Films of the Year 2015
2015 has been one heck of a year for the pictures
We found ourselves awash with treats from all corners of the planet. There was a brilliant Thomas Pynchon adaptation, a reboot of an Aussie cult classic and a fantastic Swedish existential comedy. Not a bad spread for a year that’s been culturally soiled with the likes of Donald Trump and a particularly nasty Jeremy Clarkson.
We’ve compiled this list to remind you of the best films we reviewed in 2015 and just before you sit down with your quill and get all Points of View on us – don’t. We know that some of these movies premiered 2014 but we didn’t get a chance to review them until 2015 so just relax with your cuppa and recall with us the cinematic year that has been.
The LobsterDir: Yorgan Lanthimos
Rather than simply experiencing change through futuristic architecture, this film strove to imagine what our emotional states would be like in dystopia, wallowing in the misery of primordial urges being suppressed by a bourgeoisie metropolis. Chuck in Dogtooth director Lanthimos’ surreal gamification of middle class conventions, a talented cast, and some off-colour jokes to offset the absurdity – we were always going to like it.
Mad Max: Fury RoadDir: George Miller
George Miller succeeded in delivering the best action film of the year whilst simultaneously giving the whole concept of the reboot a much need kick up the arse. Keeping the wholesome punk simplicity of the original and avoiding the ingenuous feel of the sequels, it was beautiful carnage that didn’t stop, even for one second, to explain itself.
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On ExistenceDir: Roy Anderson
A Pigeon… revels in its own bleak comedy, embroiling its audience in a topsy-turvy world that’s equal parts totally absurd and mundane, hopping liberally from 18th century armies to poky high-rise flats and hyper-modern animal testing labs.
In some ways, this is the ultimate art-house film. It’s confusing, strange and esoteric. But this shouldn’t be mistaken for being pretentious. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Rather than giving the impression that he ‘gets it’ and you don’t, director Roy Andersson is trying to say that nobody gets it and that, in fact, we’re all as confused as each other. You may not find you leave the cinema any the wiser about being a human being, but that’s probably the point.
Mistress AmericaDir: Noah Baumbach
Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s wistful ode to New York was as awesome as it was unrefined. Filmed on location and unrehearsed, it brought out a playful but honest depiction of what happens when millennials fail to get their shit together, and Greta Gerwig nails it with her performance of someone who definitely hasn’t. It’s got a great original soundtrack from none other than Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips to boot.
SelmaDir: Ava DuVernay
Selma is beautifully told by director Ava DuVernay. With her background in documentary film, she’s allowed space for her actors to inhabit the series of events centred around the titular Alabaman town in 1965, which is authentically envisioned by the costume and production design. David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Martin Luther King is masterful, and writer Paul Webb invigorates this period of the Civil Rights Movement by imbuing a potent sense of paranoia.
Selma is also balanced, highlighting King’s unethical methods of attracting media attention and emphasising a real humanity to his sacrifice, rather than surface-level martyrdom and a mere pastiche of his legacy.
Inherent ViceDir: Paul Thomas Anderson
Capturing the cultural come down after the summer of ‘69, PTA adapts to screen Thomas Pynchon’s novel in a druggy haze of narrative ambiguity.
Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin are superb as the antithesis of each other’s philosophies, producing a crime caper that ended on a perfect release of film-long, pent-up tensions. You dig?
AmyDir: Asif Kapadia
This documentary, celebrating the lost genius of Amy Winehouse, delved ever deeper into her, and the public’s, psyche.
By seeking his film’s story not through rose-tinted nostalgia, but by confronting the brutal truth of paparazzi stalkers and heroin abuse, director Asif Kapadia might have finally provided us with an insight into Amy Winehouse’s life that the gossip columns couldn’t. But instead of catharsis, it left an ugly reflection of the public’s celebrity obsession.
Wild TalesDir: Damian Szfron
This ‘fuck you’ to acting civil in the face of first world problems was a lot of fun. The melee of psychotic violent revenge fantasies were utterly satisfying and alarmingly relatable.
With the comedy pitched as dark as it gets, Wild Tales simultaneously looked to undermine modern life whilst begrudgingly entertaining the fact that there’s just no escaping it.
The Look Of SilenceDir: Joshua Oppenheimer
The sheer respect shown in Oppenheimer’s second examination of the unconsoled humanitarian crimes of Indonesia in the 60s warranted its accolades. The Look Of Silence follows on from 2012’s The Act Of Killing, and continues to unravel decades of grief through film.
The film’s bravery on taking on such a horrific subject resulted in shockwaves across the global community and left the bitter taste of evil and injustice firmly in our mouths.
Ex MachinaDir: Alex Garland
Ex Machina has has the class of British films of old. It’s a quaint and understated time capsule of the phobias we’re confronted with today – a rich, rounded movie that captures the zeitgeist without wavering away from its own intellectual agenda.
It looks amazing too: the landscape that stages the characters’ triad of mistrust is all cold, clean edges; . With time, Ex Machina will surely earn its place in the pantheon, but for now, it’ll just have to settle for being our favourite film of 2015.