July, the half-way point of the year has finally arrived and so it is that time of the year where many people share their current best films of the year and reflect on what the year in film has been like so far. I feel pretty confident that I too am able to share my best films of the year so far. There are still a few films that I am still yet to see but I have watched all the films that I thought might make it into this list but you never know, almost 9 times out of 10, the best film of the year ends up being the one you’ve never even heard of.
As always, there are a handful of films that for whatever reason didn’t quite manage to make it into the Top Ten. As I feel they deserve a mention, I will list them below:
– Jurassic World
– Big Hero 6
– Get Hard
Top Ten Films Of 2015 – Mid Year-Report
10) The Theory Of Everything
Despite feeling a little too ‘Oscar-bait’ at times, ‘The Theory of Everything’ is still a very solid film with some fantastic performances particularly by its two leading stars, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones and the viewer goes through a very emotional yet heartfelt journey. This almost certainly won’t feature at the end of the year, but as for now, the film more than fits the bill.
9) A Most Violent Year
In terms of the film itself, ‘The Theory of Everything’ works better as a film overall compared to this, but in terms of ideas and performances, ‘A Most Violent Year’ is incredible in places. Oscar Isaac gives a career-best performance with strong parallels to characters in ‘The Godfather’ and the supporting cast also give tremendous performances, most notably Albert Brooks. The film does have a lot of problems with its pacing which unfortunately means there are quite a few dull moments in the film, but there is a fantastic 100 minute-or-so film here without the excess baggage and for ideas and craft, this film deserves to be commended.
8) American Sniper
Another very solid film by Clint Eastwood with a strong central performance by a beefed-up Bradley Cooper, ‘American Sniper’ is thoughtful and extremely tense even though it isn’t the most original and does get overly-patriotic at times. Oh, and don’t forget the awful baby prop!
Alex Garland’s debut is a tense, slow-burning yet a very philosophical watch and the film makes for a great character study. The performances in this film are brilliant with Oscar Isaac being the standout and this film is the gateway for Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander to go on to do great things. It also has one of the best climaxes of the year.
This is where the films featured in this list jump up in terms of quality…
A completely misunderstood film that suffered a very poor marketing campaign, ‘CHAPPiE’ is a very entertaining film that has a refreshing warm heart. Its plot may be familiar, but the film still manages to bring some originality to the table. Hugh Jackman turns in a very fun, gritty performance and Sharlto Copley who provides motion capture for the titular character gives an innocent yet funny performance. The film is supplemented with a completely bombastic Hans Zimmer score. I realise I am in the vast minority here, but honestly, there is a lot to like about this film and I really hope it can make it into the Top Ten at the end of the year. It’s a shame the film was marketed very badly and an even bigger shame that Blomkamp, the film’s director, pretty much threw the film away in favour of directing a new ‘Alien’ sequel.
5) It Follows
‘It Follows’ redefines the horror genre with its fantastic direction and plot. The film isn’t overly scary, but the ideas are exceptional and the film plays out like a 1980’s John Carpenter feature, particularly with its John Carpenter-esque score by Disasterpeace. The performances are excellent and the pacing is near perfect. A very good effort by all involved.
4) Mad Max: Fury Road
For George Miller to make another good ‘Mad Max’ film, let alone an amazing one in a 30 year period is quite frankly, nothing short of a miracle. The film is completely bonkers with its action sequences (the film plays out like a continuous car chase) as are the performances, particularly by the incredibly over-the-top villain played by Hugh Keyes-Byrne. Tom Hardy is excellent as the titular character, easily taking over the reigns from Mel Gibson and the score by Junkie XL is bonkers. There’s so much craft to this film and the action sequences are exhilarating. This film is a work of art and nothing short of a miracle. One of the best action films of recent years.
Now into the top three…
3) Kingsman: The Secret Service
How can this be better than the the last three films? ‘Kingman: The Secret Service’ serves to the spy genre as ‘Kick-Ass’ does to the superhero genre – an adult version with graphic violence and plenty of swearing. It’s terrific fun and there is not one dull moment in the film and that is what makes it, just a hair better, than ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ – it has slightly better pacing. The action is enthralling and the film is very funny. You don’t always need to go to the cinema to watch a film that will stretch your brain and this film is the perfect example of this.
A sure-fire Oscar-contender that surprisingly didn’t manage to nab a Best Picture nomination. ‘Foxcatcher’ is a meticulously crafted and daring film that is a fascinating character study. Steve Carell gives a career-best performance as does Channing Tatum and Carrell was robbed of the win. The film is a very slow-burn so don’t watch without being wide awake, but the film reaches a very satisfying climax. A truly excellent film.
So the best film of the year is…
‘Whiplash’ would get on this list just for J.K. Simmon’s psychotic performance, it’s that good! But the film not only has this going in its favour, ‘Whiplash’ also has another career-turning performance by Miles Teller and is an enthralling, darkly comedic watch that reaches a mesmerising conclusion. The fact that the film does not have a big budget and was only shot in 19 days just goes to show to all the big-budget, brainless drivel that Hollywood constantly churns out that quality is better than budget. It rightly deserves all its praise that it has garnered.
Reflection on 2015 in Film so far…
2015 has proven so far to be a year in film where despite Hollywood continue to produce many big budget films, the films this year that have proven to be the best for me are the ones that on paper, wouldn’t have been. For example, I fully expected films such as ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’ to feature here. When I first watched the trailer for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ or ‘CHAPPiE’ for example, the trailers just don’t them justice and never did I think I would have loved them so much. In terms of quality of films overall, I don’t think this year is the strongest in the decade so far but it is much better than 2011 and 2012 for example. I hope the second half of the year continues to bring a lot of thought-provoking, exciting films that remind us, as the audience, why there is still fuel in the film industry left.
I really hope the Top Six of this list can stay, I really do. But who knows, the next best film may only be just around the corner. Just listing a couple of films that I think look like have potential include:
– Inside Out
– Sinister 2
– The Martian
– Crimson Peak
– Steve Jobs
– Black Mass
– The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
– The Good Dinosaur