Monday, February 15, 2016

The 50 Finest Films of 2015: #30 - #21

My favorite films of 2015 list continues on into the top 30. While I highly recommend every film listed from 50 on down, once you get into the lower 30's and below you can count on an extremely enthusiastic, huge thumbs up from me. There in lies the problem with trying to put together a list such as this. Eventually you get to a point that the order they go in never really feels quite right because on any given day, the love for one may rise above the other. 

Nevertheless, I did my best. Here are my next ten films from 2015.

30. The Big Short

Initially as I was watching the film The Big Short, I was a tad confused by the overly comedic tone and the desire to so often break the fourth wall while telling such an important story that lead to a really terrible time in recent american history. However, at one specific moment in the film Brad Pitt's character delivers a single line of dialogue involving statistics about just how devastating the unemployment statistics are on humanity and it was a punch to the gut. The smile I had on my face wiped away in an instant. This moment in the film has stuck with me long after watching the movie and only after it was over did I realize the brilliance behind the seemingly strange tone. Not a lot of people want to go see a depressing, overly dramatic story that actually harmed a great deal of people. Put together an A-list cast of stars and make the film fast paced and fun, suddenly the message will reach a much bigger audience and may resonate more profoundly. 

29. Room

Speaking of punches to the gut, the soon to be Oscar winning film Room did just that and boy does it hurt. The Oscar it is going to win is for Best Actress because the amazingly talented Brie Larson is a shoe in, and even though the subject matter is quite bleak, Room deserves to be seen for her performance even if you can't find another reason to check it out.

Despite the plot being disturbing in nature, the end result of this film by Lenny Abrahamson is an inspiring story of a child getting the chance to look up and finally see just how big and beautiful the world is. 

28. Steve Jobs

I never even watched the previous film about Steve Jobs, the one titled Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher and from what I hear I'm glad I didn't. It received pretty much across the board jeers and the idea of his story being told in a lackluster sort of way didn't inspire much excitement from me. 

When I heard that Danny Boyle would be bringing his take to the big screen working off a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, I knew I was in. When I heard that Michael Fassbender would be playing the lead role, my anticipation went through the roof. The film lived up to the self created hype, a stylish and smart biopic that focused on his life at specific times when Apple products were being unveiled to the public. Color me still shocked that Sorkin wasn't nominated for the adapted screenplay Oscar by the Academy. 

27. The Look of Silence

A follow up to the outstanding documentary from a few years ago The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer continues his amazing non-fiction filmmaking work by bringing us more of the horrors of genocide in Indonesia in the 1960's. The Look of Silence is nauseating and tremendous cinema. Much like The Act of Killing, it has to be seen to be believed.

26. Brooklyn

Think there is something wrong with a man loving films centered around romance? Think again. I was absolutely smitten with Brooklyn from start to finish, a love story that spans two countries and two partners and the warm embrace of being home. Saoirse Ronan is wonderful and charming, it's impossible not to fall in love with her which makes the story we are witnessing feel all the more authentic. What a delightful movie, one I can't wait to watch again.

25. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Quite the title, eh? Quite the film. A seemingly bizarre work by director Roy Andersson but once you start to piece together the puzzle, it not only makes sense but its depth is quite extraordinary. An observation regarding humanity that utilizes a deadpan sense of humor and a rather cold outlook of our modern society and the way people go about their lives, there is nothing traditional about this film and thank goodness for that. A fascinating, unique experience. 

24. The Duke of Burgundy

A little film came out in 2015 that tried really hard to be edgy and sexy, and it ended up being a painfully boring turd: Fifty Shades of Grey. Nevermind that nonsense. If you want edgy, sexy and exquisitely made cinema, try The Duke of Burgundy instead. A lesbian love story involving sexual domination and a fascination with butterflies, the performances here are phenomenal and the storytelling is provocative and just the right amount of weird to intoxicate me. 

23. Bone Tomahawk

What a delightfully sadistic western this is. The conditions are brutal and the violence is at times very much worse, including one specific scene that came really close to going over the line with me but managed to just stay on the side of tolerable. It's an unforgettable moment which isn't really a good thing because I would love to forget, but the film as a whole is wonderfully crafted and an interesting entry into a genre that doesn't get a lot of love these days. If you can stomach graphic content involving cannibals, Bone Tomahawk might just be for you!

22. Clouds of Sils Maria

In a perfect world, we would be referring to Kristen Stewart as an Academy Award nominee for her outstanding supporting work in the film Clouds of Sils Maria. Unfortunately this isn't a perfect world, but her work here still resonates in my heart. Alongside the always amazing Juliette Binoche, this is a film about the inevitability of aging and having to deal with the insecurities that go along with it. A beautiful film that utilizes realism and ambiguity to mesmerize. 

21. Straight Outta Compton

A raw, thunderous approach to the biopic, Straight Outta Compton is better than I ever could have imagined, a wonderfully made picture by director F. Gary Gray that floored me in the performance department. Besides the always reliable Paul Giamatti, the cast is made up of unproven talent that absolutely soar like O'Shea Jackson Jr. playing his own father Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E. While the world viewed these young men as thugs and their music as dangerous, the truth is that they were important and progressive artists. NWA didn't merely create rap music, they paved the way for the explosion of Hip Hop culture that still resonates today. 

Next up I will move into the top 20 of 2015, with a little bit of dread mixed in as pictured above...


  1. Okay, I officially have no idea what your top 10 could be. Your list is really putting my mind in a twist over this, looks like I'm getting into more familiar territory, but damn I seriously have no idea what's coming next.

    1. I think you will be more surprised by #20 through #11 than the top 10 Cody, and I say this because my top ten is very similar to the Best Picture nominations I posted. There is one major difference that you won't find on that list, but very similar nonetheless. The next ten though contain some films I absolutely love that I am sure others would be shocked to make a top 20.