10 best films of 2015

10 Best Films Of 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

The results are in: we run down our favourites from a very fine year in film

Hyped as the year that would smash box office records before a single movie had even opened, 2015 set itself a high bar from the off. But, looking beyond the money-makers, what really made our team of critics swoon?

That films of the calibre of Amy, 45 Years, The Duke of Burgundy and Inherent Vice hovered just outside our countdown gives an indication of just what it took this year to be a serious contender. Featuring effervescent animation, turbo-charged fantasy, forbidden love, domestic disputes and so much more, our list is testament to the enduring power and creativity of cinema as an art-form.

10. Force Majeure
Boasting the year’s best premise and a fittingly precise execution, Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund takes an unflinching and blackly comic look at the human condition as a husband’s cowardice in the face of danger sours his marriage. One to debate for hours afterwards.
(read our review)

9. Macbeth
Justin Kurzel’s astonishingly confident, beautifully brutal take on ‘the Scottish play’ renders the oft-told, 400-year-old tale fresh and exciting, while the great Michael Fassbender makes for an unimprovable protagonist in another fiercely committed performance.
(read our review)

8. Inside Out
This perfectly judged, serially delightful and ideas-rich Pixar animation is a film whose visual ingenuity is matched by its big heart and ridiculous smarts. As we meet the adorable and chaotic critters charged with keeping a young girl on track, you’ll laugh and, oh yes, you’ll cry.
(read our review)

7. It Follows
From the sweet to the hair-raisingly sinister, David Robert Mitchell’s atmospheric and conceptually fascinating horror channelled Halloween and others as it gave us a sexually transmitted haunting. Maika Monroe (The Guest) heads up the likeable cast, who play characters that you actually want to see survive.
(read our review)

6. Mommy
From the obscenely talented French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan comes a domestic drama unlike any other, which introduces us to a wildly tumultuous mother and son and their tongue-tied neighbour. Just 25 when he made it, Dolan’s fifth film (they’re all terrific) picked up nine prizes at Canada’s equivalent of the Academy Awards and dozens others elsewhere – making his future blindingly bright.
(read our review)

5. Birdman
Despite its starry cast, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s surreal and acerbic ‘single shot’ comedy was an amazingly left-field choice for 2015’s Best Picture Oscar. Exploring superhero culture, stardom, mental breakdown and artistic ambition, it finds a former Hollywood star mentally spiralling on the set of a Broadway play and rebooted the career of the ace Michael Keaton.
(read our review)

4. Selma
Undaunted by the significance of the subject matter, director Ava DuVernay crafts the story of the Selma civil rights marches into something impeccably considered and resoundingly powerful, bringing Martin Luther King (a brilliant David Oyelowo) carefully down from his pedestal to show the human being behind the stirring speeches, as well as the toll of being a leader.
(read our review)

3. Whiplash
This story of musical mentorship came at audiences like an angry bat, so intense and aggressive is JK Simmons’ performance and Damien Chazelle’s fast and furious direction. Miles Teller is great too as the young drummer on the receiving end of Simmons’, ahem, wisdom and Tom Cross’ rhythmic editing is to die for.
(read our review)

2. Carol
Hands down the most woozily romantic film of the year, Carol is the immaculately coiffured lovechild of Todd Haynes. Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, it swings masterfully between pain and pleasure as two very different women (irresistibly inhabited by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) find themselves falling in love in a rather intolerant time.
(read our review)

1. Mad Max: Fury Road
He only went and did it. 30 years after the last film in the series, Beyond Thunderdome, George Miller brought Max back (in the form of Tom Hardy) and then sidelined him in favour of the even more compelling Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Feminist, relentless, hugely cinematic and mad as hell, it came together superbly, and makes for a thoroughly deserving, wonderfully wacko winner of our poll.
(read our review)