15 Non-2015 Favourite Films
Honestly I wanted to be able to compile a list of my favourite 30 films I watched this year, but television took over my life. There was just lot of great stuff coming out, such as Fargo & Daredevil; although work, school, and life in general contributed to my absence. Asides from me being m.i.a all year, 2016 will be different and with that here’s my top 15…
Honorable Mentions – Life Itself, Frank, Rope, The Silence, Belle de Jour
Dishonorable Mentions – Dear White People, The Babadook, Inherent Vice
15. The Killing (1956) ~ Stanley Kubrick
Directed by one of my favourite directors, Stanley Kubrick. The Killing is a Film Noir based around a crime that takes place at a race track, thus follows the complications, deception and deaths within the people involved. The plot sounds great, and the cinematography is spectacular. However I don’t enjoy watching this film. The story isn’t interesting enough, as if nothing is really on the line when it all comes down to it, despite having clear cut characters. Perhaps the film becomes lost in the genre because of similar character roles? I can’t quite put my finger on it but I do know that Kubrick’s overall direction on the film is apparent which makes it favorable to watch.
14. Frances Ha (2012) ~ Noah Baumbach
The honesty in this film was refreshing and the decision to shoot in black and white made it even more favorable. Greta Gerwig played a role of a person that I’d love to be friends with, her character saw the world differently but not even in some overly creative way, more so she didn’t seem so phrased by all the trends in the media/culture. I loved everything about her time in Paris, I would never have expected to see that in a film considering the fact it was in The City of Light.
13. Thief (1981) ~ Michael Mann
James Caan plays the role of a highly skilled thief who’s planning on leaving the job to lead a normal life. A big job is offered to him that lands him in deep with a mob. The film utilizes a cool electronic score to accompany the film as the plan for the big robbery. My expectations for this film was far to high, because of the drive/thief comparisons, and I was disappointed to see they’re two completely different films. Although this film is definitely solid; I love the look of it along with the locations and Michael Mann was able to bring us Heat later on in his career. The film did succeed exceptionally well when James Caan delivered his brilliant monologue to his love interest played by Tuesday Weld.
12. John Wick (2014) ~ Chad Stahelski
This movie was so badass, but at the same time it was very cinematic/artistic. Essentially what I’m trying to say is that this film was smart, so much more than all these other action films, that are based around big explosions, or these overly complex plots. The fight scenes were surprisingly good as well. Keanu Reeves delivered a great role, I haven’t seen him in too much, but he definitely stole the show, and I’m more than on board for John Wick 2.
11. What We Do In The Shadows (2014) ~ Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi
Go watch this movie, Don’t even watch the trailer. I honestly have no idea who the director is, let alone who the actors are, but this is one of the best vampire films I’ve ever seen and surprisingly it was a parody. The banter between the vampires and werewolves was hilarious.
10. Night of the Living Dead (1968) ~ George A. Romero
They just don’t make them like they used to now. I know there’s a lot of underlying themes surrounding this film, one being race. Which all contributes to this film having a lot of re-watchability, because those it’s considered the grandaddy of zombie films. A lot of the film took place in a house with a a group of white people and a single black man, during the war of Vietnam I believe. The zombies were the constant doom that lingered outside the boarded up doors and windows.
9. Misery (1990) ~ Rob Reiner
What a stellar performance from Kathy Bates as the biggest fan towards Paul Sheldon (James Caan). After his unfortunate car crash on the snowy roads; She happens to rescue him and nurture him back to health. Little does he know, this young lady his absolutely obsessed with him to the point where is life is in danger. There is something about this film that has that distinct 90s feel to it, along with the great story from the mind of Stephen King. It’s an enjoyable ride, that has a haunting tale keeping you on the edge of your sit.
8. Throne of Blood (1957) ~ Akira Kurosawa
Throne of Blood brings an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to a foggy landscape of feudal japan. I’m not sure how close it is to Shakespeare’s version, but Kurosawa is able to capture the ambition and duplicity that surrounds Washizu, played fantastically well by Toshiro Mifune. I loved that this film was able to remain unsettling for the entire run time, and the use of silence is key for this film.
7. Paris, Texas (1984) ~ Wim Wenders
During one of Criterion’s 50% off sales, I decided to pick this film up based on a single image of Henry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski. I’m not sure why but I felt a lot of emotion coming off this image, so I picked it up. Little did I know how long the first portion of the film would drag on for, considering also the fact Stanton’s character didn’t speak much. I fell asleep the first time, but when I gave it it another shot I was overcome by the film’s brilliant story, about a father who was separated from his wife & child and how he made an effort to win both of them back, but in the most un-cliché way. The video footage of the family was deeply heartbreaking and Stanton was able to sell that portion of the film that made the film have an everlasting impression on me.
6. Insomnia (2002) ~ Christopher Nolan
I had been wanting to watch this film for the longest time, because I always see this photo. I expected this scene with Al Pacino to be the final climax or something, but to my surprise it was fairly early on. Once I saw Robin Williams was also in the film, I decided it had been long enough from not seeing all of Christopher Nolan’s film. Though this film was everything I had not expected, I loved it anyways, the instability within the detective played by Pacino, and the good ole game of cat and mouse between Pacino and the prime suspect played by Williams felt refreshing.
5. Ida (2013) ~ Pawel Pawlikowski
Anna is about to take her vows as a nun, but soon learns from her only relative that she is actually Jewish. This leads them on a journey together to learn about their family, only to discover a dark secret from the Nazi regime. This film looks like it was made my Ingmar Bergman and Sven Nykvist. It looks absolutely gorgeous with the black and white cinematography, overall the film is darkly poetic in all of it’s simplicity. It’s a slow moving film in comparison to everything that comes out in the mainstream, so it can prove to be difficult to get through for some, such as myself, but it’s definitely a film that will find a place in your memory one way or another. The sequence when Anna walks down the staircase to the jazz band playing Naima by John Coltrane.
4. La Haine (1995) ~ Mathieu Kassovitz
I absolutely loved this film when I watched it back in January. Films come few and far between for me when it comes to having me to let the credits run all the way through as I reflect on the climax of the film. The story keeps building and building, all the pent up anger & frustration is extremely prevalent by the three main leads Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui. This is all due to the violent beating a young arab received by the French Police in the suburbs of Paris, and things only seem to become more tense, when one of them find a police officer’s gun.
3. Rififi (1955) ~ Jules Dassin
Rififi is another film that I took the risk on buying during Criterion’s sale. For one I wanted to buy a french film, and secondly I heard the Jewel Heist scene is great. To my surprise it was better than I could have imagined, everything in the beginning sets up to the Jewel Heist, but there is quite a bit of drama to follow the heist. Things start to backfire on the group of men after one of them is unable to keep his mouth shut and their secret gets out to a local mob boss.
2. Days of Heaven (1978) ~ Terrence Malick
Easily one of the most beautiful films captured on celluloid shot by Néstor Almendros & the late Haskell Wexler; directed by Terrence Malick. I think it’s bad that I don’t remember the plot too well. The story is about lover Bill (Richard Gere) and Abby (Brooke Adams) who leave Chicago with her little sister because of Bill killing his factory boss. They arrive in Texas Panhandle where they plot to have Abby marry the rich farmer who is sick, so they could inherit his money afterwards. Of course complications arise when you have to pose as the brother to your lover, while she stays in the fancy house with some other man. It’s a pretty solid story but the cinematography elevates this film to a whole different level.
1. Paths of Glory (1957) ~ Stanley Kubrick
No doubt this is my favourite film I watched all year; whether it be new or old. I love war films already but to see this anti-war film directed by the visionary that is Stanley Kubrick, I fell in love. I’m sure you can tell by now that cinematography plays a big roll for my interest in a film, and this film has a lot of great lighting, camera movements, and mise-en-scène. During World War 1, A Commanding Officer Broulard orders his subordinate General Mireau to make an attack on a German trench with promotion being offered for this task. Though knowing this task is essentially suicide this general orders his own subordinate Colonel Dax played to perfection by Kirk Douglas, to carry out with the attack. As it goes, the mission is a failure causing the men to retreat. In order to save their oneself Mireau orders that three random soldiers face the court on charges of cowardice resulting in a penalty of death, something Colonel Dax won’t stand for and chooses to defend them in court.
Things like this were present during World War 1 which resulted in a lot of controversy, something Kubrick would become accustomed to receiving, resulting in the film not being shown in France and Spain for quite a long time i.e 1975, and 1986. Back to the film, Paths of Glory is an outstanding war film, with a short run time that allows you to revisit the film countless times.
Well that’s it, cheers to the New Years! Thank you for checking this out and I hope 2016 brings us some great things to our lives and to Cinema.