Best Films Of 2015 …So Far


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Having said goodbye to the summer blockbusters and with Festival season just kicking in, this is the perfect time for a quick recap of what the year in film has brought so far. Hoping to recall those works deserving to be remembered among the best, some of them at risk of being silenced amidst the deafening noise of the marketing campaigns behind the movies going for awards consideration.

First thing that comes to mind is how remarkably good this first part of the year has been, thanks to a number of terrific arthouse titles which, compared to the list of prestige films scheduled for premieres in the autumn, look like a winning lot. That’s why we believe we may have already seen the best film of the year, and although we still need to give some thought to our favourites, if only a few titles of this year’s festival crop matches the dramatic depths and career best performances of ’45 Years’ ; Roy Andersson’s pessimistic; surreal and compassionate sketches of life in ‘A Pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on existence” or the remarkable achievement that is Joshua Oppenheimer’s ‘The Look Of Silence’, going back to dig in the scars of the Indonesian genocide, after his acclaimed documentary “Act Of Killing’, but this time from the point of view of the victims; this would be another vintage year for the seventh art indeed.

Among the ongoing trends, high in Today’s media agenda voices against genre inequality from all corners of the industry are multiplying, from US directors accusing the Academy of being a majority of white, veteran male members preventing opportunities for people of other backgrounds that could add diversity and better reflect the values of our multicultural society. This sorry state of affairs have put an extra focus in current works by female directors, particularly those whose subjects is related to their genre or sexual identity. And no better recent example than Celine Sciamma’s remarkable coming of age story ‘Girlhood’, where a girl of African background living in the Parisian suburbs finds herself empowered by her gang of friends, while overcoming the many obstacles her origin, cultural background and social position bring. Another finely observed coming of age tale is Alice Rohrwacher’s ‘The Wonders’, narrating the struggles of a family of beekeepers whose stubborn patriarch wants her family to lead a healthier life and avoid the insane commercialization of our world, together with his wife, some helpers and three young daughters. The arrival of a reality TV show trying to recruit locals to sell the trendy “rural chic” ways will shock their world. Also remarkable is one of Lena Dunham’s Girls collaborator’s Desiree Akhavan’s hilarious debut exploring the conflicting parts that shape up her identity as the bisexual daughter of a wealthy Persian ex-pat family, living in the middle of Brooklyn’s young hipsters community.

In the States, Noah Baumbach is on his way to establish himself as the new king of comedy, with two notable new titles, “When We’re Young” and “Mistress America”; Pixar has recovered his pulse after its Disney takeover raised fears of its trademark top narrative standards being sacrificed in the altar of sequels. ‘Inside Out’ brings the studio back to its best with a funny lesson on how our brains and our emotions function, done with the most exhilarating animation and with a timeless vocal performance by Amy Poehler, the mere impersonation of Joy.

Those who forecast big studios collapsing by focusing only on expensive FX-led blockbusters have been proven wrong. Blockbusters have reigned supreme. To The Disney/Marvel avalanche of superheroes other studios have seen their veteran (Fast & Furious; Mission Impossible) or rebooted franchises (Jurassic World) beating records beyond the most optimistic predictions. And even the critics have fallen for George Miller’s long time gestating new instalment of his iconic ‘Mad Max’. On the same coin’s tale, Indie films, particularly this year’s Sundance contingent –Me and Earl and The Dying Girl; Dope; etc.) have tanked at the box office, probably due to the fact that they have mostly lost the edge that made American independents once a revolution within the industry. These days indie output looks more like the films and ideas Hollywood can’t be bothered on producing anymore, dressed in funky editing and showing an arty makeover to disguise the dullness of its propositions.

2015 will also be remembered as the year of the music documentary, three diverse musicians whose lives were hit by tragedy have generated some of the most distinctive documentary works; Asif Kapadia’s “Amy”, which managed to put a human side to her sad story; “Cobain: Montage Of Heck” full of great unseen footage of Nirvana’s frontman from her daughter’s archives and the Netflix exclusive story of Nina Simone, profusely documenting her musical genie; political activism and dealing with mental disease. More music related docs such as Wilko Johnson’s; The Story of Sarah Records and widely anticipating ones about Janis Joplin and Arcade Fire’s last tour will guarantee this symbiotic relationship to carry on filling seats. As an extension, notable music biopics have also been the talk of the town, from the modest but very accomplished portrait of Brian Wilson ‘Love & Mercy’ to the smash hit story of hip-hop ground breakers N.W.A “Straight Outta Compton” or Mia Hansen-Love’s “Eden”, the story of her DJ brother, set during the French electronica revolution of the late 90’s . Soon to be joined by Don Cheadle’s “Miles Ahead” and Tom Hiddleston impersonating Hank Williams or Ethan Hawke in Chet Baker’s biopic, making of 2015 probably one of the most music-related years in films ever.

TV and film keep on melting their boundaries, French existentialist auteur Bruno Dumont surprised the world with ‘Li’l Quinquin’ an ironic four-parter crime miniseries – somewhere in between Twin Peaks and Inspector Clouseau – keeping on his usual subjects of evil presences amongst us and spirituality but unearthing a refreshingly new comic element. Edgar Reitz continued his acclaimed TV series “Heimat”, with a spin off prequel set in the 1840’s, “Home From Home: Chronicle of a vision” preserving his spectacular use of cinematography and detailed historical research.

And last, but not least standout examples of world cinema such as Ukraine’s Miroslav Slaboshpitsky and his bleak, terrific tale of social abuse shot in the sign language,’The Tribe’; Mauritanian master Abderrahmane Sissako’s ‘Timbuktu’, a beautifully made exposé of the cruelties brought by the Islamic occupation of the Malian city; slow cinema apostle Lav Diaz’s extraordinary depiction of the annihilation of a Philippines’ rural community with the arrival of dictator Marcos’s rule or Swedish Haneke’s disciple Ruben Östlund and his dark farce about masculinity and its changing role in our society, ‘Force Majeure”, all of which have contributed to an excellent first eight months of moviegoing.

Our favourite films of 2015 so far, in alphabetical order are:

45-Years-web45 YEARS
(Andrew Haigh)
a pigeon sat 2)A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE
(Roy Andersson)
AMYAMY
(Asif Kapadia)
APPROPRIATE_BEHAVIOR_still_on_toiletAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR
(Desiree Akhavan)
BLIND_still_2_new BLIND
(Eskil Vogt)
kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-psterCOBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK
(Brett Morgen)
Eden_2EDEN
(Mia Hansen-Løve)
Force Majeure (1)FORCE MAJEURE
(Ruben Östlund)
from what is beforeFROM WHAT IS BEFORE
(Lav Diaz)
(L to R) Mariétou Touré, Lindsay Karamoh, Karidja Touré and Assa Sylla in Céline Sciamma's GIRLHOODGIRLHOOD
(Celine Sciamma)
going clearGOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF
(Alex Gibney)
die andere heimatHOME FROM HOME: CHRONICLE OF A VISION
(Edgar Reitz)
Pictured (L-R): Sadness, Fear, Anger, Disgust, Joy. 2015 Disney?Pixar. All Rights Reserved.INSIDE OUT
(Pete Docter & Ronnie del Carmen)
IT FOLLOWSIT FOLLOWS
(David Robert Mitchell)
kumikoKUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER
(David Zellner & Nathan Zellner)
ptit_quinquin_001LIL' QUINQUIN
(Bruno Dumont)
mad maxMAD MAX: FURY ROAD
(George Miller)
slow westSLOW WEST
(John Maclean)
DUKE_OF_BURGUNDY_02THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY
(Peter Strickland)
look-of-silence-the-web-001THE LOOK OF SILENCE
(Joshua Oppenheimer)
THE TRIBETHE TRIBE
(Miroslav Slaboshpitsky)
The_Wonders_2THE WONDERS
(Alice Rorhwacher)
theebTHEEB
(Naji Abu Nowar)
TIMBUKTUTIMBUKTU
(Abderrahmane Sissako)
mistress americaMISTRESS AMERICA/WHILE WE'RE YOUNG (Noah Baumbach)WHITE DOGWHITE GOD
(Kornél Mundruczó)