Top 50 English Language Films Of 2015
25. Lost River | Director: Ryan Gosling.
Weird, bizarre and surreal. Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut was audacious and experimental. A very strange blend of David Lynch & Nicolas Winding Refn, Lost River, set in a nightmarish-fairyland of fictionalized Detroit talks about a few people surrounded by violence, trouble, hooligans, creeps and their shot at achieving the American dream. The plot might seem convoluted and makes less sense a couple of times, but it’s also so well made that you can’t take your eyes off it. What I got from the film is Gosling’s way of portraying freedom in destruction. He doesn’t manage to show it exactly the way he intended to, but he gets close, very very close.
24. Z for Zachariah | Director: Craig Zobel.
Featuring one of the most ambiguous & hypnotic endings of the year, Z for Zachariah examines what humanity would be like when there are no humans left. While it falters occasionally, the film, which is shot with great care and nuance, glitters through the pages of an open book touching them just the right amount. It’s a film that builds up from destroyed social status and is a waterfall of rigged human emotions of jealousy and greed.
23. The Falling | Director: Carol Morley.
The Falling is an enigmatic tale of mass-hysteria. Chucking up elements from Picnic at Hanging Rock, Carol Morley’s film is poetic, bewitched, disturbing and absolutely unforgettable. The film observes the peculiar and mysterious fall-out of a hysterical epidemic in the early 1960s. Filmed and seen from the perspective of an all-girls-school in England, it revolves around two friends/lovers who share an intense relationship with each other. The color pallets and the instant change in imagery is a wee-bit tough to fathom and yet it fascinates without faltering. Read Complete Review.
22. Sicario | Director: Denis Villeneuve.
The tale of a hyena trapped in a land of drug-induced, violently non-human wolves. Sicario is a beast of a film which has a vulnerable protagonist trying to shake-off the political systems while she is wrapped around a clay of inhumane lies and double-cross. Villeneuve’s direction takes you through something that looks like a snake of havoc and its snail and vicious bite comes when Benicio del Toro gets into gear and serves you a hearty supper. Roger Deakins’ cinematography makes sure that you feel the consequence of violence without scathing out the drama that moves along.
21. It Follows | Director: David Robert Mitchell.
A scintillating score plays throughout David Robert Mitchell’s second directorial venture. If not for the premise or the creepy horrific-thrills, the score of footsteps almost gets you every single time. After his first indie film, the brilliant The Myth Of The American Sleepover, which talked about the various uncommon teenage issues Mitchell cleverly ensures the most common of them all – Sex into his intelligent, original and terrifying second film. It Follows is an uninstalling metaphor on the fucked-up American youth and their shenanigans. While people in It Follows struggle when they pass it on to the next one, I sure will pass this film on to everyone and anyone who has the least of interests in films, because maybe someone, somewhere will get it in the true sense.
20. Mr. Holmes | Director: Bill Condon.
Ian McKellen plays an aging Sherlock Holmes whose last great mystery is himself. Bill Condon has made a handsome, tender and beautiful amalgamations of the various layers of human nature. Where the bees and wasps are mere metaphors for the right and wrongs you do in life and the countryside is not just a getaway, but a learning road to rest your shoulders from the regrets and wrongdoings that life has thrown your way. Mr. Holmes is a poetic character study of the other side of the Robot detective from Baker Street. Bill Condon’s film presents a picture of Sherlock Holmes that hasn’t graced the screen till date. It’s a film that grows on you when the fictionalized emotions come to play.
19. Spotlight | Director: Tom McCarthy.
Spotlight has a very low-key approach to a very sensitive topic. It doesn’t try too hard to leave a mark and yet somehow comes out as a clear winner. Mccarthy’s film focuses on a group of journalists who get involved in a case that doesn’t only question their own ethics but also brings them face to face with the humanitarian aspect of a person, his fears & his delicacies. The scene where Mark Ruffalo takes it all out is one of the best scenes of 2015.
18. Carol | Director: Todd Haynes.
Todd Haynes’s Carol works as a symphony of various musical notes plucked at the right time. There is drama, there is romance and there is a fleeting necessity of desire, be it for the better half or that child which defines you as a person. Carol is a waking dream that never overshadows the feelings of its two central characters with unnecessary fillers. Packed with one of the greatest performances ever by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol defines that Haynes can make almost anything look beautiful.
17. Dope | Director: Rick Famuyiwa.
A woozy, energetic and hilarious comedy about the geeks who go gangsta on the world. Lased with the dopest soundtrack & a razor-sharp screenplay, Dope chronicles the life of Malcolm (Shameik Moore) a 90s hip-hop geek who rides BMX bikes & has a band whose name rhymes with a popular biscuit. Watch his life give him a topsy-turvy as he understands that not being able to fit in is essentially a blessing in disguise.
16. Mistress America | Director: Noah Baumbach.
Another incredibly charming, fast-paced oddball comedy about people who are surrounded by failure. It’s interesting how Noah manages to show the failing nature of his characters in such a subtle manner. While Mistress America is mostly about Brooke (Greta Gerwig) whose ambitions and authenticity get muddled up in the disorienting world of New York City, it was also about Tracy (Lola Kirk) who never seems to stop to look around at the various things she is failing at. Its a retrospective on the life of two women trying their best to grasp upon the moving ground, learning to accept and understand each other and themselves in the process.
15. Youth | Director: Paolo Sorrentino.
Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth starts with what looks like an exploration of the bond of two aging friends, but it slowly transcends into something entirely different. It’s an ode to all the living, dead and struggling artists on the face of the planet. Ones who peep through holes of memories to relive what they felt for that one second of admiration. Youth is a fascinating, beautiful and unforgettable symphony that plays along the lines of a road that leads to both – the past and the future.
14. The End Of Tour | Director: James Ponsoldt.
The End of the Tour is essentially a character study that operates both, on the mind of a writer and an interviewer. It slices open and presents the mind, spooling everything out on the screen. Ponsoldt’s film is firmly grounded to reality and yet it’s uniquely profound in its intimate way of understanding and perceiving oneself and others. The End of the Tour is also a fitting homage to the infinite mind of a depressed soul and a prodigy who doesn’t understand the way the minds of a male, female and a cartoon should be represented on a personal wall. The End of the Tour says that there isn’t a reason for how things turn out eventually. Its mostly because we are too scared to choose anything but the safe side, or maybe it’s because we did take the other side but never got a proper road to travel on.
13. Buzzard | Director: Joel Potrykus.
As its name suggests, Buzzard is about an idle temp, a deadly vulture in a corporate flock that takes advantage of a crack in the system and feeds on it. Take Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye minus the booze adding a Nintendo Power Glove and some un-cashed signed-over-to-self-cheques, you get Marty. The third film in the Animal Trilogy is a satire on the normalcy of life. Where Paranoia & bad decisions are welcome to sit on any branch possible. It’s one of those slacker films that doesn’t take itself seriously and it continuously tells you to stay in your zone and play with your own controllers.
12. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter | Director: David Zellner.
The film asks a very interesting question: Whether it’s better to find meaning in something false than to know that there is no meaning? As Kumiko discovers that she is onto something that might not be worth it, she doesn’t stop. She puts her random-roadside-motel-made-jacket on and take off to her quest, or as she calls it ‘something that keeps her busy.’ Each frame in Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter speaks for itself. It’s tragic, poignant and bases itself totally on something called a not-so-wishful-life but as the curtains fall and the prize is revealed it leaves you with a kind of smile that’s both sweet and bitter.
11. The Gift | Director: Joel Edgerton.
The Gift is haunting, suspenseful and absolutely fascinating considering it’s Joel Edgerton’s debut feature. In a world where the audience has outsmarted the Hitchcock films, Edgerton’s film develops the three main characters in such a way that they grow extensively unfamiliar the more familiar they get. And that’s a feat to achieve these days. Featuring that best Jason Bateman performance till date and a feeling of dread that doesn’t leave you until the credits roll off.
10. Heaven Knows What | Directors: Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie.
Heaven Knows What shows a mirror to the people. One that tells them that they are slowly decaying and burning on the inside as well as on the outside. Written, acted and felt by Arielle Holmes herself, the film is an account of her love in a thunderstorm of hallucinating, suicidal and addictive nightmares. Heaven Knows What is an intense film that rebels against the standard narrative and makes a place of its own. It never shows redemption, it never uplifts you, it just follows people on their downhill stride to nothingness and back. The film is so authentic that you never see that these are actors acting it out.
9. Spring | Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead.
To describe this perfectly: If Linklater ever got drunk and hooked up with David Lynch under the Italian roads, Spring would be their bastard son. This atmospheric monster film quite intelligently glides through a lot of other good films on this list just because of the way it’s handled. The director duo here cleverly bend the rules set and come up with a horror-romance that talks about relationships, love, and life in depths.
8. Macbeth | Director: Justin Kurzel.
Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth crawls through muddy streams of blood to focus on greed and paranoia that drives a person when the watchful 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.
7. The Hateful Eight | Director: Quentin Tarantino.
A blizzard surrounds Minnie’s Haberdashery, Tarantino finally finds a stage for his characters to play upon. He unleashes them one after the other, sneaking in a copious amount of arrogance and hate into their being and waits for the coffee to boils to soak everyone in blood and disgust. Tarantino’s 8th film is so full of him that his characters get a part each. They come and leave the stage in regular interval, giving the stage to someone else for the time being, and just when you expect Tarantino to step back and retrieve them, he tells them to forge letters for themselves. The Hateful Eight is a grand spectacle. Dished out with one of the best soundtracks of the year, Tarantino is at the top of the game. Anyone who says otherwise will have their legs cut being called ‘shorty’ afterward.
6. Steve Jobs | Director: Danny Boyle.
If there is one fill that tells you what incredible writing can do, look no further. I feel sad that I’ve to call this Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs because even though he works brilliantly in excavating the brains of the evil genius, it’s an Aaron Sorkin film from start to finish. The fineness in his screenplay can be understood in the very first scene itself. There have been films that have dived deep into the life of Steve Jobs but none of them have managed to replicate what the man was inside that twisted brain of his. Sorkin has waived his pen that acts like the weaving stick in an Orchestra. It’s like he says to the audience – The musicians (Read: Everyone else) play the instruments, I (Sorkin) play the Orchestra.
5. Inside Out | Directors : Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen.
This movie does things to your eye ducts. Things you never imagined were inside you, things which were just craving to come out but were just looking for their own way through the memory system to finally be a core-memory. This little film is stuck in my heart and will always be there. Pixar’s Inside Out is an animated film that talks about a girl with teenage-angst. After a few speed-bumps, Pixar is finally back with a film that’s so energetic and sentimental that it’s almost impossible for even the strangest, most bizarre sadistic people to hate it.
4. The Lobster | Director: Yorgos Lanthimos.
The Lobster is a cross-breed between a tragic comedy and a satire which sticks and floats, breeds and grows on you. It’s the kind of film that gets better and better with each viewing. And in spite of all the strangeness, it is astonishing to see how grounded and similar it is to reality. While it’s basically about loneliness and relationships, there are very minute accounts of humans who are so accustomed to following the crowd, that they are bewildered when a state of choosing between right and wrong comes. They take knives out of the shelves and are unable to decide whether it should be used to chop up vegetables or to cut-off their wrists or maybe kill the person who told them to make a choice in the first place. Read Full Review.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road | Director: George Miller.
Mad Max: Fury Road is probably the only film ever to have a guy playing guitar in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that’s turned into a horrific war zone. George Miller’s newest entry to his franchise of madness is as insane and berserk as it can be. Boosted with soul-pounding, rib-cracking, blood-infusing action that gets you high and never gives you enough oxygen to chew on. What’s surprising is the fact that a film that gets your adrenaline rising manages to get you emotionally attached to someone as stupid as a half-life-war-boy searching for his effin’ blood-bag in a raging sandstorm. If someone decides to make a list of the biggest bad-asses in movie history, Charlize Theron as the fearless Furiosa will definitely find a spot somewhere near the top.
2. Knight Of Cups | Director: Terrence Malick.
When you look real close at Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups it feels empty, but isn’t real life the same? At its core, the film somehow talks about Malick himself. In what looks like a decade of work in Hollywood, Malick has had love affairs and has declined to mostly comment on it. Much like Rick, he feels lost in a crowd of people to whom life is a party. He is hypnotized by the beauty but he is basically walking it off. What makes the film stand out is how closely it borderlines a pompous pretentious show of nothingness & a cerebral visceral masterpiece. I don’t really know how I feel about it yet, but I was amused at the dancing liquid of cinematic energy that was flowing through the length of the entire film.
1. Anomalisa | Director: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman.
The Fregoli hallucinates the first person into believing there is no second person. And the third person is on a very thin thread between the first, the second and the third. Shifting gears to be in the shadows of the first. But they are all puppets in the hand of a handler who is devoid of a natural connection searching for a perfect anomaly. He names her so to make her mortal in a world that is all the same, but he has forgotten the signs of life. Even her eating habit can make him slip into the void he was already in. Anomalisa is giddy and valuable. It is the perfect example of taking up a simple premise and turning it into an anomaly in an ocean of artistic block.