Francisco Andrade

The Best 6 films of 2015 – The Northern Lights

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As this year is coming to an end, there is a tendency for top lists to start pouring out. Our Northern Lights team have picked top 6 films that we have enjoyed the most throughout 2015, and we hope you will enjoy them too!

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Most of us had to wait for December to see, perhaps, the most highly awaited film of the year, and speaking for all us, fan boys and fan girls, it didn’t disappoint.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the first of the sequel series that Disney and LucasArt produced to take us back to our childhood days of wonder and to keep the ‘Force’ alive in our veins. In this new episode, directed by J.J. Abrams, old and new heroes appear as former storm-trooper Finn (or FN-2187) and mysterious scavenger Rey meet the notorious Han Solo and fierce Chewbacca as part of the new vanguard of the Resistance.

A dark side changes its tune and plays a more threatening role as the First Order aims to be the sole power of the galaxy with new villains, Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke. And a common purpose on both sides throughout the film is to find Luke Skywalker, who has mysteriously disappeared.

This new episode is classic Star Wars through and through, with simple and compelling characterisation with a romantic yet adventurous storyline, which lacked in the Prequels. A film by the fans, for the fans.

2.Mad Max: Fury Road 


George Miller returns to the director’s role, reprising his most notorious creation: Mad Max. This time instead of Mel Gibson, it’s Tom Hardy playing the furious road-warrior, and this new segment of the franchise focuses more on other characters, especially, Charlize Theron who plays Imperator Furiosa and rebels against a cult/engine-worshipping society to rescue a group of female prisoners.

In Fury Road, it’s the female roles that gain the spotlight, in contrast with Hardy’s tenacious and instinctive actions to fight against a world that not only exploits women’s traits and bodies, but it also preys on men for energy and slave work. The simple but action-packed storyline, combined with an explosive framework and breath taking sequences, makes the whole film into a screen adrenaline rush.

2.The Theory of Everything


Early in the year came the biographical drama of Dr. Stephen Hawking which melted the hearts of audiences world wide, giving young actor Eddie Redmayne the Oscar for what was an astonishing performance as Dr. Hawking.

The Theory of Everything, the story of how would-be-famous physicist Stephen Hawking would come to meet his wife, Jane, and the importance that their relationship would have on each other’s life and work. Soulful and diverse in itself, the film shows how the cast can adapt with the film’s playfulness, and, especially, the main actors, Redmayne and Felicity Jones, drive the action entirely by themselves.

The film’s soundtrack also explores these features and fills in the ambient for the actors’ performances to shine in a truly beautiful film.

3.Ex-Machina

Science-fiction has truly taken a significant space in 2015, with the new Star Wars and Jurassic World, Mad Max and Terminator: Genisys making new appearances to rekindle fan-passion for the genre by playing with a sense of nostalgia.

In the middle of all this sci-fi frenzy, many may have forgotten about this unique piece of cinema produced by Alex Garland (28 Days Later and Dredd), which portrays a topic that directors haven’t filmed for a while – artificial intelligence.

It’s the story of a young programmer that is selected to be part of a groundbreaking experiment by evaluating the capacities of a female robot (played by the wonderful Alicia Vilkander), while having to live with the millionaire engineer that designed her (played by Oscar Isaac). The interaction between the three in their lives and the ease that Vilkander has in building sexual tension, even though her bolts and wires are showing, points out the big conundrum that is human life and consciousness.

Unlike many A.I. films before, this one shows a more intimate approach to science cinema, and is easily one of this years most unique films.

4. Birdman

Without a doubt, Iñárritu accomplished his prime masterpiece in the shape of a meta film.

Highly awarded in the last Academy Awards ceremony, even with its highest honor, Birdman soared in the eyes of cinema lovers for the way it portrayed real professional actors’ struggles in their late careers, and especially when using the amazing Michael Keaton to do so.

Keaton’s character struggles to find a hit in a Broadway show that he’s producing and starring on, when he has to balance his role as a father, lover, colleague and star to several other characters (powerfully played by many skilled actors like Emma Stone, Naomi Watts and Edward Norton).

The ever-present parallel between Riggan’s, career as Birdman, and Keaton’s success in the 90’s due to Batman, as well as the puns, makes the narrative a real pleasure and laugh to follow, while the screenplay is just simple but dense enough to keep the story going based on it. For example, two-characters dialogue is a ‘constante’ juggle of arguments and it’s great to see how it adapts as more characters join in for different scenes.

Iñárritu made an astonishing film about defying films, and Birdman can be watched over and over, while the viewer discovers something unique about it everytime.

5. Spectre


Perhaps one of the most hyped films of late 2015. it sure lived up to that in the box office numbers and has a hit in the 007 franchise.

Spectre may very well be one of the most stylish James Bond films, and director Sam Mendes shows that he doesn’t hold back: the opening scene where we see Bond chasing bad guys in a Day of The Dead celebration is pure class.

The story isn’t new: a threat to a individual (probably an Edward Snowden reference) by a creepy surveillance/terrorist organisation, Spectre, leads Bond to a confrontation with an Austrian kingpin (brilliant Christoph Waltz) that seems to have been influencial in the events of the last Craig-Bond films.

The film’s variety in scenery, moving from the streets of Rome to a secret base inside a crater shows a direct contrast with what classic Bond was and is. And the man himself, Daniel Craig, seems to grow more into role by each film that is fair to compare him with the great Sean Connery.

6. A Most Violent Year


The third film directed by J.C. Chandor was one of the most overlooked earlier this year, even though it was nominated for several categories in the Academy Awards, but it was one of the most interesting to watch.

A Most Violent Year features Oscar Isaac, who’s been having a great year with Ex-Machina and the new Star Wars coming this month, and Jessica Chastain playing a couple whose fuel business is being robbed on a regular basis by various criminal groups and when faced with the DA’s unwillingness to investigate, discover that the right side of the law is easily crossed.

First of all, any classic crime/mafia film lover will fall for this film right away due to its amount of referencing from The Godfather, especially Isaac’s character and his struggle to fight for his business and family.

The action in the film won’t be visible in shoot-outs or car chases, but in the characters’ intensity and the environment that the cinematography brings – colouring New York City’s 80’s landscape into what very well is a run down Detroit industrial area shows the characters’ internal struggle when faced with taking the law into their own hands.

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