2015 is about to come to an end in just a few days, and you know what it is! It’s time to recount the best films of 2015! If you’re wondering whether The Hateful Eight or The Revenant are included, I’ll say this right from the start. No, those films or any other great Oscar contenders are not going to be in this list because a majority of them have been either delayed or unsure of getting a Philippine theatrical release. Also, you read that right. The title has no typographical error, there are 12 films from this year that I consider the best. If you’re still wondering why it’s a “top 12” and not the usual “top 10” is that sometimes you should just stray from all the conventions. Anyway, this list will cover both foreign and local. Let’s begin!
12. Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray)
Supposedly a bringing to life of the beginnings of the 80s rap group N.W.A, this music biopic becomes something else of social relevance with the powerful message it brings that still reverberates up to this day. Fueled with electrifying performances from its young yet talented cast and F. Gary Gray’s thrilling direction, Straight Outta Compton is entertaining and powerful.
11. Baka Siguro Yata (Joel Ferrer)
An entry to this year’s Cinema One Originals, Baka Siguro Yata will make you laugh ’til it aches, but it will also warm your hearts with the sweetness and profundity lying under all the fluffy romance. The depiction of love is connected to responsibility, making it realistic if anything. If there is perhaps another thing that would make you love it aside from all the comedic romanticism, it’s got to be the awesome cast that just charms from start to end.
10. Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg)
Spielberg and Hanks reunite and they bring forth a new fella under the name of Mark Rylance in this Cold War-set thriller. Bridge of Spies isn’t really Spielberg’s big comeback (well, he really never left), but it’s yet another superb thriller that chose not to be too flashy but rather subtle yet intriguing. It uses its dialogue and the context of the situations to create tension; leaving us both exhilarated and affected for our characters’ fates. It may have lacked classic Spielberg action, but the words uttered by the amazing cast more than make up for it. The production design for the flm take us back to the 1950s and it is indeed convincing. Oh and of course, who would forget the calm but affecting performance of Mark Rylance.
9. Ex-Machina (Alex Garland)
One of this year’s biggest surprises; eerie, occasionally disturbing and conceptually rich, Ex-Machina becomes this year’s Under the Skin with its Kubrickian vibe and feel that just leaves us guessing ’til the end. Oscar Isaac, Domnhall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander bring great performances that are bound to impress. Alex Garland’s inspired direction takes us to different levels of intrigue and excitement with the vagueness of the narrative that he spun.
8. The Martian (Ridley Scott)
After settling on with mediocre blockbusters and period dramas, Ridley Scott the man who delivered us beloved Sci-Fi classics has redeemed himself of greatness with The Martian. Surprisingly colorfully hilarious but also intense, this Mars-set drama starring Matt Damon becomes a survival tale that makes being stranded look fun with the endless amount of entertainment he provides partnered with Drew Goddard’s creative narrative. With all that, The Martian becomes a celebration of the human spirit with humor and tension.
7. Heneral Luna (Jerrold Tarrog)
One of the best films produced by our local cinema in a while, Heneral Luna is bursting with patriotism and presents nationalism with honesty, brutality, and style. Done in a Hollywood-like fashion, it resulted into a success with moviebuffs and the mainstream audience alike with its unique look but above all else, the strikingly relevance of the issues the film ferociously tackles.
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams)
J.J. Abrams’ 7th Episode in the Star Wars Saga is the best you’ll ever have in years. A rigorous explosion of fun, excitement and old-fashioned Star Wars goodness, The Force Awakens might just be this best blockbuster this year to grace the big screen. The fresh cast delivered wonderfully and J.J. Abrams didn’t fail in bringing us a Star Wars movie that eradicates the Lucas Prequels with its mighty heft that proved to be satisfying and quality filmmaking.
5. Creed (Ryan Coogler)
Injected with heart, rigor and swiftness, Ryan Coogler vanquished all our doubts with Creed and its powerful cast that become unstoppable forces by knocking us all out with terrific performances that inspires us to achieve our goals (cheesy but true). Creed is one of this year’s champs and it deemed triumphant by making its way onto this list.
4. Inside Out (Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen)
Pixar’s long-anticipated entry became evidence that the animation studio we all admired isn’t dead yet in terms of servicing us with quality films that leaves a mark on both our hearts and minds. Inside Out is an eruption of emotion and wit trademarked with the genuine uniqueness that we all loved from the once king of animated films. It is definitely another Pixar feature that could instantly be named a modern classic.
3. HONOR THY FATHER (Erik Matti)
Being a fan of Matti’s 2013 crime-thriller On The Job, upon announcement of his new project then-titled ‘Con-Man’, I immediately anticipated Honor Thy Father as one of my most anticipated films of 2015. Now that I’ve seen it, there could be no doubt and hesitation in stating that this is one of this year’s best. Honor Thy Father is grim and dirty, powerful and heartbreaking; it reflects our stark reality through its compelling narrative presented as a blend of actual truthfulness and artistic integrity. John Lloyd Cruz’s portrayal as Edgar is riveting; a showcase of what the actor is truly capable of. The high-quality filmmaking makes Honor Thy Father shine brightly among the rest of the entries of the MMFFF; its disqualification of being a Best Picture winner is hugely disgraceful but there’s no denying that this was a Filipino movie of top-notch quality. Matti’s meticulousness in directing this drama transforms it from being a film to a realistic experience by putting us in the middle of a dire situation and witnessing it firsthand.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
The 4th installment in the Mad Max franchise may have been late to the sequel party for about 30 years but nonetheless, it went out with a bang even bigger than we were expecting. George Miller defied all odds this year with Mad Max: Fury Road; a rollicking action flick loaded with eye-catching visuals unlike any other. If anything, don’t get fooled with all the attractively chaotic mayhem that occurs around the scorching desert, there is a story hidden beneath it that is weaved with superiority if to be compared with other blockbusters these days. Simply said, the artistic and masterful representation of the themes of hope and redemption becomes so appealing and irresistible that we just can’t help but think that Fury Road is an arthouse film posing as a summer cinematic wonder of escapade. That brilliant judgment just gives it more than two reasons to make it to the #2 spot.
1. SICARIO (Denis Villeneuve)
Taking up the #1 spot is one of the films that gave me one hell of a cinematic experience; one that would haunt me for the rest of my days. Sicario is jolting and nightmarish; a visual depiction of a ride through hell on earth splattered with fiery performances and explosive twists. It is a surefire thriller that demands you to grab onto your seat long until it’s over, but even when it’s over the mark that it leaves still burns. Also, who the hell can forget about Benicio Del Toro? He was literally THE BOMB.
That’s it. Those are my top 12 films of 2015. Did you like the list and its contents? What are your top films of 2015? Happy New Year and Live, Love, Cinema.