No more fooling around, this is where it gets real…

10 – BRIDGE OF SPIES

After a slight lull in his career, with the underwhelming War Horse and Lincoln double-bill (yeah, we weren’t fans of the latter), Steven Spielberg returned with easily his strongest “grown-up” movie since Catch Me If You Can with Bridge of Spies, a film that delves deeply into the paranoias and ideological clashes of the Cold War, told in the style of an old Frank Capra legal thriller that still manages to grasp our attention even with an over two-hour running time.

Helping enormously to make this far more entertaining that it has any right to be is the script co-written by none other than Joel and Ethan Coen, who do a much better job here with a film they didn’t direct than they did with Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, with their usual wit and quirky mannerisms shining bright through Spielberg’s reliable direction.

Throw in two good performances by lead Tom Hanks and supporting player Mark Rylance – soon to reunite with Spielberg for next year’s The BFG – and a strong score by Thomas Newman (filling in for regular Spielberg collaborator John Williams), and you have yourself a fine movie that makes you feel glad that you watched a film about the politics of the Cold War and never got bored once with it.

9 – SUFFRAGETTE

This year, there has been quite the backlash for equal rights within the film industry, with many from Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett and – indeed – the cast and crew of the frightfully relevant Suffragette criticising the lack of more female filmmakers working today, as well as the alarming pay gap between male and female actors with the same amount of work.

It is one of the many issues being raised thanks to the release of Sarah Gavron’s film, about the pre-World War 1 suffrage movement to give the vote to women and how their actions became more radicalised as people listened to them less and less, and just the thought that it’s taken them so damn long to even make this film pretty much says it all.

Gavron, along with writer Abi Morgan and a cast that ranges from Carey Mulligan to Meryl Streep (the latter in a five-minute cameo as movement leader Emmeline Pankhurst), has crafted a powerful film that highlights not only the courageous acts of these women that time seems to have almost forgotten about, but also how the chauvinist ideals of people in power have not changed much at all over the past 100 years – as the end credits show, Saudi Arabia has yet to even offer equal status to women, so it’s not just limited to the Western part of the world.

It’s a film that, unlike most others this year, made us feel so good that a film like this was being made and was reasonably successful, and also terrible that it highlights exactly what’s wrong with the un-equal society even to this day. We absolutely urge everyone to see it, and spread the message that we can, contrary to our ideals a century ago, we do have the will-power to change for the better.

8 – THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL

Teen sexuality in film is not a new topic, but having it be from the girl’s perspective is one that surprisingly isn’t used all that much – at least, not with the depth that writer-director Marielle Heller brings to her film, based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s autobiographical novel of the same name.

We feel that it is vitally healthy for young women to be curious about their bodies and the pleasures they can receive, and the beauty of this film is that it presents one such young woman, 15-year-old Minnie (played by one of the year’s breakout stars, Bel Powley), discovering her own libido after losing her virginity to her mother Kristen Wiig’s older boyfriend Alexander Skarsgaard, and taking her curiosities to new and exciting levels without feeling completely ashamed about it, like a lot of other similar films do. It presents it as something natural, as all sex should be for anyone no matter what gender, and something that can lead one to discover more about themselves than even they probably realised. The teenage years are there to explore more about what your real tastes are, and it can help shape you into the person you eventually become; and it all starts with a simple curiosity, as it does in this film.

Add in a wonderful artistic style by Heller, complete with brief hand-drawn sequences in the style of American Splendour, and you have yourself a beautiful tale of teen sexuality that deserves to be shown to teenagers in schools, if teachers can be less narrow-minded with its off-putting 18 certificate for “strong sex”, anyway…

7 – SICARIO

Denis Villeneuve seems to be thriving on a career of making the bleakest films possible that also happen to be among the year’s best, whether it be 2013’s ensemble child kidnap drama Prisoners, or the chilling thriller that plays out like Breaking Bad crossed with Schindler’s List, known better as Sicario.

Emily Blunt’s FBI agent being caught up in the escalating drug war between the US and Mexico is not even half of the uncomfortable nature that’s all over this film, but Villeneuve – as well as writer Taylor Sheridan and cinematographer Roger Deakins – somehow find a way to make everything seem not only gripping as all hell, but also beautifully unpleasant. What it all results in is a film that will stay with you long after you see it, and repeat viewings will only further imprint the disturbing but fantastically portrayed imagery into your head – in particular, a final act involving Benicio Del Toro’s mysterious operative that will send shivers down your spine whilst at all times never losing your attention.

Makes you wonder what Villeneuve has in store for the Blade Runner sequel he’s currently attached to – but if Sicario is any indication, then the result will be a beautifully bleak film indeed…

6 – STEVE JOBS

Why does the world seem to be against this movie? It got passed on to Universal by Sony after their hacking scandal, and also after the departure of original star Christian Bale and director David Fincher, only for Universal to then bungle its US release pattern, leading it to be one of the year’s most unfortunate box office bombs (it still made more money than the one with Ashton Kutcher though, so there’s that).

Perhaps the unluckiest film of the year, it’s perhaps a refreshing notion that it’s also one of the year’s best. Danny Boyle, replacing Fincher, turns out to be more than up for the challenge of bringing Aaron Sorkin’s wildly unconventional script to life, and though the Oscar-winning writer’s typically witty style tends to overshadow Boyle’s distinct directorial style more than often, Boyle is still able to capture the very feelings of power and grandeur that exhumed from this extremely complex figure.

Even better is Michael Fassbender, portraying the Apple founder at three separate launch events and bringing his calm intensity to the deliberately unlikable Jobs at all three, making you invested in who is essentially a megalomaniacal wanker (in the film, anyway) with perhaps one of the strongest performances of his career thus far. Excellent, too, are Kate Winslet as his put-upon confidante Joanna Hoffman, and even Seth Rogen gets to flex his dramatic muscles as the Eduardo Saverin of this particular story, Steve Wozniak. Every single one of these actors gets their moment in the sun, thanks to the mixture of Sorkin’s stagey but fantastic writing and Boyle’s exuberant and lively direction.

It may not have gotten the audience it deserves, but the joke’s on those cynical box office pundits because Steve Jobs is a film that is hopefully going to be remembered long after it leaves cinemas (which is sadly already has)…

Click here to reveal the top 5 best movies of 2015!