Thursday, 17 December 2015

Films of the Year 2015

What a year. I’ve sold my house. I’ve been brave. I’ve experienced extremes of joy and sadness the likes of which I haven’t felt in years. I said goodbye to the loveliest group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I’ve tried to help people and sometimes fallen short. I’ve been irresponsible. I’ve kept my heart open even when I thought I might have to close it down and hibernate. I am tired in a whole new way.

And I’ve seen less films this year than for a very long time indeed. It’s not that I didn’t get to the cinema (almost) as much – I did. It’s more that I haven’t watched much at home: either revisiting old films or catching up with recent stuff that didn’t get shown in Birmingham.

I find myself in almost total disagreement with the Guardian Top 50 (Bridge of Spies at #2 ffs!!!!! – I mean it’s good but really?) and out of sync with a Sight and Sound list that, as usual, has lots of festival films that won’t be seen in the UK till 2016.

With all that said there are films I’ve seen this year that will be favourites for ever. Finally after all these years a GREAT action film; a new film based on a novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky; numerous, fantastic films about women, with great roles for women and directed by women.

So before I see Star Wars.....

A top 5 in a Sight and Sound stylee (in no particular order) is actually very easy because they are all very brilliant indeed:

  • Girlhood (Céline Sciamma)
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour)
  • Carol (Todd Haynes)
  • Hard to be a God (Alexei German)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)

Girlhood manages to keep its overall structure whilst containing moment after moment of rapturous filmmaking. This is a film that takes a hard look at the lives of young working class black women in France but manages to be subtle, poised and euphoric all at once. I love it wholeheartedly. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Carol are in very different ways, sublime. Mad Max gave me the same giddy high as Die Hard did when I was 17. I never expected to feel that again – AND it’s so beautiful!! And Hard to be a God – fuck me, no words yet. Probably not for a while.

My now traditional top 12 is harder:

  1. Girlhood (Céline Sciamma)
  2. Carol (Todd Haynes)
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
  4. Hard to be a God (Alexei German)
  5. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour)
  6. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  7. Selma (Ava DuVernay)
  8. The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer)
  9. Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller)
  10. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
  11. Slow West (John Maclean)
  12. Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve)
  13. Grandma (Paul Weitz) [joint twelfth]

See what I did there! I cheated didn’t I? [blows raspberry] I don’t care. And look FIVE films out of the 13 are directed by women – hardly perfect, but a lot better than usual. And I don’t know how Inherent Vice isn’t in my top 5 because I fucking love it.

What’s that? No room for Brooklyn, or Amy, or The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, or that glorious weepfest Bajrangi Bhaijaan, or Mistress America, or Taxi Tehran, or It Follows, or Timbuktu, or The Tribe or Dear White People? I know! I know!

And beyond that I really enjoyed Whiplash, Sicario, Macbeth, Ex Machina, Mommy, Force Majeure, A Most Glorious Year, The Duke of Burgundy and Birdman.

It’s been a BAD year for Bollywood though I have a few minor films to search out that might make me reconsider.

Haven’t seen 45 Years, The Wonders, Sunset Song, A Syrian Love Story, Tangerine or The Forbidden Room yet. Booooo!