Wednesday, 30 December 2015

General: Top 10 films of 2015

This is something I haven't done in previous years, but I was prompted by a recent conversation with a friend. What were the 10 best new films of 2015? To qualify for inclusion in the list I have to have seen a film in the cinema this year. Maybe that's a bit unfair, because there are excellent foreign films that are never shown in UK cinemas, or at least not in Birmingham where I live. I've been told that London has more underground cinemas. Apart from that, if I'm ever sick in bed and don't go to the cinema for a few weeks a first class film might be omitted. That wasn't the case this year. I've been going to the cinema regularly all year round, and I don't believe I've missed anything that would deserve inclusion.

As is typical for me, it's a very subjective list. I've included the films that speak to me. If I feel an inner resonance from a film that makes it more memorable than everything else I've seem, it's in the list.

1. The Walk

Believe it or not, I almost didn't go to see this film in the cinema. It was shown only as IMAX in my regular cinema, Cineworld, and I've always considered IMAX to be overrated. It's not worth the additional price for the ticket. Sure, it's a bigger screen, but I can get just as much out of a smaller screen if I sit closer to the front.

2. Ip Man 3

I only saw this a few days ago, and it was a last minute addition to the top 10 list that I had already made a few days before Christmas. Apart from Bollywood films it's very rare for Birmingham cinemas to show foreign films.

3. Big Game

This was the surprise hit of the year. I went to see it because it starred Samuel L. Jackson, one of my favourite actors, but the overall quality is astounding. It's a relatively small budget film that puffs up its chest and yells to everyone, "Hey, I'm big budget!"

4. Whiplash

This is generally considered to be a 2014 film, but it wasn't released until 2015 in the UK. It's a film with a plot that sounds boring, but when people sit down and watch it they're amazed.

5. Steve Jobs

I didn't give this film a full five star rating when I reviewed it. That was probably a mistake. As a minimalist work of art this is a masterpiece.

6. Birdman

This was another 2014 film that wasn't shown in the UK until 2015. As you probably know it won the Academy Award for best film and best director. More than anything the cinematography, the long shots, impressed me.

7. Unfriended

This was doubtlessly the most original film of the year. It invented its own genre, and so far nobody has dared imitate it, with the exception of Internet parodies. If I read one more review where it's called a "found footage" film I'll scream. Those critics just don't get it.

8. Love & Mercy

This was another surprisingly good film. Surprising to me, that is. I've never been a fan of the Beach Boys, but the heart-rending story of Brian Wilson touched me deeply.

9. Ex Machina

This is the only science fiction film that's made it into my top 10 list. It's a very low-key drama, but fascinating throughout.

10. Royal Night Out

I was unsure until the last minute whether to include this. It's a pseudo-true story, based on a real event about which almost nobody knows anything.

What's remarkable when I look through my list is that I haven't included any comedies. I love comedies! In past years there would have been comedies, if I'd been making lists. My favourite comedians, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, haven't been on top form this year. There are also no Marvel films, which there definitely would have been in a 2014 list.

Please, readers, leave comments on what you think should or shouldn't be in my list. Better still, leave your personal top 10 lists in the comments section.

Before writing this post I decided to look at the top 10 film lists on other web sites, and they're awful. I don't mean that the lists are awful, the sites are awful. They're all packed full with ads that slow down the page load times. Computers are much faster than they were when I first started using the Internet in 1995, but for every speed increase web designers find a way to compensate with junk that slows down pages. The problem is that so many writers, even amateur bloggers like myself, want to earn money from what they write. They do this by packing their pages full of ads that nobody wants to see. This ruins their pages. Just look at the minimal purity of my blog. The only "ads" are links to Amazon in the sidebar, and as non-scripted links they don't slow down page load times at all.

Many of the top 10 film lists are a paper chain of links over 10 different pages. Apologists might say that this is to build up suspense, but that's just a lame excuse. The truth is that they want 10 pages of ads, so that they earn 10 times as much for ad clicks. That's disgusting. What happened to journalistic integrity? I consider my site to be an example of what all film review sites should look like.


  1. Need to see at least 4 or 5 on this list. Quite admired Ex Machina but what an ending... Birdman was well recognised by the American Awards but of course Michael Keaton didn't play politics well enough for the Best Actor.

    1. My 2015 top 10 list profited from me having a Cineworld Unlimited Card. I went to see at least two films every week. That was my minimum. In particular, "Love and Mercy" is a film I wouldn't have gone to see under normal circumstances, if I'd been paying over £8 a film. I went to see it because nothing else was on that week, and wow, it was great. Now that I'm in Germany I don't have an unlimited card. There's a Blockbuster-only cinema that charges 399 Euros for a yearly unlimited card (no monthly offer), but it isn't just the price that puts me off. The other four cinemas in the city centre have a better selection of films. The price per ticket is only 6 Euros on Tuesday, 7 Euros on the other days (more for 3D), so it's hardly worth it.


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