Top 10 Films of 2015 – Chloe Gynne

Here are the top 10 films I’ve chosen for 2015. Please note the list was compiled before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

10. Jurassic World
The first Jurassic Park movie came out in the year I was born, so I was excited to experience the excitement of a new film from the franchise for myself. Unlike the other sequels, this one did not disappoint- it was gripping enough that I nearly choked on my popcorn at times, but not so terrifying that children left the cinema crying. Chris Pratt excelled as Owen Brady, commanding both dinosaurs and audiences alike.

9. The Martian
Two things are immediately striking about The Martian- first, that it has a fantastic and somewhat jarring disco soundtrack, and second, that it is actually extremely funny. The third high-budget space movie in as many years- and the second featuring both Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain-, it was understandable to be cynical about The Martian. But a brilliant script launches the film into another dimension: each character is beautifully defined, and their moral dilemmas are honest and subject to self-reference. I didn’t know I wanted a space film with ABBA on the soundtrack, but I’m glad I got it.

8. Inside Out
I refuse to believe that anybody has watched Inside Out with dry eyes. It delves into the human mind with bounds of life lessons for the kids and a couple for the adults too. Amy Poehler is perfectly cast as Joy, an enthusiastic team leader who is desperate to keep on top of everything, but it is, somewhat tellingly, Sadness, who feels the most relatable. Thanks to the comic cast, it’s packed full with subtle jokes, which made me wonder if it’s a children’s film at all. ‘Inside Out’ is the most interesting Pixar movie in many years.

7. I Am Michael
Justin Kelly’s debut feature is a true story so compelling that it seems ridiculous it took so long to get turned into a movie. I Am Michael is the story of Michael Glatze, a gay rights activist who became a homophobic pastor. It depicts his existential and identity crises with a surprisingly large dose of sympathy, examining the link between fear and faith. It tackles a difficult subject, and with help from James Franco as Michael and it is masterfully done.

6. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
It took a long time for the film get released: it premiered at film festivals in early 2014, but was only seen in London in March this year. It was worth the wait. The film follows a young, miserable Japanese woman, who heads to Minnesota to find the treasure she sees Steve Buscemi bury on her worn-out copy of Fargo. It’s an incredibly stylish film, shades of red popping out of the snowy backdrop, but Rinko Kikuchi as the naïve but likeable protagonist Kumiko is the driving force of the film, and you can’t help but root for the lost woman. It’s a unique film that plays on the mind long after the first viewing.

5. Wild
Cheryl Strayed’s novel was brought to life within Reese Witherspoon’s monologues and perfectly cut flashbacks into her troubled past, being repeated until they became clearer and more understandable. As the protagonist walks the PCT, we learn more about her at the same time she learns about herself, the kind of self-evaluation that comes after a major life event. Wild is an empowering portrayal of a woman overcoming the odds and proving that sometimes the best way to face demons is to, quite literally, walk away from them.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road
Everything about Mad Max: Fury Road is spot-on, from the casting (Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy should have a “best acting duo” Oscar made for them), the colouring of that orange sand and the metallic grey of everything else, to the unsubtly feminist undertone to the film. It’s the latter which makes it so likeable: it might be the title character who takes up the most screen time, but it’s the team of women around him who hold the story down, and their need to escape is even more vital than his. It is paced at a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it speed, an exhilarating watch and the best of this summer.

3. Ex Machina
Sci-fi has never been so sophisticated. It’s in the anxious calm of the isolated house Domhnall Gleeson’s Caleb is sent to, and it’s in the eerily robotic performance of Ava by Alicia Vikander. Ex Machina is suspenseful: it is impossible to trust any of the characters, all guarded, confused and quietly plotting. It’s brought together by the music, composed and compiled masterfully by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, keeping the pace achingly slow, always teasing at a resolution but rarely giving one. Ex Machina is a prime example of perfect timing in film, with a minimalist aesthetic charm.

2. Carol
The first thing that is striking about Carol is how beautifully shot it is; filmed on Super 16 film, it mutes the colours and grains the image in the exact way Therese photographs Carol, played fantastically well by Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett respectively. The film is indulgent and amorous, but without the smoochy, tired pick-up lines seen in other- read: heterosexual- romantic dramas. It is a project of passion in many ways, and proves that Todd Haynes is a diverse, yet consistently brilliant director.

While technically it is a 2014 film, it was released in the UK in January of this year, so it still counts in this writer’s eyes. It trumps the rest because it evokes a different emotion with each watch: in the cinema, I was starry-eyed at the pace of Miles Teller’s dialogue and rhythms, but later I found myself infuriated with the treatment of the students by Terence Fletcher- played with a concerning ease by J.K. Simmons. Like Good Will Hunting before it, it is gloriously rich in colour and in plot, a coming-of-age story unlike any of ours but somehow incredibly relatable. It is a heart racing film, which was worthy of all of its nominations and wins earlier this year.