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BEST OF 2015


By Charlie David Page
13th December 2015

2015 has been a massive year for films on the big screen. We've seen huge success from blockbusters and indie darlings, and from the Aussie film industry has had a year unlike ever before at the box office.

SWITCH's contributors take you through their top movies of the year.

Jess FentonJess
I’ve always loved Chris Rock as an actor and comedian, but as a feature film writer and director, I knew he could do better. With 'Top Five', he proved me right. Rock finally had something real to say and he still managed to say it with his brand of humour. This sharp yet funny look at fame and celebrity hit all the right notes and then some. ‘Top Five’ shocked us all with its insight and honesty, and we couldn’t be happier. Sadly ‘Top Five’ didn’t get the box-office success it deserved but now that you know it’s out there, what’s stopping you?
I’m not a fan of Ridley Scott *insert gasp here*. 'Thelma & Louise' and 'Black Hawk Down' are pretty much the only films of his I can "double tap", so 'The Martian' was a very welcome surprise. I love both the film’s simplicity and complexity. Despite the science and bureaucracy, in the end it came down to the human response of survival and "no man gets left behind". Matt Damon was the always brilliant Matt Damon, and then there were the unexpected yet inspired casting choices of Kristen Wigg, Donald Glover and Michael Peńa. Keep up the good work Ridley.
3. ''71'
I walked out of ’71 hating it for all the right reasons. Set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, this harrowing tale of Private Gary Hook lost on the streets and being hunted like a dog will rattle you. This grim and gritty tale is uncomfortably realistic. With horrifying violence and goosebump-inducing performances.
Bond has the chicks, the gadgets and the smooth lines. Bourne has the skills and the amnesia. But Eggsy has... a stupid name, a smart mouth, oodles of street smarts, and nothing to lose. Not your average spy flick, this action comedy knocked many a sock off by throwing clichés and expectations out the window. Unafraid to offend, writer/director Matthew Vaughn took a comic book series (as he tends to do) and gave us one of the funniest, most action-packed and delightfully unexpected films of 2015.
This is the film that never should have been. Made in New Zealand by winning a poster design and concept competition called ‘Make My Horror Movie’, this is the sleeper Indie gem every reviewer dreams of. Making the rounds at festivals across the globe in 2015 the horror/comedy, ‘Deathgasm’ delighted, horrified (in so many ways) and titillated viewers at each screening. Made by nobodies for no money, these guys have undoubtedly got a massive future ahead of them. Full of gore, heavy metal, shock, awe, some of the biggest laughs you’ll ever experience (and just as many dildos), trust me when I say you shouldn’t let this one slip by.
Kate SmithKate
Bringing the bombastic back to Bond, this latest 007 features all the things we love about a Bond film. I didn't even mind that the plot was thin because the villain was mad, the car was gorgeous, and the women were strong and sexy. There were explosions, a few gadgets, the right amount of humour, and tasteful homages to Bond films of the past.
I͛d been looking forward to this film since 1993, and it did not disappoint. While nothing will ever live up to the original for me, 'Jurassic World' came pretty darn close. Also, Chris Pratt (...mmmmm, Chris Pratt).
Amy Poehler is just amazing. As a big fan of 'Parks and Recreation', I was looking forward to 'Inside Out' - and I was very, very impressed. Not only was this film thoroughly entertaining for little and big kids alike, but it also effectively educated on an issue permeating our culture. The topic of mental health was addressed in a sensitive and intelligent way that convinces me that 'Inside Out' is an very important film for young people.
Just absolutely bloody spectacular. Colin Firth and Taron Egerton lead a fantastic cast on a wild, insane and very entertaining ride. A new take on the classic spy movie, 'Kingsman' appeals on many levels. Just bring a strong stomach.
A faithful but brilliant book adaptation that reminded us just how good an actor Matt Damon is. Amazing special effects, perfectly timed humour, and a stellar (heh) supporting cast, this is my number one film for 2015.
Daniel LamminDaniel
Quite a few films almost took this spot (‘The Martian’ and ‘Creed’ were the closest), but I just haven’t been able to shake Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s ecstatic coming-of-age film. A love letter to cinema, individuality, friendship and the balance between life and death, it managed to balance bombastic filmmaking and storytelling with tremendous heart and emotional power. Its the only film on this list I’ve seen once, and I cannot wait to watch it again. It’s the kind of film that reminds me why I love cinema so very much.
In an absolutely sterling year for Australian cinema (two Aussie films are in my Top 5, how awesome is that), Neil Armfield’s adaptation of Tim Conigrave’s memoir was probably the most special. Overcoming enormous expectations, it captured the life and pain of both the book and its generation, and features career-making performances from Ryan Corr and Craig Stott. Beautiful and symphonic, it simultaneously breaks your heart and leaves you inspired. This is easily one of the most important Australian films ever made.
After a few slight missteps, Pixar returned to form with this pitch-perfect piece of pure cinema. It takes everything we expect from the studio (great characters, gentle storytelling, serious ideas, raucous comedy) and lifts it to a whole new level. Like ‘Mommy’ and ‘Fury Road’, I found ‘Inside Out’ to be faultless, and one of the finest films Pixar has ever produced. I also sob like a baby every time I watch it.
I’m going to have to use the "M" word with this one, but there really isn’t any better word to describe George Miller’s return to his beloved franchise. I suspected before I saw it that 'Fury Road' would be a lot of fun, but was completely blindsided by how daring, ridiculous and inspired it was. Action cinema will never be the same after this one, a furious masterpiece that (should justice be done) will kill at the Oscars this season.
1. 'MOMMY'
When I saw this back in April, I said this would be my number one film of 2015. Well, it’s now December and here it is, sitting unchallenged in the top stop as expected. Xavier Dolan’s film is also a masterpiece, pure and perfect cinema that’s as emotionally resonant as it is technically breathtaking. He takes what should be a typical family drama and turns it into the most sublime of spectacles, with a trio of harrowing performances at its heart and establishing him properly as one of the finest artists in cinema today. I simply can’t find fault in it.
Brent DavidsonBrent
Talk about fun! Space, disco music, pseudo science and a witty script! Who could ask for more? I know it will probably appear higher on other lists, but this was a wonderful film that really had something for everyone.
4. 'SPY'
Less spoof more homage to the spy movie genre, 'Spy' really showed what comedies can be when they are a little more clever that your average “Blank” movie. Rose Byrne, Miranda Heart and, of course, Melissa McCarthy lead this ensemble cast and make it one of the funniest films of the year. Well written, well directed and well performed, there was very very little to actually fault about this film!
Putting Australia back on the map, this feminist-charged post-apocalyptic opera was a beauty to behold. It had everything going for it and was edge-of-your-seat action from start to finish. Never are the stakes too high, and that’s the drama that really gets you hooked. Tom Hardy and Scarlett Johansen certainly help too!
Norm-challenging mind-bending drama on an operatic scale. 'Tangerine' was all kinds of impressive, from its content to its budget to how it was shot entirely on iPhones. I couldn’t have enjoyed this film more. I still get excited just thinking about it, it was so raw and fresh. Possibly the independent movie of the year.
This heartbreaking and funny look at how your emotions work was a masterpiece. It was perfect for its target audience as an explanation of how our emotions get more complex as we get older. For those of us that were older, it was a little too real! Couldn’t we all go back to a time where our imaginary friends were our best ones and joy was our overriding feeling? Throw in a fantastic vocal cast and you have my pick of this year's movies. If it isn’t at least nominated for best animated feature then something is seriously wrong with the world.
Charlie David PageCharlie
This film has got to be the year's indie darling. Touching, witty and unique, 'Earl' can do no wrong. What should be a simple love story is so much more, with the cast - particularly Olivia Cooke and Thomas Mann in the lead roles - giving their all. Laugh, cry, love life.
Six superb stories in one fantastic movie, 'Wild Tales' is foreign film at its absolute best. This is dark, twisted, but most of all, extremely funny. It's absolute proof that humour transcends language, and entirely deserved its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Look past the subtitles and give this one a chance, particularly if you like your comedy dark. You won't be disappointed.
What a spectacular year Australian film has had. While others found 'Mad Max: Fury Road' to be their preferred pick (an excellent choice, don't get me wrong), I couldn't go past 'The Dressmaker'. This film was simply too ridiculous for its own good. With a sumptuous cast led by Kate Winslet, you never quite know what's around the corner. Prepare yourself for practically every genre known to mankind as director Jocelyn Moorhouse effortlessly navigates you through this endearingly quirky gem.
This was an early 2015 release in Australia, but an extremely impressionable film. 'Birdman' really divided its audiences; you loved it or you hated it, but you did it vehemently. Michael Keaton twists and turns his way through this role that mirrors life almost uncomfortably, but the entire cast's contribution to this is exceptional. This makes my runner-up slot as much for the craft of filmmaking as anything; Alejandro G. Iñárritu makes films which are simply unforgettable.
If you're seeing a trend here, it's for a very good reason: 'The Martian' had everything film lovers want in a movie - a bold story, visual spectacle, humour, drama, and a phenomenal cast. You got all that and more with this trip to Mars, and received a gentle reminder of why Matt Damon is an actor to be reckoned with; in the end, his injection of warmth and hubris into the role of Mark Watney is the reason a film set on another planet is entirely believable.

Did we get it right? Are we missing something? Leave us a comment on your thoughts for the best film of 2015.

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