MostlyFilm’s Best of 2015

It’s tradition, look it up. We the people of MostlyFilm vote every year for our film of the year. You could do it, too, by signing up right here. Too late for 2015, though, the votes have been counted and verified and the results are in.

 

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The Bulgarian jury didn’t get the rules, but WHATEVER.

Let’s start with the outsiders, the ones that didn’t make the top ten. They will be presented in a bare list like the MASSIVE LOSERS they are.

20= AAAAAAAAH!
20= Hard to Be a God
20= The Diary of a Teenage Girl
16= A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
16= Clouds of Sils Maria
16= Mommy
16= Tangerine
14= Force Majeure
14= The Duke of Burgundy
13 Whiplash
12 Song of The Sea
11 The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Some of those you may recognise as films you have seen in the last year. Some simply as small personal injury claims. It doesn’t matter, none of them made the cut for actual discussion. So let’s get into the top ten. Imagine the clip below playing constantly as you read this.

A tie! Both number nine, so there IS no ten. INHERENT VICE, Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon – a chin-stroking man-nexus – tied with Spielberg’s based-on-a-true-thing-that-probably-happened BRIDGE OF SPIES. See if you can guess who is saying what about which film:

VeronicaSawyer said: “People are stupid, I don’t understand why ANYONE would hate this film enough to walk out on it.
Thought I was going to hate it, thought it would seem like it was five million hours long, but it didn’t, I don’t think I even looked at the time. It was just a nice meandering Sunday afternoon style walk with some chuckles to be had. That said, I feel like I kind of don’t remember most of it, but that’s OK.”

AnneUK “Saw this last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt like a good, ‘old-fashioned’ film – no pandering to the short attention span generation. Every scene was so beautifully composed and the final shot was stunning.”

Actually, that probably wasn’t too tricky.

AT EIGHT – BROOKLYN which I think we should leave to our Irish contributors? Yes, let’s do that.

NiallAnderson: Not the film I was hoping for, but then I was hoping for something so perfect that we’d never have to make (or watch) another Irish emigration melodrama ever again. This is still a cut above average – mainly due to Nick Hornby’s pleasingly harsh script and a luminous performance by Saoirse Ronan – but the direction is blandly coercive and the few unexpected plot turns are smothered by entirely expected musical cues. Pipes wailing, the distant sound of a sad fiddle, the whole aural cavalcade of Irish sadness, basically.
The unbridgeable problem is, I think, the source novel, which is a work of such profound personal relevance that Colm Tóibín could only turn it into a Jamesian tale about the neatly duplicating terrors of innocence and experience. The novel pretty much dies when it goes back to Ireland from New York, largely because it becomes too stubborn and personal. The film dies around the same point, largely because if you remove the personal stuff there isn’t really anything left.
Still, the middle hour is a proper handkerchief job. If you’ve ever emigrated anywhere, you’ll recognise the weird pride at getting simple things right and the sense of complete desolation at getting them wrong. The script has plenty of jokes without ever playing up to them. And Ronan really is wonderful.

JohnCooperClarke* I really never expected to love this film but brooklyn, with Saoirse Ronan, based on a book by Colm Tóibín & scripted by Nick Hornby, is a modern classic that people will be talking about twenty or more years from now. Lovely in every way, and if it doesn’t make the lead into a massive star, there’s something very wrong with the world.

At seven – INSIDE OUT, and what’s interesting is how little I can find about this that is positive so there’s this…

veal: The 8 year old gave it an 8 but didn’t seem moved. She particularly disliked Bing Bong but liked everything else. The 6 year old gave it an 8 as well, she seemed emotionally affected and made small weeping noises at certain points. But she won’t talk about it.
I have to say I thought it was mostly bad. The emotions mostly didn’t ring true or feel even vaguely familiar, it seemed like it was about what people think people feel without ever feeling like a real thought that had passed through a person’s head. And here’s my list of problems.
1. Why has the dad got all men emotions and the mom got all lady emotions and the little girl has mixed gender emotions?
2. The emotions don’t feel much of their named emotion, but they’re supposed to be the ACTUAL PERSONIFICATIONS of these emotions. The man who clears up the screen at the end heard me making these complaints and said, ’emotions are complex, they’re not all the same all the time’, to which I was too far gone (geographically) to say NO, PEOPLE ARE COMPLEX, those are the actual personifications of emotions. For instance, in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, that prick one who was always laughing always went “gurgle hur hur hur Penelope’s going to die”, never ‘shit got serious man!’, and the one who always wept always wept. And they were human, so they were allowed a little complicatedness. But here, joy was joyful maybe 70% of the time, Anger was angry about 80% of the time, Fear, fearful 70%, about 75% for sadness, and Disgust, if she managed 20% being disgusted I’d be surprised.
3. Wow, that was one shit teacher.
4. The small girl seemed to be sad all the fucking time when sadness wasn’t there.
5. Nothing happens. Plot: Little girl moves, thinks about leaving home for like ten minutes, does not in fact leave home.
6. If anything, joy is not even ever joyful really, she’s optimistic and determined and good at putting a brave face on. Do they even know what joy is?
7. I have lots more emotions than those. Where even is guilt?
8. I give it a 2.

AT SIX! THE LOBSTER, pictured below

Otherwise, this would definitely have happened.

Ron Swanson covered this in his Cannes round-up: “Lanthimos creates a distinctive and rich world, albeit one where the weirdness sometimes feels a little arch and knowing. The first hour of the film, in which we follow Colin Farrell’s attempts to find a partner is superb, hilarious, dark and occasionally vividly frightening.
“On a first viewing, the second hour which sees Farrell’s character unite with an underground guerrilla group of singletons (separatists?) is significantly less successful, and robs the film of the momentum it so skilfully built up in the first hour. Farrell is superb, though, playing the weirdest, least charismatic character of his career, and doing so superbly.”

 

TOP FIVE

Five – EX MACHINA Bit of disagreement on this (we do have a full review, of course). Jim5et said “Really good; we don’t seem to have discussed it much. Like all Alex Garland scripts, it’s basically a Tharg Future Shock but that’s no bad thing.”

Clio noted “ex machina. Pretty good, yes, and some very interesting ideas (cannot comment on it being Tharg Future Schock, but it’s certainly a bit Tales-of-the-Unexpectedy). Great production design.”

Whereas NiallAnderson thought it was “Strikingly designed, confidently directed, and thoroughly dislikeable in a way that’s difficult to put your finger on.”
So there you have it.

Four – BIRDMAN
MrsMills was one of this film’s strongest advocates on the board: “Keaton is fantastic and Norton (an actor I often find so busy acting that I just want to jump in and suggest he looks like he’s trying less, has more fun with it and doesn’t take himself quite so seriously) is fab in supporting role as an actor who takes himself and his craft too seriously. Even Emma Stone, in an ostensibly thankless role, manages to shine, impressive considering this film really does spend a great deal of time being mean to its cast and what they stand for.
“It’s shot with a free wheeling, yet increasingly claustrophobic, tightness that suggests anarchy and inner madness. The scenes where the Birdman soars commenced, for me at least, with a gut wrenching plummet when I thought we’d see a crumpled body to reflect his increasingly crumpled soul. Instead we have a glorious fantasy sequence that – when repeated later – fills you with hope, just as it suggests an abrupt and awful end.
“Keaton deserves the actor nods and I hope receives official Oscar nominations if not the prize itself. He’s fantastic as the star who wants to be known for his craft and art and inner struggle, just as Norton is his mirror – and far less pleasant – image.
“There’s humour throughout and a director who seemed to me to be making fun of the star and art and critic world just as much as he was celebrating it. An inwardly turned mirror, a film offering the Birdmans voice to those it depicts perhaps?
If I have a criticism then it’s that it doesn’t linger in the mind as much as other films have. But whilst watching it felt fresh, fun and invigorating. Worthy of awards note I’d suggest.”

Whereas MaxFischer was not so keen: “I thought the camerawork was dull and pointless, the very definition of a dumb, meaningless gimmick, and endlessly ugly to behold. And I could see that the script was full of things that were supposed to be jokes, if I squinted.”

And BunnyLake was positively hostile: “I thought the camerawork was worse than pointless! Instead of intense focus, it felt like gliding constantly along the surface, at the same pace. Everything washed with the same visual tone so any chance of reflection, humour, sadness, anything cutting, just got drowned out because, to exist, moments like that need to specific and this could never be specific.
Also, it pulled its punches ALL THE TIME.”

Mills: “I liked it. This year’s marmite movie?”

Max: “This year’s mar-SHITE movie more like lol!!”

#StrongJokes

Three – CAROL.
Bit of foreshadowing here from Simon44: “Stunningly good. It looks fantastic and is pitch perfect throughout. A long, slow seduction. And one of the best endings to a film that I can remember. Looking forward to weighing up its merits against Mad Max when I come to choose my film of the year.”
JohnCooperClarke can’t quite let go of Brooklyn: “So elegant, beautifully poised & tasteful it’s like the One Perfect Shot Twitter account made a movie. Oddly far more conservative in its overall effect than the ostensibly more populist Brooklyn. Best seen on a big screen for full gorgeousness. On TV it will play like superior soap.”
Clio: “It looks gorgeous; the costumes, the production design: it’s all pretty much perfect and bathed in a dusty, honeyed light. I didn’t know in advance that it was shot in 16mm and would never have guessed from the film’s appearance; or rather, it certainly doesn’t look in any way “less” than 35mm or digital.
The performances are fine. If I have any criticism it’s the relative lack of humour; everything is terribly serious. And there’s a certain airlessness about the whole thing, which I’m sure is meant to reflect the women’s situation, but ends up defining it.”

Two – getting quite exciting now, no? – is procedural horror IT FOLLOWS.

Pushpaw, responding to a post from BunnyLake about nightmares: “In a perverse way, I kind of like it when effective horror films have a prolonged effect on my nightmares. Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead is accountable for about a dozen of my worst night terrors, but I never actually see any of the zombies.” Which isn’t a review, but does sum up the tone.

Phil149 said: “I really hope there isnt an inevitable sequel. Ordinarily I’m quite happy to sit through horror sequels but I thought this was a perfectly complete world if its own and doesnt need any more back story, elaborate plots to foil or kill the follower, nothing at all. Its such a great and simple idea that it would take a fairly special hack to ruin it, but the director (rudely I’ve forgotten his name) makes so many great choices with it. Even when there isnt anything happening, which is quite a lot of the time, you’re always wondering whether the follower is just around the corner. I loved the clear, simple rules and the lack of ambiguity, there’s never any doubt that its a real thing and that we’re watching a horror film. Beautifully shot, really effective soundtrack, just great.”

Ever the contrarian, however, MaxFischer closed the thread with “Nope”.

SO. Let’s have a run down of the top ten before number one. Go back up the page and restart the Top of the Pops music.

=9 Inherent Vice
=9 Bridge of Spies
8 Brooklyn
7 Inside Out
6 The Lobster
5 Ex Machina
4 Birdman
3 Carol
2 It Follows

And at number one….

Was there ever any doubt?
Was there ever any doubt?

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

A lot has already been said on this, so I’ll keep it brief.

KittyKarate: “It had the intensity and lack of down time of a dream. Possibility after a late night snack on Stilton.”

JohnCooperClarke: ” how often do you get to see a film in the cinemas that’s not only a genuine blockbuster but a genuine work of art? Not very often, that’s how often.”

Hankinshaw, bringing it home: “I liked it, but felt there could be more dramatic nuance to be had if they’d concentrated more on Europe’s largest concrete pour.”

*It’s just a username

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