Another year has come and gone and every year I make these lists with a great sense of satisfaction. My lists are always very personal, especially as they get closer and closer to the top. This year is no exception. When I saw Cinderella in March I had a feeling it would maintain its place in my heart, and it has. John Waters, who I look up to in all things, also agrees in my assessment of Cinderella and its place in film, and for that I must say, I feel validated. I continue to love animation and be super picky with it--- you will never see Disney/Pixar here, I tend to be a bit of a snob. And the horror turnout is less impressive this year compared to last year, where we not only got a string of really great horror films but also directed by women (The Babadook, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night).
I am pleased that my Top 5 is a combination of horror and romance and all things dark and violent and beautiful and passionate. Another pattern of mine is also females. Women friendships, females in love, with each other, with other people, female stories, female filmmakers. That's not really a coincidence but a natural choice for me. I mean, how can you have a story with hardly any women in it? If you are telling a story, which is a story that is meant to reflect a part of the human condition, women come with it.
So here are the films that almost made it into my Top 20:
Suffragette, UK, Sarah Gavron: The execution may be heavy handed and a tad unfocused, but Carey Mulligan's astounding central performance and the earnestness behind this story of the early suffragette movement makes this film worthwhile
Our Times, Taiwan, Frankie Chen: The debut feature of director Frankie Chen is a charming, adorable coming of age/romance between a wallflower and the school's bad boy. Although filled with numerous dramatic cliches, director Chen's sincerity is shown through the characterization of her characters and relationships.
The Falling, UK, Carol Morley: A difficult but beguiling film that explores the confusion of teenage girl hysteria. The cinematography and score are exquisite and a new talent is found in the insanely charismatic Florence Pugh.
Queen of Earth, USA, Alex Ross Perry: Elisabeth Moss and Katharine Waterson do career best performances in this modern riff on Persona . How Alex Ross Perry makes me care about assholes losing their shit is truly extraordinary. He must be a witch.
The Duke of Burgundy, UK Peter Strickland: Peter Strickland continues to be one of the bright lights of UK indie cinema with his affinity for deeply visceral and fully realized cinematic experiences. The Duke of Burgundy is a sumptuous, strange and sensual film about the toll of a BDSM relationship between two female entomologists.
Mad Max: Fury Road, Australia/USA, George Miller: The year's breakout blockbuster. George Miller brings the Mad Max series, kicking and screaming into the new world with more women! Women saving women! There's Tom Hardy and Nicholas Hoult, two favorites of mine, but all eyes are on Charlize Theron's Furiosa and the five wives, all fully realized characters and women.
Cemetery of Splendour, Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Sadly not pictured in the teaser image because I didn't have enough space. This is Weerasethakul's follow up to his Palme D'Or win and it is by far his most accessible film. He still maintains his dreamy, impressionistic approach to filmmaking and storytelling, but it is almost as though that win has made his direction more sure and more confident and that can only be a good thing.