Friday, December 18, 2015

My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2015

Due to job changes in the middle of the year, my film viewing has been less than robust in 2015. There were films I very much wanted to see but missed the opportunity, namely: Carol, Cemetery of Splendour, Right Now, Wrong Then and Our Little Sister. But there is always next year, right?

On the same coin, the list I got going here is a little different than two other web publications I contributed my list to - CriticWire and ICS (International Cinephiles Society) which restricts to the films theatrically released in that particular year. Since this is my personal site, I list them as I see fit here without any restrictions put on myself. So don't be surprised if you don't see such great films as Clouds of Sils Maria, The Look of Silence, Jauja, Timbuktu and Eden on here- They all ended up in my last year's list. So without further a do:

1. Arabian Nights
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Sprawling, uninhibited, playful, languid, beautiful, funny... Miguel Gomes's cinematic reflection on Portugal in Crisis didn't have a real match to be my favorite film of the year. This 6 hour movie in 3 volumes might be giving the film distributors gigantic headache, but it's better to see them back to back and enjoy its fabulous labyrinthine storytelling, melding reality and fantasy, narrative and documentary and everything else. So good.

* My interview with Miguel Gomes

2. Court
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A big surprise of the year. On the surface, Court is a biting social commentary but the film is much deeper and more humanistic than that. Chaitanya Tamhane takes a daring formalist approach in painting India's very complex class system without losing the sight of humanity.

3. The Assassin
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In my review, I compared watching The Assassin to watching the flow of a river under the sunset. It's a rapturous experience.

4. Phoenix
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Finely tuned inverted Vertigo from one of the most gifted storytellers of our time. Nina Hoss gives the performance of the year. Now streaming on Netflix.

5. Louder than Bombs
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Nuanced, rich, beautifully written story of grief and family ties. Best American film not written by Americans. Joachim Trier and his writing partner Eskil Vogt really nail it here.

6. Son of Saul
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Not only a technical marvel but it also punches you in the gut. Bravura filmmaking at its best.

7. Li Wen at East Lake
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A droll examination of China's changing society with much playfulness and humor by Li Luo, which shows you that China's underground indie filmmaking is alive and well.

8. Girlhood
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Karidja Touré gives a great performance in this beautifully written, beautifully acted coming of age film by the great Celine Sciamma.

* My Interview with Celine Sciamma

9. Mad Max: Fury Road
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I had so much fun at the movies thanks to George Miller. But I think it will take at least 2-3 George Millers to save that sacred experience. But I'll take what I can get for now.

10. Taxi
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No restrictions or bans from powers that be can prevent from Jafar Panahi from making films. He makes giving middle finger to authority so much fun!

The rest:

11. Lost River - Gosling

12. Le Dos Rouge/Portrait of the Artist - Barraud

13. 100 Yen Love - Take

14. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting Existence - Andersson

* My Interview with Roy Andersson

15. Voice of Water - Yamamoto

16. La Sapienza - Green

17. The Duke of Burgundy - Strickland

18. Metamorphoses - Honoré

19. Parabellum - Rinner

20. Violet - Devos