• My favourite movies of the year 2015

     Dear readers of my blog,

    After much delay, I would like to introduce you to my favourite movies of the year 2015. I decided to wait until today because there were a couple of important movies I had missed last year and still wanted to watch and include in this short report. l would like to mention that last year wasn't an overly successful cinematic year in my book. While the first movie at the top of my list might deserve a very solid nine out of ten points, there wasn't really one truly outstanding movie I have seen over the past twelve months and beyond. So far, along with the disappointing year 2012, this has been the weakest cinematic year of the new millennium. Before I get started with my list of last year's tops and flops, let me remind you my favourite movies for each year of the new millennium:

    The Interview (2014)

    Sao Du / The White Storm: Narcotic (2013)

    Omertà (2012)

    Kwik / Quick (2011)

    Angmareul Boatda / I Saw the Devil (2010)

    Mao's Last Dancer (2009)

    Der Baader Meinhof Komplex / The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008)

    Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan (2007)

    Huo Yuanjia / Fearless (2006)

    Sin City (2005)

    Taegukgi Hwinalrimyeo / Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

    Janghwa, Hongryeon / A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

    Boksuneun Naui Geot / Sympathy for Mister Vengeance (2002)

    Vidocq (2001)

    Memento (2000) 

     The greatest movies of the year 2015

    The Gift

    1. The Gift

    I didn't expect anything from this psychological thriller which took me completely by surprise. The story finds the right mixture between realistic backgrounds and twisted ideas, the characters are profound and unpredictable and the atmosphere is intense and menacing from start to finish.

    2. Bridge of Spies

    This clever drama is one of Steven Spielberg's very best efforts in recent memory and another proof that Tom Hanks is still among the most gifted contemporary actors. Supporting actor Mark Rylance really steals the show though and his particular portrait of a weird yet sympathetic character definitely deserved an Academy Award. The story itself is highly intriguing and partially based on true events which makes it extremely addicting and authentic.

    3. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

    This is the best part of the Mission: Impossible series thanks to breathtaking effects, a complex story, exotic locations, perfectly integrated modern special effects and surprisingly solid acting skills. This film is what the last James Bond movie should have been like.

    4. No Escape

    This movie may not offer a complex story but truly breathtaking action scenes in exotic locations from start to finish that keep you on the edge of your seat. In addition to this, several veteran actors such as Pierce Brosnan and Owen Wilson offer their best performances in more than a decade.

    5. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

    While the first part of this dystopian coming-of-age series was of a good average quality, the second part offers better acting performances, a more complex story line and a fascinating universe that offers many surprises to the audience. It's a true pleasure to discover this open world on screen.

    6. Ex Machina

    This international science-fiction movie offers a lot of food for thought and some philosophical elements. The story may kick off slowly to introduce the three main characters appropriately but the controversial last third of the movie will provoke many interesting debates among the audience.

    7. The Hateful Eight

    Quentin Tarantion's eight movie includes all classical trademarks of one of the most gifted contemporary directors. The dialogues find the right balance between sophisticated vocabulary and rude slang, the story features both profound character development and brutal action passages and the film offers an atmospheric pace in the first two thirds and an effect-ridden rollercoaster ride in the last third. At the same time, this epic thriller is one of the best contemporary westerns and the soundtrack by legendary composer Ennio Morricone is absolutely flawless. 

    8. Amsal / Assassination

    This historically inspired Korean movie is a solid mixture of a crime movie, an emotional drama and an authentic period film. The costumes, locations and settings are superb, the characters are diversified, intriguing and profound and the clever story is full of unexpected twists. This is the best foreign movie of the year and proves once again that contemporary Korean cinema has constantly been among the very best in the world over the past two decades. 

    9. The Martian

    This epic science-fiction movie convinces with an intellectual and scientifically eleborated story line, amazing settings and visual effects and a stunning performance by Matt Damon who has the challenge to be often alone on screen and interact with himself in a convincing way numerous times.

    10. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

    This vivid revival of the cold war television series of the same name convinces with a charming mixture of cool dialogues, elegant settings and a balanced fusion of humorous scenes and fast-paced passages. 

    11. Insurgent

    This second part of the dystopian coming-of-age series convinces with much improved acting performances, more profound dialogues and many dramatic scenes that add some necessary depth to the characters.

    12. The Revenant

    Leonardo DiCaprio's acting alone is worth watching this movie and the landscapes are also the most stunning among all movies mentioned in this list. The story itself is though quite predictable and filled with stereotypes an the movie is at least half an hour too long.

    13. The Visit

    This independent horror movie with shaky cameras and unknown actresses and actors seems to be exchangeable at first sight but turns out to be one of the cleverest genre flicks in recent years. Experienced director M. Night Shyamalan takes all the time he needs to build up a creepy atmosphere, develop his characters and constantly fool the viewer's expectations until the end. The simple yet efficient plot twist might surprise you even though all the clues to find the solution were present in the movie.

    14. Yakuza Apocalypse

    This Japanese movie by legendary director Takashi Miike is a mixture of a vampire story, a gangster movie and an absurd comedy flick filled with numerous ideas. You have to accept this unusual kind of diversified filmmaking, be ready to expect the unexpected and be used to the particular Japanese humour to fully enjoy this rollercoaster ride.

    15. Crimson Peak

    This gothic horror film focuses much more on atmospheric settings, great sound effects and a sinister story instead of graphic violence. This clever movie by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro is a perfect choice to celebrate Halloween with your friends.

    16. Everest

    This drama about a catastrophe at Mount Everest is inspired by real events which makes this movie authentic and gripping. The landscapes are breathtaking, the special effects are spot on and if you like mountaineering as much as I do, the background story, technical equipments and legendary locations will be adding to your enjoyment of this film.

    17. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

    After an overtly long predecessor, this final instalment of the dystopian coming-of-age series is a solid reconciliation with more realistic acting performances, stunning locations in an open world environment and a grand finale despite several lengths in the middle part of this film.

    18. Black Mass

    This historically inspired gangster movie convinces with great costumes, authentic locations and solid acting performances by Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton despite a less inspiring story.

    19. The Man with the Iron Fists 2

    This film is especially recommended to fans of Asian martial arts movies of the seventies and sixties. The fight choreographies are great, the settings very atmospheric and the story honours several classic genre flicks. The acting of this movie might not be as great as the first part and didn't receive many positive critics but I was more than well-entertained and would definitely watch this film again. 

    20. Le scaphandrier / Death Diver

    This independent French-Canadian horror film got many negative reviews but I like it for its charming locations, entertaining nods to several classic slasher movies and solid pace that never gets boring. Genre fans should give this unknown gem a try. 

    Biggest disappointments

    1. Mad Max: Fury Road

    This movie doesn't offer anything else than repetitive actions sequences and shallow special effects. The film doesn't have a real story and the acting is completely lifeless. The reason why this movie received so much critical acclaim and several Academy Award nominations is completely beyond me.  

    2. Spectre

    The latest James Bond movie is the weakest of the Daniel Craig era and offers a directionless mixture of shallow modern special effects and pseudo-emancipated characters on one side and predictable classical story lines plus dated gadgets that turn this movie into an unintentional self-parody. 

    3. Sicario

    Denis Villeneuve is easily one of the best contemporary Canadian filmmakers who has made masterpiece such as ''Incendies'', ''Prisoners' and ''Enemy'' but this film is dragging on for far too long and never gets to the point. While some characters of the movie have potential, the story is filled with stereotypes and not intriguing enough to carry the slow pace of this movie. 

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