I have just returned from holiday to the news that Jacques Rivette has died. He was a unique director who kicked off the French New Wave movement. Unique at the time because of his propensity for long takes – he would let the camera sit and observe, a technique that appears to be lost on many directors today. I studied some of his films a couple of years ago as part of my Masters, and his first film Paris Belongs to Us (1961) always stood out as my favourite.
On a completely different topic, here are my top five picks of the films that I saw in 2015. This is a little late and redundant, I know, but a cinephile (at least this cinephile!) always needs to get this list off their chest. So here goes:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road – a bravura action piece that had me utterly enthralled, and exhausted. Its brutal and mechanical style gives the middle finger to digital green screen (although I’m sure plenty was used) resulting in convincingly real set pieces and scenes that are unique and intoxicating. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa rivals Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
2. Ex Machina – and at the other end of the spectrum, we have a very cerebral sci-fi. Ex Machina pulled me into a syrupy quicksand with its brooding filmic method. Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander are fantastic, as is the script.
3. Inside Out – a thoughtful and clever Pixar animated film that can be viewed on many levels. It is a wonderfully entertaining take on the inner workings of the protagonist’s mind.
4. Song of the Sea – another animated feature, but this time from Ireland. As with Inside Out, this film explores life from a child’s perspective. Beautifully moving and had me in tears by the end.
5. A Most Violent Year – directed by JC Chandor, and starring Oscar Isaac (who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite actors) and Jessica Chastain (who already is), this is a solid film that does not get carried away with its subject matter.
Some honourable mentions: I really wanted to put Night Crawler on this list as it is a superb movie, however, I’m fairly certain it was a 2014 release, so out it goes, dammit! Other good films worth seeing, Z for Zachariah, Slow West, Paddington, Finders Keepers, 99 Homes, Ernest and Cestestine, Umrika. Blind spots (films I really wanted to see but have yet to) for 2015 are Anomalisa, Tangerine, The Hateful Eight, Brooklyn, Love and Mercy, The Revenant, White God, and Carol.