Here we go, the best of the best (in my opinion anyways) from the past year of films. What made these special? Good stories, impeccable writing, strong direction, and gorgeous visuals for starters. But the feelings they elicited from me are the main reason they’re here. So without further ado.
10. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
As a casual fan of N.W.A. I was blown away by the raw emotion actors bought to their roles. I can only imagine the how hard it would have to be to portray your own father, but O’Shea Jackson Jr. did it to perfection. Jason Mitchell and Corey Hawkins round out a perfect trio in an ensemble. F. Gary Gray has always been a competent director, but this seals the deal for him as someone who can make more than genre films.
9. CRIMSON PEAK
Mis-marketed as a straight horror what we really got a was a visual feast surrounded by a gothic psychological thriller. Guillermo del Toro continues to create films with the depth and texture of oil paintings come to life. The story may not be totally original, but the cast is all around phenomenal.
8. THE WALK
A film that got muted praise on it’s release I fell in love with it as I exited the theatre. Having seen Man on Wire years ago I knew the outcome of the story, but didn’t make any of the scenes less intense. Robert Zemeckis uses his technical prowess to make all the wire scenes look completely realistic. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a tremendous job conveying the slightly crazy ambition of Philippe. It’s an underrated gem that needs more attention.
7. THE END OF THE TOUR
Segel and Eisenberg bring great performances to the screen that resonate. Segel shines portraying David Foster Wallace it’s unbelievable how well he slips into the role. I loved how the story showed how hero worship is something that can eat away at you if you let it. It’s also refreshing seeing how people can make themselves feel inferior based on another person’s intelligence. A heartbreaking true story that stings just as much as a film.
6. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
As a diehard Star Wars fan who never thought he’d see the day where Star Wars continued in the live action format I had high expectations, that were met in spades. In spite of re-treading some earlier storylines we got a beautiful kickstart to a franchise considered DOA after the prequels. I can not express how happy it makes me that this film exists. I optimistically wait to see what future episodes hold.
It’s rare to watch a film and see a child actor who is just as engaging as the adults of the cast and Jacob Tremblay does it. Brie Larson’s been on my radar since Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and it’s been amazing watching her evolve and improve. I loved how the story showed that children are sometimes more resilient than adults in the face of trauma. This film will tug at your heartstrings whether or not you have kids.
4. THE BIG SHORT
Adam McKay gets out of his usual wheelhouse to craft the most important film of 2015. Everyone should see this film before they cast their votes for who runs this country in the coming years. If you have any questions regarding what caused the economic meltdown and housing market crash this should help clear up how people didn’t care what would happen. In spite of spitting a lot of information real quick we also get some witty humor and great performances.
Everything about this film fired on all cylinders for me. The cast is unbelievably solid for a trio fairly green actors they all shined. The story is funny, emotional and even relatable at times. Ever since I saw it in theatres I’ve been singing it’s praise so odds are you’ve heard about it from me for months. Just get on Netflix and give it a shot.
2. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Never before and (I assume) never again will I see a film like this on the big screen. The sheer beauty that George Miller captured in every frame is an undeniable testament to his strength as a storyteller. As I said, you could take any screenshot in this film, blow it up, frame it, and hang it up. That’s how amazing this film looks. If only he had made Justice League all those years ago.
1. KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER
This may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I was blown away by this film. Telling the “true” story of a Japanese woman who’s obsession with the film Fargo sent her on a journey that is genuinely gut-wrenching. Rinko Kikuchi’s performance is so emotional that you can not help but empathize with her struggle through boredom and normalcy. It’s a shame it slipped under the radar, but that is why I can not recommend it enough. Give it a watch.
And just like that it’s all over. Now we must soldier on and see the good, the bad, and the mediocre that 2016 delivers. I hope you enjoy the trip as much as I do.