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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In Review!: “Room”

An incredible fusion of all elements working in harmony, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room rises above audience trepidations of grimness to craft a triumphant human narrative. Adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own novel, the film begins on the fifth birthday of Jack, who lives with his Ma in a 10×10 shed where she has been held as a sex slave for seven years. Expect less some less punishing than this sounds, for this is a film more interested in our ability to overcome than ruminating on the gruesome. Room is a film of healing.

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Observational enough about their everyday lives to satisfy our fascinations, but never dipping into the obscene or grotesque, Room doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant aspects. It’s been made sufficiently clear by the film’s marketing that Ma and Jack indeed escape their confines, so that’s no spoiler here. The angle Abrahamson and Donoghue take to engage the audience is favoring the personal over the sensational – Jack has been led to believe that “Room” is the total universe, so everything on the outside is a terrifying revelation. Things are not so easy for Ma, either, as escape unexpectedly denies the comfort and mental respite life away from her captor had promised. For the protagonists as well as the audience, the world of Room is never that simple.

Continue reading “In Review!: “Room””