Wednesday, July 1, 2015

20 Best Films of 2015 Thus Far - #10 - #1

As I write this, it is officially July. The second half of 2015 is underway and there are a ton of potentially outstanding films I am yet to see that were either already released or are scheduled to be released later on.

Thus far I have seen 45 films released in the United States in 2015. Here are my ten favorites.

10. Lost River

Ryan Gosling makes his debut behind the camera and so many people absolutely loathe it. It was booed aggressively at the Cannes film festival. It's critical reception overall has been extremely negative.

So what happens when I see it? I friggin' love it. Go figure.

It's a bizarre film, probably to a fault as Gosling wears his influences on his sleeve and borrows from auteurs he admires greatly. What I love about Lost River that allows me to see past the flaws is the fact that he clearly feels an extreme amount of passion for his first feature and he didn't play it safe nor does he seem to regret a thing. Gosling made the film he wanted to despite knowing it was destined to polarize at best. Good for him, and he has at least one fan for sure.

9. What We Do in the Shadows

It seems I so rarely find comedies that I love. Thank the heavens for What We Do in the Shadows, a vampire mockumentary that had me laughing not only while watching the film but even more so during the days since I saw it as I recall the best parts. A truly funny, clever as hell film that proves vampires aren't quite dead least in cinema. The sub-genre just needs good enough writers to do something fresh and fun with the material. What We Do in the Shadows is a home run.

8. Clouds of Sils Maria

News flash: Kristen Stewart can act. Like, she can really, really act. Apparently she just needed the write screenplays to work off of, as she stood toe to toe with the Oscar winning performance from Julianne Moore last year in Still Alice and does so again here with the great Juliette Binoche. Clouds of Sils Maria is a powerful film about the self reflection one goes through as they get older and and begin to feel inferior to the new, younger genration. A highly recommended and fascinating drama. 

7. Wild Tales

Nominated earlier this year at the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, Wild Tales didn't reach the U.S. until 2015 and it happens to be one of the best films of the year thus far. A movie featuring six completely different stories with different characters but sharing a thematic connection, it's so damn darkly funny and entertaining. Some stories work better than others, but at it's best it is masterful and at it's worst it is still pretty damn good. Highly, highly recommend.

6. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Based on an urban legend about a Japanese woman becoming obsessed with the film Fargo and believing it to be a true story, she travels to North Dakota to search for the money left behind by a fictional character. A beautifully crafted and told story that feels equally absurd and yet inspiring and uplifting, I found the experience to be lyrical and thought provoking. While many people will watch this and think Kumiko is completely crazy, I stripped down the various layers of her character and eventually, on a purely basic level, I saw myself in Kumiko. I saw the part of me that wants to dream big and never give up on what I want to find in life.

5. Respire (Breathe)

Don't let the image above fool you. Respire is a film that will leave you shocked and shaken by the end of it. I don't want to say too much, as the best possible approach will be to picture these two smiling pretty girls above and turn on the film expecting a happy, fun story. Let the darkness that overshadows the picture haunt you as it reveals itself...

4. Mommy

At only 26 yeats old, Xavier Dolan has not yet made a film that I feel comfortable describing as his "masterpiece". His most recent, Mommy, comes really really close. It's a profoundly personal and emotional movie, and much like his other work before it you can feel that the words he has written are so deeply important to him. I couldn't really connect to any of the story because I have never lived it or even anything close to the plight of these characters, but the fact that you could tell Dolan cares so much resonated.

3. Ex Machina

There is a pretty simple formula to get me excited for a film: make a really smart and thematically rich science fiction picture that demands repeat viewings. Sign me the hell up for Ex Machina because that is precisely what it is, an exploration into the advancements of artificial intelligence and just why it may not be such a positive thing to play God. This was the first film of the year I awarded a full 5/5 score until I saw...

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Man, just thinking about Mad Max: Fury Road again makes me want to go see it right now. A post-apocalyptic punk rock frenzied action masterpiece, I had my doubts that this one would really be as good as the critics were saying. It turned out to be even better than my wildest dreams could have imagined. Not only will I own this Blu-ray, I will watch it at least twice the first weekend I have it. If you haven't yet experienced the glory of Fury Road on the big screen, check if it is still playing near you. Do it.

I thought it would hold on to the top spot for a long, long time. It only lasted about a month...

1. Inside Out

The glorious return of Pixar. While I have not hated any of their films, even Cars 2 because I knew it was crap going in (it's a huge financial windfall for them and they are a is literally their job to make Cars 2), it is safe to say that the WALL-E. Up and Toy Story 3 run they went on feels like a long, long time ago. Inside Out isn't just a return to form, it goes above and beyond for me, quite possibly the finest achievement from the studio. The screenplay is so damn intelligent, it not only appeals more to adults than kids, it is likely complex enough to have some of the nuances go over our heads as well. I know a revisit will help me pick up tons of little bits I'm sure I missed.

Profoundly moving, crazy inventive and a crazy intelligent understanding of how emotions work. Inside Out is without a doubt the best film of 2015 thus far.

I can't help but wonder what my end of year best of list will look like. In 2014 I listed a top 50, a great year for cinema and I expect the same this time around. My next list will be a most anticipated for the rest of the year, the films I hope will be ranked near the top. One of them is depicted above. 


  1. Wow, I only recognized the top three films, didn't even know those others came out this year.

  2. Awesome, check some of them out when you get the chance Cody. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.