My Top Ten Films of 2015.

Another year has passed and I have seen more films than I can count, here are my favourites of the year that came out in UK cinemas in 2015!

1. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

GirlWlaks

Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, this Iranian, vampire-western (yes, what a combination) was absolutely brilliant. Shot all in black and white it still manages to be visually interesting with compelling, surprising characters. It’s funny, it’s dramatic and there is a huge cat in it. What’s not to love?

2. Girlhood (Bande de filles)

girlhood.jpg

Directed by Céline Sciamma, this powerful french drama is honest yet non-judgemental. It follows Marieme, a working class, black girl trying to find her place in the world.  The film is structured in an interesting way and the cinematography is bright and colourful amidst often bleak settings.

 3. Inside Out

insideout

This is the best Pixar film I’ve seen in years, funny and clever yet hard hitting at times. Plus some of my favourite TV actresses Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling lend their voices to the film. You can read my review of it here.

4. Whiplash

whiplash-1.jpg

Directed by Damien Chazelle in his first feature film. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so tense in a film, it was exhausting to watch in the best possible way.

5. Carolcarolll

Directed by Todd Haynes and shot in 16mm, this glamorous, beautiful love story set in 1950s New York at Christmas time was stunning. Amazing performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

6. Selma

selma

This moving, powerful film directed by Ava DuVernay about the Civil Rights Movement is brilliant and heartbreaking. With David Oyelowo giving a great performance as Martin Luther King Jr. You can read my review of it here.

7. Macbeth

macbeth.jpg

Directed by Justin Kurzel, Macbeth has stunning cinematography and captivating performances by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. You can read my review here.

8. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

kaguya.jpg

This beautiful animation by Studio Ghibli was incredibly unique in it’s style and is very different to anything i’ve seen from the studio before. You can read my review here.

9. Mockingjay Part 2

mockingjay2

The final part in The Hunger Games franchise, featured some amazing acting by Jennifer Lawrence and rounded off the series brilliantly.

10. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

starwars

I just saw this last week and it has knocked off the film I had originally intended to take the number 10 spot. It’s fun, dramatic and engaging. Full of well developed female characters and I really enjoyed it.

I look forward to seeing more in 2016! I am particularly looking forward to seeing JoyThe Danish GirlThe Revenant and Room.

Advertisements

Selma 2014 Review.

selmaposterDirected by Ava DuVernay (I will Follow, Middle of Nowhere), Selma follows the campaign in 1965 led by Martin Luther King Jr to secure equal voting rights by marching from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama.  The film is nominated for best picture at the Oscars this year.

One of the main aspects I really liked about this film was the juxtaposition shown between domestic life and the racially motivated violence. It was deeply disturbing how integrated this violence was in their lives and this was shown through the clever editing of this film showing scenes of Martin Luther King being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and an act of terrorism inter cut together. King’s wife Carlotta King (played by Carmen Ejogo) describes in the film the “fog of death” hanging over their lives and this really hammers home the very personal struggles for King’s family.

David Oyelowo’s performance as Martin Luther King Jr was brilliant. He really captured King’s presence, charisma and presence but also his human nature. There was a great interview with David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay recently that said they wanted to show King had an ego, he had faults and that simply he was a human man. I think that’s something important to remember. That he was an ordinary person who stood up for civil rights.

As well as humanising King, the film was very human centred. It showed the happy, communal spirit of the movement, it showed family and friendship but it also showed the extreme brutality from one human to another. Whilst this was heartbreaking, I did like that the violence was not sugarcoated. They made it clear that it was unprovoked, cold blooded murder based on prejudice. In that way the film is very powerful and moving.

I also liked that Ava DuVernay decided to add more women into the film when she became director. She said in a recent interview that it would be lying to show a film about the civil rights movement that didn’t include women because they have always been such a vital part of it. I think having that representation of women in this way is vital. Ava DuVernay is the first black woman to ever be nominated for a golden globe for best directing and she was nominated for Selma. I think that is a great step and that the film is brilliant.

The film is particularly relevant given the events in Ferguson over the past six months regarding police brutality against black people. Watching this film knowing this and how in many ways little has changed was completely heartbreaking. It’s easy to look back at the civil rights movement at this time and demonize the people who caused this kind of oppression, racism and brutality so that you can separate yourself from them and know you’re not like that but it’s important to remember that the civil rights movement is still not over.

Berlinale 2015

Last week I had the great opportunity to go to Berlin film festival with my University course. We were only there 2 full days so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time at the actual festival unfortunately. But from the time I  did spend there I can say that there’s a really great atmosphere and love of film, particularly in the main area of the festival Potsdammer-Platz. I would love to go next year for a full week if I can! I was able to see two films in total.

I also saw Ava DuVernay (Director of Selma) and David Oyelowo (plays Martin Luther King Jr in Selma) after they did a press interview regarding the film. It was a great interview, DuVernay touched on some great points about the film and its Oscar nomination. I remember in particular her comment on not getting nominated for best director and that everyone else seemed more upset about it then she was. I for one, definitely think she deserved a nomination!

Nena

nena3

 I actually ended up seeing this film by accident. I had tickets for a film called Koza but got lost on the trains in Berlin and missed it. Fortunately the way the festival works is that half an hour or so before the screening you can ask at the venue for spare tickets. This is how I ended up seeing Nena. I went into the film knowing nothing about it but ended up really enjoying it. Directed by Saskia Diesing, the film is about a 16 year old girl (called Nena) who is confronted with her paraplegic father’s wish to die. Despite having such a serious topic as the basis for the story it’s on the whole lighthearted and funny at times. The character Nena played by Abbey Hoes was a very honest representation of a teenage girl. She falls head over heels with a boy and spends most of her time trying to look cool. I also particularly liked the relationship between Nena and her father, the actors had great chemistry and they played well off of each other. Another interesting aspect of this that was mostly lost on me due to just reading the english subtitles was that the film jumped between the characters speaking Dutch and occasionally German when Nena speaks to her father. I just wonder what effect that has on a German or Dutch speaking viewer. Overall, I thought this was a really great film and I’m glad I watched it. 

H.

H

 This film is one that I still can’t quite get my head around. It was incredibly strange. The film is split into four chapters and essentially it’s about two married women both named Helen. One is an older woman who has a baby doll but treats it like a real child. The other is much younger and pregnant. Both don’t have very happy marriages. Something happens that is never really explained that sets off lots of surreal things in this film. People start disappearing and strange things start happening to the two women. I wasn’t really a fan of this film but I did find it interesting. The sound in particular was excellent, it had a great score and sound design. It also had a lot of great and disturbing imagery about motherhood. I’ve read that many aspects of this film relate to and play with greek myths and legends. Overall, I think this is one that if you like films that mess with your head you will like this.

Academy Awards Countdown 2015

5 weeks and 3 daysoscars best pic

It’s that time of year again when I watch all the films nominated for best picture at this years Oscars. The nominations were released today so if you don’t know what they are:

  • American Sniper
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • Boyhood
  • Birdman
  • The Theory of Everything
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Whiplash

Although I was surprised to see a lack of Gone Girl and Nightcrawler. I have already seen 3 out of the 8 films nominated (Boyhood, The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel.) However it’s not surprising I haven’t seen most of them due to the fact they are only just coming out in UK cinemas! I plan on watching the rest over the next few weeks. I didn’t find the nominations for best actress surprising in the least but I am especially pleased that Marion Cotillard was nominated for Two Days, One Night. Again, with the best actors it was fairly predictable. I do find the lack of diversity in both these categories disappointing but once I catch up with the films nominated I will hopefully have a better understanding for their reasoning. With those nominated for best director it’s hardly surprising again but I would have liked to see Ava DuVernay nominated for Selma.

I look forward to watching the rest of the films nominated and seeing who wins on the 22nd of February!