By Christian DiMartino
I gave you 25-11 not along ago. Here is the elite 10 (well, more like 12):
10. Sicario: Denis Villeneuve’s latest ingenious thriller is not being discussed enough. Here is a bleak but excellent film, with Oscar worthy work from Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. It also features great cinematography from the legendary Roger Deakins, and hell, there’s barely anything wrong with it. If you missed it while it was in theatres, it’s worth a rent.
9. Steve Jobs: Everyone abandoned ship on Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs because of poor box office or something. Pah-lease. So ridiculous. This is such a great film, from the performances from Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, to the brilliant screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, to the great cinematography and score, Steve Jobs is a film in which not that much happens, and yet so much happens. What a fascinating film.
8. Love & Mercy: Most people prefer Straight Outta Compton. I hate to be that white guy, but no (it is a really good movie though). Bill Pohlad’s Love & Mercy is an absolute masterpiece. John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti all give one of their best performances, if not their best. It’s a fascinating musical biopic that tells two compelling stories (about the same man) marvelously. It’s a tricky thing, but yet with each transition, it’s welcome. Robert Yeoman’s cinematography is beautiful, and the film itself works as a loving tribute to a great band. By the end, I felt both uplifted and rejuvenated. I’d say it’s the best musical biopic since Amadeus.
7. Creed + Mad Max: Fury Road: An odd tie, it must appear. But yet I paired these two because they were the year’s best sequels. They breathed life into franchises that most people thought were as old and flabby as Val Kilmer’s chest. Creed is a wonderful film, and a loving tribute to the Rocky series, featuring a performance from Sylvester Stallone so heartbreakingly perfect, it really squeezes the heart. He deserves the Oscar. As for Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s one of the most impressive films of the year. It’s visually marvelous and it just has a great energy to it throughout. In a summer filled with your usual superhero movies and what not, director George Miller, 70, came blazing in and showed us that he was the coolest kid in town. Well, Charlize Theron too.
6. Bridge of Spies: A lot of people wrote off Steven Spielberg’s latest for being a little too light. But actually, that’s part of what I loved about it. Spielberg has always been known to give us hard hitting war films (um, Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List), and yet Bridge of Spies is light, breezy, funny, and so classy, even Ron Burgundy would approve. It also features great performances from Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, not to mention the fact that it is just a great production and it features a great screenplay from The Coen Brothers and Matt Charman. No complaint necessary. Would it help?
5. Inside Out + Anomalisa: The two best animated films I’ve seen in years. In a year in which we got disappointments like The Good Dinosaur and Home, Inside Out gave us one of the most brilliant films of the year. It has non-stop creativity, and it also manages to be hilarious, while having an undeniable sadness to it. Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman’s R-rated animated masterpiece, is a bit different, but is just as good. Here is a unique and visceral film that manages to stun visually while also effect us in ways we least expect. What Kaufman is selling feels extremely human, but yet I couldn’t picture it in live action. Both truly marvelous animated films, praying for a tie at the Oscars.
4. Spotlight: Most people’s #1, and it’s perfectly understandable as to why. Tom McCarthy’s film is one of the most powerful films of the year, with great performances from a great cast that includes Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and Liev Schreiber. It’s an unbelievable true story told to pure perfection. If it wins Best Picture, I won’t be upset.
3. Room: Ah, now here is a film you won’t soon forget. The first half of this film is truly fascinating, both capturing the claustrophobia of this room while also disturbing us. The second half is also brilliant, but completely different, in that it shows us just how these characters react to the real world. Brie Larson certainly deserves the Oscar she’s about to win for this movie, and Jacob Tremblay gives one of the greatest performances from a child actor we may ever see. Room is pure chilling perfection, an uplifting film for the human spirit that will stay with you long after it’s over.
2. The Hateful Eight: A lot of people have called The Hateful Eight the worst of Quentin Tarantino’s career. Bish, please. This is the best damn time I had at the movies the entire year, and was really debating keeping it in the top slot. Beautifully filmed by Robert Richardson, perfectly written, as always, by Tarantino, and acted gloriously by Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, and Walton Goggins, to name a few, The Hateful Eight is three hours of bloody awesomeness. It mainly takes place in one room, but it’s a richly entertaining whodunit that also manages to be funny as hell. I suppose I can see why someone wouldn’t like it, but I ate it up.
1. The Revenant: It was a toss-up between this or The Hateful Eight. I basically had to choose between the more entertaining movie or simply the better one. I choose the latter. The Revenant may be exhausting, but it is undeniably amazing. Gorgeously filmed by Emmanuel Lubezki and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with realistic grit, The Revenant is a revenge thriller that takes your breath away and simply emerses you into this bloody tale for its two and a half hour runtime. I don’t think I turned my head once, or yawned. Leonardo DiCaprio should certainly pick up his long overdue Oscar for his nearly silent but incredibly impressive performance, and Tom Hardy should also be in the discussion as the villain. This is a piece of filmmaking so impressive and realistic, you almost forget it’s a movie. Again, it may not be the most fun I had in 2015, but it is the best movie of 2015.