Skip to content

January 15, 2016


Top 10 Films of 2015

by Franz Patrick

Below are my choices for the Top 10 Films of 2015. It must be noted that the list may change slightly if I happen to come across great movies I had missed prior to this post. The same rule applies to all of my annual Top 10 Lists. In other words, my lists are updated continually. My hope is to provide alternative movies that are absolutely worth seeing that may not or will not necessarily appear on “Top Critics” picks. Underneath each picture is an excerpt from my review which can be found in the archive. In the meantime, dive in and, as always, feel welcome to let me know what you think.

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies
Barak Goodman

“All of us have been touched with cancer—whether it be through a loved one, a friend, a co-worker, or a neighbor who lives a few houses down our own. Some of us may have gone through it directly. ‘Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,’ based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Siddhartha Mukherjee, is a highly compelling and informative six-hour documentary that should be seen by everyone. It begins with the early history of what we now refer to as cancer—dating back to ancient Egypt—and ends with highlighting the breakthroughs that researchers and physicians have made in the quest of finding a cure, or cures, against a most ingenious disease.”

Denis Villeneuve

“Like many exemplary suspenseful crime-thrillers, the picture knows the art of holding back on the score. This allows us to focus on the images—beautifully shot particularly feminine portraits in profile and wide shots of men in gear and their silhouettes. We hear barking of a lively dog. The distant chirping of crickets. The roar of jet engines. The whirring blades of a helicopter. The rat-tat-tat of assault rifles. The thud of lifeless bodies hitting the ground… ‘Sicario,’ written by Taylor Sheridan and directed by Denis Villeneuve, is a treasure that not once loses its shine. It is as clear as summer’s day that it is an all-rounder, one of the best movies of the year.”

Tom McCarthy

“Based on actual events, ‘Spotlight,’ written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, is a powerful piece of work that does not rely on sensationalism to enrage its audience. Instead, it focuses on how journalists do their job as they attempt to expose an institution that tolerates and protects pedophiles. The drama is in how their crucial story evolves, the dead ends the investigators encounter, the people they meet and clash against along the way, and what the story means to them not as journalists but as people who, in some way or another, has or has had connection with the Roman Catholic Church.”

What We Do in the Shadows
Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi

“There are very few comedies that tickle me to the soul from beginning to end and ‘What We Do in the Shadows,’ written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, is one of them. What could have been a one-note joke about a documentary crew capturing the every day lives of four vampires living together is turned into a wellspring of creativity that is so endlessly quotable, I wanted to see it again right after the credits… [It] has intelligence, perfect timing, imagination, and is willing to take risks. At one point, I stopped to wonder if the work had been a real documentary. It would still work because the filmmakers treat their subject with empathy without dulling some of the more difficult aspects of living a life after death.”

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
J.J. Abrams

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ directed by J.J. Abrams, is a massively entertaining mainstream science fiction fantasy picture filled with many familiar elements and small but required twists for old and new generation of fans. It is highly accessible, from the well-placed, rapid-fire banters to its crescendoing epic score during key moments, and so one can sit back and enjoy the plethora of wonderful images and action sequences.”

Best of Enemies
Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville

“Buckley and Vidal’s mutual antipathy is captured and presented with excitement and clarity. Almost immediately we get the impression that both are highly intelligent, cunning, certainly not the kind of men who back down from a fight even when pushed to a corner. As the camera focuses and moves closer to their faces, one can sense the involuntary ticks pulsating behind their facial muscles and rage welling up in their eyes despite the occasional grayness and mid-to-low picture quality of archival footages. Because the two-way enmity is so alive, so strong that it is almost tactile, tension runs throughout the veins of the documentary. Drama is created and we are thoroughly engaged as captions denoting debate numbers appear on screen. The moment a debate begins, we anticipate how one might respond to the other as the foundations of that person’s argument are laid out. There are great surprises along the way. Duels tend to take a nasty turn.”

The Revenant
Alejandro González Iñárritu

“A scene that will be seared in my brain for a while is the bear attack. Already impressive is it appears as though the scene is shot in one smooth take. On top of it is the actual bear used in the scene. Through the way it moves from the back of the frame to the front, we get a real impression of its size. The sound effects of distinct thuds give us an idea of its weight relative to its prey. I watched in complete horror as the protagonist is mauled, thrown around, and bit. The screams of the man, the deep angry growls of the animal, and the silence that settles in between the savage attacks create an unforgettable experience.”

Ich seh, ich seh
[Goodnight Mommy]
Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

“There is something innately terrifying and sinister about the plot of ‘Goodnight Mommy,’ written and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, because it involves two boys who come to suspect that their mother is not really their mother after she comes home from the hospital, her head covered in bandages after having undergone facial surgery. Couple such a plot with a clinical manner of directing and what results is an unnerving thriller-mystery that occasionally offers small but genuine moments of horror.”

Furious 7
James Wan

“Action films have a reputation of being more brawny than brainy and ‘Furious 7,’ directed by James Wan, embraces this expectation. There is nothing wrong with this approach because brawny can be equally entertaining—under a right mindset—if the picture is executed and put together in a smart way. This film embodies such characteristics which makes it a standout not only within the franchise but also compared against ninety percent of mainstream action movies where there is glass shattering, bruise-inducing, vehicle-totaling galore.”

Beyond the Reach
Jean-Baptiste Léonetti

“I enjoyed how the camera is unafraid to show the repercussions of being out in the sun for too long. It begins with a simple sunburn and as the picture goes on, blisters begin to appear, the soles of one’s feet start to tear off, sweat and grime makes Ben more animalistic—internally and externally—desperate for food, water, and safety. The protagonist knows when to take advantage of a situation but is constantly prevented from getting the upper-hand. This pattern is very necessary to support the material’s understated message: The rich tends to always be a step ahead of those who have less simply because they have means.”

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. GaryGreg828
    Jan 15 2016

    Nice versatile list. I have one on my list from yours: Sicario. Which I went to see based on your recommendation. Was much better than “Savages”. :)

    • Jan 16 2016

      Thanks, Gary! Ugh! I shudder at even remotely thinking of the movie “Savages.” It was that atrocious to me. Would love to see your picks for the year.

      • GaryGreg828
        Jan 19 2016

        I have a list, but I am going to watch “Room” before I post it.

        Yes, “Savages” was absolutely brutal to sit through. I think I only stayed in the theater b/c I was going to see another movie that started at the end of it.

  2. Jan 21 2016

    Interesting list. Some names I forgot. Will have a look.


Feel free to leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: