So I made a ‘booboo’ last month. As exams took over my brain, October got lost in the whirlwind. But that has led to something wonderful. A bumper Top 9 favourites! The last two months have produced some special films. The awards season has begun, with Mad Max and Carol the big winners so far, and we’ll only inch closer to the Oscars, and the Wilsies, from here on in.
The following list was very difficult to order. Do not feel that the films on the bottom of this list are bad. They really aren’t. Well, except…
The shine is dulled, the animation is hardly inspired, and the laughs are few and far between, even for children. The smorgasbord of classic monsters is a huge comedic target but somehow Sandler and co. manage to miss more than they hit.
8. High Rise
Beginning with a striking opening sequence straight out of J. G. Ballard’s novel, Ben Wheatley’s High Rise ripples with elegant brutality. High Rise opens as an Apocalypse American Psycho as Tom Hiddleston drifts and wades through mounds of trash, contrasting the context with his suited attire.
It loses its path along the way, fluctuating with you into a disappointing non-ending. Yet the cinematography and score attack the senses with such uncompromising spirit that the lack of several strong central performances can be somewhat forgiven.
Bridge of Spies is a Cold War To Kill a Mockingbird. Whilst gleeful injections of Coen Brothers humor break the ice, the age-old expertise of Hanks, Spielberg and Rylance ensure this bird doesn’t get out of hand.
Atmospherically charged, emotionally strained and visually unique, 2015’s MacBeth is an experience like no other. The feature retains the feel and heart of the 17th century play, but is highly modernised in its direction and cinematography. Mist swirls amongst the Scottish highland landscape with striking pathetic fallacy.
MacBeth will hang over you like a dagger in the night, just with less mental torment.
Feeling much more at home next to Casino Royale than Skyfall, Spectre is as good as Bond is going to get. It may be overlong and it may try to do too much, but never before has the combination of a strong protagonist, stronger villain and engaging attempt at a modern story hit so close to its mark.
4. The Lobster
Creepy, brilliant and surreal from the start, The Lobster gives up its most interesting features half way through. Ambitious as it is odd, Yorgos Lanthimos’ feature is dark as night and an experience seldom experienced.
3. The Martian
The Martian intentionally steers clear of the dramatic space route as that path has been worn, and will continue to be worn, heavily. Instead, The Martian is a film set partly on another planet that ensures that enjoyment is more paramount than excitement or visual spectacle. During it’s extensive duration I was never bored, never looked at the time, nor did I want it to end. I laughed a lot, I nodded with agreement and I almost cried.
As long as you aren’t expecting Interstellar, The Martian will most certainly float your boat. (Or launch your rocket. Something like that.)
There’s only one Carol you need this Christmas. Carol is a sweetly tuned duet between a Hollywood heavyweight and a blossoming flower, delicately orchestrated by the marvellous Todd Haynes. Carol’s (Blanchett) clout out-muscles the youthful frame of Therese (Mara) before dropping her fur-coated-veil, which she never truly replaces.
I gave it a ★★★★ though in hindsight I feel it may deserve more.
In Mexican, Sicario means hitman. In English, Sicario means atmosphere.
There is a quiet tension that permeates all of Denis Villeneuve’s features. It is searingly obvious in Prisoners, as Gyllenhaal’s police officer contrasts with the irate father played by Hugh Jackman. It dictates the pace of Enemy, as Gyllenhaal’s solemn depression echoes in the silence. Yet, the quiet tension is different in Sicario. It is subtler than both Villeneuve’s previous, silently radiating between each set of characters. The underlying mistrust between Blunt and Brolin and Blunt and Del Toro is palpable even when the characters do not share the screen, such is the strained heartbeat of the film.
Whereas MacBeth burns its story and appearance straight onto your corneas, Sicario make you squint for its silhouette in amongst the darkness. Sicario is tense, taut, powerful and a thrill to behold.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this whistle-stop tour of the last 2 months, and I hope you’ll join me very soon for my Best and Worst of 2015 lists. Much fun awaits…
Images courtesy of beautiful ballad, variety, zekefilm, gamespot, comicbookresources, cinemavine, newsweek, vimooz and black film respectively.