Ho, ho and, as Santa Pimp might say, mudderfreaking ho!
‘Tis the season when every superior, self-important, movie geek who can string together a sentence or three without using the word “Awesome!” smugly imparts the benefit of their wisdom by ramming their top films of the year list down your throat secure in the knowledge that, barring the occasional sneak entry, it’s almost identical to everyone else’s.
While I’m both smug and superior, I’m also a huge snob and somewhat contrary, just enough of a square peg in a world of round holes to believe my opinion is alternative enough to matter, to offer something refreshing in an expanded MCU. But always remember gentle reader: opinions are like arseholes! The uglier and more upsetting they are, the more we want to share them. Read on…
As Big Arnie says in Total Recall: “This is the best mindfuck yet!” My first thought after watching Predestination, the Spierig Brothers’ thrilling, stylish, morally complex, mind-boggling, Mobius strip of a movie was: WTF did I just watch? Predestination is the best film I saw this year. Or last year. Or maybe it was two years from now I saw it. Almost impossible to review without spoiling some aspect of its intricate plot, Predestination is a time travel movie that makes you wish you could travel back in time and watch it again for the first time.
Lyrical, spare and shockingly visceral, Aussie director Justin Kurzel’s bloody and beautiful Macbeth at it’s dark heart is a war movie, as much about grief and the emotional and psychological cost of war as it is about envy and ambition, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth equally steeped in pain and loss as they are in violence. Grieving for a lost child, numbed by death and loss, and obviously suffering from PTSD why not murder the King, if only to feel something for a moment? And anyone who complains of not understanding either the accents or the iambic pentameter? They are a window-licking idiot and it’s your duty as a sentient human to smack them in the face.
The Closer We Get
You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family! Unfolding more like a detective mystery as filmmaker Karen Guthrie digs ever deeper into her family’s relationships, documentary The Closer We Get is reminiscent of Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell; a quietly shattering, ultimately hopeful, portrait of redemptive love.
Former actress turned writer/director Ruth Platt creates a sub-genre all of her own, the kitchen sink torture porn movie, with the bleak, claustrophobic, slow-burner The Lesson which for me was the highlight of this year’s FrightFest.
Gorgeous, visceral and thrilling. In Blackhat, Michael Mann succeeds in creating an arthouse action movie that marks a welcome return to form.
Sad Keanu turns Mad Keanu – mad as Hell – in what may just be the best American action movie in decades, the stylish, neo-noir John Wick.
Life is no cabaret in Christian Petzold’s devastating, noirish, Holocaust drama Phoenix as a Jewish woman reclaims her lost identity in the ruins of post-WW2 Berlin. Drawing on the likes of A Woman’s Face and, most obviously, Vertigo it’s a subtle, woozily wistful piece built around Nina Hoss’s mesmeric central performance.
Fascinating, enthralling and ambitious, The Signal is a smart, thrilling head-scratcher that like the best sci-fi is more concerned with who and what we are than laser battles and anal probes. Though there is a wicked exploding cow.
Is just wild; a darkly hilarious, subversive collection of short stories satirising life in modern Argent
If you ever tell a woman “I wanna make movies out of blood, sperm and tears.” only a French woman would respond: “That’s so sweet.” With Love, Gaspar Noe has created a raw, devastating crywank of a movie that captures the bittersweet taste of a soured romance.
Of course, two of my favourite films didn’t even get a release in 2015, writer/director Simon Pummell and producer Janine Marmot’s brilliant, paranoid Brand New U, a Sci-Fi/Love story that out-Dicks Philip K Dick (that just sounds rude!) with fantastic, raw performances from Nora-Jane Noone and Lachlan Nieboer and S Craig Zahler’s stunning Western/Horror Bone Tomahawk. In the year ahead, if you can only see one violent Kurt Russell Western, make it Bone Tomahawk.
The best almosts:
The Clouds of Sils Maria
Kingsman: The Secret Service
The Forbidden Room
You can’t define the best films of the year however without offering up a prayer/curse for the worst. Here’s mine. Probably reads like other people’s Top Ten:
A film so obnoxious you wish it would shut the hell up and get the hell back in the closet.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
I have started watching Age of Ultron three, count ‘em, THREE, times. Three times I have quit around 20 minutes in when the heroes are partying and fannying around with Thor’s hammer. If I can’t get further than 20 minutes in to a film, it’s a bad film. I managed to watch 50 Shades Of Grey in one sitting. I made it through Child 44. True, they weren’t free press screenings, in both cases I paid between nine and 11 of your English pounds for the privilege, so had I walked out I’d have wasted my money. I also paid for two of the three screenings of Age of Ultron. Walking out was the best money I spent all year.
Mad Max: Fury Road
God is in the details. If you convince me of the smallest, least consequential detail of a world, I’ll swallow the biggest lie. In the original Mad Max movies, society had degenerated to the point where petrol is a precious commodity. I believed it. I bought into that world I don’t need to know who drops an A-bomb on Manhattan in The Divide because I believed in the pressure cooker world of those survivors in that basement. Regardless of how ludicrous it may be, if anyone is gonna punch a wolf in The Grey, it’s gonna be Liam Neeson. I believed it. The Book Of Eli convinced me so well of the power of the written word that I never realised the hero was blind. I believed in that world. Fury Road expects me to believe in a world where the local economy is based on breast milk. That the heroes can drive around the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Australia in an unrefrigerated lorry brimming with boob juice that never goes off. That the hero can shower in breast milk then sit two feet from the heroine in a hot, sticky truck cab and never once be accused of frankly stinking like diseased feet. Mad Max: Fury Road, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe in that world. In fact, in the world of Fury Road, as post-apocalyptic as it gets, I believe there’s probably still pavement cafes in Europe.
Tom Hardy, arguably one of the most talented actors working today, is awful in stereo, somehow managing the no mean feat of having zero chemistry with himself as the Kray twins in an amateur East End production of Of Mice And Men. The scene where the brothers come to blows is a comic set-piece funnier than any of the Summer’s comedies and less convincing than a similar scene where JCVD kicks JCVD in the face in ‘90s actioner Double Impact
Smug, self-indulgent and pretentious, Buttercup Bill feels like a hipster retelling of Georges Bataille's The Story Of The Eye with all the dark, taboo, twisted sexuality cut out. And what’s the point of that? Writer/director/star Remy Bennett’s frequent nudity is bold and challenging for all the wrong reasons. Mainly because she looks like her grandfather Tony Bennett with his tits out.
Johnny Depp plays a coked up Terry Thomas.
Imagine a shit remake of '80s sci-fi comedy Short Circuit where Johnny 5 bags a machine gun, some bling and banters with Afrikaaner hip-hop twats Die Antwoord.
It’s rare that you watch a film and find yourself musing: “You know, that film could’ve done with more Ray Winstone.” Arguably, Ray Winstone doesn’t even watch films and think they could do with more Ray Winstone. Argy-apologist and all-round Hollywood bleeding heart liberal Sean Penn fails to pull off a Liam Neeson-style actioner, going full retard as an Alzheimer’s-suffering international assassin in The Gunman; a po-faced, humourless, self-indulgent and ludicrous vanity vehicle which skimps on punching foreigners in favour of building them wells.
The Human Centipede 3
If you hate humanity but appreciate caca and sexual abuse, you’ll probably like The Human Centipede 3. It’s the same as the first two films but more…and much less…
A show about douchebags made by douchebags for douchebags becomes a film for douchebags.
It’s probably a little obvious that one of the biggest films of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is missing from both lists. That’s because it’s simply too big for a Top Ten of 2015 list.
Some of us, we’ve been waiting for this film for more than 30 years, since Return Of The Jedi. So here’s the best flicks, as ever, in my opinion and, in no particular order, since 1983 when Return Of the Jedi was released.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
The Right Stuff (1983)
Betty Blue (1986)
The Terminator (1984)
King Of New York (1990)
Blue Velvet (1986)