Now that the worst of the worst is out of the way, it’s time to get a bit more positive and reveal what truly made us appreciate the art of film over the past twelve months!

Before we get into our top 15, however, here’s a few films that just missed the cut but deserve a mention regardless:

  • Macbeth
  • Dope
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • SPECTRE
  • Fast & Furious 7
  • Crimson Peak
  • Spy
  • Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
  • The Lady in the Van
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Snoopy & Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

And we’re kicking off the ACTUAL list with…

15 – IT FOLLOWS

What a fascinatingly creepy idea this was, and it was executed in the most unusual and strangely engaging styles we’ve seen in a long time.

Writer-director David Robert Mitchell was apparently inspired by the whole idea of a strange entity following you for as long as possible before it kills you from a nightmare he once had, and as such he appropriately makes everything here feel like some sort of dream world – from the stilted nature of its likable group of characters, led by Maika Monroe’s sweet Jay, to the haunting John Carpenter-esque score by Disasterpeace, to even the mixture of old technology (corded phones and public domain 50s movie dominate) and new (a character uses a Kindle-like shell-shaped device for reading).

What he ends up creating is a film that truly stays with you long after seeing it; the scares feel earned, there is a genuinely creepy vibe whenever you see the various forms this entity becomes, and unlike most horror films nowadays you really DON’T want to see these young people suffer horribly at the hands of the thing that’s stalking them.

Destined to be a cult classic for all the right reasons, It Follows is a haunting film that is hard to get away from, no matter how far you run.

14 – THE MARTIAN

For a while, Ridley Scott’s career was looking… well, lesser than some of his stronger years. But with The Martian – adapted from Andy Weir’s best-selling book by screenwriter Drew Goddard – he’s finally reminded us of what made him so strong to begin with.

Scott is clearly having a blast working with Goddard’s witty and endlessly engaging script, as well as drawing out impressive performances from Matt Damon’s Robinson Crusoe of Mars and the rest of the impressive cast ensemble, and it shows in his sprightly direction and ability to convey the right amount of emotional investment without ever being too ham-fisted or even cold-hearted. You actually really care about botany for once, and that’s something which – let’s face facts, people – most of our science teachers at school never managed to do.

Damon’s excellent, the visual effects are excellent, the scenery of Mars – as filmed in the stunning crimson backdrop of Wadi Rum, Jordan – is excellent, and of course Goddard’s script is excellent. But the most important thing to take away from this film is that, despite the past few years not being particularly kind to him (remember Exodus: Gods and Kings? Us neither), Ridley Scott still has the ability to wow us as a director, and if The Martian is anything to go by then it looks like he’s back for good.

Plus, we can’t get over how awesomely 70s the soundtrack is. David Bowie AND Donna Summer in the same movie?! Now THAT’S what we call music…

13 – AMY

Speaking of awesome singers, Amy Winehouse is one of those figures you can’t help but be fascinated by – and, as Asif Kapadia’s insightful and provocative documentary proves, that’s one of the most tragic elements about her.

Even though we were never as enamoured with her music as most other people were and still are, we came out of this film with a new respect for the late singer and her unconventional and passionate approach to doing what she loved doing. Mixing old footage of her with family and friends on tour and at home, along with voiceover recordings of interviews with several people close to her, we get to see a new side of her that not even the tabloids could tarnish, seeing how she went from naïve singer with nary a hint of confidence to one of the most overexposed talents of the 21st century, both of which would ultimately lead to her untimely passing.

It didn’t come without its controversies, with Amy’s father Mitch disowning the film for its rough depiction of him as an exploitative stage parent, but it’s still a fantastic piece of filmmaking on Kapadia’s part that’s enough to convert anyone who was iffy on Winehouse’s music before – and we should know, we were one of them.

In addition, it contains probably one of the most haunting moments of the year; it’s just a simple chunk of B-roll footage of Winehouse recording her song “Back to Black”, interspliced with the finished song, but as she finishes… well, just watch:

12 – BROOKLYN

Brooklyn is pretty much this year’s An Education – and that’s not us knocking it, it really does feel like that, right down to the fact that this film was also written by Nick Hornby.

Just like it’s spiritual predecessor, director John Crowley’s beautifully slight tale of 50s Irish immigration and independence is charming, funny, romantic, dramatic when it needs to be, and keeps you invested all throughout because it has such a big un-cynical heart that’s hard not to love.

Most of all, however, just like Carey Mulligan did with An Education, Saoirse Ronan carries the film on her broad shoulders with a fantastic central performance as a young woman battling with several feelings of homesickness, uncertainty, loneliness and feeling the need to help others out of the goodness of her heart (to a point where people start to take her for granted, which is thankfully resolved by the end when she finally stands up for herself).

She alone is worth the trip to Brooklyn, which we recommend anyway because it’s just that gorgeous of a movie, but it really is Ronan’s spiritual performance here that’s worth the journey.

11 – THE GIFT

At first it looked like this was going to be just your average run-of-the-mill stalker thriller, but MAN did first-time writer-director (and co-star) Joel Edgerton throw us one hell of a much-needed curveball, and the result is definitely one of the strongest films of the year.

Edgerton at first seems like the typical nut-job that terrorises couple Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, but the sheer genius of his writing and direction here is that, over time, he may not even be the real threat after all; it might be the very people we were originally rooting for, and the way it tackles both character drama and sinister atmosphere is actually quite fantastic, especially for someone who is making his directorial debut.

A pure Hitchcock thriller that’s been perfectly updated for the 21st century, The Gift is not only 2015’s crowning achievement in horror (sorry, It Follows, but we hope you like your #15 placement) but also, along with It Follows, Krampus, last year’s The Babadook, and to a lesser extent The Hallow, it seems to be a part of this new trend with horror films that are actually, for the first time in ages, good. Yeah, we still get rubbish like The Gallows and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, but there seems to be a mini-movement with horror filmmakers that actually want to put effort into this genre again, and make films that are closer to classics like The Exorcist or Robert Wise’s The Haunting where the scares weren’t the only thing keeping you invested.

We hope that this trend continues or is at the very least here to stay, because if we can consider a stalker thriller like The Gift to be one of our favourite films of the year, then imagine what next year might bring.

Click here for numbers 10-6 on the list!