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My Picks – The Films of 2015

December 31, 2015

mad max fury road screencap

As regular visitors to my blog may have noticed, I’ve scaled back somewhat on my movie viewing and reviewing this year, as I’ve really grown tired of sitting through bad or mediocre new-release movies and writing about them. Also I’ve been devoting my time to other stuff; having penned a couple of feature screenplays of my own this year. As a result, my list of picks for 2015 won’t be nearly as diverse as previous years.

For the record, I saw 21 features in the theater, watched 38 movies at home and wrote 26 reviews. Of the features I caught on the big screen, 6 of them were retrospective screenings of past classics including The Terminator, Jaws, Rosemary’s Baby and the original Mad Max trilogy.

I have to say it was a huge thrill seeing The Terminator on the big screen again and it has seriously never looked this good (being remastered in 4K). While Jaws and the original Mad Max were a first-time theatrical watch for me (as I was too young to go see them back in the day). And Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby was something I hadn’t yet seen.

Aside from the first-run films listed below, it was the excitement of seeing these older films in a theater which was undoubtedly the movie-going highlight for me this year.

So, anyhow, here now are my picks of the first-run releases of 2015:

Top Five Favorite Films Of The Year:

(in no particular order)

Black Sea

The Frame

It Follows

Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

Honorable Mentions: Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Doctor Moreau, Insurgent, The Martian 3D, Crimson Peak, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

Worst Film Of The Year: Chappie

Neil Blomkamp’s oppressively ugly third feature is without a doubt the worst cinema experience I’ve had in a long long time. It was bad enough this film has a mean streak a mile wide – let alone a transhumanist agenda. But it also left me with an incredibly sour aftertaste – one which persisted for days. Nasty in the extreme.

Dishonorable Mention: Terminator: Genysis

Unlike Chappie, this superfluous addition to the already derailed Terminator franchise didn’t necessarily upset me – but it was definitely an insult to one’s intelligence and, well, just plain dumb. And shoe-horning a Marvel-like supervillian into the second half was nothing short of ridiculous. Hopefully the nonplused box office response to this installment finally puts this flogged horse of a franchise quietly to rest.

ex machina dance scene

Best laugh out loud moment of 2015: The show-stopping disco dance scene in Ex Machina. Utterly random. Completely goofy. But Oscar Issac certainly displays some killer dance moves.

Best Film Editing: Jamin Winans – The Frame

Colorado-based indie filmmaker Jamin Winans has always shown himself to be a consummate film editor. One need only look at his short films God is a DJ and Uncle Jack (both on youtube) – as well as his previous feature Ink – to see evidence of this. Indeed, there are several sequences in Ink which are so sublime in the way they are put together, they may well be some of the most perfectly edited sequences I’ve ever seen. Here, with The Frame, the action scenes (particularly those involving the cargo truck hijackings) – allow Jamin the opportunity to present action as immersive and thrilling as anything seen in vastly bigger studio pictures.

Best Original Music Score: The Frame

Not only does Jamin write, direct and edit, but he also composes and performs the scores for his films. In the case of The Frame, he wrote and performed much of the score while he was penning the screenplay. The result being a truly affecting score; working in complete harmony with the images; adding enormously to the overall emotional impact of the piece.

alicia vikander ex machina

Best Visual Effects: Ex Machina

Seamlessly integrated visual effects, made all the more convincing by Alicia Vikander’s perfectly nuanced performance, makes for one of the most impressively realized movie robots ever.

Best Original Screenplay: Alex Garland – Ex Machina

Beautifully written and tight as a drum, Alex Garland’s directorial debut raises some compelling issues regarding the creation of artificial intelligence and what it means     to be a conscious being.

Best Direction: Jamin Winans – The Frame

There is no doubt Jamin is a supremely confident and visionary filmmmaker. From the very beginning we get a sense he knows exactly what he’s doing. While his technical prowess is clearly evident in every single frame of The Frame, it is the     heart at the center of this film which stays with you long after seeing it. He is clearly a filmmaker with something compelling to say. And he says it perfectly here.

the frame promo image

As with last year, this year was again a strong year for indie genre fare – hence my providing Best Film catagories for both indie and studio pictures.

And so, my picks for the two best films of the year are …

Best Indie Film of 2015: The Frame

For anyone who enjoys puzzle movies which explore the nature of reality and human perception (Jacob’s Ladder, Dark City, The Fountain) – this metaphysical mind-bender from celebrated indie filmmakers Jamin & Kiowa Winans (he directs, she produces) – is an absolute must-see. I’ve seen it three times now, and every time it just gets better. Beautifully-crafted, deeply moving; The Frame is a mini masterpiece for sure. A film which makes us think – as well as feel.

Best Studio Picture of 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road

What more can I say about George Miller’s visceral thrill ride – except to say: this was the only big studio picture movie-going experience I had this year, where, as soon as the credits rolled, I wanted to slap down another twenty bucks on the counter and take that ride again.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

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4 Comments
  1. Oh – we have three of the same top five! So I’ll just pretend I didn’t kind of like Chappie & Genisys (forget I told you that). 😉 I like the sound of The Frame. But I still really want to see the Richard Stanley Doctor Moreau thing!

    • gregory moss permalink

      Yeah, I kinda’ cheated with putting the Stanley doco on my list – as it didn’t actually receive a theatrical release here in Australia. The same with The Frame. But I absolutely had to include both. 🙂

      • Yeah… It didn’t get any kind of release here. Not sure how to see it. Looks like it’s the same with The Frame!

      • gregory moss permalink

        They’re both out on Blu-ray/DVD – the Stanley doco might even still be available on Netflix. While copies of The Frame are available from the Winans’ official site here:

        http://double-edge-films.myshopify.com/

        🙂

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