8. The Duke of Burgundy
Written and directed by Peter Strickland, this film screened at several film festivals after its premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. The film had a limited theatrical release in January 2015 before it was released on DVD in April 2015. The story revolves around two entomologists (Sidse Babett Knudsen, Chiara D’Anna) who play ritual games of dominance and subservience.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 93%. The film has been described as stylish, sensual and smart and combines the erotic with substance. The film is described as gritty and graphic in portraying a rarely discussed side of sexuality in a manner that is completely free of judgement. The depiction of Evelyn and Cynthia’s fragile relationship has been one of the film year’s highlights.
9. The Wrecking Crew
The Wrecking Crew first premiered at the 2008 South by Southwest Festival and was subsequently entered at several more festivals and even received several audience awards from those festivals. The film however, had daunting music licensing and post production costs, which prohibited it being shown in theaters during that time. A kickstarter campaign was started in late 2013 and after the costs were recouped the film premiered in theaters in March of 2015.
Directed by Denny Tedesco, the film centers on a Los Angeles based group of session musicians named The Wrecking Crew, who played on numerous hit recording in the 1960s. The task of finding the perfect tempo, timbre, and pitch was left up to these incredible musicians.
Tedesco interviews producers, engineers, and the session musicians themselves to get their side of the story and give them the recognition they deserve. The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and has been called 20 Feet for Stardom for instrumentalists.
10. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was one of the biggest hits of that year’s festival. It won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Audience Award for U.S. Drama at the festival.
Based on the novel of the same name by Jesse Andrews, who also wrote the screenplay, it tells the story of Greg, a Pittsburgh high school student who befriends his classmate Rachel, who has leukemia. Greg and his friend Earl make low-budget films in their spare time and decide to make a film about Rachel.
The film was acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures after Sundance for $12 million and will get a limited release in the United States on June 12, 2015.
11. Furious 7
The seventh in the long running The Fast and the Furious franchise, Furious 7 is currently the highest-grossing film of the year and the fourth highest grossing film of all time (a goal achieved in 12 days). Furious 7 is also a critical hit with a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film also features a hit song, “See You Again”.
Furious 7 opens after the defeat of international terrorist Owen Shaw. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and their colleagues have separated to return their normal lives. However, Deckard Shaw, Owen’s older brother is seeking revenge. A government agent offers to help the group deal with Shaw in exchange for their help in rescuing a kidnapped computer hacker who has developed a powerful surveillance program.
12. The Overnight
Written and directed by Patrick Brice, The Overnight premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival where it was purchased by distributor The Orchard. The film was also shown at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March of 2015 and the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21st 2015. The film will be released in theaters in the United States in June 2015.
The film was executive produced by brothers Mark and Jay Duplass and Adam Scott, who plays Alex in the film. The plotline witnesses a children’s play date becoming a couple’s play date after the children go to sleep.
In addition to Scott, Taylor Schilling,Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche star as the couples in this alternately racy and tender L.A set sex comedy. The film stays in line despite a fanciful narrative thanks to the work of the four leads and the direction of Brice. Godreche shines and helps to give the film a certain flair.
13. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Based on the the comic book The Secret Service, Kingsman: The Secret Service has been a surprise hit during the first half of the year. Starring Taron Egerton alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth and Michael Caine, Kingsman tells the story of Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Egerton), whose father was involved in a secret spy organization.
Unwin lives in a South London housing estate and it seems as though he is heading for a life behind bars. Agent Harry Hart (Firth) recognizes potential in the boy and recruits him to train in a secret program. Meanwhile Richmond Valentine (Jackson) launches a diabolical plan to prevent climate change,inaugurating a worldwide killing spree.
Grossing over $400 million worldwide during its theatrical release, the film has earned positive reviews from critics. The picture has been called stylish, subversive fun.
14. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
A Sundance production, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck explores the life of the Nirvana frontman and 1990s rock icon. The film premiered at Sundance and was subsequently shown at the Berlin International Film Festival,was given a limited theatrical release and debuted on television on HBO on May 4, 2015. It’s scheduled for released on DVD in November 2015.
This is the first documentary of the late singer to be made with the cooperation with his family, including Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, who approached director Brett Morgan to make the film. The film follows Kurt from his early days in Aberdeen, Washington to the success and downfall with Nirvana and his personal life.
The film has a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics commenting on the film’s focus on the human side of the singer, unlike many previous films made about him. The film not about the singer as a spokesman of his generation but, rather a protrayal of a husband, father and human being.
15. White God
Winner of the Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, White God is a Hungarian drama directed by Kornél Mundruczó. The dogs featured in the film won the Palm Dog Award and it was the Hungarian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, though it was not nominated.
The film follows a mixed-breed dog named Hagen, who alongside his guardian Lili, moves in with Lili’s father. Lili’s father is unwilling to pay the “mongrel” fine imposed by the government so he abandons Hagen. Hagen, who is determined to find Lili again, organizes a half-breed pack against their human oppressors.
The premise alone sounds a little ridiculous and over the top. However, in the hands of Mundruczó, the film will cause cheering, crying, and sitting in emotional exhaustion as the two-hour run time comes to an end.
Author Bio: Ryan Anderson is a sophomore at Miami University in Oxford Ohio, where he is studying Zoology and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. His love of classic cinema and film history keeps his love for film strong and ever-present in his life.