My annual review of 2015 film year

2015 was an exceptionally rich and diverse year in film for big Hollywood films, and for smaller budget Indie and foreign films by first time or new directors. 

We saw a new Star Wars film reach box office heights not seen since Avatar (2009). We also saw terrific small budget films by new directors like Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Deniz Gamze Erguven’s Mustang.

Unique foreign dramas were especially exciting this year. If you are a finicky film goer who doesn’t like reading subtitles, you either missed out on some of the best films of the year, or you decided to take the plunge and discover a whole new world of wonder with award winning films like Oscar nominated French/Turkish film Mustang, Cannes Palm D’Or winner Dheepan, Tunisia’s gripping As I Open My Eyes, Argentina’s Silver Lion winner El Clan, Chile’s El Club, Iceland’s official Oscar entry Rams, Brazil’s official Oscar entry The Second Mother, Spain’s Goya award winning Truman, and Hungary’s Oscar winner for best foreign film Son of Saul.

Indie films were also amazingly heartfelt this year especially Sundance award winner Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, - Indie favorite Tangerine, a film that was shot entirely with iPhones about the trans-gender community in L.A., - Ex Machina, a unique low budget Sci-fi thriller about A.I. technology, and award winning Irish/Canadian productions Brooklyn and Room.

Big Hollywood productions that made an impression with their inspiring stories and stunning visuals were; The Martian, multi Oscar winning Mad Max: Fury Road, Sicario, The Revenant, Spotlight, The Big Short, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Documentaries were again a huge force in cinema this year with eye-opening, thought-provoking films like Oscar winner AMY, He Named Me Malala, Hurt, This Changes Everything and Cartel Land to name a few.

Of the 85 films I saw this year, the list below represents the films that stood out for me with links to my reviews highlighted in orange. If you haven’t seen these films yet, put them on your ‘to watch’ list and expand your horizons.

Title                                                                       Director                                   Country

Clouds of Sils Maria                                                Olivier Assayas                         France/US
Brooklyn                                                                 John Crowley                            UK/Ireland
Mustang                                                                 Deniz Gamze Ergüven               Turkey/France
Dheepan                                                                 Jacques Audiard                       France
As I Open My Eyes                                                 Leyla Bouzid                             Tunisia/France
El Clan (The Clan)                                                    Pablo Trapero                            Argentina/Spain
Rams                                                                     Grímur Hákonarson                          Iceland
Neon Bull                                                                Gabriel Mascaro                       Brazil
Truman                                                                   Cesc Gay                                 Spain/Argentina
Taxi Tehran                                                             Jafar Panahi                               Iran
Room                                                                     Lenny Abrahamson                    Ireland/Canada
Spotlight                                                                 Tom McCarthy
The Big Short                                                          Adam McKay
Son of Saul                                                             László Nemes                           Hungary

While We’re Young                                                   Noah Baumbach
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl                                  Alfonso Gomez-Rejon  
Tangerine                                                                 Sean Baker
The Second Mother                                                   Anna Muylaert                           Brazil
Northern Soul                                                           Elaine Constantine                     UK
The Grump                                                               Dome Karukoski                       Finland

Mad Max: Fury Road                                                 George Miller                            Australia/US
American Ultra                                                           Nima Nourizadeh
Sicario                                                                      Denis Villeneuve
The Revenant                                                            Alejandro González Iñárritu

Ex Machina                                                                Alex Garland                             UK
The Martian                                                                Ridley Scott
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens                J.J. Abrams

When Marnie Was There                                              Hiromasa Yonebayashi              Studio Ghibli
Inside Out                                                                   Pete Docter, Ronaldo del Carmen  Pixar/Disney
Boy & the World                                                          Alê Abreu                                  Brazil

Cartel Land                                                                  Matthew Heineman
He Named Me Malala                                                   Davis Guggenheim
This Changes Everything                                               Avi Lewis
Meet the Patels                                                            Geeta Patel, Ravi Patel
AMY                                                                           Asif Kapadia
The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble       Morgan Neville
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom                    Evgeny Afineevsky                    UK/Ukraine
What Happened, Miss Simone?                                     Liz Garbus

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