5. 45 Years
Kate and Geoff have had a comfortable 44 years of marriage. However, as their 45th anniversary approaches, a revelation threatens to disassemble these decades of companionship and re-evaluate what all of those years have meant. Geoff receives news that the body of a woman he loved as a young man before he met Kate, but who died in a tragic accident, has been found. Secrets are unearthed as Kate begins to learn, in his grieving, just how much Geoff loved the girlfriend of his youth. 45 Years captures how the news quietly threatens to tear them apart with two tremendous performances by British legends Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
Most Hollywood action movies have felt made-by-committee this year. You can tell they were made with audience demographics, foreign markets and box office figures in mind. They were designed not with creativity but for commerce. However, Mad Max: Fury Road smashed its way into this stale genre like a deranged maniac. George Miller's return to the franchise is a wild steampunk carnival that feels nothing short of revelatory in this current blockbuster climate. Its story about a gang of escaped female slaves who, along with the eponymous Max, take on their former captors also has a refreshing feminist theme of women destroying patriarchy.
Yes, that's right. The same Blackhat that critics hated. The same Blackhat audiences didn't care for. The same Blackhat that bombed enormously at the box office. Michael Mann's big budget cyber thriller wasn't met with much praise, but hopefully it will be reevaluated in time as the legendary director of Heat and The Insider made the first great movie about terrorism in the 21st century. It eschews the cliches of the action movie for a realistic portrait of terrorism in the digital age, following Chris Hemsworth's hacker as he works with the American and Chinese authorities to trace a code to its sender after an attack on a nuclear power plant.
2. The Look Of Silence
This documentary about the ramifications of a genocide in Indonesia is difficult to watch, but those able to suffer the nail-biting tension and disturbing content will find one of the most fascinating and illuminating true stories in years. The Look Of Silence examines an Indonesia where, in the 1960s, around one million people were murdered for being suspected communists. However, as the perpetrators were successful, they have been able to write history in their favours framing themselves as national heroes. The murderers are now in positions of power and authority in the country. In The Look Of Silence one man in present day Indonesia, whose older brother was killed in the genocide, decides to confront his murderers about the crimes - something many people are too afraid to do.
Todd Haynes' new movie Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, is one of the great romances of all time. The story of a burgeoning lesbian love affair between a mousy shop assistant and a married woman, Carol is an adaptation of the novel The Price Of Salt by The Talented Mr. Ripley's author Patricia Highsmith. It was released in the 1950s under a pseudonym to protect Highsmith because the concept of homosexual romance was so controversial. The movie captures their romance as it plays out hidden in plain sight - most of the feelings are inferred by gestures and facial expressions rather than communicated with words. But the beauty of film is that it's not necessarily a political statement. The fact that it is two women instead of a man and woman is arbitrary - it is just a love story. Mara and Blanchett give career-best performances while the 1950s are immaculately recreated with gorgeous production design and enviable costumes, all of which is captured on old-school Super 16mm film.