And so another year comes to a close, and it’s been a great one for film. From solid dramas to compelling science fiction, to well-made biopics, dark comedies, animation, smart female comedy, blockbusters that were actually good, a few musicals, and some excellent local film, 2015 has had it all. The following list is obviously based on personal tastes, and may conflict with other movie lovers, so please just remember, this is only one opinion. Counting down from 30 we have:
30. LONDON ROAD
Tom Hardy in a musical was enough to hook me, although London Road was not quite your average musical. Based on the ‘verbatim theatre’ style stage show, the film takes real recordings of interviews with the residents of London Road following the Suffolk murders of five prostitutes and turns them into song. Not for everyone but damn original.
29. THE WALK
Joseph Gordon-Levitt walks between the twin towers in this awe-inspiring real life story of tightrope walker Philippe Petit. Made in a post 9/11 world the film is tinged with melancholy, but is also inspiring. If you’re afraid of heights, good luck.
28. THE GIFT
Joel Edgerton directs, writes, and stars in this thriller about a creepy stalker enacting his revenge after being tormented in high school. Reminiscent of 90s stalker thrillers, but better. The ending is nasty, but it strikes a chord.
27. MISTRESS AMERICA
I’ve decided I love Noah Baumbach. Here he teams up with partner and star, Greta Gerwig to poke fun at her own Gen Y, but it’s done in a light-hearted and endearing way. His movies are like warm hugs, as is Gerwig’s co-star Lola Kirke.
26. THE MARTIAN
MATT DAMON. Science fiction that is intelligent while still having mass appeal. No mean feat. It’s also pretty funny in parts, but the “Best Picture – Comedy” Golden Globe win was a bit of a rort.
25. FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWDWhereas the highly acclaimed BBC’s Pride and Prejudice miniseries made me want to bang my head against a brick wall, Carey Mulligan is just so damn likeable in this adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel. Her male co-stars are divine, and to my surprise the story was actually interesting and not pretentious wankery.
24. X + Y
Asa Butterfield plays a teenage maths whiz with Autism who competes in the International Mathematical Olympiad. With many important themes and terrific supporting performances from Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall, it is simply a beautiful film.
Amy Schumer wins at life. Here she delivers a hilarious screenplay and performance, and a particularly funny joke about tampons.
22. THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2
A fitting finale for the franchise which is far and above the most impressive franchise in the teenage dystopian future genre. Boasting a star-studded cast with Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman et al., it has a lot to say about the cost of rebellion, the thirst for power, and the terrifying impact of the media.
This is some effed up shit right here but Shakespeare can get away with anything. Justin Kurzel delivers the best film adaptation yet, and Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard can do no wrong. It looks incredible, the words of the Bard still resonate, and everyone dies so have fun.
20. PITCH PERFECT 2THEY’RE BACK, PITCHES! For those who love Anna Kendrick and her fellow Bellas, the sequel was a delight, full of laughs, tunes, and girl power.
19. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
My favourite Star Wars film of the lot, and not just because Oscar Isaac is in it. A fitting tribute to the original trilogy, it one-upped it by its improvement in gender and racial representation, and it was also frequently hilarious. J.J. Abrams wins.
18. JURASSIC WORLD
I LOVED IT. The Jurassic franchise is rebooted with gusto, and embraces the cheese of old school blockbusters. Chris Pratt is perfectly cast as the hero, and the dinosaurs will make you crap your pants. It’s unlikely the follow-up will have the same nostalgic effect, however, so it might be time to call it a day (but fat chance).
17. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
Apart from a disappointing joke at the end, this is a hilarious send-up of the spy genre full of surprises. It doesn’t shy away from violence, often to comedic effect. Think James Bond + Shaun of the Dead.
16. WHILE WE’RE YOUNG
Noah Baumbach offers up another take on generational differences and questions the false honesty of artists. He loves to take the piss but he does it so damn nicely. The soundtrack is fab and the performances spot on.
15. THE LAST FIVE YEARS
Some of the direction is awkward and clearly this is a very personal choice because of my affinity for musicals. But HAVE YOU HEARD THE MUSIC OF JASON ROBERT BROWN? Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan are A-grade and deliver this beautiful musical with class. The score is everything.
14. THE LOBSTER
The clear winner of “weirdest film of the year”. Just see it. Unless you avoid films where dogs die.
The acting in this is something else. Steve Carell is like you’ve never seen him before, and Mark Ruffalo is simply exquisite. It will be too slow-moving for some, and you’ll feel depressed when you leave. But GOD it’s a remarkably well-made film from Bennett Miller.
I thought this would be higher but it lost a lot for me on second viewing. Nevertheless this is ground-breaking cinema, particularly due to the way it’s shot, and the performances are top-notch. It’s also set on THE BROADWAY.
11. INSIDE OUT
This is the one I agonised over being in my top 10, and it just missed out. But this is no doubt the best animated film of the year, and arguably Pixar’s best yet. Kids will probably learn to value this more as they grow up and it may be parents who gain the biggest lesson from it. Both times I watched this I cried in the bit with Bing Bong… you know the one. OH GOD. THE FEELS.
10. THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
One of the best biopics I have seen in some time. It managed to tell Stephen Hawking’s story in a way that was moving, consistently interesting, and without the wankery you might expect from this sort of British film. Eddie Redmayne deserved his Oscar for this in what is an exceptional performance.
9. INFINITELY POLAR BEAR
This is probably the most controversial choice for a top 10 spot but it was just so damn beautiful. Mark Ruffalo gave the performance of his career thus far as a father with Bipolar disorder raising his two daughters in Boston while their mother pursues a career in New York. Based on the experiences of director and writer Maya Forbes, it portrays a genuine account of living with a parent with mental illness, as well as acting as a love letter to Forbes’ father.
8. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
This put all other action movies to shame. George Miller is a freakin genius and this deserves so many accolades for its technical aspects. Fury Road is a ride and a half and puts a powerful female figure at its centre (even if it still called Mad Max).
7. WILD TALES
The most seen Argentinian film of all time, this collection of seven short films is necessary viewing if you like your comedy black. All containing the theme of revenge, it is simply delicious stuff.
6. INTO THE WOODS
As a musical fan, I was excited for this for a long time and it did not disappoint. All musical lovers will appreciate this gorgeous adaptation of Sondheim’s fairy tale with a twist. Rob Marshall (Chicago) can make as many more movie musicals as he likes as far as I’m concerned.
5. LOVE & MERCY
It is a near crime that Paul Dano did not get an Oscar nomination for his performance as Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys) in this film. Dano and John Cusack play Wilson at two different stages in his life in a biopic done differently. His genius is on full display, as well as the adverse experiences he was subjected to. It’s a wonder he survived it and this is inspiring stuff.
4. EX MACHINA
Artificial intelligence is going to kill us all. Although if it comes in the form of Alicia Vikander I can live with that. GOD I LOVE HER. Ex Machina asks the big questions and doesn’t mess around. It also contains the best disco scene ever seen on film.
One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, Asif Kapadia compiles archival footage and images, and combines this with audio interviews and written lyrics. It’s a tragic story of a tormented artistic genius. Depressing but well worth it. If you love to tear down celebrities like Amy Winehouse give this a watch and I dare you to still be that dickhead.
It’s better to see this without knowing much about it. Directed and written by Australian Ariel Kleiman and starring the brilliant Vincent Cassel, this is extraordinary stuff, especially in regards to the values we teach our children. GET ON IT.
1. HOLDING THE MAN
The best film of the year is Australian. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES? Neil Armfield delivers perfection in his adaptation of Timothy Congrave’s memoir, and Ryan Corr and Craig Armstrong are flawless. If you’re not sure about seeing a film about a gay relationship, stop being a homophobic dick. If you’re in, make sure you have about seven boxes of tissues with you and you’ll be set.
Fingers crossed for another good year in film in 2016!