As mentioned in my Favorite Films of 2014 post, I keep a list of every movie I watch in the course of a year. 2015 was my fifth year doing this, documenting movies watched for a British film class, ones seen over the course of a semester in London, and classics that are whipped out during the holiday season, among others.
In order of the viewing date, here are my favorite movies that I saw for the first time this year:
1. Brassed Off (1996) – Seen January 12, 2015
I watched this for my British Cinema class, which had a theme of observing post-Thatcher society in the UK and the demise of small, blue-collar communities such as coaling villages. In Brassed Off, with the fate of the mine up in the air, the village’s colliery brass band strives to win a national competition and renew the members’ passion for music amidst the difficulties of the struggling colliery and finding a new purpose. Based off the true events, the film touches upon the common man’s emotions in this situation of an established life completely shifting. Once you get past the heavy accents, this story of close friends in a small town keeps you interested. It also gives a lot of insight into what was a national crisis in Britain but is not very well known here in America. The music played here is also gorgeous!
2. Children of Men (2006) – Seen February 27, 2015
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Clive Owen is far from fine. Also watched for class, Children of Men opens in a future where women have become infertile and the United Kingdom has the last existing government and is left to deal with illegal immigration struggles. It has a lot of parallels to both the Nativity story and World War II, and even today’s refugee conflict. This film intrigued me because it presents a completely different world initially within a modern, recognizable space (London). Alfonso Cuaron is an amazingly diverse director, working on anything from this to the third Harry Potter film to the family-friendly A Little Princess.
3. Into the Woods (2014) – Seen March 14, 2015
I wasn’t familiar with this musical before seeing the film, but found that it was definitely a strong enough representation of the stage show to get me interested in the original version. This music ranges from fun to heartbreaking to unflinchingly true about life. Whether or not it was intended for some dialogue to sound ridiculously funny, I think this made the film a good balance between song and spoken word. James Corden and Emily Blunt as the Baker and his wife are probably my favorite thing about this.
4. Inside Out (2015) – Seen June 24, 2015
Pixar is known for its film that universally appeal to both kids and adults, but this was the first Pixar movie that felt very much for older people. I guess the bright colors and certain story elements speak to kids, but I feel that, for the most part, they just don’t get it. Focusing on a tug between a tween girl’s emotions, Joy and Sadness, the film explores how the mind changes as we enter the confusing world of adolescence. I’m not ashamed to say that Inside Out made me cry!
5. The Intern (2015) – Seen October 5, 2015
This was the second film I saw at the cinema while in London. I love Anne Hathaway, and director Nancy Meyers has a pretty strong track record for feel-good films (she also directed The Holiday and The Parent Trap, among many others). Although I had high hopes for this film, I definitely wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did! Despite the odd ending, the film overall is the equivalent of a fluffy blanket and a cup of hot chocolate – warm, sweet, and just a good time. It makes you smile and wish that Robert De Niro could just pop up and give you life advice, too.
6. Pride (2014) – Seen December 7, 2015
We watched this in my creative writing class in London. Our professor wanted us to focus on the different characters and how their storylines weave together. Similar to the conflict in Brassed Off, Pride adapts another true story of a struggling Welsh mining town being helped by a group of English gays and lesbians. If anything, this film feels joyful. People come together against a common enemy and, despite their differences, learn to love each other in the process. The wonderful cast includes superstars like Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton, and little-known newcomers who shine just as bright as the established actors.
7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – Seen December 26, 2015
This is coming from someone who knows close to nothing about the Star Wars franchise. Ready for my range of knowledge of the first six films? Luke and Leia = siblings, Han and Leia = lovers, Darth Vader = father, prequels = better to not know about. I went into the latest addition totally blind, and fell in love with it. I adore the new characters (um, hello, Poe) and am so excited that young girls get to grow up with Rey as a hero (Daisy Ridley reminded me a lot of Keira Knightley). If you’re not a Star Wars fan, I still highly recommend trying out The Force Awakens. Not only is it exciting and easy to follow, it’s also quite funny.