Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Best Films I Saw in 2015





Two Days, One Night (2014)✭✭✭✭

Review

The task falls on the exquisite shoulders of Cotillard, and her evocation of a damaged character summoning every once of courage is extraordinary. This is a softer, more reflective Dardenne cinema, one that trades the harsh trappings of documentary techniques for an outwardly sunny view of a stormy inner landscape.









Tu dors Nicole (2014) ✭✭✭✭

Review

While Nicole waits for, well, something to happen for her, viewers will find themselves swept into an odd kind of blissful stupor, as her unambitious existence becomes a cinematic white noise.






Spotlight (2015) ✭✭✭✭½

Review

Spotlight is not a film of quirky personalities, soulful redemption or cathartic epiphanies. It is a true tale of institutionalized evil and the human wreckage strewn in its crushing wake.







About Elly (2009) ✭✭✭✭½

About Elly appears to be a lighthearted and humorous story of a group of friends on a poorly planned seaside vacation. But this Iranian version of The Big Chill soon takes a chilling turn, as Farhadi introduces a surprising catalyst that will alter the film to its core.






Timbuktu (2014) ✭✭✭✭½

Review

If Terrence Malick were to make a film about Jihad, the result would look something like this. Timbuktu is a flowing fountain of dreamy images and moments, all reflecting in equal measure the horror and absurdities of life under Sharia law.







Phoenix (2014) ★★★★½
This allegory on the willful blindness of the German people during the Hitler years is a dream wrapped in a delusion spawned by a nightmare.









Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) ✭✭✭✭½

Olivier Assayas unleashes universal truths about acting and aging, along with some extraordinary performances by Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche.








Winter Sleep (2014) ✭✭✭✭½

Review

The world of Winter Sleep abounds with fairy tale caves and storybook houses carved out of solid rock yet, while nature has made a place for humanity in this unforgiving terrain, the residents seem unable to find room in their hearts for love.







A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014) ✭✭✭✭✭

Review

Andersson’s constructions feel like a string of comedic blackouts emanating from some surreal, bizarro theme park version of planet Earth. In his gleefully fractured facsimile, modern life has been replicated in great detail but slightly out of square.







Calvary (2014) ✭✭✭✭✭

Calvary is a moody and miraculous metaphor, begging to be sliced, diced, parsed and pondered. Set on the bleak, windswept cliffs of Ireland’s County Sligo, John Michael McDonagh’s passion play evokes a lonely atmosphere of regret and loss in every disillusioned frame. Desperately trying to hold this withering parish together is Father James (Brendan Gleeson), a brooding oak stump of a man who wears his cassock like a suit of armor. The thick gray clouds on the horizon perfectly mirror the murky souls of his congregation, who no longer subscribe to the moral messaging of a Church roiled by scandal and deceit. Under the anonymous cloak of confession, one abused former choirboy has had enough, and informs Father James that in one week he will murder the burly priest to atone for the Church’s sins. What follows is a week of soul searching, revelation and remembrance, as Father James assumes the role of the last pure soul in a world where saints have lost all credibility.


Honorable mention: 



Like Sunday, Like Rain (2014) ✭✭✭✭

Cinderella (2015) ✭✭✭✭

Black Mass (2015) ✭✭✭✭

Land Ho! (2014) ✭✭✭½

Leviathan (2014) ✭✭✭✭