2015 was a good year for documentaries. As usual, our list focuses mainly on music and film related ones but there's a bunch of other amazing films out there that didn't make the cut...
Here's our list of ten...
10. Back In Time
Thirty years after the Back To The Future trilogy took off, the cast, the crew and everyone involved in the creation of the films, take a look back at their history and study the impact they had in popular culture. Back In Time features almost everyone, from Spielberg and Zemeckis to Alan Silvestri.
9. The Death Of “Superman Lives”: What Happened
A movie that would have featured Nic Cage as Superman (in long hair), written by Kevin Smith and directed by Tim Burton sounds too good to be true, but in 1998 it became almost a reality. The documentary directed by Jon Schnepp explores how the project started getting into production and what went wrong to lead to its permanent cancellation.
8. The Hunting Ground
Although The Hunting Ground's objectivity has been questioned and the film has been accused of inaccuracy, the documentary succeeds in raising awareness about such a serious subject as sexual assault and providing insight about alleged incidents of rape on college campuses and their cover ups.
7. The Nightmare
The Nightmare takes a good look at the frightening condition of sleep paralysis through interviews with patients, some of which began suffering the condition from very young ages. Rodney Ascher succeeds to convey the terrifying sickness to the viewer through his moody cinematography and horror imagery, although the film leaves much ground for improvement, mainly because of the absence of any scientific aspect to it.
6. Cobain: Montage Of Heck
The first of the two documentaries on Cobain that came out in 2015, the authorized one, is very well structured and expertly directed by Brett Morgen, telling the life story of the late Kurt from struggling days in Aberdeen to the very end, through archive footage, fresh interviews and very artistic animated sequences.
5. Rosetta: Audio/Visual
Rosetta: Audio/Visual appropriately starts with a sigh. It chronicles the history of Rosetta, from their formation as a joke grindcore band to the self-production and self-release of their then latest album, The Anaesthete and the stressful events that led them to distributing their music themselves. It features interviews with the band members, label executives, music critics and artists, combined with apt stock footage and breathtaking lanscape imagery that add to the film's bittersweet mood and enrich the narration.
4. Beautiful Noise
Ten years in the making and after a successful crowdfunding campaign, Beautiful Noise finally got to be released. The film is centered mainly around The Jesus And Mary Chain, The Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine and also includes Ride, Chapterhouse, Slowdive and Lush, with interviews from nearly all protagonists of the late eighties and nineties shoegaze movement, as well as generally influential musicians like Robert Smith, Trent Reznor, Wayne Coyne and Billy Corgan.
3. Soaked In Bleach
The “other” Cobain related documentary released this year is focused exclusively on the man's last days until his suicide, treated on the film as conspiracy to murder. Based on Tom Grant's (the P.I. involved to track down the then missing Cobain – hired by Courtney Love) archives and testimony, Soaked In Bleach sheds a light on the dark part of a story that according to the film may not have happened exactly as the newspapers and the books have written it so far.
Featuring a ton of never seen archival footage and home videos, Amy is Winehouse's life story, unveiled before the viewer, as she went from promising songwriter to pop phenomenon. Focusing mostly on her relationship with men and drugs and her inability to handle fame, Amy is honestly telling the story of the late singer with no attempt to glorify her or her addictions. It is a very sad story which, as the whole world knows, didn't have a happy ending, yet it's a compelling watch that honors the girl's talent, despite her being a broken person with many flaws.
1. I Am Chris Farley
Starting with his up bringing in Madison, Wisconsin, through his success on Saturday Night Live, then his glory days in Hollywood, until his untimely death at the age of 33, I Am Chris Farley is a loving tribute to the late comedian. His story is told through his siblings, childhood mates, SNL castmates and fellow actors, enhanced with archival footage, some of which is very rare material from his improv days and his time at the second city theater in Chicago. Chris Farley's larger than life, highly energetic persona ended in such an inappropriate manner, but his tale, needed to be told through film a long while ago, finally got the documentary it deserved.