The MacGuffin’s Top 10 Films of 2015

Brooklyn Movie Header Image

7. Brooklyn – 16

From Brooke Corso’s review: “The ties that bind Eilis to Ireland – as seen in the letters she and Rose exchange – slowly become the foundations from which she can explore her new city and flourish among its inhabitants. As Father Flood advises, “Homesickness is like most sicknesses: it will pass.” As the priest recognizes the intelligence of the young woman and enrolls her in a college bookkeeping class, we see the blue of her eyes light up for the first time. Her shyness gives way to a quiet confidence as she tries new experiences at her own careful pace. Saoirse Ronan is perfectly cast as Eilis as she often plays characters mature beyond their years and surviving on their own. She allows the other girls at the boarding house – who are louder and giggle more and display more skin – to improve upon her makeup and hair, but she is who she is as far as socializing, especially with men. Rather than mimic the more flirtatious girls, she takes the advise of her supervisor, Miss Fortini (a wonderful Jessica Paré) at the department store and learns to consider how her “costume” influences those around her.”

Duke of Burgundy Movie Header Image

7. The Duke of Burgundy – 16

One wouldn’t necessarily expect a film featuring and crediting a “human toilet consultant” to be among the most tender, amusing, nuanced, and (with no on-screen nudity) modest love stories in years. Yet much of its power of The Duke of Burgundy comes from contrasting its characters’ explicit actions with the reasons why they perform them, how emotional undercurrents resonate through layers of theatre. At a story level, the film follows a maturing lesbian couple’s elaborately-planned BDSM roleplay. At a meta-level, its British director Peter Strickland’s second movie after Berbarian Sound Studio (2012) to indulge the Gothic tropes of 60s-70s Euro erotica-horror. It’s ambiguous how deep the characters’ roleplay goes, if the lace-candelabras-and-butterflies world of the story is an alternate universe or a construction built to the characters’ specifications. Yet however elaborate the presentation, the characters’ emotions remain intimate and immediate, the emotional discomforts they endure for love showing through the divergent stories they request each other tell.

Look of Silence Movie Header Image

7. The Look of Silence – 16

From Matt Voigt’s review: “And Silence itself is an intimate, immediate document – as Joshua Oppenheimer had hoped – transfixingly autopsies a failure of communication. It is rhythmic, punctuated by literal silences (there is no musical score), cyclically moving between a culturally-validated narrative of heroic violence and the personal stories of victimization barely below its surface. In one thread, Rukun silently watches footage of his brother’s killers dramatically recounting their stories. When he speaks to them directly, they deny culpability: through justifications, deflections, threats and silence. Rukun’s own uncle describes guarding the prisoners before their expection, but denies responsibility: he did not directly kill, and he was defending the state. The movie’s other primary through-line follows his family’s day-to-day life – him playing with his children, and his mother caring for their ailing, aged father. All the while, the multi-stage murder of Ramli – the brother Adi never met – is recounted like a litany, in increasingly explicit detail.”

What We Do in the Shadows Movie Header Image

10. What We Do in the Shadows – 13

From Allen Almachar’s review: “There’s a kind of brilliance in the absurdity. By mashing old folklore in a real world environment, we discover the silliness that comes with vampires in general. For example, vampires (at least today) are known as these beautiful, hypnotic creatures that prey on humans through a certain sexual attraction. But if vampires have no reflection, how do they know what they look like when they dress or fix their hair? Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi amplify this paradox by having the characters literally draw each other on paper so they can see what their appearances are like.”

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Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

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