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My Top 5 Films of 2015

December 31, 2015

Gente de bien (dir: Franco Lolli)

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A pitch-perfect drama that makes the medium of cinema feel like something of a miracle: as documenter of the raw materials of ‘real life’, while also possessing the capacity to crystallise those elements into something beautiful, transcendent and artful. A more perfect piece of social commentary and subtle character study I haven’t seen in a long time….

Full Review: Gente de bien

Slow West (dir: John Maclean)

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The conventions of the Western make it one of the most difficult genres to do something genuinely original with. Filmmakers like the Coen brothers and Andrew Dominik have tried (and generally speaking, failed) to toy successfully with the Western in recent years, but this film has all the cleverness and revisionist bent of those neo-Westerns while also adding a key element too often overlooked: emotion.

Full review: Slow West

Timbuktu (dir: Abderrahmane Sissako)

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African cinema is often viewed through the lens of unintentional condescension. There’s no danger though of that happening with this film and its director, Abderrahmane Sissako. He’s nigh on the best filmmaker on the planet, and his masterly dissection of the malignancy of Islamic rule in the Malian city of Timbuktu, is one of the most casually commanding exhibitions of cinema I’ve ever seen.

Full review: Timbuktu

Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise (dir: Mark Cousins)

I saw some great documentaries this year: Nina Simone biopic, What Happened, Miss Simone? and Scientology exposé, Going Clear, but both of these beg the question when critiquing non-fiction films: is it really just the compelling subject matter that defines a good documentary, or are we actually able to decipher the craft that lies behind it as well? In the case of Mark Cousins’ compelling Atomic, he’s told the inherently compelling story of our atomic age, but in such an intuitive, expressionistic manner – conveying the ethos of the age more through sound, image and ambience, than the didactic tools of a documentarian.

Full review: Atomic

Clouds of Sils Maria (dir: Olivier Assayas)

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A classy all-female ensemble handle one of the most perceptive cinematic discourses yet on the phenomena of social media, celebrity and quite simply how we live our lives today in this digital age. I thought Juliette Binoche couldn’t get any better after Certified Copy, but here she does, and Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz produce career best work. (December 2015)

Full review: Clouds of Sils Maria

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