The 10 best films of 2015 (UK release)

When I stepped back to look at my list of the 10 best films of 2015, I noticed 4 of my choices are science fiction and a further 3 are animated.

Cinema is escapism and if I wanted real life I’d stay at home. When I go to the cinema I want to go to places I can’t go in real life. There’s no place I can’t go to more than outer space.

Any film holds the possibility for fully exploiting cinema’s epic potential if it combines intelligent storytelling, tremendous visuals, an out of this world scale and a sense of humour.

As ever it’s impossible to see every film released each year, and so the absence of drama 45 Years (2015) and documentary Amy (2015) shouldn’t be read as a judgement upon them.

However the absence of probably Oscar contender Carol (2015) is deliberate. You can read about here.

Top 10 films of 2015

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s barkingly brilliant reboot of his own 1979 action classic is an extraordinarily epic non-stop thrill-ride, an apocalyptic nitrous charge of pure cinema.

2. The Martian

Matt Damon was marooned on Mars in this breathless, big budget sci-fi adventure which rockets along to a disco beat. Who knew Ridley Scott could do funny?

3. Song of the Sea

This gorgeous Irish fairytale is a moving and magical adventure full of enchantment and transformation. Oscar nominated for Best Animated film.

4. Ex Machina

Sexy, sharp and stylish, this brilliant British sci-fi thriller explores man’s relationship to machines with verve, wit and polish. Alex Garland is happy to acknowledge the debt it owes to long running comic 2000AD.

5. Whiplash

An aspiring jazz drummer clashes with his menacing music teacher in this  exhilarating music masterclass. Won three Oscars including Best Supporting Actor for JK Simmons.

6. Big Hero 6

Disney gave us this hilarious, joyous and thrilling tale of a boy and his inflatable robot Baymax. Winner of the Oscar for best animated film.

7. Birdman

Michael Keaton soars in this extraordinarily ambitious black comedy about a desperate actor enduring a nervous breakdown. It’s funny, sexy, brave and bold. It won Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Cinematography.

8. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Magical and moving, this animated folktale of a young girl who comes of age is a charming, moving and beautifully crafted joy, bursting with humour and life.

9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A light speed blast of fun from this epic seventh and third best episode in the long running sci-fi saga. Fast, funny and visually spectacular. The force is strong in this one.

10. Spring

Little seen but fabulous horror of an American in Italy who falls for a mysterious girl. A gorgeous and terrifying love story. Narrowly edged out It Follows as best horror of the year.

And the best of the rest:


It Follows


Red Army

Precinct 75 


The Salvation

Slow West

Bonus movie:

The return of Keanu Reeves in kick ass form as the puppy-loving assassin John Wick.

Top Ten worst films

1. Jupiter Ascending

2. Entourage

3. The Last Witch Hunter

4. The Boy Next Door

5. Seventh Son

6. Captive

7. The Visit

8. Vacation

9. Hot Pursuit

10. Everly

Big Hero 6

Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams

Robots and superheroes collide in this dazzling dayglo delight from Disney.

Beautifully animated and pop bubblegum fabulous to look at, it’s hilarious, joyous and thrilling.

At heart a touching tale of friendship, it’s alive with loveable characters, great jokes, exciting battles and gizmos and gadgets galore.

In the futuristic fusion city of San Fransokyo 14 year old Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a self-taught robotics genius who lives with his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) and their Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph).

Hiro spends his time winning money in illegal backstreet robot bouts (think TV’s Robot Wars but far more exciting).

Meanwhile Tadashi’s developed an inflatable talking robot healthcare companion called Baymax (Scott Adsit).

Soft talking and slow moving, it looks like a walking marshmallow and the animators have great fun with his ungainly girth and relentlessly gentle manner.

Tadashi and the wily professor Callaghan (James Cromwell) use reverse psychology to persuade the contemptuous prodigy Hiro to apply to college.

When Hiro demonstrates his newly invented, hugely powerful microbots, smooth-talking tech-entrepreneur Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk) wants to buy to them.

But after Hiro rejects the offer there’s a mysterious fire that kills Tadashi and Callaghan.

Obeying his programming to heal, a warm and humorous bond slowly develops between Baymax and Hiro.

Jokes are cleverly constructed with the audience laughing at the same time but for different reasons such as when Baymax’s low battery causes speech and mobility impairment. Hiro has to smuggle him home in the manner of drunk teenagers sneaking in.

As Hiro grieves, his remaining microbot mysteriously activates leading he and Baymax to discover a factory making thousands where they’re attacked by a Kabuki-wearing stranger, massively menacing in dynamic expressionless splendour.

Escaping with the help of his nerd-school friends, Hiro upgrades Baymax with fighting abilities, armour and powered flight. His sensors lead them to a quarantined island, where they find industrial espionage and military conspiracy.

With industrial espionage, military conspiracy and an epic battle, it embraces noble sacrifice, death, grief, puberty and err, fart jokes.

With Disney owning Marvel Studios it’s allowed to be all very meta.  There’s unmistakable Iron-Man references, a Stan Lee cameo and the final showdown nods at 2012’s Avengers Assemble.

Taking charge of Pixar and has given the venerable Disney Studio an insulin boost of creativity, producing a wonderfully fresh if unexpected high point. Pixar now are relegated to junior partner producing inferior sequels to the hits of yesteryear.

Mashing up East and West in the cultural melting point in the fictional San Fransokyo is not only a canny ploy aimed at capturing the important Asian market but is clearly creatively driven by a love of Japanese cinema.

Japan’s Studio Ghibli is a driving influence both in tone and style. There is more than one wink to the masterpiece My Neighbour Totoro, notably in the Fat Cat restaurant owned by Hiro’s Aunt Cass and in the end credits.

But Big Hero 6 also has sufficient strength of character and identity to be franchise in it’s own right which is certainly the aim.

Just as in a Marvel movie it’s worth staying until the very, very end – by which time I was so enamoured of the movie I wanted my own Baymax.

I guarantee your kids will too.

P.s. In the manner of Pixar the main feature is preceded by the short cartoon Feast, an enjoyable lightweight snack that will whet your appetite for the main course to follow.