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Old 01-11-2016, 12:30 PM   #8
Foggy Foggy is offline
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Dec 2008

#1 Carol

Directed by Todd Haynes
Written by Phyllis Nagy
Based on the novel "The Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith
Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman.

Why I Love It: Every now and then, I feel like I've lost touch with film, like I'm always enjoying a lot of stuff, but I seem to long for the experience of losing myself in a film. All the years I've watched film, and developed my knowledge and dissected cinema, and it's all worn on me, and then a film will come around and remind me just how much I love film, this year Carol struck. The performances were just captivating, every gesture and look had a beating heart behind it, not just a character but a soul. The dialogue just enthrals me, it feels like it needs to be inhaled, the whole thing is so delicate. The camera works as just this wonderful sense of tactility to is, you can just feel it, the whole film just feels alive, like it's a window to the past, there isn't a single thing that breaks the sensation of being there, everything in the frame just looks like it has a purpose there in the world. Every time I speak of this film, the compliments just melt on the tip of my tongue. I love talking about this film, I love this film. Go watch it.

#2 Room

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Emma Donoghue
Based on the novel "Room" by Emma Donoghue
Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Trembley, Sean Bridgers

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.

Why I love it: A film that starts very dark and disturbing and gradually twists into something far more uplifting and life-affirming. The film takes a premise, that despite being a real enough story, could have seemed silly if mishandled, and frames it in the most perfect way. Lenny Abrahamson frames the events through the eyes of the little boy to really create the sensation of seeing the world for the first time, without becoming laborious to the fairytale device at the expenditure of the drama, as many things come to light through the runtime. By the films closing moments, it became apparent to me that I could have sat and watched another hour or two of these characters, what would happen to them next, what would become of them. I think ultimately that's the sign of a great story that's compellingly told.

#3 Mommy

Directed by Xavier Dolan
Written by Xavier Dolan
Starring Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément, Antoine-Olivier Pilon

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: A widowed single mother, raising her violent son alone, finds new hope when a mysterious neighbor inserts herself into their household.

Why I love it: Well I've been waiting for more than a year to get around to talking about this one. Mommy is shot entirely through a 1:1 aspect ratio, creating a sort of a cell phone image effect to the screen, which can be taken as comment on youth societies way of seeing the world, their shortage of attention with technology and their means of escape from the monotony of the world. But it also has a wider effect of creating a claustrophobic atmosphere of the oppressing sensation the main characters find themselves within society. And while this sounds like it could be a tough watch with a distracting gimmick, the film has a lot of heart and a lot of energy that within a handful of minutes you'll find yourself fully engrossed and forgetting the way it's shot. It's a real testament to the direction, writing and performances that a really distinctive and unique form of cinema doesn't distract, but instead captivates you more than you could even imagine.

#4 Mad Max: Fury Road

Directed by George Miller
Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nick Lathouria
Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

[Show spoiler]

Synpsis: A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in post apocalyptic Australia in search for her homeland with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.

Why I love it: It's got a guy strapped to the roof of a big rig with an electric guitar that shoots fire out of it.

#5 It Follows

Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Written by David Robert Mitchell
Starring Maika Monroe, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after getting involved in a sexual encounter.

Why I love it: Every year there seems to be a horror film destined for greatness, and winds up falling for high scrutiny. And while David Robert Mitchell's break out hit has it's fair share of naysayers, It Follows offers something that blends the retrograde aesthetic of a John Carpenter film with something of a more existential horror film, than the typical bump in the night. Brimming with anxieties of adulthood and responsibilities, It Follows places a suburbia lost in time, a concoction of retro culture that's neither her nor now, inhabited by teens lacking parental guidance stuck in crisis that becomes increasingly unescapable as they flew further into poverty stricken areas to seek help and answers. It's a nightmare that calls a little too close to reality while building upon a unique mythology, the films dreamy soundtrack and cool exterior however distance you from proceedings, making it increasingly nerve-racking and distinctive.

#6 Inside Out

Directed by Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen
Written by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley
Original Story by Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen
Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard King

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

Why I love it: Family films, even Pixar at it's very top of it's game, never really achieved poignancy, heartfelt? Sure. Emotional? Most definitely. But a maturity in it's teaching that strikes a chord with everyone? Not so much, at least not until Inside Out. The film takes a vast and daunting idea and spins it out with creativity and levity while grounded in genuine observation, and even a slight touch of concern. The witty script revolves around a centre that many would deem unapproachable, but the film reveals the emotional core as a necessity, dealing with it in a way that children can fully understand and adults also come away more enlightened and enriched. It's a truly magical experience.

#7 The Revenant

Directed by Alejandro González Ińárritu
Written by Mark L. Smith & Alejandro González Ińárritu
Based on the novel "The Revenant" by Michael Punke
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820's fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

Why I love it: The Revenant is indulgent, it's a film with a clear intent of just being so technically impressive, gritty and overall selling an experience of the time period, of the brutality. It's indulgent, but in a way that rewards the audience who wish to stick with it. It portrays nature both as beautiful and unrelenting, as menace, violence and chaos brims from all corners. The camerawork seamlessly tracks and pans, almost floating benevolently over the disparity, there's a reason the film has attempted to be created with so little artifice (although technical trickery can be seen), in an attempt to give a real experience, to be truly cinematic, and in the end, regardless of your thoughts on it, becomes a once in a lifetime film.

#8 Sicario

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Taylor Sheridan
Starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

Why I love it: Sicario still remains the most hair-raising and tense films of the year. While the story has a few hiccups, Sicario delivers many sequences that are unforgettable in the way of suspense, the whole film is built upon the darkness of mankind, which really brings visceral and brutal images to the surface. The whole film is surrounded in an unshakable sense of dread and unpredictability, the mechanical throbbing from the score never let's up as the maddening sense of never letting your guard down, always suspect anyone, begins taking it's toll. In the end, I left the film uncontrollably shaking, that's just how nerve-shredding an experience it is.

#9 Crimson Peak

Directed by Guillermo Del Toro
Written by Guillermo Del Toro & Matthew Robbins
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.

Why I love it: Punished for being predictable, Guillermo Del Toro's latest offered a love letter to Gothic horror tales and macabre cinema to create a lavishly designed production full of dark imagination and grotesque characteristics, as he presents a classically typical story and spins his own visuals on it. In his story the dark secrets of violence and desperation are physically boiling under the over-sized, isolated, decrepit and corroding manor house. Del Toro wastes no time getting to the ghostly apparitions, however in typical fashion, it winds up the true threat is more of this world than the next. It's a film that begs of you to join it in it's indulgences, and like what has come before it, you'll find much to admire and to aspire from it.

#10 Mistress America

Directed by Noah Baumbach
Written by Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig
Starring Lola Kirke, Greta Gerwig, Matthew Shear

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: A lonely college freshman's life is turned upside down by her impetuous, adventurous soon-to-be stepsister.

Why I love it: The film begins thoroughly grounded as a sweet light-hearted comedy about struggling to fit in, and approaching responsibility, as we meet Greta Gerwig's larger than life character, who seem incapable of settling down and planning her own future, but the film begins to run off the rails and becomes this disruptive, uncontrollable screwball comedy, with numerous variables all deftly pitted together creating the funniest film of the year without a doubt. Intelligent and mature while relishing in good old fashioned goofy sensibilities, Mistress America is sharp and to the point.

#11 Slow West

Directed by John Maclean
Written by John Maclean
Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: A young Scottish man travels across America in pursuit of the woman he loves, attracting the attention of an outlaw who is willing to serve as a guide.

Why I love it: Wonderfully oddball and deadpan Black Comedy set in this weird pop-up book like Western world. The film is shot with this pin point precision and creates the sensation of sort of a stage show dynamic, or a puppet show, but the film is punctuated with very real violence and consequence, leading to much suspense because the film is unafraid of tragedy. It just operates on it's own vibe, it's own pace. It's a fully unique experience, even if you hone in on the visual cues, you're still receiving a film that has found it's own voice, and it's a voice I'm hoping to hear again soon.

#12 Dope

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
Written by Rick Famuyiwa
Starring Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Zoë Kravitz

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who's surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.

Why I love it: I think the big complaint I had about Dope is that it can't quite pin down what it wants to say for the majority of it's runtime, but it's so much fun getting to that point that it's really hard for me to be bothered by the fact. It's a prime example that a raunchy R rated comedy can have a heart and doesn't have to be cheap and crass at the expense of a good story and good characters. The early 90's hip hop tinged world, inspired by the characters mindset, perfectly surfaces problems faced by the African-American society in the USA with levity and enlightenment, and honestly should have found a far bigger audience than it did. If this one skipped on by you, be sure to come back to it in the future, you should really enjoy it.

#13 45 Years

Directed by Andrew Haigh
Written by Andrew Haigh
Based on the short story "In Another Country" by David Constantine
Starring Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: A married couple preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary receive shattering news that promises to forever change the course of their lives.

Why I love it: It's a drama about an elderly couple coming up to their 45 anniversary as they begin to reevaluate the course their lives have taken. It sounds like it's going to be a bit of a slogfest, who would want to see a film about elderly couple talking. But the story Andrew Haigh has brought to light here has a much richer mystery below, a few enigmatic elements begin to shape the trajectory, a letter is received in the post detailing the found body of a love one perfectly preserved. An image unseen, yet haunts the entire film. Suddenly it becomes clear that there is this grander history between to two, regret begins to surface, fate seems to have twisted events, what does giving your life to a partner mean when circumstances could have been different? Being a pretty young person, the story seems to take on a different meaning to the more elderly audience who watched it, but I think it's a film that will get more and more interesting as time goes by.

#14 The Duke of Burgundy

Directed by Peter Strickland
Written by Peter Strickland
Starring Chiara D'Anna, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Monica Swinn

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: A woman who studies butterflies and moths tests the limits of her relationship with her lesbian lover.

Why I love it: A homage to the Euro-trash/art-porn of a bygone era. The Duke of Burgundy titillates and seduces, while offering more interesting dynamic between the two leads. In the opening credits, a tongue in cheek listing claims 'Perfume by Je Suis Gizella' alluding to the dry wit running through the film. However it further emphasise the films ability to play on all senses and sensations. The music by Cat's Eyes incredibly haunting while also frivolous, perfectly capturing the relationship between the two women. In the end however, it's best out that 50 Shades of Grey takes 20 minutes to get to the hardware store to pick up rope, while in the same amount of time, Duke of Burgundy has already begun using someone as a human toilet.

#15 The Hateful Eight

Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Written by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

Why I like it: Tarantino's attempt to make a great American epic western set entirely in one room occasionally falters over it's inflated length, however it remains an interesting piece of work. The performances here are top notch, as each character's larger than life persona fills the enormous 70mm frame, each one as despicable as the last. As the pan of characters begin to reach boiling point, Tarantino twists the narrative from snowbound western to Agatha Christie Whodunnit and climaxes in a tip of the hat to horror maestro's like De Palma, Friedkin and Raimi without loosing focus, it's really intelligently handled work, if the narrative doesn't buckle occasionally under all the wight.

#16 Steve Jobs

Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Based on the book "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson
Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

Why I like it: Almost an Operatic style approach to corporate backstabbing, this extremely stylised Biopic pits Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs across three separate periods of time, each leading to the unveiling of a new product, as Sorkin's script uses all the energy to create as much backstage drama as possible, as people begin to resurface in his life for all manor of motives, as Fassbender dismiss all of them, becoming a far more disruptive and alienating persona. It gives in at the end to redeem Jobs somewhat in the end, but the performances are so rapid paced steered by Boyle control and restrain here and the script is so ferociously intelligent that to close on a conventional arc seems earned as there's far more to chew on than most films.

#17 Bridge of Spies

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Matt Charma, Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.

Why I like it: Spielberg back to his best, he's placed loving in the 50's Cold War handling not a story of spies, but instead of legal negotiations. As the film handles several different strands of storyline, the Coen brothers offer a slight hand of wit to proceedings, as Hanks navigates a Kafka-inspired plotline that involves cunning deception and dedication in what turns a story from a Lawyer into something that feels as compelling as watching a Cat and Mouse game.

#18 Wild Tales

Directed by Damián Szifrón
Written by Damián Szifrňn
Starring Erica Rivas, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Germán De Silva

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: Six short stories that explore the extremities of human behavior involving people in distress.

Why I like it: Wonderfully demented anthology film featuring the extreme nature of revenge. With each story taking on a different form of vengeance, most resulting in savagery, but in the end, closes with acceptance of human nature in a bizarre mix of dry observations and bittersweet humanity. A good three segments are laugh out loud hilarious, and all result in interesting differences, the film lacks a real backbone to bring all the stories together, but what you do get is a series of great shorts that are well worth investing your time into.

#19 The Martian

Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Drew Goddard
Based on the novel "The Martian" by Andy Weir
Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

Why I like it: Probably one of the most relaxing Blockbusters of the year, and a real treat both for the eyes and brain. Ridley Scott's story of survival is full of wit and intelligence as Matt Damon uses everything to his advantage to survive on Mars for a lengthy amount of time. I think most people, when complaining about this film, tend to get caught up in what they wanted the film to be, "it should be more tense","it shouldn't leave Mars" so on and so forth. But The Martian is told in a way that feels natural for it, it's a large scale rescue mission and through the films vast awry of Characters, the film never seems to get lost in the overall goal, and the characters intentions. It's full of surprises, tremendous moments, great visuals and a fantastic central performance from Damon.

#20 Brooklyn

Directed by John Crowley
Written by Nick Hornby
Based on the novel "Brooklyn" by Colm Tóibín
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Julie Walters, Emory Cohen

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

Why I like it: This is just a film that's just so earnest. It feels like if it was handled just slightly differently the results would have been catastrophic, where as it could have been mawkish and saccharine, the film is instead gentle, and full of subtleties. Saoirse Ronan just gives this really world-wary performance, transformed from fish out of water to confident and dedicated as the film throws a narrative conflict that's genuine, even slightly heart-breaking at the concept. It's the work of a very precise screenplay that manages to sell the conflict in a way that doesn't lose you as a viewer and actually has you actively involved.

#21 Macbeth

Directed by Justin Kurzel
Written by Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie & Todd Louiso
Based on the play "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare
Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

#22 Spotlight

Directed by Tom McCarthy
Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

#23 Black Mass

Directed by Scott Cooper
Written by Mark Mallouk & Jez Butterworth
Based on the book "Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal" by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill
Starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.

#24 Kingsman: The Secret Service

Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Based on the comic book "The Secret Service" by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons
Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

#25 A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Directed by Roy Andersson
Written by Roy Andersson
Starring Holger Andersson, Nils Westblom, Charlotta Larsson

[Show spoiler]

Synopsis: Sam and Jonathan, a pair of hapless novelty salesman, embark on a tour of the human condition in reality and fantasy that unfold in a series of absurdist episodes.

Last edited by Foggy; 02-14-2016 at 08:55 PM.
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