Close-Up Film's Top 10 of 2015

As curated by Jack Bottomley
2015 has been a heck of a year and while you may agree or disagree with the ranking of our list, hopefully you will not disagree with the inclusion of any of these varied works of cinema that make up Close-Up’s 10 favorites’ of 2015. So take a look through and see what made the cut and if your favourite is missing, by all means (calmly) speak up for it on our Facebook page

  1. Ant-Man

In a year where it was all about The Avengers, Marvel delivered one of its most unique and fresh superhero adventures in the perfectly cast and refreshing Ant-Man. Paul Rudd was in his element as thief turned incredible shrinking hero Scott Lang and Michael Douglas, Michael Peña and Evangeline Lily were clearly having a ball as Hank Pym, Luis and Hope van Dyne respectively. Despite the fact Edgar Wright left the project, his DNA was still strongly present in the finished movies’ script. Fun from beginning to end.
Read our full review here.

  1. Whiplash

Released early in the year, Whiplash still exits 2015 as one of the year’s most fiery and excellent offerings. The film was brilliantly scored, superbly edited and told one heck of a powerful story. Nominated for numerous accolades at the 2015 awards season, this music-based drama made a set piece out of a drum solo and was a commanding story of pursuing greatness no matter what the cost. Young Miles Teller was brilliant as protagonist Andrew Neiman, but it was J.K Simmons who stole the show with his blistering performance as Terence Fletcher, the jazz instructor from hell.

  1. The Gift

In a year of many surprises, perhaps none came more swiftly and suddenly than this under-seen blend of horror, drama and thriller. Actor Joel Edgerton toyed with audience’s expectations in this, his directorial debut, and in turn flipped the genre on its head. Edgerton’s direction kept you gripped and was also was solid in a supporting turn as Gordon. Jason Bateman played it straight in the lead and Rebecca Hall was a sympathetic and very believable presence throughout. But the biggest success was one of the most shocking and well-delivered twists since the finale of James Wan’s Saw.
Read our full review here.

  1. It Follows

It Follows
David Robert Mitchell’s campfire horror-fable easily stands out as the genre’s film of 2015. The concept of sexual activity passing on an unseen and murderous force that would not stop until you had passed it on, was an enticing one. It Follows was simple, frightening and atmospheric, with a synth-y throwback soundtrack and a story befitting the urban legends of centuries past. Maika Monroe made a superb lead and the central concept was expertly delivered. It Follows was a scary, lingering and effective piece of folkloric horror and comes in at number seven.

  1. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

The ever-exceptional documentarian Alex Gibney once again bedazzles, shocks and compels with this behind-the-curtain look of the “religion” of Scientology. Sharing similarities with a big screen sci-fi/thriller at times, this film was jaw dropping, difficult to watch and dug into your head. We all have our opinions on the topic but never in a million years did we expect the truth to be so warped, well-argued and occasionally distressing. This film shows how those in power are manipulating, abusing and brainwashing the very people they promised to help. A documentary worthy of this big-screen list.

  1. Inside Out

Pixar Post - Inside Out characters closeup
Pixar’s first of two films this year (the other being November’s The Good Dinosaur) marks the return to groundbreaking and classic form. It took us inside the mind of a young girl and introduced us to her emotions, made for an original, complex and rewarding (if teary) journey. Animation is constantly advancing and films like this are the perfect evidence of just how far. Pixar have done it again and this is one of the studios most imaginative, intelligent and beautiful pieces of work and is that rarest of film, one that has something to appeal to every viewer.

  1. White God

White God
When speaking of emotion, perhaps no other film matched the haunting power of this Hungarian genre-blending animal epic. Director Kornél Mundruczó’s parable of an abandoned dog’s hardship on the streets becomes a journey of social class order and animal cruelty issues in the modern world. The animal stars of the film are every bit as deep and well-structured as the human cast and the Guinness World Record setting animal set pieces are but one quality of this gut-punching tale. This film is fierce, poetic and occasionally upsetting but is unforgettable once witnessed.
Read our full review here.

It is at this point when you can definitely say we were in a pickle because the top three films of 2015 were near enough as beloved as one another here at Close-up…


  1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Ahead of release Fury Road had doom-mongers saying it would be a failure, flop or catastrophe, but then we saw it! George Miller’s return to his Mad Max franchise delivered every aspect you could possibly ask for, giving us one of the greatest ever series reboots. The film boasted death-defying and thrilling action (85% of which was done with practical effects and stunts). Almost like one huge set-piece, this action masterpiece still made the time to tell an empowered story of gender liberation and working class rebellion between all the carnage. Little wonder George Miller’s Golden Globe nominated beauty stands as one of the greatest features of the year, and one of the greatest ever action films!
Read our full review here.

  1. Birdman

Birdman is a masterpiece. Be it the snaking cinematography, obscure soundtrack or feisty performances all round, this film has few flaws to speak of. The film is headlined by a phoenix from the ashes performance by Michael Keaton, who showcases the peak of his acting powers. Spiritually and emotionally illuminating, this is a very deep cinematic experience that offers something unlike anything else out there. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has crafted an important film about opinion, self-worth and also one that finds time to be a hilarious satire of the arts and entertainment industry.

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Obviously the hype is still running wild for this one and some may argue that it is unfair to place it at the very top but there is no denying that J. J. Abrams film is an accomplishment unlike anything else this year. In a wave of expectation, trepidation and cynicism, The Force Awakens had near insurmountable hopes from millions of fans and cinemagoers all over the world and yet it has lived up to every one of them. Epic in its grandeur, the film marries the old and the new, offering for many audiences, what will be one of the most enthralling pieces of film this year. Embracing everything – even the flaws – that people adore about the franchise, this film used the old to prepare people for the new era of the Star Wars series. Daisy Ridley is a revelation, Jason Boyega is brilliant and Adam Driver gives us the year’s most unstable baddies in Kylo Ren. From the adorably scene stealing BB-8 to the return of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill et al and the sublime cinematography (by Dan Mindel) and scoring (by John Williams), this is a beautiful return to the vintage and yet offers the first steps into a new generation of a franchise that will live forever. The force is strong in this one…
Read our full review here. 

Honourable Mentions:

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Matthew Vaughn did Bond better than Bond this year with a frenzied and fun pastiche on the spy genre when it wasn’t quite so serious!
Read our interview with Sophie Cookson here.
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation
Tom Cruise’s ever daring agent Ethan Hunt returns once again in a high octane action caper that should be seen on the biggest screen possible, huge fun (quite literally).
Read our full review here.