Obligatory end of year ‘best of’ alert!
So last year I did my top 20 films, but I’ve been proper rubbish with blogging this year so haven’t had chance to go into that much detail. As such, I’ll be keeping it to a top 10, which actually makes everything that bit tougher as I try and whittle them down.
As with last year, I’m including films that came out in the UK in 2015, even if they had a US release in 2014, and of course there are loads that I didn’t get round to seeing that may well have made the list, but that’s how it goes.
First, a few honorable mentions:
- The Gift
- Mr Holmes
- Me & Earl & The Dying Girl
- Crimson Peak
- The Martian
- The Walk
Without further ado…
Todd Hayne’s story of middle-aged Carol (Cate Blanchett) and her relationship with the younger Therese (Rooney Mara) is a lesson in nuance and subtlety. Just as much is conveyed in the touch of a hand or glance across the room as the entirety of lesser scripts. The cinematography is also a vital part of the machine, the whole 1950s’ aesthetic feeling like a hazy dream.
One from right at the start of 2015, Foxcatcher is a real slow-burner. However, even though it crawls along, the three central performances, particularly that of Steve Carell as the creepy-as-hell John Du Pont, are mesmerising. Not one you’ll watch often, but Foxcatcher knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat whilst also keeping everything low-key.
Few films this year have been as tense as Sicario. The story may have been frustratingly vague (purposely so), but a series of fantastic set-pieces had me holding my breath and the trio of Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro were all excellent.
It probably won’t show up on many people’s end of year lists but Everest really struck a chord with me. It might have been a little by the numbers and emotionally manipulative but few other films have left me thinking about them for days afterwards. Everest did.
Another from right at the start of the year. Birdman did the goods at the Oscars thanks to its clever one-shot formula, great cinematography, fantastic acting and layers upon layers of subtext. Some have taken against it, but it’s utterly bonkers and that’s why I think it’s brilliant.
5. Ex Machina
The subject of artificial intelligence in films isn’t a new one, but, for me, Ex Machina is one of the most original films of 2015. It’s science fiction but feels like it’s not too far away from being science fact and consequently is really quite creepy. Oscar Isaacs’ Nathan is suitably disturbing and Alicia Vikander’s AI Ava is the most human of any of the characters.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
Almost everyone’s biggest surprise of the year. Mad Max: Fury Road was spectacular in almost every way, from the bombastic visuals and effects to the fact that Max himself very much took a backseat to Charlize Theron’s Furiosa. I still maintain it’s a little light on story, but that doesn’t stop it being one of the year’s standout films.
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
And breathe. After all the hype and the waiting, it actually turned out to be really quite good. JJ Abrams had a gargantuan task on his hands but he played a blinder and made something that really felt like a Star Wars film. It did pay homage to (or downright copy) the original trilogy a little to much, and this bothered me more than it probably should, but it still made me grin from ear to ear throughout and that’s all I can ask it to do.
Breathless from start to finish. Whiplash is just a simply stunning piece of filmmaking. The sound, the acting, the editing, everything is just wonderful. Both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons go at it full throttle, with the last scene in particular a real assault on the senses.
1. Inside Out
Pixar are great, aren’t they? They rarely put a foot wrong, but with Inside Out they didn’t just make a fantastic film, but, as I explained in this post, an incredibly important one. The complexity of the themes on offer are ridiculous and will hopefully tap into a whole generation of young adults who are struggling with the emotions displayed in the film. A masterpiece.