Christmas break and it’s time to binge


Movies like Birdman and Mr. Holmes take the cake for this years best movies.

Kat Sarafianos

Awards season is in a couple of weeks, and directors, actors, costume designers and everyone else wrapped up in the chaos of film will be thirsting for at least a nomination, if not a trophy. In order to celebrate these great films, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites from this year in hopes you’ll see their great value.
So to kick off this list, one of my top movies of this year was Alejandro Iñárritu’s “Birdman.” This movie was able to keep me invested with its thought provoking exploration of popularity vs. art and slick humor.
While the film’s aesthetic of meta dialogue, sudden angle changes and long, uninterrupted shots are what kept the eye entertained, what keeps the person invested are the deep comments the movie makes on the relevance of social media and how technology has truly shifted this world.
With Michael Keaton’s character, Riggan Thomson, we see how narcissism can be trampled as soon as one realizes that in an ever-changing world, what’s cool yesterday isn’t relevant today, and even the tools to change that status are different. Birdman says when change comes along, adapt or be left behind to grumble.
Another film that stuck with me this year was Nima Nourizadeh’s box office disaster, “American Ultra.” While it was panned by critics and ignored by moviegoers, I can’t help but love this movie. I feel this film is the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” of our generation. Despite the added character development in “American Ultra” that RHPS lacks completely, the absence of  gaudy musical numbers and not nearly as many cringe worthy character tropes, like RHPS, American Ultra is so bad it’s good.
The actors did as much as they could, but not even this star-studded cast could save this cinematic trainwreck from itself. Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, along with Connie Britton and a personal favorite performance by Topher Grace, carried this film gracefully through a much too-fast story progression and corny bouts of emotional drama. However, its hilarious animation sequences, wonderfully awful fight scenes and hilarious dialog is a disservice to describing its twisty charm.
A more emotional film to round out this list is Bill Condon’s “Mr. Holmes.” This is one of the first films where I was able to truly understand the cinematography story telling devices and symbolism without a pretentious film blog to aid my struggles. Mr. Holmes tells the story of an older Sherlock Holmes trying to recall his last case as he deals with dementia and the physical limitations of getting older.
This film’s use of flashbacks to explain the past case was softened by the heartbreaking fact that the flashbacks are frequently cut short due to our main character’s dementia, but what makes this film so heartbreaking is that I know Sherlock Holmes.
I grew up with the franchises that continually painted his sharp wit and clever thinking as the traits that made up his very being. To me, Sherlock Holmes and clever were synonymous, so it’s truly heartbreaking to see a character that’s made up of entirely those traits have them stolen from him by something as natural as aging. It’s like realizing superman can’t fight evil forever. We’re left asking, “Well what else is he supposed to do?”
More than just Holme’s memory loss, the film shows how his infamous cold demeanor and social ineptness truly affects other people’s lives, both in the past and present.  However the sad points are what make this movie the dynamic drama it is and I can’t encourage you to watch this movie enough. I relinquish my pride when I say crying in this movie was inevitable.
Speaking of crying, my heart is sobbing because I can’t list every single outstanding movie of the past year. But I think this excitement and passion I feel when talking about these amazing films points out just how powerful movies can be.
I truly believe films are the center of modern culture, and our culture is in fact a reflection of ourselves. Culture is our way of looking at the world and our way of living in the world; it’s the collection of our willful interactions with the environment, people and ourselves. It shows how we are programmed to interpret and understand everything and anything. With films being at the center of all that, it’s vital to not overlook their importance. They attempt to explain us to ourselves.
What are your top picks for this year?
*the release date of these movies on DVD is the deadline for the best of 2015, even if their theatrical release was in 2014