2015: a year of extraordinary films, fascinating indie flicks and nostalgic blockbusters.
Here’s my favourite 30 movies – and a few of the worst.
The bad and the ugly…
Spy – Jason Statham was a hoot as a gruff agent. The fact he was funnier than foul mouthed star Melissa McCarthy was just one of the many problems.
Jupiter Ascending – epic in scale, well made, but utterly barking. “Bees don’t lie.” Funniest line of the year.
The Last Witch Hunter – Vin Diesel’s The Slow and the Infuriating would have been a better title.
30: Inside Out. Sweet but overrated Pixar smash boosted by a sucker punch third act. Support ‘toon Lava was a gem.
29: Brooklyn. Slow burning drama with Saoirse Ronan a mesmerising force.
28: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The material was sari-thin, but the cast sold it beautifully.
27: The Falling. Maisie Williams was magnetic in director Carol Morley’s compelling drama about suspected mass hysteria in a school. Picnic at Hanging Rock, UK style.
26: Steve Jobs. Danny Boyle’s three act, three launch biopic crashed, but Fassbender and co did justice to Aaron Sorkin’s script.
25: It Follows. Creepily effective thriller with nods to Carpenter, Raimi and Let Me In.
24: Danny Collins. Pacino couldn’t carry a note as the eponymous singer, but this loosely fact-based drama had a heart bigger than his tour bus.
23: Avengers-Age of Ulton. Top heavy, weak villain, and a flabby second act but still fun.
22: Big Hero 6. Beautiful, touching and superbly crafted yarn reminiscent of Incredibles, anime and Iron Giant.
21: Jurassic World. Light on character development, heavy on spectacle and terrific action scenes.
20: Ex-Machina. Alex Garland’s intelligent three hander ticked over nicely.
19: The Theory of Everything. Eddie Redmayne’s career-best turn as Stephen Hawking was worthy of all the awards.
18: Bill. The Horrible Histories team worked wonders with this Shakespearean comedy.
17: Spectre. James Bond returned. Cash tills rang. Things exploded. Reached for the sky, fell short, but great fun regardless.
16: 50 Shades of Gray. A kinky fairytale for frustrated secretaries the world over. I loved it…like you do.
15: Mr Holmes. Ian McKellen’s Oscar and BAFTA-worthy take on the Baker Street sleuth was a gloriously created yarn. The finest performance of the year.
14: Ant-Man. Best superhero flick of 2015. Edgar Wright’s departure may have been no bad thing… and I love his work.
13: Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation. Tom Cruise back on form as Ethan Hunt; Simon Pegg fast becoming the saga’s MVP, and a star was born in Rebecca Ferguson. The opera scene was outstanding.
12: Awaiting. Well crafted thriller with Tony Curran on top form as an unhinged dad and Rupert Hill delivering a solid performance. Glorious third act. Great score too.
Awaiting. Photo: Solar Productions
11: The Martian. Not as good as Andy Weir’s superb novel, but Ridley Scott’s best in years.
10: Man Up – Lake Bell and Simon Pegg’s Curtislike rom com with a GSOH.
9: The Lady in the Van. Alan Bennett’s autobiographical play was a modest gem.
Maggie Smith shone.
8: Whiplash. Miles Teller couldn’t save that slated Marvel movie, but here he was Mr Fantastic in the best film about drumming ever made. And JK Simmons deserved his gongs after that powerhouse turn.
7: Birdman. Surreal, compelling and dazzling with a superb Michael Keaton. It soared.
Michael Keaton soars in Birdman: Source image: Fox Searchlight/Sketch – Roger Crow
6: Kingsman – The Secret Service. Came out of nowhere, and proved hugely enjoyable. Also turned Taron Egerton into an overnight star.
5: Sicario. Denis Villeneuve’s gritty, stylish drama with tense set pieces and great photography by Roger Deakins. Blade Runner 2 now looking more promising than ever.
4: The Duke of Burgundy. Peter Strickland’s powerhouse adult drama paid homage to euro movies of the seventies. Beautifully mounted, like many of the moths featured, with a great Cats Eyes score.
3: Bridge of Spies. Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance delivered the most satisfying, intelligent thriller of the year. “Would it help?” being one of 2015’s most unlikely catchphrases.
2: Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller’s heavy on the mad, light on the Max reboot was the best movie of its type since Mad Max 2 in the early Eighties. Visually stunning. Charlize Theron was outstanding. ‘Shiny and chrome’.
1: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Midi chlorians begone; that’s not how the force works. This was the most satisfying Star Wars epic, and sci-fi adventure since The Empire Strikes Back. Funny, thrilling, poignant and touching. I laughed. I got something in my eye. I played the soundtrack on a loop. I went back to see it again and again. JJ – you did us proud.
JJ Abrams, fresh from the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with composer Michael Giacchino and Simon Pegg at the Albert Hall. Photo: Roger Crow