Movies: Top Ten 2015
Women stormed the box-office with raw power and profound emotional insight, overcoming Hollywood’s institutional misogyny
By Katherine Monk
Let’s hear it for the girls. Though the year started slowly with just a handful of bright moments on what seemed to be a rather bleak horizon — from a pruny soak in a Hot Tub Time Machine and a disappointing date with The Avengers — 2015 ended up celebrating the fair sex in surprise fashion, starting with Mad Max’s furious females lead by Charlize Theron. The movie was kicked from the ticket wicket by Elizabeth Banks’s Pitch Perfect chorus, but there was still plenty of room for revision as Melissa McCarthy took on the spy genre and Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith deconstructed the adolescent female psyche in Inside Out. James Bond lost a bit of box-office mojo with Spectre – pulling in $196 million domestically, compared to Skyfall’s $304 million – but while Hollywood expressed concern over a grim ending, it was a Cinderella story all the way thanks to the ladies: Cinderella beat Bond and Cruise for the number nine spot, Katniss Everdeen marched past The Martian and the force reawakened with a whallop, pulling in over $600 million with the help of its newly anointed female heroine. In the same delicate breath, Todd Haynes gave us an unapologetic lesbian love story in Carol, Kristen Wiig and Bel Powley opened the pages of a teenage girl’s diary and Amy Schumer became a movie star. If that wasn’t proof enough of a female roar, remember Jurassic World. That giant hybrid dinosaur was a woman, and she chose death over containment. So look out Hollywood: The women are coming… with or without you.
TOP TEN FILMS OF 2015:
(For the full-length reviews, click on the title)
- Carol: Todd Haynes creates frames saturated in silent longing, capturing the essence of emotional repression and the truth of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt. A masterpiece.
- Spotlight: Every journalist who watches this movie sees a little bit of him or herself in the characters so accurately rendered by the ensemble cast. So you know Tom McCarthy got it right.
- Sicario: Denis Villeneuve’s heart-pounding thriller was a dark symphony of suspense that took us straight to the heart of cartel land without a bullet proof vest.
- Room: It was the whole world in one movie.
- Inside Out: Psychological dysfunction has never been so much fun without pharmaceuticals.
- The Diary of a Teenage Girl: Who said you could read that? I never said you could read that. The whole movie felt like an awkward violation of privacy.
- Mad Max -Fury Road: A totally, beautifully, gorgeously, fucked up return trip to the wasteland.
- Ex Machina: Alex Garland retools Greek myth with silicon parts and creates a smart cautionary tale about our insatiable thirst for knowledge. And we were introduced to Alicia Vikander.
- Amy: In Asif Kapadia’s documentary about Amy Winehouse, he finds the eternal soul of human sadness turned, for a brief moment, into something undeniably beautiful.
- Slow West: If you’re going to watch one revisionist western this year, make it Slow West.
Movies that just missed the cut:
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: I laughed, I cried, it loved movies.
- Anomalisa: Oh, you nutty Charlie Kaufman, you.
- ’71: Troubling. Troubles made human.
- The Big Short: Joke’s on us.
- Steve Jobs: Confounding: A failure and success simultaneously.