The Best Of The Big Screen In 2015

2015 was good to Middle Coast. We hosted our third and biggest festival yet, and met incredible filmmakers from around the world and shared their work with our beautiful community in Bloomington, Ind.

It was also a year that gave us plenty of fantastic films to watch- so many our festival director, Jessica Levandoski, had trouble narrowing down her list of favorites (seriously, there’s 29 films listed below).

Levandoski is a film producer and founder of our festival, and a bona fide film nerd. Here is her list of the best films of 2015.

Tangerine

Best Buddy Comedy of the Year! Far and away one of the most entertaining features of the year. This was a our feature film at Middle Coast this year. When I met the producer, Darren Dean at Indy Film Fest this summer, I couldn’t believe the stories he told me about making this film and had to get it in front of our audiences. Darren and his team are true indie filmmakers, they do whatever it takes to just get it done. Filmed entirely on an iPhone 5, this film follows two transgender workers through West Hollywood on Christmas Eve. God, I can watch this over and over and get something fresh out of it each time. LOVED THIS MOVIE. Do not be surprised by the numerous Academy Noms it receives.

We Are Still Here

Screened Middle Coast Fest, and pee your pants scary. Amazing effects, amazing performances, and a thrilling story line. It’s on 100’s of top 10 horror film lists and is having a hell of a screening run in Russia right now!

Song of the Sea

THE OBVIOUS AND ONLY CHOICE FOR ANIMATED FEATURE!!! This Irish film is a classic for kids and adults alike. Brilliant animations and a lovely story about sacrifice and love.

99 Homes

Starring Middle Coast Alum, Tim Guinee in a supporting role, this film shows you what happened from the ground up during the mortgage crisis. If this film had a larger marketing budget you would have heard more about it. It’s really a stellar film.

Meadowland

Feature directorial debut from cinematographer Reed Morano starring Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson. Holy Shit. Hard to watch. Hard to not watch. If you’ve ever dealt with grief, or wondering what it is like to deal with grief, this film takes you there and then some. It’s so beautiful. It’s so harsh. Reed is quietly making her mark in the film world, she knows what she’s doing. That’s all I can say.

The Comedians

This is episodic show is going to be one of those overlooked gems in a few years. Starring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad, this series dealt with EVERY issue in the industry and handled the topics with such wit and clever writing that I am not shocked it didn’t get picked up for a second season, because it thumbed it’s nose a bit too close to the truth behind the curtain. It’s a total must see, if only to watch Billy Crystal truly shine.

Mad Max: Fury Road

A heart pounding, teeth grinding, master class of suspense and visual story. You will see noms across the board for this film. Nice to know a lot of these FX were done with practicals too, so old schoolers (which the Academy mostly are) will get a kick out of this.

Ex Machina

What makes a person a person? Love? Conversation? Betrayal? Creativity? Dancing? A really cool film that you just must watch to fully understand. Most likely a nomination for effects and screenplay.

Carol

2015 female performances were just ridiculously good this year. Both Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchette steal your breath in this. Also to note, this was filmed entirely in the Midwest, in Cincinnati, so we are extremely partial to it. The Academy will be ALL OVER this one. It’s got everything they love.

Anomalisa

Strange, heady, and very clever. But what else would you expect from Charlie Kaufman? The stop-motion animation allows you to focus on the mundanity that would be overlooked in regular format.

Joy

Jennifer Lawrence plus David O.Russell equals always highly watchable and entertaining storytelling. JLaw’s performance made me want to start 3 more businesses. It’s a beautiful portrayal of what quiet power women hold as mothers who don’t settle for being just that.

Brooklyn

Heartwarming, lovely, and immaculately produced. I took my daughter to see this one. Saorise Ronan is a talent to watch.

45 years

Starring Charlotte Rampling (who almost made this list twice for the BBC series BROADCHURCH – so close)  this film is one of those amazingly stylish, and dreamlike views inside a marriage, and then BOOM! a secret is revealed and you wallow in the character’s anguish.

Son of Saul

I obviously have a thing for foreign cinema, but again, the Hungarians bring their A game. This is YET ANOTHER debut feature that will no doubt be in the Best Foreign Picture category at the Oscars.

Taxi

Hilarious, heart wrenching and honest. This Iranian film is a must see, simply because of the lengths this man had to go to to film it.

Mustang

Everyone should see this film. Debut from Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Eruguven will most likely win the Best Foreign Picture category.

It Follows

Throwback to the golden days of horror. Entertaining and loved the story of how these folks made the film. Possible nomination for sound mix.

What We Do in the Shadows

Does for Horror culture what Spinal Tap did for Rock culture. A hilarious must-see.

Sicario

…Or, the deep, dark hole that we humans dig and dig and dig and dig… Wow. Just do yourself a favor and WATCH. THIS. FILM.  Oscars will most likely nom this for Cinematography and Screenplay. Maybe a nom for Bencio Del Toro too.

Room

Watch this for Brie Larson’s performance alone, would not be surprised if she earns an Oscar nomination for this role.

Montage of Heck

Tells the sad story of Cobain’s brilliance and tragedy without getting caught up in the hoopla of his death. Best thing HBO did this year, far and away. This should earn a documentary nomination from the Academy.

Selma

Director Ava Duvernay had a Barbie doll made in her likeness because of this film. Do her a favor and watch this film. Also to note, our American Actors need to step it up because a British Actor, David Oyelowo and Tom Wilkinson crushed their portrayals of two of America’s greatest leaders.


Grandma

Lily Tomlin, what else needs to be said?

Clouds of Sils Maria

Amazing to watch life imitate art. Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche nail these performances to the wall. KStew should earn a supporting role nomination.

Beast of No Nation

An essential reminder of how precious and fragile living a good, normal life really is. Love what Netflix is offering in terms of original programming.

White God

A heartbreaking revenge tale in the style of Milo & Otis. This Hungarian film is unlike anything else you will see for a long time.

James White

Director Josh Mond is someone I’ve been watching for a while, he and his film collective group based in NYC is doing amazing stuff. This film in particular is a heart breaker.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Even the most delicate of delusions can send us on the greatest adventures.

The Tribe

An unforgettable, violent, and dialogue free gangster picture that just so happens to take place in a boarding school for the deaf. Ukrainian Cinema is making a play for the top dramatic spot.  Definitely a contender for best foreign film at the Oscars.

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