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Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix realises how many good films he missed this yearvia astortheatreblog.wordpress.com

2015: the year in film so far

The year is a quarter over, so we put the best cinematic releases and biggest festivals under the microscope

If you're struggling to remember the last time you went to the cinema, still recommending your friends see Gone Girl (“omg, tho, the twist I s2g gave me a heart attack”), then gird your seat-warming loins for Dazed's inaugural first quarter report on film. Three months have passed, bringing with them a host of indie fare to show up the blockbuster schlock that continuously threatens to smother it. So far 2015 has brought us movies from bankable names like master Paul Thomas Anderson, Canadian cinematic outlier Xavier Dolan and sci-fi braniac Neill Blomkamp. You've most likely heard of those.

ICYMI, STD horror film It Follows was the scariest we've seen in years (at least, since Oculus) and is racking up the bucks stateside through its Putin-spansion. Hungarian flick White God put Cujo to shame with its elaborate dog training programme. Ex Machina is arguably the best AI film since Blade Runner. 2015 is kicking off, and there is a tonne of seat-filling films that have already wowed at the festivals. Here's a look back, and forward, at what has been up on the big screen.

THESE MOVIES ARE WORTH HUNTING DOWN

If your jaw refuses to drop, it will at least slacken watching some of the cinematic triumphs that have made it to the big screen in the past three months. Catch Me Daddy, a seat-of-your-pants thriller about a girl and her boyfriend running for her life from her brother and his gang of thugs, is intense. You couldn't even dream up its shocking ending, and you may be a bit pissed off when it arrives. Harrowing doesn't even come close to describing director Daniel Wolfe's debut.

Appropriate Behaviour's Desiree Akhavan is already being pegged as the new Lena Dunham (because Dunham is so a minute ago); Dior and I – basically a bedside portrait of Raf Simons as he whips up a couture collection in just eight weeks – is turning the fashion documentary recipe on its head; Xavier Dolan's film Mommy is his best film to date, no question; And It Follows is being hailed as the scariest film in years.

NOT TO BE MISSED: Catch Me Daddy, Appropriate Behaviour, Dior and I, It Follows, Mommy, Wild Tales

MOVIE MARKETING WENT A BIT FUNNY

LOL remember the thirst of Mortdecai? Here's hoping you gave that 'tache-twitcher a miss. A multi-city poster blitz left people scratching their heads, asking "What the hell is Mortdecai?" As if it was somehow clear from the poster – which simply stated "Johnny Depp is Mortdecai" – what the story was about. To add insult to injury, the trailer basically features Gwyneth Paltrow squawking his name over and over in her fake English accent.

There was also Ex Machina's inventive campaign trod out on dating app Tinder. Ava, the AI bot who anchors the film, became the focus of a #swiperight guerrilla marketing effort at SXSW. If you 'matched' with Ava, you could crack a few jokes before she eventually led you to the film's website. Just when you thought you'd found love – psych!

DON'T GET ME STARTED ON: Around the release of Fifty Shades, everyone and their public relations newsletter tried to shoehorn eyebrow-raising products into Fifty Shades sex themes. "Transform your sex life with this phallic ping pong paddle". How about GTFO. Jk I love ping pong can you send over some samples?

THE FESTIVALS EXPLOIT THEIR NICHE

We've already seen the backside of Berlin, Sundance and SXSW festivals, and each elbowed even further into defining its 'true essence'. Sundance, always bankable for its output of alternative flicks, unleashed a new Hollywood posse of indie stars. The Hollywood Reporter just proclaimed Hollywood's new A-list, the leading men and women rolling in the deep who broke through last year, such as part-time DJ Ansel Elgort and Oprah's bestie Lupita Nyong'o. If that's anything to go by, our bets are on names like director Rick Famuyiwa for his update on the hood film, Dope. It stars our fav lobby boy Tony Revolori alongside A$AP Rocky and Chanel Iman in their acting debuts. Brit star Bel Powley gave a shot to the arm with an acetate look at teen sex life in the upcoming Diary of a Teenage Girl.

First-time director Crystal Moselle's searing documentary The Wolfpack, which stalks five young boys who are shackled to their Manhattan apartment and can't leave, blew our minds. Their father more or less held the fam under lock and key, wary of all the Lower East Side pavement-lurkers who posed a potential threat. Beyond intimate, she followed the boys for months while they act out scenes from their favourite movies wearing homemade costumes out of yoga mats.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR: Dope, Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Wolfpack, Life, Knight of CupsKurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

THE TRAILER GAME ON FLEEK

Some trailers are a nice tease, some give it all away. The best ones tell you just enough and leave you panting. The trailer for Heaven Knows What (below) does just that. It's like if Enter the Void was a Snapchat story. The tummy-turning tale of drug addiction is based on the book by Arielle Holmes, who also relives it on screen as main character Harley. You think it's all relaxing with the trailer's use of "Clair de Lune" until the notch is turnt up with Headhunterz's "The Power of the Mind". It's a one-way trip to Berghain, and this film takes junkie love to its harrowing nadir.

TAKE A LOOK AT: Heaven Knows What (below), The TribeStraight Outta Compton, Cut Bank52 Tuesdays