The 25 Best Films of 2015
We’re halfway through 2016, with July almost arriving, but I waited to finish watching all the possible good films of 2015 before I come up with a list that I totally find justified for my own taste. Here is a comprehensive list of the Best Films from 2015. Do not go bonking if you don’t see Son of Saul, The Revenant on the list or Spotlight in Top 10. I loved these films, and they ‘may’ deserve all the critical praise and love from the audiences but I didn’t find them better than other films that topped them. It is a very personal choice and the list may not go down well with everyone. But then that is the point. It is a personal list and everyone does not share the same taste in anything and everything.
Please drop your valuable opinions and suggestions in the comments section.
Special Mention : The Forbidden Room | Guy Maddin
Now, you must be wondering what kind of a gimmick is this ‘special mention’ ? Has the author gone full retard or is he trying to squeeze in one more film in the list ? But, here it is, The Forbidden Room. Not in the ranking order, Why ? Because 2015 has seen two kinds of cinema, The Forbidden Room and rest of the films. The Forbidden Room is an insane ride into the Maddin’s head composed of twisted labyrinth filled with nostalgia of silence cinema while peeing on the digital world. Ranking the ‘The Forbidden Room’ will not only offend fan base of Maddin, but it will make look other films trivial on the list. Hence, the special mention.
Full review of the film.
25. Mr. Holmes | Drama | UK
“One should not leave this world without a sense of completion.”
Ian McKellen’s Sherlock Holmes is just what Sherlock Holmes hated about people. While we know deerstalker hat wearing Sherlock Holmes had impeccable observation, tongue-in-cheek humor & numb to human connections, still we loved him because he legitimately was good at what he did. But seems penance of his past mistakes his crept inside the soul of Holmes that makes his soul agitated rendering him to oscillates between remorse and peace.This is the most humane portrayal of the eccentric sleuth you will ever see. He is shown as broken aching soul who is profoundly in deep pain.
24. Sicario | Thriller Drama | USA
“You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now.”
Sicario is a straight-forward Hollywood genre movie that adopts a simple plot but thanks to Villeneuve’s deft direction, sterling performances from the three leads, masterclass cinematography blend with nervy score makes this film immensely engaging and taut thriller, that creeps into the psyche of three singular characters, demanding the question if breaking the laws and selling out the moral values, is an answer to fight a war.
23. The Lobster | Science-fiction Dark Comedy | UK
We had to be very careful in the beginning not to mix up “I love you more than anything in the world” with “watch out, we’re in danger”.
What if a world existed where being with someone is the only thing essential? The Lobster picks apart ritualized human emotions and asks questions like: What do we get from relationships? What do we get from Love? What does society require from other people’s relationships? Set in near future, it’s now obligatory to be in a partnership or to be in a relationship.The Lobster is a fantastic piece of magical-realism where the deadpan humor and the conditions of the narrative world should be accepted to truly invest in the film as a whole. Its funny, captivating and both honest and ambiguous in its perspective of love and happiness. Because, even when you find what you are looking for, you are not really sure how long it will last.
22. A War | War Drama | Danish
“A War” takes an often told soldiers’ point-of-view tale and transcends it with admirable emotional ambiguity and thoughtfulness. It is a necessary watch for anyone interested in the sober analysis of war. Director Lindholm’s third directorial feature, of course reiterates the age old statement of ‘war dehumanizes a human being’, although the way he puts forwards his characters and their emotions is so compelling to behold. A War is the ‘A Separation’ of war genre.
21. Loreak | Drama | Spain
It is a tricky thing to depict the love felt by a world-weary, middle-aged married woman towards a person other than her husband. But, ‘love’ isn’t just a stepping stone to reach the destination called ‘lust’. Rarely do we come across films that deal with love of a middle-aged married woman without introducing sexual affair in the second act. Jose Mari Goenaga and Jon and Jon Garano’s minimalist Basque language movie “Loreak” (“Flowers”, 2014) is the rare, mature work that deals with the slippery feeling love imbues on us. It shows how source of love could emanate from strange things and how love changes one’s perception of others. Loreak is an intricate and engrossing exploration of alienation, love and loss. The absence of dramatization and the presence of obscure ideas, a bleak environment might equally irk and reward movie-buffs.
20. Inside Out | Animation | USA
Do you ever look at someone and wonder, “What is going on inside their head?” Well, I know. Well, um, I know Riley’ head.
Inside out is a surreal tale of Riley and her feelings, literally. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, there are five of them we come across.This is definitely not a film for little kids and its target audience is probably smart and thoughtful adults. I’d call it an enlightening experience but harsh for kids [little kids], because it gives you the very truth about sadness in life. You just don’t get sad by accident, you need to be sad. The film’s major achievement is how emotionally relevant this film truly is. It is Pixar’s best film since Ratatouille.
19. Macbeth | Drama. History | UK, USA
“Life’s but a walking shadow. Honor. Love. Friends. But in there’s death. Curses.”
Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth crawls through muddy streams of blood to focus on greed and paranoia that drives a person when the witchful eyes of the one contemplating your behavior is devoured by the eye for the crown. The film figures out ways to show how power drives people towards insanity. It also shows that the beauty that resides in the bleakness, constantly haunts you to submission. Adam Arkapaw’s camera-work is so insanely beautiful that your insides hurt to know that he didn’t get the recognition he deserved.
18. The Mend | Drama | USA
The Mend is a terrific first feature. It inspects the life of two brothers who are oil & water in a tank of wastewater. Josh Lucas in particular is a revelation here. His character pisses on random thoughts & wishes to keep himself afloat with a broken laptop & a leather bag. His brother on the other hand is in love with a girl who may or may not be the right one. The Mend has an energy that shows more life in its mundane, monotonous moments than any other film does in a hour or so. The energy & intelligent editing shows the power of cinema in transforming similarly themed results into fresh & new packages. Also, has one of the best opening scenes of the year.
17. A Pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on Existence | Black Comedy-Drama | Sweden
“Is it right using people for your own pleasure?”
The last part of Roy Andersson’s Living trilogy- A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence- unfolds as a painting, a series of surreal vignettes, filled with customary deadpan humor and wry absurdity. In this tragicomedy, a pair of depressed salesmen wants to help people have fun by selling their novelty items. Every single frame of movie is revelatory, and serves a distant peek into inexplicable oddity laced with human existence. From being obsessed with the opposite sex to rejections or being stuck into a memory, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is a strange, bizarre, melancholic & terribly beautiful portrayal of human condition. It might not resonate to everyone out there but if there is a place where people need to learn things through a master’s eyes, the film is as important as a holy book in a monk’s hand.
16. Spotlight | Biographical Drama | USA
“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.”
“Spotlight” is one of the best, solid dramas that exhibits the importance and value of justly done journalism. In the coming years ‘Spotlight’ would be often mentioned, when the topic of ‘Best films about Journalism’ gets discussed.Tom McCarthy’s stupendous drama “Spotlight” (2015) opens and ends on the confined spaces of two different institutions – police and press. One silenced a crime, while the other stood alone to shine down its ‘spotlight’. Contemporary movies about journalists have often taken a cynical and audacious look at the profession. Tom McCarthy’s film offers a counter-argument for the worthiness of the investigative journalism; about how it could stand up against an entity that deems itself as ‘untouchable’.
15. The Goob | Come of Age Drama | UK
In the heavenly wasteland of Norfolk, a timid lad named Goob is looking for diversion, anything that would help him escape his abusive father. He tootles through pumpkin fields on his moped in bright summer day. Even though movie is set in lush open landscapes, it feels extremely claustrophobic. The bleak tone of movie aptly captures gloominess of the land that is notorious for being the most desolate in the world. But even the bleakest moments are filled with beauty and wicked humor. Goob’s life spirals around Norfolk just like those humming and thumping racing cars running in a loop. The Goob has unusual vibrancy to it and heart throbbing soundtracks that will make your heart flutter like a swan.
14. 45 Years | Drama | UK
“It’s funny how you forget the things in life that make you happy”
British filmmaker Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years follows a long married couple – Geoff and Kate – for over a week, during which their inviolable relationship gradually fractures due to a arrival of letter, containing facts about Geoff’s long-dead former sweetheart, Katya. It is a very simple premise and for some, the couple’s flow of life and existential dilemmas may seem boring. But, Haigh’s sensitive narration and astoundingly subtle performances from Charlotte Rampling & Tom Courtenay provided me a powerful and meaningful movie experience.
13. Steve Jobs | Biographical Drama | USA
“Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.”
Steve Jobs dwells into the acidic character of Jobs,where his personal & professional life’s changing graph has been captured in the backdrop of three important events. He is callous and apathetic tech suave who doesn’t mind threatening Andy Hertzfeld of humiliating him publicly if Macintosh doesn’t say ‘hello’; he doesn’t accept his illegitimate daughter as his own blood even after the conclusive proof; he is too selfish to acknowledge any credits to his friends and colleagues ; he is too arrogant to ignore circuit board designer Wozniak’s opinion.The master-stroke of Sorkin is that he elevates each act filled with gamut of emotions, more inclining to restlessness & unpleasantness to such tangible euphoric culmination of the product launch that you wish scene had stayed for few more minutes so you can steal a moment to get over such tensed act.
13. Anomalisa | Animation, Drama | USA
Anomalisa is a masterpiece as it peels off Kaufman’s own face trying to reach out to the million people who are watching his written words transform into a 90 minutes search for connection. Anomalisa is about a man suffering from extensional crises but its also about the human condition and every other thing you can think off. Its incredibly sad yet it scorches the surface like a cigarette fallen between the two legs. The scope of Anomalisa transcends its vision of human condition and hence its quite tough to completely fathom and respect the film. Although Anomalisa is deeply depressing it left me in splits questioning my own self.
12. Best of Enemies | Documentary | USA
“Best of Enemies” is one the most entertaining & illuminating documentaries to showcase how broadcast media and two great minds turned political discourse into a blood-sport. It is also one of the most lamentable tales since Gordon and Neville sheds light onto the psyche of these two brilliant thinkers, their egos and existential crisis.
11. Mia Madre | Drama | Italy
Italian auteur Nanni Moretti‘s latest film Mia Madre, focuses on the psyche of a woman on the impending loss of her mother, which is said to be heavily inspired from Nanni’s personal experience where his mother died during the shooting of 2011’s Habemus Papam. Moretti has meticulously captured the staggering emotional turmoil of middle aged director Margherita(Margherita Buy) and its effect on her own personal and professional life. Mia Madre is a kind of a film where every time you think about it, you will have something new to discover; multi layered script has life, death, film-making, solitude,relationships, existential crisis at its crux, which surprisingly reflects Moretti‘s own life.
10. The Tribe | Drama | Ukraine
The Tribe (Plemya) is an unflinching,visceral & bold story of culture of deaf teenagers, which is told entirely in non penetrable untranslated Ukrainian sign language. This unpleasantly dark tale of deaf teenage seems to set in the real world, supported by non-professional actors add to the grittiness and observational realistic tone to it , and it offers much more than usual teenage school drama. Focal point of ‘The Tribe’ is a new student, ‘Serhiy’, who arrives on an opening day ceremony in courtyard of boarding school for deaf teenagers. Film takes a deep look into culture of deaf students who moonlight as hooligans and run prostitution business. Be warned, The Tribe is highly violent in expression and sexually charged!
9. The Big Shorts | Comedy Drama | USA
“Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.”
When Margot Robbie explains economics to you in a bubble bath, you Listen. Then you rewind and listen to her again. Adam McKay’s The Big Short has a ridiculously smart execution. The director takes on the high road breaking conventions, making his film feel like a documentary, mockumentary and a fictional account at the same time. While the monetary jargon is a hit and a miss, the film’s energy is astonishing on multiple grounds. The cast pays a very important role in making this film sound better than it actually is.
“We’re all extras in the movie of life.”
Melancholic symphony of life & death, ironically titled “Youth” is unique lyrical amalgamation of philosophical exploration about life, memories, regrets,ageing, redemption, and above all it is beguiling mood piece. Paolo Sorrentino uses characters of artistic elites as a lens to explore the fundamental philosophy of life, like he did in Il Divo using characters of political elites and The Great Beauty using characters of social elites. In Youth, we see that artistic elites of all age group have come to resort on majestic lively mountain of Alps in Swiss, where time seems to have slowed down, letting characters relax and steal the moments to observe, explore and learn from other.
7. Mad Max: Fury Road | Action | Australia, USA
“You know, hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll, uh… you’ll go insane.”
Mad Max is out and out an action film; the plot is paper thin but still it manages to tell the story in a very intriguing manner. The character development is fine with enough to care for the characters, and has a subtle undertone of feminism that forms the emotional core of the film. While the character of Max takes the back seat here, and also for the reason that it has not been fleshed out properly; ultimately the film belongs to Charlize Theron (Imperator Furiosa) who surprises us by nailing one of the best female action character written.
6. Phoenix | War Drama | Germany
Phoenix is adapted from Hubert Monteilhet’s detective novel Le Retour des cendres, which was set in France.Christian Petzold has set ‘Phoenix’ in Berlin shortly after the German surrender and has drastically changed the narrative of the story and diluted the subplots completely. Phoenix revolves around the Jazz singer Nelly Lenz, who is the sole survivor of impounding among her well-to-do family, and her confrontation with her husband who doesn’t recognize her. Phoenix is not a plot driven film but it is driven by the estranged emotions that are mired by deception and yearn for true love. It is very intriguing and has subtle sense of suspense on how both the lead characters unfold.
5. The Look of Silence | Documentary | Indonesia
The Look of Silence is a fittingly ironic title for the documentary. The Look of Silence is a film about unashamed perpetrators taking pride in their self-acclaimed heroics which includes drinking bloods of their victims and throwing them into the Snake River. These people openly talk about their actions and later shockingly smile for photos beside the Snake River.
4. Boy and The World | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy | Brazil
While Inside out went inside the mind of a kid and showed complex functioning of brain breaking down each emotion, and their adventure that defines the psyche of that kid, Boy & the World does exactly opposite of it; Boy & the World takes a look at the ever changing world & the dynamic mechanism of socio-political functioning that influence the boy emotionally and physically. It uses boy as lens to see the horror of the daily life. Boy and the World is tragic & starkly bleak allegory of how miserable the world has become , showcasing perpetual vicious cycle of changing world’s implications on human condition and human relationship that is governed by human needs against their own will.
3. Aferim! | Comedy Drama | Romania
“Fear is shameful but healthy. It is God’s gift.”
Radu Jude’s Aferim is more self-aware that chalks out the hypocrisy, religious dogmatism and human folly in the society without getting too serious about the already critical subject.Still,Aferim! captures the slavery in such a striking manner which perfectly echoes the hardship and emotional turmoil they faced , like when a gypsy slave cries vehemently & says, “Buy us – save us from hunger!” Unflinching , strident , intelligent writing and tongue in cheek humor bordering on crass & obscenity that can easily offend even the most passive & expressionless being, and Jews, women, slave , Russians. Aferim! that literally translates to Bravo is a very ironically titled film, but it can be rightly used for the director Radu Jude’s impeccable direction. Shot in shimmering monochromatic, 35mm black-and-white visuals are sharply attentive to a sense of mid 18th century era , kudos to cinematographer Marius Panduru for recreating the Wallachia.
2. Carol | Drama | USA
“My angel, flung out of space”
Todd Haynes paints the longing of two solitary souls with silence, while he allows shimmering sets, exchange of thoughtful looks, subconscious cigarette smoking and a moment of togetherness with such careful seduction that you can’t withstand falling in love with such despair and emotionally wretched characters.
1.El Club | Drama | Chile
“God said, ‘let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”
Pablo Larrain’s seditious critical & quintessentially scathing film “The Club” functions as a complex psychological drama that vicariously creeps inside the psyche of Priests,and ultimately strip down the putridness of religious institution and authoritarian. The Club is an intelligent, bold,and raw film. Well aware about the existence of deeply flawed institution, and blunt enough to showcase,not to question, sacrilegious souls present in disguise of religious authority. Larrain, who co-wrote with Guillermo Calderon and Daniel Villalobos, showcases the collision of pseudo ideologies ruining several lives; importantly, it pitches what religion and institutional authorities does to an individual on either side of the fence.