Was 2015 a good year for films? How does it compare with last year? Well, for one thing, there is no film as good as Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. But those ten films shows a great variety of styles and genres. Again this year, all the films on my list were premiered at Ottawa’s ByTowne Cinema. Have a happy new year!
1. Carol directed by Todd Haynes
Twentysomething Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) and Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) glance at each other from across a crowded Manhattan department store. And bang! It’s a “love at first sight” moment like you’ve never seen. Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy get everything exactly right. From Mara and Blanchett’s complementary performances, to great work from costume designer Sandy Powell, cinematographer Edward Lachman and composer Carter Burwell. Carol‘s last scene is simply Breathtaking!
2. Room directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Joy (Brie Larson) was abducted and has been locked in “room” for seven years. Her son, five years old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has never seen the outside world. After they escape, they have to face the world together. A unique mother and son relationship, with starmaking performances by Larson and Tremblay. Heart pounding!
3. Relatos salvajes (Wild tales) directed by Damián Szifrón
Wild tales is a collection of six stories who are connected only by its common theme : The world is a dark and awful place, let’s have fun! An audience favorite no matter where it plays. Argentine director-screenwriter Damián Szifrón has a vivid imagination and a devilish view of human nature. The most fun I’ve had at the movies in years.
4. Phoenix directed by Christian Petzold
Concentration camp survivor, Nelly Lenz (emotionally wrenching Nina Hoss) is unrecognizable after reconstructive surgery. Even her husband does not recognize her. She’s still in love with him until she finds out the truth about him. A great melodrama with the perfect, simple climax, and a director that knows a thing or two about telling stories.
5. Testament of youth directed by James Kent
Adapted from Vera Brittain’s memoirs, Testament of youth, is an account of the First World War from a woman’s perspective. Young Vera (Swedish actress Alicia Vikander) joined the war effort as a V.A.D. nurse, and saw those she loved die. Testament of youth is a beautiful anti-war poem.
6. Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre (Going to war with Guibord or My internship in Canada) directed by Philippe Falardeau
Patrick Huard is Steve Guibord, an independent MP for a Quebec riding finds out that he holds the balance of power and he’ll decide if Canada will go to war. Every aspects of Canadian political and cultural life is parodied, but Falardeau and Huard make you love Canada even more.
7. Une nouvelle amie (The new girlfriend) directed by François Ozon
As a recently widowed crossdresser, it’s like Romain Duris plays on a tightrope. Does he play a man dressed as a woman, a woman or a man slowly becoming a woman? And François Ozon keeps us guessing until the last scene, with a healthy dose of those Ozon campy aesthetics.
8. La famille Bélier (The Bélier family) directed by Eric Lartigau
First time actress Louane Emera is Paula, the shy daughter of deaf farmers. Paula never thought she could sing until she gets involved into the school choir. La famille Bélier is the most effective tearjecker I have ever seen. And you can thank Louane Emera for that. And Michel Sardou’s songs.
9. Jafar Panahi’s Taxi directed by Jafar Panahi
Iranian film director Jafar Panahi has been banned from making film in Iran. Don’t let that stop him. He films with a rotating camera on the dashboard of his taxi, with a cellphone and a portable camera. When Panahi is asked what he considers a good film, he answers that all films are good. Indeed.
10. Every thing will be fine directed by Wim Wenders
When young writer Tomas (James Franco) accidentally kills a young boy, he does not know the ripple effects it will have for him, but also on the grieving mother (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and the surviving older brother. German director Wim Wenders delivers a reflective film about how we cope or how we don’t. And how time heals.