BEST OF 2015
Ho ho holy crap it’s that time of year again. Whilst we were all busy getting older and fatter, time has been trudging inevitably onwards towards that part of the year we all look forward to the most; the part where the whole of the media gives up and just starts compiling ‘best of’ lists. We’re doing our bit here at Maker with the annual round-up of…we’re going to say “viewing experiences” this time, not films, so much has the landscape of quality entertainment recently changed. As the head of production at Warp said at the recent Aesthetica conference, “What’s the difference between making TV and making movies these days? Nothing.” Argue with us on Twitter if you don’t agree with our top 10 (we mean you, Process.)
It would have been easy to miss this weird little gem, what with it being an Argentinian cycle of six short films with only the theme of “vengeance” to link them, it perhaps doesn’t have “blockbuster” scrawled all over it. What it does have written on it, IN BLOOD, is “awesome.” We here at Maker have never been in a British cinema where people have actually stood up and CLAPPED at the end of a film. We’re not Americans for Christ’s sake* and it takes something truly special to get us doing something so crass and vulgar in public.
*(Well some of us are actually American.)
2. The Jinx
Another unexpected front-runner, this six part HBO series represents a strange new beast; part documentary, part Serial-style suspense thriller with the high-drama production values of a feature. As with Serial, the evidence collected by the filmmakers has affected a real-life crime, heralding a strange new 21st century trend for entertainment-leading-to-criminal-convictions. It’s like they’re giving the people exactly what we want (murder, lots of murder) and we’re lapping it up like hot salty gravy. Interviews, re-enactments, behind the scenes footage and investigative journalism all combine to make some of the most addictive viewing since we had to know who killed Mr. Burns.
Talking of addictive, would anyone care for some crack? Transvestite prostitutes filmed on iPhones has “dark side of the Internet” stamped on its forehead, but this film is funny, sensitive and exhilarating in equal measure. It also teaches you important life lessons like: your real friends are the friends that trade wigs with you after your cheating pimp ex-boyfriend pours a cup of piss on yours. Or that, even people that you’ve been dragging around by the hair all day will share a tender moment with you if it’s over a rock of crack. Lessons for the ages.
4. Slow West
Back on a traditional movie tip is Slow West, the Western for everybody. Sometimes it’s just nice when a film gently entertains you in not even remotely avant garde ways. It feels as if our eyes might bleed if we watch another arthouse movie where a peripheral group/person learns to love themselves/the true meaning of family/nothing because life is meaningless, and this film has guns and cowboys and stuff in it. No one learns anything.
5. Inside Out
Much cheaper than years of therapy, Inside Out will teach you more about yourself than you will at first you be willing to admit. Yes it is a kids film, but it also deals with most of the existential anxiety we have been grappling with for the last thirty years of our adult lives. Watch it.
6. It Follows
It’s so rare to find a horror movie that doesn’t just suck. Following the trend for torture porn (thanks, Saw franchise) or cheap, predictable scares (Woman In Black, etc.), It Follows manages to be original in a tired genre, whilst still paying sly homage to its horror roots, with its teenage thrills and eighties feel. However it’s all really cleverly done so it’s fine to like it, also it’s scary as hell and the soundtrack is to DIE FOR, mwah hah ha ha haaaaa.
We award Birdman 18 clever points for the long, long take that never seems to break and another 18 clever points for getting all meta and making Michael Keaton (Batman) play a washed up actor famous for playing Birdman (get it?!). Everyone loves it when Hollywood starts to eat itself in this way (See Sunset Boulevard) and this time is no different. This year’s funnier, quicker, less dark version of Maps to The Stars.
The tension this film creates both on and off screen is incredibly powerful. There was a massive argument at Maker HQ as to whether this counted as a 2014 or 2015 film due to its early January UK release date. However when John realised he had to stop being so US-centric and Amy stopped shouting and put down the stapler, they agreed to have it on this year’s list (they didn’t). When we watched this we didn’t breathe for at least 90 minutes, not only does this defy science, it also lets us put it on any and every list ever.
9. Ex Machina
Another one from the misty nether time of early 2015, Ex Machina is also worth remembering. We’re gonna just do a Joyce-style stream of consciousness to encompass our feelings for this film:
sexy scandi techno cave sexy robot prison beer beer dancing sexy timber kill kill KILL.
10. The Man In The High Castle
A question we often used to ask ourselves in the shower, on a long, lonely walk or when making love to our partner is, “What if the Nazis had won the war?” Well the producers at Amazon asked themselves this very same question and not only did they figure out the answer, they filmed it as part of a ten part series. Have a gander if you’ve not already.
So there you have it people, the world is changing. What we swear was last year just an online shop with dubious tax practices, is now making cinematic re-imaginings of Phillip K. Dick novels, whilst independent feature film budgets get teenier and tinyer and directors have to get really bloody clever (It Follows). What will make the list next year? An algorithm dreamed up by a Tesco robot turned into an ice show by Starbucks? We await with baited breaths.