January 05, 2016

Cinema 2015: Top 10 Modern English-Language Films

After sharing with you my Top 10 films not in English language, here is the list of my favourite English-language films that I watched in 2015. I have considered close to 40 films for this list, movies released in 2011 or later. Please click on the titles, listed below in alphabetic order, and watch their trailers. The diversity is wonderful and the future of cinema, I feel, is very, very hopeful!

  1. Birdman (2014/ USA) by Alejandro G. Inarritu: It is kind of sad that every time I think of this wonderful, remarkable film, I am reminded of the fact that 'Boyhood' lost to it at Oscars 2015. One year later, today I feel motivated to watch 'Birdman' again and applaud its brilliance. I also feel it is one of those movies which improve significantly on the second watch.
  2. Bridge of Spies (2015/ USA) by Steven Spielberg: There is something about masters. The pleasure of watching their films is beyond the story and the characters and the splendour. Every tracking shot, every meaningful cut, and the merit of sticking to the classical grammar of directing add to the pleasure, making you realise that the images on the screen are also a text book. In the case of 'Bridge of Spies' the knowledge that the Coen Brothers had written it added to the fan-boy joy in me.
  3. The Forbidden Room (2015/ Canada) by Guy Maddin: This film introduced me to Guy Maddin and I feel richer today, after discovering his unique expression. I must warn you that watching this film is not at all easy and you will certainly question my sanity and taste after sitting through ten minutes of it. But if you are a hard-core, omnivorous cinephile, and if you are open to trying new stuff, 'The Forbidden Room' is my pick for you.
  4. Foxcatcher (2014/ USA) by Bennett Miller: There are very few modern films that use suspense in a way Hitchcock did, a slow-building foreboding that you could feel all over your body, drawing you further and further inside the world of the characters. 'Foxcatcher' was such an experience for me. And what performances! 
  5. Inside Out (2015/ USA) by Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen: This is perhaps the most accessible film on this list, and rightly so. An animation fantasy that looks like a children's film and appeals to all grown ups through its insight about the human condition that most films lack, 'Inside Out' is a brilliant accomplishment at every level - concept, screenplay, and finally the film. I do not watch too many animation films. And still I completely fell in love with this.
  6. The Lobster (2015/ Ireland-UK-Greece-France-Netherlands) by Yorgos Lanthimos: You have to expect the weird and the absurd if it is coming from this Greek filmmaker. A smart satire with a truly original premise, 'The Lobster' again may not be an easy film to recommend to everyone. But if you want to give it a try after watching the trailer, please go ahead. It will be a rewarding experience, even if it fails to turn you into an animal of your choice!
  7. Locke (2013/ UK) by Steven Knight: Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the year! A taut drama that plays like a thriller, 'Locke' is unique, unforgettable, and fairly universal in its appeal, despite the limited design it operates in. When will we make a film like this in Hindi?
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015/ Australia-USA) by George Miller: Tom Hardy on the road, trying to set right the imbalance of his life. This is 'Locke' and this also is 'Mad Max: Fury Road'. Watching this film was like an extended roller-coster ride, with bullets, a fire-exhaling guitar and unbelievable madness and I'm excited by the idea that this unapologetic genre-film is one of the front-runners at the upcoming Oscars!
  9. Mr. Turner (2014/ UK) by Mike Leigh: Another example of the impact that classical cinema can create, 'Mr. Turner' was a beautiful experience for me. Every frame in this film looks like a painting and you know that this is the work of a master on the life of another master. Not everyone' cup of tea, may be. But definitely one of my favourites this year.
  10. Youth (2015/ Italy) by Paolo Sorrentino: It's good to see that this list of English-language films includes the works of film-makers not just from Hollywood, but UK, Canada and Australia, apart from those who started their career with foreign-language films. After Inarritu and Lanthimos, we have Sorrentino with his latest, a beautiful, moving film about old age, friendship, love and art. There are sequences in this film that only the best of cinema can boast of. Watch the trailer to see what I mean.
Honourable Mention: 'The Theory of Everything' (2014/ UK) by James Marsh, 'Sleeping Giant' (2015/ Canada) by Andrew Cividino and 'Whiplash' (2014/ USA) by Damien Chazelle.

P.S. Click here for the 2014 list.


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