Blockbusters that actually delivered, inventive horror stories, twisty thrillers, smart sci-fi and a couple of the best music documentaries ever made. Film had it all in 2015. Here’s our round-up of the best movies of the year.
10. Jurassic World
Jurassic Park was one of the greatest blockbusters ever made, as we all know. The two sequels tried very hard to make audiences forget that, basically retreading the original with a fraction of the excitement. Jurassic World featured loads of loving nods to the original, but also had its own personality and some very 2015 ideas about science and corporate greed.
More people should have heard of Denis Villeneuve. After Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy and now Sicario, he might be the best working director who’s not mega-famous yet. Sicario told the story of an FBI agent (Blunt) recruited for a government op to bring down a Mexican crime boss. A twisty crime drama that made extremely complex storytelling look like a breeze.
If you’ve seen the TV show Inside Amy Schumer then you’ll know that Schumer is currently untouchable as a sketchwriter. She’s not too shabby at scripting films either, making her debut (as writer and lead actor) with a romantic comedy that managed to be funny and heartwarming without casting men as useless and women as lovelorn and twee.
7. It Follows
It’s rare to see something new in horror. It Follows introduced us to the idea of the sexually transmitted curse, and it was actually terrifying and wore its symbolism lightly. A teenage girl went on a date, had unprotected sex, then found a shape-shifting monster trailing her at all times. The only way to get rid of it was to pass it on to someone else.
6. The Martian
Ridley Scott’s best film in years. Mostly it was Matt Damon alone on camera, as an astronaut stranded during a mission to Mars and trying to survive the months it would take for NASA to rescue him. Somehow, it made that exciting, tense and funny. The smartest blockbuster of 2015.
5. Ex Machina
When Caleb, an employee of a Googley/Appley-type company called Bluebook, found out he’d won the chance to visit the home of his eccentric genius CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), he thought he was in for a week of playing with secret gadgets and talking about apps. Instead he was introduced to a robot who wanted to know what it is to be human. It got brilliantly weird.
4. Cobain: Montage Of Heck
Prior to watching Montage Of Heck, you’d be forgiven for wondering if there was really anything new to say about Kurt Cobain’s life. The genius of MOH, made with unprecedented access to the Nirvana singer’s archive of journals, cassette tapes, home videos and more, was in allowing him to speak for himself. The result was enlightening and often revelatory.
Who’d have thought the story of a young man trying to join a jazz band would be one of the tensest films of the year? Damien Chazelle directed this battle of wills between a conductor, Fletcher (Spider-Man grouch JK Simmons on wild, Oscar-winning form), and a cocky student, Andrew (Miles Teller), , full of rapid editing and face-offs that left your nails bitten to nubs.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
Essentially, the Mad Max reboot was one long car chase, but what a car chase, and much better than any of those old Mel Gibson ones. Basically, it was just Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, a load of Australians with weird faces and a supermodel tearing across the desert in trucks from Hell, showing how an action film should be made.
It would have been so easy for this to be sensationalist and tasteless. Yet using extensive video footage from Winehouse and her friends and family, rather than the usual talking head interviews, director Asif Kapadia (Senna) put together a compelling portrait of a woman whose immense talent brought her too much fame too fast. Heartbreaking, but riveting.