The Essay Question (Jul. 9, 2015)

Every couple of weeks, the OFCS polls its members with a question related to movies. It can be serious or amusing, but each member is given the opportunity to submit a short response to the question, which we will then post on Thursday mornings. Here is this week’s query.

Essay Question #16:

At the midpoint of the year, what is the best film of 2015 so far?

Question Submitted by: Jerry Roberts @ Armchair Cinema


Robert Cashill @ Popdose
It’s a toss-up between MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and WHILE WE’RE YOUNG. Those are my two favorites.

Andy Crump @ Paste Magazine
Almost far and away MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, though I think TANGERINE could take this transient honor pretty handily. MAD MAX, however, is the right tonic for the right kind of burnout at exactly the right time, and without even bothering to be explicit it also manages to address the social issues that most of us have with contemporary blockbusters and screen entertainments. (TANGERINE does the same for the whitewashed world of indie film, too.)

Sarah Gopaul @ Digital Journal
My current frontrunners are MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL. I find it virtually impossible to choose between these two releases because they are so different from each other, yet both exceptional films in my book. MAD MAX is an extraordinary spectacle that manages to keep audiences engaged for what is most simply a two-hour chase sequence. Conversely, ME AND EARL is a subtler, amusing drama that presents life from the perspective of a teenage boy who discovers the self-centred world in which he’s attempted to seclude himself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Irrespective of their differences, I regard both films with equal fervour.

Charlie Juhl @ Citizen Charlie
Ex Machina. Rather than employ the set-up to launch a standard action/thriller, a familiar genre when A.I. is involved, Alex Garland fashioned a pot boiling mystery. Questions surrounding allegiances and motivations eclipse the typical narrative accompanying any A.I. discussion, namely ethics, hierarchy, and humanity.

Garland creates a truly claustrophobic sense of space even though it is deceptively open. His characters are complicated and his A.I. creation, Ava, will be as memorable to audiences as the most famous A.I.s we can think of: HAL 9000, Bishop from Aliens, or anybody from Blade Runner. A sci-fi movie I would challenge any sci-fi genre skeptic to shrug off; they won’t be able to.

Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic
For my money, the film that still plays in my mind is, drum roll please, “It Follows.” I’m pretty cynical when it comes to using hyperbolic phrases like “instant classic,” but this horror indie comes close to a “Halloween” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” There are so many unnerving set-pieces; the musical score is a real doozy; and the performances are naturalistic and pitch-perfect. Aside from “It Follows,” “Mommy,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” or “Ex Machina” are also a few of the year’s best so far.

Kristen Lopez @ Awards Circuit
Currently the films I’m considering the best of the year include Mad Max: Fury Road, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Ex Machina, It Follows, and Faults.

Pat Mullen @ Cinemablographer
Sunshine Superman! A top pick in a very good year for documentaries so far, Sunshine Superman soars. I’m in awe of Marah Strauch for making a debut feature as thrilling and complex as Sunshine Superman. On one level, Sunshine Superman offers thrilling cinematic escapism as the exhilarating 16mm footage of BASE jumper Carl Boenish re-creates the freeing high he experienced while tempting fate in these dangerous falls. No film quite makes the case for the power of big screen entertainment these days when iPhone movies and VOD are the norm. More impressive, though, is how provocatively Strauch turns the adrenaline rush into a greater philosophical question: just what rights do humans have to test fate while pushing themselves beyond the limits? It’s a beautiful and awe-inspiring film on many levels.

Aaron Pinkston @ Battleship Pretension
Maybe it is just the best film that I’ve seen most recently, but the film that has hit me the most is Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem. I love when a film presents a new structure to narrative, whether it be limiting time and space or segmenting the story in a unique way. Gett takes place over many years, but all inside a small room during an ongoing trial. And the story is captivating, too, dissecting the role of women in the middle east, and their personal freedom to live a happy life. It is a very powerful film, both simple and incredibly complex. It builds into a thriller quietly, similarly to A Separation and The Lives of Others.

Robert Roten @ Laramie Movie Scope
I haven’t seen the movies that aren’t in wide release yet. The best wide release movie I’ve seen so far is “Mad Max: Fury Road” although “Ex Machina” is a close second. Although “Mad Max” is a pure action film, it still managed to flesh out some interesting characters without slowing down at all.

It also created a fascinating social system, not believable, but fascinating. The visual imagination, cinematography, stunt work, costumes, makeup effects and sets were all at the highest levels.

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