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September Film Favorites

The Top 10 Films of 2015!


Just when I thought 2014 was an incredible year for film, 2015 rolls up and kills the game even further. There were a plethora of tremendously groundbreaking, forward-thinking, fresh films this year but I picked 10 films that truly resonated with me to my core, ones that transported me to another realm, and films that were made by the blood and soul of a cinephile. I've thought a tremendous amount about my top films so you already know that these 10 films are my ride or die babies and I will back them up 110%! So without further ado, here are my top 10 films of 2015!



Top 10


Mad Max: Fury Road (Dir. George Miller)

It’s been 30 years since the last Mad Max film was released and with the long wait and arrival of Mad Max: Fury Road, it surpassed even the wildest dreams of the most hardcore fans! George Miller returns with a bigger and badder vision of his previous films, embodying a visual spectacle so grandiose, he elevates the genre and shows us how action films could be just as poetic and exhilarating at the hands of a mastermind by telling his story solely through action. This adrenaline-pumped, feverish, and ferocious goose chase is revisioned with a modern-day feminist stance which breaths fire into this already technically flawless film. It’s one film where as soon as it ended, I wanted to experience it again and again! // Trailer Reaction


Mustang (Dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven)

It seems like every year, there is that one film that is deemed as a “Feminist Film” and this year, it is the Turkish film, Mustang. And while I was able to check off everything that make the film that genre, it completely surpassed all my expectations and more. Gorgeously shot and brilliantly acted by unknown actresses, the film portrays the raw vibrancy of sisterhood even in its darkest moments. The showcase of their resilience over their constant struggle was refreshing to witness as they navigate and fight against their oppression. This is one hell of a first feature by Ergüven that is self-assured, irresistible, and ultimately a powerful film.


Tangerine (Dir. Sean Baker)

It's no wonder why Sean Baker's Tangerine is on all top-lists of 2015! He gives us an all access pass into the unseen world of Sunset Blvd where two transgender sex-workers are the centerpieces of this explosive revenge film. Riotously hilarious as it is poignantly tender, the film pulsates with authenticity through its vibrant cinematography and raw performances. Utilizing the iPhone 5s, trap music, and a refreshing story,  Tangerine is one hell of a monster of a film that will chew you up and spit you back out! It's already become a Christmas classic that'll have you swerving down Santa Monica Blvd and screaming, Merry Christmas Bitch! // Full Review


45 Years (Dir. Andrew Haigh)

It's a special moment when a film with a simple narrative can leave a mark and marinate in the deepest corners of your soul, rendering it to be a gem to be cherished forever. That’s what 45 years did to me and now, I am weak at the knees just by it’s mention. It's incredible how a subject as foreign and vast as a 45-year marriage can seem so relatable especially in the quiet struggle of unexpected news that rocks one harmonious marriage. It's the radically quiet yet nuanced performance by Charlotte Rampling that shows the depths of the emotional complexity and struggle that is singularly translated through just her facial expressions. 


The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Dir. Marielle Heller)

Adapted by Phoebe Gloekner autobiographical graphic novel, The Diary of a Teenage Girl tells a teenage girl's sexual odyssey with an acute and quirky observation that makes Minnie a quintessential voice to girls everywhere. Accompanied by an animated spirit of comic-book creator Aline Kominsky (via. animator Sara Gunnarsdottir), we bear witness to Minnie's journey through girlhood in all its awkward, embarrassing, and equally rewarding journey as she experiences the perils of first love and claiming her burgeoning sexuality. Marielle Heller's directorial debut is a powerful one that is crafted with precision and sincerity to truthfully represent the complexity that lies within a teenage girl's thoughts and emotion without judgement. 

Magic Mike XXL (Dir. Gregory Jacobs)

Before you scoff at Magic Mike XXL, WATCH IT. Magic Mike XXL is one of the very few times the female gaze has been utilized and any use of it deserves praise and recognition! But even with that tremendous aspect, the film showed an honest and frank portrayal of brohood in all it's equally trivial and grandiose moments. Through the showcase of frank conversations of career aspirations, bromance, and female sexuality, the film exceeds all expectations and its predecessor. It’s one of the most fun cinematic experiences I’ve had in a while that had me hollering, wooing, and even in tears. It’s definitely one for the books. // Full Review


Victoria (Dir. Sebastian Schipper)

Victoria is an film that MUST be experienced.  It's a tour-de-force of a film and not just because of it's technical achievement of the 2.5 hour film being told all in ONE shot but because the film truly encapsulates the human experience in all its serendipitous moments and human connection, no matter how tragic. Taking place in real time and on the streets of Berlin, the story unravels steadily, taking us through a roller coast of emotions, a tender character study and ultimately showcasing one of the most audacious and ballsy cinematic experience yet. This is a MUST-SEE! // Trailer


The Revenant (Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)

You would think that Alejandro González Iñárritu would rest after winning his freshly pressed Oscar for last year’s Birdman but he did just the opposite and delivered an uncompromising film that is literally a tour-de-force of will in front and behind the camera. Reuniting up with visionary cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki once again, The Revenant transports you to another world with stunning visuals that creates an immersive and visceral experience through the story's rigorous content that emotionally and physically demands just as much from the viewer as it does from the lead character Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. He gives an astonishing 200% commitment which only further proves why he's one of the best actors of the 21st century.


Sicario (Dir. Denis Villeneuve)

Denis Villeneuve is a master when it comes to telling stories of the human experience especially in relation to violence and crime so it's no surprise that Sicario is one hell of a blistering drug war drama that will undoubtably leave you high and dry. It is ruthless in content, immaculate in form, and sweltering in bleakness from start to finish. The film is a piercing reality check as we witness the cyclical and political engine of the drug war in America stronger than ever in this ceaselessly soul-crushing thriller. Emily Blunt as Kate, an idealistic FBI agent, delivers a nuanced performance that will surely haunt you for days after. Guarantee. // Full Review



Carol
(Dir. Todd Haynes)

Nobody can tell a 1950’s period piece quite like Todd Haynes can and Carol is proof of that. Adapted by Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, screenwriter Phyllis Nagy perfectly translates this love story with subtly and poise. Shooting on 16mm, every luscious shot by cinematographer Edward Lachman’s looks as if it should be framed and put up on The Louvre. It’s a love story as universal as it is realistic to the times. The performance by Rooney Mara shows the restrained and delicate nuances of the stirring and suppressed emotions of first love in a spectacular way. Every little detail down to the swoon worthy imagery to the sweeping music by Carter Burwell makes Carol one of the most decadent and moving love stories to date.

Honorable Mentions:

Runner Ups:
Ex-Machina

Festival Favorites:

The Tribe and Girlhood were also on my list last year but considering it's been making their rounds, I am mentioning them once again because they are fantastic!

Evolution
Sworn Virgin
Crush the Skull
My Love, Don't Cross that River
Out of my Hand
Twinsters

Documentaries:

The Wolfpack

Dior and I

Fiction:

Goodnight Mommy

Goodnight Mommy
Son of Saul

Furious 7
The Assassin
Spy

The Big Short

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