On the 28th of February, stars from across the globe descended upon the Dolby Theater for the 88th Academy Awards. Once again steeped in controversy, the media will had a sharp focus on where the much sought after gongs land this year.
For the Fake Geeks team, ‘Oscar Season’ marks out our own special event in the calendar. It means it is time for our annual pow-wow to try answer one simple question: What really was the film of 2015?
How it works
Before we continue, a brief reminder on how this goes down. The Five Geeketeers list their favourite 15 films from the past calendar year. Points are awarded in reverse order of position (1st gets 15 pts, 15th receives 1 pt and so on). The scores are tallied up, and we present to our our top twenty(ish) for your reading pleasure. The film that finishes first overall is inducted into the Fake Geek Hall of Film.
For a film to be eligible for our lists, it must have been placed on general release in the UK in 2015. This means that films such as Spotlight and The Revenant are not yet eligible (keep an eye out for them next year).
Close, but no cigar
Before we head into the back end of the Top 20, let’s spare a moment for those feature films that didn’t quite make the cut. A total of forty films received scores from the team, and here are twenty that just missed out:
21: San Andreas, Straight Outta Compton, Macbeth
24: Stonehurst Asylum, Selma
26: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
27: Chappie, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Jurassic World, Enemy
31: Spectre, Big Hero 6
33: Kung Fury, Avengers: Age of Ultron, John Wick, Spring
37: Mr. Holmes
38: Sinister 2, Black Mass, The Theory of Everything
Hall of Film
So, who will join Black Swan, The Dark Knight Rises, Gravity and Nightcrawler in the Fake Geek Hall of Film? We hereby present Part 1 (of 3) of the Fake Geeks Top 20 Films of 2015.
College student Jay (Maika Monroe) contracts a sexually transmitted curse from her boyfriend. The curse can take any humanoid form, and it constantly walks towards you. If it catches you, it kills you. The only way to be rid of it is to pass it on, and only the intended victim can see the apparition.
It Follows is mostly great, though the final act at the pool let’s it down slightly. There’s a few nice fake out moments earlier in the film, where lesser films would have gone for cheap shocks. A scene at the beach is cleverly done. Monroe (The Guest, Labor Day) herself is very good in her first leading role. Likeable, generally believable, and a little bit kick-ass, she is certainly going to be one to watch in years to come.
How good is Slow West? Well, I watched it on a plane after approximately 24 hours since I’d last slept. And it still not only held my interest but gripped me all the way throughout and held on for some time after.
Whilst the film does not tread new ground for the Western genre, the tale it tells is so taut and well told that it is difficult to believe it’s a debut feature for the director. With not a second of screen time wasted, this film is a great example of how to tell a tale without getting bogged down in layers of exposition and needless detail.
What’s great about Everest, before you even sit down to watch it, is the cast. There are enough big names on its posters to grab your attention but they aren’t invincible within the movie as you tend to find in these types of disaster movies.
The film suffers from pacing issues and could have easily expanded the story to include other events that happened at the same time or explore more of the aftermath. That said it’s a dramatic story of survival and tense decision making that has some breath-taking shots of the Himalayas.
While Marvel’s PR machine was in full swing for Avengers: Age of Ultron in the summer, their better release snuck out afterwards to little fanfare.
Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is close to replicating the work of reclusive scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Considering the work (a weaponised super suit that can shrink the wearer to ant-like sizes) to be too dangerous to be available to any one nation or army, Pym hires well-meaning thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to use Pym’s Ant-Man suit to steal the designs from Cross. Shenanigans ensue.
Lighter in tone than most of Marvel’s output to date, Ant-Man is a very entertaining caper that benefits from being smaller in scale than its contemporaries. Rudd is likeable in the lead role, and the supporting cast is at least solid to good.
Song of the Sea
A nearly missed and lovingly crafted work of art, this film follows the success of The Secret Of Kells five years ago. Both films are inspired and reflecting Irish folklore with animation that blurs the line between those magical worlds and our own. We find Conor as a lighthouse keeper with his son Ben and wife Bronagh who tragically dies when giving birth to daughter Saoires. Years later the two children are whisked away from their father home and beloved dog Cü to Granny’s home on the mainland and a life of tiresome mediocrity, tweed and boredom. Soon they discover Saoires has a destiny more than they could imagine and battle back home repairing the mystical world and their frayed sibling relationship.
The story in our world is wonderfully made to mirror the myths and stories of Irish culture while the animation shows the beauty around us, the fairytale we live in and take for granted. This animated feature tackles heavy themes with the same bravery, mirth and innocence it gives our two child heroes as well as memorable scenes where every shot is a work of art wrapped in meaning. The eerie songs will swirl around your heartstrings and the final scenes are as deep and unforgiving as the sea this film portrays.
Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie
With numerous references to the classic daily strips and the seminal Christmas special, Snoopy & Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie really captures the spirit and charm of the source materials.
Charlie Brown falls for the mysterious red-headed new girl at school and decides he has to completely change his personality to impress her while Snoopy imagines himself as a flying ace trying to rescue his love from the Red Baron. The plots may be simple but The Peanuts Movie is gentle, pleasant, charming and is to be enjoyed by viewers of all ages.
For a film set almost entirely in one house, Coherence is brilliantly inventive with its mixture of scientific subject matter and expertly improvised dialogue. If there was an Oscar for surprise package of the year then this would win it. It feels cheap, almost like a student project, yet it is really well constructed and worth a second or third watch to get the most out of the multi-layer story.
Woman in Gold
At first glance Woman in Gold looks like ‘Philomena with a painting‘, and while both films share some similarities, this is arguably better. Helen Mirren is Maria Altmann, an elderly Austrian refugee living in California. The death of her sister prompts her to take on the Austrian government as she attempts to win back some extremely valuable family paintings that were stolen by the Nazi’s and now hang in a prestigious Austrian art gallery. Ryan “Deadpool” Reynolds is Randy Schoenberg, her inexperienced lawyer who helps her fight for justice and an acknowledgement of wrongdoing.
Mirren is obviously outstanding, she simply grabs the screen whenever she is on and refuses to let go. Reynolds may be overshadowed but he demonstrates again he has ability and a lot of upside as a dramatic actor if he picked his roles better. Elsewhere Daniel Brühl is excellent once again in a small role and Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany does stand-out work as the young Maria in a series of heart-pounding flashbacks. The structure is formulaic, there are a few awkward storytelling shortcuts and occasionally you get the feeling that Mirren and Reynolds are making the script sharper than it is, finding a funny line or a deeper character moment where it wasn’t there to be found but these concerns don’t stop Woman in Gold from being a gripping, affecting experience.
For a film with ‘American’ in its title, Clint Eastwood’s very own Hurt Locker, does extremely well at evading the pro-U.S, ‘hoorah’, sir-yes-sir, love letter to the American flag stereotype that so many military films are guilty of. Instead, Eastwood explores the complexities of war through sniper Chris Kyle, played carefully and confidently by Bradley Cooper. From the first trailer that was released all the way to the credits, this film takes aim at Kyle’s psyche and his response to the intense situations he becomes embroiled in.
Mad Max: Fury Road
An impressive accomplishment this one. Essentially a two hour action set-piece, this was a high octane piece of cinema that has just about let me catch my breath. Visually stunning in a post-apocalyptic Australian outback setting, the endless invention of the action scenes (including flamethrower guitars!) with a commitment to stunt work that has made a number of other action films look very silly indeed. Max himself appears in a secondary role, behind Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa as they attempt to smuggle a group of women from an aged tyrant, Immortan Joe.
Yet the film shows a surprising amount of heart, with Nicholas Hoult’s Nux becoming the unexpected emotional centre of the film. I could go on for paragraphs about the acting, the themes, the cinematography, the setting and the world of the film… but what more do I need to say? Flamethrower guitars!
So there you have it. Congratulations to those films that finished 20th (well, joint 18th) to 11th on our list. Check back tomorrow for Part II of our feature, where we will reveal the films that finished 10th to 5th.
Did you see any of the films listed above? What do you make of our commentary and their placement? Too high/low? Please leave us a comment below.