Movies of the Year 2015

Not the best year of cinema I can recall with a lot of critically favoured films either too slow for my taste (Clouds of Sils Maria, The Duke of Burgundy) or too frenzied (Mad Max: Fury Road).

I still had some good times in front of the silver screen mind you.

Amy

Amy

Asif Kapadia created the superb documentary Senna a few years back and he employs a similar formula here, documenting the untimely passing of another incredible talent wracked by self-destructive urges. As with his previous film he overlays a wealth of found footage with audio-only interviews. The result is shattering.

Force Majeure

Force Majeure

By far the most beautiful movie made this year, Force Majeure spotlights the slow destruction of a marriage after a brush with terror exposes the perfect husband as the perfect coward.

Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation

I thoroughly enjoyed Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre yet found myself wondering how on earth a half-Japanese, half-Swedish director found himself shooting a movie that moved between Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico.

He’s gone one better with Beasts of No Nation, set as it is, in an unnamed West African country sundered by civil war. The same care he previously took with Central American refugees is here focussed on a band of terrifying child soldiers, forced to debase themselves before Idris Elba’s venal yet charismatic warlord.

Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to finish a Thomas Pynchon book so I’m in PT Anderson’s debt for making this adaptation so thoroughly enjoyable. The plot is as hackneyed as you can get: private eye looking for a missing person but it’s the setting (a dope-addled California, just after the Manson Family killings) and the characters (too many to mention but a ridiculous/straight arrow/weird/violent Josh Brolin leads the pack) that make the picture. A future cult classic.

Inherent Vice

Inside Out

I know Pixar have a reputation for masking adult themes and adult jokes (there is a fab one here about San Francisco’s gay scenes) in animated films aimed ostensibly at kids but boy, they have raised the bar with Inside Out. When two of the crucial emotions inside the brain of a twelve year old girl go ‘missing’ we witness no less than that mental breakdown of a child both from within and without.

This is profound stuff folks, a must watch.

Catch Me Daddy

Catch Me Daddy

This took a while to get going but when it did…wow.

A far better chase than the one that consumed Max and Furiosa this summer, Catch Me Daddy saw a some time competing and some time collaborating team of hard men traversing the bleakness of West Yorkshire to locate a young Pakistani girl who’s shamed her father by running off with her white boyfriend. Expertly played, this cuts deep, not least in the last five terrifying minutes.

The Martian

The Martian

Just how many billions of dollars has the US government spent bringing Matt Damon home? Saving Private Ryan saw an entire American army platoon sent to save him, last year’s Interstellar sent spaceships to distant planets to force an extraction and now The Martian sees three space agencies almost bankrupt themselves to get the lad back to earth.

Well worth it in this case: the landscapes look beautiful, the science is cool and he is funny as hell.

It Follows

It Follows
What would happen if vengeful wrath was transferred like a sexual disease and once it had you in its sights it never, ever gave up?

This is a perfect horror picture: one where the gore is kept to a minimum and the dread is amped to the max with slow camera pans and creepy music. You’ll never leave a door open again after watching this.

Predestination

Predestination

I do love a well-made time-looping mind-bender and Predestination is up there with the best of them. I could think of little else in the days following the time I saw it. There is a flaw or two (inevitable when dealing with time travel) and the central conceit may have been pinched from Red Dwarf but this was a hell of a lot of fun.

Blind

Blind
A young woman suddenly goes blind and finds herself trapped indoors, scared to go back out into the world. Indeed the world seems to turn against her: her neighbour betrays her and her husband cheats on her, or perhaps that is not really happening at all. As she sinks deeper into introspective isolation she begins to invent stories and fantasies that become ever more complicated. What initially seems like a simple movie reveals itself to be immensely clever the longer it goes on.


Enjoyable Rubbish

  • Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • Mad Max: Fury Road