Frakking Favourite 25 Films of 2015

Sicario Poster

Frakking Favourite 25 Films of 2015

Sicario Poster

Sicario Poster

The frakker saw 91 films in 2015 and though there were some outright duds (TERMINATOR GENYSIS, SELF-LESS, THE VISIT) and failed to meet expectations disappointments (EVEREST, TALES OF HALLOWEEN, TRAINWRECK) for the most part it was a golden year in cinema. That I had to make a top 25 and then add an additional 20 plus titles to the honorable mentions is proof of the good time that was had in the darkened movie house this past 12 months. Now the preamble is done, there is just one more thing that I need to get out of the way before we can begin….

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Stand alone favourite: STAR WARS; THE FORCE AWAKENS

Let’s be honest here, as a lifelong STAR WARS obsessed nut trying to be “objective” about the film franchise that made me a cinephile is as futile as taking on the Empire single handed. STAR WARS just can’t be measured on the same metric other films are judged, with that in mind THE FORCE AWAKENS is arguably the most pandering/fawning piece of fan service moviemaking in cinema history…and I loved it!

OK, now that little confession is checked, onto the main event…

25. GOODNIGHT MOMMY

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24. THE CONNECTION

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23. THE BIG SHORT

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22. SLOW WEST

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21. YOUTH

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20. 99 HOMES

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19. CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

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18. BLACK SEA

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17. SPRING

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16. THE VOICES

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15. KINGSMEN

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14. INSIDE OUT

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13. 71

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12. END OF THE TOUR

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11. PARTISAN

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10. TALE OF TALES

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This is fantasy storytelling that salutes the familiar while morphing into its own phantasmagorical beast. Even if no other element worked the atmospheric, picturesque camera work on display would immediately qualify it as must see. That this film succeeds as a brothers Grimm type of bittersweet dark adult fairytale means those technically impressive elements become part of an A-Grade whole. The cast including Salma Hayek, John C Reily and Vincent Cassel are all up for the challenges their parts pose and the script gives them rich flavors to animate. TALE OF TALES is a truly unique European style work that will undoubtedly make its way into my home collection and play beside all-time fantasy staples.

9. BONE TOMAHAWK

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You would have to be a troglodyte to not appreciate this cannibal western that forgets it’s meant to be an exploitation flick and is instead a classy, borderline prestige genre entry. From the honest depiction of harsh brutalities of frontier living pioneering what would become “civilization” to its idiosyncratic character based humor that slyly comments on historical realities juxtaposed on modern sensibilities this was the surprise of the year. The cinematography is unobtrusively thoughtful, the script is one of 2015’s best but it’s the practical FX that really sell the films ultimately violent intent. Actor Richard Jenkins lodges a superb supporting performance and Matthew Fox defies his image to disappear and enhance his important role.  It makes me so happy to have not one but 2 westerns in my top 10 and equally pleasing that legendary Kurt Russell features in both.

8. IT FOLLOWS

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From the FilmFrak review:

It’s a finely crafted horror that creeps under the skin with its high concept narrative hook serving as allegory. Ambiguous enough to inspire speculation without sacrificing narrative cohesion IT FOLLOWS is more of a sustained atmospheric suspense of dread than outright terrifying fear frightener. It’s a campfire yarn that exploits the power of suggestion by manipulating, embracing and subverting the tropes of the genre.

7. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

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Quotable comedic joy, this Vampire mockumentary uses the reality TV format to reduce a household of bloodsuckers to the most mundane of human levels with hilarious success. Mythical creatures of the night depicted as bickering roommates arguing about dishes and assorted domestic duties while also toying with the long established rules of fanged ones. From the makers of FLIGHT OF THE CONCORDS this one immeditely earns the right to sit beside the best of Christopher Guests work and will no doubt be regularly replayed in this frakkers lair.

6. THE HATEFUL EIGHT

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Tarantino again assembles a stellar cast to sprout memorable dialogue while repackaging genre favourites of the past. Jennifer Jason Leigh is absolutely superb as the spitting and cussing prize of Bounty Hunter Russell and his killer facial hair. Walton Goggins again steals every frame he is allowed and Tim Roth does his best Christoph Waltz impression to gleeful perfection. Jackson brings the Jackson and is gifted with a monologue that will long be quoted alongside Ezekiel. Taking its time to set-up the players in the first half before becoming an Agatha Christie meets Carpenter’s THE THING who-does-it mystery in the second half makes for rich viewing. That it’s all shot with a glorious ultra wide 70mm lens means the landscapes are breathtaking but stylistically the interiors is where QT truly shows his skill. There is so much happening in the frame often simultaneously foreground and background players inhabit their space with or without dialogue. QT’s sublime understanding of cinema history and language means his work may lack originality but oozes passion and prowess rarely seen today and HATEFUL EIGHT qualifies as yet another success for those who enjoy his brand.

5. BEASTS OF NO NATION

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Netflix proves it isn’t just television where they can excel as producers of original content. Cary Joji Fukunaga follows up the massive success of TRUE DETECTIVE with a harrowing, savage journey into the dark realities of child soldiers in Africa. I am a huge fan of this type of unsentimental, honest depiction of disturbing truths. Aside from the solid Direction the performance by young Abraham Attah is among the finest child performances I have ever seen and certainly the best this year. (Sorry Jacob Tremblay) Idris Elba is unnerving and all too human as the vile warlord commandant deserving of all accolades that should be heaped upon him. Well deserving of a best picture nod this is a film that will take many months for me to process.

4. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

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Cinematic spectacle that hones visual storytelling to its most awe-inspiring economic design, this is the popcorn ride of the year. A 2 hour face fuck assault on the senses, FURY ROAD is a thermonuclear Molotov cocktail of explosive color and sound that moves with the vicarious velocity of a drag racing muscle car that’s chute refuses to open. The stunt work, practical FX and sheer nitro charged gusto that appears in frame revitalizes not only George Miller’s pantheon position in genre filmmaking but also provided a much needed reminder of what the medium can achieve in its most streamlined form.

3. EX-MACHINA

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From the FilmFrak review

The concept itself is nothing new. In the last few years alone we have had films like AUTOMATA, EVA and THE MACHINE revolving around man made self aware machines. What sets EX MACHINA apart is its understanding of the science but more intrinsically the choices made in presenting the story. This is not approached from the usual ‘AI’s are a reflection of their human creators’. The film adopts a more indefinable analysis of the inner mind of sentient life, in the words of Garland more akin to how we attempt to rationalize a K9 that recognizes its own reflection in the mirror. This aspired empathy means the creations imprisoned consciousness divides our sympathies to lean towards the cosmetically feminine machine more than the flesh and bone man at times.

2. INHERENT VICE

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This film is my new best friend. I’ve watched it multiple times in the knowledge the misadventures of PI Larry “Doc” Sportello will be revisited for the rest of my life. Paul Thomas Anderson again proves to be a consummate master of the medium as he seemingly weaves whimsical visual moods against tone setting musical cues while his performers immerse themselves in multi-dimensional roles. Like THE BIG LEBOWSKI or THE LONG GOODBYE this is a funny, idiosyncratic web of obtuse mysteries that reveal themselves through hazily shot, esoterically written character moments in a cultural cornucopia of 1970’s pastiche. Joaquin Phoenix’s stammering, stumbling underestimated creation has me in stitches with just a glance. Brolin’s frozen banana suck deserves a comedic Oscar.

1. SICARIO

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Dense and traumatizing SICARIO was a film that left me gasping for air on more than one occasion. Powerful and important filmmaking that again proves Denis Villenuvue (ENEMY, PRISONERS) is not so quietly emerging as a consummate craftsman whose every release is a must see. As Emily Blunt struggles to not disintegrate before us, Benicio Del Toro embodies deadly character ambiguities, Josh Brolin brings detached levity while Roger Deakins kinetic cinematography and Johann Joahnssen’s score immerse us in a snapshot of the U.S. war on Mexican Drug Cartels.

 

Honorable Mentions

 THE LOBSTER, STEVE JOBS, LEGEND, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, ROOM, MISSISSIPPI GRIND, BRIDGE OF SPIES, CREED, TOMORROWLAND, SPOTLIGHT, ESCOBAR, PARADISE LOST, THE GIFT, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, ANTMAN, CUT BANK, THE DEAD LANDS, LOVE & MERCY, MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., THE MARTIAN, CRIMSON PEAK, TANGERINE

2 comments to Frakking Favourite 25 Films of 2015

  • Bryn  says:

    Nice to see SICARIO at the top.
    I hadn’t heard of THE CONNECTION, will keep an eye out for it.
    I really want to see TALE OF TALES.

  • FilmFrak  says:

    SICARIO really floored me. Really deserved more awards love.

    THE CONNECTION is essentially Friedkin’s THE FRENCH CONNECTION from the European perspective and a hell of quality crime saga.

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