The Ten Best of 2015

Now that 2015 is over, it is time to share my thoughts on the best films of the last 12 months.  Those that insist on publishing such lists in November or early December are really only listing their favourites for 11 months, which I have always found strange. Of course, I realise that such lists are meaningless and often put together by clueless clowns, so a list such as mine should come as welcome relief because it is devoid of influence from any individual, organisation or ideology. It is derived purely from the truth of the viewing experience.

Like everybody who compiles such lists, I haven’t seen every film released this year so this list is drawn from the movies that I have seen in cinemas in 2015 (regardless of when they were initially released). New releases, festival screenings, re-releases, previews or retrospectives; if I saw it in a cinema in 2015, it is eligible for inclusion in this list. Films viewed on DVD, television or via streaming or online platforms are most definitely not considered.

This list is compiled using the reviews and ratings that I posted on Letterboxd in the days following each screening. Given that there will be many movies with the same or similar ratings, I also take into account the way in which a film has continued to resonate with me long after I saw it, which always suggests that there is something particularly prescient or powerful about a particular production.

Ultimately, my list cannot be any more or less ‘correct’ than anybody else’s, but it is probably more genuine than most. However, the reality is that there are some movies that are just so good that they simply cannot be overlooked or ignored.

The films are not ranked in any particular order as all of the films listed in this group of ten are outstanding and attempting to narrow the order into some kind of sequential evaluation of merit seems a little pointless. They are all excellent and they all deserve to be celebrated and admired.

Only films viewed in a cinema by me in 2015 have been considered. Release dates are irrelevant and should never be considered for such lists. This is about the best movies I saw in a cinema in the last 12 months. It also, obviously, precludes any films released in 2015 that I am yet to see. These films will be eligible for next year’s listing.

So, my Top Ten movies of 2015 (in no particular order) are:

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

A Girls Walks Home Alone at Night

It Follows

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

Ex-Machina

Sicario

Clouds of Sils Maria

Diary of a Teenage Girl

Youth

Mistress America

Of course, these are not the only great movies released this year and there are plenty more for which justification for inclusion could easily be mounted. The compilation of such a list necessitates the absence of some very good films to arrive at a final ten.  Therefore, here are a few others worthy of mention that could quite easily have been included as one of the final ten given their all-round quality:

Amy

Tangerine

Inherent Vice

Love & Mercy

The Belier Family

The Lobster

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

Dope

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Locally, Last Cab to Darwin was probably the best Australian film in a year that wasn’t as strong as previous years with regard to quality local releases.

And the worst?

Without doubt, the worst movie of 2015, and perhaps one of the worst ever, was the Vin Diesel-starring The Last Witch Hunter. This was just a horrible viewing experience from which I’m not sure I can ever recover. The sheer awfulness of it may haunt me forever. Having said that, Terrence Malik’s Knight of Cups was terrible in a completely different kind of way and Jupiter Ascending from the Wachowski’s was a bloated mess.

Generally speaking, 2015 was another good year for quality films, particularly for those prepared to seek them out. The sheer number of films not securing a cinematic release in Brisbane remains very frustrating as more and more cinemas forego independent releases for mainstream fare. However, the unbridled joy that comes from watching something truly special is a constant reminder of why movies are so important.

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