Tag Archives: The Keeping Room

Best Movies of 2015

It’s January 2, but top ten lists are still cool, right? Here are my favourite films of 2015.

The Keeping Room

10. The Keeping Room

I was surprised how much The Keeping Room stuck with me after seeing it at TIFF 2014, since it is in some ways not much beyond a standard home invasion thriller. But something about the setting, the actresses, and the tone left this one lodged in my brain all year. Director Daniel Barber creates a tense thriller that also manages to be a slow-burner, which is always a combination that I admire. Meanwhile, screenwriter Julia Hart crafts a script more nuanced and revealing than the film’s plot-driven story should allow. Combine all of that with the film’s absolutely gorgeous use of lighting and you’ve got an atmospheric and unforgettable cinematic experience.

LA

9. Little Accidents

I watched Little Accidents relatively early in the year and really enjoyed it. I was surprised to find how much it stuck with me as the year progressed, from Boyd Holbrook’s breathtaking performance to director Sara Colangelo’s delicate handling of material that could have become very melodramatic. I really don’t understand the largely negative reviews.

Peace Officer

8. Peace Officer

I saw documentaries about Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin this year (both of which were excellent), yet the most captivating and charismatic non-fiction subject of 2015 for me was easily Peace Officer’s William “Dub” Lawrence. (Dub is pictured above in his younger days.) The hook of Peace Officer is that Dub is a former sheriff who instituted Utah’s first SWAT team… and then 30 years later watched that SWAT unit kill his own son-in-law. However, the film spends relatively little time on that incident, then branching out to explore the drastic increase of police militarization in the United States. It’s a captivating and extremely timely exploration, and also extremely strong as far as documentary filmmaking goes. I personally left the theatre shaken, and I can only hope that more people will check out this vital film.

Sils Maria

7. Clouds of Sils Maria

What a wonderfully beguiling film from the great Olivier Assayas. I’m not sure there’s another working director this good at exploring the process of aging and what it can do to a people at any stage in life. Clouds of Sils Maria covers that territory more obliquely than Summer Hours or Something in the Air, but it’s no less captivating. It may be his best film yet.

Eden 2015

6. Eden

One thing that struck me about Mia Hansen-Love’s Eden, having seen it over a year ago at TIFF 2014, is how difficult it is to represent out of context. None of the publicity stills from the film do it justice (luckily I found the website of the film’s still photographer, Carole Bethuel, for some lovely images that do capture the tone of the film), and the trailer seemed to be hinting at some sort of Greta Gerwig-driven romance film that just doesn’t exist. And indeed, listening to the synopsis about a drug-fuelled DJ from the ‘90s, nothing about Eden sounds spectacular. But with her third film, Hansen-Love crafts something that feels both sweepingly epic in its timeframe and achingly intimate in its scope. This is not a movie about the ‘90s house scene, but rather a love letter to the music from one (fictional) player within in the movement.

Far From the Madding Crowd 2015

5. Far from the Madding Crowd

Can all period pieces be directed by Thomas Vinterberg? At face value, Far From the Madding Crowd seems like it fits the costume drama formula, but Vinterberg offers his own subtle flavour. I loved everything about the film’s visual style, and it’s so much less stuffy than this adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel could have been. Romantic, dramatic, and smart.

Tom at the Farm

4. Tom at the Farm

This Xavier Dolan film has been kicking around for a while, but finally got a U.S. theatrical release after the success of his last film, Mommy. It’s funny that this is the one Dolan entry that struggled to find distribution, as it’s arguably his most accessible film yet. It’s my personal favourite of all his work, combining his visual flair with a Hitchcockian slow-burn thriller. The atmosphere makes it an edge of your seat psychological thriller, despite the fact that not all that much is happening. Whether you’re a Dolan fan or decidedly not a Dolan fan, don’t let this one slip by.

Mustang 2015

3. Mustang

I’ve already written about Mustang at length, but Deniz Gamze Erguven’s debut feature is one of the year’s absolute best. It also makes an interesting companion piece with Crystal Mozelle’s documentary, The Wolfpack, also from this year, as both films explore groups of siblings coming of age in an oppressive household. Both movies are worth checking out, but despite being fictional, Mustang is the one with true, haunting emotional resonance, as well as a sly sense of humour.

99 Homes

2. 99 Homes

It seems that a running theme of this list is “unlikely thrill ride”, and 99 Homes follows that trend. From the intense eviction sequence early on straight through to the end of the film, director Ramin Bahrani crafts so much genuine tension from what is essentially a human interest story. The way he sets up the cat-and-mouse dynamic is so taught that I felt like I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. With Michael Shannon deservedly scooping up some Oscar buzz for his performance, hopefully 99 Homes will gain the audience it deserves.

The End of the Tour

1. The End of the Tour

This film is in no way a “thrill ride” in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, it is virtually plotless and mostly is about two neurotic men having a few conversations with each other. However, I didn’t have a more captivating and ultimately moving film-watching experience in 2015 than I did with The End of the Tour. I could write a few thousand words on why I liked this movie so much, but for the sake of keeping things relatively brief, I’ll just say that everything – from Jason Segal’s revelatory to performance as David Foster Wallace to the film’s little gut-punch of a coda – is perfect in my eyes.

Best Movie Posters of 2015

For all of the poorly photoshopped or just plain lazy movie poster we saw in 2015 (as we do every year), it was perhaps a particularly strong year in terms of poster design. (Even this year’s hot poster trend seemed a little more creative than some of the previous trends we’ve seen.) Now, as I do on a sorta-annual basis, I’m going to take a moment to look back at some of the poster designs I’ve spent the year admiring.

TFA  InsurgentLost River  HKW

When done well, nothing evokes excitement like a busy, bold movie poster. The marketing behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly understood this and offered up a gorgeous update on the franchise’s iconic one-sheets of days gone by. This one gets everything right, including putting the film’s kick-ass female protagonist, Rey, front and center. Insurgent took a similarly bold approach with this striking exercise in symmetry, making for by far the strongest entry in the long, long line of posters released to promote the film. One the other end of things, the arthouse also got bold with their poster designs this year, and perhaps none more so that Ryan Gosling’s ill-fated directorial debut, Lost River. The warped carnival imagery in unforgettable and ominous, offering up a perfect colour palette to boot. It almost makes me want to watch the movie. Heaven Knows What also embraced in-your-face poster imagery, which makes sense for a scrappy film about heroin-addicted street youth. The deep, muddy pinks of Arielle Holmes’ sideways head clash beautifully with the bold title font, as though evoking a fever dream just within it poster.

Assassin  CarolFFMC  Keeping Room

Next we come to an unlikely (and probably unintentional) trend of 2015, which is earth-toned, stately posters for films about fascinating women. The Assassin’s watercolour-like aesthetic and Carol’s dizzying moment of recognition both create a woozy, gorgeously dreamy image of their respective films. Far From the Madding Crowd’s poster, meanwhile, is an almost overly simple still from the film. However, the image is captivating and the chemistry between Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts is palpable even within this still. I love this poster, partly because it is such an accurate representation of the film and partly because it’s just beautifully composed. Finally, The Keeping Room’s poster is moody and magnificent, offering little information about the film itself but enticing the viewer with Brit Marling’s rock-solid stance tinged with a hint of feminine allure.

TFA 2  No EscapeFaults  Queen of Earth

I’m a sucker for a great illustrated poster, but I’m also picky about what I like. Luckily, Star Wars: The Force Awakens came around with a pair of absolutely stunning illustrated alternatives for the film’s IMAX release. The other, Rey-centric one is also amazing, too, but something about the rich turquoise and the composition of this one tips it over the edge for me. And speaking of striking, the clever one-sheet for No Escape proves that an unremarkable film can be elevated by a great poster. (Or, in the case of this one, a series of enticing illustrated offerings.) From the use of perspective to the colours to its double meaning, this one is a real winner. I also give a lot of credit to Faults for going with an unconventional approach to a poster. This looks more like a frame out of a graphic novel, but it perfectly captures the off-kilter tone of the movie and begs for further consideration, which is one of the best things that art can achieve. And speaking of emotionally rich work, this poster for Queen of Earth is artsy and intriguing and just plain lovely.

Maggie  MartianScorch Trials  Spectre

With all of the lush and busy posters we’ve looked at, maybe you’re looking for a palette cleanser. In so, you’re in luck — minimalism was all the rage this year. All four of these movies were high concept, star-powered affairs, so it’s refreshing to see these stripped-down images crop up in their marketing. (Sadly, though, it is worth noting that none of these were the primary poster used to represent their respective films.) All four are arresting, simple images that perfectly represent their respective films, from the ominous glow of Maggie’s one-sheet to the isolation that The Martian instantly evokes. (Much better than being bombarded with Matt Damon’s giant face, no?) In terms of The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, this is the one thing I’ve ever seen that makes me sort of want to watch this series, so that has to count for something, right? And a special tip of the hat goes to marketing team behind Spectre, which, despite numerous attempts, never got it even close to as right as they did with this first teaser poster, which combines the dark tone of the film with the eerie octopus imagery of the titular Spectre organization in a way that somehow isn’t silly.

These are just a few of the posters that made an impact on me in 2015. Feel free to share any of your personal favourites in the comments.