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Sight & Sound Top 20 Films of 2015: ‘The Assassin’ Slays the Competition, Beautifully

Sight & Sound Top 20 Films of 2015: 'The Assassin' Slays the Competition, Beautifully

It’s not even December, but “Sight and Sound” has unveiled the results of its annual Top 20 poll, with Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s “The Assassin” topping the list. The results, which go on to include “Carol” and “Mad Max Fury Road” — movies we’ll likely be seeing much more of as Indiewire, the Village Voice, and Film Comment release the results of their year-end polls —  lean heavily on film-festival favorites, with “Fury Road,” “Inside Out” and “Inherent Vice” as the only major studio releases. (There’s not a single movie that premiered later than the Toronto International Film Festival in early September.) It also excludes movies like “The Revenant,” “The Hateful 8,” and “Joy,” which have only just begun to screen for critics, although as S&S is based in London and those movies don’t open in the U.K. until (very) early January, they arguably squeak by on a technicality. (The same is true of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” but that’s unlikely to make a dent in the poll this year or any other: This isn’t Cahiers du Cinéma, after all.) Further complaints: Miguel Gomes is insistent that his “Arabian Nights” is three separate films and not one linked trilogy, which makes its inclusion as a single fourth-place entity a modest cheat, and that five-way ties at 14th place are just begging to be broken up by some form of gladiatorial combat.

That said, it’s a solid, if generally unsurprising, snapshot of what found favor on the festival circuit this year, and the individual ballots are eminently worth poring over, if only to identify the noble souls who cast one of their five votes for “Blackhat.”

Sight & Sound’s Top 20 Films of 2015

1. “The Assassin”
2. “Carol”
3. “Mad Max Fury Road”
4. “Arabian Nights”
5. “Cemetery of Splendor”
6. “No Home Movie
7. “45 Years
8. “Son of Saul
9. “Amy
    “Inherent Vice”
11. “Anomalisa
      “It Follows
13. “Phoenix
14. “Girlhood
      “Hard to Be a God
      “Inside Out”
      “Tangerine
      “Jafar Panahi’s Taxi
19. “Horse Money
      “The Look of Silence

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