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  1. #1
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    The Best Films of 2015 So Far

    For the halftime mark, we decided to widen the berth to include festival titles opening later in the year. There were just too many great titles kicking around in our heads since Sundance, Berlin, SXSW and Cannes to leave off. Look forward to these in the Fall and Winter as awards season beckons.

    Across the board, most of us love "Mad Max: Fury Road," "Love and Mercy," "Clouds of Sils Maria" and "Inside Out," which will all be in the conversation and on other critics' lists at year's end.

    Below, read top tens from Anne Thompson, Ryan Lattanzio, Matt Brennan, Demetrios Matheou and Susan Wloszczyna.

    TOH! writers pick their top 10

    Anne Thompson:

    1. "Mad Max: Fury Road" (dir. George Miller, Warner Bros.)
    This one-of-a-kind cinematic spectacular takes your breath away, setting the action bar at a new level. In the fourth of a series, Max (Tom Hardy) more than meets his match in magnificent woman warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). See it on the big screen in 2D with Dolby Atmos.

    2. "Inside Out" (dir. Peter Docter, Pixar/Disney)
    The best Pixar movie since Docter's "Up," "Inside Out" is a bold yet personal exploration of a world that has not been portrayed on film before: the mind. It was worth the wait--and could escape the Academy Awards animation ghetto.

    3. "Son of Saul" (dir. László Nemes, Sony Pictures Classics)
    This hard-hitting first movie takes a rigorous point-of-view on the Holocaust, showing us the horrors through the blinkered lens of a concentration camp inmate (Géza Röhrig) who is forced to help with the mass slaughter of Jews. The movie is deeply moving and boasts amazing sound design (for which it won a Cannes award, on top of the grand jury prize). As the official Oscar submission from Hungary, see the film play Telluride, Toronto, New York and more. It will be a strong contender for the foreign film Oscar.

    4. "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" (dir. Marielle Heller, Sony Pictures Classics)
    Female sexuality is one of those things that few people get right in movies. Which is one reason why film debut "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" is such an exhilarating ride. Bel Powley breaks out, with strong support from Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard.

    5. "Clouds of Sils Maria" (dir. Olivier Assayas, IFC)
    An intimate English language "All About Eve" variation set in Europe and directed by French auteur Olivier Assayas, this two-hander stars Juliette Binoche as a neurotic older actress attended by her manipulative assistant (Cesar-winning Kristen Stewart).

    6. "Paddington" (dir. Paul King, The Weinstein Company)
    This delicious adaptation of the Brit children's classic is a stylish live-action animated action-comedy with witty turns from Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Nicole Kidman (as Cruella De Vil, basically) as well as its charming CG bear, voiced by Ben Whishaw.

    7. "Gueros" (dir. Alonso Ruizpalacios, Kino Lorber)
    Shot in stunning black-and-white, breakout debut "Gueros" is a riveting, unpredictable and emotional joy ride through sprawling Mexico City. It's a valentine to Ruizpalacios' home town as much as Jean-Luc Godard's Paris in "Breathless," and cleaned up at Mexico's film awards.

    8. "Trainwreck" (dir. Judd Apatow, Universal)
    Sometimes you don't realize what you're missing until it hits you in the face. Amy Schumer wrote and stars in Apatow's latest upturning of the romantic comedy, which hit big at SXSW. A smart scribe for a stupid magazine (Schumer) adores drunk sex without intimacy but despite herself falls for a sports doctor (Bill Hader) who prefers sweet-kissing traditional romance. The movie rings true, from start to finish, with tears as well as intense sustained laughter en route.

    9. "Mistress America" (dir. Noah Baumbach, Fox Searchlight)
    Co-created by writer-director Baumbach and his partner-star Greta Gerwig, "Mistress America" creates the most memorably entertaining screwball comedy heroine since Holly Golightly.

    10. "Love & Mercy" (dir. Bill Pohlad, Roadside Attractions)
    A kaleidoscopic and idiosyncratic portrait of Wilson, from mop top Beach Boy (Paul Dano) to dazed schizophrenic (John Cusack) eager to hook up with open-hearted Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks). Writer Oren Moverman was right to convince producer Pohlad to direct.

    Matthew Brennan:

    To this point 2015 has been the year of the woman-centered film: my first five selections feature female protagonists of such bristling intelligence—martial, zoological, artificial, intuitive, performative—that men almost begin to seem, well, unnecessary. From Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), the heroine of George Miller's face-melting feminist blockbuster "Mad Max: Fury Road," to Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), the resilient heart of a romantic maelstrom in Thomas Vinterberg's adaptation of "Far From the Madding Crowd," the through-line in many of the films here is an ardent belief in the power of women's stories, past ("Effie Gray"), present ("Clouds of Sils Maria"), and future ("Ex Machina").

    However, to Hollywood's discredit, of the ten films below, only the poetic, New Orleans-set indie "Below Dreams" was directed by a woman—though Emma Thompson penned the script for "Effie Gray." Disappointingly, nearly all failed to generate much business. (Shout out to Michael Mann's misunderstood flop, "Blackhat," which matches its garbled narrative with such stylistic verve it emerges as a kind of hyperrealist science fiction.) Times change, of course. If you've seen the demented, delightful "Li'l Quinquin," it was most likely by streaming it on Fandor, and the disturbing insights of "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck" aired on HBO.

    Whatever the format, however, the best film of the year so far, Peter Strickland's exquisite "The Duke of Burgundy," registers, like all of the films below, as a singular vision that defies, or works through, the current economic model's artistic constraints. With reference to psychological horror, European erotica, and even black comedy, this pas de deux between two kinky lesbian lepidopterists is as fecund and fetishistic as its central relationship; like the rare butterfly of the title, the mere sight of it left my heart racing, and that's about all I can ask.

    1. "The Duke of Burgundy" (Peter Strickland)

    2. "Clouds of Sils Maria" (Olivier Assayas)

    3. "Mad Max: Fury Road" (George Miller)

    4. "Ex Machina" (Alex Garland)

    5. "Effie Gray" (Richard Laxton)

    6. "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck" (Brett Morgen)

    7. "Li'l Quinquin" (Bruno Dumont)

    8. "Blackhat" (Michael Mann)

    9. "Far from the Madding Crowd" (Thomas Vinterberg)

    10. "Below Dreams" (Garrett Bradley)
    Last edited by whiteLight; 07-05-2015 at 08:14 AM.

  2. #2
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    Max Mad the best so far worth watching a theatre. Blackhat didnt like it one bit. Have not seen the rest.
    Cocaine is gods way of telling you that you make too much money

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