2015: The Top Ten

8 months of the year in review

Seeing as everyone is doing this kind of list I thought I should do my own. However as I only started this blog in April my top ten will be from April – December 2015. For each choice I will give one reason for my decision and a link to my original review.  Hopefully happy reading and happy new year! – Charlotte Sometimes

10) Ant-Man 

After the relative disappointment of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ this film was a surprise and joy to watch. Paul Rudd is hilarious in the title role as are the majority of the supporting cast, with Michael Pena often stealing the show.

9) Phoenix

 This film is undeservedly little-known. It’s tensw,  complex, atmospheric and utterly heartbreaking – a character study which shows that much of the devastation of war occurs during the aftermath.

8) Mad Max: Fury Road

Little needs to be said about why this film is so good. My two main reasons are Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furosa and the flamethrower guitarist (which is a must in a post-apocalyptic society). My main reluctance for not placing it higher is that I have only seen it once at the cinema, I fear that a rewatch on a smaller screen would provide less spectacle and resulting glee that the initial viewing provided.

7) The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Based on a graphic novel this film offers something very few films that feature teenage girls actually provides – a real insight into the turmoil that one endures

when not a girl but not yet a woman. Bel Powley is so emphatic in the lead role that she marks herself out as one to watch in the future.

6)  The Gift

If an award was given to unsung contribution to cinema of 2015 it would have to go to Joel Egerton. This film, which he directed, starred in and wrote, is both tense and engaging . It is also sharp and full of twists and turns implying that the much-maligned Thriller genre has more bite in it yet.

5) Man Up

Few genres offer as much loathing and love in equal measure as the Romanic Comedy. Tess Morris’ screenwriting debut is wicked smart and laden with multiple layers of emotion. Simon Pegg and Lake Bell are wonderful leads who are fantastically supported with a brilliant supporting cast. London rarely looks this good!

4) Star Wars 

The Force Awakens, as does my fandom…

3) Grandma

Lily Tomlin is extraordinary in this small yet superb movie. A road movie about getting an abortion may not sound that interesting or even appealing, yet this film is unexpectedly gripping and hilarious.

2) Inside Out

In a world in which awards ceremonies were just, and didn’t just go to oscar bait or oscar baiting performances, this film would sweep the awards. It truly deserves to. It manages to portray such an emotive and important issue as mental health with humour and love.

1) Brooklyn 

Of all the above ranking, this was the easiest to choose. Brooklyn is a timeless romantic epic. Saoirse Ronan is wonderfully endearing, giving a subtle performance (again something which rarely receives the awards it deserves) which deftly tugs at the heartstrings. With so many extraordinary character performances she manages to retain our focus. Few, if any other actresses of her age, have the ability to reveal so much with a look.

The Gift (2015)

Dare you look inside?

This film is good. Really good. It’s wicked, smart and tense. So tense, you’ll be on the edge of your sheet for most of the film’s 1hr 50min running time. Few contemporary Hollywood films are able to hook in an audience so quickly, so subtly, and keep them gripped to the end credits. Belonging to the ‘thriller’ genre this film (written directed and starring Joel Edgerton) it manages to avoid all the perils of a bad thriller movie. Typically films of this genre are set up with a chunk of exposition, a boring and obvious way of introducing character and story. With ‘The Gift’ Egerton totally avoids this hurdle, instead he sprinkles exposition into dialogue. Twists and turns are set up in a way that it is only once they happen that you realise they were even set up in the first place. Not once does the film dip in tension or give any hints on what will happen next. If you’ve seen the trailer and thought you’d seen it all, you really haven’t!

Robin (Rebecca Hall) and Simon (Jason Batman) move from Chicago to California, to an area not far from Simon’s hometown. When shopping for new home supplies the pair are approached by ‘Gordo’ (Joel Edgerton) who identifies himself as being an old school friend of Simon’s. Gordo quickly establishes himself in their lives, dropping off gifts and making surprise visits at their home. Although Robin seems happy enough to maintain contact with the ‘socially awkward’ Gordo, Simon grows uneasy with Gordo’s behaviour and decides to ‘break-up’ with him and ends their friendship. Gordo does not let this go easily and continues to have a hold over the pair. Secrets from the past swiftly and menacingly threaten to ruin their seemingly idealistic life.

This film is both modern yet welcomingly old-fashioned. Its plot and pacing align it with Hitchcockian storytelling. The fact that much of the film focuses on Robin’s perspective is a throwback to the Gothics of the 1940s. Her doubts over Gordo, and as a result doubts about her husband, are never overblown or ‘too’ melodramatic but rooted in a degree of realism and with complete sympathy. What could be a one dimensional role is instead fully rounded with Hall’s nuances, her subtle discomfort apparent yet carefully and gradually revealed. Bateman is equally as good, barely recognizable in a role that goes far beyond type. All too often taking the role of fraught and downtrodden father figure, he places the role of Simon with ease as he carefully navigates the fine lien between charming and douchebaggery. Whilst we are swift to become uncertain of Gordo’s intent, we soon realise that we know just as little about Simon. His interactions with both Robin and Gordo remain intriguing and frequently unsettling from start to finish.

 But it is Edgerton who remains the star here, portraying the oddest and most secretive of the three leads. Often films like this will signpost, practically with flashing neon lights, what will happen next and who we can trust. Within his script, cinematography and characterisation Edgerton doesn’t do this. All of these dimensions are far too complex for that, refusing to let the viewer rest on their laurels or take a breather. Nothing is certain in this cinematic universe; no-one can be trusted.

A surprise of a movie, engrossing and unpredictable in equal measure. This is a fantastic directorial debut, a tense psycho-thriller and well worth seeing.