2015 has been a really interesting year at the movies. While the year as a whole has been fairly average, there have been what feels like greater extremes on both sides of the "good/bad" fence. The good movies we've gotten have been really great, and the bad movies have been outstandingly horrible. It makes creating lists like these difficult, as there are just so many contenders. I had to leave off films like Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, The End of the Tour, Bridge of Spies, Straight Outta Compton, Clouds of Sils Maria, Sicario, Brooklyn, Steve Jobs, and a few other really great movies that in a weaker year would make my Top Films list.
Note: I still have not seen The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, or Anomalisa. As such, those films could not be included on this list.
Without further ado, here are the 8 best films of 2015, in alphabetical order.
Directed by Todd Haynes. Produced by Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, and Christine Vachon. Written by Phyllis Nagy. Release date: November 20, 2015.
When I finished watching Carol, I felt underwhelmed. It's an interesting romance that's beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, but it didn't feel like much beyond that. But then, a couple of hours later, it was still with me. It still had me thinking about it. It's one of a rare breed of movies that just doesn't want to let you go.
Carol is a movie about a love affair between two women - one undergoing a divorce because of a similar affair in the past (Cate Blanchett), while the other is just beginning to find her way in the world (Rooney Mara). That's pretty much it. There isn't a ton of dialogue or action; there isn't even much in the romance category. It sits with its characters, watches them watching each other, and sets the stage - New York in the 1950s - so effectively. One scene early on in Carol instructs a character to notice what's not being said, or what's being said in a look, not with words. And that's a key to watching Carol. So much can be said with a stare, and this is a film that takes full advantage of that.
Of course, since it is set in the 1950s, the subject matter is a star unto itself. Same-sex relationships can have struggles nowadays - which makes the film feel relevant to this day - but it was so much worse back then. And Carol doesn't shy away from the attitude the era had toward them.