5. David Bowie, “Blackstar / Lazarus” (dir. Johan Renck and David Bowie)
The final pair of videos from a man who has come to be defined for his fearless creativity over five decades, Bowie’s final visual statements show a man at his peak form even in his dying days. Directed by Johan Renck but creatively helmed by Bowie himself, both “Blackstar” and “Lazarus” are explorations of mortality (mirroring the key themes of the album they come off of) through occultist symbolism and a colour scheme filled with rich greens and greys. A worthy set of final videos from a visionary that will be remembered for years to come.
4. Danny Brown, Pneumonia (dir. Simon Cahn)
Few people are as gifted at the art of musical chaos as Danny Brown, as “Pneumonia” director Simon Cahn seems to have realized. Cahn sets one of the wildest songs of the year to an equally surreal video, switching between VHS footage of politicians (including Danny himself) and Brown being dragged, slammed and carried through the air by a set of chains (due to Danny’s other role in the video as a politician, it’s not hard to see the puppet imagery). In music videos, the most successful ones are the ones that can visually compliment the song best. “Pneumonia” is a perfect example of that sweet spot where audio and video play off each other impeccably.
3. Radiohead, “Daydreaming” (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
It probably wouldn’t be hard to guess that when Radiohead and Paul Thomas Anderson collaborated, the result would be fantastic. Anderson not only has been collaborating with Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood for nearly a decade now to phenomenal results every time, but this is a band who has perfected their craft working with a filmmaker who is just as much a master of his own field. But what surprised me is that Daydreaming is just as much one of the best videos of the year as it is a film school lesson. “Daydreaming” is a clinic in perfect pacing, as Anderson flawlessly builds tension as the song itself does using Thom Yorke and a series of doors and stairs. A must-see not only for fans of Radiohead, but for anyone looking to make movies in the future.
2. Frank Ocean, “Nikes” (dir. Tyrone Lebon)
Taking a look at the list of favourite films that Frank Ocean named in his Boys Don’t Cry magazine that came along with his newest record Blonde, it’s pretty obvious that the man is educated in the medium. “Nikes” is the result of that, a series of short, unrelated clips full of symbols and references to the song itself while also subtly recognizing films like American Beauty and Mulholland Dr. The selection of photographer Tyrone Lebon is an obvious choice for a piece like this, which completely favours composition over narrative or plot. Shot on grainy, textured film that gives a hazy quality to everything in the video, Lebon’s party clips flow with beautiful naturalism while its more quiet moments feel more quiet and intimate that most full-time feature filmmakers can accomplish. A gorgeous mood piece that is best viewed on a big screen in the dark.
watch the video at http://boysdontcry.co/
- ScHoolboy Q, “John Muir” (dir. Aplusfilmz)
“John Muir” is not just the best music video of the year. It may very well be one of the year’s best short films as well. The video tells the story of two young men who rob someone for their car, and chronicles the next 24 hours through a single camera attached to the side of the car. It’s essentially a silent film with “John Muir” as the soundtrack, and it is just as good without the music behind it. All of this can be traced back to the phenomenal direction from the filmmaking crew Aplus, who created a story more interesting, characters more gripping, and cinematography more innovative than 99% of the feature productions being released today. Seriously, someone give these guys $30 million and a studio. If “John Muir” is any indication, they’re a group of filmmakers capable of making magic.