Cinema has had a wonderful year. Beloved characters have come to life, fans have been overwhelmingly pleased (or at least the majority) and records have been smashed thanks to productions like Jurassic World.
I think it's safe to say that 2015 has been a great year for film. With little over 20 days left in the month of December, and 2016 peeking its head around the corner, the industry shows no signs of slowing down. We have the small matter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant and Tarantino's highly anticipated eighth studio film, The Hateful Eight all to look forward to before we usher in the new year.
However, with so many titles released a year, it's sometimes easy to miss out on the hidden gems released among the studio heavy weight franchises like the Avengers and Hunger Games.
Thus, below a list compiled of films you have to see before the end of the year. Cast your eyes over these 10 film/documentaries and see what ticks your boxes.
What We Do In The Shadows, dir. Clement & Waititi
Whether you like it or not, the Vampire genre has seen a massive revival in recent years. With such a saturation of the film industry dedicated to the immortal blood suckers, it's refreshing to see such an original and hilarious take on the age old legend.
What Do We Do in the Shadows follows three vampires, Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav as they try to navigate modern life; from paying rent, doing housework, and trying to get into nightclubs. Written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, this film is a bundle of laughs and a must see for any comedy fan.
Eden, dir. Mia Hansen-Love
Another genre that has seen a reemergence into the mainstream of pop culture is house music. Bracketed under the umbrella term EDM (electronic dance music), the pulsating sounds of synths and basslines have taken over our airwaves. Thus it seems only right that cinema would take an interest in its new found fame.
A semi-biographical drama about the rise of the ‘French touch’ electronic music scene in the 1990s, which gave birth to greats such as Daft Punk, Eden follows the story of wannabe DJ Paul. The film perfectly captures the ephemeral nightlife of sex, drugs, and endless music that comes with the Chicago house underground scene. A must for any music fan.
The Wolfpack, dir. Crystal Moselle
The first documentary on our list, The Wolfpack, tells the surreal story of the Angulo brothers who where shut off from society and the world. Imprisoned in their apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the brothers escaped their reality through the magic of movies.
Nicknamed the Wolfpack due to their unique bond, the brothers spent their childhood re-enacting their favorite films with elaborate homemade props and costumes. This documentary is a captivating watch, as one of the brothers escapes the apartment, causing The Wolfpack to learn how to integrate into society without disbanding the brotherhood. An incredible insight into the workings of a complex family unit.
Cartel Land, dir. Matthew Heineman
The second documentary on our list is the hard hitting Cartel Land. Hitting on the same themes as the incredible Emily Blunt led Sicario, Cartel Land brings the same tense and adrenaline rushing atmosphere with one difference. This time it's for real.
The film focuses on the terrifying cross-border drug cartels that wreak havoc on both sides of the Mexican border. Featuring Tim "Nailer" Foley, the leader of Arizona Border Recon, and Dr José Mireles, a Michoacán-based physician who leads the Autodefensas, a citizen uprising against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel, this documentary is a tense, hard hitting watch on the grim realities of life on the Mexican border.
Tangerine, dir. Sean Baker
This rip-roaring comedic journey through the subcultures of LA is a beautiful watch on screen, which makes it even more incredible when you discover the entire film was shot on three iPhone 5s smartphones.
Following her 28 day incarceration, Sin-Dee is back on the block and not happy. She's discovered that her pimp boyfriend hasn't been faithful, leading her and her best friend, Alexandra, on a bizarre yet brilliant journey that deals with everything from betrayal to the meaning of friendship. Shattering narrative, casting and cinematic norms, director Sean Baker has crafted a true piece of art.
Mr Holmes, dir. Bill Condon
Sherlock Holmes and Ian McKellen... Need I say more?
Sherlock Holmes is one of the most beloved fictional characters to ever come out of the UK. Finding a new hoard of fans through Mr Cumberbatch's portrayal, Mr Holmes takes a fresh spin on Arthur Conan Doyle's famed detective. Set during his retirement, the film follows a 93-year-old Holmes who struggles to recall the details of his final case while his mind begins to deteriorate.
No swearing, no violence, no CGI. A poignant and reflective watch, this is a film to be enjoyed with a loved one.
The Stanford Prison Experiment, dir. Kyle Patrick Alvarez
A tense, psychological thriller, watching this film makes it hard to believe that it is in fact inspired by a true story. Based on the 1971 story of Stanford's Professor Philip Zimbardo, the film depicts a controversial psychology experiment in which college students pretend to be either prisoners or guards. Things alarmingly get out of hand when the students take to their roles all to easily.
A hard watch, much of the dialogue from inside the mock prison was lifted directly from typescripts Zimbardo made from over 12 hours of video-recorded study footage. Incredibly, Zimbardo himself stating that "The movie is a faithful recreation of the essential features of the study, I’d say 90% is right on." Grim.
Victoria, dir. Sebastian Schipper
If you loved the weaving flow of Birdman, then you are going to love Victoria. Shot entirely in one take, Victoria tells the story of a runaway party girl, who's asked by three friendly men to join them as they hit the town. Things take a dark twist when the wild night of partying turns into a bank robbery and a nightmarish scenario ensues.
It's just over the hour mark when the film hits full throttle, transitioning into a full on heist thriller. The entire shoot took over 2 hours, featured 22 locations and had a bare-bone script, meaning nearly the entirety of dialogue is improvised by the cast. This film is not just an extraordinary achievement in film making, but also a totally immersive and gripping experience.
Beast Of No Nation, dir. Cary Joji Fukunaga
Netflix has been enjoying a wave of stunning original productions, and have finally branched out into their first feature film. Although a Netflix original, Beasts of No Nation is certainly not a film to 'Netflix and Chill' to.
Set in an unnamed West African country, the film follows a young boy called Agu whom has recently been orphaned by a miltia attack. What follows is a grueling narrative, that features the harsh realities of life in a battalion of child soldiers. Idris Elba shines as the dominating Commandant, but it ultimately newcomer Abraham Attah who steals the show.
Bone Tomahawk, dir. S. Craig Zahler
Featuring one of the most gruesome deaths to ever be shown in a film, Bone Tomahawk is a strange hybrid of horror meets spaghetti western. Featuring a ruthless group of cannibals, Bone Tomahawk satisfies horror fans with its gore, and Western fans with its iconography and storytelling.
A gritty action-packed thriller, the film is essentially a terrifying rescue mission led by Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) as he attempts to rescue a group of settlers from the small town of Bright Hope.
2015 has been a great year for cinema... Let's hope 2016 is better. Somethings telling me it just may be.