Tag Archives: 99 Homes

Best Movies of 2015

It’s January 2, but top ten lists are still cool, right? Here are my favourite films of 2015.

The Keeping Room

10. The Keeping Room

I was surprised how much The Keeping Room stuck with me after seeing it at TIFF 2014, since it is in some ways not much beyond a standard home invasion thriller. But something about the setting, the actresses, and the tone left this one lodged in my brain all year. Director Daniel Barber creates a tense thriller that also manages to be a slow-burner, which is always a combination that I admire. Meanwhile, screenwriter Julia Hart crafts a script more nuanced and revealing than the film’s plot-driven story should allow. Combine all of that with the film’s absolutely gorgeous use of lighting and you’ve got an atmospheric and unforgettable cinematic experience.

LA

9. Little Accidents

I watched Little Accidents relatively early in the year and really enjoyed it. I was surprised to find how much it stuck with me as the year progressed, from Boyd Holbrook’s breathtaking performance to director Sara Colangelo’s delicate handling of material that could have become very melodramatic. I really don’t understand the largely negative reviews.

Peace Officer

8. Peace Officer

I saw documentaries about Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin this year (both of which were excellent), yet the most captivating and charismatic non-fiction subject of 2015 for me was easily Peace Officer’s William “Dub” Lawrence. (Dub is pictured above in his younger days.) The hook of Peace Officer is that Dub is a former sheriff who instituted Utah’s first SWAT team… and then 30 years later watched that SWAT unit kill his own son-in-law. However, the film spends relatively little time on that incident, then branching out to explore the drastic increase of police militarization in the United States. It’s a captivating and extremely timely exploration, and also extremely strong as far as documentary filmmaking goes. I personally left the theatre shaken, and I can only hope that more people will check out this vital film.

Sils Maria

7. Clouds of Sils Maria

What a wonderfully beguiling film from the great Olivier Assayas. I’m not sure there’s another working director this good at exploring the process of aging and what it can do to a people at any stage in life. Clouds of Sils Maria covers that territory more obliquely than Summer Hours or Something in the Air, but it’s no less captivating. It may be his best film yet.

Eden 2015

6. Eden

One thing that struck me about Mia Hansen-Love’s Eden, having seen it over a year ago at TIFF 2014, is how difficult it is to represent out of context. None of the publicity stills from the film do it justice (luckily I found the website of the film’s still photographer, Carole Bethuel, for some lovely images that do capture the tone of the film), and the trailer seemed to be hinting at some sort of Greta Gerwig-driven romance film that just doesn’t exist. And indeed, listening to the synopsis about a drug-fuelled DJ from the ‘90s, nothing about Eden sounds spectacular. But with her third film, Hansen-Love crafts something that feels both sweepingly epic in its timeframe and achingly intimate in its scope. This is not a movie about the ‘90s house scene, but rather a love letter to the music from one (fictional) player within in the movement.

Far From the Madding Crowd 2015

5. Far from the Madding Crowd

Can all period pieces be directed by Thomas Vinterberg? At face value, Far From the Madding Crowd seems like it fits the costume drama formula, but Vinterberg offers his own subtle flavour. I loved everything about the film’s visual style, and it’s so much less stuffy than this adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel could have been. Romantic, dramatic, and smart.

Tom at the Farm

4. Tom at the Farm

This Xavier Dolan film has been kicking around for a while, but finally got a U.S. theatrical release after the success of his last film, Mommy. It’s funny that this is the one Dolan entry that struggled to find distribution, as it’s arguably his most accessible film yet. It’s my personal favourite of all his work, combining his visual flair with a Hitchcockian slow-burn thriller. The atmosphere makes it an edge of your seat psychological thriller, despite the fact that not all that much is happening. Whether you’re a Dolan fan or decidedly not a Dolan fan, don’t let this one slip by.

Mustang 2015

3. Mustang

I’ve already written about Mustang at length, but Deniz Gamze Erguven’s debut feature is one of the year’s absolute best. It also makes an interesting companion piece with Crystal Mozelle’s documentary, The Wolfpack, also from this year, as both films explore groups of siblings coming of age in an oppressive household. Both movies are worth checking out, but despite being fictional, Mustang is the one with true, haunting emotional resonance, as well as a sly sense of humour.

99 Homes

2. 99 Homes

It seems that a running theme of this list is “unlikely thrill ride”, and 99 Homes follows that trend. From the intense eviction sequence early on straight through to the end of the film, director Ramin Bahrani crafts so much genuine tension from what is essentially a human interest story. The way he sets up the cat-and-mouse dynamic is so taught that I felt like I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. With Michael Shannon deservedly scooping up some Oscar buzz for his performance, hopefully 99 Homes will gain the audience it deserves.

The End of the Tour

1. The End of the Tour

This film is in no way a “thrill ride” in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, it is virtually plotless and mostly is about two neurotic men having a few conversations with each other. However, I didn’t have a more captivating and ultimately moving film-watching experience in 2015 than I did with The End of the Tour. I could write a few thousand words on why I liked this movie so much, but for the sake of keeping things relatively brief, I’ll just say that everything – from Jason Segal’s revelatory to performance as David Foster Wallace to the film’s little gut-punch of a coda – is perfect in my eyes.

Most Anticipated Films of 2014

Out with 2013, and in with 2014 (finally). There are so many great-looking movies coming out this year that I had trouble narrowing down my list (hence why you’re getting a top 15 instead of a top 10), but here are the ones I’m most excited about.

(Note: I’ve already seen Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves and David Gordon Green’s Joe, or else they would definitely be on the list.)

15. The Skeleton Twins

It feels like I’ve been hearing about this Kristen Wiig/Bill Hader family drama for a long time now, but it’ll finally make its debut this year at Sundance. I think director Craig Johnson‘s previous film, True Adolescents (starring Mark Duplass, who executive produces here with brother Jay), was an overlooked little gem, so I’m excited to see what he’ll bring with this sophomore feature.

14. 99 Homes

I thought director Ramin Bahrani‘s last venture into Hollywood territory, At Any Price, was a bit of a disaster. However, I still have hope for this family drama, which stars Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, and Laura Dern. After all of this Spider-Man fanfare, it’ll be nice to see Garfield get back to low-key dramas. (Unless this turns out like At Any Price. Then it won’t be nice.)

13. Mojave

William Monahan has written films like Kingdom of Heaven and The Departed and now he steps behind the camera for the second time with this trippy-sounding thriller about a man who meets his dangerous doppelganger in the desert. It also stars two of the most interesting young actors working (and Inside Llewyn Davis co-stars), Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac, which is reason enough to pique my interest.

12. Posh

Lone Scherfig‘s An Education was a delectable study of, among other things, class divisions and the education system in England. Now, it looks like she’s back at that familiar territory with Posh, a tale of students at Oxford University who join the school’s legendary Riot Club. It also happens to star all of your favourite young, classy Brits, including Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, and Max Irons.


11. A Most Wanted Man

One of my favourite movies of the past decade was the moody Joy Division biopic, Control. Now director Anton Corbijn is back with this moody thriller that stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Daniel Bruhl, Robin Wright, and Willem Dafoe. It’s based on a John le Carre novel, who also penned Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, so get ready to pay attention.

10. Unbroken

Angelina Jolie makes her directorial follow-up to In the Land of Blood and Honey with this intense-sounding drama about an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces at the height of WWII. With the Coen Brothers contributing to the script and Roger Deakins as cinematographer, it’s got a nice pedigree. However, Deakins’ camerawork won’t be the only nice thing to look at on screen, as the up-and-coming young cast includes Garrett Hedlund, Jack O’Connell, Jai Courtney, Domhnall Gleeson, Alex Russell, Luke Treadaway, John Magaro, and Finn Wittrock.

9. Sils Maria

Olivier Assayas is a director that I really respect, and my admiration only grew with last year’s Something in the Air. Now, he returns with this mysterious project that stars Chloe Moretz, Kristen
Stewart, Juliette Binoche, Brady Corbet, and British folk singer Johnny Flynn. The plot is still undisclosed and I’m not even much of a fan of Moretz, but I’m certainly interested to see how Assayas will handle his first film with such a high level of star calibre.

8. Transcendence

Wally Pfister has made a name for himself as the DP on all of Christopher Nolan’s recent films, and now he’s stepping in as director for the first time for this Inception-like movie about artificial intelligence. With a top-notch cast that includes Rebecca Hall, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman, it looks like a moody and intelligent thriller. I’m excited to see Pfister’s directorial chops, and this will also provide the first opportunity to see Depp in a “serious” role in what feels like a very long time.

7. Suite Francaise

Based on the acclaimed WWII-era novel, this drama by Saul Dibb (The Duchess) stars Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), Sam Riley (On the Road), Ruth Wilson (Luther), and Kristen Scott Thomas. I tend to trust Williams’ role choices, and I’m intrigued by this one.

6. Godzilla

I’m surprised this is on here, too. But the trailer really impressed me, making it look as though the film will take a more serious, somewhat character-driven taken on the “monster movie” trope. Director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) and stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, and David Strathairn also give me hope.

5. Brooklyn

Based on the Colm Toibin novel and with a screenplay by Nick Hornby, Brooklyn tells the tale of a young Irish immigrant who comes to New York in the 1950s. It stars Saoirse Ronan, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, and Domhnall Gleeson, and if that’s not a likeable cast, I don’t know what is. Also, since seeing Beneath the Harvest Sky (and, to a lesser extent, The Place Beyond the Pines) I sang the praises of Emory Cohen and here he’ll have a chance to show his stuff once again. Also working in Brooklyn‘s favour is that it’s directed by John Crowley, the director of Boy A, a wonderful little underseen gem that helped launch Andrew Garfield.

4. Interstellar

I’ll admit that the teaser trailer didn’t fully capture my interest, but this latest space-themed project from Christopher Nolan still sounds very intriguing. Like Inception, it has a top-notch cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Ellen Burstyn, and Michael Caine. Now, it’s possible that all that starpower could cause the whole thing to self-destruct, but Nolan has proven to be one of the few directors who can actually handle a huge, star-studded cast successfully.

3. Midnight Special

As soon as I saw “Jeff Nichols” and “Michael Shannon“, I knew this was going to fall right near the top of my list. The director and actor have teamed up several times before and their last project, Mud, was my second-favourite film of last year. This time, they explore the story of a man who goes on the run when he finds out that his son has special powers. Who knows if Nichols will be able to keep his impressive directorial streak going, but with a film that also stars Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, and Adam Driver, I’d say there’s a good chance he will.

2. Untitled Cameron Crowe Project

Cameron Crowe is one of my favourite directors, so he was guaranteed a spot on the list. However, the cast here is what really put it over the top: Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Jay Baruchel, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, and Danny McBride. (Personally, I could take or leave Rachel McAdams and Alec Baldwin.) Not much is known about the film at this point, but apparently it’s a comedy about a military man re-connecting with a former love while also falling for an Air Force watch-dog who has been assigned to cover him.

1. Inherent Vice

In just about any other year, Cameron Crowe’s movie would take the top spot on this list, but when there’s a new Paul Thomas Anderson film on the horizon, you can’t deny it. (Especially so soon after his last project!) The movie is based on the book of the same name by the great Thomas Pynchon and it stars Joaquin Phoenix as a drugged-out 1970s detective. The supporting cast includes Owen Wilson, Benecio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Reece Witherspoon, and Maya Rudolph. If PTA’s past work has been any indication, we’re in for a pretty interesting ride.

This is just a small selection of the great-looking movies on tap for 2014. I’ll give honorable mentions to Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah which looks kind of awful but could turn out to be spectacular, Maleficent for bringing a spat of interesting actors (Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Sharlto Copley, Juno Temple, and Angelina Jolie) into a dark Disney world, and Slow West for giving us these magnificent set photos (and for pairing up Michael Fassbender and Ben Mendelsohn).

There are tons of other intriguing projects slated for 2014 release, and these are just my personal selections, so feel free to sound off in the comments about which upcoming movie you’re most looking forward to!