The Best of the Year (2015)

5. Paddington (Paul King, 2014/15, reviewed August 8)

A funny, accessible family film which effectively balances its messages without overriding its entertainment, Paddington even works for someone like me, who had no knowledge of the source material before sitting down to watch. With a star studded cast, all of whom seeme genuinely invested in their parts and deliver solid performances, writer/director Paul King brings charm, laughter, and warmth to his film, and does so with extreme efficiency.
95 minutes. In English. Rated PG.

4. Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2014, reviewed October 6)

A thought provoking character study, Two Days, One Night shoots into the stratosphere with a marvelous performance from the great Marion Cotillard. As a woman who must convince her coworkers to sacrifice a bonus in order to keep her on the payroll, Cotillard conveys a growing sense of desperation, as her character is effectively forced into the lives and affairs of others, having to get past their personal fronts in order to benefit her own and her family’s. What follows is harrowing.
95 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Rated PG-13 (contains profanity and themes of mental illness).

3. The Way He Looks (Daniel Ribeiro, 2014, reviewed March 19)

Effervescent in every way, Daniel Ribeiro’s The Way He Looks also accomplishes the daunting task of taking a successful short film and extending plot and character to fit a feature length narrative. It’s an earnestly written, neatly directed, and sweetly acted film. I’m not going to lie, it wears its heart on its sleeve pretty obviously, but it’s never manipulative or phony. Here is an example of a positive, refreshing romantic dramedy which will win over just about everyone.
95 minutes. In Portuguese with English subtitles. No MPAA rating (contains profanity, teen drinking (of a legal age within the country in which the film is set), and brief nudity).

2. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt, 2012, reviewed June 30)

What can I say about It’s Such a Beautiful Day? I’d rather not get into too much detail, lest I spoil the wonderful insanity of Don Hertzfeldt and his movie. Using simple, hand-drawn animations and a gleefully sarcastic narration, the film manages to develop some salient points on life, death, love, and everything in between. One of only two movies which I gave four stars to this year, I recognize that some will find the production too manic and difficult to comprehend. For everyone else, get ready for something masterful.
62 minutes. In English. No MPAA rating (contains nothing that children would find overly offensive, but I don’t think they’re interested in it anyway).

1. Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985, reviewed January 22)

Chills ran down my spine at the end of Come and See when director Elem Klimov applied Mozart’s haunting “Lacrimosa” to an equally effective scene, and that response was representative of the impact that the rest of the film left on me. “Wrenching” is an accurate word to describe the movie, and yet it carries such an immaculate, underlying  beauty that Klimov is still able to deliver an experience which I could only categorize as rewarding. Still, this World War II drama remains incredibly disturbing, cemented over with layers of surreal imagery.
142 minutes. In Belarussian, Russian, and German with English subtitles. No MPAA rating (contains intense depictions of war and genocide).

And that wraps up my list of the 20 best movies I reviewed in 2015. Here’s to an equally great 2016. On a side note, keep an eye over the site this coming weekend, when I will post a list detailing some of the worst movies I reviewed this year. I can hardly wait…