Here’s my Top Ten films and other treats from 2015 (in no particular order):
1) Fury Road
After 15 minutes I turned to my wife and said I was exhausted… Thankfully I got my breath back and Fury Road refused to let up. True to the originals, Tom Hardy’s Max says very little and through Charlize Theron’s Furiosa we arguably got our first feminist action movie – or so it seemed according to the lunatic fringe of fanboy culture as they whipped themselves into a frenzy on many a blog.
Todd Haynes adapted Carol from Patricia Highsmith 1952 novel: The Price Of Salt. The sumptuous period style, stunning cinematic storytelling and stand out performances from Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson combine to make a film experience of a forbidden lesbian love affair – that’s akin to an Edward Hopper painting coming to life.
Emily Blunt’s character is remarkably passive, but instead of killing the drama it puts the audience right in the middle of the confused situation she volunteers for – cracking down on crooks in Cartel Land on the USA/Mexico border with the CIA.
Alex Garland’s directorial debut is a near future, near perfect psychological thriller that succeeds in using the Turing Test for artificial intelligence to expose human frailties as much as it shows where robot technology might take the world.
5) Slow West
Another directorial debut comes in the shape of ex-Beta Band John Maclean’s artful, beautiful and gently paced western. It boldly took it’s time to explore 1870’s Colorado with Michael Fassbender and Ben Mendelsohn, but in the finale unapologetically delivered on all the promises of the gunslinging genre.
6) It Follows
Maika Monroe returned to our screens hot on the heels of her supporting role in The Guest to star in this sexually charged curse movie that’s a modern reworking of MR James story: “Casting The Runes.”
7) Cop Car
Two runaways take an abandoned police car for a joyride and find themselves in the middle of a drug deal gone wrong and pursued by the corrupt sheriff (Kevin Bacon) whose vehicle they’ve mistakenly stolen.
8) We Are Still Here
Featuring genre stalwart Larry Fessenden excelling as a hippy baby boomer and an even meatier role for Barbara Crampton as a grieving mother to continue the reprisal of the 80s scream queen’s acting career. These two, plus charred spirits who evoke John Carpenter’s The Fog make this house with a horrid history a joy to watch.
9) Sunset Song
Terence Davies’s wondrous adaptation of one of Scotland’s most important novels signals the arrival of a real British acting talent – Manchester’s Aygness Deyn. Equally, it provides a timely reminder of the futility of war and the divisive toxicity of propaganda to create fervent nationalism.
10) I Believe In Miracles
Welsh man Jonny Owen lends his love of his favourite sport and enthusiasm for working class culture to the most amazing football story ever told – Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest 1975-80. In the words of the players who did it, IBIM documents how a struggling mid table second tier team rapidly rose to be the number one club in the whole of Europe in just two and half years.
Honourable mentions: Curtain, Deathgasm, Some Kind Of Hate, Sun Choke, They Look Like People, The Treatment, Turbo Kid.
Netflix struck gold and set a very high bar in 2015 with two of darkest and troubled Marvel universe characters committed to the small screen. The longer form narrative of the episodic serial, over the visual assault of the blockbuster movies, meant you were able to delve into so much more of relationships that shape our heroes beyond the typical origin tales the films trot out.
Fargo Season 2 – contains SPOILERS
Series creator Noah Hawley took the Coen Brothers’ story world for a second run out and equalled, and maybe bettered, the brilliance of season one. This time in Fargo it’s 1979 and Ron Reagan is about to be voted into power. Bruce Campbell as the actor turned politician is amazing, but that audacious cameo is nothing compared to the fantastical closing moments of the penultimate episode when Area 51 meets period crime drama head on.
Every week Gogglebox allows the TV adverse, like me, to know the key events from all the crap that fills the schedules without having to endure Strictly, Jungle, X-Factor et al. For that I am eternally grateful.