Films of the Year, 2015

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Best :

  • Timbuktu : Abderrahmane Sissako
  • Tangerines : Niaz Diasamidze
  • Frame by Frame : Alexandria Bombach & Mo Scarpelli

Best of the Rest :

  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence : Roy Andersson
  • The Clouds of Sils Maria : Oliver Assayas
  • Salt of the Earth : Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado
  • Marshland : Alberto Rodriguez Libero
  • 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets : Marc Silver
  • Sicario : Denis Villeneuve
  • Suffragette : Sarah Gavron
  • Bridge of Spies : Steven Spielberg

Emperor’s New Clothes :

  • 45 Years : Andrew Haigh
  • Carol : Todd Haynes

There was one movie this year that, for me, stood head and shoulders, heart and brain, above all others and that was Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu. Set in a area of Mali under the sudden unyielding and conflicted rule of Islamic fundamentalists, it is beautifully shot, beautifully acted, intelligent and almost unbearably moving.

The two other outstanding films of the year for me were Niaz Diasamidze’s Tangerines – another film about humanity and common feeling amidst a country being torn apart by doctrine and violence – in this case, the Apkhazeti region of Georgia – and Alexandria Bombach & Mo Scarpelli’s documentary following the difficult, dangerous and often beautiful work of four photojournalists in Afghanistan.

The fact that there are more documentaries in my list this year reflects not only changes in my personal taste, but,more importantly, the welcome fact that documentaries are becoming more commercially available. Frame by Frame aside, notable were Wim Wenders’ Salt of the Earth about the photographer, Sebastião Salgado, co-directed with Salgado’s son, and Marc Silver’s 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets, about the shooting of a black youth and the trial of his white assailant. I might also have included Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and Alex Gibney’s riveting film biography of Frank Sinatra, All or Nothing At All, seen in multiple parts on TV.

As for the much-lauded 45 Years and Carol – two films for whom, I’m sure, awards and further praise await – I’m afraid I found them almost equally turgid and dull.

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