As the Academy Awards approach, those of us here at Who Gives A Flick have decided it best to show the world what the top films of 2015 really are. Do you really want to believe a bunch of old, disconnected Academy voters know what’s great in 2016? Or that voters who are actual peers of the nominees aren’t biased in any way? Here at the Flickademy, we aren’t biased, we don’t care if you’re white, black, orange, or purple, because all we care about, is damn good flickmaking. So when those nominees are announced, we can all turn to each other and ask, have you ever heard of that movie?
No one reading this even knew there was a movie named Spotlight starring all those awesome actors until it was nominated. Not a single person under the age of 50 went to see the new Tom Hanks movie, Bridge of Spies. And if I asked any of you to describe what Brooklyn was about, your answers would be far more entertaining than the actual movie. And no, Brooklyn is the furthest thing from a Spike Lee joint. But ask anyone on planet earth about that War in the Stars, and the Force has awakened!
Every year, a new slew of flicks emerge as contenders, and each year the elite are revealed to the world. All of those summer blockbusters we hearted so much, are nowhere to be found, except in the Visual Effects category, and if they’re lucky, Sound Editing. We scoff and whine that our favorites were excluded, but after we begin to delve into the nominated films, one starts understanding the power of flicks. When the credits roll for films like The Revenant or Room, you’re frozen in place, trying to spryly wipe the tears away so no one notices. This reaction isn’t the same for Ant Man, or San Andreas, when after the credits roll all you want to do is drive fast or shrink so you can spy on the girl’s locker room.
Oscar nominated flicks have power. They have power to inspire you, to take you on a journey that has consequences, pulling your mind and emotions in a hundred different directions as we witness the true power of the human spirit captured on film, and sometimes 77 millimeter film. Each Oscar nominated feature and acting category, contain performances and overall films that have the ability to evoke feelings you couldn’t experience otherwise. Could you imagine being trapped on another planet, where you are the only living thing for millions of miles? Or what it would feel like to live your entire childhood trapped in a room, never even understanding what the world was, until suddenly you are thrust out into it. That is powerful, thought-provoking cinema, and the reason we love movies so much. They are our escape, a safe venture into a world we would never experience on our own, where we emerge changed and affected one way or another from our two hour experience.
There are many films that possess this same power, that have unfortunately been left off all Oscar categories but deserve to be recognized. That is why you come to me, the Flickmeister, to reveal the ones deserving that weren’t recognized by those old people at the Academy, even though a majority of this list are nominated films. While the Academy doesn’t always get it right, typically each year, they do come close, just leaving out those few gems that the Flickmeister will recognize at the Flickademy Awards! And that’s right now!
Now, as we get into my Top 10 flicks of 2015, let us pray.
Dear Movie God, please let Sylvester Stallone win for his heart-wrenching turn as old Rocky Balboa, and I promise I won’t ask for anything else, especially peace on earth. Because if Rocky doesn’t win the Oscar, we shall riot, and there will no longer be peace on earth.
First, let us begin with some Honorable Mentions! Meaning, you were good, but not good enough to make the list!
I never would have imagined this dinosaur flick was going to be as popular as it was, but then again, of course it was! Jurassic Park is one of the greatest films of our generation, and watching this film was a nostalgia flash into the past. No one expected this to be a flawless movie, but it certainly was a great one. Adding Chris Pratt into the Dino DNA saga instantly gave it credibility, and for a few months was the highest grossing film of all time. It was truly awesome to have these dinosaurs back in our lives and pop culture, and all I can say is, I cant wait for the endless amounts of dinosaurs flicks to follow.
The Hateful Eight
A unique type of storytelling, which only a masterful mind like Quentin Tarantino could pull off. This plays out more like a theatrical production, a play occurring on the movie screen. Thrilling, brutal, and just engrossing.
While this certainly falls near the bottom of the Tarantino films, that really isn’t a bad thing. I expected the three plus hour run time to make this an exhausting experience, but it was the furthest thing from it. Even though it was 3 hours of talking heads, the bits of horror, drama, and action come together with the brutally violent finale to make this a winner. Filled with great performances from great actors, working off a script directed by arguably the greatest living director, this is more of an experience than a film, and it’s certainly worth delving into this world.
Soaked In Bleach
A wild card on this list, a random documentary I actually accidently watched on Netflix. Needless to say, this was the most surprising film I watched all year, because it was absolutely fascinating and demanded every second of my attention.
As a fan of Nirvana, and growing up throughout their rise to popularity in the 90’s, I was very familiar with the death of Kurt Cobain, but this film brings to light a side of the events that have been shielded from the spotlight. This documentary focuses mainly on a private detective hired by Courtney Love, who uncovers evidence that makes him believe Kurt’s death was not a suicide.
It’s a conspiracy theory tale, told incredibly well with actor reenactments, and live footage and interviews. Not only does it take the path that Kurt was murdered, but it points the finger at his crazy, drug riddled wife. This one really makes you think, and certainly wonder if Kurt Cobain should still be a living, breathing rock god.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
This is the type of documentary that truly makes you realize, you have no idea how much the rest of the world struggles outside of your safe, comfortable home. Winter on Fire chronicles a civil rights movement erupting after a peaceful rally quickly turns into a violent revolution. Yet it’s so much more than that.
This documentary captures the essence of a people, and the struggles still left even in this day and age. Ordinary men, and woman, and at times children, are thrust into a revolution against hired arms who would rather just shoot and beat them then listen to anything they have to say. And the craziest part of this entire film, was that these events took place in 2013 and 2014.
It’s truly hard to imagine a world like this actually exists, but I guess our sheltered American lives force us to block out events such as this. Watching fathers and brothers fighting for their freedom, together risking their lives to ensure their children and the younger generation can grow up in a better world then they did. This documentary deserves to win Best Documentary at the Oscars, as it truly touches on the essence of human society and human nature.
World Of Tomorrow
World of Tomorrow, is a pure masterpiece. Nominated for Best Animated Short Film, this has a run time of just 15 minutes, and is actually available on Netflix. There is no other way to put it, you MUST watch this.
Within the short 15 minutes, this film accomplishes more then most feature length films will ever dream. The short film follows a little girl, who instantly steals your heart, as she is visited by a cloned version of herself from the future. The purpose of the visit, is to try and illuminate to her younger self the beauty of the universe, while she explains the hardships of the world to a small child who just wants to giggle and dance.
No matter what you think, this is the most genuine, and above all others on this list, is the most must watch film. With its simple beauty, innocence and at times trepidation, it finds itself a timeless piece of art. Go watch this right now, and I guarantee it will force you to fall into it’s own message, to go live in the world right now, before its too late.
TOP 10 FLICKS OF 2015
Without further ado, presented by the great minds at Who Gives A Flick, here are the Top 10 films of 2015.
10. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Mad Max: Fury Road defines how great action can be. In its own way, it is a clinic on how to film an action movie, how to move the camera, and how to capture emotion. Using real people more than CGI, this was a fresh, and truly bad ass, take on the action genre. Actually, this flick has now defined that genre, and will be a turning point in action cinema. It will lead the new generation of action films, and if that is actually the case, we all win.
While this film is basically a 45 minute chase scene, rest, and a 45 minute chase scene, somehow George Miller is able to have superior character development, and takes his time in creating this world and its characters. Fury Road is a swift kick in the ass, and is a true indulgence into violence. An epic spectacle to say the least, this is one hell of a dazzling blockbuster that follows through on all of its punches.
9. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
A true depiction of Hip Hop history, this is a film that shines a light onto so many different aspects of the rap game. Watching Dr. Dre and how they depict the origin of the Chronic album, seeing Ice Cube rise from one bad gangster to movie star, and witnessing the sad downfall of Eazy-E are just a few of the highlights from this fantastic film. This film had one element that made it stand out above the rest, and that was honesty. It depicted Compton in all his brutality, with fantastic camera work throughout several of the shootouts and chase scenes.
Ultimately this film becomes so much more, it becomes a universal tale of a rise to power, and that truly is where it’s greatness lies. Through great performances, I simply felt I was watching the actual N.W.A rise to power and greatness. And really, who wouldn’t want to watch a flick with the best soundtrack ever. Watching the boys come up with lyrics and beats to all the songs we love, was priceless.
8. IT FOLLOWS
In a world of watered down horror films around every corner, It Follows is a breath of fresh air. Original, scary, and a blend of simple horror ideals, this is a beautiful throwback to the horror films of the 80’s. The best aspect of this film, is that it allows the viewer time to consider the circumstances and devise a plan of their own. How would I get out of this situation? Or really, how can someone just walking at you be so damn terrifying. Well, it is.
A slow moving and relentless entity constantly stalks those who break the “No sex” rule. If you have sex you will die trope is the main theme driving this, but it is so much more than that. You become engrossed in the rules of this horror movie, as this is one that intelligently follows them in great, innovative ways. It a paranormal thriller, it’s a slasher film, and it somehow finds a way to honor and respect the films of the past, while still poking fun at the genre. Insanely interesting, with moments of intensity and images that will never leave you alone, this is one horror film that will always stay with you.
Creed, also known as: how dare you forget how awesome Sylvester Stallone is! How did this happen? Rocky 7 somehow became the best Rocky film since the original. I can’t express enough how much I loved this movie, how my arms were trying to move during the boxing scenes, or how my eyes were watering up at the end (I had a bad itch!). Creed makes you remember how incredible the Rocky series is, and how great performances and a quality script can breathe life back into any franchise if done correctly.
You feel every punch, you’re moved with the emotion, and you’re running right along side the new champ in Philly. If any of you are wondering, yes, they take their time and bring in the old Rocky theme right when it matters most. This flick has reinvented the boxing movie and kickstarted the Rocky movies into an entirely new and somehow fresh franchise once again.
6. INSIDE OUT
A quiet masterpiece. A timeless film, emotional, true, and a coming of age film with insight into both the childhood and adult perspective. In its own unintentional brilliance, it becomes more than a film, but a vehicle for parents and children to converse and connect about their own inner turmoil and thoughts. This film is simply beautiful, funny and creative, and connects with everyone. It is Pixar’s return to greatness and makes up for some of their last few lackluster attempts, like the bad Dinosaur. Inside Out is the definition of an animated movie, visually stunning for the kids and thought-provoking for adults.
Can you even believe this is Pixar’s 15th movie? And with that 15th flick they have found their mojo! This is just so original, so beautiful, and forces you to have that good cry you haven’t had in years if you want to or not. The film could have easily made sadness the villain, where sadness was the element you had to defeat to be happy. But instead, sadness becomes a necessary feeling; even if you don’t want to feel that way it’s as much a part a life as any emotion, and that is ballsy filmmaking. Every emotion is perfectly cast and voiced by the actors, and together this all combines into by far the best animated movie of the year, of even the last few years.
5. EX MACHINA
The most surprising film of the year, I wasn’t sure what to expect but this movie blew me away. This film takes place in a single location, and with only a few characters, but that takes away from nothing. Ex Machina is a dialogue heavy film which succeeds with phenomenal performances by Alicia Vikander, Domhall Gleeson, and of course the overly charismatic Oscar Isaac. That being said, I think I was more on the edge of my seat for this Oscar Isaac movie than I was for the one coming up next! (Domhall was in them both too! Come to think of it, he has 3 movies on here! Silly Weazly.) Oscar Isaac, with his role of Apocalypse coming up in the new X-Men movie, may be the most intriguing actor at the moment.
This movie looks like science fiction but it is so much more. It’s an unraveling mystery of the mind, of deceit and intrigue, of sexuality and elegance. It’s sci-fi, it’s horror, it’s drama, it’s comedy, it even has a dance sequence. Stylistic and shocking with one hell of an ending, it bends the mind, it creeps you out, it turns you on, and then it spits you out. A head rush that must be experienced, the less you know going in the better off you are.
4. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Of course there are issues, but really, who cares. This movie was everything I dreamed it to be, and after two viewings I can say I LOVE this movie. It has brought Star Wars back into our lives, and for that alone it wins. I was there on opening night, and I went again on a Tuesday afternoon, and sometimes it’s just hard to find the words to express my emotions during both viewings. The nostalgia, my childhood heroes returning into adulthood, it becomes more than just a flick. I can’t even open my refrigerator without seeing Star Wars, it’s on my Mac and Cheese, my snacks, yogurt, shampoo, it is literally everywhere. And honestly I wish there was more.
Star Wars has meant so much to me, as it has to so many people. Return of the Jedi was one of the first movies I ever watched, and it certainly was the first movie that I fell in love with. It opened up my young mind to a world of fantasy, a world beyond our own, and truly made me understand how large the universe was. And now, its back, all that awe and wonder has returned, back for more every year until forever. Or at least, that is the hope, the new hope! JJ Abrams handled this movie with respect, taking his own fanboy status and giving this movie from beginning to end the attention to detail and amazement it demands. You can tell from the moment it begins, this movie was made by people who truly care about its story and characters, so every last person in the audience has a reason to cheer. And cheer we all did!
3. THE MARTIAN
This movie should have been called “How much charisma can one Matt Damon have,” and the answer is out of this world! I could have sat in the theater for a week watching him go through his daily tasks, listening to disco music and dunking his Martian potatoes into crushed Vicodin once the Ketchup was gone. We are all shocked that this was listed as a comedy at the Golden Globes, especially since its the furthest thing from a comedy, but it’s because Matt Damon is just so damn entertaining. He makes digging holes to plant potatoes as entertaining as a Star Wars chase scene.
The screenplay and film improves on the book in every possible way. It approaches the power of humans to do impossible things from a personal perspective as well as a collaborative one. The Martian is a dazzling view into humans ability to problem-solve in the most horrendous of circumstances, and with intense detail is a step by step guide for how to survive on a distance planet, if by chance that ever ends up happening to you. This flick makes us question the value of life, and based on Matt Damon’s performance, the dude is worth saving again and again.
2. THE REVENANT
This movie is just mind-blowing on so many levels. It’s a universal story depicted in such an original way. It connects on a visual level and an emotional level, and from the first moment of the film you can instantly place yourself in the characters’ shoes. Alejandro González Iñárritu crafts an amazing tale, and makes it THE most esthetically amazing film of the year. You feel every arrow as it soars past the camera, and you feel every wound throughout the extreme hyperrealism. Through true ambition, The Revenant binds revenge with the graphic landscape and makes it as beautiful as the snow-covered frontier.
The Revenant is a punishing movie, and turns the old frontier into a primal battlefield for survival. Most of all it makes you question just how different the savage animals are from the grisly men. This is the best vision in filmmaking of the year, and Alejandro again is a sure thing to take home the Oscar for Best Director. And while I didn’t place this at number 1 on the flicksters list, I still believe it will sweep the Oscars: Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture, and deservingly so, Leo finally becomes the lion of Hollywood.
This film was beautiful, tragic, thrilling, emotional, and contains possibly the greatest performance by a child actor ever. It forces you to remember what it was like to be a child, when the world around you is filled with unknowns and is a scary and daunting place. It was such a unique experience, filled with moments of tears and nail biting, and it’s one film that has affected me more deeply than any of the others. While it may not be the best film, and it may not win the Oscar for Best Picture, above all the other films it will be the one that remains with me the longest and stands out above the rest. At times it is painful to watch, at times it touches your heart in such a beautiful way, and at times it places you within thrilling moments consumed with desperation.
Room tears at your heart, it pulls it in so many different directions, and for the majority of this film my stomach was in knots and my heart was in my throat. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, and throughout I was just in awe at how incredible and unique this experience was. It is such a great film that I am getting choked up even writing about it. It’s so beautiful, so innocent, and captures some of the most powerful moments on film I have ever encountered.
Ultimately it is an exploration of a mother and son relationship, and is a metaphor for conquering the walls that surround our lives. Truly, this movie experience was one that was not easy, filled with such intense moments and periods of inescapable heart pounding filmmaking. But it was the film that had the greatest effect on me, and it is a cinematic achievement for the ages.