A few months ago I made a slight adjustment to my “to do” list. I started adding names next to them so I would remember who to thank for suggesting them. I really wish I started that sooner, I want to find whoever suggested this film to me, and slap them very very hard round the face. Why? Why would you put me through this? Very Channel 5. Extremely bad dialogue. Can’t tell if it’s too American for me or whether it just doesn’t work as a film.
Under The Shadow
I liked it but can understand why some wouldn’t. It doesn’t become a traditional horror film until the closing section. Until then it’s horror on a more personal level. Wonderful blending of a war-time drama and horror that doesn’t depend too highly on the usual tropes of one or both genres. Never seen anything like this before in my life, but I really wish I had. Side note, I’ve now seen two Iranian films, both of which have strong female leads, is Iranian cinema better at female representation than Western cinema? Or is it because women are treated as second class citizens there it makes them better characters so the quality of films are likely to be higher, which increases my chances of seeing them?
The Final Girls
Genuinely emotional, a lot more than it should be. It’s basically a horror film about a group of people who get sucked into a horror film. It’s done by a team who obviously really love the genre, and love film-making in general. Lots of fun little moments in it, from the closing credits appearing in the sky above them, everything changing colour when they appear in flashbacks etc. It’s really good and I wish I made it first.
The Skeleton Twins
Turns “two characters lipsynching” into one of the most emotional, character developing scenes you’re likely to see. Funny, but very very dark.
Bit preachy, very one note and simplistic. Talks about how people are selfish because they work somewhere different from where they live, as if getting a job in a Tesco the town over means you should move house.
The End Of The Tour
I think part of the reason I like this is because of how great the dialogue is. It flows beautifully, as was described here;
“a funny and heartfelt road movie that meditates on fame, creativity, and loneliness, through the indepth and witty conversations of its protagonists. Whether you know David Foster Wallace’s work or not, this is an accessible and great film”
This was on my watch list as the writer/director also made Colossal, which I loved. You can kind of tell it’s the same guy by the story, the visuals are pretty bland though. Much like Colossal, I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s a short film about a guy who holds an entire restaurant hostage so he can sing to a woman about how much he likes her. Keeps on the line between silly and frightning in a way that’s very hard to do.
We Need To Talk Kevin
VERY film student-ey. Spends so long laying on symbolism that it forgets other things.
Jason Statham is amazing in this. Plays his role to perfection. Everyone else is still good, but not as good as him. I’d love to see more of him in a sequel. When I first saw it I expected this to be a one joke film “haha, a fat woman as a spy”, but was actually really really funny.
A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil
Has some continuity issues but still very good. Kind of sad to think both leads have sadly passed on. They had amazing chemistry here, you don’t really tend to get acting double acts anymore. You have “groups” that work together, but that’s normally in a certain directors films as opposed to just always together. It’s a shame as that kind of thing can really help sell a film “oh, I loved the last film I saw those two in”. It also means unscrupulous marketers can change the title of the film in foreign markets so it looks like a sequel. Which is always hilarious. “yes, the first film ended with them both being shot to death, but here’s a sequel, where they have different names and characters, but they look the same. Now give money.”
I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a water colour painting. Haven’t seen any this good since A Monster Calls. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing.
The moment where where he tries to do the monty python reference is really awkward and cringey, if anything it’s worse when you know it’s coming. Only just realised how heartbreaking some of the performances were, Sally Hawkins in particular.
The Stars Tennis Balls
Always takes me forever to get through the opening chapter of this for some reason. Shame as the final third is absolutely superb, it just takes a while to get there (about two thirds of the book I’d guess).
Books Of Blood
The biggest issue this book has is that it starts with Fear, which is one of the best horror short stories ever written. Anything after that would just be disappointing.
Can’t remember how I heard this band (probably the Figure 4 Leg Rock podcast), great EP, available for free, which is my second favourite price to pay for things. Trigger Happy in particular is one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year.
The moments in songs are usually better than the songs themselves. Although “Sheila” is pretty damn fine. Listed on my itunes as “Chavvy Acoustic Punk”, because I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.
B-sides are remixes, which is always okay. But the song itself is amazing.
Punk Rock Is Your Friend Volume 6 (Hardcore Is Your Friend Too)
I miss samplers like this. Epitaph, Burning Heart, Kung-Fu records etc all used to do really cheap albums showcasing their bands. Doesn’t really happen anymore, probably due to the rise of streaming etc. Is a shame as these were great ways to get into bands. You pick them up barely knowing any of the bands and before you know it you’ve found your new favourite band. I got this for one reason and one reason only; new Tsunami Bomb song. They were one of my favourite bands at the time and I was obsessed with them (how I felt when they split is how the rest of the world feels when celebrities die) so the chance to hear something new excited me, made me look forward to a new album by them. Sadly they split soon after, but I’ll always have that song, and no more new ones, ever *cries*.
Just The Way I’m Feeling
Relatively pedestrian, listened to it today and I still can’t remember the b-sides.
Goodbye Blue And White
It’s a Less Than Jake album with at least two Slayer covers. Weird.
Probably the most American pop-punk band that’s ever come from England. Just an EP meant to tide people over until their new album came out a few years ago. Has some good stuff on it but the best song by a mile is the cover of “Everytime You Go Away”. I do loves me some covers.
It’s every movie blog’s right of way to write about the Oscars, so a week later and barely still topical, here are our thoughts on the industry circle jerk we call the Academy Awards. (Don’t worry we’ve got some interesting posts coming in the next few weeks, including American Beauty; the secret stoner classic, and a look at possibly the best TV Show of the last ten years, Mad Men.)
Who Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Who should have Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. Is it his best performance? No. Does it feel a bit more like a career win than anything else? Yes. But in not a very strong year for lead acting performances, his raw and bleeding turn in The Revenant was definitely deserving and definitely won’t be remembered with the same hate other career wins have, like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.
Who should have been nominated: Surprisingly difficult to pick another great lead performance from 2015, but I’m going with Michael Caine from Youth. Though a very natural role for the old actor to slip into, it was still towering above anything he’s done in the last few years, and maybe even his whole career. Caine brings a real edge and melancholy to the aged composer, and though a very specific character in his own right, manages to cut to the heart of all people old and young, to make us treasure the life we still have to lead, and the life we already have.
Who Won: Brie Lawson for Room
Who should have Won: Brie Lawson for Room. No I don’t agree with every choice, but this was another good one. Along with the snubbed Jacob Tremblay, the pair brought the needed heart to what could have been (and in some ways was) an over wrought melodrama with a very topical and timely story. But the performances are what boosted this to an effective and moving drama, and the whole film is worth it for that escape scene alone.
Who should have been nominated: Bel Powley for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. No actress last year gave more of an emotional, funny, heart-breaking, fun, sincere, and just naked performance than Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. She was the embodiment of the teenager, and her courage to commit to the sexually explicit role added more emotional weight than all of the actual nominations combined.
Best supporting Actor
Who Won: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies
Who should have Won: Sylvester Stallone for Creed. Not that I think his performance is better than Rylance’s (but it is as good), I just think the sentiment of Sylvester Stallone winning an Oscar for Rocky would have been nicer, as we all doubt he’s got another one in him (but who knows). His performance is also genuinely very strong and thoughtful, and I think the main reason he didn’t win in the end was because Creed got too sentimental about itself near the end, and the cancer subplot was a bit much.
Who should have been nominated: Jason Segel for The End of The Tour. I already went into detail about his performance in our year end awards post here. But to say again, Segel shocked everyone with his subtle and quiet turn as the famed writer David Foster Wallace, his performance doing the surprising thing of letting us see his humanity, instead of understanding his genius (like most biopic type films try to do). With the right push I could have seen him getting a nomination, the Academy tend to love when comic actors go serious.
Best supporting Actress
Who Won: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl
Who should have Won: Ahhhhh let’s say, Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. Don’t really have much for any of the nominations, but Leigh’s excellent turn as the vulgar and funny Daisy Domergue was one of the films highlights, having physicality you don’t see enough in female roles, and it was one of the few nominations that didn’t feel Oscar-baity.
Who should have been nominated: Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road. Talking of physicality, Charlize Theron has in in buckets as Imperator Furiosa, and gave one of the most intense and physically (and emotionally) raw performances of last year. The fact Rachel McAdams’ got a nomination for her okay work in Spotlight and Charlize Theron didn’t is just an insult, especially with how Oscar friendly the film was treated. Would an acting nomination really just too much for you Academy? Did all the sand and dust confuse you and you thought she was black!
Who Won: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant.
Who should have Won: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Like with the supporting actors, this is less a who’s better choice, and more just the context of the win. Both directors worked in insane conditions to produce their fine films and I think the directing shown in both is as good as each other, from the harrowingly naturally lit landscapes of The Revenant, to the perfect mess of explosions and carnage of Fury Road. But with Alejandro G. Iñárritu having already won last year for Birdman I think it would have been better for the Academy to show love for the talent in a genre and style that rarely gets it.
Who should have been nominated: Paolo Sorrentino for Youth. A very underrated film that should have been much more award friendly than it was. Paolo Sorrentino’s funny and heart-warming if also heart shattering meditation on aging and fame was one of the most breath taking films of 2015, and was directed with more abstract beauty than any other, and felt more like art than a film in many ways. Just look at this opening shot!
Would of given this to Pete Docter for Inside Out, but I guess I went with style over practicality.
Who Won: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for Spotlight.
Who should of Won: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley for Inside Out. Inside Out is one of the most imaginative, smart, and emotionally resonating films I’ve ever seen, it already stands proud amongst Pixar’s classics and was considered by many to be the pinnacle of 2015’s films. And the idea on paper could have gone soooooo wrong, ‘what if feelings had feelings’, it sounds more like a joke Pixar film than a real one. But with an intelligent script, vivid and mature takes on the ideas, and the most poignant message given to us last year, Inside Out was definitely it’s best original script…that I saw.
Who should have been nominated: 99 Homes, an almost mathematically well written and very emotionally intense film about the housing crises. I’m a fan of stories about the good man’s fall to the dark side (Star Wars prequels withstanding) and this film does this masterfully, shaping a very sympathetic lead with the single father Andrew Garfield and a very compelling antagonist with Michael Shannon’s corrupt estate tycoon, who should really have had his own supporting nod too. With this, on top of The Big Short and Margin Call, you really get a complete picture of the different effects of the 2010 housing crises.
Best Adapted screenplay
Who Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short.
Who should have Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short. I agree with the Academy again for this one; Adam McKay and Charles Randolph took a highly complex issue and made it not just understandable and relatable to a mass audience, but funny, dramatic, and engaging too. Some people complain that the film fails because even after it they were even more confused by the credit crunch than before, with its use of celebrities using big words, but do you know what I call those people; Americans.
Who should have been nominated: Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs. Arron Sorkin writing a feature screenplay is like Meryl Streep acting in anything, it should almost automatically get nominated, and Steve Jobs is no exception. His second film about a computer billionaire, Sorkin’s signature dialogue crackles in this very showy and masterfully executed play set in three real time acts, that manage to explore the humanity of Steve Jobs and his co-workers without leaving the confides of the backstage.
Who Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.
Who should have Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight. Not really in love with any of the nominated scores, so I thought I’d go with the consensus, and it’s nice for the Grandfather of western soundtracks to finally bag the award, also it is a damn fine score.
Who should have been nominated: Michael Giacchino for Inside Out, Bundle of Joy. This is legitimately my favourite score of 2015. It’s charming, catchy, and effective. It perfectly captures the bright tone of the film while still resonating for the emotional moments; the ice skating memory scene being a real favourite of mine. It’s magic. What can I say; Inside Out is already a classic, and what classic isn’t complete without its iconic music.
Who Won: Spotlight.
Who should have Won: Spotlight. Mad Max was close, but out of the nominations I really think Spotlight was the most worthy of them all. Was it the most artsy? No. The most experimental? No. It was a good old fashioned journalism film about a very hard issue, and it taught us all something we should learn, about the power of understating and letting the story and facts speak for themselves. Some people call it boring because it intentionally holds back on the easy drama, and focuses on it like a mystery instead of lampooning Priest and the catholic Church, as it’s smart enough to let the facts do that for it, and not to ‘sex’ it up in anyway like a lot of investigation films do; because that would make it shlock.
Who should have been nominated (and fucking won): Inside Out. I’ve already spoken in great detail about why this is the best film of 2015, and I was shocked after all it’s critical praising that it wasn’t at least nominated for best picture, because that’s what it was. Hell, back when I first saw it I would have put flesh on it being the first animated film to win best picture. But it’s shameful absence just goes to show that, along with race, sexism, homophobia and everything else, the Academy still have a long way to go before they really look at all films and filmmakers equally.
And that’s that for this year’s Oscars! I know I didn’t even cover half of the awards but I covered the ones I care about, and I know who’s ever reading this doesn’t want to hear me prattle on for pages about what I think should win an arbitrary award that means about as much to the quality of a film as a #1 Dad coffee mug.
Yeah I’m putting this in the drama section; go fuck yourselves if you disagree. For every laugh out loud moment, which there are a few; Pixar’s latest masterpiece is littered with heartfelt and moving moments that will warm the cockles of your aging bitter heart and will make you cry. The idea behind it is amazing and while the plot it follows isn’t anything new, it’s execution is near flawless. I knew from the opening melody of the main theme Bundle of Joy (my pick for best original score of the year), that this film was going to be exactly what everyone wanted from a Pixar film, and it was.
Probably the most intense and thrilling film of the year, and not one shot is fired and not one car is chased, it never goes beyond people just talking (and screaming). Set in three real-time acts spread across the 1970s-1990s, this film gets to the heart of Steve Jobs the man/the character (he was quite a dick it turns out), and the heart of what it means to be innovative and push the boundary of what technology can be for people. Thrilling, heartstopping, emotional, and surprisingly beautiful to look at, Steve Jobs is a breath of fresh airconditioned air for the Biopic genre…and the fact it made less that jObs is just depressing.
Another funny but heartfelt film that is a meditation on fame, but even more so is about aging, love, and parenting. Directed by Italian autor Paolo Sorrentino, it’s led by a best in decades Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel, as two friends at a Swiss retreat in the Alps trying to keep their lives going. Now this is a bit of a tricky film to talk about, as its light on plot and heavy on strange things happening and characters reacting to them. So just trust me that Youth is a beautiful film and the kind of bold artistic statement that makes you glad that the studio process still lets creatives work their magic on us.
An in-depth investigative drama that follows the journalist team who uncovered the Child abuse coverups by the Catholic Church in the early 2000s; and it will piss you off for all the right reasons. I’m a sucker for a good investigation film, like Zodiac or All The Presidents Men, and this was no different. Though I don’t think it’s up there with Zodiac, this is still a very well written and compelling drama/thriller that step by step will take you through the disturbing looking glass. Led by a stellar cast of Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and more, this film is a masterclass of restrained filmmaking and acting. With a topic as hot as this, Spotlight could have easily become an over-dramatic lifetime mess, but director Tom McCarthy made the wise choice of keeping everything restrained, realistic, and beautifully drab (never has a cast of A-listers looked so normal), all so the facts can speak for themselves, and they scream.
The End of the tour
Already talked about this in our 2015 Film Awards, where it was one of the films awarded with best picture, but I’ll talk briefly about it here. It’s a funny and heartfelt road movie that meditates on fame, creativity, and loneliness, through the indepth and witty conversations of its protagonists. Whether you know David Foster Wallace’s work or not, this is an accessible and great film.
Follow a mesmerizing Reese Witherspoon on a thousand mile hike as she flashes back to the different traumatizing points in her life that led her to the hike. It’s a compelling character film of the purist nature, and with a combination of a great soundtrack, editing, and sound-editing, is the best film I have ever seen capture the feeling of fleeting thought.
But this is a bit of a divisive film it appears, depending completely on whether you like the main character, as she is not really a good person; and not in the love to hate them way, but in a realistic way. I did like her, or at least I was engaged by her, while my fellow Troubled Production’s producer did not, leading to me putting this as one of the best films of 2015, while he put it as one of his worst. (See his personal blog here).
Michael Shannon is on terrifying form as a realtor looking to make money during the housing crises of 2010, and Andrew Garfield finally acts his age to heart-breaking effect, as a single father kicked-out of his home by Shannon, and taken under the corrupt realtor’s wing. Another film that finds it’s intensity in its emotions; this film grabs you by the throat and keeps you electrified as you watch a normal man grapple for his morality and his fall to ‘the darkside’ as it’s the only way to provide for his family.
The second Nick Hornby script on this list (the first was Wild), and it just shows you the versatility of his writing. In 1950’s an Irish immigrant moves to Brooklyn (go figure) where she finds love, life, and a future, but then finds herself torn between the life she wants in America and the life everyone else wants for her back in Ireland. Much more a classic Hollywood romance (in all the right ways) and less the love triangle bollocks the trailers made it look to be, this is really a beautiful film about striving to achieve your own happiness, and who you’re willing to hurt to keep it.
NOTE: Everything written regularly is written by Producer Mark. While everything in italics is written by Producer Lee.
I’m sure this gets said every year, but every year there are a whole host of great performances, that choosing one is just too hard, but it must be done…Unless you’re a shoddy internet film blog like this one. So I picked two.
Jason Segel – End of the Tour. Known primarily for his comedic roles in…well everything else he has done, Jason Segal is revolutionary as David Foster Wallace; bringing a subtle but clearly perpetually uncomfortable nuance to his manner. Even as he runs the gambit of emotions from, funny, angry, confidant, overjoyed, and sad, he never appears at home in his own skin or mind, and is a truly authentic take on the troubled genius. And for such an orgastic turn to come from Jason Segel is the cherry on the cake.
Michael Fassbinder – Steve Jobs. It’s easy to make a bad guy unlikable but loveable, to play the asshole that treats everyone like shit and make the audience love him. It is an entirely different and much harder task to play a guy you’re meant to like and have complex emotions for, like a complete asshole. But that’s exactly what Michael Fassbinder pulls off in his embodiment of Steve Jobs. He then takes it further as we peel back the layers that make and has made him the way he is; jumping back and forwards in time to see the building blocks of his character all the way to the complete man he becomes; and it’s all perfectly portrayed to us with barely any of his actual life shown
Al Pacino: Danny Collins. I know, Al Pacino gave a good performance, what are the odds of that? But this is a different Pacino performance than the normal good performance. The usual good Pacino performance makes you want to stand up and applaud, but this is different. You completely buy into his performance in a role which could have been derailed by a lesser actor. The downside is that writing this has made me have the song from the film stuck in my head.
Emily Blunt – Sicario. She’s a badass who’s always in control, but feels constantly out of her depth. She’s tough as nails and takes no shit, but her growing fear of the morality of her job she just can’t quell. Always ready to dive in and fight for what’s right even when faced with an endless darkness, but never shallow enough to not think about and feel the repercussions of what she does. And with all that, she’s never a blank, genderless slate who could be played by anyone, she’s still a woman. Though this may read more like a look at her character than her performance, the fact is you can’t distinguish the two from the other.
Runner-up: Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
Amy Schumer: Trainwreck. Not the best performance by a long shot, but the film rests so heavily upon her performance that the fact she’s actually really good in it really helps it.
Honorable mention: Phyllis Smith in Inside Out as sadness.
Steve Jobs: It’s an Arron Sorkin film script, so it’s expected that it will be one of the best of the year, but this isn’t just fanfare. Like most Sorkin scripts this is a dialogue driven spectacular that runs the gambit of funny, to thrilling, to heart wrenchingly dramatic, but it is also a complete reinvention for the Biopic genre. Set in three real time acts between the 70s and 90s from behind the scenes at product launches, Steve has to argue his way through his friends, enemies and family to make each launch. What should have been the equivalent of telling a life’s story with both arms tied behind its back is turned into a fascinating character piece that tells us more about Steve Jobs the man than any old cradle to the grave film ever could.
Inside out: It’s the story and ideas that this film tells and so thoughtfully executes that made it too amazing for me not to put it here too. Yes I think the plot isn’t as original as it could have been or thinks it is, and the writing while very funny wasn’t too special; but its imagery behind how the mind is put together and how we as people function is just too genius to not step back and applaud. And on top of that I was floored by its very mature message of the importance and the need for the emotion of sadness, and how it helps bring us together and grow-up.
Lady In The Van. A film like this rests entirely on script and performance. And luckily both shine through. The script is full of hilarious moments (and a rather odd use for madeira cake). The fact it is a (mostly) true story doesn’t diminish the brilliance. In fact it makes it more impressive as it’s framed in a good way and says a lot about the power of the writer.
The Big Game. Because it’s the only film I’VE seen this year that had me turn to my fellow Troubled Production’s producer and say, “We should fucking leave.” For more details look further down. I talk more about it in another section. 🙂
The Gallows. There was a lot of bad films this year but this tops the list for absolutely NOTHING about it working. It was badly shot, the actors were shit, the characters were annoying, the “twist” didn’t make sense in terms of plot and seemed to be an asspull, the jump scare ruined what would have actually been an okay ending (seriously, if you have a moment in your film where a character gives a monologue on stage and then the lights go out and the curtain goes down: END THE FILM THERE!), the characters were the most annoying people I’ve seen outside of Twitter.
Best Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)
It’s an abstract – Steve Jobs. The moment in which, in the middle of a heated argument with his ex-wife, Steve Jobs turns over the Mac and shows her what their daughter had been doing on it, to prove to her (and in many ways the audience) why the computer is important and what people will use it for; and it turns out his daughter has been drawing an abstract painting in Paint. It’s a little moment, but in a film (and year) of great moments this one struck me just right. The combination of my own nostalgia for Paint, combined with the sweet little exchange between them, leads to the first time the character of Steve Jobs is humanised. It may not be the biggest moment, the most dramatic, or even the most important, but it was the moment for me that Steve Jobs went from an awesome film, to a great one.
Runner-up: and the conversation is the best one I ever had – ending scene to End of The Tour. It was a perfectly touching and an up beat way to close this melancholy true life tale.
Inside Out control room locks up. The best way to describe depression to idiots who think it’s just “being a bit sad”. A truly iconic moment in a fantastic film.
Worst Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)
Focus- Woo woo. Focus as a whole is fine, it’s an okay caper with a fun return from Will Smith. But it has this one scene that involves conning an over acting Chinese Businessmen at a football game, that is legitimately one of the funnest and most thrilling scenes of the year. It’s so good that the immediate retarded explanation behind the con is such a painful whiplash, it landed itself as the worst moment of the year for me. The process to pulling off the con is sooooo over the top, ridiculous, and silly, it just destroys what was such a bad ass moment and just makes it laughable.
This is very easy for me. It’s a moment that’s so bad it stands out, even in a film made almost entirely of awful: Get Hard. Against my better judgement I watched this film, and I wish I hadn’t. It was unfunny, badly plotted and just not needed at all. I’d like to think Will Ferrell is at the stage of his career where he has his pick of films to be in, and he chose this. That says a lot either about his judgment or his cocaine addiction which I’ve just made up. So the moment: there’s a scene which is like 5 minutes of making jokes about prison rape. Rape jokes are odd as they’re the only thing that become less offensive if you put the word “Prison” before it. But this scene was just ugly, and it wasn’t needed. It was just the same joke repeated over and over again “you’re going to get raped”, and the joke wasn’t funny enough to be the focus of a whole scene.
Honorable mention: a scene in Child 44 where the camera panned to the side to showcase: a wall.
End of the Tour. I have a lot of time for films about writers, that dive into their work, their creative process, and the damage of that; hence why another of my favourite films is Wonder Boys. I also have a lot of time for Linklater-esque stories based around the conversations between characters and their evolving dynamic, instead of heavy plot. So combine those in this true life story of the five day interview of acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky, played by a typically great Jesse Eisenberg and a revolutionary Jason Segel as Wallace; which cuts deep as it examines the development of their uneasy friendship, the nature of writing and interviewing, and the plights but want of fame, you have my personal favourite film of the 2015.
Runner-up(s):Steve Jobs & Inside Out. Both are great films. Steve Jobs delivering an emotionally charged intellectual punch, while Inside Out delivers an intellectually charged emotional one; and End of the Tour only tops it for me because it does both.
The Voices. And I am soooo glad about that as if it was bad it would have destroyed me. Ryan Reynolds actually seems to be redeeming himself for Green Lantern with this, Woman In Gold and next year’s Deadpool. This is the only film I’ve seen at the cinema this year which I now own on DVD. I didn’t want to wait, I knew I had to buy it. The script is hilarious, Reynolds just seems to be having hella fun, and there’s an absolutely BEAUTIFUL shot in the woods after he kills someone. A very good live action directorial debut from Marjane Satrapi.
Best Film To Look At (a.k.a: the “Serena”)
Steve Jobs. For a film that predominantly takes place inside behind the scenes in theatres this may seem like an odd choice. But its Danny Boyal’s dynamite directing, that transforms rows of seats into complex tapestries, wide shots of walls into film screens, and characters staring at computer screens into complex moments of inner turmoil, that make this a clear winner for me. Really it’s here because this film didn’t need and shouldn’t have been such a visual feast, it just needed to let the words and actors stretch, but it still found beautiful ways to elevate those aspects, and keep you as visually enthralled as you are verbally.
Runner-up:Youth. Shot on location in the Swiss Alps and married with plenty of abstract imagery; never has a testament to youth and age ever looked so beautiful and devastating.
The Good Dinosaur. Yes the film itself was bland and 90’s Disney-esque and the characters looked, well, wrong, just wrong. But the scenery? Oh my god it was gorgeous. A planet that looked lived in and liveable. The way they animated water in particular made it actually look like water as opposed to just “standard with a blue tinge”.
Most Disappointing Film
Legend. Far from a terrible film, but with the talent behind and in front of this camera this should have been one of the best films of 2015 and a major awards contender. But outside a pretty fun dual performance from one of the best actors today, Tom Hardy, it turned out to be nothing but a decently entertaining, if mostly dull and plotless thing that never found its footing.
The Big Game. The worst part of this film is it’s easy to fix. You make the kid actually an effective hunter so it’s about the president of the United States being out of his element but helped by somebody who knows how to use the environment. So basically Rambo turned into an escort mission. Instead they made the kid useless, so it was a president being helped by someone who’s shit.
Honorable mention: The Gallows. Had high hopes for this but in the end was the worst horror film I’ve seen all year. In a year that included Poltergeist remake, Insidious 3 and The Visit.
Most Surprising Film
The Martian. Surprising doesn’t mean you expected it to be bad and it wasn’t. It mean’s surprising. I went in expecting an existential Sci-fi about survival and the human will. And I got all that, but it also happened to be one of the best comedies of the year, that used the blend of dramatic thrills and comedy to make both more effective. From Matt Damon’s optimistic Martian and his crew, to Jeff Daniels smarmy NASA CEO and his quirky team of scientists. It is not an insult to this film to call it a comedy; it is a complement to comedy that this film is one.
Runner-up: Ant-Man. Who would of thought Ant-Man would have been the best Superhero film of 2015.
John Wick. I admit I expected a typical action film and didn’t have high hopes for it. But this film was a revelation. The universe and characters were so well defined it seemed like a comic book adaptation. News there’s a sequel excites me as I want to see more of this world.
The “well I liked it” award
Tomorrowland. What’s with the hate on this film? Was it a perfect feat of science fiction? No, but it’s a fun Sci-fi adventure, with an interesting world, fun likable characters, a combo of goofy and deadpan humour, and is a real harken back to classic Sci-Fi adventures. When the future was something to wonder for not fear, and technology looked like technology. Ray guns are big and bright and silly, and jetpacks are sleek and still make no sense but are too awesome. Is the plotting all over the place, yes, is the first act a bit too much like molasses on sandpaper? Also not a complete over-exaggeration, but it’s got way too much heart to let little things like that get in the way of a good time.
Tomorrowland. I really don’t get the hate for this film. It’s odd as EVERYBODY I know who saw it liked it, but outside of my social circle everybody seems to hate it. But why? It’s nice. It’s the kind of film where if I saw it as a child it would have been my favourite film.
The “I’m obviously not seeing what the reviewers are seeing” award
The Big Game. “As spectacular as it is funny” “Samuel L Jackson has his tongue firmly in his cheek”. I wish either of these statements were true about this still born mess, failing to be dumb fun. The concept is great; a wimpy President played by Samuel L Jackson is chased through the mountains by terrorists and is helped by a badass child warrior. This should be as fun and or as campy as Olympushas fallen, or White House down…but instead, the kid isn’t a badass at all and spends most the film trying to find himself and failing; and though all his lines are wimpy, Jackson still plays it like a badass, so it’s just awkward. For a film apparently just going for fun, it takes its story and characters’ much too seriously, and its biggest failure is trying to distil genuine arcs and development on these blocks of wood.
Unfriended. Seriously, fuck this film.
The “Yeah it’s bad but” award
Chappie: a perfect example of a hot fucking mess. The plot is all over the place, it’s supporting characters are unlikeable and stupid to the point of being endearing, it’s like a child’s film with hardcore violence…How can you not dig this film. Held up by the sheer adorableness and likability of Chappie himself, and some dark, dark humour, Chappie is one giant mess you don’t want to clear up.
Chappie. Always always Chappie. I know this film is bad, the plot is all over the place, the characters are unlikeable and it’s just bad all over. And yet I love it. No idea why. I just think the film works. It’s funny and kind of brilliant despite itself.