Betsy’s Top 10 Films of 2015

I’m absolutely certain of my enthusiasm for at least 3 things: 1) The turnover of a new year, 2) Movies, and 3) Lists – so this kind of thing is a no-brainer. 

10. Crimson Peak (trailer)

crimson-peak-tom-mia

It’s too bad that this haunting gothic romance was marketed as a horror movie. It really isn’t scary – but I don’t think it was built to be. This film has got style for miles. The word I can’t get away from is “grandeur” – and that really applies to everything in this film: the plot, the characters, the settings and costumes – even the ghosts and violence. Plus: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and goddamn Jessica Chastain in a creepy love triangle murder mystery!? Maybe its my inner goth coming out, but this movie just gets me. Total guilty pleasure material.

 

9. Love & Mercy (trailer)
LoveandMercy
Even though I knew the broad strokes of the plot coming in, the fact that this really happened to one of the most brilliant and popular music-makers of the 20th century is just downright shocking. But the craziness of the story (which is SO crazy) isn’t even the best part of this movie. I am admittedly 100% a sucker for dramatic portrayals of artistic genius – but you guys. Brian Wilson. Holy cow – that guy is a national treasure.  John Cusack and Paul Dano are both heartbreaking as old/young Wilson – and Elizabeth Banks beautifully shimmers. Also the soundtrack is great, duh.

 

8. The Gift (trailer)
Gift2
I quickly wrote this movie off after seeing the trailer – which made it look, to me, like an awkward, kind of 90’s creepy neighbor/stalker type deal. I’m so glad I was so wrong! Joel Edgerton wrote, directed, and starred in this stunning, sobering creepfest, which patiently crescendos into a truly chilling finale about karma and cruelty that stuck with me for hours after leaving the theater. Edgerton and Jason Bateman are fascinating foils for one another, simmering perfectly under polite smiles while we all wonder just what the F is going on here. The pacing is perfect and the performances are great and I won’t give anything else away. Just see it, it’s crazy.

 

7. It Follows (trailer)
ItFollows1
When we left the theater, a friend said something about how the movie was “dreadful” and I almost got mad because I liked it so much. I was quick to jump to its defense – dude, this is such a cool movie! Incredibly fun/scary premise, phenomenal soundtrack, great performances by young up-and-comers, such a weird and interesting other-worldliness in the details of its setting… and the feeling it gives you… that chilling sense of being followed all the time, like there’s always someone slowly approaching who is trying to kill you… And then I got it. “Dreadful.” Haha.
It was embarrassing.

 
6. The End of the Tour (trailer)

End of the Tour 1

This movie left me thinking for days about how important it is – and how hard it can be sometimes – to be a decent, kind person. I’m sure the next time I watch it, I’ll leave it thinking about something totally different but similarly profound, deep into my core, about the complicated lie of success, the unavoidability of loneliness, and how to do a good job living as a human being. Jason Segal is perfectly bruised, transparent and so midwestern as David Foster Wallace, and the conversation between Lipsky and Wallace is mesmerizing both because of the warm sparkle of words and ideas, but also because of the evolving tension in the subtext. Worth watching again and again.

5. Spotlight (trailer)

Spotlight 2

I didn’t expect that watching a small group of people slowly figure something out would be riveting – but Spotlight is unique. Out of the gate, this film has a great story about a group of investigative journalists, who are committed to the Truth, publishing an article that will begin an international tidal wave of justice. The fact that the story is unraveled by an incredible cast (including Mark Ruffalo, who kills it in typical Ruffalo fashion) and straightforward, thoughtful writing elevates it into an unusually moving experience.

 

4. The Wolfpack (trailer)

Wolfpack 3

The Wolfpack follows six teenage brothers who have spent all of their lives within the confines of their family’s NYC apartment through the period of their emergence into life outside. One of the things I loved about this film is that the world the wolfpack boys created for themselves inside the apartment isn’t gloomy and dark – it’s a fun, creative place where they make props and costumes to re-enact their favorite movies and sing along to 80’s pop songs. The glimpse of the brothers we get through this film is such a treat – watching them move as a unit, so uninhibited and fearless, embracing so much unknown together. These small acts of courage are really powerful. I left the screening eager to talk, with so many questions, completely inspired.

 

3. Queen of Earth (trailer)

Queen_2

I don’t know if this movie is for everyone. It’s a quiet, uncomfortably intimate, kind of shocking portrait of a woman slowly losing her mind AND it is one of the most memorable film experiences I’ve had in a very long time. Elizabeth Moss is astounding. As the subtle shifts between her warmth, paranoia, optimism, confusion, fear, etc. occur around the edges of her eyes and mouth, Alex Ross Perry really zooms in and holds still so we get as close to her – as close to understanding her – as we can. And it’s really tense and uncomfortable, very human and real – and pretty scary. A film this rare and interesting shouldn’t be missed. Check this out on Netflix when you know you won’t be interrupted.

 

2. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (trailer)

Me and Earl

There’s no way to describe this movie that doesn’t make it sound kind of sad and sappy. High school girl is diagnosed with leukemia, high school boy is forced to befriend her by his mom – she is quirky, he is awkward – they develop a friendship and she teaches him lessons about life. Do all these things happen in this film? Yeah, they do.  It’s also full of surprises though – a wonderful high school vibe, a smart sense of humor, total disregard for formula, thoughtful writing, and somehow it handles the balance between the fun carelessness of being young and the seriousness of staring down death with genuine grace.  Extra bonus: the hero and his best friend make short film parodies of classic films out of sock puppets and claymation and stuff and they’re delightful!

 

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (trailer)

Fury Road

This movie blew my face off. Maybe it’s because the first time I saw it we were in the front row… but woah! I wasn’t even expecting to like it really – and holy cow it just blew my face right off. The physical world of this Max is so vast and harsh and beautiful, the stakes of this adventure are so high, and the characters that populate the story are so memorably sculpted and elegantly performed – the film is something totally new, way beyond action and adventure and dystopian scifi. There was no question in my mind about whether/not this was my favorite film of the year – its outlandish power and frenetic pace left me gasping for breath each of the multiple times I saw it in the theater and its gravity attached itself to me for days like a badge of honor. This is a really special movie. If you are one of the five or six people who hasn’t seen it yet, don’t miss it.

 

Honorable Mentions:

I saw this very recently - and to be honest, it should be on the list as number 8 1/2.
I saw this very recently – and to be honest, it should be on the list as number 8 1/2.
The Overnight - Are all California dinner parties like this? I'm just going to imagine they are.
Are all California dinner parties like this? I’m just going to imagine they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

everest_movie_poster_2
I spent all the next day reading wikipedia articles about crazy millionaires who risk their lives summiting the world’s highest peaks and while I’m impressed, I also think they’re kind of dumb.
Ex Machina - REALLY close #11. Best unexpected dance scene of the year for sure, plus Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleeson might be our 2015 breakout stars - they're both in Star Wars: The Force Awakens... plus Gleeson is in Brooklyn and The Revenant too. Big year for that ginger. I like it.
REALLY close #11. Best unexpected dance scene of the year for sure, plus Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleeson might be our 2015 breakout stars – they’re both in Star Wars: The Force Awakens… plus Gleeson is in Brooklyn and The Revenant too. Big year for that ginger. I like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macbeth - Spooky and heartbreaking. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard kill, literally and metaphorically.
Spooky and heartbreaking. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard kill, literally and metaphorically.
Kingsman: The Secret Service - Aside from the church/freebird scene maybe, this isn't anything earth shattering - but man, this movie is so much fun.
Aside from the church/freebird scene maybe, this isn’t anything earth shattering – but man, this movie is so much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you check out some of these great films from 2015 if you missed any of them. I’m eager to see many that I missed from last year including Brooklyn, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Magic Mike XXL, Anomalisa, and Room.

Any of your favorites from 2015 not included? Post a trailer link and share with the rest of the group.

Happy New Year, friends!

betsy midnight

 

3 Comments

  1. I don’t think I saw 10 new movies last year, so my ‘top 10 list’ would blow. I loved ex machina, though. I liked Kingsman a lot, until the end…the final jokes were meant to be funny and sexy, I guess, but felt super misogynistic and ruined some of the fun.

    Like

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