Well, as another year in cinema comes to a close, it’s once again to throw my list making two cents in to the hat and present you with my top ten movies of the year. It really feels as though 2015 has been a mega year for movies, with the return of some much loved franchises and returns to form of certain animation studios to name just a few highlights. As always, my list is based on UK cinema release dates, so with no further ado and in a loose order, here are Oh! That Film Blog’s top ten films of 2015.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Let’s be real, as long as the film was even half decent, The Force Awakens was always going to be my favourite film of the year. J.J. Abrams gave me everything I wanted and more in this new episode, breathing some much needed life and much needed quality back in to the Star Wars franchise and making me feel like a wonderstruck eight year old watching A New Hope all over again. Roll on Episode VIII!
2. A Most Violent Year
It’s clearly been a great year for Oscar Isaac, as he’s starred in not only my first but also my second favourite film of the year! A Most Violent Year took me by surprise with it’s seductive, ominous tone, a film that possesses all the weight of a classic gangster film but that steers in refreshing and captivatingly different directions. Jessica Chastain delivers in what I felt to be one of the best performances of the year, a performance that was unjustly ignored during awards season.
3. The Falling
The Falling was a captivating cinematic experience, a film that felt like a a combination of all of the best elements of both The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie and 2009’s Cracks starring Eva Green. I tend to find myself drawn to the sinister themes that always seem to arise from narratives centred around boarding schools and same sex schools, and the sizzling claustrophobia of the setting mixed with the gritty coming of age content made for a truly memorable film that stays with you for days.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
Much like Star Wars, the Mad Max franchise was a film series that had lost it’s way slightly in it’s last outing, but this was more than put right in 2015 with the release of Fury Road, a movie that gave me one of the most exhilerating cinematic experiences I have ever had. The sheer pace, chaos, spectacle and well, madness, of the picture left me speechless, I can honestly say that I have never, and may never again, seen anything like it.
I sometimes think that generations of culture consumers do not realise the icons among them until they have had the benefit of time and hindsight. This year’s documentary about the rise and tragic fall of singer Amy Winehouse put that in to perspective for the audience, showcasing her once in a generation talent alongside the fatal demon of addiction and the ambivalence of the public as this real life tragedy was taking place. The film manages to capture the brilliance of the artist whilst at the same time highlighting painful trigger points and failed opportunities for the story to have taken a different turn.
6. The Martian
The Martian was something of an unexpected joy for me, I went in prepared for another heavy space adventure akin to Interstellar or Gravity, but instead what I got was a decidedly light, witty science fiction film that relied on sharp dialogue and innovative ideas instead of grand set pieces and well worn genre tropes.
7. White Bird In A Blizzard
White Bird In A Blizzard was another film that flew completely under the radar this year, in the UK, at least. The tense and intriguing drama about a teenage girl whose temperamental mother suddenly goes missing took me on a really captivating ride, and a typically enigmatic performance by Eva Green as said missing mother was worth the price of admission alone. This one is highly recommended for anybody who likes a good plot twisty nail biter and a good set of talented cast members.
Dope is a film that very much panders to the generation of adults who crave nostalgia, and it just so happens that I am one such nostalgia craving adult! This fun comedy drama about a group of friends who have a particularly eventful couple of days around their neighbourhood offers more substance that you might think, with a heavy dose of eighties and nineties cultural influence combined with a universal coming of age type narrative about finding your own place in the world.
9. Inside Out
Who would have though that arguably one of the most intellectually challenging and satisfying films of the year would be a cartoon? Of course, no Pixar movie is every simply a ‘cartoon’, but the powerhouse animation studio really did reach another level in 2015 with Inside Out, a film with a premise that seemed almost impossible to visualise for an audience, but that hit a home run so sweet and long that it is still playing in some theatres right now! With such psychological and introspective thematic content, this really felt like Pixar’s most ‘adult’ film to date, and it makes me appreciate that they are sticking by their fans who were five when Toy Story came out but are twenty-five today!
It feels like an absolute age ago that Whiplash was picking up awards and plaudits on it’s way to Oscar glory for it’s supporting star J.K. Simmons, but UK audiences were delivered the film in early 2015 and for that reason it just squeaks on to my top ten list. Though I haven’t seen it since January, I can still vividly remember the unbearable tension and the nail biting confrontation that the film’s leading characters created, and though the picture was small in scale, it serves as a perfect example of how to create atmosphere and immediate menace and dread out of an everyday situation, in this case, a music teacher/student relationship.