Films of the Year - Our Choices

22 Dec 2015

8 mins
Song of the Sea
Song of the Sea

2015 has been a bumper year for film, with box-office records tumbling left, right and centre, and the return of some beloved franchises in Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But which were the year's best films? 

Our team of expert films programmers, who curate our film catalogue and programme the Into Film Festival, have weighed in with their choices below. 

Moira - Head of Content Programming

The Crow's Egg

This festival favourite, set in the slums of India, forefronts the much debated issue of inequality using humour and heartbreak as we follow the lives of two little boys who dream of pizza but simply can't afford to eat it.

Song of the Sea

Breathtakingly beautiful and emotionally disarming, this follow up to  The Secret of Kells enfolds the issue of loss within a magical coat of Celtic mythology.

Force Majeure

In this dark family oriented psychological thriller from Sweden, an avalanche is just the beginning of their troubles as Force Majeure leaves you with more deliciously searching questions than it answers.

Testament of Youth

Alicia Vikander's mesmerising performance as the pacifist and feminist icon Vera Brittain is central to James Kent's steadfastly faithful adaptation of a much-admired text and the life story of an extraordinary woman.

Amy

This documentary hits home hard as by watching we somehow have a sense of having been unconsciously complicit in the downfall of a talented and vulnerable young woman. A cleverly constructed insight into the vicious circle of the media fueled cult of the celebrity.

Runners-Up:  The Salt of the Earth Slow West Into the Woods, Brooklyn, A Syrian Love Story.

Kirsten - Film Programming Manager 

Song of the Sea

Charming Irish animation from the team behind The Secret of Kells about a little girl who turns into a Selkie. Beautifully drawn with a bewitching soundtrack, this is an enchanting, heartfelt celebration of traditional Gaelic storytelling and folktales.

Zarafa

Gorgeous French animation set in the early 19th century about a little boy who escapes slave traders and befriends a giraffe on his journey from Africa to Paris. A fresh exciting story with a lot of heart it brings the African landscape to life while exploring themes of slavery, friendship and love.

Whiplash

Frenetic jazz-fuelled drama depicting the intoxicating relationship between a talented drummer and his bullying teacher that jump-started our year on its release in January.

The Falling

Beguiling 1960s set British drama about a bizarre fainting outbreak that grips a strict all girls school. Written and directed by consistently inventive and challenging female director Carol Morley, The Falling transfixes its audience with its eerie narrative, brilliant performances and mesmeric soundtrack.

Timbuktu

Thought-provoking drama about the effect of Islamic Occupation on a remote city in West Africa through the eyes of a little girl. As much about the beauty of the landscape and the community's unique way of life, the film is notable for its sympathetic, if at times shocking, depiction of religious extremism without falling prey to stereotype.

Runners-Up:  Amy Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Far From the Madding Crowd Girlhood

Joe - Film Programmer 

Inside Out

In many ways a traditional Pixar odd-couple adventure story, the ingenious Inside Out was brave, complex, endlessly inventive and genuinely moving. The fact that it was also visually dazzling, full of warmth, and packed with hilarious characters means the film will live long in the memory for all ages.

The Martian

Crowd-pleasing blockbuster that mixed rigorous and intelligent science with a simple compelling story, fabulously unexpected disco soundtrack, charismatic performances and masterful direction from Ridley Scott. The result was arguably the best film about Mars ever made, inspiring a genuine sense of wonder and injecting welcome humour into an often po-faced genre.

Eden

This intoxicating French drama explored dance music culture in Paris over a period of twenty years, through the rise and fall of a DJ, based on the experiences of director Mia Hansen-Lve's brother. Exhilarating, but also a poignant examination of the consequences behind pursuing ones dreams.

Love & Mercy

Unconventional biopic of Brian Wilson, the genius behind 1960s musical phenomenon The Beach Boys. Focusing on two distinct but pivotal moments in his life, the film movingly examines the toil and anguish that lay behind some of the most memorable pop music ever created.

Brooklyn

Vividly recreating 1950s New York, this sensitive adaptation of Colm Tibn's novel will strike a chord with those who have felt homesick, torn between conflicting loyalties, or pondered what might have been. Far from being maudlin or sentimental, this was heartfelt, emotional drama at its most affecting.

Runners-Up:  Cobain: Montage of Heck; Bridge of Spies; Tangerine;  Far From the Madding Crowd Mad Max: Fury Road Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Elinor - Film Programmer 

52 Tuesdays

Thought-provoking and cleverly structured, 52 Tuesdays covers a year in the life of a teen who is discovering her sexuality parallel to dealing with major family changes as her mother undergoes gender reassignment. A humorous, touching and original film about self-expression, love and family.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Wonderfully offbeat parodies of cinematic classics form the backdrop to this moving study of a developing friendship between a budding filmmaker and his sick classmate, despite the overshadowing knowledge of potential loss.

Ex Machina

Tense science fiction drama from the writer of The Beach about a young computer programmer who is set the challenge of testing his boss' incredible new technology - Ava, a beautiful and seemingly soulful A.I.

Inside Out

A clever insight into the workings of a young girls mind and her response to a major change in her life, with a poignant message about important memories and the range of emotions that are attached to them.

Foxcatcher

Chilling psychological thriller about an obsessive millionaires need for glory and the team of handpicked wrestlers whose dedication he relies upon.

Runners-Up: Cobain: Montage of HeckZarafaBig Hero 6Song of the SeaShaun the Sheep The Movie

Michael - Film Programme Assistant 

Whiplash

This Academy Award-winning drama is a brilliant exploration of desire and obsession, with standout performances from both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. Whiplash is a display of superb editing and builds to a fantastic crescendo.

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller's return to the Mad Max franchise after a 30-year interval was a tour-de-force of action cinema, providing a spectacle of stunning visuals and breathtaking set pieces within a strong feminist framework.

Brooklyn

Saoirse Ronan delivers a career-best performance as Eilis, struggling to find her home between Ireland and America, with the aching score, supporting characters and stellar screenplay elevating it to another level entirely.

Tangerine

Gorgeously shot (on iPhones), Tangerine is a subversive Christmas film which follows two street workers across a single day in LA. This is a progressive film in every sense: stylish, original and daring, and has complete compassion for its protagonists.

A Most Violent Year

A subtle crime drama from J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) which contains great work from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Abel Morales wrestles between integrity and survival as he attempts to protect the family business in this intricate study of personal ethics.

Runners-Up:  Amy Birdman Shaun the Sheep The MovieInside Out; 3 Minutes, 10 Bullets; Magic Mike XXL

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