Best Films of 2015

jauja review viggo

Jauja

The brilliance of Lisandro Alonso tiptoes into the mainstream with an all-star cinematographer, Timo Salminen, and the marvelous Viggo Mortensen in the lead role. This magical, entrancing film, speaks through crisp, mysterious images and cryptic whispers.

About Elly

Asghar Farhadi’s latest creation is a strange, haunting film that sustains a sweet, sometimes comical, ambience. It subtly and complexly lays out the dangerous consequences of rigid gender dynamics while yet celebrating life– its arresting beauties and suspended passions.

Timbuktu

Emotional and compassionate without pleading for cheap sentiment, a subtly beautiful and touchingly acted film, relevant and yet timeless.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Odd, oddly touching, beautiful and mysterious, this is what film-going is for: to be shaken, surprised, and amused.

Clouds of Sils Maria

Olivier Assayas delivers another gut-wrenching and yet soothingly tender and comical film with veteran great Juliette Binoche and the younger, but no less talented, Kristen Stewart.

Carol

Classically told, with a well-known plot, but flourishes in its two star performances. The pristine beauty Cate Blanchett is reliably controlled and meticulous while the quirkier but equally appealing Rooney Mara is movingly understated. The images are pitch-perfect, filtered through glittering, blurring windows. With a beautifully moving score by Carter Burwell.

Tangerine

A subtly balanced film, oscillating between hilarity and redemption, one of the funniest films while also one of the most touching. A wonderfully hyper camera captures the energized, humorously unpredictable movements of its talented leads Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor.

Anomalisa

Bizarre and beautiful, as in all of Charlie Kaufman’s work, Anomalisa reimagines love through the audiovisual magic of animation. Half dream and half fantasy, because even dreams are plagued by reality in Kaufman’s worlds, the story is brief but digs deep, and its emotional teeth prove strong.

Taxi

A prankster and poet, Jafar Panahi takes such pleasure in fooling us all with his mock meta-film. Driving a taxi through the streets of Teheran, he takes us on an imaginative ride through layers of fiction and truth, skirting all convention while searching for new forms.

Creed

A perfect crowd-pleasing sports movie featuring star performances by a layered, devastating and sweet Michael B. Jordan and a charming, touching  Stallone.

What We Do In the Shadows

Everyone in this is a star, from the dandy head vampire to the wolf-pack leader urging his followers not to swear. The comic bits and gags are clever and taken to their beautifully absurd extremes, begging laughter from start to finish. Unpredictable and original, with a brilliant cast.

Other film-going highlights: The Assassin’s breathtaking rustling sheets and trees; Mad Max’s electric action scenes; Sicario’s awe-inspiring night imagery; Chi-Raq’s comical and daring rhymes; Spy’s unrelentingly funny lead Melissa McCarthy (and great sidekick Jason Stratham); Mistress America’s witty tongues; and Best of Enemies’s juicy war of egos.

Best Score: Carter Burwell, for Carol.

* The list will be continually updated, as I watch more films, including Son of Saul, The Look of Silence, and Heaven Knows What.

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