My Top 20 Films of 2015

It's time to share my top 20 films of the year. It's been a good year of films for me, watched a lot at the cinema, in Dubai and abroad.

It's always hard for me to make top lists when it comes to films, but for this year, the top filve list includes films that had me on the edge of my seat, films that I found entralling and gripping.

As for the rest of the list, all films I love and strongly recommend you seek them out if you've not watched them.

Here goes:

20. Jauja - Director: Lisandro Alonso

The ending left me scratching my head, but every frame in this film is a beautifully composed, each one worth framing on a wall.

19. Cop Car (Director: Jon Watts)

Not many people I know wacthed this minimalist road thriller. A dark and slightly comedic film starring Kevin Bacon as a nasty mustached cop and two kids who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

18. Victoria (Director: Sebastian Schipper)

The one shot film everyone is talking about this year. With a running time of 138 mins, and set in real time, it was quite a trip following Victoria from the opening scene at dancing at a club in Berlin and what follows. The Nils Frahm film score was an added bonus too.

17. Ex Machina (Director: Alex Garland)

One added to my list of favourite sci-fi films, and also for this dance scene.

16. Selma (Director: Ava DuVernay)

Such a well crafted film, we need to see more films by Ava DuVernay.

15. James White (Director: Josh Mond)

On coping with and caring for a dying parent. This film left me in an emotional mess, only because the pain depicted  in it was too familiar.

14. The Forbidden Room (Directors: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson)

"A submarine crew, a feared pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child soldiers all get more than they bargained for as they wend their way toward progressive ideas on life and love."

A visual feast of a film, I wanted to swim in it. The colours, characters, font and for this song.

13. Inherent Vice (Director:Paul Thomas Anderson)

Josh Brolin is tremendous in this "California Noir" film. The pancake scene is just the best, "Motto panacaiku". Brilliant.

13. The Lobster (Director: Yorgos Lanthimos)

Yorgos Lanthimos' first English language film set in a dystiopian world where single men and women must find compatible romantic partners in 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choice. Yes, it is as strange as it sounds, add to it deadpan and dark humour.

12. Listen Up Philip (Director: Alex Ross Perry)

On narcissism, insecurities, criticism, and entitlement and contempt. a well crafted film by by Alex Ross Perry. Great script and acting in this.

10. Mustang (Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven)

Deniz Gamze Ergüven's first feature film celebrates sisterhood and a commentary on patriarchy and oppression. Beautifully filmed, both joyous and melancholic.

9. The Duke of Burgundy (Director: Peter Strickland)

Stylish and sensual. I think the most beautiful S&M love story ever made. "Pinastri, pinastri".

8. 45 Years (Director: Andrew Haigh)

When an unexpected letter arrives a week before the celebration of a 45th wedding anniversary, it creates an emotional disruption that is so well acted by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. So much emotional depth in this film.

7. Tangerine (Director: Sean Baker)

Despite its fast paced, fast talking, no holds barred script, it's a film about friendship. Filmed entirely on an iPhone, it captured a slice of a very unglamourous, non-forgiving LA.

6. Carol (Director: Todd Haynes)

A beautiful and sumptous looking film about love.So much expressed through the eyes in this film. Both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are glorious to look at in this film. Everything in this film is perfect, the script, the cast, the costume, the score. A perfect looking film.

5. Son of Saul (Director: László Nemes)

A worthy first feature by László Nemes. Outstanding acting, cinematography and sound. A film about finding inner peace amidst bleakness.

4. It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)

I wrote three reasons why you must wacth this film here.

3. The Assassin (Director: Hsiao-Hsien Hou)

I discovered films by Hou Hsiao-Hsien a few months ago when I managed to watch some of his films at his retrospective in London. He has a very unique style of filmmaking and story telling and I can't wait to see the rest of his films. The Assassin is Hou Hsiao-Hsien's first wuxia/martial arts film and what a film it is. It's quite dense, with many characters and back stories. One of the few films I watched this year that I wanted to rewatch shortly after the first viewing.

2. Mad Max:Fury Road (Director: George Miller)

I hadn't felt this exhilarated watching an action film for a while. Another film that I rewatched shortly after the first viewing. 

1. Hard to be a God (Director: Alexei German) 

I watched this film a couple of weeks ago and so glad I caught it. I plugged it to the biggest TV screen I could get my hands on, and I am now on a mission to watch it on the big screen. A masterpiece. A monumental masterpiece. Set on a planet called Arkanar that looks like something out of the Middle Ages, we as viewers are thrown into a world of mud, body excrement, sweat, rain and lots of violence. One of the most intrusive films I've seen and it's quite an experience. Not an easy film to watch, but one that must be seen.

Honorable mentions:

Aferim! (Radu Jude), Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul), Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra), I am Belfast (Mark Cousins), Love (Gasper Noe), Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke), Neon Bull (Gabriel Mascaro), Out on the Street (Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk), Tangerines (Zaza Urushadze), Taxi Tehran (Jafar Panahi), The Tribe (Miroslav Slaboshpitsky)