Articles: 15 Best Flicks of 2015
   
 



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by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

What makes a good movie? Score, story, casting, content, direction, editing or a film that stands up to repeat viewing? In no particular order, film critic Samantha Ofole-Prince delves into the movie vault of films released this year to bring you the best 15 flicks of 2015.


Creed - Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone

1. Creed:
A love story and a fight film, “Creed” is the classic tale of the under dog trying to prove himself. It weaves an interesting plot, explores relevant themes, sets up a nicely filmed exciting fight at the conclusion and even finds time for a poignant romance. Directed by Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”), the film evokes the gritty, old school style of the earliest “Rocky” films while also forging its own modern-day identity. Michael B. Jordan gives the best performance of his career as a boxer determined to pursue his dream and has excellent chemistry with Sylvester Stallone who reprises his most famous role.


Tangerine

2. Tangerine:
Filmed entirely using iPhones, this story about a prostitute who trails through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart is amusing and heartfelt. Beautifully choreographed, it primarily centers on two friends, transgender sex workers Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) with a few other eclectic characters sprinkled in. Set in the dark underbelly of Los Angeles, the complications of transgender sex and sexuality are on full display as the pair traipse from dark alleys to dingy motel rooms constantly bickering with everyone they come across. Riddled with drag queens and drama queens, it’s a funny relationship drama well worth watching. Adding, it’s a film that proves you don’t need a lot of money or star power to make a good movie.


Straight Outta of Compton L-R - MC Ren, Aldis Hodge, DJ Yella, Neil Brown Jr., Eazy-E, Jason Mitchell, Ice-Cube, Oshea Jackson Jr., Dr. Dre Corey Hawkins
(Photo Credit-Jaimie Trueblood)

3. Straight Outta of Compton:
Audiences eager to know about the birth of West Coast rap/hip-hop will find it here. This film follows the meteoric rise of the group N.W.A. who revolutionized hip-hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood. What makes the film so affecting is the no-nonsense direction of F. Gary Gray, whose feature credits cross genres from actioners like “The Italian Job” and dramatic thrillers such as “The Negotiator.”  Gray understands the story’s theme, and captures the gritty feel of their world without ever falling into exploitation.


The Little Death -Kate Box and Patrick Brammall

4. The Little Death:
Australian writer-director Josh Lawson has delivered both an edgy and clever sex comedy with this rather amusing warm-hearted depiction of the lives of five suburban couples in Sydney. One couple are into role-play fetishism and one woman (Kate Box) suffers from dacryphilia and gets turned on when her husband (Patrick Brammall) cries. She even goes to great lengths to make him cry including faking a cancer diagnosis. A film about sex and human behavior, Lawson brilliantly interweaves all the couples and their individual fetishes.


Trainwreck -Amy Schumer and Lebron Jame
(Photo credit Mary Cybulski)

5. Trainwreck:
In his fifth feature film as a director, Judd Apatow once again shows his continuing knack for hits. With a carousel of entertaining characters, Amy Schumer plays a barhopping, pot-smoking, philandering magazine writer forced to rethink her life when she finds herself starting to fall for the subject of a new article she’s writing. With sparkling performances from characters that include Bill Hader as Amy’s love interest, Brie Larson as her straight laced sister, LeBron James to stand-up comedian Colin Quinn, who plays their sardonic father, what makes this film work is its ability to squeeze big laughs out of real-world situations.


Dope L-R- Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, and Shameik Moore
(Photo credit Rachel Morrison)

6. Dope:
Starring Shameik Moore, Kiersey Clemons and Tony Revolori, this is a film loaded with a slew of talent who are relaxed, funny and natural. A Sundance Film Festival audience favorite, the film follows a geek whose carefully balanced life unravels after he accepts a chance invitation to attend an underground party. Fresh, funny, relevant and relatable, the dialogue is sharp and the soundtrack rock, pop and hip-hop-heavy thanks to Oscar-nominated songwriter-producer-performer Pharrell Williams.


The Hateful Eight L-R-Quentin Taratino, Kurt Russel, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tim Roth
(Photo credit Andrew Cooper)

7. The Hateful Eight:
Engaging and gorgeously atmospheric in both the visuals and the soundtrack, “The Hateful Eight” follows several eclectic characters marooned in a house during a storm. Watching the action unfold is intense, for writer/director Quentin Tarantino has put together a well-conceived plot with dramatic confrontations and surprising twists. The film moves along at just the right pace to keep the suspense tingling.


The Walk - Gordon Levit

8. The Walk:
Tense but also surprisingly funny, “The Walk” stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as French aerialist Philippe Petit, who in 1974 walked back and forth across a cable strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. A high-octane drama, it’s an epic, big-screen cinematic spectacle made in 3D that gives moviegoers the chance to go where only one man has been or ever will be – 110 stories in the air, on a wire, walking between the towers of the World Trade Center. It’s simply riveting to watch.


Sicario -Emily Blunt

9. Sicario:
Whether its Emily Blunt’s wide eyed innocence, Benicio Del Toro’s brutality, or the relentless tension, there’s something undeniably engaging about this film. An action-packed thriller worth seeing, Blunt plays an FBI agent tasked with taking down a Mexican drug cartel boss.


Goosebumps - Jack Black

10: Goosebumps:
A fun horror adventure, Jack Black plays the big screen version of RL Stine, an author who now lives confined to his house with his daughter. When a neighbor suspects something fishy is going on at Stine’s house involving domestic abuse, he learns that Stine and daughter Hannah are actually gatekeepers to his supernatural manuscript, which take on a life of their own when opened. It’s a witty flick, which will appeal to newcomers of Stine and the “Goosebumps” novels.


Where Children Play- Teyonah Parris

11. Where Children Play:
Director/writer Leila Djansi’s film follows a young woman, played by Teyonah Parris, who is forced to nurse her abusive father. Starring singer/songwriter Macy Gray, the beauty of this film is the score, the story and direction. Best of all, there are no false notes in the performances. Everyone is believable and the film is a true tearjerker as it deals with the dismal subject of child abuse.  


Amy - Amy Winehouse

12. Amy:
Artfully constructed, “Amy” is a heartbreaking documentary, which tells the story of six-time Grammy-winner Amy Winehouse who committed suicide. Making full use of home movies, audio interviews, personal photos, much of it never before released to the public, director Asif Kapadia (“Senna”) paints it like it was with a stylish juxtaposition of archival footage and raw filmmaking telling it through her lyrics which appear on screen throughout the film.


Beasts of No Nation - Abraham Attah

13. Beasts of No Nation
Based on the novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala, this film tells the story of Agu (Abraham Attah), a child soldier torn from his family to fight in the civil war. It’s an effective and afflicting film about power and abuse. It’s already been nominated for a SAG Award and an NAACP Image for best film and acting nods for its main actors Abraham Attah and Idris Elba.


Carol

14. Carol:
There’s something exceedingly beautiful about the way director Todd Haynes has crafted this haunting and well-acted exploration of a forbidden and secretive love affair. Based on “The Price of Salt,” the lesbian romance published in the early 1950s by Patricia Highsmith (“The Talented Mr. Ripley”), the film follows Cate Blanchett, a well to do married woman who falls for a younger woman (Rooney Mara). A genuinely moving story about repressed desire, it’s a delicate movie that explores the strength and fragility of love.


Jurassic World - Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howar
(Photo credit Chuck Zlotnick)

15. Jurassic World:
We ask for two simple things from epic action-adventure films like this. 1) Make us believe. 2) Make us jump. “Jurassic World” delivers on both counts. A suspenseful flick, it delivers the perfect balance of wide-eyed wonder and seat gripping thrills moviegoers expect from a Jurassic film. It’s not just another film of people screaming and running from genetically engineered dinosaurs rampaging in a present-day amusement park.

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