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The Best Films of 2015 (So Far)

The Best Films of 2015 (So Far)

This past weekend, a few million assholes shelled out $55million to see Jurassic World. As we take the rest of the week off and recall the wonderful movies we’ve screened so far in 2015, it is hard to believe that people are still spending their $12 to see dinosaurs chew up a bunch of morons. We hope this list inspires you to choose something else at the multi-plex. Thank you for reading. New content will resume on Monday.

madmaxMad Max: Fury Road (Dir: George Miller)

When production plans for Mad Max: Fury Road were announced, there was reason to be optimistic. Brooding, ultra-talented actor Tom Hardy was set to play the title role, while George Miller, director of the original Mad Max (1979) as well as its sequels, Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), was back behind the camera. There was reason to be hopeful, and yet even with such lofty expectations, the film emerged as not merely the summer’s best film, but one of the very best films of the year, a completely singular action epic remarkably fleet of foot yet loaded with so much thought and formal ingenuity that it essentially requires repeat viewings. Plus, the guitar guy. Long live the guitar guy. – Drew Hunt

 

 

it-followsIt Follows (Dir: David Robert Mitchell)

It Follows should erase any notion that the immensely overrated The Babadook is the best recent horror film. Persistent and insidious, It Follows creeps up on you, relying more on uneasy dread rather than jump scares. There really is no escape, even if you stave it off by passing the threat on to someone else. At some point, it will catch up to you. You can run away; that’s easy, because “it” is slow. But this is a death by attrition, one that will eventually claim you no matter how much you fight. And as a metaphor for sexuality and disease, It Follows paints one damned, grim message. – David Harris

 

 

 

shadowsWhat We Do in the Shadows (Dir: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement)

The vampire bubble may have burst, but that doesn’t mean the undead creatures of the night can’t be resurrected. In fact, after years of vampire burnout, New Zealand mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows seems completely fresh. The directorial debut by the Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement, who tag-teamed directing duties with Taika Waititi (both also star in the film), skewers reality TV tropes while also poking fun at a variety of vampire clichés as the unholy roommates—who range in age from a couple centuries to eight millennia—try to get by in the modern world. Throw in some ultra-polite werewolves (“not swearwolves”) and What We Do in the Shadows absolutely kills. – Josh Goller

 

 

 

inside-outInside Out (Dir: Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen)

Inside Out delves into the headspace of preteen human protagonist, Riley, and portrays her brain as a factory of fantastical adaptations of psychological buzzwords. Featuring literal trains of thought, memory orbs and personality towns, Pete Docter and his Disney/Pixar team had their imaginations working overtime. The film’s greatest success, however, lies within the characterizations of Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Their misadventures allow them to evolve from their one-dimensional namesakes into fully rendered characters that can stand up to any critic’s scrutiny. Inside Out is truly special and is as beautifully executed as it is visually magnificent. – Nick Gregorio

 

 

sweetbloodDa Sweet Blood of Jesus (Dir: Spike Lee)

Spike Lee is one of our great political filmmakers, yet Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is one of our great experiential films. Lee remakes Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess (1973), in which black/cultural assimilation is equated to a hypocritical religion, and he pumps the volume up to 11 with a soundtrack made up largely of unsigned artists. The film constructs its unique ways of charming, dazzling and spooking with its gorgeous colors, stylized performances, Lee’s idiosyncratic framing and setting each scene to a new song. Narrative flummoxes, but thrills never do. – Forrest Cardamenis

 

 

 

welcometomeWelcome to Me (Dir: Shira Piven)

Kristen Wiig’s movie career to date has been a mix of big Hollywood ensemble comedies and small, dramatic-leaning indie films. She, needless to say, shines in the latter. Welcome to Me introduces a new and no less enigmatic character to Wiig’s pantheon in Alice Klieg, a woman suffering from borderline personality disorder. Alice is the unlikely winner of an $86 million lottery jackpot, and she uses those winnings to start her own Oprah-esque daytime talk show where she mostly talks about herself and re-lives traumatic experiences, uninhibited as never before. The comedy walks a fine line, and the movie—along with Wiig’s performance—embraces its prickly protagonist, offering up comedically unsettling moments as often as it elicits raw sympathy. – Katherine Springer

 

 

salt-of-earthThe Salt of the Earth (Dir: Wim Wenders/Juliano Ribeiro Salgado)

This quiet and moving documentary is more than just a portrait of famed photographer Sebastião Salgado. Though the film does an amazing job telling the story of that Brazilian-born artist, Salt of the Earth is actually a call to arms, urging all that watch it to protect our planet as well as the millions of hardworking people that call it home. Wenders’ latest non-fiction triumph is also a movie that deserves to be seen in a theater, where Salgado’s deeply emotional portraits of the world’s displaced citizens, threatened animals and rapidly changing ecosystem are impossible to ignore. – Robert Ham

 

 

 

resultsResults (Dir: Andrew Bujalski)

If you’ve ever wondered what a mumblecore adaptation of “20 Minute Workout” would look like, director Andrew Bujalski’s latest film makes this unlikely commercial hybrid of rom-com and sports comedy a successful deadpan reality. Kevin Corrigan stars as a divorcée who’s come into a lot of money and spends it on personal training sessions with Cobie Smulders, who has been involved off and on with her boss, Guy Pearce. Bujalski injects his strange cinematic rhythms into a seemingly slick product whose beats are pumped up by Justin Rice’s excellent garage-band workout score. The result is a minor miracle, finding something indescribably wonderful in a repulsive milieu. – Pat Padua

 

 

 

girlhoodGirlhood (Dir: Céline Sciamma)

I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age film. There’s something about the mood swings, hopeless crushes and far-off dreams that shed light on the whole nature of adult life. Girlhood is a classic coming-of-age story about Marieme (Karidja Touré), a girl from a Parisian housing project who becomes the fourth member in a girl gang. Whether traipsing through the mall, lip-synching to Rihanna or cussing out a rival, the gang is electric and the film’s depiction of female friendship is exciting and original. Marieme adopts a new style, speech and attitude and she’s not the same person she used to be, but that’s okay. That’s the point of growing up. – Erica Peplin

 

 

 

ned-rifleNed Rifle (Dir: Hal Hartley)

Though it will probably just confuse everybody else, Ned Rifle is a gift to Hal Hartley fans. The film concludes his now-classic trilogy concerning Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan) and his entanglement with the Grim family, played by James Urbaniak, Parker Posey and Liam Aiken. Ned Rifle is Hartley’s sharpest, wittiest film in years, featuring all his trademarks, from the deliberately artificial staging to the distinctive musical score composed by Hartley himself. Aubrey Plaza, the film’s most marketable element, is new to the Hartley crew, but she gives the most inspired performance of anyone in the cast. I don’t consider Ned Rifle a return to form, because I’ve enjoyed most of Hartley’s recent work; but if people are viewing it that way, so much the better. – Seth Katz

 

 

hardgodHard to Be a God (Dir: Aleksei German)

The legendary, criminally underexposed Russian filmmaker’s final film is one of the most tactile, pungent films ever made. It’s also one of the last movies to which you’d ever want to feel physically connected: excrement, mud and blood coat the frame, and the stench of putrefaction almost manages to break metaphysical barriers and emit from the screen. The violence is so dispassionate and filthy that it makes “Game of Thrones” almost look like a children’s show, yet most disturbing of all is the realization that this film’s lessons would be applicable to just about any developed culture at any time in the last century, if not longer. – Jake Cole

 

 

 

gangsofwGangs of Wasseypur (Dir: Anurag Kashyap)

In some ways just another mobster foundation myth, Gangs of Wasseypur’s 320-minute running time offers it this room to stretch out in interesting ways—which means more short-sighted criminality, more wanton murders and much more opportunity for all this flashy bad behavior to turn sickening and exhausting. Similar in approach, if not style, to Olivier Assayas’ similarly epic Carlos, the film matches the souring of the thrill of violence against the gradual de-aestheticizing of those acts, charting three generations of characters, whose actions become more reprehensible as they become more beholden to the private movies playing out in their heads. – Jesse Cataldo

 

 

 

blackhatBlackhat (Dir: Michael Mann)

Last year, when I realized we were going to be blessed with a new film from the man who gave us Heat and Thief, it barely mattered what the details were. Thor playing an imprisoned hacker aiding the FBI in exchange for his freedom? He reads Foucalt, does vertical push-ups and expeditiously falls in love with his best friend’s sister while working the case? Sure. Fuck it. I’d have been in the bag if it was about Chris Pine as a terse, monosyllabic card magician planning a heist in Dubai. Mann’s the attraction. His dogged thematic obsessions (the evolving nature of crime and a certain perspective on masculinity) are the real stars. The set dressing is incidental. – Dominic Griffin

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