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


Director: Damien Chazelle

Get ready yourself for duelling drumsticks in this blistering bee-bop battle that’s deservedly nominated for five Oscars – including Best Film.

When a menacing music master goes cymbal to cymbal with his drumming protégé, it’s as exhilarating and exhausting for us as for them.

Young Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller, is a scholar at the Shaffer Conservatory, the most highly respected music school in the US.

Inspired by the performances of the legendary band leader Buddy Rich, he dreams of being the greatest jazz drummer who ever lived.

But he’s tutored by the fearsome Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons) who demands perfection and is infamous for his torturous teaching technique.

Always dressed immaculately in black, Fletcher is a door-slamming, cymbal-slinging monster who relishes humiliating individual students in front of their classmates.

Hilariously vicious and intense, JK Simmons will surely add a Best Supporting Oscar to the Golden Globe and SAG award he’s already collected for his electric performance.

Though Neiman’s increasingly selfish behaviour provides for a cringing dinner table scene, Neiman’s treatment of pretty cinema cashier Nicole (Melissa Benoist) is where our attitude towards the musician becomes more complex.

His father Jim (Paul Reiser) is also ill-served by his son’s ambition which rears it’s head ever higher, taking advantage of the misfortune of classmates in the pursuit of his dream.

As well as giving up buckets of sweat, blood and tears, he has a car crash while preparing for sharp-suited public competitions. A classroom confrontation ends badly for both of the combatants.

Yet one last contest before an audience of prestigious and influential movers and shakers allows for a final battle of wills. It is centred around Fletcher’s favoured performance piece, Whiplash.

This thrilling drama is sharp, cruel and incredibly foulmouthed and when the final note is sounded, the ferocious acting and a terrifically powerful percussive score will leave your nerves as shredded as the actors’ bloodied, blistered fingers.