(Note: Eligibity for the list is based on Australian release dates).
A new year has begun, so why not celebrate by watching some of the best movies of the year just gone?
“But which movies to watch?” I hear you ask.
Well if you’re asking me, the films in the list below should be top priority. And if you’re not asking me, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog. Seriously, there are plenty of other things you could be doing with your time. I hear that knitting is fun.
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
It packs so much into its running time that it feels like a bit of a mess, but Marvel’s latest mega-blockbuster is still a fine example of crowd-pleasing entertainment. Superhero-fatigue is starting to set in for me though, so it’ll be interesting to see if Marvel can keep me on their side in the coming years.
9. Ex Machina
A quiet, deliberately paced sci-fi that’s as captivating as it is unsettling. Stunning visuals and complex characters make it a winner, even if one those characters isn’t human.
8. Inherent Vice
To me, 2015 was the year of seriously strange but brilliant films, and Inherent Vice may have been the strangest of them all. Enjoy it for it’s melancholy and surreal (yet quite funny) take on 1970’s culture – just don’t think too hard about it’s incoherent plot.
Recent times have been chock-full of updated versions of children’s shows. Most of them aren’t worth your time (Smurfs, anyone?). But Paddington is a definite exception. It’s about as fun and charming as you could ever hope for from a family movie.
6. The Martian
Another year, another fantastic semi-realistic space movie (I’m also thinking of Gravity and Interstellar). Despite a couple of far-fetched scenes, this may be the most realistic of the three, yet it never compromises on entertainment value and humour.
5. Imitation Game
A masterful biopic that just scrapes into the list due to its release date (1st January). It might play fast and loose with the historical details, but its such a well told story that I’m not sure I care. In the end, the audience walks away convinced that Alan Turing was a brilliant man who was unfairly treated by the authorities – and that much seems to be very true.
I’ve never been a fan of director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s work. 21 Grams felt like a waste of time, and Babel was just its slightly better cousin. If I’d written a letter to Alejandro a couple of years ago with suggestions for his next film I would have asked him to; add some humour, use more long tracking shots, and make the plot more focused. Turns out that’s exactly what he had planned anyway, because Birdman has all of that in spades. It’s also probably the weirdest film to ever win Best Picture at the Oscars.
3. Inside Out
Pixar’s return to form is jam-packed full of laughs, creativity and tearworthy moments (but I just had something in my eye, I swear). It’s also great to see a family film with a different sort of message. In a sense it may be another version of the “just be yourself” message that we always see in these films, but it approaches it from such a unique angle that even the adults in the audience are likely to walk away with a new perspective.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As a massive fan of the original trilogy (at this moment I’m surrounded by at least three pieces of Star Wars memorabilia) The Force Awakens was never going to live up to my hopes and dreams. But amazingly, it came pretty damn close. My main problem with it is that it follows the formula of first film (Episode IV) a little too closely. I’m glad it came close to recapturing the feel of those older movies, but it also flirted dangerously with being a repackaged version of the same film.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
Remember when I said that 2015 was the year of seriously strange but brilliant films? Well, this was at the forefront of my mind. I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked like the craziest thing ever. Turns out I wasn’t wrong. So much about it is batshit insane that it makes the original Mad Max films look like The English Patient – but it’s also a masterclass in energetic, enthusiastic, thrilling cinema and should not be missed.
Honourable Mentions: Selma, Shaun the Sheep, Still Alice
Some of the Movies I DIDN’T See But Probably Should Have: Straight Outta Compton, Crimson Peak, Sicario, Hunger Games: Part 4, Amy, Foxcatcher, Theory of Everything
Worst (That I Saw) of the Year: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Usually I’d use this space to whine about some mainstream blockbuster that I felt was overrated. Not this time though. This time I’m choosing an artsy, relatively low budget film that was seen by few but loved by critics all over the world. Why? Well, just think of all the typical complaints that people usually have about arthouse films, because this time they’re all valid (e.g. Tedious. Nothing happens. Pretentious. Unfunny. Waste of time.). Feel free to give it a shot if you want to try something different, but remember that different doesn’t necessarily mean good.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Or check out my movie lists from previous years here.