2015: The Year that Was


2015: The Year that Was


2015: The Year that Was


TIER ONE: CRÈME DE LA CRÈME


2015 was not 2014.

There were a lot of disappointments in cinema last year. The great news, however, is that we still couldn’t help but find gems all over the world to have released within the year to make a top 30 list, which has been divided into three parts. These thirty films cover everything I’ve been able to watch. Tier One lies above them all; it covers the creme de la creme of every kind of cinema — mainstream, independent and world alike. From westerns and road movies to science fiction and the angst of betrayal, this countdown seems to have traveled a lot. And we mean it.

Hopping past Hollywood, post-war Germany, the troubled minds of humans and their creations and (believe it or not) Indian interstate and intercity highways, this countdown manages to pick the best of whatever’s passed through the eyes and ears of this writer. So if you haven’t been able to catch much last year and are looking for the perfect bunch of recommendations to start off, this would definitely be it.

10. ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

Me and Ear and the Dying Girl Review ThumbI can feel a bunch of eyebrows having been raised, because superficially, this does not look like the kind of movie that deserves a place in the the Top Ten. For those who haven’t watched the film and are still skeptical about giving it a go, here’s a tip: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is NOT The Fault in Our Stars. Sure, it’s about dying people, but the delicious narrative and ferocious humor gorgeously complements the rather authentic (and relatable) character evolution of the movie’s protagonists and supporting characters. Is the movie heartbreaking? Yes, but the pain comes without the usual schmaltz of cinema featuring young adults — which gives viewers a better chance of being affected by the sheer overwhelmingness of emotion. And if that’s not enough, there’s the wonderful score of Brian Eno and Olivia Cooke’s stellar act as the “Dying Girl”. An easy must-watch with tons of repeat value, this.

9. EX MACHINA

Ex Machina Review ThumbArtificial intelligence has always been the subject of fascination of many filmmakers — they’ve come a long way from Metropolis to the movie adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Steven Spielberg’s A. I. Artificial Intelligence, however, are possibly amongst the most known within the genre to introduce humanity within these fictionalized man-made creations. Novelist Alex Garland, whose talent shone brightly through his screenplays for Danny Boyle’s early directorial efforts, comes onto his own as a full-blown auteur with his directorial debut. The unconventional, low-key narrative forces viewers to ask themselves of the darkness their own species is filled with — questions tackling the moral ambiguity between the creator and its creation; of responsibility and power. Lush cinematography, a taut score and powerhouse performances by Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander only further helps the film’s case, easily turning it into a top-notch viewing experience.

8. QUEEN OF EARTH

Queen of Earth Review ThumbThe topic of mental disintegration is a hard, hard nut to crack. Amongst the most memorable films in this writer’s memory featuring mental and emotional breakdowns, however, would probably be Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Spike Jonze’s Adaptation, and — more recently — Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Adding that to the list would be filmmaker Alex Ross Perry’s (Listen Up Philip) fantastic Queen of Earth. Perry’s sharp-left into dark territory is a delicious, almost fascinating viewing experience, which only goes to solidify his short, yet already strong filmography. The movie’s both a gorgeous love letter to the cinematic trademarks of genre classics and a lavish showcase of Perry’s dazzling bundle of talent throughout the film’s runtime. Add to that Elizabeth Moss’ outstanding performance as a human being whose sudden bout of loneliness becomes a threat to her sanity, and viewers have gotten themselves a film that forever drives them to the edge of their very seats.

7. IT FOLLOWS

It Follows Review ThumbSymbolic to trust issues and the ongoing battle with one’s inner demons, It Follows is a deliciously atmospheric horror film that relies fairly on creeps, technical brilliance and fantastic character evolution to take it forward. In a world where horror has become an extremely mainstream affair, David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore effort — coupled with one of the best performances of the year in Maika Monroe — is one of the year’s clearest winners. Ever so tense, with the buildup taking no time, the movie makes sure to go against the tide of clichés, whilst paying pitch-perfect tribute to retro-horror is possibly the finest way possible. (That score by Disasterpiece is just the right amount of dark, delicious and old school.) It Follows is that genre film that warrants wholehearted acceptance from both genre enthusiasts and otherwise, making it the kind of rare modern horror movie that understands the importance of quality in cinema.

6. THE HATEFUL EIGHT

The Hateful Eight Review ThumbQuentin Tarantino’s mastery over filmmaking can prove one thing: he can make a suspenseful whodunit without the usual gimmickry of action set-pieces, subplots and pretty young likable humans. The film is filled with dislikable, racist and sexist characters, runs for almost three hours, is highly contained and relies heavily upon nothing but conversations. But that’s the thing: the conversations allow for a distinct — and yet not a tired — exposition on the film’s characters and their respective motives, automatically making this the character study few get while at the movies these days. Every single character, from the ones with the longest runtime to the cameo appearances, has a justified place in the film, and one definitely needs to watch it to know why. Plus, the movie’s shot in delicious film, and if nothing else, hardcore enthusiasts of visual arts will definitely fall in love with the movie’s overall old school visual texture.

5. PHOENIX

Phoenix Review ThumbThe unassuming beginning and unclear buildup of Phoenix are deliberate. Writer-director Christian Petzold wants viewers to find answers with the film rather than spectate, if only to suck them into the protagonist’s (and the film’s) world, and their driving force: hope. And before the readers come to a quick judgment on the word, let’s emphasize on what I really mean by it. Nelly is driven by a rather insane amount of hope for her estranged husband. Her friend and confidante Lene is driven by the hope that her yet ambiguous feelings for Nelly will get the redemption she deserves; her estranged husband, “Johnny”, on the other hand, is driven by the hope for survival. Harrowingly tense, whilst undramatic, Petzold’s brilliant drama perfectly understands the four human feelings his effort tries to symbolically convey — love, fear, pain (from betrayal) and redemption. If you haven’t caught this one yet, you’re missing out on a lot.

4. PIKU

Piku Review ThumbMasaan (English: Crematorium) may be one of the most talked about Indian Hindi-language movies of 2015, but if there’s a particular movie that’s bowled this one over, it has to be Shoojit Sircar’s gorgeously executed, brilliantly acted Piku. For a mainstream release, this is a very small, anti-formula movie — decisions are made abruptly, tension is formed and broken within a second, and characters unravel as quickly or as slowly as their emotions allow them to Aside from having one of Irrfan Khan’s (Life of Pi) most magnetic performances, Piku is supported by Deepika Padukone’s (Tamasha) career-best act in her filmography. Juhi Chaturvedi’s surprisingly sharp screenplay makes for a laudable effort that’s also a silent, respectable tribute to the revered Indian filmmakers of yore. (Fun fact: the eponymous protagonist, for example, is blessed with a nickname that holds connections to the title of Satyajit Ray’s 1980 made-for-television short.)

3. SPOTLIGHT

Spotlight Review ThumbSpotlight is based on the true story of a bunch of reporters in The Boston Globe’s titular subsidiary newspaper attempt to blow the whistle on a rather high-stakes cover-up. And the nature of the cover-up incites in me an very personal reaction, but what really makes it an incredibly unblemished film is its perspective. There is no dramatic interlude or no sinister subplot; we’re just given the point-of-view of reporters working the story. Movies based on true events are usually very decorative and formulaic, but Win Win director Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight understands the effectiveness of unpretentious simplicity — one of the its strongest plus points. Couple that with an authentic depiction of Boston and its people, and viewers have themselves a credibly executed movie. Sure, there’s a chance those missing some “drama” might find the movie boring, but there’s a high chance the director’s vision will get his deserved due.

2. THE END OF THE TOUR

The End of the Tour Review ThumbThose who do not know of David Foster Wallace will get obsessively curious once they’re done watching The End of the Tour, directed with an extreme amount of finesse by James Ponsoldt. Having previously tackled troubled characters in Smashed, Ponsoldt yet again wins viewers with his almost word-for-word adaptation of Dave Lipsky’s Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. Not only does the viewing experience give viewers the joy of a road movie; this delicious conversation-heavy cinema gives Jason Segel his most authentic role yet, and Jesse Eisenberg his least awkward. Eisenberg, who shows a dynamic range with his portrayal of Lipsky, plays fantastically well off the strengths of Segel’s Wallace (whose authentic performance gives the film surprising credence). Those who haven’t watched the film definitely need to catch up on it as soon as they can: it’s the kind of movie that just works.

1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Mad Max Fury Road Review ThumbGeorge Miller’s first three installments of Mad Max may have created a rather eclectic universe full of uncanny characters, and the fourth could just have as well been an unremarkable addition, considering Mad Max Beyond Thunderdrome wasn’t exactly the best of the initial trilogy. But here’s the thing: Mad Max: Fury Road is not just the best out of the movie series; it’s also a cinematic masterpiece, and takes the cake as the best film this year. The brilliant cinematography and melange of gorgeous practical-meets-CGI marries Margaret Sixel’s beautifully rhythmic edit decisions to make a technically pitch-perfect feature-length action set-piece. Miller and his group of group of co-screenwriters, however, have generated such a gorgeous spin on the dystopian world with so many hidden messages of the patriarchal socio-political construct that — should the viewer get it — will serve as an incredible eye-opener. This one’s a benchmark for action movies and blockbuster cinemas in general.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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TIER ONE: CRÈME DE LA CRÈME


2015 was not 2014.

There were a lot of disappointments in cinema last year. The great news, however, is that we still couldn’t help but find gems all over the world to have released within the year to make a top 30 list, which has been divided into three parts. These thirty films cover everything I’ve been able to watch. Tier One lies above them all; it covers the creme de la creme of every kind of cinema — mainstream, independent and world alike. From westerns and road movies to science fiction and the angst of betrayal, this countdown seems to have traveled a lot. And we mean it.

Hopping past Hollywood, post-war Germany, the troubled minds of humans and their creations and (believe it or not) Indian interstate and intercity highways, this countdown manages to pick the best of whatever’s passed through the eyes and ears of this writer. So if you haven’t been able to catch much last year and are looking for the perfect bunch of recommendations to start off, this would definitely be it.

10. ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

Me and Ear and the Dying Girl Review ThumbI can feel a bunch of eyebrows having been raised, because superficially, this does not look like the kind of movie that deserves a place in the the Top Ten. For those who haven’t watched the film and are still skeptical about giving it a go, here’s a tip: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is NOT The Fault in Our Stars. Sure, it’s about dying people, but the delicious narrative and ferocious humor gorgeously complements the rather authentic (and relatable) character evolution of the movie’s protagonists and supporting characters. Is the movie heartbreaking? Yes, but the pain comes without the usual schmaltz of cinema featuring young adults — which gives viewers a better chance of being affected by the sheer overwhelmingness of emotion. And if that’s not enough, there’s the wonderful score of Brian Eno and Olivia Cooke’s stellar act as the “Dying Girl”. An easy must-watch with tons of repeat value, this.

9. EX MACHINA

Ex Machina Review ThumbArtificial intelligence has always been the subject of fascination of many filmmakers — they’ve come a long way from Metropolis to the movie adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Steven Spielberg’s A. I. Artificial Intelligence, however, are possibly amongst the most known within the genre to introduce humanity within these fictionalized man-made creations. Novelist Alex Garland, whose talent shone brightly through his screenplays for Danny Boyle’s early directorial efforts, comes onto his own as a full-blown auteur with his directorial debut. The unconventional, low-key narrative forces viewers to ask themselves of the darkness their own species is filled with — questions tackling the moral ambiguity between the creator and its creation; of responsibility and power. Lush cinematography, a taut score and powerhouse performances by Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander only further helps the film’s case, easily turning it into a top-notch viewing experience.

8. QUEEN OF EARTH

Queen of Earth Review ThumbThe topic of mental disintegration is a hard, hard nut to crack. Amongst the most memorable films in this writer’s memory featuring mental and emotional breakdowns, however, would probably be Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Spike Jonze’s Adaptation, and — more recently — Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Adding that to the list would be filmmaker Alex Ross Perry’s (Listen Up Philip) fantastic Queen of Earth. Perry’s sharp-left into dark territory is a delicious, almost fascinating viewing experience, which only goes to solidify his short, yet already strong filmography. The movie’s both a gorgeous love letter to the cinematic trademarks of genre classics and a lavish showcase of Perry’s dazzling bundle of talent throughout the film’s runtime. Add to that Elizabeth Moss’ outstanding performance as a human being whose sudden bout of loneliness becomes a threat to her sanity, and viewers have gotten themselves a film that forever drives them to the edge of their very seats.

7. IT FOLLOWS

It Follows Review ThumbSymbolic to trust issues and the ongoing battle with one’s inner demons, It Follows is a deliciously atmospheric horror film that relies fairly on creeps, technical brilliance and fantastic character evolution to take it forward. In a world where horror has become an extremely mainstream affair, David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore effort — coupled with one of the best performances of the year in Maika Monroe — is one of the year’s clearest winners. Ever so tense, with the buildup taking no time, the movie makes sure to go against the tide of clichés, whilst paying pitch-perfect tribute to retro-horror is possibly the finest way possible. (That score by Disasterpiece is just the right amount of dark, delicious and old school.) It Follows is that genre film that warrants wholehearted acceptance from both genre enthusiasts and otherwise, making it the kind of rare modern horror movie that understands the importance of quality in cinema.

6. THE HATEFUL EIGHT

The Hateful Eight Review ThumbQuentin Tarantino’s mastery over filmmaking can prove one thing: he can make a suspenseful whodunit without the usual gimmickry of action set-pieces, subplots and pretty young likable humans. The film is filled with dislikable, racist and sexist characters, runs for almost three hours, is highly contained and relies heavily upon nothing but conversations. But that’s the thing: the conversations allow for a distinct — and yet not a tired — exposition on the film’s characters and their respective motives, automatically making this the character study few get while at the movies these days. Every single character, from the ones with the longest runtime to the cameo appearances, has a justified place in the film, and one definitely needs to watch it to know why. Plus, the movie’s shot in delicious film, and if nothing else, hardcore enthusiasts of visual arts will definitely fall in love with the movie’s overall old school visual texture.

5. PHOENIX

Phoenix Review ThumbThe unassuming beginning and unclear buildup of Phoenix are deliberate. Writer-director Christian Petzold wants viewers to find answers with the film rather than spectate, if only to suck them into the protagonist’s (and the film’s) world, and their driving force: hope. And before the readers come to a quick judgment on the word, let’s emphasize on what I really mean by it. Nelly is driven by a rather insane amount of hope for her estranged husband. Her friend and confidante Lene is driven by the hope that her yet ambiguous feelings for Nelly will get the redemption she deserves; her estranged husband, “Johnny”, on the other hand, is driven by the hope for survival. Harrowingly tense, whilst undramatic, Petzold’s brilliant drama perfectly understands the four human feelings his effort tries to symbolically convey — love, fear, pain (from betrayal) and redemption. If you haven’t caught this one yet, you’re missing out on a lot.

4. PIKU

Piku Review ThumbMasaan (English: Crematorium) may be one of the most talked about Indian Hindi-language movies of 2015, but if there’s a particular movie that’s bowled this one over, it has to be Shoojit Sircar’s gorgeously executed, brilliantly acted Piku. For a mainstream release, this is a very small, anti-formula movie — decisions are made abruptly, tension is formed and broken within a second, and characters unravel as quickly or as slowly as their emotions allow them to Aside from having one of Irrfan Khan’s (Life of Pi) most magnetic performances, Piku is supported by Deepika Padukone’s (Tamasha) career-best act in her filmography. Juhi Chaturvedi’s surprisingly sharp screenplay makes for a laudable effort that’s also a silent, respectable tribute to the revered Indian filmmakers of yore. (Fun fact: the eponymous protagonist, for example, is blessed with a nickname that holds connections to the title of Satyajit Ray’s 1980 made-for-television short.)

3. SPOTLIGHT

Spotlight Review ThumbSpotlight is based on the true story of a bunch of reporters in The Boston Globe’s titular subsidiary newspaper attempt to blow the whistle on a rather high-stakes cover-up. And the nature of the cover-up incites in me an very personal reaction, but what really makes it an incredibly unblemished film is its perspective. There is no dramatic interlude or no sinister subplot; we’re just given the point-of-view of reporters working the story. Movies based on true events are usually very decorative and formulaic, but Win Win director Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight understands the effectiveness of unpretentious simplicity — one of the its strongest plus points. Couple that with an authentic depiction of Boston and its people, and viewers have themselves a credibly executed movie. Sure, there’s a chance those missing some “drama” might find the movie boring, but there’s a high chance the director’s vision will get his deserved due.

2. THE END OF THE TOUR

The End of the Tour Review ThumbThose who do not know of David Foster Wallace will get obsessively curious once they’re done watching The End of the Tour, directed with an extreme amount of finesse by James Ponsoldt. Having previously tackled troubled characters in Smashed, Ponsoldt yet again wins viewers with his almost word-for-word adaptation of Dave Lipsky’s Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. Not only does the viewing experience give viewers the joy of a road movie; this delicious conversation-heavy cinema gives Jason Segel his most authentic role yet, and Jesse Eisenberg his least awkward. Eisenberg, who shows a dynamic range with his portrayal of Lipsky, plays fantastically well off the strengths of Segel’s Wallace (whose authentic performance gives the film surprising credence). Those who haven’t watched the film definitely need to catch up on it as soon as they can: it’s the kind of movie that just works.

1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Mad Max Fury Road Review ThumbGeorge Miller’s first three installments of Mad Max may have created a rather eclectic universe full of uncanny characters, and the fourth could just have as well been an unremarkable addition, considering Mad Max Beyond Thunderdrome wasn’t exactly the best of the initial trilogy. But here’s the thing: Mad Max: Fury Road is not just the best out of the movie series; it’s also a cinematic masterpiece, and takes the cake as the best film this year. The brilliant cinematography and melange of gorgeous practical-meets-CGI marries Margaret Sixel’s beautifully rhythmic edit decisions to make a technically pitch-perfect feature-length action set-piece. Miller and his group of group of co-screenwriters, however, have generated such a gorgeous spin on the dystopian world with so many hidden messages of the patriarchal socio-political construct that — should the viewer get it — will serve as an incredible eye-opener. This one’s a benchmark for action movies and blockbuster cinemas in general.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

TIER ONE:
CRÈME DE LA CRÈME


2015 was not 2014.

There were a lot of disappointments in cinema last year. The great news, however, is that we still couldn’t help but find gems all over the world to have released within the year to make a top 30 list, which has been divided into three parts. These thirty films cover everything I’ve been able to watch. Tier One lies above them all; it covers the creme de la creme of every kind of cinema — mainstream, independent and world alike. From westerns and road movies to science fiction and the angst of betrayal, this countdown seems to have traveled a lot. And we mean it.

Hopping past Hollywood, post-war Germany, the troubled minds of humans and their creations and (believe it or not) Indian interstate and intercity highways, this countdown manages to pick the best of whatever’s passed through the eyes and ears of this writer. So if you haven’t been able to catch much last year and are looking for the perfect bunch of recommendations to start off, this would definitely be it.

10. ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

I can feel a bunch of eyebrows having been raised, because superficially, this does not look like the kind of movie that deserves a place in the the Top Ten. For those who haven’t watched the film and are still skeptical about giving it a go, here’s a tip: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is NOT The Fault in Our Stars. Sure, it’s about dying people, but the delicious narrative and ferocious humor gorgeously complements the rather authentic (and relatable) character evolution of the movie’s protagonists and supporting characters. Is the movie heartbreaking? Yes, but the pain comes without the usual schmaltz of cinema featuring young adults — which gives viewers a better chance of being affected by the sheer overwhelmingness of emotion. And if that’s not enough, there’s the wonderful score of Brian Eno and Olivia Cooke’s stellar act as the “Dying Girl”. An easy must-watch with tons of repeat value, this.

9. EX MACHINA

Artificial intelligence has always been the subject of fascination of many filmmakers — they’ve come a long way from Metropolis to the movie adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Steven Spielberg’s A. I. Artificial Intelligence, however, are possibly amongst the most known within the genre to introduce humanity within these fictionalized man-made creations. Novelist Alex Garland, whose talent shone brightly through his screenplays for Danny Boyle’s early directorial efforts, comes onto his own as a full-blown auteur with his directorial debut. The unconventional, low-key narrative forces viewers to ask themselves of the darkness their own species is filled with — questions tackling the moral ambiguity between the creator and its creation; of responsibility and power. Lush cinematography, a taut score and powerhouse performances by Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander only further helps the film’s case, easily turning it into a top-notch viewing experience.

8. QUEEN OF EARTH

The topic of mental disintegration is a hard, hard nut to crack. Amongst the most memorable films in this writer’s memory featuring mental and emotional breakdowns, however, would probably be Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Spike Jonze’s Adaptation, and — more recently — Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Adding that to the list would be filmmaker Alex Ross Perry’s (Listen Up Philip) fantastic Queen of Earth. Perry’s sharp-left into dark territory is a delicious, almost fascinating viewing experience, which only goes to solidify his short, yet already strong filmography. The movie’s both a gorgeous love letter to the cinematic trademarks of genre classics and a lavish showcase of Perry’s dazzling bundle of talent throughout the film’s runtime. Add to that Elizabeth Moss’ outstanding performance as a human being whose sudden bout of loneliness becomes a threat to her sanity, and viewers have gotten themselves a film that forever drives them to the edge of their very seats.

7. IT FOLLOWS

Symbolic to trust issues and the ongoing battle with one’s inner demons, It Follows is a deliciously atmospheric horror film that relies fairly on creeps, technical brilliance and fantastic character evolution to take it forward. In a world where horror has become an extremely mainstream affair, David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore effort — coupled with one of the best performances of the year in Maika Monroe — is one of the year’s clearest winners. Ever so tense, with the buildup taking no time, the movie makes sure to go against the tide of clichés, whilst paying pitch-perfect tribute to retro-horror is possibly the finest way possible. (That score by Disasterpiece is just the right amount of dark, delicious and old school.) It Follows is that genre film that warrants wholehearted acceptance from both genre enthusiasts and otherwise, making it the kind of rare modern horror movie that understands the importance of quality in cinema.

6. THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Quentin Tarantino’s mastery over filmmaking can prove one thing: he can make a suspenseful whodunit without the usual gimmickry of action set-pieces, subplots and pretty young likable humans. The film is filled with dislikable, racist and sexist characters, runs for almost three hours, is highly contained and relies heavily upon nothing but conversations. But that’s the thing: the conversations allow for a distinct — and yet not a tired — exposition on the film’s characters and their respective motives, automatically making this the character study few get while at the movies these days. Every single character, from the ones with the longest runtime to the cameo appearances, has a justified place in the film, and one definitely needs to watch it to know why. Plus, the movie’s shot in delicious film, and if nothing else, hardcore enthusiasts of visual arts will definitely fall in love with the movie’s overall old school visual texture.

5. PHOENIX

The unassuming beginning and unclear buildup of Phoenix are deliberate. Writer-director Christian Petzold wants viewers to find answers with the film rather than spectate, if only to suck them into the protagonist’s (and the film’s) world, and their driving force: hope. And before the readers come to a quick judgment on the word, let’s emphasize on what I really mean by it. Nelly is driven by a rather insane amount of hope for her estranged husband. Her friend and confidante Lene is driven by the hope that her yet ambiguous feelings for Nelly will get the redemption she deserves; her estranged husband, “Johnny”, on the other hand, is driven by the hope for survival. Harrowingly tense, whilst undramatic, Petzold’s brilliant drama perfectly understands the four human feelings his effort tries to symbolically convey — love, fear, pain (from betrayal) and redemption. If you haven’t caught this one yet, you’re missing out on a lot.

4. PIKU

Masaan (English: Crematorium) may be one of the most talked about Indian Hindi-language movies of 2015, but if there’s a particular movie that’s bowled this one over, it has to be Shoojit Sircar’s gorgeously executed, brilliantly acted Piku. For a mainstream release, this is a very small, anti-formula movie — decisions are made abruptly, tension is formed and broken within a second, and characters unravel as quickly or as slowly as their emotions allow them to Aside from having one of Irrfan Khan’s (Life of Pi) most magnetic performances, Piku is supported by Deepika Padukone’s (Tamasha) career-best act in her filmography. Juhi Chaturvedi’s surprisingly sharp screenplay makes for a laudable effort that’s also a silent, respectable tribute to the revered Indian filmmakers of yore. (Fun fact: the eponymous protagonist, for example, is blessed with a nickname that holds connections to the title of Satyajit Ray’s 1980 made-for-television short.)

3. SPOTLIGHT

Spotlight is based on the true story of a bunch of reporters in The Boston Globe’s titular subsidiary newspaper attempt to blow the whistle on a rather high-stakes cover-up. And the nature of the cover-up incites in me an very personal reaction, but what really makes it an incredibly unblemished film is its perspective. There is no dramatic interlude or no sinister subplot; we’re just given the point-of-view of reporters working the story. Movies based on true events are usually very decorative and formulaic, but Win Win director Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight understands the effectiveness of unpretentious simplicity — one of the its strongest plus points. Couple that with an authentic depiction of Boston and its people, and viewers have themselves a credibly executed movie. Sure, there’s a chance those missing some “drama” might find the movie boring, but there’s a high chance the director’s vision will get his deserved due.

2. THE END OF THE TOUR

Those who do not know of David Foster Wallace will get obsessively curious once they’re done watching The End of the Tour, directed with an extreme amount of finesse by James Ponsoldt. Having previously tackled troubled characters in Smashed, Ponsoldt yet again wins viewers with his almost word-for-word adaptation of Dave Lipsky’s Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. Not only does the viewing experience give viewers the joy of a road movie; this delicious conversation-heavy cinema gives Jason Segel his most authentic role yet, and Jesse Eisenberg his least awkward. Eisenberg, who shows a dynamic range with his portrayal of Lipsky, plays fantastically well off the strengths of Segel’s Wallace (whose authentic performance gives the film surprising credence). Those who haven’t watched the film definitely need to catch up on it as soon as they can: it’s the kind of movie that just works.

1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

George Miller’s first three installments of Mad Max may have created a rather eclectic universe full of uncanny characters, and the fourth could just have as well been an unremarkable addition, considering Mad Max Beyond Thunderdrome wasn’t exactly the best of the initial trilogy. But here’s the thing: Mad Max: Fury Road is not just the best out of the movie series; it’s also a cinematic masterpiece, and takes the cake as the best film this year. The brilliant cinematography and melange of gorgeous practical-meets-CGI marries Margaret Sixel’s beautifully rhythmic edit decisions to make a technically pitch-perfect feature-length action set-piece. Miller and his group of group of co-screenwriters, however, have generated such a gorgeous spin on the dystopian world with so many hidden messages of the patriarchal socio-political construct that — should the viewer get it — will serve as an incredible eye-opener. This one’s a benchmark for action movies and blockbuster cinemas in general.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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