I confess: I’ve been incredibly sloppy when it comes down to watching films in 2015. There are so many amazing films that have been released and thereby, a lot of films I really, really wanted to see, but simply haven’t. I haven’t seen “The Danish Girl” yet, with a phenomenal performance by Eddie Redmayne and I’m very curious to see “Carol”, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
However, there are a lot of films that I did see in 2015 and these are 10 of my favorites:
Director: Alex Garland
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac
“Ex Machina” is a film that I was very excited about, because of the cast, which consists of the brilliant Alicia Vikander and Domhnall Gleeson, and the theme, which is artificial intelligence. I’ve always been drawn to technology and especially (possible) future developments, and “Ex Machina” provides a slightly horrifying possibility.
The film focuses on Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), an introverted computer programmer, who is asked to join the brilliant scientist Nathan (Oscar Isaac) at his secluded facility. Here, Caleb meets Ava (Alicia Vikander), a beautiful robot, who might have a very strong mind of her own. The tension rises between the three characters and the air becomes poisonous, until the illusion shatters and the truth behind Ava’s artificial intelligence is revealed. With only three main characters and one location, it is a truly stellar accomplishment how “Ex Machina” manages to fascinate its audience, from the first until the very last second.
// Ruth & Alex
Director: Richard Loncraine
Starring: Diane Keaton, Morgan Freeman, Cynthia Nixon and Carrie Preston
The film follows the story of Ruth (Diane Keaton) and Alex (Morgan Freeman), an elderly couple who have been living in their sunlit, “hipster” apartment for 40 years. They both love their home, but there is only one problem: the five flights of stairs they have to climb to get home. Because of their old age, Ruth and Alex think it would be wise to move to an apartment with an elevator.
As simple as “Ruth and Alex” might sound, as complex the film really is. The storyline of the elderly couple is cleverly intertwined with that of a terrorist threat in New York and with their little dog, Dorothy. “Ruth and Alex” is a film I keep thinking back of, because of its simplicity, and because of the beautiful way it portrays becoming old.
// Crimson Peak
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunman
“Crimson Peak” was once whispered by a ghost of Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska)’s childhood, but years later, she would find out what it meant, when Edith meets the handsome and mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his cold, distant sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Despite the warnings of both her father (Jim Beaver) and childhood love interest (Charlie Hunnam), Edith falls in love with Thomas and is swept away to Allerdale Hall, a gruesome, grotesque house atop a hill of crimson red clay. Soon, Edith learns the house guards secrets and at night, she discovers some of those secrets better remain untouched…
The film will haunt you, not for the ghosts and the horror, but for the beautiful details and the glorious acting. “Crimson Peak” is a visual fest, splendor as far as the eye can see, but it would be nothing without the stellar cast director Del Toro has assembled.
// Still Alice
Director: Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart
“Still Alice” is the most impressive film I’ve seen in 2015 and perhaps even in a very long time. The film focuses on Alice (Julianne Moore), a linguistics professor who is diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. As the story continues, Alice loses herself bit by bit, while her family can only watch her fade away.
The strongest element of “Still Alice” is the glorious performance by actress Julianne Moore, who has won an Oscar for the role of Alice. Moore portrays her character with so much conviction and passion, a true understanding of what Alice is going through. At one point in the film, Alice gives a speech at an Alzheimer’s assembly, and Moore pours her heart and soul into the words Alice is saying – it is the most touching scene of film in 2015.
// A Royal Night Out
Director: Julian Jarrold
Starring: Sarah Gaddon, Bel Powley, Emily Watson, Rupert Everett and Jack Reynor
During the opening gala of Film By The Sea, “A Royal Night Out” premiered and Boyfriend and I were invited as part of the International Student Jury. It turned out to be the perfect film for a gala, as the film follows the story of the young British princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, and their unforgettable night out on V.E. Day, 1945. The war officially ends and the town of London is euphoric: reason enough for the two princesses to go out and celebrate! A heart-warming, hilarious and well-crafted adventure follows, from the darkest of night clubs to the breakfast table of Buckingham Palace.
// The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Philip Seymour Hoffman
President Coin (Julianne Moore) is preparing for the final strike against Snow (Donald Sutherland) and sends Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is on a mission to kill Snow and end this war once and for all. But what if Snow is not the real enemy? And what if the price for justice is too high to pay?
As impressive and thrilling as it is, the film also leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when putting the fictional violence against the footage of the actual violence terrorizing our world today.The greatest, but perhaps also the most terrifying, part of “Mockingjay – Part II” is the film’s realism. The film actively – and very successfully – aim to visualize the horrors of war as realistically as possible. A big part of this the film’s realism comes from its main star: Jennifer Lawrence. The visuals might be stunning, the plot might be brilliant, the message might be shocking, but it would all mean nothing if Lawrence would not have carried it single-handedly.
// Knight of Cups
Director: Terrence Mallick
Starring: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Teresa Palmer, Joe Mangionello and Imogen Poots
The plot of “Knight of Cups” is a little bit hard to explain, as is the case with all of director Terrence Mallick’s films. But I guess it’s something like this: Tormented screen-writer Rick (Christian Bale) searches the surface of the earth to find meaning to his life and his past decisions. We travel into the past and future, where Rick meets with his haunted brother Barry (Wes Bentley), where he thinks back of his ex-wife Nancy (Cate Blanchett), his affair with Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), his flings with many, many women (Imogen Poots, Teresa Palmer, Freida Pinto) and kaleidoscopic parties with Tonio (Antonio Banderas).
Intense close-ups of the main characters are alternated with sweeping and grotesque images of landscapes, resulting in one of the most beautiful and most impressive films I have ever seen. Heartbreakingly beautiful imagery, a absolutely stellar cast and an overal unforgettable film – my personal favorite of 2015!
// Far From The Madding Crowd
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Juno Temple
Based on Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, “Far From The Madding Crowd” sweeps you off your feet similar to main character Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan), who is torn between three, very different, men: Gabriel (Matthias Schoenaerts), Frank (Tom Sturridge) and William (Michael Sheen).
As someone who loves, but then again, absolutely loves costume dramas, “Far From The Madding Crowd” is the perfect film. The costumes are beautifully detailed, the scenery is simply magical and the acting is heartbreakingly stunning.
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Monica Belluci, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Wishaw and Andrew Scott
In “Spectre”, James Bond (Daniel Craig) comes across a mysterious conspiracy, which has to do with some of his previous villains. Apparently, they were part of a terrorist organization, called “SPECTRE”, and Bond has to stop them. In doing so, he meets some new faces, such as Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and faces from the past (Christoph Waltz). But Bond does not have to stand up against SPECTRE all alone; he has his trusty team of M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Wishaw) and Mrs. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) behind him. But will it be enough to eliminate this criminal organization for good?
the audience is thrown into the conspiracy plot, and into the action. Helicopters, fighting in helicopters, throwing people out of helicopters, buildings crumbling down, car chases, women in lingerie, men in fancy tailored business suits: it’s all stylishly visualized, designed to keep the audience at the edge of their seats. And it’s definitely working. It’s almost impossible to look away from the cleanly styled and visually packed images on the screen. My favorite part: Léa Seydoux shows a different and more realistic body image – hopefully, Seydoux’s character Madeleine will set a new standard for more intelligent and more realistic Bond girls.
// The Age of Adaline
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman and Harrison Ford
I admit it: “The Age of Adaline” is my guilty pleasure film this year. I’m a hopeless romantic and I completely fell in with this film. We follow this story of Adaline Bowman, a young and mysterious young woman who hides her true identity. Why? Because Adaline never ages. To protect herself and her daughter, Flemming, Adaline lives a sheltered life – until she meets Ellis (Michiel Huisman). She and Ellis fall in love, but when Adaline joins him for a weekend at his parents’ house, her past catches up with her in ways she could never have imagined and might alter the course of her eternal life, forever.
“The Age of Adaline” beautifully and elegantly portrays what it must feel like to never age, to see those you love grow up, grow old and to be the only one to be left behind. It is a heartwarming and stunning love story, that will last in your memory.
These were my 10 favorite films of 2015 – what were yours?