[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e are way past the halfway point of 2015, but that’s OK. Anytime is a good time to reflect about how good of a year it has been in film so far. This year in particular needs attention because it has been a spectacular one. Usually in a cinematic year, the critical favor will lean towards more popular or smaller fare. In any given year, a huge blockbuster will dominate the cultural landscape and water cooler talk or an indie darling will be the talk of the town among film connoisseurs. Luckily, 2015 has brought a healthy mix of critical darlings that lean towards both ends of the spectrum.
These are four standout films from 2015 so far:
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
On first inspection, George Miller’s masterpiece seems like a confusing vanity project, but “Mad Max: Fury Road: is much more than that. Each scene is an action spectacle that wets the appetite of summer blockbuster movie-goers and critics. Plus, the film provides characters who are more than the summer one-dimensional archetypes.
Now this choice is a bit of a cheat, but when something is so well-made, you have to mention it. The six-part HBO documentary examines the life of Robert Durst, who was investigated on one missing person and two murder cases. Many documentaries will simply use the talking head technique in order to expel years of exposition and that can get boring. What makes a truly great documentary is combining that aspect and something different. Director Andrew Jarecki injects dramatic reenactments of each event to give the film a bit more gravitas.
The best types of horror films are not the ones that use gallons of blood, but the ones that have you scared when nothing happens. “It Follows” relies purely on suspense and the insecurities in all of us to elicit fears. There isn’t a moment in this film where you aren’t uncomfortable and scared.
For their last few films, Pixar had been on somewhat of a downturn. The previous few films they released, “Brave,” “Monsters University” and “Cars 2” weren’t bad, but they seemed to be phoned in from a production company that always churns out some of the best films of the year. Although, I would maintain that “Cars 2” is a pretty awful film. Thankfully, they have returned to their previous glory with “Inside Out”—a high-concept film that deals with the stresses of getting older, but still bringing a childlike wonder to the screen. And of course, in usual Pixar fashion, this film tugs at your heart strings.