Written By Jacob Chimilar (@sweetlows)
I thought it might be fun to offer up what I consider to be the top 10 films of the year. These are films that I enjoyed the most, they aren't all the deepest and complex films but I ranked ones that I could see myself revisiting again and again higher because if they are good movies and rewatchable then that to me is better than one you really like but could only see once. There are a few movies I have yet to see this past year that look intriguing to me, so they won't make the cut. This includes the following in no particular order:
Bridge of Spies
So with that little disclaimer out of the way, here are my top 10 films of the year! along with some honourable mentions
10) The Stanford Prison Experiment
The number 10 spot was tricky, I wanted to pick something I liked but also may not be the most widely known movie out there that even people who go to this site may not normally see. The Stanford Prison Experiment is based on the true story of a group of college guys who are asked to participate in an experiment where one half are dressed up like guards and the others like prisoners. They then have to act out that prison scenario for two weeks. The results are stunning and wonderfully brought to life by a great young cast of actors. This movie knocked my socks off with it's sheer intensity and deserves more attention than it's getting.
9) Ex Machina
This was the first film I reviewed on this site and it's a doozy! an intense battle on artificial intelligence is waged in a secluded home, where man and machine collide in a struggle to find what makes people, people. With pulsating music, a wonderful script, acting, sets and direction , this low budget sci fi thriller is a must see.
8) The Hateful Eight
I saw this last week so its fresh in my mind, and as of this writing, I am seeing it again tomorrow. This movie just hit me with a sense of old school film-making at its finest. Western meets tense single room thriller in 70mm Ultrawide Panavison. The writing is witty and dark, the acting pitch perfect, beautifully shot and accompanied by an errie and excellent score. It was a real treat to watch an old Hollywood film, projected on 70mm, and have it also be a fun and enjoyable experience, one I can see myself revisiting to watch those despicable people hash it out in that dark snowy cabin all over again.
7) Kingsman: The Secret Service
This may be a bit of a surprise to some of you but man oh man was this a fun movie. Despite a James Bond movie coming out this year (review here) Kingsman: The Secret Service provided a better and more entertaining spy movie that was more of a homage to spy movies than a parody. That belongs to this year's over-long and intermittently funny Spy. It has Samuel L. Jackson as the evil McDonald's loving villain, (minus the "Royale with Cheese") new comer Taron Egerton plays the thug who is really smart and just needs a mentor, one he finds in the unexpectedly excellent performance by Colin Firth as a British super spy not unlike James Bond. This movie is a whole lot of fun. It has witty dialogue, incredible action sequences, some jabs at the Bond franchise and isn't afraid to go over the top when necessary. Matthew Vaughan brings his energetic cinematic eye to the proceedings and he really fits the bill with this movie. I've seen it a few times already and am looking forward to seeing it many times in the future.
6) Steve Jobs
Yet another movie I had the pleasure to review here. Like a lot of movies on this list, I have grown to like them more over time. Steve Jobs is not your typical biopic. It is a very deliberately (and brilliantly) dramatized version of the relationships Steve Jobs has and how his vision and passion for his work gets in the way of it all. The cast all give great, and at times electric, performances. Expertly written and directed, with great cinematography from Alwin H. Küchler, and a varied and highly engrossing score. All of which comes together to make Steve Jobs a real treat to watch and a shame more people have not done so.
5) Inside Out
A return to form for Pixar, Inside Out is one of those movies that has creativity to spare. it bursts at the seams with endless imagination. Establishing its rules for how a kid's brain works. Upon repeat viewing the exposition, especially from Sadness, can get a bit tiresome but that is helped a lot from the rest of the movie being so wonderful. Everyone is cast perfectly in their roles, the jokes are funny, the heart-wrenching moments are earned and important to the story and it explores themes everyone can relate to. I saw this with my parents, who like not having to sit through kids movies on repeat any more. In the case of Inside Out, they were laughing and enjoying the movie just as much as I did. Pete Docter and the rest of the team really knock it out of the park with a great story that's expertly told and re-crowns Pixar as the animation king.
All I heard about this movie was that it was excellent and a shoo in to be nominated a lot come awards season. I knew nothing about the plot going in and boy am I glad I didn't. While I said I would rank other movies that were more entertaining higher, this movie was just so powerful and moving that it deserved to be higher on the list because it's simply that good. There are some truly spectacular performances from both Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay and great direction by Lenny Abrahamson with the screenplay being adapted by Emma Donoghue, author of the book it's based on. I went and saw Spectre about 30 minutes after this movie and a trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came on, I cried when it ended I was still so emotional.
3) The Martian
Based on the book by Andy Weir, The Martian (full review here) is the sci-fi movie that isn't afraid to talk about science. Despite it showing the perils of being an astronaut, it makes you want to be an astronaut. With a hilarious script, great direction, gorgeous cinematography and a first class performance by Matt Damon, The Martian is an exciting thrill ride that goes at break neck speeds with humor and heart and should stand along side the best sci-fi has to offer.
2) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Another very recent movie on this list I've previously reviewed. Since that review, I've seen it again and had the chance to let it sink. Similarities to previous movies and the merit of original conception aside The Force Awakens is quite possibly the best Star Wars movie to date. Now before you go crazy, yes Star Wars was an earth shattering accomplishment of creativity, especially given budget restraints. It also lacked the luxury of knowing there would be more. Empire had great drama with now iconic scenes that set things up for a (no so) grand finale but I'd argue that as a story The Force Awakens reigns supreme. It doesn't boast any new creative world building George Lucas is an expert at but instead goes for the things he never was an expert at, story, dialogue and character development. All of those are very much improved here and if I were to pit The Force Awakens as a movie that didn't have associations to Star Wars up against the rest of the Star Wars films I think I can safely say The Force Awakens is the better movie and one that seems to get better upon each viewing.
The Voices: really dark indie comedy staring Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick
Shaun The Sheep: Great animated film with almost no dialogue that's fun for everyone
Predestination: Twisty turny time travel tale that keeps you on your toes
Big Game: Samuel L. Jackson as The President lost in the wilderness with a kid who is completing his survival training team up to take down terrorists hunting them. It's awesomely silly.
1) Mad Max: Fury Road
This movie floored me. The action is incredible, the world building and characters are so well realized. Charlize Theron especially bringing a tour-de-force performance as Furiosa. The music is bombastic in the best way (Hans Zimmer had Junkie XL work on Batman vs Superman for the Batman bits, I'm hoping Hans learned a thing or two about being bombastic without resorting to BRAAAAMS.) Expertly shot and even better in black and white, it's one of the most unique, exciting, action packed movies you are likely to see. George Miller, the now 70 year old director, after doing all the other Mad Max films went on to the fluffy and sweet Happy Feet and Babe, comes roaring back into "The World of Blood and Chrome" and comes out with a masterpiece.
That's my list! What were your favourite movies this year? Are there any hidden gems you think more people should know about? What about the list of movies I have yet to see, are they worth it? Leave a comment! Here's to a great 2015 and hopefully an awesome 2016!