Film Comment’s annual end-of-the-year survey of film critics, journalists, film-section editors, and past and present contributors was released today with Todd Haynes’s Carol, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin, and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road taking the top spots among films released in 2015. Of the films that made appearances at film festivals or special screenings worldwide but have not received stateside distribution this year, Hong Sangsoo’s Right Now, Wrong Then, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier, and Ben Rivers’s The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers received the top rankings.

Offering the most comprehensive assessment of the year in film, Film Comment received responses from over 100 participants, including (in alphabetical order): Richard Brody (The New Yorker), Steve Dollar (The Wall Street Journal), David Edelstein (New York magazine), Nicholas Elliott (BOMB, Cahiers du Cinéma), David Fear (Rolling Stone), Graham Fuller (Screen International), J. Hoberman (The New York Times), Kristin M. Jones (The Wall Street Journal), Daniel Kasman (MUBI), Eric Kohn (Indiewire), Michael Koresky (Reverse Shot), Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter), Don McMahon (Artforum), Wesley Morris (The New York Times), Amy Nicholson (LA Weekly), Mark Olsen (The Los Angeles Times), Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out New York), Alan Scherstuhl (The Village Voice), Amy Taubin (Film Comment Contributing Editor and NYFF Selection Committee member), and Kenneth Turan (The Los Angeles Times).

Film Comment’s Top 10 Films Released in 2015:

  1. Carol Todd Haynes, U.S.
  2. The Assassin Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road George Miller, U.S.
  4. Clouds of Sils Maria Olivier Assayas, France
  5. Arabian Nights Miguel Gomes, Portugal
  6. Timbuktu Abderrahmane Sissako, Mauritania/France
  7. Spotlight Tom McCarthy, U.S.
  8. Phoenix Christian Petzold, Germany
  9. Inside Out Pete Docter & Ronnie del Carmen, U.S.
  10. The Look of Silence Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Indonesia

Click here to see the rest of the list.

The rankings of other films making strong showings during the awards season are John Crowley’s Brooklyn (#18), Frederick Wiseman’s In Jackson Heights (#13), and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (#20). Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin (#2) was the cover subject of Film Comment magazine’s September/October issue, and László Nemes’s Son of Saul (#14) was the cover subject of the November/December issue.


Right Now, Wrong Then

Film Comment’s survey also ranks films that have screened and made notable appearances at festivals throughout the year, but remain without U.S. distribution at press time.

Film Comment’s Top 10 Unreleased Films of 2015:

  1. Right Now, Wrong Then Hong Sangsoo, South Korea
  2. Chevalier Athina Rachel Tsangari, Greece
  3. The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers Ben Rivers, U.K.
  4. The Academy of Muses José Luis Guerín, Spain
  5. Don’t Blink – Robert Frank Laura Israel, U.S.
  6. Cosmos Andrzej Zulawski, Poland
  7. Journey to the Shore Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan
  8. Happy Hour Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan
  9. Lost and Beautiful Pietro Marcello, Italy
  10. Minotaur Nicolas Pereda, Mexico

Click here to see the rest of the list.

Film Comment editor Gavin Smith said: “The 20 films that critics have voted for can be divided into four categories: mainstream Hollywood critical and box-office hits (3), American art-house-inclined indies (7), foreign-language art movies in a variety of familiar modes (5), and foreign-language movies that challenge viewers to enter cinematic realms they’ve never previously experienced (5). That balance, which happens to be encapsulated in the top five in micro form, feels about right for the agenda of this magazine, which, since the very beginning, has been to champion the best in cinema wherever it hails from, all creatures great and small. Since we managed to run features on 11 of these and sung the praises of another five, it’s a pleasure to close out the year on a high note.”

The best-of-year lists coincide with the release of Film Comment’s Essential Films, a year-end special-edition supplement featuring critical essays on 14 films not to be missed. Violet Lucca’s piece on Mad Max: Fury Road (#3) is available here as an exclusive excerpt from the supplement. The complete edition is available for purchase online and in our theaters.