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Gerard’s Top Films of 2015!

70mm2015 was a great year for movies and it seems that most of them, or at least most of the good ones, are saved for December. I was busy catching up on films right up until New Year’s Eve. I may be a week late but better late than never when it comes to film. This list is technically my “Top 11 or 12” but I could have made it bigger but then that wouldn’t be efficient. There are quite a few surprises in store, as well. In any event – I give you my favorite films of 2015! 

The following list is made up of my favorite theatrical film releases of 2015. 

I have only one honorable mention (among many) and it is for a little science fiction film called PREDESTINATION starring Ethan Hawke. My fellow Why So Blu? writer Aaron Neuwirth has written a terrific review of the film that gives it more justice than I ever could. Read it HERE.

 

 

AnomalisaAnomalisa  

Here’s a release that just got in there at the nick of time. I was going back and forth to the Hollywood Arclight theater and saw the model displays that were used in the film and that peaked my curiosity. David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in the film – Thewlis as Michael, a wandering customer service motivational speaker/author, who is trying to connect with past loves and finds new ones. Leigh plays Lisa – the woman that comes into his life at just the right time. I was floored by the production. I watched the film and five minutes into it I forgot that I was watching a film full of puppets. The level of depth in the production is outstanding. And it has a great story, too.

 

 

 

Straight Outta ComptonStraight Outta Compton

It was a hot summer and Straight Outta Compton was the film we needed to cool down but it had the opposite effect – so much so that folks who were otherwise not interested in the genre or subject matter flocked to the film and made it a great success. The film tells the story of five inner city youths living in the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles and what they did to make it out in the world. Death and violence would follow – and so would major success. The film was terrific and the Blu-ray promises to be equipped with a director’s cut that will run 20 minutes longer.

 

 

 

 

Good KillGood Kill

Ethan Hawke plays a United States military drone pilot executing remote missions in the middle east. His life mundane and the constant repetition of executing these orders in anonymity is driving a wedge between his professional military life and his personal life. He cannot even hang out with friends, because all they talk about is their missions. Hawke’s character begins to question his superiors and begins to empathize with his potential collateral damage targets. This doesn’t sit well with the folks above his pay grade. Good Kill was one of the more surprising films that no one saw in 2015. Writer-director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War) crafted a beautifully self contained film that focuses on a soldier who starts out fighting for his country before the price of that noble gesture gets the best of him.

 

 

 

Carol Carol

Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara star in Todd Haynes Carol. It’s based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) and tells the story of an older well-to-do woman who falls in love with a young department salesgirl. The film takes place in the early 1950’s where tolerance was nowhere to be found. The women have to navigate through this cold world carefully, because they both have a lot to lose if their romance is uncovered. Todd Haynes is one of my favorite directors, because he doesn’t mince on the subject matter and isn’t heavy handed when portraying people of the same sex in love and the obstacles that have to be over come. Cate and Rooney also give great performances and I wouldn’t be surprised if they get nominated for awards come Oscar time.

 

 

 

 

Big ShortThe Big Short

Who thought economics could be this much fun and depressing all at the same time? Featuring an all star cast and one of the most creative breaking the fourth wall techniques that I have seen in a long time is The Big Short that explains the collapse of the housing market and recession of 2008. The film has a manic energy and is ruled by manic performances by Christian Bale, Steve Carrell and many others. When I finished watching the film I was entertained and angered all at the same time. I think that was the point of the film. Well played, Big Short, well played.

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight Spotlight

They say you have to “pay to play” in Hollywood and the championship belt to that title has to go to writer-director Tom McCarthy who followed his worst film ever (Adam Sandler’s The Cobbler) with this masterpiece of a film called Spotlight. The film is the true story account of the Boston Globe investigating hundreds of cases of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church back in the aryl 2000’s. The way the story is weaved is phenomenal. Michael Keaton leads his team of journalists through the tough streets of Boston trying to uncover the truth while many other world events and influence try to force him out. In this day and age of garbage journalism it’s quite refreshing to see a film that focuses on what real journalism is and should be. Spotlight is a great film.

 

 

 

 

Ex MachinaEx Machina

I have a feeling that if Stanley Kubrick were still alive Ex Machina would be the type of science fiction film he would enjoy and possibly admire. It is the story of Ava an artificial intelligence robot that has been developed to be “more human than human” by Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). As Ava begins to learn an adapt to her environment she develops a plan of her own to deal with Nathan’s proclivities. I believe Ex Machina was one of the first films that I watched in 2015 that blew me away and has maintained a constant presence in my Top Films list all year long. It is a great film and should be seen by as many people as possible. It’s also the breakout role for Alicia Vikander – she was a busy girl in 2015.

 

 

 

Bone Tomahawk

Bone Tomahawk

2015 was the year of the Western it seems. I shall quote from IMDB and say that the film is about: Four men set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers. The film mixes in elements of drama and horror. The film also captures one of the most gruesome killings that I have ever seen on film. It works in context but it is brutal! The dialogue is sharp, funny, and clever, as well. The film got a very small (limited) theatrical release but it is now available on Blu-ray. It makes a great double-header with The Hateful Eight but be warned: they are nothing alike.

 

 

 

 

The Revenant     The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu have teamed up for an incredible journey of transcendence and rebirth in the fantastic but bleak tale of The Revenant. DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass – the famous wilderness frontiersman (fictionalized here, though) as he mud survive the elements and Tom Hardy. DiCaprio will be shot, stabbed, sliced, gorged, chewed on, pounced on, etc., but will continue on his journey for revenge against those that have wronged him. The Revenant is a revenge story but not a typical one. Metaphors are abundant and so is the cold weather. I remember sitting in the packed theater and wishing I had a blanket. The landscape was treacherous but when we finally got to the end we were all able to breathe. Make no mistake – The Revenant is a brutal tale of survival and discovery.

 

 

 

 

Sicario  Sicario

No other film scene filled me with dread in 2015 than the gut wrenching scene of law enforcement personnel traveling into Juarez, Mexico. Sicario stars Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin. They are agents instructed to take down the drug cartels in Mexico by any means necessary. Granted, not all is what it seems. Sicario also features one of the coolest and unexpected character red herrings ever. I won’t get into that, because that’s half the surprise. I really am hoping that the Oscars don’t forget the film, because the marketing could have been better for the film itself. I am glad that it is receiving year-end props, though. Sicario is required viewing.

 

 

 

 

Hateful EightThe Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino is back and has brought eight hateful people with him. QT shot the film in 70mm and brought it to some of the major markets in a 3-hour roadshow presentation. Something like this has never been done before and the last time it was presented like this was many years ago. The film is full of rambunctious dialogue and the plays out like one epic theater play. Granted, since QT is the director there is nothing subtle about it. There are more twist and turns in The Hateful Eight than a noose. I watched the roadshow version twice in theaters and it was fantastic. I’ll go ahead and play the cheat card and say that The Hateful Eight shares the #1 spot of my Top Films list with none other than…

 

 

 

 

 

Mad Max: Fury Road   Mad Max

Yeah, there was no stopping the juggernaut that was Mad Max: Fury Road. You don’t get my ass into a theater seat 5 times for the same film if it’s not something truly special. Here’s hoping George Miller gets to make more Mad Max films in the future. If you remember – Mad Max: Fury Road also made it to my Top Blu-ray list of 2015 recently. That’s the power this film had. It took hold and choked me out. What a way to end the year in film!

 

 

 

 

 

It was a glorious year of film indeed! We’re already in January, so here’s hoping for another prosperous year of great cinema!

 

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the above titles on Blu-ray you can click on the thumbnail to purchase/pre-order from Amazon. 1 or 2 titles on the list are not available yet, so check back in the future for an updated product link.

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

8 Responses to “Gerard’s Top Films of 2015!”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Thanks for the Predestination shout out!

    Great list. Gotta check out Good Kill.

    Curious if you saw Slow West? Given that I agree with it being a great year for westerns (save for Netflix’s #1 film ever Ridiculous 6 – jeez), Slow West is another great addition that I put high in my honorable mentions.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I have not seen Slow West yet. It’s on my to watch list.

  3. Brian White

    What film was your #1?
    No Star Wars or No Escape?

  4. Gerard Iribe

    Hateful Eight and Mad Max: Fury Road are tied for the #1 spot, Brian. That is all that matters.

  5. Brandon Peters

    WHAT???? A List without No Escape? How could you!?

  6. Gregg

    Yeah I can’t tell what ranks where. Brian mentioned Bone Tomahawk was really good so that goes on my must-see list as well. Sounds brutally cool!

  7. Gerard Iribe

    Gregg – they rank just the way you see them, with exception to the bottom two, which are BOTH #1.

  8. Gregg

    Just saw The Revenant yesterday. ” I remember sitting in the packed theater and wishing I had a blanket.” No doubt! Can we just give Tom Hardy the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor right now? Leo deserves one as well after his teeth-chattering performance in this epic work.