1 - Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
What we said at the time: 'Whiplash is a stunning piece of work and stunned is exactly how you’ll exit the screening. Your ears will ring, sweat will be standing on your forehead and your battered mind will be doing loops. No other movie climax has had me unconsciously holding my breath for so long and I’m pretty sure the entire auditorium exhaled at exactly the same time, a collective recognition that what we’d all just experienced was something unique.'
Why it's here: Simply because no other movie has made us sweat this much. Two standout performances (J.K. Simmons scooped his first Oscar) and a director that knew exactly what he wanted to achieve and absolutely nailed it. A near perfect piece of cinema.
2 - The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller)
What we said at the time: 'The Diary of a Teenage Girl never for a moment attempts to make you pick a side or really to even judge the characters and it never feels like it is heading to a big revelation or event....a movie that doesn’t go for cheap shots, easy cop-outs or stereotyped characters we’ve seen over and over again. Minnie is an awesome creation and Powley brings her to life in a spectacular, understated way.'
Why it's here: A grown up movie about growing up! Who would have thought such a thing could exist. Bel Powley puts in a performance of stunning maturity as the teenage girl of the title and Heller produces a film that refuses to judge the audience or pander to it.
3 - It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)
What we said at the time: 'I’m not exaggerating when I state that It Follows is one of the most magnificently scary movies I’ve watched for some considerable time. Mitchell keeps everything on side and if the final reel drifts a little, he can be forgiven that because he has created something deeply creepy here. The monster is a brilliant concept, everyone and no-one at the same time, it’s amorphous nature gives the director a free hand in establishing thoroughly terrifying scenes without having to resort to by the book tricks or CGI.'
Why it's here: It may have benefitted from a huge dose of Carpenter inspiration but that shouldn't diminish how effective this shocker is. Tarantino correctly pointed out a number of inconsistencies in its lore but we don't care, it's damn scary. Result.
4 - John Wick (Chad Stahelski, David Leitch)
What we said at the time: '[John WIck] does exactly what it set out to – it is a somewhat asinine revenge thriller that happens to have been the most fun we’ve had at the cinema for a while. There is a pretty simple way you can approach the suitability of this movie. If you can not only stomach but positively relish 102 minutes of wholesale slaughter all in the name of a cute puppy’s death, this is the movie for you.'
Why it's here: Quite possibly our absolute favourite movie of the year and soon to have its very own BS Essay (when I get around to finishing it). Simple in the extreme but so horrifically elegant that it probably deserves a new genre to be named after it. We LOVE Keanu and this is the perfect vehicle for him. Do not fuck with his puppy. You've been warned.
5 - Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
What we said at the time: 'It surprised on so many levels Mad Max: Fury Road. Not only in the enjoyment of the action (which I did enjoy immensely) but in the deep level of humanity Miller has created here where so many Hollywood blockbusters fail and leave a gaping chasm of unreality and cold emotion. It’s a frenetic, fast paced, feminist thrill ride with a revolutionist punk heart and its arms wide open for hope.'
Why it's here: Hands down the biggest surprise of the year. After the bloated, silly Beyond Thunderdome (THIRTY years ago), literally nobody was looking for Max Rockatansky to return to the desert. But when Miller picked up the camera.... well, he's clearly been repressing something all those years. An magnificent Charlize Theron smashed it out of the park and a largely bewildered Max trailed in her Furiosa wake...