We’re two months into 2016, and I finally feel that I’ve seen enough 2015 films to put together a top 10 list (just in time for the Oscars). More than ever, last year had a ton of variety in its excellent films, and the lists that I have seen do not have a strong overlap with one another. I’ve watched 62 new releases from 2015 (by far a personal record), and yet there are still several high-profile films that I’ve missed and thus couldn’t include. Without further ado, here is my list:
‘Ex Machina’: Of Machines and Men
At what point has Artificial Intelligence become advanced enough to be considered life? Is it once it passes for human? Once it has emotions, wants and needs? Once it’s self-aware?
This is one of several core questions behind Alex Garland’s directorial debut, Ex Machina. The film is a surprisingly intimate sci-fi drama in which Domhnall Gleeson plays Caleb, a computer programmer at a Google stand-in. Caleb is invited to the isolated estate of tech-billionaire-genius Nathan (Oscar Isaac) under the pretense of having won a week-long retreat. Once there, he discovers that the true purpose behind the invitation is far more interesting. In addition to boozing it up with his boss, Caleb is tasked with evaluating an advanced A.I. of Nathan’s creation, Ava (Alicia Vikander). In a series of sessions, he must test her humanity in an updated version of the Turing test. The film is extremely tightly written. Its relatively modest budget is used to the fullest extent, and like any good sci-fi film, Ex Machina uses the sci-fi genre to generate discussion on modern concerns. [Spoilers] from here on.