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Whilst I have seen in excess of 280 films in 2015 (all reviewed on this site) the number of those actually released this year either in the UK or abroad is demonstrably small in terms of accessibility and in some cases my interest in new output. Usually this is where I bemoan the dearth of fresh ideas in Hollywood but just from glancing my final list, you will see Tinsel Town is extraordinarily well represented this year. A turning point perhaps? 

For my tastes Europe and Asia continue to lead the way in terms of consistency and fresh ideas, delivering more overlooked gems which delight us, inform us, shame us and make us think, and while it seems that once again the market impact of World Cinema is on the increase, some of the true gems remain under the radar, and out of reach for us devoted cinephiles.

I think myself fortunate to have seen some great films this year – not all modern classics but many with something unique and affecting to offer. As for the more mainstream titles, some will have been on 2014 “best of” lists but they usually come from privileged journos and critics whose pre-emptive praise gives these yet publicly unreleased films that sneaky boost in time for awards season.

Therefore these choices reflect the 2015 UK release dates of these films be it DVD or theatrical and as ever this is my own personal list so agree or disagree as is your wont.

 

10. Han Gong-Ju

Han_gong_juBased on a true story, this unsettling tale of social dysfunction from Korea covering teen rape, bullying, broken families and absolving of responsibility hardly sounds like a barrel of laughs but it is a damning indictment of the dark side of a modern patriarchal society. Boasting an incredibly touching lead performance from Chun Woo-Hee as the eponymous protagonist, the debut from director Lee Su-Jin is a powerful and sobering polemic as you’ll likely see anywhere else.

Read the full review HERE

 

9. White God

white_godHungarian director Kornél Mundruczó delivers a scathing satire on the widening of the class system in the wake of recent financial troubles but using dogs as his metaphor in this hard to watch drama. When Hagen, a family dog is abandoned and left to roam on his own, he ends up in the hands of a dog fighting syndicate and using the violent lessons taught him, Hagen instigates his own canine revolution. This is no Disney fantasy but it is a superbly crafted albeit upsetting morality tale we all should heed.

Read the full review HERE

 

8. The Tribe

the_tribeBold and gritty teen dramas are a regular fixture in European cinema but The Tribe from the Ukraine takes top trumps by virtue of the fact that the entire cast is deaf and only sign language is used throughout the whole film. And no subtitles either! But we don’t need them as the action – excuse the pun – speaks for itself. Despite the trouble the kids get into there is an enriching tale here about how their impairment hasn’t held any of them back from leading normal lives.

Read the full review HERE

 

7. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

kumikoRinko Kikuchi is the female Ken Watanabe as Hollywood’s “go to” girl whenever an Asian role is needed to be cast. It is therefore a relief to report that in the title role, Kikuchi doesn’t just fulfil a typical Asian role she gets to BE a Japanese woman. Kumiko is a loner who believes that the treasure in the film Fargo is real and travels from Japan to the US to find it. It’s an enchanting comic-tragedy tale lifted to sublime heights by Kikiuchi’s superlative and committed performance.

Read the full review HERE

 

6. A Girl At My Door

girl_doorKorean Bae Doona is another Asian actress who has paddled in US waters but her best work remains on Asian soil. Her fragile build and expressive facial appearance lends itself to heavy drama and in July Jung’s debut about an abused teenage girl (Kim Sae-Ron) finding solace with a troubled police chief, Doona delivers a career best performance. Youngster Sae-Ron continues to impress while Jung’s story is bleak, heartbreaking and deeply affecting.

Read the full review HERE

 

5. Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

birdmanI have enjoyed Alejandro González Iñárritu’s films prior to this but was unsure about it since I find many World Cinema directors tend to flounder in Hollywood by having to compromise their style and vision for the Almighty Dollar. Thankfully Iñárritu turns this on it head by making a deeply cynical meta-satire which effectively scorns the US star system with his own style, bagging a Best Picture Oscar in the process. The (supposed) single take presentation certainly helps make this a unique viewing experience.

Read the full review HERE

 

4. Foxcatcher

foxcatcherI’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice from perusing this site that I am a wrestling fan although the amateur style doesn’t excite me much. However this film based on the tragic true story of Olympic gold medallist wrestler Dave Schultz and his younger brother Dave felt too big to ignore and became for me one of the more revelatory films of this year. Comedian Steve Carell shows off his serious acting chops as the creepy patron John E. Du Pont in this chilling cautionary tale about the dark side of fame and fortune.

Read the full review HERE

 

3.Mommy

mommyProdigious genius or pretentious little twerp? However one wants to view French-Canadian progeny Xavier Dolan it is remarkable how he makes such incredibly deep, emotionally resonant and astute films at such a young age. Mommy is Dolan returning to his favourite theme of unwavering maternal love this time for a violently troubled son. Shot in 1:1 picture ratio Dolan invites scorn for such indulgent disdain for his audience yet somehow still manages to make an incredibly vibrant piece of modern cinema.

Read the full review HERE

 

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star_Wars__Force_AwakensNope – no apologies. I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I saw the first film as a child way back in mumble mumble and even endured the overcooked prequels. Yes I was initially dubious about George Lucas not being involved in this continuation of his saga and with Disney taking over the reins but it didn’t take long for The Force Awakens to take me back to being a little kid again. So kudos to JJ Abrams and all involved and believe the hype – Star Wars is BACK!!

Read the full review HERE

 

No.1 – Whiplash

whiplash

Like Birdman this film also caught me by surprise, my interest only slightly tickled by the many award wins for J.K Simmons as the acid tongued, short tempered music professor Terence Fletcher. By the end of this film I was shaking from the sheer ferocity of Fletcher’s verbal destructions of young Miles Teller and his fellow band mates yet uplifted by the deft mastery of the climactic drum solo which ranks as one of THE most tense and dramatic scenes filmed in recent years. And yes, there was a small jump in my interest in Jazz too as a result of this film.

Read the full review HERE

 

And that is my list. Like every other year there were more than ten films in the running. For whatever reason there are some big hitters from this year which I didn’t get to see (Mad Max: Fury Road, Inside Out) while others are either still waiting to be discovered or maybe will arrive on UK shores in 2016.

Films just missing out on a Top Ten spot include: Tag, The Miracle, Be My Baby, Ode To My Father, Battle For Sevastopol, Wild Tales, Song Of The Sea and possibly Hard To Be A God (if I can make up my mind whether I actually liked it or not) among others.

That’s 2015 done and dusted, I wonder what delights 2016 hold in store for us film fans? Please check back in twelve months time to see what ten films will have earned themselves the MIB seal of approval!

 

Thanks for reading and until next time, this is the Man in Black saying Sayonara!

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14 thoughts on “MIB’s Top Ten Films of 2015

  1. Yay!!! I’ve heard of six of these! 🙂 And two are in my top ten tomorrow too (Whiplash & of course The Force Awakens). I really liked Foxcatcher but not Birdman so much. I want to see Kumiko. And that White God thing is on Netflix so that’s how I’ve heard of it. Great list! 🙂

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  2. Wow 280 films, how do you find the time! I don’t think have seen any of your top 10 list (except Star Wars) but most look very intriguing.
    I saw Hard to be A God in the film festival last year. Really one of the most incredible things I’ve seen. I loved it, but I can see why others wouldn’t.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      My record is 316 in a year but I wasn’t reviewing them all afterwards at that point. However I am a lightweight compared to some, who manage double that in a year!

      I’m not a mega-hardcore arthouse film fan so films like Hard To Be A God usually confuse the hell out of me… 😦

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    1. Thanks! 🙂

      I wasn’t sure I would like Kumiko as it was a US production and historically they have no clue about foreign cultures but to their credit they created a credible and very Japanesey film, bolstered by Kikuchi’s superb performance.

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  3. What a fantastic list! I still have to see Star Wars, but other than that, I’ve seen and loved them all 🙂 and we’ve seen almost the same number of films this year! Although I didn’t manage to review them all, not even close. 🙂

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      1. Haha, yeah, I’m not much of a fan of Hollywood blockbusters. But I’ll cave in and watch it in the following days, who knows, maybe it manages to surprise me, just as Mad Max did. 🙂

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