The best English films of 2015

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I am not qualified enough or has knowledge enough to critique a movie in its entirety since the art of film making in itself is an ocean. For me as a fan of cinema, the joy of watching a motion picture is unparalleled. That is why I chose not to call the following reviews but my record of spoiler free observations of the following movies in no particular order. 

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. I need not say more. I entered the cinema hall with expectations. Two other things made me more excited for the film was the casting of remarkable Mark Rylance (stage actor) to the big screen. I first saw him this year in BBC’s Wolf Hall and was floored by the man. Al Pacino is quoted as saying ” he( Mark Rylance) speaks Shakespeare as if it was written for him the night before” and also fact that Coen Brothers has co written the movie. The story essentially is a cold war espionage drama. The film does not have any pounding music, eye popping CGI, no 3D, no mind bending plot twist nor any thrilling/heart pounding scenes. Yet it is a timely drama reminding everyone of how the civilized society is supposed to function as per the rule of law and also about what it is to be human.  Every scene of the movie is so well done by the master craftsman Steven Spielberg that even some times the camera just narrates the story instead of dialogues. Coen brothers were very evident in the screenplay with their trademark subtle humour present throughout.  Tom Hanks portrayed the role of James Donovan to perfection with ease and it was a real treat to watch the artist perform. Mark Rylance lived up to his reputation with a masterly subtle performance. The Cinematography, Editing & Direction reminded me of how inspiring and captivating cinema can be. There has been some criticism that the movie does not have suspense enough but I think the movie is more a drama than a thriller. Any fan of cinema will walk out of the movie with a sense of satisfaction and so did i.      

Would it help? – Rudolf Abel


Mad Max Fury Road

The movie happens in the Mad Max universe created by George Miller set in post apocalyptic times. Tom Hardy's mad max (earlier played by Mel Gibson) is near perfection and Charlize Theron as Furiosa leaves a lasting impression. The other cast members ably bring to screen the characters envisioned by George Miller. The writing has references to themes of global importance like climate change, water wars and corporate greed but the screenplay is propelled by actual action choreography, physical events and the movie has as a story board script. The action choreography is oscar worthy and im sure George Miller had a big part in it and i also expect the same to be aped in many movies across the world. No doubt such attempts will be futile. The designing of the rigs and automobiles in the movie were awesome and was itself a definition of the characters. The huge impact of the action was because of the fact that most of the stunts were actually performed by the cast. Editing 480 hours of footage involving complex action sequences cohesively into a 120 minute movie is near impossible.  Margaret Sixel has pulled it off with an astounding 2700 cuts. The visual effects in the movie was top notch in bringing to screen the George Miller's universe. In the middle of nowhere Cinematographer John Seale has shot one of the most startling movies of the year. Technically the most brilliant film of the year without a doubt. George Miller's Mad Max Fury Road is the best action film of the decade hands down. No wonder the film has 10 oscar nominations


Then who killed the World - Angharad


The Revenant

Director Alejandro Inarritu (Babel and Birdman) joins hands with Leanardo Di Caprio. I needn't say anymore regarding the expectations from this feature film. The movie based on the novel by the same name really stands testament to human resilience and the will to survive. Di Caprio towers as Hugh Glass while demonstrating pain, power of love and revenge impactfully. Stories of how Di Caprio and the whole team braved the most testing sub zero conditions are all over the internet. When I saw the movie, it was overwhelming and jaw dropping to witness the all powerful and the mighty nature. The movie is visually very raw and rightly so since the script explores raw emotions and the survival instinct at its heart. Cinematographer Emmanuel LubezkI(Birdman & Gravity) continues to be captivating and inspiring. It is not the kind of the movie which will blow your mind away like Birdman and i think thats the base reason why the movie is receiving some critical reviews. The story and the screenplay of the film may not be as layered as Birdman or Babel yet it's a very visual film which catches hold of the audience with a bear claw. The movie is not for everyone since it demands patience and is draining & rewarding at the same time. The sincerity with which Alejandro and Di Caprio has approached this script needs to be applauded.


As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe... keep breathing. – Hugh Glass

The Hateful Eight

The eighth film by Quentin Tarintino. The film is constructed in a way that it could be said its Reservoir Dogs meets Django Unchained. The most exciting part of this project was that Maestro Ennio Morricone had agreed to score for the movie and the legend does shine in several places of the picture.  Shot in Panavision 70MM, the landscape and the mood is ably captured. Samuel L Jackson along with the remaining cast essay their roles neatly. Although QT's earlier movies had been very violent, hateful eight is really a overdose of it. The screenplay has flashes of QT's brilliance but was predictable in parts. QT writes scenes which takes its time to build characters and set up things but somehow certain parts of the movie could have been crisper and written in a different chronological order to make it more engrossing.  From the beginning of the project, signs were not good with the leaking of the script and I remember QT reacting to it by saying he can get 10 more scripts from where this script came from. Maybe he should have left it at that. Least favourite Tarintino flick so far.


Move a little strange, you're gonna get a bullet. Not a warning, not a question. A bullet! – Major Warren


Based on real events, the movie follows how investigative journalism of Boston Globe's 'Spotlight' team brought to light one the biggest scandals of recent times. The content underlined the responsibility of journalism and the impact 'good' press/media can create. Spotlight showcases an ensemble cast including the likes of Micheal Keaton, Mark Ruffalo & Rachel Mcadams who have played their respective parts to perfection and the pick of them would be the Hulk (Ruffalo). The Writer & Director Tom Maccarthy’s handling of a really sensitive and explosive expose in the most sincere, balanced, controlled and impactful manner is remarkable and which in itself is a tribute to the 'spotlight' team. Editing such a film would have been a great challenge and Tom Mcardle has done a tremendous job. There are no distracting sub plots nor over dramatic treatment of the subject or the characters and all the scenes in the movie are necessary and important to the narrative just like how important the story that Boston Globe published was. The difference between faith and faith as projected by institutionalised religion is conveyed in the smallest of conversation with the greatest of subtlety. Spotlight is engrossing cinema and one the best films of the year.


They knew and they let it happen! It could've been you, it could've been me, it could've been any of us. – Mike Rezendes


Period Drama set in 1952 featuring an Irish Immigrant in Brooklyn based on the novel by the same name. Wonderful production design, costumes and music provide a sense of time and place to this drama about an immigrant girl torn between the charms of the past and promise of the future. Saoirse Ronan owns the movie with her splendid portrayal of Eilis. The pain of leaving home and then having to get used to a new place altogether are conveyed in a manner which appears to be very loyal to the source material and which also in tune with the psyche of that point in time. The screenplay is also handled in such a tender way to showcase all such emotions in detail. Brooklyn is the sort of the film which rewards patience at the same i also felt certain parts of the movie could have been more absorbing. A simple yet beautiful movie.


One day you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past, and you’ll realize that this is where your life is. - Elilis



Reboot of the cult rocky franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. The passionate young boxer under dog being coached by the Champ Rocky Balboa (very evident from the Trailer itself) and that is also nicely linked to the Rocky storyline. Micheal Jordan who played the memorable role of Wallace in the 'WIRE' ( the greatest tv show of all time) has transformed himself into Adonis and has done justice to his part. The character Rocky itself is written beautifully as he deals with loss, loneliness and facing the fact that he has aged yet he is a macho having a strong screen presence.  Stallone was fantastic as the aged champion showing versatility with his performance. The Cinematography and Action Choreography working in tandem has done wonders and has kept the audience at the edge of their seats. Kudos to the Writer and Director Ryan Coogler for making a film which has all the elements of a solid old school boxing movie and yet which appeals to the modern audience on account of the treatment and presentation of the screenplay. The only complaint with the writing is that the character Bianca did not contribute much to the plot movement. An entertaining and fulfilling movie going experience.


[pointing toward  reflection in the mirror] That's the toughest opponent you're ever going to have to face. – Rocky Balboa


Steve Jobs

Provides a look into one of the most influential person of our times and the story basically centres on happenings that take place backstage before 3 important product launches. To make it cohesive and to go behind the character of the man behind it, the product and the thought process behind it is dauntingly challenging.  Aaron Sorkin has done a splendid job of converting a highly complex and technical source material (book written by Walter Issacson) into a thoroughly engrossing screenplay. Micheal Fassbender delivers one of the best performances of the year as Steve Jobs along with a highly talented supporting cast. Probably if they had not restricted themselves to the three events, they could have added more to the story and character arc but im not sure of that. The focus on the certain events to describe a complex man is challenging and the crew has achieved what they set out to do. Director Danny Boyle has done justice to the screenplay. Its a very interesting film for people who would want to know about the man and at the same time its  good drama about a troubled, not so perfect & a gifted man.


Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra – Steve Jobs



An Irish Canadian Drama based on a novel  which is narrated from the point of view of a five year old boy. The bonding of the boy and the mother as they face a gargantuan challenge is so beautifully and poetically captured to screen. The film does actually narrate a serious story and also is a thriller in parts yet everything is from the POV of the kid. The adaptation of the novel into the screenplay while retaining the essence of the source is done with precision. The cinematography plays an important role in Point of View narrations and Danny Cohen has done a commendable job. Brie Larson delivers a stunning performance as a trapped & troubled woman and as a mother who protects her the child from literally everything. Jacob Tremblay is outstanding and memorable as jack(the son). The brilliance in portraying how the innocent child steps out in the world and protects, saves the mother in turn stands out. The Director Lenny Abrahamson has handled a very complex and emotional story akin to walking a tight rope with great subtlety and expertise. There are only a few films which would stay with the audience even after leaving the theatre and room is one such beautiful movie. Definitely a front runner in the best film category. Along with Spotlight, it is one of the best films of the year.


When I was small, I only knew small things. But now I'm five, I know everything! – Jack


The Big Short

This probably tops Spotlight when it comes to an ensemble cast but not by much. Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. The movie is based on real events and characters which focuses on the wall street greed fuelled economic meltdown and it is adapted for the big screen from the novel by Michael Lewis. The writers were not distracted in their focus even though complex economics were involved and the cameo appearances which explain them in a " House of Cards - Kevin Spacey" style was brilliant. The initial few minutes of the film had a whiff of wolf of Wall Street in the air and the Margot Robbie cameo also got me thinking that it was a salute to Martin Scorsese. The performances in the movie was ace led by Bale and Carell as they bring to life complex characters in the financial world. Editor Hank Corwin has employed certain zoom in’s while keeping it tight and precise. Writer, Director Adam Mckay shines in taking a complex source material to screen in a effective manner while lacing it with sarcasm yet in a uncompromising manner and is a front runner in adapted screenplay category. The film requires little bit of understanding of financial terms although the movie does break it down some may be call it documentary material. The Big Short is an engrossing and important movie.


Truth is like poetry. And most people hate poetry – Overheard at Washington, D.C. bar


Cinema is undoubtedly the most popular art form of this century. A platform where many views, stories, emotions, thrills, laughs, lives are registered. It does not certainly end there. Since cinema is very influential especially in countries like India, I personally opine that the film makers have a responsibility to use the art to disseminate information, to provide food for thought, to shed light on the dark corners, to remind us of what makes us humans and to provide perspective. Cinema as a medium in our Country is mostly getting harassed and punctured in the name of Masala. I do hope it evolves beyond all the boundaries and enthral audiences like never before.


For the people who took the time to read this, THANK YOU!!


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