Home > Film, Reviews > Decalogue: Top 10 Films of 2015

Decalogue: Top 10 Films of 2015

Although I can’t say that I’ve seen many more new films during this past calendar year than this selection of ten, I can say that this selection of notable films released in North America in 2015 all moved, entertained, or challenged me in some way or other and are worthy of mention at this time of annual listified recaps. Links to relevant full RandomDanglingMystery reviews are included by each ranked entry, and my similar list for last year is here.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (Directed by George Miller)

Mad Max: Fury Road is a rip-snorting action adrenaline-fest that is also an absurdly satisfying feminist revenge fantasy of the overthrow of a harsh regime of exploitative, misogynist male privilege. […] It isn’t sophisticated at all, or rather brings such ingenuity, visual skill, and gritty, imaginative grandeur to the deeply unsophisticated vehicular action genre that sophistication seems almost beside the point. George Miller is now 70 years old, and though he’s spoken about continuing the franchise […], Fury Road feels like a legacy statement, a swashbuckling display of all the cinematic mastery that he’s accrued over his long career.”

Review – 24 May 2015

2. Ex Machina (Directed by Alex Garland)

Ex Machina does not merely model The Modern Prometheus for our contemporary modernity, it takes the implications of our revolution in information technology much more terribly seriously than we have ever thought to take them.”

Review – 29 December 2015

3. What We Do in the Shadows (Directed by Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement)

“A giddily inventive spoof of vampire genre conventions, What We Do in the Shadows is so successful at least partly because it also respects certain internally consistent guidelines and boundaries for its vampires. It is, at times, a high comedy of manners, contrasting the mélange of liberties and limitations of the vampire existence with roughly equivalent liberties and limitations of normal mortal society. […] The vampire genre’s zeitgeist moment may have already dwindled by the time What We Do in the Shadows arrived on the scene, but this delightful movie is a surprisingly rich reminder of all that vampire stories can evoke and accomplish at their best.”

Review – 23 October 2015

4. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (Directed by Alex Gibney)

“Gibney is interested in and adept at ferreting out the abuses and corruption of unbeholden and secretive institutions. […] Scientology as it emerges in Going Clear is a manifestation of some of the darkest spaces of the American id, and there’s little in this fascinating but troubling film to suggest that it will ever be anything more.”

Review – 7 November 2015

5. Beasts of No Nation (Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga)

Beasts of No Nation is, in most ways, a remarkable film. […] It’s frequently visually astonishing, wonderfully acted, and challenging, wrenching, and painfully sad. […] (It’s) a film more concerned with the delayed aftershocks of [Africa’s colonial] history on the identity and psychology of modern Africans than how the politics and society of modern Africa was shaped by it.”

Review – 3 December 2015

6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Directed by J.J. Abrams)

The Force Awakens heralds a new trilogy that may not be as, yes, fresh and unique as that infamous Prequel Trilogy, but it’s miles more likable. It’s miles more Star Wars in the classical sense, which might be the more vital point. The Force Awakens goes ahead and Star Warses itself all over the screen, on a scale that is tremendous and intimate when it needs to be, really when you would want it to be. It’s got lightsaber fights and blaster shootouts and swooping space battles and planet-sized superweapons and weird alien beasties and painful losses and raging Oedipal psychodramas and clearly-drawn moral dichotomies and a cute little droid.”

Review – 21 December 2015

7. Everest (Directed by Baltasar Kormákur)

“Like an expert high-altitude mountaineer, Everest is lean and fit, methodical and well-prepared, capable and no-nonsense. The film depicts (a particular version of) the 1996 Mount Everest disaster and renders its setting and its tragic based-on-true-life events in the high Himalayas with accuracy and fidelity. […] It employs the full technological toolset of contemporary big-budget filmmaking to craft a convincing portrayal of the terrible and imposing scope of the world’s highest mountain. But Everest is above all an intensely human-focused drama […]. Everest is a film crafted in the spirit of [mountaineering]: tactile, tangible, concrete, like the great mountain itself. It’s a strong film, in both senses of the word, and it trudges with dogged determination to surprising heights.”

Review – 25 November 2015

8. Bridge of Spies (Directed by Steven Spielberg)

Bridge of Spies is frequently fascinating in its Cold War intrigue. […] The climactic early-hours exchange on a Berlin bridge is a practically monochromatic masterpiece, white snow and the black bridge, dark figures concluding geopolitical machinations upon this simultaneous visual metaphor of tentative outreach and cooperation and Manichean good-evil contrast.”

Review – 16 October 2015

9. The Walk (Directed by Robert Zemeckis)

“Zemeckis is certainly intoxicated by the grandiosity of Petit’s wondrous high-wire act, and constructs The Walk in anticipation and in celebration of it. The sustained climax of the coup is The Walk‘s obvious hook, and Zemeckis and his team utilize the full digital design toolset and narrative shaping expansion set to render Petit’s audacious feat of death-defying artistry as a vertiginous spectacle of maximum memorability and visceral impact. Be forewarned: if you have any sort of problem with heights, The Walk will trigger it often and fiercely. If you do not have a problem with heights, The Walk may well aid you in developing one.”

Review – 2 October 2015

10. Inside Out (Directed by Pete Docter)

“(Inside Out) takes an infinitely realistic and entirely relatable crisis in the life of a child – in this case, a move to a new city, struggles to adjust to new circumstances, a deep sense of sadness for the loss of the familiar old ones – and overwrites it with a frenetic, adventurous, imaginative, colourful fantasy world where developments impact upon or at least mirror those in the ‘real’ world. […] The overarching message of Inside Out is that transitioning from childhood to adulthood is an agonizing process of acquiring emotional complexity and, inevitably, of happiness bleeding away and a measure of sadness replacing it. The loss of innocence, cartoonified.”

Review – 4 August 2015


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Categories: Film, Reviews
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  1. January 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm

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