2015 was certainly an interesting year for politics, economics, art, and everything in between. The world was forced to watch on in horror as the forces of evil attempted to destroy our way of life. People lost their lives, cities were attacked, and the world’s governments came together to make a difference. We stood against those responsible, questioning their motives and responding to threats.
The year in cinema pushed boundaries and formed unique and invigorating works of art. Films including The Martian and Sicario, both of which I watched on the same day, proved the magic and majesty of celluloid can illuminate the globe. However, films including Fantastic Four and Chappie fell flat on their stupid faces!
For Reshoot & Rewind, the year delivered its fair share of hits. Covering a greater number of topics and formats, I aimed to take chances and deliver the best articles possible for my loyal followers. I hope to make 2016 an even better year for myself and the site. Thank you all for embracing the craziness – delving into the reviews, lists, interviews, news pieces, op-eds etc. I loved putting together.
Here are the best of the best:
1. The Martian
Director Ridley Scott returns to form with this testament to technology, ingenuity, and the human spirit. The Martian is a fascinating and fun action-adventure-sci-fi romp, bringing Scott and leading man Matt Damon back from the brink of critical and commercial failure. Every element – including its gleeful lead characters, rousing set pieces, light-hearted direction, and positive message – establishes this rollercoaster ride as one of 2015’s most innovative and spirited works of art.
Sicario marks the true power of Hollywood cinema, spreading its wings and utilising its resources to discuss a crucial socio-political topic. This crime-thriller, yet again, showcased the brilliance and resilience of director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins. Together, these power-house professionals paint a gorgeous, gritty, and confronting picture of the US-Mexico conflict. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio del Toro craft strong performances, bouncing off on another with style. The film draws the line between what is right and what is beneficial for the free world.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road is the year’s most invigorating and inventive blockbuster. Every ingredient of this post-apocalyptic actioner is awe-inspiring. Balancing between nostalgia and a contemporary vision, the film marks the glorious return of acclaimed filmmaker George Miller. A key part of 2015’s feminist angle, it bravely pushed it titular character to the side – crafting the most fun female action hero since Ellen Ripley from the Alien Franchise. In addition, any film featuring the line: “Fang it, schlanger” is alright by me!
4. 99 Homes
99 Homes is a shocking and rousing account of middle America’s struggle against The Man. Shockingly, it’s based in the realm of reality! From its confronting opening sequence, the film delves head-on into the post-Global Financial Crisis wasteland. As a character study, 99 Homes excels thanks to efficient, brutal screenwriting and direction. As a performance piece, lead actors Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon deliver powerful, gripping performances as two sides of the same coin.
5. Bridge of Spies
Steven Spielberg is one of few contemporary filmmakers still creating genuine works of art. Charging through a multi-decade career, the veteran genius returns to true form with Lincoln and Bridge of Spies. Bridge of Spies, teaming up Spielberg with Tom Hanks again, links a Cold War-era narrative with modern socio-political themes. The film fuses comedic moments with dark, searing drama, serving up one of the era’s least known but most enthralling true stories.
In the year of long-awaited/belated sequel/reboot/whatevers, Creed broke the mould, destroyed the competition, but was still gracious in victory. Easily eclipsing Jake Gyllenhaal-vehicle Southpaw, the film aptly harks back on the Rocky franchise legacy whilst heading on its own journey. Throwing their names into the Oscar buzz ring, leading man Michael B. Jordan and American treasure Sylvester Stallone deliver career-defining turns in a magnetic mentor-protege relationship. Creed was the biggest surprise of 2015.
Unlike many ‘For Your Consideration’ projects, dramedy Youth acknowledges its foreign director’s style, allowing them to create a truly original achievement. The film simply would not work without Paolo Sorrentino’s outside-the-box vision and acute attention to detail. This dramedy ably comments on the highs and lows of celebrity and age. Lead actors Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel handle the balance between satirical bite, emotional intensity, and laugh-out-loud moments with ease.
8. Inside Out
As the modern version of Herman’s Head, Inside Out proves that a familiar idea can be reinvigorated and improved upon with the right people involved. Pixar Animation Studios, returning to form after a string of disappointments, showcases truckloads of imagination with this light, breezy effort. Featuring likeable characters and enjoyable set-pieces, Inside Out is a more exciting action extravaganza than Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, and Jupiter Ascending combined. In addition, its climax will have every viewer shedding a tear or two.
Robbed of success at this year’s Academy Awards, Selma is an emotionally affecting and necessary docudrama. Covering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s rise to prominence in America’s conscious state, the film documents a tough, gruelling time in modern civilisation. Covering important events and key issues, Ava DuVernay’s direction depicts the essential details with class and maturity. David Oyelowo, another British actor perfectly embodying an American historical figure, is worth the admission cost alone.
10. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Winning Best Picture and Best Director deservedly, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a flawed but ultimately assured and detailed dramedy. Veering away from 21 Grams and Babel territory, acclaimed filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu crafts an outside-the-box analysis of contemporary cinema, celebrity, and fandom. He along with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki create many “How did they do that?!” flourishes throughout this thought-provoking character study. Michael Keaton is back with a vengeance!
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Amy, Dope, Mississippi Grind, The Program, The Lobster, Straight Outta Compton, The Gift, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Love & Mercy, Slow West, A Most Violent Year, Top Five, The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Spooks: The Greater Good, Trainwreck, Ant-Man, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Partisan, Unfriended, Ex Machina, The DUFF, Still Alice, Furious 7, Run All Night, American Sniper, Focus, Pride, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Longest Ride