I honestly wasn’t going to do this, due to the closure of some outlets I had been writing for I’ve been going to very few press screenings over the last year. The day job also went into overdrive in late summer meaning I didn’t do the 2015 London Film Festival (apart from one film, which still made the list!) Consequently my viewing has been pretty mainstream and more limited than in previous years. There are going to be few surprises in this list, and a shameful dearth of non-english language cinema. I am so sorry.
I haven’t remotely seen enough to make any claim for this selection to be the best of the year, but it still represents a pretty great selection of films in my opinion, with a good number of pure blooded British films in there which is heartening. You will hear a lot of people saying 2015 has been a poor year for film. I’m not going to mince words. That is complete bollocks.
I’ve had no problem fashioning a personal top ten and can only point to one film i’ve seen this year at the cinema that I thought was legitimately terrible (since you ask Jupiter Ascending. Although had Blackhat not been yanked from my local screen after three days it would have been two legitimately terrible films).
In fact I had to cut a number of very good films including:
Mississippi Grind – a very fine low key character drama with terrific performances from Ben Mendelssohn and Ryan Reynolds (review)
Crimson Peak – Guillermo Del Toro’s lush gothic romance was ripened to the point of fermentation, but was a rich and heady brew
The Walk – pretty much the only film in 2015 to justify being seen in 3D (review)
Star Wars episode VII: The Force Awakens – I loved it, it made me feel seven years old again
Spy – 2015 has been a year where the spy movie has been more ubiquitous than even comic book adaptations. I never would have expected this Melissa McCarthy spoof to be the best one, but it was (review)
Creep – this actually did the genre festival rounds in 2014, but only released straight to Netflix this year. Ultra low budget and found footage it may be, but Patrick Brice’s horror comedy was genuinely unsettling and disturbing whilst being simultaneously very funny indeed (review)
So on to the list. Drumroll. In reverse order…
10. Steve Jobs
Thrilling writing from Aaron Sorkin, brilliantly directed by Danny Boyle, and Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs delivered my favourite male lead performance of the year.
9. Inherent Vice
PT Anderson’s stoner noir had more twists than a box of lubed up vipers. Complaints of narrative incoherence are irrelevant (if you can recount for me the plot of Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake without the help of the Cliff Notes I will recant), the film was messy and rambling, but had a shaggy dog charm and a terrific mood.
8. The Invitation
Seen at the London Film Festival, Karyn Kusama’s tense thriller was a buffet of anxiety stuffed canapés.
7. London Road
A kitchen sink musical drama documentary about a real life series of serial murders sounds like a terrible idea for a movie, but this adaptation of a celebrated National Theatre production was thrilling. Sadly ignored in the Awards season, this was a British oddity that should have been more celebrated.
6. It Follows
The horror film of 2015, made me squeal with terror at the press screening.
Lenny Abrahamsson’s film of Emma Donoghue’s novel about a teenage girl abducted, locked in a cell, and forced into a life of sexual slavery sounds like a movie that will ruin your day. In fact, it is one of the most transcendent films you will ever see. Released in the new year, proceed directly to the box office, do not pass the trailer which shamefully spoils the whole film.
Review coming soon
The opening ten minutes of Sicario had more authentic horror than an entire year’s worth of genre movies. A brilliantly made thriller about the Mexican drug trade encroaching on American soil, this was the movie I wished Michael Mann had made in 2015. It wasn’t though. It was from Denis Villeneuve. The Bridge of America sequence is among the tensest scenes in any film this year.
It is really hard to make a film as essentially ‘nice’ as Brooklyn, and make it so compelling. Having Saoirse Ronan star definitely helps.
Beautiful, chilled, poised, impeccably dressed. Todd Hayne’s Carol isn’t just one of the best of this year. It is genuinely one for the ages.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
What can I say, I’ve seen it four times now and George Miller’s return to the apocalyptic wasteland left everything else claiming to be an action film in 2015 choking on exhaust fumes.
Discovery of the year: The Plague Dogs
Watched off Amazon streaming from a pan and scan version that looked like a fifth generation VHS copy, this 1982 animation from the same director as Watershed Down (both adapted from Richard Adams novels) destroyed me. The story of two dogs who escape from a Government animal research laboratory and attempt to live on the barren moors of Northern England with the occasional help of a guileful fox is incredibly powerful. Brilliant voice cast that includes John Hurt, James Bolam, Nigel Hawthorne, and Warren Mitchell. Somebody please scrub this up for a blu ray release.