanation on certain movies found here, by way of clarification as to what is and isn’t in the list.

All of the films on here came out in the UK in some capacity in 2015. A couple of them only had one or two solitary screenings and one didn’t even play at any cinemas in this country, as far as I know. But this list is, as I feel it should be, based on the date of when they were able to be seen by people in my country fro the first time. So, as an example, I know some people have included Birdman (reviewed here) in their 2015 lists but in London, it was released at the end of December 2014, which is when I saw and reviewed it. If you check back to my review of last year here, you’ll see I included it in my 2014 list. Luckily, I didn't have this problem with High Rise (reviewed here) because, as it turns out, that wouldn’t have made the list anyway.

There are, however, three oddities here. For starters, my number one pick of best movie of the year is from Mexico and it came out over there in 2014. However, as far as I know, it screened only once (the performance I caught at this year’s Raindance Film Festival) and it’s not going to be getting any kind of release or home video distribution in this country anytime soon (according to the producer who I asked after the screening)... although I’m hoping that will change and I believe it may be getting a home video release in the US at some point.

My number three pick this year is a film that screened twice at the London Film Festival and I’m, frankly, hoping it gets some kind of wider release here next year because it’s just an awesome B-movie horror. My number eight pick is kinda interesting because its primary release was via streaming, downloading and DVD/Blu Ray. I understand it had a few screenings in the US but, as far as I remember, it got nothing over here. It's very much a 2015 movie though.

And that’s that. Not much more to say other than how disappointed I was that the new Star Wars movie didn’t make it anywhere near the number one spot on this list. How did that happen? I really wanted it to get right up there but, alas, it didn’t quite do it for me.

So, anyway, here’s my list with links to my reviews. Hope you like and, if you don’t agree, feel free to vent in the comments section. It won’t change my mind about anything but it will promote discussion, right?

20. American Ultra
Well this was just a fun little movie which I would have absolutely put at my number one spot if I’d had still been a teenager. I reckon this is the Heathers equivalent of the current early to late teen generation and I hope they realise this is out there. My review is here.

19. The Theory Of Everything

This biopic of Stephen Hawking is way better than I was expecting and Eddie Redmayne turns in an amazing performance here. Not something I could probably sit through again but certainly something to be admired. My review here.

18. Crimson Peak

Phenomenal film by Guillermo Del Toro that was much less enthusiastically received by the general public at large than I expected it to be. As for myself, I loved it and it’s definitely a movie which needs to be appreciated on a Blu Ray release as soon as possible. My review is here.

17. Paranormal Activity - The Ghost Dimension
Another movie which wasn’t well received but I feel this was a real return to form for the franchise and it even, against my expectations, had a reason in terms of the plot, to be shown in 3D. I’m just a little disappointed that it’s probably also going to be the last in the sequence as I feel there’s still a few more story beats to hit before the whole tale is told. My review here.

16. Krampus
Hooray. A Christmas movie actually gets into my listings this year. Pleased about that. This Christmas horror is more like a bitter and less optimistic version of Gremlins and, supported by a superb score, is a real seasonal confection to be savoured by horror fans who are usually let down by their Christmas horror movies being... well... somewhat rubbish. It’s not straight out horror... it’s not particularly scary for example but, then again, not many horror films are... and it is a little crude in places but it’s certainly entertaining and I’m looking forward to revisiting this one on Blu Ray next December. My review here.

15. Ant-Man
This was a slow burn with me and I probably didn't praise it that highly in my review. However, it grew on me really quickly and I love the way it manages to slot into the current Marvel universe movies. Can’t wait to see the direct sequel in a couple of years. My review here.

14. Tomorrowland
This is another one that people didn’t exactly champion when it came out but it’s a real strong contender, as far as I’m concerned, for being repeated constantly over the Christmas and Easter holidays as a future staple of family entertainment by any TV channel that has it. The trailer is quite misleading and it’s got a lot more going for it than most people would realise, or be able to tell, from its marketing, I suspect. Plus it has the best of Michael Giacchino’s scores for this year. My review here.

13. Maggie
The name Arnold Schwarzenneger and zombies in the same pitch certainly conjures up a specific type of movie in peoples minds and that’s why I think the very small audience who were in attendance at the screening I went to had a couple of walk outs. As it happens, this is a small and dramatic role for Schwarzenneger... not an action epic in any shape of form and, as such, the main star handles himself exactly as I would have expected him to in a straight and somewhat downbeat role of a father trying to accept the fact that his daughter is slowly turning into one of the undead... absolutely magnificently. He really reminds us just how great an actor he can be in this one... not just an action man. My review of this superb movie is here.

12. Mr. Holmes
This one took me by surprise. Thought it was going to be a bit rubbish and dull and, instead, it’s sensational. Especially pleasing is the fictional Holmes at the cinema in the movie, within the fiction of the ageing Holmes watching a film at the cinema based on one of his cases, with his big screen version being played by the same actor who portrayed Holmes himself, decades ago, in Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear. A very special treat which I reviewed here.

11. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Possibly the best of the Mission Impossible films. This one kept me riveted and, although it kinda side steps certain issues about the history of the main character portrayed by Tom Cruise in this franchise, it’s extremely entertaining. My review here.

10. Kingsman - The Secret Service
Of the many 1960s spy movie parodies launched into cinemas this year (Mission Impossible, Mortdecai, The Man From UNCLE, SPECTRE), this is probably the best of them. They may have a problem bringing back a certain character for the sequel but... we shall see what we shall see. Reviewed this one here.

9. Sicario
This is a stunningly beautiful film but it’s all the shades of darkness that you can think of when it comes to content. You will leave the cinema totally depressed, more than likely, and it’s not one I think I could probably sit through again. It is quite devastatingly haunting and powerful, however. Reviewed here.

8. Ned Rifle
Yay! My favourite living director continues to be brilliant with the third installment of his Henry Fool trilogy. Much better than the second movie, Fay Grimm, and a real return to form for the characters. You can read my review of this one here.

7. Star Wars - The Force Awakens
I wasn’t too happy with this when I first saw it but, now that I’ve been to take another look and I’m not constantly waiting for what I thought was going to happen to happen (which it did), I can relax into it a bit and enjoy it more for the homage to the classic films that it is (to an extent). John William’s score for this movie really knocks it out of the park and it’s probably the best score he’s done in quite some time. My review here.

6. Avengers - Age Of Ultron
This was another one I was probably a little over harsh with in my review, after my first watch, but it grew on me fairly quickly after I took a couple of other people to see it. I really enjoyed the hell out of it on subsequent performances and it’s something I’ll probably hold up now and say this is one of the better Marvel movies in recent years. Review here.

5. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
This movie has some special, personal connotations to it for me but, above its special importance in my life, it’s a really great little vampire movie which is, perhaps, more similar to the cinema of Jim Jarmusch than anyone else I can think of right now... although it’s nothing like Jarmusch’s own vampire movie. A nice, gorgeously photographed piece of art that ambles along at its own pace and doesn’t outstay its welcome. Definitely a keeper. Reviewed here.

4. Ghost Theatre
Stupendously cool Hideo Nakata movie about a possessed doll which is like watching Mario Bava on acid in terms of its shot design and use of bright, primary colours. I just hope it gets some kind of release over here next year because, like Crimson Peak, it’s one of those films which is a ‘must own’ on Blu Ray. Reviewed by me here.

3. It Follows
When this came out I was pretty sure that this was going to be my number one movie of the year. A cool American horror movie which is formulaic but which looks, sounds and feels like a classic 1970s US horror film. The fact that it’s not in my number one slot shows that I had at least a slightly better year at the cinema than I at first thought. I reviewed this one here.

2. Carol
Beautiful film about a 1950s lesbian relationship which is lovely to behold and, with its pseudo-Philip Glass score by... um... by Carter Burwell... it sounds as good as it looks. Truly gorgeous movie making with a certain sense of subtlety to it and the kind of thing I would like to see more of playing at our cinemas. My review here.

1. The Incident (El Incidente)
This movie is like watching a drawing by Escher come to life. It’s elliptical, confusing, needs decoding and is, very occasionally, completely impenetrable. Since this has no release in this country and is not likely, as far as I can make out, to get one, I am in somewhat of a quandary because it’s definitely one of those films you need to watch again and start to look out for the bits you missed in the hopes it’ll make more sense in places on subsequent viewings. Still, a truly great film and my number one pick for the year. I reviewed this here.

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