It was a pretty decent year for film. Here, in order of release rather than stature, are our favourite movies of 2015.
Birdman – Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu
This effortlessly quirky film was really all about live theatre and the essential differences between the two disciplines. Michael Keaton dazzled in the lead role and was brilliantly supported by a stellar cast. It was all ingeniously edited to look like one continuous tracking shot.
The Theory of Everything – Director: James Marsh
A superb biopic of Professor Stephen Hawking featuring stunning central performances from Eddie Redmayne, and Felicity Jones as his long-suffering wife. It managed to be genuinely tear-jerking but never strayed into sentimentality. A hard tightrope to walk, but accomplished with ease.
Whiplash – Director: Damien Chazelle
The adventures of a young jazz percussionist,(newcomer, Miles Teller) and the brutal bandleader (JK Simmons) who drove him to the very edge of sanity. Riveting stuff from start to finish and though Teller’s buttoned-up character was rather unlikable, nevertheless you cared about him.
It Follows – Director: David Robert Mitchell
This nifty low budget delight reinvigorated the horror movie, throwing in a generous splash of vintage John Carpenter. Look at it as an allegory about STDs or a protestant condemnation of promiscuity, but it manages to wrack up almost unbearable levels of tension. Look behind you!
Mad Max: Fury Road – Director: George Miller
Miller’s triumphant return to his famous franchise after a thirty-five year absence was a jet-fuelled, turbo-charged jolt of pure adrenalin. For the uninitiated, it must have been like putting your head in a tumble drier and pressing the ‘on’ switch. I went back for a second look, days later!
London Road – Director: Rufus Norris
Clearly indebted to its theatrical roots, but still a truly cinematic work and probably the most original movie of the year, Rufus Norris’s film about the infamous Ipswich murders of 2006 is a compelling and occasionally staggering ensemble piece that lingers long in the mind.
Inside Out – Directors: Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen
Pixar rediscovered their mojo with this animated delight, which seemed to draw its inspiration from The Numskulls. With as much to please adults as there was for a younger audience, this didn’t put a foot wrong, while the script would have given Sigmund Freud a run for his money.
Amy – Director: Asif Kapadia
Compiled from found footage, this stunning documentary did more than confirm what we thought we already knew about Amy Winehouse. It showed she’d been virtually hounded to her death by the tabloid press and gave her story a sense of tragedy that left most audiences in tears.
45 Years – Director: Andrew Haigh
This stylish film lays bare the complexities behind the relationship of a long married couple as they approach an important anniversary. Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling excel in this slow-burning tale of love and regret set against the bleak backdrop of the Norfolk Broads.
The Martian – Director: Ridley Scott
After the disappointment of Prometheus, Scott needed to find his way back into outer space and he did it with this winning tale, based on Andy Weir’s novel. More science fact, than fiction, Matt Damon starred as an astronaut stranded on the red planet, but determined to get back to earth.
Carol – Director: Todd Haynes
This stylish 60s set melodrama confirmed Haynes as one of the finest directors of our time. There were splendid performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and a stunning evocation of a lost era. Throw in a gorgeous score by Carter Burwell and really, what’s not to like?
The Lady In The Van – Director: Nicholas Hytner
There has to be a comedy, right? And this wry adaptation of Alan Bennett’s book pitched everything perfectly, with stand out performances from Dame Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings as the distinguished author – or rather as two different versions of him – an inspired touch.