Right off the bat, this isn’t a list. This isn’t a best and worst compilation. And this isn’t a recommendation communique either. Also, no five-star rating based statistical effort here. Just a glimpse at some moments of life in a cinema hall (and home theatre) in 2015.
Amitabh Bachchan’s imperfect bowel and perfect Bengali vowel movements, Deepika’s absolutely fine act, and Irrfan’s stupefied and bemused drive took this movie to an enjoyable and moving space. Director Shoojit Sircar showed us his royal flush in direction – little wonder that the audience went potty over this one. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/05/16/piku-movements/)
Or the downside of capital in Anurag Kashyap’s projects. Swanky period pieces, lots of swagger, Ranbir Kapoor’s brave performance, Anushka Sharma’s smouldering presence, and Karan Johar’s infectious giggle couldn’t pick this movie from the back-bay. The upside? Kay Kay Menon’s cigarette might get nominated for the best supporting actor award. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/05/16/bombay-velvet-from-black-to-black-label/)
Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams in the true life story of the Big Eyes paintings. Both scoring high on the acting scale, while director Tim Burton telling us it’s best to give your wife credit where it’s due. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/05/23/big-lies-behind-big-eyes/)
Tanu Weds Manu Returns
Director Anand L Rai and his mad, fun definition of a failing marriage and rebound love. Kangana Ranaut is double the talent, R. Madhavan supporting her A-one act, and Deepak Dobriyal supporting the movie and all of the samosas in Delhi. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/05/28/tanu-weds-manu-returns-fun-redux/)
With an attendance of ten people in the cinema hall for the show I went to, Arnold Schwarzenegger will not be back in an offbeat venture such as this one anytime soon. Director Henry Hobson scares you by showing just how painful it is to be a zombie. Throw away your Evil Dead collection, you creeps. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/05/31/maggie-the-pain-is-the-horror/)
Dil Dhadakne Do
Too long? Zoya Akhtar “amiron ki Ekta Kapoor”? Nah. With Anil Kapoor, Shefali, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma ,and an ensemble cast at their upper crusty best, this movie was a thoughtfully delightful take on relationships, hypocrisy, selfishness, and a status symbol hankering that actually cuts across all classes. Plus , aided by Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s zinger of a music score, this was a cruise P.G. Wodehouse would have approved of. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/06/07/dil-dhadakne-do-a-wodehousian-cruise/)
Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, and Rachel McAdams do the relationship pirouette in director Ira Sachs’ nice little drama of marriage, betrayal, and plans of murder. Married lives would be so much richer if Dickon Hinchcliffe’s score kept swooping into living rooms. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/06/14/married-life-an-ennui-stitution-called-marriage/)
Story? Nah. Dances? Ah-plenty. Director Remo made Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor dance like nobody’s business. He made Prabhu Deva act even if it wasn’t his business. Plus, some of India’s finest dancing talent made this a “Dance India Dance” special. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/06/24/abcd-2-binge-watch/)
Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell, Channing Tatum did a shocking turn out of their regular acting moulds and embellished director Bennet Miller’s true story on a dark sibling rivalry, making it a compelling watch. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/07/19/foxcatcher-simmering-magma-opus/)
Director Neeraj Ghaywan took us into a world of love, unrequited desires, blackmail, social mores, pain, and that dark twist called death. And he tied all these up using a brilliant cast and searing soundtrack by Indian Ocean. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/07/29/masaan-glowing-life-of-pyre/)
Director Karan Malhotra pulled out all plugs in this loud melodrama that was effective in parts. While the actors onscreen nursed their broken bones, you were left with ears without drums. But boy, can Akshay Kumar kick and fight. (Review: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/08/17/brothers-shattered-hearts-bones-and-eardrums/)
Manjhi – The Mountain Man
Nawazuddin Siddiqui broke your heart with a superlative performance in this true story. Director Ketan Mehta, however, couldn’t climb the directorial mountain, leaving you with tacky special effects and a love story that seemed a mountain out of a molehill. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/08/23/manjhi-the-mountain-man-a-mountain-of-despair/)
A racy first half and a very believable Saif Ali Khan made up for Katrina Kaif’s unflinchingly wooden act. Or, how to retain your blush and lipstick even after a solid gunfight in Pakistan. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/08/30/phantom-the-ghost-who-mocks/)
Director Meghna Gulzar and writer Vishal Bharadwaj picked up the cinematic gauntlet on a true crime story and raised the bar on how sensitive stories ought to be depicted. Dark, disturbing, and ultimately thrusting uncomfortable questions into your popcorn tub, this movie had some brilliant performances, headlined by the redoubtable Irrfan Khan. (Review: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/10/04/talvar-two-sides-of-a-razors-edge/)
Or, how to get together a cast comprising Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Irrfan, Atul Kulkarni, and Shabana Azmi and make a thriller that’s about as tantalizing as a lukewarm, watery soup on a cold winter afternoon. This one was Sanjay Gupta’s jazz by the bah. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/10/11/jazbaa-the-beauty-and-the-feast/)
Bridge of Spies
A beautiful, moving spy drama by director Steven Spielberg. Based on a true story, actors Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance showed the boys how it’s done with grace and panache. Plus, composer Thomas Newman added another layer to this beauty. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/10/18/bridge-of-spies-the-humane-exchange-program/)
Another lesson in how not to spend money when your favorite aunt leaves you a ton of fortune. Director Vikas Bahl took all the money and made a big-budget mess that was more naash than shaan. With embarrassing special effects, a motor mouth Sanjay Kapoor, a cack-handed Kapoor and Kapur combination, and a befuddled Alia, many felt without Kangana, Bahl was ran-out. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/10/24/shaandaar-royal-blues/)
A gasp-inducing real-life look at how a layer of society operates just somewhere close to you live or pass by on your way to work. It could be the gas station attendant or the security guard at your favorite mall. When this layer decides to get what they think is theirs to fulfill dreams that are only theirs, you have only one choice. Freeze in horror. Director Kanu Behl stuck the knife into your gut and then twisted it to be doubly sure. Fine, Kanu, fine – it worked. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/11/01/titli-a-larva-of-horrors/)
Is this the bidaai of Daniel Craig as Bond and director Sam Mendea as helmsman in perhaps the best and most polarizing series of the spy with the golden bun ? Colorful, fun, dark, fast, and tying up all the ends of the Craig outings, “Spectre” also showed Bond with a soul beneath those sizzlingly perfect suits. And Thomas Newman scoring a spectacular score that remained part of the mood all through. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/11/21/spectre-mergers-and-starry-trek-voyages/)
Either you got Imtiaz Ali’s latest or didn’t. Either ways, there was no denying Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone’s mesmerizing acting prowess. A.R. Rahman’s score, however, was more soap than opera. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/11/28/tamasha-magic-paring/)
When director Rohit Shetty borrowed Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol from Karan Johar, he mistakenly picked up some dandy hankys as well. So you didn’t know why the movie traipsed from action to family drama to fun to family drama. Some mad moments did not add up to the usual Shetty Shetty Bang Bang fun. And next time saar, don’t lever Johnny into an “aiyyo” role please. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/12/20/dilwale-the-exorcism-of-fast-food/)
Navdeep Singh took you and unceremoniously kicked you into honor killing territory. A gasp-a-moment terrifying effort, this was when you used the pop-corn tub to hide. Anushka Sharma reared her beautiful head to mess with ugliness.
Produced by BBC, directed by Alan Cubitt, this TV show, in all its two seasons, gripped, haunted, and kept one glued to the seat. It made you care for the victims like no other in its genre, while you weren’t sure who mesmerized you more – Jamie Dorman’s next door serial killer or Gillian Anderson’s chilly investigator. Add to that David Holmes’ discomfiting electronic background score, and you ensured your curtains were drawn at all times.
Director Michaël R. Roskam’s large-hearted little crime drama involving a dog, money, the mafia, a bar, and what you had was Tom Hardy’s career best. Plus, James Gandolfini’s heart-wrenching swan song. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/12/23/the-drop-the-dog-and-the-doggone-money/)
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus that got the historians’ papyrus knickers in a twist. Entertaining, moving, and forcing you to read about the Peshwa history, this took so much of liberty with historical facts, it’s surprising there haven’t been memes about SLB holding a torch in place of the Statue of Liberty. But knock out performances by Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, and Priyanka Chopra kept you glued to your seat, ignoring all the messages pingaing you on your phone. (Review here: https://lifeisacinemahall.com/2015/12/27/bajirao-mastani-sets-appeal-and-history-teacher/)
Homeland (Season 5)
Terror is the normal, and the writers of this TV show got you white under the knuckles as Berlin became ground zero for an imminent strike. As usual, this got horrifyingly close to the truth after the Paris attacks. Political writing was never this gripping or close home. Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin shone as usual. But did Rupert Friend’s Peter Quinn have to go this horrible way?