I’ve been inspired by EW’s list of their Top 10 films (or really, Chris Nashawaty’s list) of 2015. So far, I’ve seen 56 films released this year. I haven’t seen any of this weeks new releases yet. Their Top 10 list included a few films I hadn’t seen (Amy, Cobain: Montage Of Heck, Mommy, About Elly, It Follows, Timbuktu, and Red Army). Chris must love Documentaries, because he’s littered his top 10 with them.
My Top 10 is as follows:
1) Inside Out
We both seem to agree on this point. Inside Out is the best film of the year so far. It’s one of the most imaginative films I think I’ve ever seen, and it crafts a beautiful story both inside the mind, and outside the mind. It’s an interesting take on the voices inside your head, or why things are the way they are. It is supported with terrific voicework, and a character kept secret during the entire marketing campaign. Bing Bong touched people in the same way Toy Story did when you realized you stopped playing with your toys. Somewhere out there was your imaginary friend… just like Bing Bong.
2) The Kingsman
I guess Chris doesn’t really love Hollywood films, because this should have been in the Top 10. An absolutely fantastic and fresh take on comic book adaptations featured a terrific performance by Samuel L. Jackson as the over-the-top villain. An ending full of fireworks was unexpected, and I can’t wait to see more Kingsman films in the future.
3) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Another film missed from his list. A hit at Sundance, Earl has found a hard time connecting with audiences at the box office. It’s a shame. It’s a fantastic tribute to the art of filmmaking, and also taking risks and not making a generic “teen movie”. Make something different. Make something that we haven’t seen before. That’s what the characters strive to do within the film, and ultimately, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl feels like a fresh take on a stale genre.
4) Ex Machina
Another film that is a fresh take on a stale genre is Ex Machina, which really had me in some parts believing that the film was a total mindfuck. I didn’t actually see that ending coming, and I love to be surprised. Top it off with a great cast, and three memorable performances, and Ex Machina is the buzzy title you still have to see (because I know you somehow missed it in theatres).
5) Danny Collins
I’m glad this did make his list, because Al Pacino was fantastic in this. So was Bobby Cannavale. Pacino is at his finest here as an aging popstar with a lot of regrets, and Cannavale is perfect as the son he never knew (but always knew he had). If you missed this, definitely catch up with this at home.
6) Mad Max: Fury Road
One of the most visually perfect films ever made. Mad Max: Fury Road is like a covert campaign for films to still use practical effects, because they look so much better when done right. I knocked it a bit for not giving more backstory, given the amount of time between this Max and the last one, but it’s a fun thrill ride that never stops moving. It also features a kickass performance by Charlize Theron, not to mention Tom Hardy and Nicholas Hoult.
7) Clouds Of Sils Maria
Kristen Stewart can act, guys. For real. I still argue that she’s upstaged by Juliette Binoche, and that Stewart just had the unfortunate task of being in the Lion’s Den. Binoche is possibly one of the best actresses working, so while I give Stewart props for giving her best role, I’m still in awe of Binoche. These two ladies are the sole reason to watch this meditation on what it means to be an aging actress in the film industry.
8) Jurassic World
Yeah, I fucking loved this. I’m sorry. I know it’s got some really silly moments, but it is the only film this year so far that got me to the theatre twice to watch it. Chris Pratt is a great addition to the franchise, and this really locks in his future as a leading man.
9) Run All Night
The most unexpected surprise I saw this year was Run All Night, which I thought was going to be another notch in the belt of Neeson, who has been making a shitload of like minded films in the wake of his career resurgence with Taken. It might still qualify as “like minded”, but it is so well done I don’t even care. The exposition never felt like exposition. The acting was on point. Neeson actually had range in this film, and he got Ed Harris who was fantastic as well. Joel Kinnaman, Common, and Vincent D’Onofrio round out a solid cast.
This spot could also be held by Ted 2. I thought about tying them, but I’m giving the edge to Spy. I may have laughed a bit more in Ted 2, but I think Spy is the better movie. It has a better plot structure, and features a surprisingly good use of Jason Statham. Plus, it’s a film finally worthy of Melissa McCarthy. It’s nice to see her get her own film after suffering through crap like Tammy and Identity Thief that really misused her talents.
Also, this list wouldn’t be complete without best performances I think have defined this year so far (most of them come from the films listed above). I picked three for each category.
BEST ACTOR: Al Pacino (Danny Collins), Domnhall Gleeson (Ex Machina), Kevin Costner (Black Or White)
Honorable Mention: Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maggie)
Depending on whether or not you consider Black and White a 2015 release, which is why I listed Schwarzenegger as my alternate. Costner had another great performance this year in MacFarland USA.
BEST ACTRESS: Juliette Binoche (Clouds Of Sils Maria), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Oscar Issac (Ex Machina), Bobby Cannavale (Danny Collins), Eddie Redmayne (Jupiter Ascending), Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road), Haley Joel Osment (Entourage), Andre Holland (Black Or White), Ed Harris (Run All Night), Jason Statham (Spy)
Sorry, I literally could not leave these actors off the list. I already talked a bit about Issac and Cannavale, but I couldn’t leave Eddie Redmayne off the list. He was batshit crazy awesome in Jupiter Ascending. Sure, it was campy. But he committed to it 100%. That’s what makes it great. Same for Nicholas Hoult. That role is so different from everything he’s done before, and he went for it 100%. Haley Joel Osment in Entourage? Literally, he was the best reason to watch that movie. Andre Holland in Black Or White? A great overlooked performance. Ed Harris was classic in Run All Night, and Jason Statham made Spy a hilarious movie. Each actor truly supported their film in the best way possible.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Kristen Stewart (Clouds Of Sils Maria), Annette Bening (Danny Collins)