As always, these aren't necessarily what I feel are the best movies or what I feel will stand the test of time best...but they were personal favorites for various reasons. Although I initially came off 2015 feeling that it wasn't as spectacular as the year before in terms of movies, after musing over this list for a while I found that there were many I came to love. It was sometimes difficult to figure out which ones I had to eliminate for the list, but I ultimately settled on which movies I was consistently the most excited to share about.
A few movies I missed that might have made the list: Room, The Danish Girl, Son of Saul, Mississippi Grind, Straight Outta Compton
10. Bone Tomahawk
Bone Tomahawk isn't flawless, admittedly. The cinematography is surprisingly flat for a western, and the opening scene of a man sawing at the throat of another is probably one of mildest on the film's spectrum of violence. But Richard Jenkins steals every scene with his non-sequitur monologues, and the characters are as sympathetically vibrant as they are flawed. Your regard for the characters is worked subtly in, so much so that it almost comes as a surprise at how much you empathize with them by the third act. It's amazing how much emotion a conversation about a flea circus can evoke. Bone Tomahawk creates a huge space with its brutal realism on one end and its highfalutin language at the other, setting the stage for an age-old story of heroes banding together against the forces of evil in the name of honor, damsels, and their gun skills.
9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Perhaps it's appropriate then that Me and Earl is about what goes beyond words. Greg grapples with rejection and mortality at a time when his life is growing beyond his self-imposed limitations. The most heartbreaking moments of Me and Earl are given without words and are only possible because of a mutual trust that the people who have seen the worst of us also know the best parts we weren't even aware we were sharing.
Original review here.
The title can seem a bit heavy-handed, but there are so many beautiful moments of recognition and unfamiliarity that really make this movie what it is. And the building to the end, shot subliminally, is a one-two punch to the gut.
There's a scene near the beginning of the film where the camera focuses on Eilis' face as she looks around a room thoughtfully without ever cutting to what it is that she could be looking at. There's another where we see her leave behind Domhnall Gleeson's character in a car while the camera remains on the solid figure of Gleeson without cutting away, allowing us to feel even through a voyeuristic curtain the strength of how he feels for her. There are rarely perfect choices in life, but there are ones that bring us to whom we love.
I loved most of all how it didn't mince details in how much pounding pavement and frustration are involved in the journalistic process. All of the team have some semblance of a life outside of work, but in a way they are more intimate with those they work with. Furthermore, Ruffalo's heartrending monologue about his relationship with his faith may have been one of the best of the year. The cast was phenomenal to the end, with Liev Schreiber as the biggest surprise for me.
Original review here.
Top five to follow next week.