2015 is ‘The’ year to remember for film lovers. There were just too many good and exciting films all throughout the year. Fortunately, I was able to watch a lot of them in theaters, streaming and some other means. Now its time for me to list down my top 10 films I’ve watched for this year. It was not not an easy task but the Force was with me so the result is a mixture of big budget Hollywood feature, indie films and even foreign and local films made the list. As a rule only films released in 2015 are included which are judged based on its quality, ambition, story’s strength and it’s impact to the community. So here they are:
10. The Revenant – Lets start the countdown with the Curious Case of Leonardo DiCaprio. Finally! The Revenant is probably the film that would give him his long overdue Best Actor award in Oscar. This year Leo teamed up with last season’s Oscar-winning Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to craft this brutal and intense tale of survival. The film is shot entirely of natural light in remote winter terrains in Canada that makes this film so damn hard to finish. It will be a great shame if Leo won’t win the Oscar next year.
9. Kingsman: The Secret Service – Name a director who has not made a bad film, I have Matthew Vaughn on top of the list. For some reasons he is not a household name but many would be recognize his works like Stardust, Kickass and X-Men First Class. With Kingsman he successfully validated he’s one of the most entertaining directors under the radar by giving us a creative, joyful and fun installment to the spy genre. Expect his signature color palette and shocking well-timed scenes of brutality (those poor heads).
8. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Streaking right before the awards season this independent film is charming the sh*t out of our innermost adolescence and that need for friendship. It’s a story of two young friends whose main hobby is to make ‘absolutely terrible short films’. Their story took a spectacular turn when the geeky and socially awkward Greg meets Rachel a girl diagnosed with cancer. It’s a thoughtful story I can personally relate about why and how far friends (er special friends) would go the distance if it means happiness for the dear patient.
7. Sicario – There’s something about this film that draws me into it, before I even saw it. Is it the poster, the cast, the director or the skin crawling story? Probably all of them. It’s a serious film about the war against the Mexican drug cartel that takes us through the eyes of an FBI agent recruited by the CIA for the operation. Filmed with drop dead gorgeous cinematography by master lensman Roger Deakins under the direction of up and coming director Denis Villeneuve. And with powerful performances from Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benecio del Toro what could go wrong?
6. Mad Max: Fury Road– There are film franchises that are prayed by millions to come back and there some that don’t need to be reborn, Fury Road belongs to the latter category. But just because nobody asked for another maddening ride in the post-acalyptic wasteland doesn’t mean it has no right to come back. It is simply the greatest action film ever made. This Mad Max reboot/sequel is a long chase sequence filled with bombastic stunts, adrenaline filled car chases and a surprising feministic core highlighted by Charlize Theron’s performance.
5. Inside Out – Pixar is back with what could be one of their very best, Inside Out delights the audience with a story told from the inside of our heads that is helmed by five distinct emotions: Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger and Sadness. It’s a coming of age story of girl who moves to the not-so-fun big city of San Francisco as she struggles with adjusting in a new environment, loss and ultimately finding that inner strength inside us. As usual incredible animation and family friendly roller coaster story that we have all come to love with Pixar.
4. That Thing Called Tadhana – As a Filipino film lover it’s really sad to know that our local industry is on a seemingly eternal downward spiral quality-wise, and behold the Messiah has come! Tadhana is a rare gem that captured the #hugot nerves of Pinoy moviegoers without sacrificing the quality of the story. Packed with, well, hugot lines Tadhana is a drop-dead charming road film about the self-imposed road trip of a broken-hearted Mace and journeyman Anthony (played by Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman respectively). It’s a take of a Filipino pop culture of travelling to Sagada when broken-hearted. It’s smart, witty and something every Filipino deserves in the age of sickening commercial loveteams.
3. Twenty – from the tremendously successful Korean film industry comes this heartfelt comedy about three friends in their 20’s as they have to deal with social expectations, responsibilities and educations, all while dealing with problems with girls, beers, getting laid and the next great mischief. It’s like the original American Pie only better in all aspects. As a guy in my 20’s the issues are truly relatable and lingering, particularly the idea of chasing our dream or doing what the society expects. It’s a testament that 20’s are universal and so much fun!
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Now this is the film franchise prayed by millions to come back and boy, Disney knocked this one out of the ball park! For sure, you’ve heard so much good thing about this movie but all I can say is it’s what every Star Wars fan wanted and deserved. It’s been forty-two years since Luke Skywalker’s story ended (I only twenty in my case.. I was seven on New Year’s even when I first saw Empire) and we really don’t have any idea how much we truly missed that galaxy. Oh I love Rey and BB-8!!!
1. Heneral Luna – This comes as a surprise but I’m not kidding Heneral Luna rightfully deserve this place on my list. It’s the only film that made me cry (literally) after watching it on theaters. It’s that big feeling of relief that finally there is one period film or a Filipino film we can truly be proud of. This is the sole movie that awakens so much conversation about history, patriotism and how much the history repeats itself in the modern seating.
It is the biographical account of Gen. Antonio Luna’s exploits during the Filipino-American War. For an independent film it looks expensive because of it’s high production value. But most of all it’s uncompromising take on an imperfect war hero. In short, we need this kind of films. Mabuhay ang Pelikulang Filipino!
The Runners Up:
Fast and Furious 7, Best of No Nation, MIssion Impossible: Rogue Nation, Kid Kulafu & The Martian