So finally, it is that time of year again – the Academy Awards are tomorrow, and while they are preparing to honor the best of the year, I am preparing to do my own, where I list the very best films of the year. As usual, I will be listing five honorable mentions, essentially films that are very good, but weren’t able to make it into the top ten, which will be composed of the ten films that I consider to be the very best of the year. Once again, the scores of each individual film do not correlate with their position on the list (the film with the highest score might not necessarily be the best film of the year – its a confusing concept, but considering scores are assigned through a careful criteria, and this list is compiled based on which films I like the best, it isn’t too complicated). Without any further ado, here is the list for the best films of the year
THE TOP TEN BEST FILMS OF 2015
#10 – Anomalisa
An absolutely exquisite animated film that proves that just because animation is mainly aimed at children, it isn’t always for children. Charlie Kaufman proves himself to be an absolutely genius screenwriter, and his attempts to direct a stop-motion animated film of this nature is absolutely breathtaking. It is slightly lacking in some areas, which (if resolved) would have pushed this much further up in the list. However, it is just a brilliant film with strong voice work from David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan.
#9 – Best of Enemies
I have always been interested in documentaries that don’t tell radically important stories, but smaller ones that would otherwise not be noticed. Best of Enemiescovers the beautiful rivalry between writers Gore Vidal and Bill Buckley, two insane and hilariously inappropriate figures that duked it out on live television several times, arguing about politics, finding themselves on completely different ends of the political spectrum. Hilarious, dramatic and absolutely outrageous,Best of Enemies is such a great documentary, and an absolute pleasant surprise that went completely unnoticed, which is a shame.
Perhaps the most bizarre film of the year, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, from Roy Andersson, the genius Swedish auteur, tells over a dozen short stories, all tied together by the hilariously sad story of two salesmen. Told in a variety of one-shot compositions, it is both a deeply intelligent and stunningly beautiful film. Andersson is absolutely fantastic at creating this bizarre and wonderful films, and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is quite simply a unique and brilliant film.
#7 – Room
One of the most heart-wrenching films I saw all year was Room, the film based on the haunting novel of the same title. Lenny Abrahamson directed Brie Larson in an absolutely wonderful performance. However, it is Jacob Tremblay who gives an absolutely dazzling and brilliant performance as the 5-year-old Jack Newsome. The film itself is emotionally resonant and beautifully made, and it is just quite simple exquisite. Heartfelt, flawlessly emotional and absolutely dazzling, and a true masterclass of acting. Truly an extraordinary film that is even better on a second viewing.
#6 – Mr. Holmes
A delightfully witty little film about an aging Sherlock Holmes. Ian McKellen proves himself to be a supremely talented thespian, and his performance is unbelievably fantastic. Not only is McKellen wonderful in the film, his co-star Milo Parker is brilliant as well. The film is a great example of a subtle but fantastic performance. The film may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it is certainly a delight for those who like this kind of thing. Exquisite, absolutely exquisite.
#5 – The Hateful Eight
I love Quentin Tarantino, so much that I named my website after one of his films. His latest film, The Hateful Eight, has been very divisive. However, I think it is absolutely extraordinary, because Tarantino proves his ability to be both a master visual storyteller and to be able to bring out the very best in his actors. The central eight actors in the main cast are all wonderful (even if Michael Madsen didn’t do that well), but The Hateful Eight is just extraordinary. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L. Jackson are so great, but the real star is Walton Goggins, who absolutely blows everyone out of the water. The film itself is both classic Tarantino, but also bears elements of Tarantino’s filmmaking that we haven’t seen before. It is certainly a fantastic film, and absolutely deserves the spot on this list.
#4 – The Martian
The Martian was such a great film. Equal parts funny as it was dauntingly dramatic, it is a wonderful piece of science fiction cinema that continues the tradition of films regarding space. Ridley Scott makes his best film in over a decade, and Matt Damon proves his absolute likability in the role that will likely become the best performance in his career. The film is just perfectly entertaining, and visually stunning and has the best soundtrack of the year (an important element for me, honestly).
#3 – 45 Years
I wasn’t expecting to love this film as much as I did. It is a beautiful, sensitive little film that features amazing performances from the wonderful Charlotte Rampling and the underrated Tom Courtenay, both giving absolutely brilliant performances. Overall, the film is quite simply extraordinary. Quiet and heartbreaking, it is just so nihilistic, but the way the film builds silent tension is absolutely brilliant. It doesn’t scream its message at you, but you find yourself bowled over, and Rampling is simply absolutely stunning, and gives by far the best performance of the year.
#2 – The Revenant
I loved this film. It was Leonardo DiCaprio giving a truly dedicated performance, directed by the man who directed my favorite film of last year, Alejandro González Iñárritu. It has beautiful cinematography, an amazing score and just looks absolutely gorgeous. It is brutal and visceral and absolutely revolutionary. It is quite simply an extraordinary film, and the lengths the cast and crew undertook for this film really proves how far a film can actually go. Tremendous work.
#1 – Spy
Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy are absolutely dynamite when they work together, and their latest collaboration is by far their best. Melissa McCarthy proves her amazing ability to be a versatile leading lady, and adds a further element to her talent for physical comedy by taking it to the next level with impressive choreography of fight scenes and some very complex stunts (some of which are admittedly the work of stunt doubles). The film bears a fantastic cast, including absolute breakouts Miranda Hart and Rose Byrne, who is just an absolute delight. Spy is a broad comedy, but a fantastic one, and it is really excellent, and it doesn’t ever hit a false not. It is a strange choice for my favorite film of the year, but when you consider who absolutely entertaining it is, how it is not only a fantastic comedy but a really compelling spy film and a dangerously exciting action film, with superb direction, an amazing cast, a brilliant script and a great sense of humour, it is truly a remarkable film that honestly has made ever other film this year pale in comparison.