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Best of 2015: Friends of Spooool

SEE ALL OUR BEST OF 2015 ARTICLES
(our own top films & podcast will be online at the start of next week)

. .

Thanks to everyone once again for sharing their favourite films of the last year. Being able to read them is always one of the best things about doing all this end of year malarkey. If you didn’t email them in, chuck your top 10 in the comments below! Here’s 2012, 2013 and 2014 for those of you curious about the opinions of our associates.

As always some people opt to count down 10-1, others from 1-10. Sometimes they share three films or five films, and some opt to offer some rationale and thoughts behind their picks.

The one thing that becomes clear reading through these? People like a lot of different films in 2015… and the one that our “Friends of Spooool” liked the best in 2015 was Mad Max: Fury Road.

Friends

Mick McGovern’s Top 10

01

website | @amawaster | posts on Spooool.ie

10. The Duke of Burgundy – dir. Peter Strickland
A film with an initial premise reminiscent of kinky 70’s euro “arthouse” films is actually an intimate (in every sense of the word) snapshot of a relationship fraught with shifting dynamics and power struggles. The film also boasts beautiful cinematography, performances from the leads and a hypnotic soundtrack.

9. Inherent Vice – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
A stoner noir that’s great fun if you just relax and not care too much about the plot because there’s everything else to enjoy.

8. Tu Dors Nicole (You’re Sleeping Nicole) – dir. Stéphane Lafleur
A charming droll surreal film about a young woman at a crossroads in her life and an aimless summer she spends with her best friend. Thankfully while the film is about aimlessness, the direction and the editing are quite sharp, precise and unlike the film’s protagonists, very focused.

7. Call Me Lucky – dir. Bobcat Goldthwait
Barry Crimmins is a very angry comedian, he takes on politics, the government, the church, man’s inhumanity to man, basically all the big issues with a fire and energy rarely seen and this documentary explains why or tries to. What separates this documentary from being a typically fawning comedian’s comedian homage or “this guy should have been bigger” doc is Crimmin’s own story which is equal parts distressing and inspiring.

6. The Dark Horse – dir. James Napier Robertson
A film based on a true story about a chess master who spends his life in and out of psychiatric wards but on his latest release sets about to help poor kids, near where his brother lives, learn the game and compete at a big tournament. Sounds like Hollywood schmaltz, but thanks in part to Cliff Curtis’s powerful performance it never feels contrived.

5. Whiplash – dir. Damien Chazelle
A film with two lead characters that I thoroughly disliked but was however totally enthralled by. Could have been my favourite film of the year, but not quite my tempo.

4. A Most Violent Year – dir. J.C. Chandor
Oscar Isaac plays an “honourable” man trying to do the right thing while expanding his oil business despite being faced by violence, corruption and greed at every turn. While slow paced, it does deliver on every level possible.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road – dir. George Miller
A mad crazy cartoon of a film, that doesn’t let you catch your breath until well into the second hour. Every action set piece is spectacular and Theron steals the show.

2. Mistress America – dir. Noah Baumbach
Really funny film about a student whose life is greatly impacted by meeting her larger than life soon-to-be older step-sister with screwball paced dialogue and a brilliant performance from Gerwig (she co-wrote the part, so shouldn’t be surprised).

1. Force Majeure – dir. Ruben Östlund
Family holidays can be a tense affair at the best of times, Force Majeure focuses on a Swedish family off enjoying their skiing holiday in the Alps until an avalanche gets way too close to the restaurant they are eating at and they then have to deal with the fallout of unfortunate instinctive reactions. Writer/director Östlund thankfully decides to mine this premise mainly for humour, pitch black humour and with great skill slowly builds a tightly wrought film. It also has one of the most interesting third acts I’ve seen in a while with a very curiously played out ending.

David Turpin’s Top Ten Films of the Year

02

@latedavidturpin | latedavidturpin.com

The Duke of Burgundy

Film of the year, and by no small margin, was Peter Strickland’s gorgeous piece of esoteric erotica. The brilliance of the film comes not just from its perfectly realised surface, but from the depth of humanity that emerges in resistance to that surface, not least in Sidse Babett Knudsen’s minutely calibrated performance. Meanwhile, in pure audio-visual terms, anybody who didn’t love this film simply doesn’t love cinema.

Phoenix

Lead actress Nina Hoss’s third collaboration with director Christian Petzold was, like The Duke of Burgundy, a thrilling piece of pure cinema, as well as a moving portrait of human dignity under duress. The film combined Fassbinder rigour with the satiny craftsmanship of vintage Hollywood, and gave a glittering showcase part to Hoss – who has been underused in her recent English language forays. The climactic sequence was standing ovation material.

Tangerine

Sean Baker’s thunderously entertaining film was many things: a deep dive into marginalised lives in Los Angeles; a riotous farce; and a showcase for two electrifying debut performances, from Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor. While Rodriguez’s turn as transgender avenging angel Sin-Dee Rella burned up the screen, it was Taylor’s dry wit and poignancy that left the deepest impression. Tangerine was also the best Christmas-themed film in years.

The Tribe

Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s account of the lives of disadvantaged deaf teenagers in a Ukrainian institute was pitilessly bleak, but equally riveting. Slaboshpitshy’s meticulously choreographed long takes gripped like a vice, even when the easiest response might have been to look away. By presenting all the film’s dialogue in Ukrainian sign language without subtitles, Slaboshpitsky forced a hearing audience to confront how their sense of the suffering – and humanity – of others might assign greater significance to those who can communicate those properties.

Hard to be a God

The late Aleksey German’s posthumous final film was an uncategorisable adaptation of a novel by Arkadiy and Boris Strugatskiy (who also provided the source material for Tarkovsky’s Stalker). Notionally a piece of science-fiction, Hard to be a God took place in the most potently evoked ‘medieval’ environment ever seen on screen. Over half the preview audience walked out when I saw this, and more fool them – Hard to be a God is demanding stuff, but it’s an experience like no other.

P’tit Quinquin

Made for French television, Bruno Dumont’s latest was released here as a single three-hour film. A kind of absurdist murder mystery, P’tit Quinquin managed to be unmistakably Dumont’s, while pushing his singular vision in a wholly unexpected direction. In a sidelong way, the film reminded me of the original Fargo for the way in which its surreal sense of local peculiarity overlaid a philosophically serious investigation of the possibility of evil.

White Bird in a Blizzard

Scandalously overlooked for cinema release here, Gregg Araki’s best film since Mysterious Skin was a teen movie that shimmered in some strange netherworld between The Virgin Suicides and River’s Edge. Shailene Woodley gave the best performance of her career, but the film belonged to the mighty Eva Green, whose turn as a frustrated suburban housewife managed to be both desperately moving, and as gleefully camp as vintage Joan Crawford.

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s belated return to apocalyptic territory was worth the wait. Absurdly inventive from start to finish, and with a blessed disregard for all conventions of mainstream scriptwriting, the film leavened its hair-raising action sequences with flashes of otherworldly beauty. As usual, it was impossible to know what Tom Hardy was going for from scene to scene, but no matter – he barely registered next to Charlize Theron’s coruscating Furiosa.

45 Years

Andrew Haigh’s follow-up to Weekend was another finely tuned miniature, this time focusing not on the surprise formation of a relationship, but on the equally unexpected deterioration of a long-standing marriage. Charlotte Rampling coolly held the centre with a fantastically economical and germane performance, all of which seemed to build to a final, startling gesture in the closing shot.

Clouds of Sils Maria

Olivier Assayas was working in his most accessible register with this high-toned piece of backstage melodrama, which featured a sterling lead performance from Juliette Binoche. In true Assayas fashion, though, the line between performers and characters was blurred by the way in which Kristen Stewart unexpectedly walked away with the film. A lighter piece, maybe, but Assayas’ most purely enjoyable film since Irma Vep.

 

Eithne Shortall’s Top 10

03

@eithneshortall

1. Room

It doesn’t hit Irish cinemas until January 2016, but I saw it this year and this is my highly-subjective list so stop that eye roll before the wind changes. The evening I finished Emma Donoghue’s book, I stepped outside to find the streets of Dublin had suddenly gotten a lot nosier, vaster and more unpredictable. The same glorious emotional disorientation consumed me after this super smart adaptation. Harrowing, searing and life affirming.

2. Whiplash

Love the speech, love the music, love the performances and love the show-stopping finale.

3. Mad Max

At least ten bonus points for the guitar player strapped to the front of the convoy. It should be compulsory to see this film on the big screen.

4. Brooklyn

Team Tony or Team Jim? This film had me the type of engrossed where you don’t notice a minute passing. And swoon for Saoirse Ronan’s face.

5. Song of the Sea

A portrayal of ‘Irishness’ of which to be proud. This animation was a thing of beauty.

6. Birdman

Such smart camera work, an unrelenting tempo and Emma Stone bringing back heroin chic.

7. Force Majeure

A film to either confirm everything you already suspected, or to put you off men/marriage/children.

8. 45 Years

Stunning performance from Charlotte Rampling. A film about a woman who clearly never saw Force Majeure and decided to get married anyway.

9. Still Alice

Halfway through watching this, I thought “why the hell did I pay to watch relentless demise into Alzheimer’s?” It made me worry about my memory, my mother’s memory and basically the minds of everyone I love. I wish I hadn’t seen it, but there’s no denying it’s great.

10. Straight Outta Compton

If I cover my eyes and ears to the misogyny and rose-tinted betrayal of Dr Dre (who also produced this film), then I found it to be immensely enjoyable.

Colm Russell’s Top 10

04

@melan_collycolmrussell.com

1. Mommy

Any film which manages to evoke a state of mind purely through image and sound deserves recognition but when that state of mind happens to be ADHD, when that director happens to be 25 years-old and when that film manages to centre a genuinely groundbreaking cinematic moment around ‘Wonderwall’… it reminds us all that anything is still possible.

2. Foxcatcher

A power vs. principles parable which unravels in slow motion to chilling effect.

3. Brooklyn

Refreshingly earnest and uncynical cinema that manages to stay on the right side of the class/cliche divide.

4. Mistress America

Simply shot, cleverly written, beautifully graded, expertly acted.

5. 45 Years

Low-key realism™ which revels in the simmering tension of the unsaid.

 

Dave Higgins’ Top 10

05

@heeegons | Posts for state.ie 

10. Macbeth
A lush and bloody Caravaggio painting comes to life with performances so emotive and expressive, it could have worked without the Bard’s words.

9. Inherent Vice
A reminder of how Paul Thomas Anderson is quite a dab hand at comedy, both physical and situational. It hardly made a jot of sense but sun-stained cinematography from Robert Elswit and a glorious ensemble cast, anchored by Joaquin Phoenix in Zucker Brothers mode makes it one that rewards countless repeat viewings.

8. It Follows
A vital jolt in the arm of the horror genre filled with dread inducing long shots, drenched in synth and featuring a phenomenal turn from the Queen of Scream apparent, Maika Monroe.

7. The Duke of Burgundy
Gorgeously filmed and immaculately scored, no other movie came close to depicting such a complex and loving relationship that was littered with references to ‘a human toilet.’

6. Dope
A polychromatic burst of energy, life and fun, One of the best coming-of-age movies in years that’s bolstered by 2015’s best soundtrack and star-making performance from Shameik Moore.

5. Mistress America
Baumbach’s While We’re Young would’ve been worthy of this spot too but Mistress America just pips it for synthesising a screwball comedy that was bursting with heart into a neat 84 minutes.

4. The Look of Silence
Following on from The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer took another harrowing look at the Indonesian killings of the mid ’60s, this time taken from the perspective of an optometrist confronting those who killed his brother. Brave, bold and chilling.

3. Enemy
Sicario got the fanfare but Denis Villeneuve’s psychological thriller was the one that stuck around most, crawling over my cerebellum like a long-legged arachnoid.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road
A non-stop thrill ride that was refreshingly progressive and, in the age of “we’ll do it in post” CGI, featured actual stuntwork on actual locations. Simply put, it’s the best blockbuster of the new millennium.

1. A Most Violent Year
In just three movies, J.C. Chandor has become one of the best filmmakers around and A Most Violent Year was the pinnacle of that, powered by an explosive Jessica Chastain and methodical Oscar Isaac. Confession: Not long after revelling at Oscar Isaac’s immaculate wearing of a camel coat, I became the owner of a camel coat.

 

Colin Boylan’s Top 10 Most Memorable Cinema Trips of 2015

06

@sunburntjets | gimmebouts.com

  1. It Follows
  2. Birdman
  3. Kumiko The Treasure Hunter
  4. Glassland
  5. Song of the Sea
  6. Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang
  7. Enemy
  8. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocolypse
  9. Ex Machina
  10. Unfriended

 

Carol M’s Top 10

07

@seamully

10. Inside Out
Amy Poehler spectacular as the personification of Joy. A children’s film about good mental health strategies. I’m down with this.

9. Miss you Already
Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot for Drew Barrymore, or maybe its because I love to have a good cry, but this film about a strong lifelong female friendship ticked a lot of boxes for me. Winner.

8. Ricki and the Flash
Granted, I am one of those people who will see pretty much anything with Meryl Streep in it, but this film is really genuinely interesting exploration of a whole bundle of complex familial relationships, their origins, their essence, their complexities etc and for me Ricki and the Flash is the feel good film of 2015.

7. Amy
Having listened to Winehouse’s “Back to Black” on repeat for far long than was cool, this documentary was fascinating to me. I genuinely felt like I kind of already knew her from singing her lyrics along with her….repeatedly. She never really had a chance and this documentary does a good job of showing you why. So sad. RIP Amy.

6. Dreamcatcher
This lil gem of a documentary is simultaneously horribly depressing and truly uplifting. It unveils the myth that people opt into prostitution and documents the work of one ex prostitute in giving support and hope to many women in dire life situations. Worth seeking out. You’re dead inside if this doesn’t touch you.

5. Grandma
A journey film about a grandaughter and her fiesty Grandma setting out to cobble together the funds to pay for an abortion, this film is so much more about that. Interesting for its probing eye into relationships of all kinds.

4. Still Alice
Cry. Cry. Cry. Again, I must preface this listing with the fact that I will go to see anything with Julianne Moore in it (love her), but in Still Alice she really, particularly shines with a phenomenally powerful portrayal of the cruel and painful reality of Alzheimers. This is life for so many people and I guess I find Still Alice a really worthwhile film for that reason.

3. Older than Ireland
A simple idea explored well. A range of Ireland’s centenarians interviewed about some of life’s most important topics. Charming, engaging, interesting with a few surprising moments thrown in the mix. Winner.

2. Carol
Henri Matisse wrote that a painting should be like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue. Carol is like an armchair for the mind. This is unbridled escapism in its most enjoyable form. In watching Carol, you enter a world of beauty, historical interest with lots of interesting human relationships to invest in along the way. Settle in.

1. Song of the Sea
Long time fan of the Studio Ghibli films, I was super excited to see the influence of the Japanese style of animation in this otherwise very Irish animated feature film about Ireland’s mythology. I genuinely feel/hope this is the first of a new wave of Irish animation. A beautifully animated, serious yet gently humorous film about bereavement, I enjoyed every minute of this film. There’s an Irish language version available too and I’m currently petitioning my school to get the mobile cinema to bring Amhráin na Mara to my school for Seachtain na Gaeilge. Art, history and the Irish language in one foul swoop, what’s not to love?! Song of the Sea, you are my number one.

 

Conor Bent’s Top 10

08

@conorbent

1) Force Majeure
A fantastically entertaining evisceration of an upper middle class family on a skiing holiday. It drew it’s influences from diverse areas such as Buñuel films to viral youtube clips

2) 45 Years
Heart wrenching examination of marriage and regrets after a couple about to celebrate their anniversary receives some news about a lost love that dredges up the past with amazing performances by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.

3) Carol
Along with the Duke of Burgundy an excellent year for nuanced Lesbian romances that deal with age and power struggles in relationships. Carol is the perfect winter movie with its cinematography evoking the grey dullness of the season with intense flourishes of passion. Got to love that Carter Burwell soundtrack too.

4) I am Belfast
Mark Cousins’ love poem to the city. Portraying the every day cruelties and kindnesses of its people and finding beauty in the most obscure banal seeming corners of the city.

5) Mad Max: Fury Road
We demand a Furiosa spin off. George Miller reminding you how action films should really be made.

6) The Look of Silence
A more human companionship to The Act of Killing. This time we get to see the point of view of the victims of the boastful killers from the first film as a man (anonymous for a reason) tries to find answers and some measure of remorse from the people responsible. A chilling reminder of our ability to live in denial.

7) I used to live here
Who would have thought with this and Glassland that we’d get two excellent dramas filmed in Tallaght released in the same year. I used to live here examines the phenomenon of suicide clusters with an amateur cast, a real sense of authenticity and the rawness of young peoples’ lives.

8) A pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on existence
A fever dream of a film this shared the surreal dark humour of The Lobster in a series of comedy sketches with images that stay with you. Check out his Ingmar Bergman approved early commercials for a taster.

9) Listen up Philip
Many people seemed to be unable stomach spending a film with the films obnoxious titular novelist even with the welcome mid-point focus on his ex-girlfriend and her life. I found it refreshing to the see a film that didn’t try to redeem its characters.

10) Brooklyn
It seems to be the year for brilliant films set in 1950’s New York see also Bridge of Spies and Carol. Also see The Lobster for a very different non-traditional take on monogamy also filmed in Southern Ireland. A much more kind hearted look at Irish culture than Crowley’s previous film Intermission. Nick Hornby seems to have cornered the market on adaptations of young females in duress (see also An Education). Saoirse Ronan makes us care for a passive lead character in a film that falls on the right side of melodrama. Saoirse and Emory Cohen are also possibly the cutest couple of 2015.

 

Lisa Madden’s Top 10

09

@lisapingu

10. Me, Earl and the Dying Girl
A lot more charming than sappy. Pleasantly surprised.

9. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Yes, a 15-year-old girl has an affair with her mother’s boyfriend, but there was something very captivating about this film.

8. Slow West
One of two westerns I liked this year (An Klondike was the other one) – very good film. Nothing to do with the fact that I love Michael Fassbender.

7. Wild
Reese Witherspoon’s performance was brilliant – really pulled me in.

6. Trainwreck
Very funny and very sweet. I’m curious to watch it again, but a little afraid. I hope it’ll still be good.

5. Birdman
Loved the style of this. Great film. Mad, but great.

4. Whiplash
J.K. Simmons

3. Older Than Ireland
My favourite film from the Galway Film Fleadh – point a camera at 30 people 100 or older and you get yourself an incredible film.

2. The Road Within
I saw this at JDIFF (soon to be ADIFF) and I was blown away. Vincent (Robert Sheehan), who has Tourette’s syndrom; Alex (Dev Patel), who has OCD and Marie (Zoë Kravitz), who’s anorexic go on a road trip. It was incredible. If you get a chance to see it, don’t miss it.

1. Amhrán na Mara
Tá sé seo ar an liosta agam anois de na scannáin is fearr riamh. Perfection.

 

Alice Butler’s Top 10

10

@butlerbutleral | ifi.ie

In no particular order…

Jauja – Lisandro Alonso
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Lily Amirpour
Amour fou – Jessica Hausner
45 Years – Andrew Haigh
The Tribe – Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
Force Majeure – Ruben Ostlund
The Wonders – Alice Rohrwacher
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence – Roy Andersson
The Assassin – Hou Hsiao-Hsien

 

Louise Bruton’s Top 10

11

@luberachi | notverywise.com

1. The Lobster
This was the first time I ever thought ‘That Colin lad can act’. Brilliantly weird and sweet movie.

2. Still Alice
I cry just thinking about this movie. Julianne Moore is an absolute goddess.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road
Speaking of goddesses…Charlize Theron is this year’s best action hero.

4. Queen of Ireland
From deity to royalty, Queen of Ireland captures a really magical and moving time in Irish history.

5. Inside Out
Pure joy.

6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
This film took me by surprise and I’m not sure I’m emotionally ready to watch it again. But you should.

7. Man Up
I’d almost forgive Simon Pegg everything he has done since Spaced for this movie. Almost.

8. Heaven Adores You
Between Amy and Montage of Heck, music documentaries had a big year but Elliott Smith’s Heaven Adores You is harrowing. He’s one of my favourite singers and this doc captures the brightness he had that is so often overshadowed by his troubles.

9. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Bel Powely and Kirsten Wiig are both incredible in this uncomfortable coming-of-age movie.

10. Selma
Considering everything that’s going on in America now with racism and police brutality, the powerful Selma shone a light on how much and how little has changed in the last 50 years.

 

Niall Sheerin’s Top 5

12_2

@nsheerin1 | vimeo.com/niallsheerin

5. Hyena
Stylish cop-thriller with a brilliant central coke-fuelled and morally corrupted performance by Peter Ferdinando. Could watch him all day!

4. Wild Tales
Incredibly entertaining selection of short films. My personal favourite was the road war between the rich prick and the redneck. Simple storytelling, very well told.

3. Girlhood
Urban coming of age that felt both honest and original. The Rihanna singalong was one of the standout scenes of the year.

2. Sicario
Villeneuve is quickly becoming the modern suspense-master, with every shot incredibly framed and thought out. Loved the switch in narrative too. Visceral film, all to an epic score.

1. Catch Me Daddy
Brilliantly paced, shot, and edited story about a cultural feud deep within the english countryside. A perfect demonstration of how to blend perfectly chosen non-actors with technical expertise. I fooking loved it!

Zoë Saunders Top 10

13_2

1. Mad Max: Fury Road
I reveled in every minute of this. Who knew a 120-minute chase scene could be so compelling? It’s the perfect action film that wastes no time in exposition and respects the intelligence of its audience enough not to spell everything out. Moreover, it successfully and succinctly creates a whole world, like one of those elaborate hellscapes by Bosch or Bruegel. The film’s ‘controversial’ feminist undertones were a breath of fresh air in an otherwise bro-dominated genre, and I left the cinema giddy and with a serious crush on Imperator Furiosa.

2. Arabian Nights
So far I’ve actually only seen Part 1 of this three-part six-hour film by Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, but I was impressed enough to include it on my list and will definitely be queuing up for Parts 2 and 3 when they become available. Inspired by Scheherazade’s 1001 tales, Gomes creates a collection of magical-realist parables that are simultaneously timeless and contemporary, commenting on the recent political events of Portugal. In its charming balance between the otherworldly and the entirely present, Arabian Nights is reminiscent of my favorite film of 2010, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

3. Carol
Just caught this one in the cinema this past weekend and am still processing it, but it certainly made a strong impression. The cinematography by Edward Lachman is beautiful and original, and – unlike Birdman’s Emmanuel Lubezki, whose camera gimmicks seemed to show off without contributing to that film – the physicality of the film’s grainy quality, soft shifting focus, and unexpected angles reinforces the intimacy of the story.

4. Inherent Vice
I thought this one was grossly under-appreciated, but maybe it just doesn’t translate well across the Atlantic? The film is thoroughly American in its wide-ranging influences: the noir tropes of Raymond Chandler and Humphrey Bogart, the 1960 psychedelia of Thomas Pynchon, and the physical humor of Buster Keaton. I found myself laughing uproariously in the cinema, surrounded by Brits who didn’t quite seem to get the joke.

5. Youth
A beautiful film that makes me want to holiday at a posh resort in the Swiss Alps. The playful chemistry between Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel is a pleasure to watch. I thought Sorrentino’s aesthetic, so lauded in 2013’s The Great Beauty, benefits here from an injection of heart and sentiment (in contrast to the prior film’s soullessness) but my filmgoing companions complained that this was too maudlin. Oh well, to each her own.

6. The Falling
This story of contagious hysteria at a repressive English girls’ school impressed me with its thoughtful treatment of the internal emotional lives of pubescent girls. Too often young people in cinema and fiction are treated as hardly human, but this film seems to respect its subjects and their emotional depth.

7. Timbuktu
A timely and beautifully human depiction of life under a militant fundamentalist regime. A favorite scene depicts a coed group of young people who gather secretly at night to play vibrant music together, in spite of the ruthlessly enforced prohibitions.

8. Chi-raq
Spike Lee’s latest picture is a mixed bag of rousing social commentary, strong comedy, weak drama, and occasionally baffling absurdism. I’m not sure if the inspiration drawn from classical Greek drama is a good enough excuse for the film’s at times heavy-handed melodrama. The script’s rhyming couplets are well written and amusing, without dragging down the story.

9. Trainwreck
Every single piece of criticism lobbed at this movie (re: its predictability, cringeworthy treatment of race, and ultimate reinforcement of gender norms it wants to subvert) is warranted, but I still loved it anyway! If female comedies weren’t so rare, then I would agree with the critics who say this one is like a gender-swapped bad Adam Sandler rom-com, but things being as they are, I’m grateful for what I can get! Not every rom-com has to be perfect – in fact, most are atrocious – but that seems to be the unfair pressure placed on this film, as if Schumer were solely responsible for proving ‘women are funny!’ Instead, the film is best enjoyed when we lower the lofty expectations and enjoy it for what it is: a good bit of fun.

10. Amy
I’ve never been a big fan of Winehouse’s music, so I suppose its a testament to the filmmaker’s skillful storytelling that I enjoyed this film as much as I did.

Leah Carroll’s Top 10

14

@AudioFonic

1. Whiplash
An exhilarating and worthwhile 107 mins from director Damien Chazelle. This is a story about what happens when people believe that great artists are formed through torment and humiliation. Miles Teller is brilliant in his screen presence and in his defiance of mentor JK Simmons.

2. Montage Of Heck
One of two music documentary biopics that I enjoyed this year. Both very different in their delivery of the story of hyperactive, hypersensitive, talented souls thrown into the pit of media glare and how it affected them. Beautifully depicted with graphic renders intertwined with interview and home movie footage.

3. Amy
While discussing fame “I don’t think I could handle it,” she offers, bleakly. “I think I’d go mad.” An intense retelling of her tragic life through interviews by those that knew her best and those that should have known better.

4. Birdman
Michael Keaton plays the (real life reflecting?) one-time star of a Hollywood superhero franchise seeking to redeem himself on Broadway. The fact that the camera doesn’t so much as flinch throughout is something to admire in itself.

5. White God
13 year old Lili and her best pal get separated when her father becomes angry at her going missing and leaves canine Hagen behind on the streets of Budapest to fend for himself. Disney this isn’t.

6. Unbroken
Unbroken tells the incredible true story of former Olympic athlete and Japanese prisoner-of-war Louis Zamperini. It’s a traumatic and soaring film which leaves you realising that any problems you may have, pale into insignificance.

7. The Gamechangers
GTA’s Sam Houser had the following in mind when developing & designing his games “I want to create a completely real world for grown ups so that people talk about video games the way they talk about films and music.” Technically a TV Movie but an intriguing account of game development in a multi billion Euro/Dollar/Sterling industry.

8. The Voices
Little-by-little, the world of pathological madness is made charming by Ryan Reynolds. An engaging and humourous look at mental illness.

9. Emeny
A film that asks more questions than it answers with one of the most bizarre endings I’ve seen. There’s definitely something in here about parallel universes.

10. Ex Machina
Domhnall Gleeson slowly figures out a scientist’s sickening personal agenda in creating artificial intelligence. Modern day sci fi is lacking in it’s reach (or have we become so technically advanced that it’s hard to keep up). Beautifully shot and edited.

 

Steve Neville’s Top 10

15

@stevetakingpics | linearcutter.tumblr.com

No order. All chaos…

Blackhat
Ex-Machina
Mississippi Grind
Chappie
The Gunman
Inside Out
Ant-Man
The Martian
The Star Wars behind the scenes reel from comic con
Mad Max – Fury Road

 

Ged Murray’s Top 10

Ged

@ged_murray | things on headstuff.org

1. Force Majeure
2. It Follows
3. Inside Out
4. White God
5. The Lobster
6. Mistress America
7. Fast and Furious 7
8. Slow West
9. Straight Outta Compton
10. Crimson Peak

Ian Wright’s Top 10

17

@ihwright

1. Mad max: Fury road
2. Ex Machina
3. ’71
4. Birdman
5. The lobster
6. Sicario
7. Whiplash
8. Ant man
9. Bridge Of Spies
10. It follows

Jack Ryan’s Top 10

jack

@doctorjr

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

The rest are in no particular order. I have omitted any movie that was part of the 2015 “Awards Season”.

Ex Machina
Mistress America
Slow West
Carol
Love & Mercy
Beasts Of No Nation
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Mícheál Ó Meachair’s Top 5

16

@momeachair

I didn’t like half as many of the films I saw in 2015 half as much as I should like, and I liked less than half the films I saw in 2015 half as much as they deserve.
As a result I felt my list should reflect this and include the films I enjoyed most of all, as well as the films that let me down most of all.

Three films that did certain things very well 👍 👍 👍

The Martian
This was fantastic, and very very good too! I think the way in which Ridley Scott tells this story is sci-fi at its best. A bold statement, I know, but I think I can briefly back it up: Sci-fi shouldn’t depend on its VFX team. If you simplify The Martian you see the fragility of life, the curiosity of the human race and a pretty big life-or-death moral conundrum. The fireworks display we frequently see in sci-fi films are negligible and those used here definitely play second fiddle to these far more engaging and enduring questions, and they succeeded in keeping my attention from beginning to end. (Are you listening Star Wars: The Force Awakens [2015] and Star Trek: Beyond [2016]? It’s not that I don’t like a good explosion or three, it’s just a shame to waste good potential.)

Amhrán na Mara and Spongebob Squarepants: Spúinse as Uisce (Yes, the Irish versions!)
It’s not every year us Irish speakers get to enjoy two major motion pictures at our local cinemas, but 2015 was a pretty good year. Spongebob delivers all the puns and slapstick you’d hope for in perfect time and without many hints it was originally written and animated for English. It was fun! Amhrán na Mara, on the other hand, was written as a bilingual film and which I would rank leagues above (sea-pun alert!) Spongebob. It’s a beautiful film that will inspire children’s imaginations for years to come; as well showing older folk a new slant on grief and love as understood by children. I recently bought the DVD for Song of the Sea / Amhrán na Mara in Tower Records (which comes with bilingual audio) and am sure it’ll become a household favourite when we crack it open over the Christmas.

Jurassic World
Gave me all the smash-and-grab madness and surreal dinosaur intelligence I was looking for in a big ball of popcorn-movie fun that left me bounding out of the cinema like a child / velociraptor. While I know this is also a sci-fi film, its story revolves around the dinosaurs as opposed to the sci-fi films above which could be much much deeper and which could engage on different levels. Colin Trevorrow, fair play to him, carried on the dinosaur baton really well; showing no signs that he was out to leave his stamp on the franchise with some crazy trope-changer or by veering off topic. Doing the simple things well often deserves a mention.

Three films that did certain things very poorly 👎👎👎

Steve Jobs (4 out of 10)
Okay, so now that Facebook (the Social Network, 2010), Google (The Internship, 2013), and Apple (Steve Jobs, 2015) have all made their movies; can we please leave it alone? I know I’m being a bit cynical here, but this is an example of much ado about nothing. It really seemed like there were some marketeers duelling while these films were being commissioned. It’s easy to get sucked into that Gogglebox-ish voyeuristic trap, “Oh! How interesting! I wonder if X is really like that in there? You know they get free espressos, right?” But let’s not. Who cares about the facades, or pop-portrayals, of massive tech companies. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see what kind of data they work with, and how they work with it, than what’s on the lunch menu!

Mr. Holmes: (3 out of 10)
I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and had relatively high hopes for this when I saw Ian McKellen was playing the lead. He can be both bold and clever at once, which I thought would really suit his role as Sherlock. Unfortunately I felt like this was put on our screens for one reason; to cash in on other people’s work with Sherlock Holmes over the last few years. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ interpretation both makes for a fantastic series, as well a few very strong stand-alone pieces. David Shore’s mercurial and moody House M.D. (2004-2012) managed to scratch an itch a lot of medical dramas don’t, and even that Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law circus (2009 & 2011) was a bit of a fun romp in fairness to it. But Mr. Holmes just let me down, When you see it you should picture a withered old cow being milked of her final few drops of dollar-milk. It’s never more than novel and it wasn’t enjoyable or engaging. It is not how I saw Sherlock aging either.

Spectre: (2 out of 10)
I can’t even. Sam Mendes accidentally the film Spectre. It appears as though there are some words missing from those sentences. I, and possibly Cristoph Waltz, felt Spectre was short an object to its subject and a couple of verbs as well. I was really looking forward to seeing Waltz play the villain and deliver some killer lines, or use his cunning to outwit the big blond Bond bulldozer (whom I like) but after 140+ minutes the credits began to roll and I was left puzzled. What the…? Did I fall asleep and miss the key scene? Alas, I had not caught some sneaky zeds. I had just been let down by Sam Mendes’ Spectre. A classic case of; it’s not what you did, Sam, it’s what you didn’t do.

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Nigel

Nigel loves stupid films almost as much as he likes clever films. He'll watch anything but is usually drawn to documentaries, North American independent films, Irish cinema and gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls Hollywood blockbusters. Here's what he's been watching.
 
Comments

Just saw Look of Silence last night and now need to reevaluate my list… Also forgot that Song of the Sea and Wild Tales were contenders from this year! Great lists, everyone 🙂

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