Okay, so we’re doing this. And if we’re doing this, then we need to lay out some ground rules.
Firstly, these are all going to be films that I’ve actually seen. Which was a little limiting, when I got down to it. Apparently a number of the films I quite liked this year were actually not films this year. Who knew?
Anyway, the second rule is that these are the films I most enjoyed. Which is a polite way of saying that it’s my list, and I’m choosing the films.
Other than that, enjoy and feel free to
be wrong disagree in the comments.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service – Essentially, the spy movie genre gets the Kick Ass treatment. The trailer didn’t look too promising, but the actual film managed to be just over the top enough to work. And it features a stonking action scene (The one in the church -Ed) which mixes over-the-top violence with a sense of madcap fun. Absurdly watchable stuff.
- Ex Machina – 2015 has been a good year for haunting SF, and this is one of the leaders. An exploration of AI, and the moralities of humans and machines. With a particularly inspired dance scene that has to be seen to be believed, and only underscores how unsettling this film is.
- Ant-Man – Because films can be fun, damnit! Indeed, a film with Paul Rudd can hardly not be. Once again Marvel prove that their lesser known material can, as with Guardians of the Galaxy, be solid gold.
5. Crimson Peak
I do love a Guillermo Del Torro film. Particularly when he delves into horror. Pan’s Labyrinth, the Hellboy films, Mama, they all have a special place in my heart. Partly it’s his eye for a story, and partly it’s his sense of atmosphere and design.
This was a gothic romp, with fantastic attention to both the genre and to the setting. Not to mention that I’ve yet to see Jessica Chastain be less than fantastic in anything. But here it was the design, very definitely, that stole the show. From the elaborate costuming, to the dilapidated house, to the brilliant, juddering rendering of the ghosts creeping around the place.
4. It Follows
The opening sequence of It Follows marks this film out as something different. Something atmospheric, tense, and well thought out. Ultimately this is a film both about coming of age and dealing with mortality, and the sexually transmitted curse at the centre of it is far more complexly delivered than it would be in a lesser horror film.
But more than that, the soundtrack, the framing, all of it conspires to deliver a deeply unsettling experience. It Follows comes out of nowhere to be a really effective horror film, and one of my favourites of the year.
3. The Martian
My general stance on The Martian is that if you’re a fan of the webcomic xkcd (Which everyone should be -Ed), then you’ll like this film.
It’s a film where Matt Damon is stuck on Mars, and has to science his way out of it. That’s the long and the short of it, but somehow doesn’t capture the essence of just how moving it is. What’s more, it’s actually an ensemble piece, which does a remarkable job of portraying how much of a team NASA is, and just how many people’s work goes into it. (Plus, it’s the second film on this list to feature Jessica Chastain -Ed).
And as well as being a brilliant story, in the year that Tim Peake became the first Brit on the ISS, anything that made people dream of space exploration is a good thing.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
So, this was a surprise.
Honestly, the original Mad Max films passed me by a little. But I quite like post-apocalyptic films. And I quite like Tom Hardy. And I quite like Charlize Theron.
I was not, however, prepared for this. 120 minutes of non-stop action romp, with enough characterisation tacked onto it to make it feel like an actual titan of a story, and with Furiosa being hands down one of my favourite characters of the year. This is a film built on spectacle, something which has to be seen to be fully believed. A non-stop, high-octane action film which happens to be one of the best films 2015 produced.
Who’da thunk it?
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Well, what else?
Okay, so I’m still high on having seen it (Twice -Ed) recently, and on it actually meeting the level of anticipation that I had for it. But that’s sort of the point. The bar was very high, and The Force Awakens managed to meet that bar.
It was fun, it was moving, it was funny (The funniest of all of the Star Wars films -Ed), and it felt like Star Wars again. It was overly fond, at times, of nodding to the original trilogy, and it took a very JJ Abrams approach to the science aspect of science-fiction.
But that doesn’t matter. From the moment I saw “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” until the credits rolled I was grinning like the seven year old kid who watched the original Star Wars for the first time. The Force Awakens was the film which thrilled me, entertained me, and made me feel like an excited little kid again.
And that’s why it’s the best film of the year.