Friday, 1 January 2016

Friday Five (Six): Favourite Films of 2015

Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker
Obviously I have not seen everything that was released in 2015, but I totted up the number of this year's films I have seen and there are twenty on the list. So I have whittled it down to my favourites (in alphabetical order). And, yes, there are six, but as I've said before: my blog; my rules.

6 Favourite Films of 2015

  1. The Dressmaker – A glorious multi-genre Australian film directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, with roots in fantasy, Western, black comedy and revenge drama, with the most outstanding costumes you’ll see this year. Kate Winslet is fabulous as the woman who returns to the town that spurned her as a child in a blend of Mary Poppins and Chocolat but without the songs or the saccharine.
  2. Mr Holmes – Ian McKellen is wonderful as the curmudgeonly retired detective with a passion for bee-keeping and a need to tell the truth about his last case, even if it doesn’t paint him in the most flattering light. His interactions with young Roger (Milo Parker) are heart-warming, and his oblivion to the feelings of Roger’s mother (Laura Linney) is equally affecting. Director Bill Condon has a great cast, and he makes the most of them in a reflective work.
  3. Selma – David Oyewolo portrays Dr Martin Luther King as flawed and conflicted despite his firm belief in civil rights. If you put your family in danger for your convictions, does that make you a hero or a martyr? Director Ava DuVernay poses this question as the film focuses on the specific 1965 incident of the Selma/Montgomery marches in Alabama. This cohesive narration avoids the potential of a rambling biopic, while the superb acting and direction make it a confident and assured work of cinema.
  4. Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Emily Blunt in Sicario
  5. Sicario – Emily Blunt is the viewer’s Everywoman as she gets mired in an FBI operation to bring down the leader of a powerful and brutal Mexican drug cartel. She is unsure of who is in charge and the ethics of their actions, as is the viewer. Denis Villeneuve directs terrifically tight action sequences full of anxiety and tension. Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin are also excellent in the frustrating thought-provoking drama.
  6. Testament of Youth – This is highly recommended quality film-making; one of the best adaptations of a book I’ve seen, and I loved the book! Alicia Vikander is excellent as Vera Brittain, who remains stoic at the heart of the dramatic narrative. Huge plaudits must be awarded to director to James Kent for handling this iconic memoir of WWI from a woman’s perspective with such subtle charm.
  7. Youth – Deliciously studied performances from Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz at a luxury lodge in Switzerland also populated by Maradona, Miss Universe, an actor studying for a role (Paul Dano), and a couple that never speak, make this a marvel of cinema. Paolo Sorrentino directs with a masterful touch; the sound and the scenery, and the superb supporting cast all combine to make this simply sublime.
Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in Youth

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