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Variety Critics Pick 2015’s Top 10 Films

Variety Critics Pick 2015's Top 10 Films

Variety critics Justin Chang, Peter Debruge, and Guy Lodge have picked their Top 10 films of the year, and as a testament to what a strong and varied year in movies it’s been, there’s not one that makes all three lists. The ubiquitous “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Carol,” “Spotlight,” and “Inside Out” all make two appearances, as does the somewhat less-seen “Tangerine.” But what sticks out at this point in the cycle are the unique choices: Chang citing “The Tribe,” whose only communications take place in Ukrainian sign language; Debruge including Angelina Jolie Pitt’s much-maligned “By the Sea”; Lodge going for David O. Russell’s “Joy.” Lodge and Debruge, who are based in London and Paris, also include several titles that haven’t opened yet in the U.S., among them Nicolas Steiner’s documentary “Above and Below” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster.”

Of his number 9, Céline Sciamma’s “Girlhood,” Chang writes:

“The most revealing diary of a teenage girl to hit screens this year was this expansive and fiercely empathetic portrait of a black 16-year-old from the French projects named Marieme (played by the blazingly gifted newcomer Karidja Toure), trying on one identity after another before tentatively coming to grips with her own. Bracing in its sly formal mastery and its skillful avoidance of gangland cliches, Celine Sciamma’s gorgeous third feature feels all the more vital in the wake of the Paris attacks, even as it refuses to sacrifice specificity on the altar of relatability.”

Here’s Debruge on “By the Sea”:

Given her stature, Angelina Jolie could make any movie she wants — or none at all — so it’s remarkable that a woman who values her privacy chose to reveal so much of herself and husband Brad Pitt. The result, ‘By the Sea,’ represents the biggest artistic risk a celebrity couple has taken since ‘Eyes Wide Shut.'”

And Lodge on “Joy”:

“David O. Russell’s year could only improve after the unfortunate release of his distended, rightly disowned screwball comedy ‘Accidental Love,’ yet the mixed-to-muted critical response to this whirring, stirring, pinballing quasi-biopic of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano wasn’t the ideal rebound. For this critic, however, ‘Joy’ follows through on its title. Russell has a good novelist’s knack for locating poignant personal truths amid illustrative incidental clutter: There’s a thoroughly satisfying Old Hollywood sensibility, meanwhile, to its refraction of the American Dream through the chaos of a single heroine, played with lightning-rod vigor by the inimitable Jennifer Lawrence. A near-final scene even reaches for the grandeur of George Stevens’ ‘Giant’; Russell’s evolution into a kind of agitated classicist has been thrilling to watch.”

Justin Chang’s top 10 films of 2015

1. “The Assassin

2. “Mad Max: Fury Road”

3. “Phoenix

4. “The Look of Silence

5. “Carol”

6. “The Tribe”

7. “Spotlight”

8. “Inside Out”

9. “Girlhood”

10. “Brooklyn

Peter Debruge’s top 11 films of 2015

1. “Son of Saul

2. “Spotlight”

3. “Steve Jobs

4. “Inside Out”

5. “Tangerine”

6. “Above and Below”

7. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

8. “The Martian

9. “Mustang

10. “Mon roi” and “By the Sea”

Guy Lodge’s top 10 films of 2015

1. “45 Years

2. “Carol”

3. “Mad Max: Fury Road”

4. “Arabian Nights

5. “Magic Mike XXL

6. “The Demons”

7. “The Lobster”

8. “Victoria

9. “The Endless River”

10. “Joy”

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