Join us as we count down our top twenty films of 2015, selected by the Movie Marker team.
It’s been another blockbuster year for film, with record box-office takings and the release of several hugely anticipated films. We grouped together and chose our favourite films from the past year (Based on UK release dates) and averaged out the scores to finalise our Top 20 Films of 2015.
Let us know your favourites in the comments, if you agree, disagree with our choices and of course feel free to share the article!
20. Jurassic World
‘Jurassic World is not perfect, but will no doubt be a colossal crowd pleaser.’ The words of our reviewer Hayley Mackay certainly proved to be true as Jurassic World became (for a short time at least) the highest grossing film of the year and broke a number of global and domestic box-office records.
A sequel has already been confirmed for 2018 and judging by the success of the first film, it’s sure to be one of the most anticipated films over the next few years.
We have three reviews for you to choose from for Jurassic World
19. Clouds of Sils Maria
At 19, we have Clouds of Sils Maria in which a film star comes face-to-face with an uncomfortable reflection of herself whilst starring in a revival of the play that launched her career.
Boasting a strong female line-up consisting of Juliet Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace-Moretz, Clouds of Sils Maria was a great film that largely flew under the radar when it was released earlier this year.
Did you see ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’? You can contribute your review here
Wild hit UK screens in early January 2015, though it’s US release date meant that it had already been nominated for two Academy Awards – Best Performance by a Leading Actress for Reese Witherspoon and Best Supporting Actress for Laura Dern.
Based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100 mile journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, ‘Wild’ also launched Witherspoon’s production company and was extremely well received upon release.
17. Slow West
‘Slow West is one of the most complete movies of the year so far. In 84 minutes Maclean doesn’t waste one frame of the movie. Packed with great performances, witty humour and some bleak observations Slow West is the best western since True Grit.’
Those were the words of Liam Hoofe in his review for Slow West. Michael Fassbender starred alongside Kodi Smit-McPhee in John Maclean’s short but memorable Western.
When our reviewer Rohan Morbey watched Enemy earlier this year, he was full of praise and for all of us who saw the film, we found it hard to disagree with his view below
‘You must see Enemy if you love movies. You owe it to yourself to track down a cinema showing it, a download, or pre-order it online if the opportunity passes you by. I’ve seen it twice and have no doubt I’ll watch it again before the year is through because it really is that good. Trust me when I say a release which will stick in your mind as long as Enemy does is as likely as seeing meeting your exact double.’
15. Love and Mercy
The duelling narratives, the fantastic performances, the obviously stellar soundtrack and the subdued tone are all in service to the understanding of the psychology of Brian Wilson’s songs though and figuring out if we, as an audience, have enough depth to wander into the deep end with Wilson or if we are too shallow to understand. Granted, soaking in his layered and textured compositions can do nothing but make you appreciate the authentic genius that wrestles beneath the surface. Love & Mercy isn’t a great film because it hits monumental highs that solidify it as such, but it is great because it is fascinating throughout due to the fact it really understands its subject and therefore makes us feel we do too.
Following in the footsteps of the most successful Bond film of all time in ‘Skyfall’ was always going to be a tough task, yet when Sam Mendes decided to continue at the helm despite rumours that he was to step down as Director, Spectre certainly delivered on the expectations laid down by its predecessor.
The strength of Spectre was arguably in it’s casting, with Christoph Waltz delivering one of the best Bond Villain performances in years. Ralph Fiennes enjoyed more screen-time and the leading ladies were some of the strongest in Bond’s history with Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci and Naomie Harris.
13. The Martian
Matt Damon just can’t stop getting into trouble can he? If he’s not behind enemy lines he’s stuck on Mars…
Ridley Scott’s latest boasted a strong cast of Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean and a whole host of others and in true Scott fashion, he delivered a riveting experience, that according to the Golden Globes also doubles as a comedy…
Philip Price saw The Martian at this years Toronto Film Festival and you can read hgis review of The Martian here
12. Steve Jobs
When Danny Boyle directs a film, you tend to sit up and pay attention. Couple that with the writing of Aaron Sorkin and a few leading actors such as Kate Winslet and Michael Fassbender and you can’t really go wrong can you?
In the case of Steve Jobs, the answer was a resounding ‘No’. The biopic of the late Apple founder was as enthralling as it was enlightening.
Fassbender and Winslet were on top form as well as a surprisingly serious performance from Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak.
Xavier Dolan’s Mommy was one of 2015’s most well-received films, drawing praise from all corners.
Our reviewer Liam Hoofe had this to say of Mommy:
‘What Dolan has achieved with Mommy is nothing short of breath taking- his film is not one that panders to contrivance, or feels the need to wrap anything up in cotton wool; it is slice of life cinema at its most powerful and unforgiving. Featuring two brilliant central performances and a script that is full of both humour and sorrow Mommy is one of the best films released in the UK so far this year.’
The film also featured on Darryl Griffiths’ Best of 2015 List
10. Ex Machina
Coming in at number 10, Ex Machina was one of 2015’s more unique films. An intriguing concept mixed with some stand-out performances by the likes of Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander meant that Ex Machina received a four star review from us upon release.
9. Me and Earl and the dying girl
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was one of 2015’s most emotional and also most entertaining films. It had plenty of substance beneath it’s slightly hipster feel and the home-made movies featured within the film were a tribute to the creators and original authors love for film.
While ‘coming-of-age’ films are common, this film contained plenty of maturity and was remarkably accessible considering it was ultimately about a young girl dying. It’s cast both lead and supporting were all wonderful contributors to the final outcome and thanks to several heart-wrenching moments, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was one of 2015′ most memorable.
8. 45 Years
’45 Years is that rare thing – not just an instant classic of British cinema but a classic film full stop.’
For a film to be instantly referred to as a classic is a rare thing, not just from our writer Larry Oliver as quoted above, but across the board. Fans of British film were calling 45 Years the best British film for a decade and other superlatives, too many to mention.
But what made 45 Years so special? You’d have to watch it to make up your own mind – but read our review and hopefully that might give some insight as to why you should watch it.
Dennis Villeneuve has essentially mastered the crime-drama genre now and his latest film Sicario was no exception.
One of the most unnerving opening 10 minutes in the last decade paved the way for an enthralling and unnerving film that pulled no punches.
A lead role for the magnificent Emily Blunt was complimented perfectly by Benicio Del Toro’s faultless support. It was loud, it was fast and above all, it was the film we all hoped for.
The immeasurable magnitude of Todd Haynes’ latest is quite frankly remarkable. It is that rare film that feels timely and classic in equal measure; a Sirkian symphony that sweeps and swells. So exponentially wondrous is Carol that despite viewing a handful of fine films after, it remained firmly at the forefront of one’s deepest thoughts. Even now as this is typed, the progressive trance remains.
If Chris Haydon’s opening paragraph from his review of Carol doesn’t explain why it’s in our list – I don’t know what will!
Carol was one of 2015’s most wondrous cinematic experiences in no small part thanks to the wonderful performances of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
After debuting at the London Film Festival in October, Carol enjoyed a strong cinematic run and is likely to be among the front-runners for the Academy Awards next year in a number of categories. An honour which is most definitely deserves,
5. mad max: fury road
It’s been topping pretty much every Film of 2015 poll so far, but Mad Max: Fury Road comes in at a more than respectable fifth on our list.
When a reboot of the popular Mel Gibson-led series was announced, many people were sceptical. However was resulted was a cinematic experience unlike many other.
The sheer scale and feel of George Miller’s Fury Road was a spectacle to behold and with Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult all delivering exhilarating performances it was more an adrenaline shot to the heart than a film experience.
If only we could all have a semi-suspended, guitar player to accompany our own car journeys…
Whiplash, like Wild, is another film that seems an age ago. Also released in the UK following it’s Oscar nominations, Whiplash delivered an no-holds-barred film in an almost completely unique way.
Unlike Mad Max: Fury Road, the genius of Whiplash came in the form of Miles Teller and J.K Simmons. It was a heart-pounding, fist pumping music drama like no other before it.
Eventually taking home three Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Simmons and the Best Editing and Sound Mixing categories. Whiplash was near perfection.
3. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
It’s a good job we didn’t compile this list until AFTER The Force Awakens arrived as we would have all been holding our heads in our hands asking why!
Star Wars held so much nostalgia for almost every single film fan since A New Hope was released in 1977, that the task laid down to J.J Abrams and has cast and crew seemed an impossible one.
However, as the box-office would suggest, every man and his dog has seen The Force Awakens and likely more than once judging by the numbers.
The Force Awakens was Star Wars through and through, wiping clean the slate after the less-than-loved prequel trilogy. Abrams has mixed new and old seamlessly, with the original cast returning to hand the baton over to the new generation led by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley amongst others.
2. inside out
It’s becoming almost boring now that every Pixar film is wonderful right?
Inside Out was something special and judging by our writers end of year summary they all agreed. Inside Out captured that rarest of things – agreement amongst critics.
When you consider Inside Out is aimed at children, we have to go back to the Toy Story-effect. In that, a film aimed at children is so accessible to adults. It was certainly an interesting feeling when attending a press screening consisting of around 150 journalists aged 18 or above that so many sobs and so much laughter could be heard in the screening room.
It’s a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the teams at Pixar that each time a new film comes out it somehow improves on the previous one.
It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
The Movie Marker Film of 2015, as chosen by our contributors is…
It’s an honour many hope for, but few receive. Our film of 2015 is John Crowley’s ‘Brooklyn’
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent, Brooklyn was exhilarating and life-affirming in equal measure.
It’s hard to sum ‘Brooklyn’ up in a few words. So we will simply leave you with a few snippets of Chris Haydon’s review and hope that you too loved ‘Brooklyn’ as much as we here at Movie Marker did…
‘We hopelessly romanticise the notion of travel. Packing up, blowing kisses goodbye and embarking on a voyage of a lifetime; our odyssey of self-discovery and purpose. It is what renders us as human beings. With this in mind, one is struggling to recall an adventure quite as beautiful and spine-tinglingly brilliant as Saoirse Ronan’s in John Crowley’s exceptional adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn…
…There is a bespoke level of traditionalism that runs proudly through Brooklyn’s veins; like the era it so expertly replicates, this has all the hallmarks of a studio classic. Pure, honest, authentic. Rarely is screen entertainment this tentative and sincere. The lyricism of Ellis and Tony’s tender courtship is entirely reflective of Crowley’s precision touch, and screenwriter Nick Hornby’s revelatory translation…
…Much celebration must be directed towards casting director Fiona Weir who hides firmly in the background, but is wholly central to Crowley’s film. Even the slight walk-in characters like Tony’s wonderful family – spaghetti-slurping, baseball-praising, Irish-hating and all – are founded with just as much relevance and realism as our primary protagonists. The youngest brother across the expansive unit (played by James DiGaicomo) is a comedic delight; his work might be brief, but it’ll stay with you long after curtain call…
…Exhilarating and life-affirming in equal measure, Crowley’s adaptation is quite simply euphoric. Brooklyn is just like the kiss that takes your breath away.’