Top 10 Best Films of 2015

Well, we’re already at the end of 2015. And so, like every other film reviewer, it is customary for a Top 10 list of the best and worst films this year. This list is the best of 2015.

A few rules before I start, only films I’ve reviewed will be appearing on this list, so if you’re looking for a certain film and it isn’t on here, that’s why. Also, this list doesn’t take into account my scores. So a film that scored an 8 or 9 maybe in a higher position on the list than one that has a 10. It happens, I might have just liked a film more after I had written the review. But anyway, let’s get on with it. Some honorable mentions that didn’t make the list;

Amy
Blackhat
Paper Towns
Wild

And now for the rest…

10.

It was a toss up between this and Amy, but after thinking about it I found more enjoyment in Steve Jobs. Standout performances from Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen, a fun and witty script by Aaron Sorkin that manages to be easy and entertaining for the most tech-phobic person to understand.

9.

2015 was a great year for animation, and there are at least two films on this list that show the diversity that was the animation choices this year. Number nine, Song Of The Sea is beautifully crafted and tells a sweet and simple story filled with giants, owls and fairies set in Ireland. It’s going to be one that will be remembered as a standout in future years.

8.

This film threw me when I first saw it. My thoughts when coming out of the cinema were around a 5/10, but after pondering on it, it became one of my favorites of the year, it’s Sicario. Dark, disturbing and sometimes sickening, it’s also a great action thriller, with a standout role for Benicio Del Toro. Director Denis Villenueve seems to be on a roll for creating suspenseful films and Sicario cements his already great resumé.

7.

A recent one, it’s nevertheless a great film. Spielberg comes back to us with Bridge of Spies, and shows he’s still one of the greatest directors living today. In a year filled with spies (Man From U.N.C.L.E., Kingsman and SPECTRE) Bridge Of Spies takes away the bombastic set pieces and brings it down to tense tradeoffs of enemy spies in snowy Berlin. It’s still in the cinema at the time of writing, so if you haven’t had the chance, it’s a great choice to go see.

6.

This was a little closer to the top four when I first made this list and I still think it being on this list will produce a few arguments in my house over whether it was actually that good. But damn it, I love James Bond, and SPECTRE was just what I was asking for. Every other Craig era Bond film has been a character redefining piece, so it’s nice for SPECTRE to get back to the series traditions. Add the gunbarrel, the impressive four-minute shot of the Day of the Dead and Lea Seydoux in one of the best Bond Girl roles since Diana Rigg, for me it’s one of the years best.

5.

John Wick was one of the earliest films I reviewed in 2015, but I had been waiting for it for so long and it still delivered under the intense amount of hype. It was full of everything I love, martial arts, practical stunts and Keanu Reeves. It has a simple set-up for a story, which is just fine since we are here for the gunfights and punch-ups, with the nightclub scene being on a par with the excellent nightclub shootout from Collateral. Like I said in my review, if you’re a fan of The Raid or it’s sequel, John Wick is more of the same.

4.

Four is Brooklyn, the second film to come from the Irish Film Board this year that appears on this list. A trans-Atlantic love story written by Nick Hornby and starring up and comers Saorise Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen, it’s heartfelt and sweet, without descending into mawkish Nicolas Sparks style storytelling. Brooklyn stands up there with Calvary, widely considered to be the greatest Irish film ever made.

3.

Inside Out has been appearing on many other peoples Best-Of 2015 lists, and it deserves all of the praise it gets. An inventive premise, that manages to tackle some incredibly dark topics for what is meant to be a kids film. Inside Out shows why Pixar is Pixar, and everyone else is everyone else.

2.

After starting The Student Film Review, I’ve been going to as many films as I can. Films that I wouldn’t have even looked twice at I’ve gone to and in doing so I’ve found some absolute crackers. Precinct Seven Five is one of those films. 2015 has had some good documentaries but for me Precinct Seven Five takes it. Essentially a real-life Scorsese film, the film follows two cops in the 75th Precinct in New York as they decide to become both criminals as well as cops. It’s amazing and shows that documentaries can be more pulse pounding than some action films.

1.

I ummed and ahhed over whether to give number one to this or Precinct Seven Five. But I ultimately gave it to this since it gave me a much more visceral thrill after watching it than Precinct Seven Five, or really any other film did this year. My number one for 2015 is Macbeth. Michael Fassbender (for the second time on this list) and Marion Cotillard give amazing performances, while director Justin Kurzel creates some beautiful shots and brother Jed Kurzel brings a stellar soundtrack. The quartet take one of the most adapted plays of William Shakespeare and turn it into a brooding and violent war epic. It just goes to show that sometimes the best stories are the old ones.

 

I guess that’s it for 2015. I’m Tom, The Student Film Critic and welcome to 2016!

Read the contrasting post on the Top 10 Worst Films of 2015!

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SPECTRE Review

I am a huge James Bond fan. I’ve been a fan ever since I can remember, even going out to Blockbuster every weekend (remember when that was a thing?) and renting out Bond films to watch. I was pumped for SPECTRE before the first teaser trailer was out, but after the triumphant 50th anniversary with Skyfall, can SPECTRE even hold a candle to the previous film’s success?

SPECTRE stars Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Dave Bautista and Monica Belluci and is directed by Sam Mendes. The story finds the super spy James Bond once again tracking down sinister characters and organisations, who this time have a much more personal connection with our hero.

Daniel Craig returns once again as James Bond. While he still is as suave and as funny as he was in Skyfall, in SPECTRE we get to see a lot more of his past, especially his parents and his heritage. While it was touched upon during the climax of Skyfall, here we see a lot more than just a tombstone and the family home. Christoph Waltz is superb as Franz Oberhauser, who for the sake of spoilers will not be mentioned in too much detail. One thing I did like about him though was his almost emotionless performance. While Raoul Silva was comically mad, Oberhauser doesn’t have any trademark quirks, which makes him stand out even more amongst his peers, he’s just pure evil. A small role for Dave Bautista as assassin Mr. Hinx is fun to watch, as well as his unique way that he kills his targets, likening him to series favourites Jaws or Oddjob. The standout role though is Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann, who seems to be the best parts of strength, sexiness and charm that haven’t been in the role of the Bond girl since Diana Rigg. Her interactions with Bond, while at first start out as the usual suspicious characters thrown together by chance, soon mellow out as both start to work together to find the truth about Oberhauser.

The film starts with Craig’s long awaited gun-barrel opening sequence. While thematically I understand why it wasn’t in the first two Craig era Bond films, it’s return made me extremely happy. After the gun-barrel is finished, director Sam Mendes pulls us into a four-and-a-half minute tracking shot through the Day of The Dead parade in Mexico City. It’s an breathtaking way to start any film, and with the scene gradually building up to an excellent, explosive action sequence, it feels like one of the best Bond pre-title sequences in a long time.

The action scenes, the meat of a James Bond film, are executed well through the film. While most of the big action set pieces are directed exceptionally, the smaller build ups are sometimes brushed over too quickly (we don’t need handheld/close cut camera nonsense back in this series after Quantum Of Solace). The beginning action scene in Mexico, along with a car chase between Bond and Hinx in Rome are my two favourite scenes, as well as a shootout that takes place in Oberhauser’s main base of operations.

There were a few problems I had with SPECTRE, as always. While the film has its fair share of funny lines, some of them just don’t fall the right way. Similar to The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the actors stand still for a second to let the audience laugh, but there were a couple of lines that delivered no laughs from the audience I was in. The other problem I had was that I felt there was no chemistry between Craig and Naomi Harris. Instead of the barely concealed flirting of past years between Bond and Moneypenny, here it just feels forced. But these are just small nitpicks in an amazing Bond film.

In conclusion, SPECTRE is a fantastic follow-up to Skyfall. While I was a bit worried it might have suffered from media overhype, as soon as the film started I knew Sam Mendes had once again made one of the best Bond films in the franchise.

Score: 10/10 A brilliant continuation for Craig’s Bond.