Every year, much like Santa, I make a list, I check it twice, I decide what was naughty and nice, and then I publish it to the Internet – far easier than distributing the list through people’s chimneys on 24 Dec.
My list isn’t of people though, it’s of movies that I’ve seen at the cinema that year, listed in order of enjoyment. Due to my own rulings, this means I have to exclude movies that I’ve watched in the comfort of my own home, which this year means leaving out five amazing films that deserve an honourable mention… Whiplash, Pride, Shaun the Sheep Movie, What We Do In The Shadows and Frank.
I will offer full paragraphs for my top five and one liners for the rest. Without any further ado, here’s my list in order of enjoyment…
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I’ve never been a big Star Wars fan, in fact I only watched the whole of the original trilogy this year. I am however a big J. J. Abrams fan, and love his work from LOST to Super 8 and the Star Trek reboot, so I had pretty high hopes for this film, despite my lack of interest for Luke, Leia, Han and Woofles from Pumpkin Patch.
But this film ticked all the right boxes for me. It managed to make me care about Star Wars, it completely drew me to the world my friends loved, and made me feel nostalgic despite never actually watching the Star Wars films at a time in my life which would allow nostalgia. It had action, compelling characters, mystery and warmth, and it’s the only film I watched this year that made me want to walk straight back into the cinema and experience it all again.
I’m a sucker for a bit of silliness, especially when there’s actual thought behind it, and even more so when it has heart and is uplifting. It’s why I love The Muppets, and it’s why I loved Paddington.
It’s beautifully directed by Paul King (of Mighty Boosh fame) and incredibly funny – a rare example of a children’s film that has jokes the whole family can enjoy at the same time – never feeling the need to be too juvenile for the kids, or too edgy for the adults.
3. Inside Out
This made my top five because it’s the only film in my list which is actually important. Yes, it’s entertaining, wildly creative, and will make you laugh and potentially cry, but more than that, it’s got something to say, and the world will be a better place for it.
The stigma behind sadness, especially when it is caused by depression, is tough to break, and any public work that helps spark important conversations around dealing with complicated emotions is a step in the right direction for a healthier society. The fact that the film has this embedded in its DNA, yet is still a wonderfully exciting, humorous and uplifting film, showcases the incredible talent and passion that went into it.
I struggled placing this film, because it’s a strange watch – it’s unsettling, darkly comedic, and the main character is so unstable and unpredictable, the film itself unfolds like a thrilling roller coaster ride headed in an unknown direction.
This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in watching a film that will stay with you longer than its’ running time, then give this a go.
5. Crimson Peak
Speaking of not for everyone… this Gothic horror snuck into the list purely because it’s one of the most well made films I’ve seen this year. From the stunning cinematography and masterful direction, to the enjoyment of watching secrets unravel as the plot creeps along its’ haunting path, this film is sure to lure you in if you have the stomach for the odd scare, death and romance.
6. The Imitation Game
Fascinating true(ish) story with the ever impressive Cumberbatch.
7. The Martian
Fun, gripping and packed with stars.
8. Ant Man
Marvel’s smallest superhero of the year is also it’s best.
9. Jurassic World
Chris Pratt proves yet again that he’s an enjoyable male lead in Dinosaur Parks and Tribulation.
10. Bird Man
Not quite as fun as Ant Man, but some creative commentary on celebrities and superheroes. Pity about the last few seconds which make no sense.
11 – 13. Spectre, Mission: Impossible Rouge Nation & Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Not sure why there were so many spy films this year, but all three were worthy, enjoyable action films.
14. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Not as charming and concise as its predecessor, but still good super hero movie fun.
15. Pitch Perfect 2
Worth it for all the scenes with Snoop Dogg, and a mashup that includes MMMBop by Hanson and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by the Andrew Sisters.
16. Mad Max: Fury Road
For a film that is essentially one big car chase there and back, it’s surprisingly captivating and creative.
17. Kingsman: The Secret Service
Wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be, but worth the watch to see heads explode to Land of Hope and Glory. (Also, that church scene is pretty insane, in a good way.)
Takes a while for the film to abandon its shock comedy for the sake of sweeter laughs, but when it does it settles in to an enjoyable romcom with some good moments.
19. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Not for anyone expecting anything remotely close to the book. This is as much an adaption of James Dashner’s The Scorch Trials as it is of [insert any book title in the world here]. The source material is barely present, but it’s got some good post-apocalyptic action and features everyone’s favorite Chicken Man from Breaking Bad.
20. Into The Woods
I’m not a big fan of Sondheim’s music, and I found the film too long – but Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen’s rendition of Agony makes it worth the watch.
21. St Vincent
Enjoyable but unremarkable comedy, except for a very touching scene at the end.
22. Big Hero Six
Whilst I loved all the jokes with Baymax, the rest of the characters weren’t as a remarkable or engaging, making the film fairly forgettable superhero fare.
Two or three great action set pieces, surrounded by a far less interesting film.
24. True Story
A true story which could have done with more made up bits. Not as good as the trailer made it out to be.
25. Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie
I feel bad putting this movie so far down the list because the truth is that the animation is inventive, the tone is spot-on with the old Peanuts movies, and its brimming with a lot of care and heart. But… it just didn’t feel like a real film to me – it felt rather like random scenes thrown together with a vague plot happening around it.
Aka Sheepcounter. The year began with this film getting a lot of praise and Oscar buzz. But despite wanting to be part of the social elite that enjoyed this movie, I just found it far too boring. Like really boring. Nothing gripped me, and whilst I can appreciate there was some good acting going down, it wasn’t enough to stop me looking at my watch and hoping something interesting would happen before I fell asleep.
If you enjoyed that, you can listen to Dylan, Simon and Andrew look back on other areas of 2015 in a special New Years episode of the Brothers Streep Show. Click here.