Didn’t watch anywhere near as many films as in 2014, and I’m definitely not going to list them all like I did that year, but here are the 5 movies I most enjoyed in the last calendar year. In ascending order of supermassivedeadliness…
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
I’ll get this out of the way; I don’t like Tom Hardy as the titular character. He doesn’t look like him, he doesn’t sound like him, he doesn’t act like him. Thankfully, he is neither this film’s protagonist nor even, to all intents and purposes, that important. Charlize Theron’s warrior Furiosa is the real hero, while Nicholas Hoult’s ‘warboy’ Nux steals the show and a whole host of women tear shit up in the best ways possible. Nobody makes post-apocalyptic beauty like George Miller, he really does embody the term ‘visionary’ like almost no-one else; he manages to make an otherwise endless sandscape appear colourful, vibrant and exhilerating, and the effects on show are absolutely breathtaking. Extraordinary movie, banishing the memories of the execrable Thunderdome!
4. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Never watched the popular television series that this film is based upon, but even so, I absolutely loved this film. Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill have a wicked rapport, while Alicia Vikander – whom I had never come across before – puts in a charismatic turn too. The three protagonists dovetail nicely…can more than two people ‘dovetail’? You know what I mean anyway. It’s beautifully-shot too, which is always true of Guy Ritchie’s film’s regardless of the actual quality of the fare, but here it superbly evokes the period in all its gaudy glory. Basically, it’s what the Bond films should be, but sadly aren’t. Wonderful stuff.
3. What We Do In The Shadows
Since I’m a fan of Jermaine Clement’s previous understated comic stylings, most notably as one half of Flight of the Conchords, I was looking forward to this for quite a while…and it did not disappoint. It is a comedy that treats the vampire mythos with more respect and attention than supposedly dramatic fare has done for a decade or more, and does so with wit and playfulness. Crucially, there’s real heart at the centre of this, provided by co-creator Taika Waititi’s character, and I could watch the various comedic set-pieces – acrimonious flat meeting, tense encounter with werewolves, learning about modern technology – again and again. Seriously silly. Watch it.
This one is a bit of a cheat; it came out over here in 2014, but I didn’t see it until 2015. So, on the (albeit rather dubious) basis that it came out in Spain on the 26th of March 2015, and in Mexico on the 26th of June 2015, I say Orgullo o muerte! Apologies for my terrible Spanish. Hasta la victoria siempre! Excuse me.
The Miners’ Strike of ’84-’85 holds a special place in my heart – I was born in south London in February 1985, right slap bang in the middle of it – and as a committed socialist I welcome any project that addresses it. The story of LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) was one I was unfamiliar with, however, and it presents a perfect example of intersectionality in action – before the term ‘intersectionality’ even existed. The central character of Mark Ashton is brilliantly played by Ben Schnetzer, whose northern Irish accent in the role is so flawless that I was flabberghasted to discover that he is, in fact, a New Yorker! The rest of the cast put in similarly excellent performances, and I’m not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears a couple of times. Depictions of solidarity always warm my heart, and it’s a film I could watch again and again. Check it out if you haven’t already.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
What can I say that a multitude of other people, professional critics and paying viewers alike, haven’t already said? Well, I love it more than any other Star Wars film, I can tell you that. The original trilogy were glorious fun when I watched them as a child, but with maturity comes the objective realisation that nostalgia covers up the serious flaws every one of the films had (to a greater or lesser extent). Likewise, the excitement and novelty of The Force Awakens may be dulling some of my critical impulses – I came out of the third prequel film feeling similarly elated – but having been to see it twice now I feel confident that I’m going to adore it for a long, long time…
The plot is simple but effective, the pace is zippy, the characters varied & likeable, the dialogue witty, the sets beautiful, the casting spot on & the performances just the right blend of earnest/campy/energetic. The mixture of practical effects and CGI works better than in any previous Star Wars film, and serves to produce an immersive experience that has been lacking ever since George Lucas began to tinker with special editions of episodes IV, V and VI. I just love everything about this film, so sue me.
That’s that! Feel free to berate my choices in the comments. I make no promises regarding any response on my part though.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…★