Film, OldVenue

Editors’ Pick – 2015

[su_box title=”Melissa Haggar” box_color=”#2D2D73″ radius=”0″]1) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Let’s face it, most of us weren’t expecting Tom Cruise to deliver another Mission Impossible film worthy of watching, but that’s exactly what he did with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Perhaps one of the most exciting things about the film was that it had all the classical elements of an action film – lavish locations, thrilling chase sequences and plenty of charm – but didn’t solely rely on these to see it through. Rogue Nation always kept me guessing, and had plenty of intriguing characters who were multi-dimensional and didn’t rely on old tropes, like Isla Faust, played perfectly by Rebecca Ferguson, as well as Benji (Simon Pegg) and of course, Ethan Hunt (Cruise). Ultimately, Rogue Nation had all the elements of the sublime action film, elements that I was expecting to find in Spectre, but surprisingly didn’t. Game, set, and match to Ethan Hunt.

2) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
OK, let’s just get one thing straight – I hadn’t seen any of the Star Wars films until about a week before this came out. In a state of madness, I watched the original trilogy and prepared to thoroughly be indifferent to the new release (but of course, I’d go and see it anyway – it seems foolish not to). While the originals were just OK in my books (hold your pitchforks), The Force Awakens awakened the inner fan girl in me and I went absolutely crazy over this film. I was astounded by the epic space battles, intergalactic adventures and the amount of diversity and terrific acting in the film – not to mention the fact that there was actually a female lead who was quirky, talented and smart. It had pretty much all the ingredients you (or at least, I) could ever want from a film and above all, it was thoroughly entertaining to watch – genuinely so – so much so, that I have seen it multiple times (something which I just don’t do). Suppose I should start writing my letter of thanks to Disney now.

3) Mad Max: Fury Road
The top three choices for my list were tricky to arrange in order, and sufficed to say, Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best films of 2015 (very close to the previous two). I had gone into it completely blind as to what would happen, and I was blown away by all of the vehicle pursuit sequences. I also found how it didn’t take itself too seriously refreshing, as a guirar playing man strapped to a truck clearly demonstrated. Furiosa (Charlize Theron) was one of the most bad-ass characters I have ever seen on screen, and between her amazing shooting skills, killer robotic-arm and dedication to those around her, it’s difficult to pick what I love most about her. And if anyone wants to argue with me on that, they can meet me on the Fury Road.

4) Inside Out
I seem to make it a habit to go in films completely unaware of what is actually going to happen, but Inside Out was another one of these cases, and yet, the sheer imagination used to construct such beguiling and creative lands in a little girl’s head is thoroughly impressive. Inside Out benefits from a gorgeous colour palette, characters that have real substances and the personification of emotions with real-world applicability, that make the film difficult to ignore. Seriously, this must be like a child psychologist’s wonder dream. You go, Pixar.

5) Crimson Peak
Having a bit of a penchant for gothic horror, Crimson Peak was definitely on my watch list, and I can say that it certainly didn’t disappoint. While I’m sure some will disagree with me on this, I found it to be an exceptionally beautiful and timeless film that encapsulates everything Guillermo del Toro excels at. Blood, gore, and ghostly apparitions abounds, Crimson Peak is a like a vivid nightmare, but in the best possible way – it is full of horror, unnervingly exciting, and eerily memorable. [/su_box]

[su_box title=”George Barker” box_color=”#2D2D73″ radius=”0″]1) Birdman
Though it released late 2014 in the US, Birdman opened on the 2nd of January in the UK, sneaking it to the top of my list for both 2014 and 2015. I knew almost nothing about this film going in, but I was blown away. The trance like soundtrack and editing to create the appearance of a single shot for most of the film makes Birdman an enthralling and unique cinematic experience. All the performances are excellent and it’s no supprise that Birdman cleaned up at the oscars taking home Best Picture and three more of its six nominations.

Honestly, if you haven’t seen this delightfully dark comedy, stop what you’re doing, go home, and watch it now. If Birdman is anything to go by, perhaps Alexander Innaritu’s new film The Revenant will finally net Leonardo Di Caprio an Oscar.

2) Mad Max: Fury Road
A simple story to frame perfectly executed action set pieces; Mad Max Fury Road might just be the best action film to grace screens in the last fifteen years. The mad thrills of this film cannot be understated, as George Miller perfectly blends live action stunts with CGI magic for a truly ‘shiny and chrome’ experience.

The on face value of the plot may be simple, but the stories told by the world created in Mad Max speak volumes. Miller is clearly a master of the art of ‘Show, don’t tell’. Hopefully the sequels will build on this insane world of Bullet Town and Gas Town, of marsh walkers and tribes of bad ass biker grannies. The score, created by Dutch composer Junkie XL, is an adrenaline fueled drum beat paired with the Doof Warrior’s mad flaming guitar riffs, and underlines the action with heady glee. All of these factors combined makes Mad Max: Fury Road a must watch film.

3) Kingsmen: The Secret Service
This slick action comedy remained impressive even while displayed on a tiny screen with tinny sound as an in flight movie. The church sequence might even be my favourite action sequence of the year. Both Kingman and Mad Max are prime examples of what modern action films have the potential to be, displaying vibrance and humour – they are not simply another grey scale Bourne clone.

While it was nice to see some strong female characters, Kingman sadly undermined this slightly with a dose of ‘Classic Bond’ misogyny. Even so, Kingsman gave me perhaps my favourite Colin Firth performance. It seems he was born for the role of the chipper gentleman spy.

4) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I had hoped this might be the best film of 2015, but unfortunately an over reliance on audience nostalgia held the film back from greatness. In all honesty, we really didn’t need a Deathstar version three.

Nevertheless, The Force Awakens has given us a cast of brilliant new characters, and is a promising start to a new trilogy. Let’s hope that the trilogy is a bit more adventourous in the sequels, and expands the universe in new and exciting ways.

5) Trainwreck
Seeing this film was the most I’ve laughed in the cinema all year, and perhaps the best RomCom I’ve seen for a while. Amy Schumer’s writing and performance are hilarious, though the ending perhaps goes against the message of female empowerment given by the rest of the film. Still while the ending was a bit ‘to get the man change yourself and dance for him as a cheerleader’, Amy Schumer and Bill Hader’s characters are so likeable, you just want them to get together.[/su_box]


About Author


melissahaggar As the current VENUE Deputy Editor and former Film Editor, Melissa spends the majority of her free time sobbing over her mountain of MA work or indulging in cinematic outings. A self-professed lover of Gothic & Fantasy genres, Melissa naturally loves Harry Potter, aesthetically pleasing Instagram posts, and classical music. She also really wants to be Jessica Jones.