2015 – The Top 10 Uniques

As the army of Top 10s comes to a close, it’s time for the annual look at what was actually unique on the lists. Sure, we can all put Mad Max: Fury Road or Brooklyn on a list, but what about those films only one of us seemed to love that extra bit more.

What follows is a collection of works from some of Seattle’s finest critics, featuring the title or titles that he or she alone selected for the particular rundown. Some of these are clearly off the beaten path, while others are the proverbial bridesmaids to the rest of us. To read their full descriptions and the rest of each top ten, just click on their name.

Sara Michelle Fetters of Moviefreak

  • Cinderella

“Disney and Kenneth Branagh join forces to prove that, just because a story is familiar, just because you don’t do anything particularly groundbreaking with it, that doesn’t mean you can’t craft a masterpiece. There isn’t a lot of reinvention as it pertains to Cinderella, the filmmaker and the studio more than content to let the classic fairy tale speak loudly for itself.”

  • 45 Years

“Based on a short story by David Constantine, writer/director Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years is a multilayered, memorably evocative two-person drama revolving around a longtime married couple dealing with unexpected, life-changing news on the eve of their 45th wedding anniversary. While not a ton happens, the full extent of the journey the two end up going on is massive nonetheless, what the movie has to say about love, loss and companionship a deeply personal tone poem ranking as one of the finest the silver screen has seen in ages. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are superb.”

  • Bone Tomahawk

“If Howard Hawks, John Ford, Douglas Sirk and Stephen King ever joined forces on a Western, it’s likely it would look an awful lot like writer/director S. Craig Zahler’s stupendous Bone Tomahawk.”

Tim Hall of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

  • The Big Short

“It’s rare that a movie can make you feel sad, angry, and fascinated at the same time. Based on a true story, The Big Short retells the housing credit bubble in the mid-2000s that destroyed the economy. Adam McKay, who is known for his comedy, uses the year’s best ensemble performances (lead by Steve Carell and Christian Bale) to tell one the best dramatic stories in recent years.”

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot

  • The End of the Tour

“Cinema is most often characterized by films meant to entertain and those meant to educate. The End of the Tour has no intention of sermonizing, instructing or aggrandizing. It muses. And its musings strike to the core.”

Drew Powell of Drew’s Movie Blog

  • Cartel Land

“Heinman has balls of steel as he imbeds himself in the midst of the chaos, capturing this messy conflict with startling immediacy. “Cartel Land” is a thrilling piece of documentary filmmaking and provides a new, fascinating perspective on the U.S/Mexican border drug war.”

  • The Gift

“The movie is cold and meticulously constructed; it feels both mundane and menacing. It’s a slow burn up until the final minutes but what a stressful slow burn! The picture engages you on a deeper, psychological level; it stays just on the cusp of exploding into over-the-top B horror.”

Jason Roestel of Examiner

  • Heaven Knows What
  • “Avant garde barely scratches the surface as far as Heaven Knows What is concerned. The tone of the film has two gears, catatonia and conniption. There may be a few SAG card carrying actors among this cast, but these are mostly street kids playing themselves. A fact made abundantly clear when during some scenes in the movie what can only be actual New Yorkers dive out of the way of our characters as they air their dirty laundry out in open public. The greatness of Heaven Knows What is its uncompromising authenticity melded with Isao Tomita and Ariel Pink’s lush synth score for the film. This movie may ground us in terrible reality, but the music dares to reach out and touch the cosmos.”
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service

“Kingsman: The Secret Service sets a cavalier tone early in the film. From its socially conscious, lispy villain, Valentine (Samuel L. rocks it in this role) to its Oscar Pistorius knock-off, Gazelle, (a henchman who takes the tag ‘Blade Runner’ to the ultimate conclusion) to its street urchin hero, Eggsy, who understands that saving the world has very real fringe benefits, (namely… ass) the truth is Kingsman isn’t so obnoxious and rotten as the intelligentsia would care for you to believe.”

  • Mistress America

“The story here is an old one. A young arrival explores the seemingly limitless size and energy of The Big Apple. Think of Mistress America as The Catcher In The Rye and The Great Gatsby dancing to the drum-machine of 80’s John Hughes. Baumbach’s new film.”

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber

  • The Hateful Eight

“Full of deliciously sharp dialogue–and we mean full, as the movie clocks in at a way-too-long three hours–and some incredibly fun performances by Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight is hard to hate.”

  • Love & Mercy

“Good vibrations pulsate through this Beach Boys drama, which explores the psychological deterioration of singer/songwriter Brian Wilson. Both Paul Dano and John Cusack deliver great performances as the musical genius, who suffered from auditory hallucinations.”

  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

“This stylish, retro action-comedy from Guy Ritchie has no right being as fun as it, but The Man From U.N.C.L.E. delivers on all fronts. While its plot is admittedly routine, the deliciously witty dialogue combined with the energetic dynamic between the three leads–Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander–makes this flick a satisfying and underappreciated treat.:

Brian Taibl of KOMO Newsradio, Star 101.5 and Much More.

  • Straight Outta Compton

“With this flick you’ll witness the strength and influence of street knowledge in Director F. Gary Gray’s masterful and fascinatingly raw depiction of N.W.A. and their meteoric and legacy-leaving rise to stardom.”

  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

“Its action is stylistically slick, its humor relaxingly disarming and its suspense boils over with all the fervor of an unwatched, $150 million-budgeted pot.  Let the haters hate, Tom Cruise and company once again deliver the goods!”

  • Bridge of Spies

“This fish-out-of-water, Capra-esque potboiler may purposely lack the flash of past Spielberg/Hanks projects, but still stands dutifully tall alongside box office brethren like Saving Private Ryan and Catch Me If You Can.”

  • The Martian

With its ample amounts of head smarts, heart and humor, The Martian, proves to be one of 2015’s big screen, popcorn-munching delights.  It’s an accessible, deep space, MacGyver-on-Mars offering that incorporates upbeat and refreshingly sincere themes on perseverance, ingenuity, communications, problem-solving and teamwork.

Mike Ward of Should I See It

  • Amy

“The film is an unflinching and blunt exposé. We see the highs and lows and the distress when a world caves in all around her. Winehouse was infectious, trusting to a fault, compulsive, defiant, manipulative, but also kind-hearted, hilarious, witty, and close to a genius when it came to writing and arranging lyric and melody.”

  • 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets

“3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets is a film that is dense, investigatory, seamlessly edited and presented, and laser-focused on giving the Davis family and their son’s story proper and necessary amplification. Silver opts for scarcity when it comes to spoon-feeding his viewers – requiring us to listen to the film as intently as an investigator should.”



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