For the first time in a long time, I feel wholly unprepared to decide on my favourite films of the year. I don't know what happened in the past six months since my mid-term report, but cinema just hasn't clicked with me. Maybe I haven't been going to the right ones - after all, I still haven't gotten around to seeing the likes of Crimson Peak, Bridge of Spies, The Lobster or Tangerine - but the movies I did manage to catch just weren't up to snuff. Sicario was a beautiful but cold disappointment, Spectre was lovely, but had nothing on the self-aware farce of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and the likes of It Follows, Everest and Macbeth were all competently crafted pictures, but provided nothing that could justify anything better than a high-tier four star rating.

So I'm at a bit of a crossroads with this list; I've caught plenty of new releases this year - yet there's a good chance I've seen all the wrong ones. With all the big, anticipated movies not quite hitting the mark, it's kind of soured my opinion on what started out as a cracking year for cinema. Hell, writer and overall pop-culture aggravator Bret Easton Ellis recently made the outrageous claim that 2015 is the worst year for American movies ever. Judged purely on the films I've seen in the past 12 months, he's probably not being that hyperbolic.

Though maybe I'm being a bit hard on 2015, because the last half of the year hasn't been a total washout. In between uncovering some hidden gems and finally catching up with some excellent flicks that I managed to miss in the summer, I've still had a pretty good time watching movies. But, while we'd usually only do a top five list, it wouldn't actually be that much different from the mid-year review we did a few months ago. As a result, we've knocked out a selection of the ten best films that released in 2015, just so you've got a few new entries to catch before the end of the year.


A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Although it only made the honourable mentions list of our mid-term report, Iranian vampire film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has resonated with me more and more as the months have ticked by. With a stunning aesthetic and a sparse, almost Western narrative structure, this odd-ball horror flick was one of the most interesting examples of the genre I had the pleasure of seeing this year. Full of evocative moments and set-pieces, A Girl Walks Home Alone in many ways owes a great debt to the silent movies of the 20s. With haunting, slow-burning scenes and characters framed in striking, distinct silhouettes, Ana Lily Amirpour's debut movie gave the horror genre a good kick up the backside when it released at the start of this year.


Goodnight Mommy

With a trailer that many outlets claimed to be the "scariest of all time", I had pretty high hopes going into Goodnight Mommy. And while the film certainly isn't the most terrifying movie you'll ever see, it is a horror flick full of great ideas and exciting imagery. Although it's slightly predictable in places, knowing what's coming actually only makes the sense of impending doom that much more palpable. Starting off as a slow-burn thriller with blink-and-you'll-miss-them scares, Goodnight Mommy moves into some truly gruesome body-horror territory in the second half. However, even then the film never loses its sense of atmospheric style that made the first hour so enjoyable. While the cringe-worthy body-horror will have you reeling in the moment, it will be the quieter, more subdued scenes that will have you still feeling uneasy weeks later.


Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service will be the single most satisfying film you'll see this year. Like Kick Ass before it, director Matthew Vaughn has given birth to an unconfined monster of a film that's simply unlike anything else out there. While yes, it draws from established genres and conventions, Kingsman revels in clichés, subverting and playing with them to create something refreshingly new. Pulling no punches and going where no other film went this year, Vaughn's flick (especially as it creeps into the final act) will have you grinning from ear-to-ear like a maniac. You'll never want it to end - and when it inevitably does you'll want to start the ride all over again.


The Martian

Hey, Ridley Scott finally made a good film this year. Although the acclaimed director is as good as everyone says, Scott doesn't have the best knack for picking out the strongest screenplays when the time comes to choose his next project. However, with Drew Goddard's script for The Martian being so downright enjoyable, Scott was finally given the chance to let loose visually without having to worry about a poor script bringing down all of his hard work at a plot-hole's notice. Funny, ambitious and much sillier than you might have expected, The Martian, tonally, is the exact polar opposite of last year's sci-fi smash-hit Interstellar. This is perfect for Scott's film, though, as it actually provides quite a bit of respite from the morbid "guy gets stuck in space" flicks that have been rising in popularity over the past few years. It's not perfect, but it's the perfect reminder of why Ridley Scott remains a fascinating and inventive director in 2015.


Selma

Another repeat from the mid-term review, Selma, all these months later, still hasn't lost the sheer emotional power of its timeless civil rights story. Full of intricate and nuanced performances, this Oscar contender has raised the bar for movies tackling racial prejudice in the future. Although it wasn't perhaps quite as daring as its competitors, the straightforward narrative of the film actually works in its benefit, providing audiences with a clear and powerful story to get stuck into. Never once feeling like it only exists as a piece of award-bait, Selma is engaging and surprisingly rough around the edges in all the right ways.


The Gift

A directorial debut from Joel Edgerton that surprised just about every film critic in the business, The Gift is a cripplingly tense thriller that brought up some of the most thought-provoking moral questions of the year. Jason Bateman makes a brilliant turn as a well-off up-and-coming business developer who finds himself caught in an uncomfortable situation when an old friend from his childhood turns up at his house out of the blue. The best thing about The Gift is that it never goes where you think it's heading, constantly surprising you with every new twist and reveal. If you want a straight-up suspenseful thriller, then Edgerton's debut is one of the best you could have seen in 2015.


Catch Me Daddy

With only a limited screening schedule earlier this year, there's a good chance you never got to see Catch Me Daddy at the cinema. That's nothing to be ashamed of, mind; I didn't get a chance to catch it either, stumbling across it like a buffoon only a month ago after its shiny Blu-Ray cover caught my eye while out shopping. I'm so glad it seduced me, however, as Daniel Wolfe's debut British thriller was one of the most haunting movies I saw all year. A brutal game of cat and mouse is played out as two runaway lovers are hunted down by a group of hired hitmen in this darkly stylish modern-day Western. Set against the eerie backdrop of Britain's midlands, Catch Me Daddy gave me some of 2015's most memorable moments - even if I felt like I needed to wash them away with a shower straight after.


Mad Max: Fury Road

At this point in the year, what else is there to say about Mad Max: Fury Road? George Miller stormed back onto the scene at the beginning of 2015 with a long overdue film that just about everyone had written off. However, with a commitment to practical effects and action spectacles that you just don't see anymore, Fury Road gave audiences one hell of a viewing experience. From flame-throwing guitarists to acrobatic high-speed chases, Miller's glorious return to the franchise was a much-needed adrenaline shot for a genre that has been stagnating for years now. You just don't see blockbusters like this anymore.


Ex Machina

These days, directorial debuts don't get better than Ex Machina. After writing some of the most original sci-fi screenplays cinema has seen over the past ten years, Alex Garland was finally given the chance to helm his first film in 2015. Although Ex Machina deals with sci-fi tropes that we've seen before ("do sentient robots deserve the same rights as humans?" isn't a particularly original set-up), there's something inherently unique in the way it presents them. There's an underlying wackiness to the plot that somehow only makes the increasingly sinister narrative that bit more uneasy to swallow. Striking, haunting and unflinchingly brutal, Ex Machina is the best science-fiction film of the year, and a confident first step for the genre's best new director.


Whiplash

Even though it released right at the dawn of this year and I've seen hundreds of films since, Oscar contender Whiplash has never been absent from the best movies of 2015 conversation. Boasting a stunning performance from J.K Simmons as a respected but aggressive bully of a jazz instructor, the second film from Damien Chazelle is tight, beautifully shot and tense throughout. Edited more like a thriller than a conventional drama, Whiplash is unlike anything else released this year. Fortunately, its reputation since January has made it an easier sell to people initially put off by the "drumming movie" moniker, which is great, because cinema in 2015 never got much better than this superbly crafted flick.


Honourable mentions

As much as I joked earlier that this second half of the year has been terrible, there were still a couple of interesting flicks that just weren't quite good enough to make the list. Gaspar Noe's Love was one of these; an interesting and vivid experiment that captured lust, passion and violence in an erotic 3D thriller. Weirdly, this is about as nice and as romantic as Noe has ever gotten, even though it still features some of the most hateful characters I've seen all year around. Oh, also there's a bit where a close-up of an erect penis ejaculates directly into the screen. In 3D. Make of that what you will.

Also, although I mentioned Everest earlier, the divisive film actually did boast some of the most tense and emotional set-pieces that I had the pleasure of watching in 2015. It starts off slow and formulaic, but when it really gets going, the film genuinely revelled in a sense of scale and melodrama that few others were able to match this year.

And finally, months overdue, I managed to pick up Inside Out after waiting about nine years for it to come to DVD in the UK. And yeah, it's pretty good, isn't it? Not quite as good as I was expecting, but pretty damn lovely. Catch it if you haven't - even though you almost definitely have.