It’s the end of 2015 so what better time to reflect upon some of this year’s best films? We’ve all thought long and hard about our individual top tens, and would love to share them with you. With no further ado, here are Third Act’s top ten films of 2015!

Just a quick note before we start, the reviews on Third Act Film may not have been written by the same people that are putting these lists together, so if one film with a two star review is ranked higher than one with a four star review, that’s probably why!


Third Act’s Top 10 Films of 2015

Todd James

  1. The Theory of Everything
  2. Inside Out
  3. Steve Jobs
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
  5. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  6. Ex Machina
  7. Ricki and the Flash
  8. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  9. Burnt
  10. Regression

There are some films on this list that don’t need much more to be said about them. Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Ex Machina and Kingsman have all been very popular, and at this point there’s not much more I can add to the conversation. The same is true of The Theory of Everything (released January 1st in case anybody was questioning it’s eligibility!), but as it’s my top pick I feel the need to say why. In my opinion it was a perfect film, which left me feeling genuinely devastated at the amount of emotion I’d felt.

Steve Jobs and Burnt both under performed critically and financially, and I have no idea why. Both featured dialogue almost exclusively, and both managed to get my heart beating faster than the stories they were telling should. Age of Ultron might have left some audience members feeling a little underwhelmed, but in my opinion it’s in contention for the best Marvel film to date, bringing more spectacle and more laughs than any of its predecessors. Ricki and the Flash won’t appeal to everybody, but it gave me the feels more than a film about getting old should to somebody in their 20’s. The last film on my list, Regressionis a film I don’t think anybody apart from I have seen, but it’s a fantastic psychological thriller, which comes highly recommended, if you couldn’t tell…


Third Act’s Top 10 Films of 2015

Chris Elliott

  1. Wild
  2. The Theory of Everything
  3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  4. Whiplash
  5. Mad Max: Fury Road
  6. Birdman
  7. Ex Machina
  8. Amy
  9. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  10. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

If you had told me last year that not a single superhero film would make it onto my top 10, I wouldn’t have believed you. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed Age of Ultron, there were so many good films this year that I actually had a top 20 and even Star Wars barely made it on there.

Perhaps it’s because I expected, for example, The Martian to be so good that the smaller films about jazz drumming or artificial intelligence came out of nowhere to impress me. Powerful dramas make up the bulk of the list but Mad Max and Kingsman appeared equally suddenly, redefining their respective genres.

Credit where it’s due to the one big blockbuster on the list, Star Wars, which somehow managed to meet unreasonable expectations and while not a perfect film, leaves solid groundwork for the next ones, even if it was short on council meetings and walking while talking (good, good, let the hate flow through you…).


Third Act’s Top 10 Films of 2015

Michael Reffold

With apologies for being so art house that three of these films weren’t reviewed by Third Act…

  1. Wild Tales
  2. The Theory of Everything
  3. The Falling
  4. London Road
  5. Birdman
  6. Macbeth
  7. Into The Woods
  8. The Man from U.N.C.L.E
  9. Carol
  10. Suffragette

Full disclaimer: I have eclectic taste in films, and most of the movies on the above list got pretty bad reviews from the Third Act Film team, or weren’t reviewed at all. So I’ll have to convince you all that these are worth your time (and hide from the rest of the crew after telling you why they’re wrong…)!

My top film of the year is Argentinian (yep, subtitles ahoy!) revenge drama/comedy Wild Tales, in which you get 6 films for the price of one. It means not only will you not get bored but also that we get a hilarious range of scenarios, from road rage to a furious bride discovering her groom’s secret at their wedding party. This film was nominated for Best Picture in a Foreign Language at the 2015 Oscars, and is the most fun I had at the cinema all year, with its fast-paced, well-acted slices of vengeance. Just behind that is the emotionally searing, beautifully performed The Theory of Everything, about which we’ve probably raved enough already. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones gave the performances of 2015 as the central couple and the whole thing was tear-jerking and wonderful.

More of a critical than an audience darling (and even then the reviews ranged from five stars right down to one), my third favourite film of 2015 is psychedelic horror The Falling. Starring Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), this is the story of an eerie episode at a girls’ school in which a large chunk of the students and staff suddenly get struck by fainting fits. All sorts of secrets come out of the woodwork, and the film is incredibly atmospheric and skin-crawling – for fans of The Wicker Man and last year’s Under The Skin, I’d say. Another little-seen film I loved is London Road, a musical exploration of the 2006-08 Ipswich murders. Doesn’t sound like typical fare for a musical, and indeed this isn’t your standard musical: the lyrics are taken word-for-word from the testimonies given by locals who experienced the whole thing. Olivia Colman (who is great in everything) holds the whole thing together and Tom Hardy even pops up as a sinister taxi driver with a serial killer obsession. It’s adapted from the 2011 National Theatre show of the same name and gave me goosebumps. Enough said.

I saw Birdman and Into The Woods right at the start of the year, and both were very exciting and theatrical, with great ensemble casts (special mentions to Michael Keaton and Emily Blunt). Equally dramatic was Macbeth, which Todd James despised but which I really enjoyed. I found the cinematography striking and it breathed new life into this well-known Shakespeare play. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are always brilliant and didn’t let me down, making a great Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and the battle scene at the start of the film (alternating between silence and sudden bursts of action) is truly inspired.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E was an under-appreciated knock about spy movie – a lot of fun, especially due to the wonderful Alicia Vikander and Armie Hammer who were clearly enjoying themselves very much in this film. Henry Cavill wasn’t quite so good but as a whole this entertained me and continued my weird soft spot for Guy Ritchie.

Carol and Suffragette didn’t get much love from Third Act Film’s reviewers, but both showed that there are strong movies to be made from female-centric stories, and shone a light on overlooked parts of history like the fight for women’s suffrage in Britain and taboo homosexual relationships in the 1950’s, while also being engaging dramas featuring strong acting performances and good direction – particularly from Todd Haynes in Carol.


Third Act’s Top 10 Films of 2015

Matt Dennis

  1. Inside Out
  2. Whiplash
  3. The Voices
  4. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  5. The Dressmaker
  6. Ex Machina
  7. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  8. The Martian
  9. Amy
  10. Beasts of No Nation

2015, so dubbed in 2014 as ‘the year of cinema’, probably wasn’t as huge or successful as one expected it to be, despite the sheer amount of returning franchises and long-awaited sequels. Yet from among the deluge of disappointing or so-so blockbusters came Star Wars Episode VIIprobably the blockbuster with the most pressure and anticipation placed upon it. And lo and behold, against all odds, J.J. Abrams delivered a fun, pacy and enjoyable sci-fi family flick, one that blends old with new, and creates something simply magical in the process!

The rather excellent Whiplash may have missed out on a lot of the Oscars it so rightly deserved, but still remains a powerful, kinetic thrill ride of a drama, whilst elsewhere on the list, Ryan Reynolds delivered dark-comedic gold with his marvellous turn in The Voices, a strange but very engrossing comedy-horror. Alex Garland’s philosophical sci-fi puzzle Ex Machina easily eclipsed Chappie as the stand-out robot movie of the year, offering smart discussions on life and humanity, whilst Cary Fukunaga’s superb Netflix movie Beasts of No Nation engrossed with a dark look at the lives of child guerilla soldiers, boosted considerably by some amazing performances from a very young cast of child actors.

The Martian? Ridley Scott’s best movie in years, and possibly the unexpected treat of 2015. Kingsman: The Secret Service? The best Bond movie of the year, by a mile. The Dressmaker? Another unexpected treat, emotional and gloriously eccentric from start to finish. Plus, kudos also to director Asif Kapadia (Senna) for his intimate and involving documentary Amy, which actually made one care about the late Amy Winehouse (suffice to say, I wasn’t a fan until I watched this).

However, there’s no denying that Pixar’s Inside Out easily deserves the top spot on the list – funnier than any other comedy this year, more emotionally resonant and true than any other drama this year, brought to life with amazing visuals and wonderful imagination, Pete Docter’s animated journey inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl is far more than just another silly kids movie, offering up ideas on the nature of depression and anxiety, and filtering them down into something that children and adults can enjoy and discuss. There’s really nothing better than that.


Third Act’s Top 10 Films of 2015

James Forbes

  1. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl
  2. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  3. Sicario
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
  5. Danny Collins
  6. Ex Machina
  7. Predestination
  8. The Martian
  9. Trainwreck
  10. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Oh wow was this hard! Such an excellent year. I knew immediately what my favourite of the year was after watching it, but man was it tough making a top ten list. Me Earl and The Dying Girl emotionally wrecked me and was a film I was expecting to be below average. It’s funny and truly heart-breaking and I can’t recommend it enough. No surprise to anyone, I have Star Wars in at number two. At third I have Sicario, just for it’s level of detail and gripping action sequences. It’s the film I’ll remember fondly from this year.

I have a bunch of the big blockbuster films on the list thanks to spectacular year of action. The action films I picked were what I felt were the best and it was really hard to miss off other action films such as Avengers: Age of Ultron and Kingsman, alas.

But then, I always have to have my sci-fi loves. Robots and time-travel! Predestination as one of the best time-travel films of all time (yeah, I said it) and Ex Machina as my favourite robot film of all time (I also said it!). All in all a fantastic year and tough to limit the best films to just ten.


Third Act’s Top 10 Films of 2015

Amy Biss

  1. The Good Dinosaur
  2. Inside Out
  3. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  4. Dark Places
  5. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  6. Legend
  7. The Theory of Everything
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road
  9. Cinderella
  10. Big Hero 6

I haven’t seen as many films this year as my colleagues, and I still found this difficult. I like films that I have a connection with, especially if it is an emotional one. My favourite film of the year has to be The Good Dinosaur, it may be because it was the film that I have seen most recently, so it’s fresh in my mind, however, I thought it was wonderfully simple. It was a story about a journey and friendship, and I pretty much cried from start to finish. Even though it was about an animated dinosaur I felt a feel connection with the main character. I had this same emotional connection with Inside Out, good work Pixar!

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed Kingsman: The Secret Service, especially with its graphic violence, but that is what I loved about it. It was so different from a lot of other things that I had seen and it was the film that Spectre wanted to be. Even thought it only had a limited release in the UK, I really enjoyed Dark Places, it was a by far better than its predecessor Gone Girl, there was more mystery and intrigue in this underrated thriller.

Looking over my list, I feel I have quite a variety of films. That is because we have had a great range of films this year, and I am only hoping that this will be the same next year.