Democracy! You can’t beat it, right? We’ve put it to the test again this year, as we asked all contributors to Den Of Geek to send us their top five films of the year. We weighted them accordingly, stuck them into our vegetarian sausage machine, and out the other side came our annual countdown of our 20 favourite films of the year.
Over the coming week or so we’ll be going through out top ten in more detail, but for now, here are the movies that landed in positions 20 to 11…
Dread hangs like cobwebs over Justin Kurzel’s magnificent adaptation of Macbeth. In his hands, Shakespeare’s text becomes wayward and ominous again, rather than the familiar, vaguely cosy story many of us know from our school days. Michael Fassbender turns in one of his very best performances to date as Macbeth, a veteran soldier brought low by his own murderous ambition, and Marion Cotillard is equally good as a decidedly sensual incarnation of Lady Macbeth.
Shot by cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, Macbeth brings the story from its stage roots to the mud androlling black clouds of the Scottish highlands, bringing yet more dramatic weight and atmosphere to an already powerful, timeless mystery.
19. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Who would have thought this at the start of the year? Comfortably one of the most anticipated movies of 2015, Joss Whedon’s Avengers sequel had its moments, but it wasn’t the punch-the-air giddy delight his first film was. Stories have come out since about some disagreements behind the scenes, implying that Whedon didn’t get his final cut.
However, there’s still a lot to like here, and the assorted Avengers sat around just having a natter counts as one of our very favourite scenes of the year…
Peyton Reed deserves a hearty round of applause for turning in such an enjoyable Ant-Man movie, in the face of what could fairly be described as difficult circumstances. It bodes well for his sequel, that he has a far longer run-up at.
Yet Ant-Man in itself is a fun movie, with a lighter tone to many comic book movies right now, and a lovely central turn from Paul Rudd. It shows Marvel playing again with the feel of a film and its genre. More please.
17 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION
Lots of things impressed us about Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, not least the fact that it used its big trailer moment in the first five minutes of the movie.
Returning the series to a more ensemble feel helped enormously, and Rebecca Ferguson’s excellent turn was a real highlight. Plus, Tom Cruise and the underwater sequence: a terrific big screen moment. No wonder Mission: Impossible 6 is set to follow so quickly.
British filmmaker Asif Kapadia earned deserving praise for his 2010 documentary Senna, about the late Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna. His latest film, Amy, uses the same approach of archive footage and interviews to explore the life of a sadly-departed public figure – the singer-songrwriter Amy Winehouse – to equally powerful effect.
What makes Kapadia’s style of storytelling so effective is his ability to explore intimate details of his subjects’ lives without being salacious or cruel. His way of stripping away Winehouse’s mystique – that of a star who, like Cobain, Hendrix or Joplin, died far too young – serves to heighten the sense of tragic loss.
15. JURASSIC WORLD
The third biggest film of all time? Gadzookz. Colin Trevorrow’s successful resurrection of the Jurassic Park series has ensured that we’re getting two more films at least, with the next one set to land in 2018.
Jurassic World certainly has issues, many of which have been heavily dissected online, but it’s also a big chunk of fun. It’s paved the way – along with JJ Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek – for how to approach new films based on older properties, without having to hit the full-on reboot button too.
14. BIG HERO 6
Our highest ranked comic book movie of the year. Big Hero 6 finally landed in the UK in early 2015, and proved to be something of a treasure. Taking a previously-little heard of Marvel story and weaving in the story of a young boy coming to terms with his intelligence and sense of loneliness, the first half in particular is quite outstanding. And in Baymax, Big Hero 6 gives us one of its most lovable characters in some time.
Go back and watch this one too, just to appreciate the details in the background. Talking of which…
13. SHAUN THE SHEEP: THE MOVIE
Aardman. Nobody does this kind of stuff anywhere near as well as the fabulous Aardman.
With virtually zero dialogue and a level of care and attention that makes it one of the best animation firms on the planet, Aardman’s Shaun The Sheep: The Movie transcends demographic boundaries to – yes! – give something that works for all levels of audience. It’s an absolute treat from a filmmaking company that won’t compromise one jot on its standards. We love that Aardman exists.
The best Jason Statham film of the year. Paul Feig’s Spy is a big, joyful, overtly mainstream comedy, that never surrenders to a PG-13 rating, and gives The Statham the comedy role of his life. The Face/Off machine being a particular highlight.
Yet Feig’s affectionate James Bond spoof has an abundance of highlights, and crucially, very big laughs. Stay until after the end credits, too…
11. CRIMSON PEAK
Guillermo del Toro’s new movie may not have set the box office alight, and in truth, it divided its audience too. But those who warmed to it – including many of us – warmed to it very much (our review is here). We’re going to explore it a little more in a longer piece on the site when we begin our full top 10 countdown…
That countdown commences tomorrow…