A Most Violent Year, A Year in Films and TV, Amy, Amy Winehouse, By the Sea, Carol, Catch Me Daddy, Doctor Zhivago, Dulcima, Girlfriends, Inherent Vice, Low Down, Macbeth, Mad Men, Marilyn Monroe, Oscar Isaac, Show Me a Hero, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hateful Eight, The Keeping Room, The Misfits, The Witch, This is England, Wanda, You Made Me Love You
After his great performances in W.E., Inside Llewyn Davis and The Two Faces of January, Oscar Isaac is fast becoming my favourite contemporary actor. He has gone from strength to strength in 2015, with big and small-screen gems set in 1980s New York: A Most Violent Year, about an ambitious businessman trying to stay on the right side of the law; and Show Me a Hero, an HBO mini-series telling the true story of Nick Wasicsko, who became mayor of Yonkers during a bitterly divisive public housing crisis.
He also plays a key role in the most fiercely hyped movie of 2015. I’m not a big fan of superheroes or sci-fi in general, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Star Wars. Director JJ Abrams pays homage to past glories while also bringing the saga up to date. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is thrilling, magical – all that a blockbuster should be.
Young actresses shone in independent film this year, with Sameena Jabeen Ahmed making her debut in Catch Me Daddy, an edgy British thriller about a young Muslim girl on the run from a forced marriage; and a fragile but radiant Elle Fanning in Low Down, about the troubled relationship between jazz pianist Joe Albany (played by John Hawkes) and his teenage daughter, set in 1970s L.A.
Two very different, and brilliant TV shows that I’ve followed from the outset finally bowed out; Mad Men, and This is England.
I also enjoyed Inherent Vice, the darkly funny adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s hippie gumshoe novel; Listen Up Philip, a whimsical satire on New York’s literati; Macbeth, especially Marion Cotillard’s unusual take on Lady M; the music documentary, Amy; and the UK nationwide reissue of The Misfits, as part of the BFI’s Marilyn Monroe retrospective.
I’m still hoping to catch the re-release of another great 1960s movie, Doctor Zhivago. My favourite rediscovery this year was Dulcima (1971), a rural tragi-comedy based on a novella by H.E. Bates, and starring Sir John Mills and Carol White.
Over Christmas I’ll be watching You Made Me Love You, a 1936 British comedy starring Stanley Lupino and Thelma Todd; Barbara Loden’s Wanda (1970) and Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends (1978), both listed among Sight & Sound magazine’s list of the 100 most important films made by women.
And in 2016 I’ll be looking out for Todd Haynes’ Carol; Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight; The Keeping Room, and The Witch.