filmmixtape’s Top Ten Films of 2015

So finally, here we are.

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What a year for film. The year began poorly (both cinematically and personally), but ended even stronger than we’ve seen in some time. There’s a few towering above the pack, but just below the very best, 2015 still gave us an abnormally wide and diverse group of very strong films ripe for discussion and lingering shelf lives. Even outside of my higher ranked films, there’s new personal favorites close to my heart like Trainwreck, Brooklyn, and Magic Mike XXL to enjoy for years to come.

Major films unfortunately missed include James White, Son of Saul, and The Tribe – what else do you think I should catch up with?

If you missed the previous Best of 2015 posts, be sure to check out:

To spread the love, my 20-11 films are (in order): Phoenix, What We Do in the Shadows, Steve Jobs, The Look of Silence, Love and Mercy, Tangerine, Ex Machina, Inside Out, I’ll See You in My Dreams, and Shaun the Sheep.

On to the top 10…

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filmmixtape’s Best Director of 2015

One of the reasons that helped 2015 be such a strong year for film is the strength of vision from a large number of directors. This was truly a director’s year and that was reflected both inside and outside of the studio system, with big gambles in approach being taken from The Revenant to Room, from Mad Max: Fury Road to Tangerine. Here are my choices for the directors crafting the strongest point of view:

Best Director

Lenny Abrahamson – Room

  • Crafted without sensationalism and with a distanced respect to moments of privacy, Abrahamson approaches Room with stunning emotional and visual intuition. The film’s two halves are distinct and different in style, yet the whole film remains cohesive. He makes the unbearable subject palatable without sacrificing honesty.

Todd Haynes – Carol

  • The film is fascinated with the unspoken and Haynes loads every frame with subtext that informs both character and circumstance. Crafting the film to a gradual swell of emotion, he turns Carol into an invigorating and cathartic experience not unlike falling in love. No one makes period look as natural as he does.

Spike Lee – Chi-Raq

  • A swift reminder that the filmmaker is one of the shrewdest at blending tones and finding hilarious humanity within larger social conflicts. The whole thing shouldn’t work but it does glouriously, as much a transplant of ancient Greek theatre as a music video. Welcome back, Spike.

George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road

  • Not since Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge has such a distinct directorial vision been given such a large scale to run amok. Miller throws so much on the screen visually and thematically, but has a refined sense of when to draw us in and when to hold back. That the film isn’t a complete mess is due to his complete control of his art.

Denis Villeneuve – Sicario

  • He corals every element behind and in front of the camera to serve his point of view and finds ambiguous depth in an already strong procedural script. His control of what’s happening on screen and to the audience borders on the fascistic. He’s becoming one of the best at challenging audiences in genre packages.

See the winner after the jump!

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Long Overdue, Massively Earned

spikeSpike Lee got his Honorary Oscar last night at the Academy’s Governor Awards, deeply deserved after the still-stinging and broadly dismissive showing Do the Right Thing got in its Oscar year. Steadily working within micro and macro interests, social commentary and broad appeal, his career is as (perhaps is even more) varied and expansive as any of his contemporaries.

Trailer for his upcoming Amazon partnership Chi-raq after the jump!

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