Jan 16

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2015: #10 – #1

Do You See + FT11 comments • 781 views

4835951786_b44ef39807_b“Hi, I’m Gongy the Rank Movies Gong, who you might know from the intro to any Rank Movie you’ll have seen between 1935 and 1980. And when I wasn’t being banged by an oiled up muscled bodybuilder I liked nothing more than settling down to watch the movie I prefaced. Now working for J Arthur meant I didn’t always get to see classics, but I think I put enough time in the cinema to judge the odd movie, and am in a perfect position to hand out the -ahem – Gongs in this poll.

I do miss getting banged though. Do people not “get it on” in 2015? Are there no vaguely racist kung fu movies I can cameo in to instigate a fight? Roll uncontrollably down a hill? A Gong gets restless in retirement. All the Gongmen are dead.”

Cheers Gongy, and I hope you enjoy this batch of pretty decent reasons to spend time in front of a screen. But not right in front of the screen Gongy, cos we won’t be able to see the films.

10: Bridge Of Spies

Beneficiary of lots of mid-range votes, Bridge Of Spies is Speilberg mounting an handsome spy historical and doing a solid job in the process. Clearly not being damned by faint praise, the key joy in BOS is to see two almost diametrically oppositional forms of acting (Hanks, movie star – Rylance, theatre) rub against each other for the benefit of the audience (in my mind Hanks is better here than Rylance and his made up accent). A fascinating if sometime simplistic piece about a bizarre age (the Cold War) which is slipping from memory. And (a) U2 gets blown up too.

9: 45 Years*

It slipped by me while I was on holiday, this is a small film with a terrific premise, what happens when past love, love before your present partner, revisits. A small film about secrets and lies – the acting and direction (by Andrew Heigh who can’t seem to put a foot wrong at the moment) takes the original short story and twists it into something new.

8: Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens

Is it just the combination of relief, timing and the fact everyone saw it that has dropped The Force Awakens here? Probably, though as a stab at grabbing the sensation of the pulps that Lucas originally was emulating, and also as a retread of Star Wars it works remarkably well. Even its myriad flaws can be rationalised, cyclical stories are as rampant in mythology as they are in Hollywood producerland, and in having a female lead and opening a can of worms with a stormtrooper that turns, there is fodder for plenty more enjoyable trips to the cinema.

7: Clouds Of Sils Maria

The most nose in the air arthousey movie in the top ten, Olivier Assayas’s meditation on art, aging, suicide and the internet age is deliberate in everything it does. From its play within a play, to its casting, to its elliptical ending, nothing her is just standing for itself. There is a chance therefore that this would be infuriating, looking for symbolism, looking for wry nods about the nature of theatre and acting. That it isn’t is down to Assayas’s playfulness but more around Kristen Stewart’s turn as Juliette Binoche’s personal assistant, who enigmatically plays with the ideas int he movie and eventually epitomises them.

6: Mistress America

The second (and better) Noah Baumbach movie in the list sees him reteam with Greta Gerwig for a screwball comedy of ambition. A companion piece to Frances Ha, Mistress America returns to the itch of what actually happens to manic dream pixie girls when they stop being “Girls” any more. Gerwig, excellent and being just a little uncomfortable in her skin, mentors potential step-sister Lola Kirke (even better), a lonely freshman in New York. It starts as a fun New York nightlife movie, develops into a screwball farce and ends as a bittersweet coming of age drama where the characters feel lived in enough to earn their redemption. Extroverts need love too.

5: Brooklyn

The other solid picture of autumn, which pairs interestingly with Bridge Of Spies, because it is also an acting masterclass. But here we have Saoirse Ronan who is a terrifically naturalistic actor, but also a star, turning what feels like a small story of Irish immigration in the 50’s and makes it vitally compelling. The stakes, on paper, couldn’t be lower, but this adaptation manages to grip an audience and successfully get you invested in the micro and macro story of economic migration.

4: Mad Max: Fury Road

Broom Broom. Potentially a perfect distillation of the cinematic power of cars, this revisit to the economically implausible world of Mad Max is still just a big chase movie. And it can get a little tiring in its two hours. But credit to Miller for the invention on screen, the complete understanding of how enjoyably bonkers his fantasy world can be and putting at the heart of it Charlize Theron as a woman searching for redemption, mirroring Max’s usual arc with more sympathy than anyone would expect.

3: Inherent Vice

I am no fan of Paul Thomas Anderson, finding many of his films overly mannered, certainly overlong and often grasping for importance they don’t earn. Inherent Vice, in adapting Pynchon, and not reaching for anything beyond trying to emulate a sense of the novel, makes his most successful film in my view. Shambling around LA, it plays as a weird counter-part to Chinatown, a drug addled noir which sometimes seeks the point, sometimes is looking for a good time, but usually looking for a gag. Anderson should make more comedies.

2: Carol

Oh Carol. This top two were way ahead of the pack, and whilst soundly beaten in the end, Carol stands as a really, really good movie. You always do yourself a favour starting with Patricia Highsmith, and Carol has a compelling story which is only elevated by Todd Haynes choices. The cast is great, with Rooney Mara transforming seemingly into Audrey Hepburn by the end. Designed to the nth degree and structured perfectly, there is immense pleasure in most of the frames, but as a totality it is a wonderful film.

1: Inside Out

aka Pixar Returns. A clear winner, potentially because nearly everyone saw it, Inside Out is both a compelling adventure story in itself and a breathtaking piece of world-building. The idea, in itself, is not a new one – The Numbskulls and the Greeks have been there already. But in configuring a macro story to house the micro drama, and in constructing a plausible and useful model on human behaviour to allow for both the dram and possibly explain all human behaviour is a pretty amazing job. Harnessing terrific voice talent, coupled with exemplary character design, the film also manages to throw in art history gags along with its poignancy. A well deserving winner.

And there you go? Will any of this years Oscarbait have the lasting power to be remembered for next year. Have we got any super sequels turning up that could end up in this list (two sequels in the top ten!) Thank you to the FreakyTrigger Academy for voting, with a top eight with seven out of them being about women shows there are some changes occuring out there, may diversity of talent and stories continue…



  1. 1
    Alba on 24 Jan 2016 #

    I think I may have undervalued Carol when I saw it. I’ll watch it again. Though I’ve started hearing the score’s main motif as Little Donkey, which doesn’t help.

  2. 2

    I was a bit ho-hum abt Carol but I saw it on a super-hooky torrent, so a lot of it looked like the sequences in LotR where bilbo has the ring on

  3. 3
    Alba on 24 Jan 2016 #

    Thanks a lot for doing this anyway, Pete. Gratified to see Inherent Vice at no.3.

    I’ve seen 33 of the 40 on the list. Am thwarted again by my efforts to catch up with Fury Road: it’s on tonight at the Prince Charles but I’m busy.

    My list on letterboxd, is the same as my ballot, I think.


  4. 4
    katstevens on 24 Jan 2016 #

    Pete you appear to have made a mistake, because I can’t see Jupiter Ascending anywhere on the list, when it was clearly the best film of 2015 by a long way.

  5. 5
    Ewan on 24 Jan 2016 #

    None directed by women though! Anyway, no sign of Taxi either, which is disappointing (though I’ve only just caught up with that, Burgundy, Force Majeure and MMXXL very recently so none were in my list). In retrospect I would’ve been happy with Jupiter Ascending or MMXXL displacing Carol so I guess I’ll just have to hold out hope for the Oscars where no doubt those films are in with a shot.

  6. 6
    swanstep on 24 Jan 2016 #

    @4, Kat. Dear God I hope you are joking. JA, Terminator: Genisys, and the Poltergeist remake were my three worst movie-going experiences this past year. (Room, Inside Out, Phoenix, and Ex Machina were my faves in that order – Spotlight, Amy, Bridge of Spies, the first 2/3s of It Follows, and the first half of Hateful 8 also pretty good says me. Still lots to see though.)

  7. 7
    Phil on 24 Jan 2016 #

    We finally saw Carol, on a big (well, big-enough) screen, the other night. I don’t know when I’ve seen such a beautiful film. Lots of scenes that looked like an Edward Hopper painting, and a few which – whether because of the Super 16 film stock or some weird trick of post-production – really looked like an Edward Hopper painting, only moving (Nighthawks meets The Polar Express). Shot by shot, it had all the precision and absorption in detail of something by David Lynch or Guy Maddin. To combine that kind of surface with the ability to get performances like those from his cast (Cate Blanchett was astonishing), as well as demonstrating a passionate interest in people – how they stand, how they talk, how their faces change – and (last but not least) the ability to tell a story… I mean, Brooklyn was very good, but it looks prosaic next to this. I really find it hard to think of another contemporary director to put alongside Todd Haynes, at least on the showing of this film; you’d have to go back to Michael Powell, I think.

    (Not much humour in it, but hey.)

    I loved Brooklyn, although its star has necessarily dimmed slightly since seeing Carol. Saoirse Ronan was superb – ‘face acting’ like I’ve never seen. As for Inside Out, yeah, I guess. I certainly liked it – and cried at least once – but I’m finding it harder to rave about as time goes on. Otherwise I don’t seem to have seen a damn thing this year that was new, apart from The Falling (which is an amazing film – how come that’s not in the 40?) and HG: MJ 2 (which isn’t).

  8. 8
    Mark M on 24 Jan 2016 #

    Big thanks for doing this, Pete.

    I voted for six of the top 10, which makes me feel a bit more in tune with the electorate than 40-11 had made me suspect. Clouds Of Sils Maria passed me by entirely – turns out it was released when I was doing exams(!).

    Unsurprised by the presence of Carol and Fury Road near the top, as I think they were both films that achieved exactly what they set out to do. I still find Carol easier to admire than to love (lots of people said they cried watching it – I was nowhere near shedding a tear. Whereas I cried watching Creed. Maybe I’m more of a geezer than I ever suspected).

    Inside Out coming top would have been also unsurprising to me until about a week ago, when I was in a conversation with a whole group of people who didn’t like it.

    More surprised that Inherent Vice did so well – I know plenty of people found it baffling or self-indulgent etc. I really liked it, but then anything that could be described as stoner noir is up my street, and, unlike Pete, I love Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies.

    Anyway, here is my top 20. Having seen Force Majeure since I wrote up the list, I would probably put it in at 19, bumping Birdman out.

  9. 9
    xyzzzz__ on 25 Jan 2016 #

    Saw two and three. Embarrasing to see Bridge of Spies anywhere near this.

    Hadn’t know of the existence of #1 till this poll. LOL

    Thanks for doing it.

  10. 10
    Phil on 25 Jan 2016 #

    When I said nos. 1, 2 and 5, plus HG:MJ2 and The Falling, were the only new films I’d seen this year, I’d completely forgotten Bridge of Spies. Or, as I shall think of it from now on, the forgettable Bridge of Spies. Fun at the time, though – the scenes with Mark Rylance in particular.

  11. 11
    Mark M on 13 Nov 2016 #

    I’ve been, as one does, gradually catching up with some of last year’s stuff. Brooklyn I liked, even though it is very chocolate-box looking and Sunday evening telly in its vibe. As you say, it’s all on Saoirse Ronan to bring it to life, and she definitely does.

    The Clouds Of Sils Maria I enjoyed well enough, although I’m still surprised it finished as high up the list as it did – I guess I don’t see it as the kind of film anyone would get really excited about. Diary Of A Teenage Girl I lasted just 15 minutes with – I found it horribly mannered and creepy.

    And I was much keener than I had anticipated on The Lobster, which didn’t place in this poll at all, did it? A bit of surprise considering the art-house fuss about it last year. Maybe voters with a taste for deadpan absurdism went for the hardcore, Hollywood-star-free option of A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence instead.

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