Top 10 movies of 2015

2015 was an incredible year for films, we were spoilt with a plethora of huge blockbusters. Lots of films released from established franchises including new ones from Bond, Star Wars, Mad Max, a couple from Marvel, Jurassic World and one of the best Pixar films we’ve ever seen. But there were also new and fresh stories to be told, other worlds to be taken to and other times we haven’t seen before.

It’s hard to come up with a top 10 of the year however I feel these were the best movies released in 2015. What do you think?

  1. Still Alice

The movie the won Julianne Moore an Oscar for Best Actress (one of the few awards which was handed out to the right person during that particular ceremony), here she plays Alice Howland, a professor of linguistics whose life slowly seems to be deteriorating due to Alzheimer’s. It’s a real mark of an actor when they can be as accurate as possible when playing a character with such a debilitating disease and Moore did just that. Her research went above and beyond to ensure that she treated those who had it with respect and with that came a heartbreaking performance that will never be forgotten.

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road

A dam good choice to replace Mel Gibson as the title character, Tom Hardy is Max in this blisteringly brilliant reboot. It was praised for having a tough female character in Charlize Theron’s who rebelled against the oppressive regime of Immortan Joe. Theron’s performance was different to most female characters we see on our screens these days, she was tough, fearsome, had a not-to-be-messed-with attitude, even when it came to the brutality of Max. Director George Miller mostly shunned visual effects and all of the vehicles were built as we see them and made to work. The stunning landscape shots were created by Cinematographer John Seale, who was able to show the harsh realities of surviving in a baron wasteland, an incredible achievement. The small part of VFX that was used is in the sky where they changed the colour, pretty much. It’s nothing and that’s one of many reasons why this film is so enjoyable.

  1. Steve Jobs

It was very surprising that this film made it into production after the lead actor and first choice director both changed hands a couple of times. How they pulled of something as entertaining and smart as this is beyond anyone. Well, it’s not beyond the likes of Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin. A dream duo team, who proved you can make a good Steve Jobs film. Not only is it good, it’s great, it’s funny, it’s whip smart, it has trademark Sorkin lines and fast talking in it, it has Boyle’s direction. It’s hard to find fault with this film at all. It takes place at three product launches all of which Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender, is involved in. The story is everything that’s happening in the background of these launches, his confrontations with various people in his life which is pretty much everyone. The beauty in this film lies within the script, one which I described as a Sorkin sharp script in my review. The one liners he has composed along with his exceptionally long speeches (yet another Sorkin-ism) for the characters are quintessential traits for the writer and something that makes all of his movies and TV scripts a joy to watch.

STEVE_JOBS_reflection

  1. The Martian

There was a lot of buzz surrounding this one, mostly because of how accurate most parts of the book were. The author, Andy Weir, did a painstaking job when it came to research by posting bits of his book online and asking those within the science community for feedback on his books authenticity. After a while he had a brilliant and almost accurate piece of science fiction in his hands. This became The Martian last year, starring Matt Damon as the lead character who needs to be saved from Mars after a few things go wrong. Damon is a very reliable star, however we rarely see him do comedy, but it turns out he’s dam good at it! The Martian has plenty of laughs in it, as well as on the mark scientific terminology, but not so much that it bores you. It keeps you entertained with the fact that it’s not dumbed down, smart enough to keep you interested, you become emotionally invested in Damon’s Mark Watney as he shows what astronauts are probably really like when they go on a mission. Frankly it looks like a lot of fun! (Minus the peril, obviously.)

  1. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A horror movie without the horror, pretty much. This vampire movie is set in the fake Bad City and creates an atmosphere just like any other horror film but with a couple of added twists. This isn’t a film who sexualises its main character, she a vampire out to kill, simple as that. And that’s what she does. It’s a black and white film and told mostly from the perspective of The Girl who goes after those who have wronged anyone else. She seems to be a peace keeper in her own way, even following a delinquent young boy just to threaten him. Within the film, there are some stunning shots and an even more stunning soundtrack, using the song Death by White Lies in a scene that almost looks like it could be written for the track. A horror movie with little horror shouldn’t work but the director, Ana Lily Amipour has almost created a sub-genre: the non-horror horror.

  1. Star Wars. Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I don’t have to say too much about this but it has now become the biggest grossing movie of all time. But this isn’t a surprise and it’s not the reason why it’s in my top 10. I get occasionally nervous before watching a film and for this the anticipation was incredibly high, but I did wonder if we would have something as disappointing are the prequels. Fear not, you should always have faith in J.J. Abrams. What were given was a true return to form, an end lightsaber battle for the ages, enthralling action and a great new cast who mix well with the old ones. It makes me excited to see what’s coming next but it’s safe to say the Jedi has returned. For my full review, click here.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: BB-8 and Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Ph: Film Frame..? 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: BB-8 and Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Ph: Film Frame..? 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

  1. Inside Out

One of the best Pixar films we’ve ever seen, Inside Out was yet another emotional ride for anyone who watched it. Who else cried when the toys almost died in Toy Story 3? Pixar are far too good at doing this most of the time. Inside Out was the film that used emotions to play with our emotions, those clever guys! It showed what it’s like to grow up; not knowing much about life, not knowing why things are happening, not knowing who you are. We’ve all been there when growing up and it’s brought to the screen so eloquently. From the imaginary friend, to emotions bonding with one another, to the turmoil the girl is put through, it’s presented in a relatable way that tugs at your heartstrings and makes you appreciate the childhood you had. This is one of the best films you will see.

Disney?Pixar's "Inside Out" takes us to the most extraordinary location yet - inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, "Inside Out" is in theaters June 19, 2015.

Disney?Pixar’s “Inside Out” takes us to the most extraordinary location yet – inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, “Inside Out” is in theaters June 19, 2015.

  1. Sicario

The premise of Sicario sounds very generic, as if we’ve been here so many times before: a task force is taking on the war on drugs between the U.S and Mexican borders. Not much to it right? Wrong. This is one consistently created an extremely tense atmosphere in several scenes, used one piece of music which sounds like a heartbeat, the landscapes are stunning whilst at the same time being hot and harsh. Sicario will put you on the edge of your seat and leave you there with your heart beating faster than before.

  1. Bridge of Spies

From the trailer, you wouldn’t expect this film to be funny at all. It had the feel of a Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy thriller but this was far from the case. Bridge of Spies turned out to be a brilliantly witty, smart take on the spy movie genre, with Mark Rylance being the best thing about it. His delivery and timing of the lines fed to him by the Cohen brothers and Matt Charman was spot on and the constant calming look across his face was a delight to watch. Directed by Steven Spielberg and also starring Tom Hanks, this felt like a totally different spy movie, that turned the genre on its head, it didn’t have as many intense scenes. There were conversation, explanations and interesting interactions, but they saved they best until last with the end scene creating an intensity that it had slowly been building to throughout the movie.

Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) meets with his client Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent arrested in the U.S. in DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures' dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg.

Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) meets with his client Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent arrested in the U.S. in DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures’ dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg.

  1. Amy

I had been looking forward to watching this ever since I heard they were making it and it did not disappoint. The death of Amy Winehouse shocked me and didn’t surprise others; her constant abuse of drink and drugs, to some, made this inevitable. But not to me, I was saddened and in a state of shock. Mostly because she hadn’t fulfilled her potential as a recording artist. There was so much more to give, so much more to do, so much more to record. This documentary shows her slow decline and how it happened without pointing the finger too blatantly. Asif Kapadia, the man behind Senna, has created a film out of archive footage, new and old interviews, mobile phone clips and unheard tracks. It’s a superb documentary that appears to remain neutral about its subject matter.

Keep. It. Reel.

Star Wars. Episode VII: The Force awakens, review

Back in 2012, when Disney bought the rights for Star Wars from Lucas Film, they immediately announced a new movie for 2015. It was met with fear, trepidation and excitement which is understandable, due to the previous trilogy having been a huge disappointment to all Star Wars fans. It’s hard to believe that Episodes I through III came from the same universe as Han Solo, the Millennium Falcon, and the Death Star. J.J. Abrams understands the legacy the original trilogy still has and he knows first, how to play on the nostalgia without going over the top and second how to create a brand new story whilst linking it to the initial movies.

Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is missing and there are a lot of people looking for him. The First Order, who have risen from the ashes of the Galactic Empire, are on the hunt for a map that will lead them to Skywalker. During a reconnaissance mission they capture Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac), a pilot for the Resistance, who has hidden the map in the impossibly adorable BB-8, a one of a kind droid. Not unlike Leia using R2D2 to send a message to Obi Wan Kenobi. After meeting Poe, we are introduced to Finn (John Boyega) a Stormtrooper who has a crisis of identity and defects onto the side of the Resistance after the village they are searching in is put to death. The droid makes his way (BB-8’s gender was confirmed back in November) to the planet Jakku where he finds Rey, a scavenger who makes a living by hunting through old wreckages for parts to sell. She’s unwillingly dragged into the story after a moment of sympathy from the hard-shelled outcast.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: BB-8 and Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Ph: Film Frame..? 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: BB-8 and Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Ph: Film Frame..? 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

Finn and Rey are a couple of brave new characters who fit into the Stars Wars world well. She’s rough, tough and knowledgeable. He is a part brave, part nervous hero who comes to the aide of Rey after spotting BB-8. Finn is unsure of who he is exactly whilst he wants to leave The First Order, he’s a reluctant hero, initially. His nervous and ever so slightly awkward manner holds him back and creates some funny moments. Rey has been alone for a long time and manages to form an attachment to BB-8 and an unwanted one to Finn. The two immediately have on-screen chemistry that’s hard to fake with their lines bouncing off of one another and gelling so well, especially during a sequence when they are being chased.

Amongst the newcomers we have Poe Dameron, a Resistance pilot with a confident cocky personality, but not so much that you hate him. Think of a young Han Solo with a bit more attitude. Clearly a born leader, his dry sense of humour is consistent through any situation he finds himself in. He shares some early and enjoyable screen time with Finn, who he seems to take under his wing. Then there’s the Yoda-like Maz Kanata voiced by Lupita Nyong’o, who offers her wisdom and guidance to those looking to fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). It’s difficult to believe that some of her scenes were allegedly cut as this was a note perfect performance from one of the best characters in the entire film.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Finn (John Boyega)..Ph: Film Frame..? 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Finn (John Boyega)..Ph: Film Frame..? 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

With Star Wars, comes a certain amount of nostalgia, but it’s not too heavy handed. Han Solo along with Chewie (who hasn’t aged at all!) make a welcome return when they appear on the Millennium Falcon. Solo still has his confident cockiness  and whilst he’s still a culprit for trouble, he’s mellowed ever so slightly with age. Whilst BB-8 is impossibly cute, we will always have a special place in our hearts for R2D2 and C3PO, who both have relatively brief but important roles to play. And of course the renamed Princess Leia who goes by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) shows off her leadership skills when leading the Resistance into battle and doing what she needs to do in order to protect the galaxy.

The atmosphere of the original trilogy can be felt throughout, with the TIE fighters battling against X-Wing Fighters, the simplified yet beautiful lightsaber battles and the story of good vs. evil, being told in a way that relates back to friendship and family. They have also involved the Stormtroopers more than ever before which was a stroke of genius, getting them to interact in scenes when, in previous films, they have mostly been in the background. Even their suits have had a modern upgrade.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)..Ph: David James..?Lucasfilm 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)..Ph: David James..?Lucasfilm 2015

The primary antagonist is Kylo Ren, a man in dark clothing and a mask which disguises his voice as much as it does his face. He idolises Darth Vader, at one point speaking to his extremely damaged helmet. He’s in charge of locating a piece of evidence that will lead him to Skywalker, killing all those who come in his way. His techniques are brutal; slaughtering an entire village, using the Force to torture his victims and pulling out his lightsaber sword for the smallest provocation. He is comparable to Vader however Driver has brought an emotion to this role that makes it feel even more personal. With his emotion, comes naivety, you get the sense that he still has much to learn. He is joined by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), whom he butts heads with several times. It seems these two are on the same level when addressing Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), the less said about him the better. Gleeson’s performance comes across as a fearless and ruthless dictator, there is almost something of the Third Reich in his delivery, perfect to put the fear of The First Order in you.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) ..Ph: David James..?Lucasfilm 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) ..Ph: David James..?Lucasfilm 2015

The final lightsaber battle is one we have been wanting to see ever since the disappointing over the top versions in the prequel trilogies. Gone are the unnecessary flips and various somersaults, replaced by a duel that can easily be compared to those in Episodes IV, V and VI. With its use of the force, a sword-like lightsaber and brutal scars, the magic of an old school lightsaber duel is back.

The very first spoken words are “This will start to make things right” and you get the sense that this is more for the audience. As if this film is an apology for what fans had to endure from 1999 to 2005, that this will restore the faith in all Star Wars fans everywhere and take away the memory of the much hated prequels. J.J. Abrams has managed to bring back what we really loved about these films and he has created a galaxy that no longer feels far far away, it’s right here and it’s now.

5 out of 5

Keep. It. Reel.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Well well, Mr Abrams has FINALLY given us a fat piece of Star Wars news to chew on. We have a beautiful new name, a huge hint has been dropped in The Force Awakens.

I personally love this name, it’s a smart move and it’s given fans a lot to go on. The Force Awakens, to me, says that the Force in some has been dormant for quite some time and something may have happened to wake it up once more. But I have NO idea if that’s accurate, I’m not going to read too much about this film until next year.

star wars 7

Now, I may sound a tad naive, but I want to avoid all plot revelations and spoilers until the trailers start to roll out. This should happen at the start of 2015 now that filming has ended. Recently a photo was released of a card given to all cast and crew along with an official crew hat which had the VII logo emblazoned on which signified the end of filming a couple of days ago.

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There’s been a lot which has been released but never to this level. The end of filming and the new name gives fans more to look into and more to look forward to. I cannot wait for the first trailer. Hurry up JJ!

Here’s a couple more images of the read through and JJ Abrams standing next to something very exciting 😉

episode-vii-cast-read-through-star-wars

jj abrams

 

Keep. It. Reel.