Hi4H’s 2015 Year In Review

Hi4H 2015 Montage

We thought 2014 was pretty big. But 2015 made it look like 2013! True story. This year we reached our 5th anniversary; we were joined by guests such as Appropriate Behaviour writer/director/star Desiree Akhavan, The Woman star Pollyanna McIntosh, 52 Tuesdays director Sophie Hyde and The Cell screenwriter Mark Protosevich; Paul left; Sophie joined; Lee moved to London. All told, it was pretty eventful.

With 2015 at an end, it's time to take stock and all that. Below are links to some of the Best of the Year lists from our previous guests, and below that, Sophie, Lee and returning prodigal son Paul quiz themselves over the year that was. Scroll onwards! Also, happy new year. But mostly scroll onwards.

Best Ofs (Blogs)

Luke Buckmaster's Top Ten Films of 2015

Thomas Caldwell's Favourite Films of 2015

Concrete Playground's Ten Best Movies of 2015, featuring contributions from Hi4H alum Tom Clift & Sarah Ward

Rich Haridy’s Best Films of 2015

Blake Howard’s Best Films of 2015

Drew McWeeny's Ten Favourite Films of 2015

Paul Anthony Nelson’s “What a LOVELY DAY!” or, 2015 in the Rearview Mirror

SBS Movies’ the Ten Best Films of 2015, featuring contributions from Hi4H alum Rochelle Siemienowicz & Anthony Morris

Lee Zachariah's Best Films of 2015

Best Ofs (Podcasts/Broadcast)

ABC News Breakfast, featuring Zak Hepburn’s top films of 2015

The Parallax Podcast's Best Films of 2015, featuring contributions from Hi4H alum Rich Haridy, Zak Hepburn, Tom Clift & Paul Anthony Nelson

Plato's Cave's Favourite Theatrical Releases of 2015, featuring Hi4H alum Josh Nelson, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Cerise Howard & Thomas Caldwell

RTRFM’s Movie Squad counts down the Best & Worst of 2015, featuring contributions from Hi4H alum Simon Miraudo


Top five Hi4H film discoveries (that you hadn't seen before)?

Sophie: Mainly as evidence that there *are* some films on Netflix UK (a previously unsubstantiated rumour): Michael Mann’s The Keep. Also as evidence that this most confident and assured of filmmakers occasionally ventures off his beat and into pulp territory. Deliciously bad.

I want to say that Jack’s Wife was so bad it’s good, but actually it was just great — despite the studio chopping and changing, the bones of a fascinating film from a mind that runs deep on American culture. So yes, the non-zombie George Romero film. I guess I like the outliers.

Lee: To try to make this easier, I'm sticking to a minimum of one film per filmmaker. But it's still damn tough. There was a lot of joy in rediscovering films such as Vincente Minnelli's The Bells Are Ringing (1960) and Jane Campion's The Piano (1993). But the five big new discoveries for me were: Cléo de 5 á 7 (1962, Varda), Harakiri (1962, Kobayashi), In the Cut (2003, Campion), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952, Minnelli), All That Jazz (1979, Fosse).

Paul: 2015 was the year Hi4H led me to rediscover my love for David Lynch — my born-again fervour for his work bordered on the evangelical, as he went from a director who I had always loved and/or been intrigued by already, to one of my top 5 all-time favourite filmmakers. This was also the year I discovered (way overdue, some may say — not me, but some might) French New Wave dynamo Agnes Varda. Her films are beautiful, inquisitive, funny, poignant and crushingly human at every turn. My other major Hi4H discovery this year — somewhat more unexpected — was Japanese auteur Masaki Kobayashi. While his filmography is more uneven than Lynch’s or Varda’s, his peaks are incredible: 1962’s HARAKIRI and his truly epic 1959-61 trilogy THE HUMAN CONDITION are two of the greatest works I’ve ever seen. The latter, in particular, was a huge influence on Kubrick’s FULL METAL JACKET, among other things. (1967’s SAMURAI REBELLION ain’t too shabby, either.)

Which new filmmakers to emerge in 2015 are you most excited about?

Sophie: Deniz Gamze Ergüven (Mustang), Sydney Freeland (Drunktown’s Finest, Her Story), Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl): unbelievably great first films from all three. Coming of age stories like you’ve never seen them before, which feel like parallels to the directors’ careers: calling cards for artists breaking free. I know that Sydney has a great project in the pipeline, about teenage train robbers, and I have fingers crossed for Mustang’s chances at the Oscars…

Lee: Selma wasn't Ava DuVernay's first film, but we'll look back at it as the film that put her on the map. And I'm desperate to see what she does next. But in terms of newcomers, I'll be first in line for the sophomore efforts from Robert Eggers (The Witch), Ariel Kleiman (Partisan), Alex Garland (Ex Machina).

Paul: Interestingly, to me, 2015 was more a year of older filmmakers being invigorated with new material — Spielberg returning to classical brilliance with BRIDGE OF SPIES, Ridley Scott finding levity with THE MARTIAN, Roy Andersson returning with the bruising, sardonic A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH etc — so newer filmmakers weren’t quite my jam this year. 

By far, my biggest find of the year was the shaggy, improvisational, darkly comic charms of Sebastian Silva. While I loved his 2013 psychological freakout MAGIC MAGIC, I saw a retrospective of his films at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival and became quietly obsessed with his work. His NASTY BABY was one of my top 10 films of 2015, and 2010’s OLD CATS is a little rough diamond worth seeking out. 

I’m also keen to see what Alex Garland — always a great screenwriter, but his excellent modern riff on the FRANKENSTEIN narrative, EX MACHINA, immediately marks him as a potentially great director, too — and *deep breath* Miroslav Slaboshpitsky — whose excoriating debut, THE TRIBE, was a IF…-meets-MEAN STREETS-via-Gaspar Noé set in a school for the deaf thunderbolt like we’d never seen before (even if it didn’t quite know when to quit) — do next. 

(Seriously, though: how do you follow up something like THE TRIBE?!)

Also, while SELMA felt a bit heavy-handed for me at times, I feel like Ava Duvernay might just be shaping into one of America’s greatest new directors of the next decade or more. Keep an eye on this one. 

Five filmmakers you'd like to see us cover on the show?

Sophie: Let’s Brit it up! Lynne Ramsay is a must (and just makes the cut with three features — and some fantastic shorts). Some hyphenated configuration of Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger and/or the Archers, without whom British cinema is nothing. Given his renaissance, Terence Davies: seeing Sunset Song made me want to rewatch House of Mirth. Rewatching Derek Jarman is always a treat, and he’s one of the most prolific of the British arthouse filmmakers. (Ahem) Sally Potter, although I may have cheated slightly on the prep for that one 😉

Lee: One of my dream picks from last year actually got chosen, which was exciting. I won't bother repeating the other four though, instead going with Yasujirô Ozu, Vittorio De Sica, Nora Ephron, Orson Welles and Jacques Demy. Come on, 2016 guests! Make it happen.

Paul: I’ve enjoyed listening to the last couple of months as a fan (in fact, Don Herzfeldt’s IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY was up there with Kobayashi’s films as my top older-film discoveries of 2015!), so, without the pressure of having to cram 30+ films into a month or two, I’d love to see you unleash all the unwieldy beasts I wanted to cover on Hi4H but was too frightened to because of time constraints. Deal with these, Lee and Soph! Hahahahahaaaa! (Don’t worry, I wouldn’t wish John Ford on you.)

1) Ingmar Bergman

2) Howard Hawks

(and somewhat kinder…)

3) Mario Bava

4) Orson Welles

5) Stanley Kubrick

Until about October or November, Hi4H was an Australian show. Given that, what were your favourite Australian films of the year?

Sophie: Two of my favourite 2015 UK theatrical releases were Australian: Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays (I know, we’re slow — and I have Sam Klemke’s Time Machine waiting to watch online as well) and The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse). I did like Gayby Baby as well, which showed at the London Film Festival. And I can’t believe that Women He’s Undressed (Gillian Armstrong) doesn’t have a UK distributor… it would have been a great double bill with The Dressmaker!

Lee: 1) Mad Max: Fury Road; 2) Macbeth; 3) Sam Klemke's Time Machine; 4) Partisan; 5) The Dressmaker. All great films. Although if you take issue with Mad Max and Macbeth being considered Australian films, bump the other three up and sub in Gillian Armstrong's superb documentary Women He's Undressed and Tony Ayres' amazing 1970s thriller Cut Snake.

Paul: Jesus, did I see five Australian films this year? I feel terrible. So, this is going to come off like (as Lee and I often joke about) Stephen King’s annual These Are The Films I Saw This Year list. (Well, one of them was my Very Favourite Heavyweight Champion of all films in 2015, so…)






(For the record, I did see 9 Australian films this year, so make of this list what you will. But I did really like and very much recommend all five of these films.)

Most anticipated films of 2016?

Sophie: Ghostbusters (although I’m never quite satisfied by Feig’s films… I’m hoping that Ghostbusters will be 100% like the scene in The Heat where Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock get drunk, dance and decorate each other with napkins and 0% like the tacked-on Chris O’ Dowd romance in Bridesmaids).

Creed (Ryan Coogler). Freeheld (Peter Sollett). Chevalier (Athina Rachel Tsangari).

Films I hope will get to festivals in 2016: Two forthcoming films from British filmmakers shooting overseas: Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, and Andrea Arnold’s American Honey. Two films from first-time British feature filmmakers: Alice Lowe’s Prevenge. Hope Dickson Leach’s The Levelling. Claire Denis… in… space with Robert Pattinson (untitled project).

And it’s not cinema but it’s my most anticipated film-like object from a now hyphenated director: Top of the Lake II.

Films I’m anticipating that will make me really, really angry in 2016, based on their trailers: the remake of Point Break. The remake of Point Break. The pointless remake of Point Break. And probably Zoolander 2.

Lee: Looking back, two of the films I had on last year's list (Tarantino's The Hateful Eight and Scorsese's Silence) are films I'm still waiting on. So I might ignore 2015 films I haven't seen yet, and go with purely 2016 films.

Paul: Well, it’s hard to go past the first 2/3 months of the year here, as so many of my favourite directors and screenwriters have new films coming out between January and early March: 

Quentin Tarantino’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Charlie Kaufman’s ANOMALISA

The Coen Brothers’ HAIL CAESAR

Aaron Sorkin’s STEVE JOBS

Todd Haynes’ CAROL

(You can pretty much close the year up after that, I reckon.)

And that’s me done for the last time!

Once again, I’d like to thank Lee for being such a brilliant co-host, tirelessly booking guests, editing the recordings from insane lengths to a manageable form in often even more insane amounts of time, and for — let’s face facts — carrying me for five-and-a-half years of podcasts. It really was one of the most fun things I’ve ever, ever done; I’m not one to endure intolerable situations for too long, and my association with HYPHENATES was the longest semi-professional one I’ve ever had (outside of my own production company), so that speaks volumes about what a blast it was to do. We got to speak to friends, critics, actors, TV personalities and Hollywood screenwriters about their favourite filmmakers, and just enthuse about motion pictures with them for an hour and a half (well, 59 minutes and change once we went online) — who wouldn’t want to do that? 

I also wish Sophie all the very best for the future — you’ve already slotted in seamlessly, and bring a wonderful new perspective and humour to the HYPHENATES landscape, ensuring it’s a pleasure to listen to (certainly more than listening to my own damn voice) — the show’s in safe hands, which makes me happy.

May everyone have a happy, healthy, prosperous and cinematic 2016!

Au revoir,


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