We find the UK’s top ten films of 2015…
Before we start throwing ourselves into the new year and all the films it will bring we thought it would be good to put last year to bed by looking back and choosing our top ten films that opened in UK cinemas over the last twelve months. This was a pretty difficult list to make as we think 2015 was one of the very best years for film in a long time; it gave us treasures such as Love and Mercy, Brooklyn, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and The Falling which we all highlights and yet despite that are all on our final rejection list because of just how strong the competition was. So, twelve months of watching films, hours of shortlisiting and one final headache inducing ordering session have all boiled down to this… here are Mr Rumsey’s top ten films of 2015:
Honourable Mention: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This list wouldn’t be complete without an honourable mention for this cinematic treat. The Force Awakens blew our doubts and fears away which have been lingering ever since we first sat down to watch The Phantom Menace. It was one of the most thrilling and joyous cinematic experiences of the year and only doesn’t make it onto this list due to its disappointingly executed plot. Still, this was a lot of fun and somehow recreated what we all thought was lost – the magic and sense of awe in the Star Wars universe.
10: Ex Machina
Robotics meet Bluebeard in this tale of a programmer brought to a retreat in order to help test the most exciting scientific advance in decades, the creation of the first fully functioning AI. Whereas the movie could so easily just feel like a retread of similar films and themes it instead imbues them with a sense of freshness; adding a fairytale element alongside real emotional heft makes this an inquisitive and bold take on a science fiction staple.
What a fiery, earth shaking interpretation of Macbeth this was. We loved the intensity with which the actors delivered their lines and how the blood-soaked bleakly beautiful visuals were woven together with a streamlined narrative of the bard’s best known play. It’s long lasting effect in the months following its release was to etch a madness inducing fever dream into our memories and whilst it may not be the most comprehensive version of Shakespeare’s tale ever produced for the big screen, it’s easily one of the most memorable and affecting.
One of the big surprises of the year was this cinematic gem. This Bedouin western set in the Ottoman region during World War I tells the story of a young boy who is forced to adapt to a changing and volatile world when his brother accompanies a British officer on a secret journey across the desert. It’s an intelligent piece of writing that’s a real joy to watch.
7. The Lobster
One of my absolute favourites of the year was this dark and witty portrait of relationships by Yorgos Lanthimos in which single people are so detested by society that they are rounded up, put in a special hotel and given a set period of time in which to partner up. If they fail they are turned into an animal of their choice and released into the wild. It’s a hillarious and often bonkers film and it is likely to only improve upon each future viewing.
A note perfect, exquisitely acted and beautifully filmed adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel by Todd Haynes. It’s achingly romantic, honest, funny and complex. With nothing about this lesbian love story reduced or made simple for the big screen Carol succeeds as both an intelligent adaptation and also a riveting piece of cinema in its own right.
5. It Follows
The horror hit of 2015 is It Follows. Surprisingly high on our list it comes in at fifth place due to its inspired storyline, the nerve shattering tension it builds and its central breakout performance by Maika Monroe. The film holds a lot of answers back and yet the film benefits from this approach, keeping its story of a particular type of haunting simplistic in order to scare you whilst then letting you stew over its narrative points and possibilities with a group of friends once the lights are up. One of several films on this list which far exceeded expectations.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
Talking of surprises Mad Max: Fury Road was a movie we all wanted to be great, we just had no idea how great it was going to be until we sat down in our cinema seats. A full-frontal assault on the sense, this may just about be the purest action movie ever made. It hits the pedal to the floor as soon as it starts and just rams you with and adrenaline soaked rush from beginning to end. What’s truly remarkable is how it manages to weave strong and compelling characters into the mayhem so that you have both the most intense action movie of the decade combined with one of the most impactful.
3. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Sticking with our theme of surprise hits of the year, this Iranian vampiric spaghetti western crept up on everybody and then wowed us with its undeniably cool mix of genre blending, stylised visuals and stunning music. The top three films of the year were extremely difficult to order at for a while this held the top spot, it’s a thrilling piece of art and one to be cherished.
2. The Duke of Burgundy
Pipping A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night to the second place post though was The Duke of Burgundy. This tale of sadomasochism between two women is in fact one of the most beautiful love stories we have seen in years. With its hugely evocative artistry, sensuality and beauty this is filmmaking at its very finest and richest. This is a film which was sadly overlooked this year (perhaps due to being released at the same time as Fifty Shades of Grey) and yet it demands to be seen. A real masterpiece and one which sits amongst the very best of the last fifteen years.
And in first place we have Whiplash. What an brilliant piece of filmmaking this was… we weren’t gripped by its intensity so much as we were trapped by it, unable to look away as the sadistic instructor beat his drumming pupil (both verbally and literally) into shape. It’s hard to make a film about a musician riveting, particularly if it isn’t a biopic and especially if that musician is in fact a drummer. Still though Damien Chazelle pulled it off and we can only marvel at the job he did here; smart editing, some hugely impressive performances and a riveting display of devotion and anger make this the most exciting film of 2015.
So, how did we do? Are you shaking your fist at the screen at films we left off our list? Do you in fact agree with our choices? Whatever you’re thinking drop your thoughts off in the comment box below, we want to hear them!