Taiwan’s The Assassin, from this year’s Cannes Film Festival best director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, has been voted the top movie of 2015 in the British Film Institute’s poll of 168 critics for the organization’s Sight & Sound magazine. No. 2 and 3 were Todd Haynes’ Carol and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
Sight & Sound editor Nick James described The Assassin, released in the U.S. by Well Go USA, as “a gorgeous work of revenge, magic and delicate restraint – a work of martial arts cinema only in the loosest sense.” James went on to say, “Todd Haynes’ swooning, subtle lesbian melodrama Carol has no peers in terms of craft and guile, so it’s no surprise to see it in one of the top spots.”
Then, describing what might come as a shock to widely expressed contempt in some quarters for Miller’s Fury Road, James said, “Many critics have waited a long while for such a sharp, vivid and imaginative blockbuster.”
Coming in at No. 4 on the critics hit list is Miguel Gomez’s Arabian Nights, No. 5 is Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery Of Splendour and No. 6 is the late Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie, about her mother Natalia, an Auschwitz survivor.
The No. 10 position went to U.S. helmer Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. That film debuted in five theaters in the U.S. last year on December 12 before opening January 9, 2015, with its widest release hitting 645 theaters. The movie was nominated for two Oscars, adapted screenplay (Anderson, from the novel by Thomas Pynchon) and costume design.
Interestingly, nine of the top 11 through 20 titles involved tie votes.
American eccentric genius Charlie Kaufman’s keenly anticipated stop-motion animated Anomalisa, which Paramount Pictures opens December 30 in the U.S., tied for 11th spot with David Robert Mitchell’s cult arthouse-horror hybrid It Follows, released in March in the U.S. by Radius/The Weinstein Company.
Christian Petzold’s Phoenix, a WWII drama about a Holocaust survivor who returns to Berlin under an assumed name to find out whether her husband betrayed her to the Nazis, was acquired last year out of Toronto by IFC and released by Sundance Selects this past summer in the U.S.
Now we arrive at a five-way tie for No. 14 (really?) among Girlhood (Celine Sciamma), Hard to Be a God (Aleksei German), Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out (Pete Docter), Sean Baker’s shot-in-LA-on-an-iPhone Tangerine and exile in his own country Iranian director Jafar Panahi‘s shot-inside-a-cab Taxi Tehran (U.S. title Jafar Panahi’s Taxi).