BEST FILMS OF 2015
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Ex Machina
- St Vincent
- Cut Snake
WORST FILMS OF 2015
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Get Hard
- Into the Woods
BEST FILMS OF 2015
Riveting atmospheric dramatisation of the bizarre and tragic events surrounding the relationship between chemicals magnate John du Pont and Olympic wrestlers Dave and Mark Schultz. This slow moving but utterly engrossing drama elicited close to career best performances from Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum.
2. Stations of the Cross
Emotionally devastating drama from the German Film Festival that examined the perils of religious fanaticism. A timely film with a sensational performance from its young lead Lea Van Acken.
3. It Follows
Retro horror film that depicted the ultimate sexually transmitted disease, a demonic curse passed from one sexual partner to another. Combined supernatural scares with some of the dark, hypnotic mood of Jonathon Glazer’s Under The Skin, the sinister melancholia of Let The Right One In, the grim suburbia of John Carpenter’s Halloween and the sexualised teen world of Larry Clark’s films for a wonderfully creepy slow-burn spook-fest.
4. Inside Out
A strikingly emotional film about emotions from Pixar that drew on the distinctive Pixar sensitivity, stunning animation and astonishingly inventive visual humour. In its story of a young girl dealing with sadness bordering on depression it somehow managed to be quirky enough for kids to enjoy.
5. Ex Machina
Smart, unsettling sci-fi mystery exploring the emerging possibilities and threats of Artificial Intelligence. This film mixed Kubrick precision with a chilly Scandinavian atmosphere and featured terrific performances from Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander.
6. Wild Tales
Omnibus of cleverly-conceived, tightly-constructed, tense, well-directed, confronting and often funny morality tales from the Spanish Film Festival. Combined elements of the Twilight Zone and Black Mirror into stories examining the notion of revenge and the breakdown of the social order.
7. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Impressively creepy, atmospheric genre mash-up referencing film noir, modern Iranian cinema, westerns, feminism and romance in a strange story of a female vampire preying on victims in the fictitious Iranian industrial town of Bad City. A great feature-length directorial debut for Iranian/ American film maker Ana Lily Amirpour.
Gritty, engrossing and assured drama set during the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland in 1971. Drew on films such as Green Zone, Platoon and even Escape From New York in its story of a lone British soldier trying to battle his way through hostile Belfast streets but also had a distinct style and identity. A potent bruising depiction of war and the corrupt forces at its heart.
9. From Caligari to Hitler
Great documentary from the German Film Festival tracing the development of German cinema during the Weimar Republic from 1918 – 1933 a time when the German film world was filled with astonishing artists who brought to the cinema screen the type of mind expanding inventiveness that abstract expressionist painters brought to the canvas.
10. The Wrecking Crew
A must see for music fans that documents the careers of the major players in the session muso outfit known as The Wrecking Crew. They were gun players who performed on a phenomenal array of rock and pop hits from the 50’s to the early 70’s and in many ways shaped the sound of popular music.
- Love and Mercy
- Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
- Cut Snake
- Going Clear: Scientology & the prison of belief
- The Connection (French)
OVERRATED FILMS 2015
- Mad Max: Fury Road
If you enjoy car crashes and Crusty Demons of Dirt shows you’ll love this film. Others will find the endless car chases, the silly overwrought acting, the cartoon voices and the post-apocalyptic scenario which looks like a mid-80’s Duran Duran music video a bore. Because the characters are so ridiculous we don’t (or shouldn’t) care about them which means the action scenes, while, physically well-constructed have no threat or tension and are basically redundant.
Lacklustre Rocky spin-off with a surprisingly charisma-free central performance from Michael B Jordan. Stallone was, however, as good as everyone has said.
Melissa McCarthy as a put- upon desk bound CIA agent who miraculously becomes a killing machine. Suffers similar problems to Kingsman as it tries to have a bet each way by fusing a violent action film to what’s supposed to be an amiable comedy. The action’s ok but the gags are not very funny; there’s nothing resembling real wit here. The film trips itself up badly by having McCarthy as a the bumbling clown then showing her to be an elite assassin but then still trying to have her do pratfalls.
Snowtown director Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of Macbeth had a distinctive and forceful visual style but the performance of the text was often dull and unintelligible.
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service
This film’s plot was a thin excuse for a succession of noisy, pumped-up, hyper-stylised action sequences. It’s just violence porn and some of its pretty ugly but then director Matthew Vaughan tries to introduce quirky humour which grates badly.
6. The Water Diviner
An inevitable Gallipoli movie from the most Aussie of all blokes, Russell Crowe. Passable drama but the scene where he defeats a band of marauding soldiers with a cricket bat is unforgivable.
7. Into the Woods
Re-working of the stage hit which was itself a mash-up of several fairy tales. Something went seriously wrong, however, in the transition from stage to screen. There was some ok music but the gags didn’t work and the film had a madly confused tone as it switched form kid-friendly fantasy to creepy sex predator story.
8. Top Five
Semi-autobiographical pic starring Chris Rock as a Hollywood comedy star re-examining his life and career. Nowhere near as insightful and cutting edge as some reviews suggested. It was just Chris Rock playing himself, wandering around and indulgently talking about his life.
Dreary rambling doco from the German Film Festival which examined the deficiencies of the German education system. Amusingly, this film, which decried the way formal education squashes creativity, was devoid of creativity itself. Extremely dull but some critics seemed to think it was riveting.
10. Sleeping with other people
Some people thought this was an insightful and edgy rom-com. It was just another outing for Jason Sudeikis and his smarmy smartass persona. It lacked wit and relied too much on familiar and unfunny genitalia gags. The charming Alison Brie, however, was very good.
UNDERRATED FILMS 2015
Thoughtful, well-acted, unsensational take on what could have been a clichéd disaster movie.
2. A Royal Night Out
A mostly enjoyable lark and Bel Powley was terrific.
3. She’s Funny That Way
Passable return to cinema for director Peter Bogdanovich definitely not the abomination some seemed to think.
4. Seventh Son
Slightly dodgy special effects-driven fantasy but Jeff Bridges was a riot.
WORST FILMS 2015 (IN REVERSE ORDER)
13. The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Almost as visually cluttered and mind-numbing as a Transformers film.
12. Terminator: Genisys
More a disappointment than an outright turkey.
11. Fantastic Four
After a reasonable first half, the filmmakers and cast seemed to give up as the second half became a meandering bore.
Former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee as a romantic lead, need we say more.
9. Get Hard
Mostly laugh free disappoint from Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart.
8. The Last Witch Hunter
Vin Diesel grumbles through yet another turgid, plotless action fantasy.
7. Ted 2
Boorish, boring and witless meat-head comedy.
6. Manny Lewis
Miserable, unfunny ‘comedy’ with extremely unappealing lead performance from Carl Barron. The film was saved from a top three spot on the turkey list by the charm of co-star Leanna Walsman.
5. Ruben Guthrie
Just when we thought Australian film couldn’t get any worse than Manny Lewis along comes Ruben Guthrie. Is it the curse of the lead character’s name in the title? A woeful attempt to critique Australia’s drinking culture that didn’t know if it was a comedy or drama mainly because it was neither. The film also contained one of cinema’s most embarrassing gay stereotype performances from Alex Dimitriades.
More sentimental slop from Cameron Crowe who seems to have completely lost his mojo since Almost Famous. Like Elizabethtown and a few other Crowe’s it was cursed with a dull, meandering plot, annoyingly quirky characters, bizarre, obtuse and patently ridiculous dialogue and embarrassing affirmations of what it means to be a decent white American.
3. The Wedding Ringer
Kevin Hart strikes again! This time he takes down Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco in a lame, annoying wedding comedy that was so bad it should have had Adam Sandler in it.
2. Taken 3
A terrible third outing for the Taken franchise in which no one was actually taken. A lumbering, dim-witted, cliché-ridden action film that did serious damage to Liam Neeson’s credibility as an actor.
Godawful remake/ re-imagining/ mutilation of the amiable and genuinely amusing Chevy Chase comedy from the 80’s. This ugly, nasty attempt to stuff the Vacation story in the raunch comedy template produced a stream of idiotic gags that would have only impressed the least discerning 12-year-olds. Everyone demeaned themselves in this disaster.
- Film review: DESPICABLE ME 2, from Built For Speed
- Film Review: CRAZY STUPID LOVE, by Built for Speed
- What’s on ‘Built For Speed’, Friday 17th April 2015
- Film review: TONI ERDMANN, from ‘Built For Speed’
- Film review: WONDER WOMAN, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’