Countdown To New Year: Most Stylish Films Of 2015

Posted on Dec 31 2015 - 11:42am by Julia Malahovska

The end of the year is coming as we bid a farewell to 2015, but what have we seen from this year? In our Countdown To New Year we’ll be picking some of our best bits from 2015 in film and TV, from the best moments to those gosh darn overrated films we haven’t heard the end of. So, before we get started, we all from ScreenRelish would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Let’s see what 2016 has in store for film!

2015 has undoubtedly blessed us with films with rich and compelling narratives. We got engaged in a plethora of tear-inducing and heart-gripping stories, and, putting my film lover hand on my heart, I am very sad to see this year go so quickly. As much as I enjoyed the intricacies of this year’s cinematic storytelling, I must admit that it was also a stellar year for those eye-candy movies that managed to add just so many layers and meanings to the word ‘pretty’. There were fireworks of fantastic costumes, make-up designs and eye-catching locations. So let’s have a look at how to celebrate 2015 in true style:

INHERENT VICE. (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

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As much as it was hard to follow what was really going on in Anderson’s trippy adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s book (or maybe that was the point..?), there was one thing that caught my attention: everyone looked absolutely stunning. Costume designer Mark Bridges, who worked closely with Anderson during most of the filmmaker’s career, managed to deftly capture the early 1970’s just as they are remembered now: with splashes of love and colour. We are shown hippie style at its absolute best, so expect loads of chest hair, bell bottoms, velvet blazers, butterfly collars and paisley print. Disclaimer: only in this film we can forgive Joaquin Phoenix for wearing those leather man sandals.

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BROOKLYN (Dir. John Crowley)

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BROOKLYN is a love song to a booming 1950’s New York, which was rapidly rising to global prominence thanks to postwar consumerism and flourishing artistic scene. Emmy-winning designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux had a real challenge on her hands to portray Saoirse Ronan’s character Eilis in transition from a muted and sombre environment in her native Enniscorthy to an educated lady blossoming in the tumultuous world of the Big Apple. And she truly succeeds: citing Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor as her style icons, Mireaux makes the film’s leading females equally bold, strong and beautiful, dressed in the most colourful and memorable vintage garments. The film leaves you secretly wanting to be that sharply dressed person at Bartocci’s department store, picking tights of the finest make.

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CRIMSON PEAK. (Dir. Guillermo del Toro).

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There is one thing (amongst many others) that Guillermo del Toro does best – and that is scare people. His phantasmagorical films have induced many nightmares and let our imagination run as wild as it possibly can. But what is absolutely crucial is that he does it in his own unprecedented style. CRIMSON PEAK elevated a much-revered Victorian gothic to completely new heights and cemented Del Toro’s visual language as the one to imitate and adore. Set designs and costumes exude such a sharp eye of a true visionary that really cares about every minuscule details of his work. It’s at Thomas Sharpe’s Allerdale Estate is where del Toro’s demons come alive – its crimson soil, squeaky marble floors, secret chambers and ghosts parading in murky corridors left a long-lasting impression. Designer Kate Hawley was a great help in the director’s endeavours, with her voluminous and delicate hand-sewn gowns that transform Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowka into the belles of a haunted gothic ball. 

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SUFFRAGETTE (Dir. Sarah Gavron)

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There is absolutely nothing glamorous about SUFFRAGETTE – it is a film that evokes an oppressive spirit of the early 1910’s, where women were harshly mistreated by their husbands and bosses alike. If you are expecting glittering dresses and fabulous designer shoes, you are definitely in the wrong screening room. But this is what truly is great about Gavron’s film – there is no exaggeration or embellishment. SUFFRAGETTE is brilliantly authentic in the way it captures the raw spirit of the times, together with its dust, sweat and tears. The costume designer Jane Petrie jumps on board with a politically charged film, and helps to shape up a period drama that is proud of its deprivations and working class environment that it recreates. Almost all clothes that Petrie uses are original garments from the period that she managed to gather from costume houses in Paris and London. Except for the incredible hats, that Petrie and her team made by hand, using fresh flowers and handmade ribbon. A special mention, of course, goes to Meryl Streep’s real-life character Emmeline Pankhurst, whose eye-catching embellished robes make her a true ferocious woman of power.

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MACBETH (Dir. Justin Kurzel).

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It is hard to find any imperfections in Kurzel’s MACBETH; as people say it feels like everything is in the right place at the right time. The director’s team, consisting of a cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, production designer Fiona Crombie and costume designer Jacqueline Durran, are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle – you put them together and in the end you have an immaculate picture with perfect angles and contours. Of course it is hard not to be biased because the film is heading my year’s top five, but MACBETH just doesn’t stop to awe and inspire me from how beautifully executed every single element is. Of course there is the breathtaking misty Scottish mountain scenery, captured in extreme long shots, and the costumes, that don’t just formulaically elevate the film to another period drama, but add subtle beauty to the overarching madness. What really stood out for me was original make-up designs, which seemed almost theatrical, but also absolutely crucial in making this film a memorable experience.

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CAROL (Dir. Todd Haynes)

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This list would be incomplete, and maybe you could even say bare, if Hayne’s latest gem, CAROL, wasn’t on it. I can still remember those times during university when I first got introduced to the vivid and rich melodramas of Douglas Sirk, where everyone was just so effortlessly elegant and sophisticated. All I wanted to do was rush to the vintage store and bulk buy the 1950’s looking garments so that I can chain smoke while wearing an exquisite fur coat and red lipstick. CAROL brought those memories back to life – the film is just so stylish and observant in how it recreates the 50’s New York, with its innovations and glamour. Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell made it her absolute aim that Cate Blanchett’s character suffers from the domestic limitations in a tasteful and fashionable way. It is not surprising how well the outcome has turned to be – Powell’s main points of reference were 1950’s fashion magazines, including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. But it wasn’t just costumes that is made CAROL so great. Set designs and perfectly stylised locations add to the beauty of it, making you reminisce about those blissful days of IMITATION OF LIFE, THE APARTMENT and PEYTON PLACE.

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SPECTRE. (Dir. Sam Mendes)

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I was strictly advised that the latest instalment of the James Bond franchise should also make this list. It is a well-known fact that the fictional secret agent over the past 53 years has managed to wear the crown of the most stylish and well-dressed character. As it also turns out, James Bond films, including SPECTRE, have become case studies/Bible for those interested in the cutting edge of menswear trends. Bond does manage to always look dapper during all times, either he is in Italy running away from gangsters or disguising himself as a skier at the Austrian resort. As it was the case in previous Bond films, SPECTRE emphasizes not only style, but also substance, and utilising such trendy and quality brands like Tom Ford, Mulberry, Danner, Sunspel and Omega watches, the costume team always makes sure the 007 agent is always one step ahead of everyone.

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FOCUS (Dir. Glenn Ficarra, John Requa)

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Despite of its starry cast, FOCUS fell a little bit under the radar this year – probably due to the fact that the story was not convincing, rather dull and undeveloped. However, I must admit – with a risk of sounding shallow – that the film was more than bearable to watch because it was a very pleasing and delightful eye-candy with a great modern twist. Here is the winning formula – take two very photogenic and ridiculously beautiful actors (blond girls are especially welcome), place them in an exotic or sun-kissed environment, and film is guaranteed to attract a certain amount of viewers, because this is just how people are programmed to be – craving for beauty and aesthetic pleasure. Similar situation happened in RUM DIARIES with Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, where the incongruities of the plot got swept under the rug following Heard’s alluring appearances. In the same vein, Margot Robbie and Will Smith make a great onscreen couple; Robbie effortlessly fits into the film’s stylistic frame wearing Gucci and Givenchy in some fantastic locations, making FOCUS a very pleasant watch.

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