The year in films

It has been yet another amazing year for cinema. Here are a few favourites of mine from the last 12 months.

Hollywood

Mad Max: Fury Road: It has been the movie du jour of the year. Almost every publication around the world has mentioned this post-apocalyptic Tom Hardy- and Charlize Theron-starrer in its year-end list. This George Miller movie has been nothing less than a fresh blast of oxygen.

The Martian: Arguably the best ensemble feature film of 2015, the Ridley Scott directorial vehicle is about a stranded astronaut (Matt Damon) who is trying hard to survive on Mars while his Nasa colleagues are making every desperate attempt to get him back to the terra firma.

A still from Tangerine
Tangerine: Sean Baker’s fevered dream of a movie, shot entirely on the iPhone, was a major hit with the audience at the Mumbai film festival. Its unrestrained portrayal of the underbelly of Los Angeles — sex workers, migrants, pimps — will haunt you for a long time. Angsty-as-hell, yes, but laugh-out-loud funny as well. LA sunshine on screen never hit me harder.

Inside Out: I had major fun watching this Pixar fare that is formally inventive and has enough material to keep both adults and children entertained. It does lag in the final act, but it still holds up because of its gorgeous animation and a powerful set of voices (Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling). Quite possibly, it is the most original idea Pixar ever made a stab at.

Creed: If one is to draw analogies with the latest season of the English Premier League, this movie is Leicester City and the director, Ryan Coogler, is Jamie Vardy! No one saw this one coming. It’s about a boxer who wants to emulate his boxer-father with help from Sylvester Stallone — the portrayal of African-American culture at its best.

Honorable mentions: Bridge of Spies, The Lobster

Indian

Premam: Powered by a towering performance by Nivin Pauly, this Malayalam movie about the love life of a man over the course of 14 years has been the sleeper hit of the year. Director Alphonse Putharen’s breathtaking visuals lend a music video feel to the movie. Bracingly funny and coming of age, this has to be Pauly’s finest — even better than 1983.

Thani Oruvan: It has been a “meh” year for Tamil cinema. The only silver lining happens to be this Jayam Ravi-starrer about a policeman trying to unmask a do-gooder who is beyond diabolical. Arvind Swamy, who made a comeback to cinema after quite a few years, has delivered a barnstorming performance.

Bhale Bhale Magadivoy: It’s not Baahubali but this ingeniously crafted comedy that surprised me the most from Tollywood this year. This small movie with a big heart, helmed by Maruthi, about a person (Nani) who tries to win over his beloved despite his innocuous but very irritating short-term memory loss problem, is easily the best Telugu movie of the last three years.

Srimanthudu: Directed by Koratala Siva, this Mahesh Babu-starrer has been hailed as the actor’s finest so far. The story about a rich guy who adopts his native village has been a much-talked-about subject in Andhra and Telangana ever since the movie released.

Titli: This twisted tale of a family of small-time robbers, told expertly by Kanu Behl, turned me into a movie viewer equivalent of Schrodinger’s cat — I wanted to both take my eyes off the screen and gape at it at the same time. That’s a sure sign of a brilliant thriller, n’est-ce pas?

Honorable mentions: Tanu Weds Manu 2, KaakaMuttai

jagannath.jamma@bsmail.in

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