Josh Cabrita’s Top 10 Movies of 2015
- About Elly
Asghar Farhadi’s social critique of sexism in contemporary Iran is a slice of life that plays like a Hitchcockian mystery. Boasting naturalistic performances from the ensemble cast, and an unobtrusive visual style from Farhadi, About Elly is a raw thriller of mundane conversations with incredibly tense drama.
Buried in an artificial pastiche and a world of false faces, Nelly Lenz returns home from a concentration camp with a disfigured visage in a disfigured Germany. As an allegory of German society after WWII, Phoenix was one of the year’s most dense and thought-provoking films.
Charlie Kaufman’s first film in seven years is one of the most stylistically inventive animated films of recent memory, but also one of the most poignant, complex and thoughtful. This film, which has puppets and no actors, ironically provides some of the most devastatingly human moments of any film in 2015.
- The Tribe
Not a single word is spoken in this Ukrainian drama about a crime ring in a hearing impaired boarding school, and although this wordless film may sound gimmicky, its narrative experimentation and gruesome finale will leave you speechless.
- Ex Machina
It was a good year for Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac but their best work was in this sci-fi chamber piece about the inception of sentient artificial intelligence. Ex Machina is a film tightly wound, where every thrill is linked to a larger discourse about free will and determinism, and an exploration of what attributes make us human.
With no distribution and hardly any reviews, Guillaume Senez’s feature-length debut is perhaps the year’s most hidden gem. At TIFF I saw this film about a teenage couple who have to deal with a surprise pregnancy, and there I shed my first, second, third and last tear of the festival.
- Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
No film delighted me more this year than Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s coming of age story about a self-centered cinephile who breaks out of his shell when his mother forces him to befriend the girl in his class with terminal cancer. With kinetic camerawork, a hilarious screenplay and two excellent performances from Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke, this Sundance darling is emotional and funny, gut-busting and heart-wrenching.
- The End Of The Tour
James Ponsoldt’s po-mo bromance is a multi-faceted biopic on infinite jest author, David Foster Wallace, which includes excellent work from Jesse Eisenberg as a Rolling Stone interviewer and Jason Segel as the enigmatic writer.
- Louder Than Bombs
Joachim Trier’s English language debut is a story of grief told from many perspectives and angles. It’s a quietly powerful film that builds subjectivity with the meticulous editing and voice over, culminating into an honest domestic drama that does precisely the opposite of its Hollywood counterparts.
- Son Of Saul
I could hardly walk, speak or function after watching Laszlo Nemes Holocaust drama that follows a man who tries to give a dead boy a Jewish burial inside Auschwitz-Birkenau. For the entire film, the camera is nearly fettered to our protagonist’s shoulder, avoiding exploitation by leaving the atrocities outside or at the edges of the frame. Son Of Saul is a harrowing tour-de-force that may be considered one of the most important films ever made on its subject.
Honorable Mentions (in order of preference): The Hateful Eight, James White, Carol, Creed, Spotlight, Gett: The Trial Of Vivianne Amselem, The Walk, Jafar Panahi’s Taxi, World Of Tomorrow, Goodnight Mommy.