This year was the year of the ingénue as far as Nollywood was concerned.
A fresh crop of talented filmmakers began to show their hand as guardians of the future.
A change in the approach to filmmaking as well as a willingness to explore more diverse stories and characters.
Even trusted hands like Genevieve Nnaji and Tunde Kelani saw the need to work with their younger colleagues.
Only films that received a wide cinema release were considered for this list.
We present our best of 2015. In ascending order:
Think of Iyore as Frank Rajah Arase’s own Inception, an epic, mind bending, time travelling, film within a film. Actually, take away the mind bending part. Ditto the underlying mystery. For even at its most engaging, Iyore still plays like a drama with very low stakes, the genuine suspense decibels lowered to the barest minimum, overpowered by the shrillness of the presentation.
- Black November
Jeta Amata’s long awaited Nollywood/Hollywood collaboration finally arrived this year and while the finished product of this troubled production is far from the masterpiece audiences were expecting, it did come with its own merits. Inspired by true events that occurred in Amata’s Niger Delta region, Black November impresses with its sprawling cast and do-gooder intentions.
- Out of luck
Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan (Falling), Out of luck continues an interesting chapter that was kick started this year with Gbomo Gbomo Express, one of younger edgier producers exploring characters who having been pushed to the fringes of society, resort to a life of crime to claw their way out. The marketing gimmick, using colourful comic illustrations imbibes a sexy, edgy finish to the production that may attract younger and hipper audiences.
Fifty continues media mogul Mo Abudu’s present preoccupation with portraying Africa in a different light. A different light for Abudu of course is synonymous with the well-heeled ladies who lunch at fancy restaurants in the Ikoyi-Victoria Island-Lekki belt of Lagos state and fly to London for routine cosmetic surgeries. Directed by Biyi Bandele (Half of a Yellow Sun), Fifty examines female friendships and the ever shrinking world of the African woman of a certain age but comes up with more questions than answers.
- Taxi driver (Oko Ashewo)
A firm audience favourite, Taxi Driver aims for film noir aspirations with its palpable sense of mystery and kinship with members of Lagos city’s under belly, the crowd that comes out only at night. A naïve but kind hearted young man inherits his late father’s taxi and upon arrival in Lagos is quickly caught up with some shady characters. Femi Jacob, Ijeoma Grace Agu and Hafiz Ayetoro costar.
- Dazzling Mirage
Cinematographer, director and culture preservationist, Tunde Kelani adapted Olayinka Egbokhare’s novella of the same title and cast fast rising Lala Akindoju as a young girl living with Sickle Cell Anemia. Kelani’s film is handling an important subject matter but his heavy handed approach to the material stops Dazzling mirage from truly taking off.
- Silver Rain
Silver rain marks director Juliet Asante’s debut directorial mainstream effort and was entered for the Sundance festival scriptwriting lab back in 2011. Marketed as a Pan-African effort, Asante’s film should gather much more interest in territories that otherwise may not be bothered but Silver rain is a film that deserves to be seen on its own merits. For the first time in a long time, here comes a love story with bark. And bite. Lots of bite
- Gbomo Gbomo Express
Directed with manic energy by Walter Taylaur, Gbomo Gbomo Express is a gritty, darkly comedic feature film about money, love and deception centred round the kidnap and ransom of a record label executive and his beautiful socialite companion. Not always as brilliant as it fancies itself to be, GGE with its bursts of action set pieces and fast paced plot, was one of the year’s most thrilling rides.
- Road to Yesterday
Genevieve Nnaji made a triumphant return to the big screen with this heart breaking psychological drama in which she plays her first leading role in forever. In addition to her acting duties, Ms Nnaji produced and conceived this story of a married couple who break and brutalize each other’s hearts in the name of love. Directed by Ishaya Bako, Road to yesterday impresses with its tight scripting, stellar acting and spot on production values.
- Gone Too Far
Produced by Passion Rouge pictures, this British Film Institute co-funded comedy parades a diverse, intercontinental cast led by OC Ukeje. Directed by Destiny Ekaragha, Gone too far with its plot of a country bumpkin visiting the United Kingdom for the first time, is a situational laugh fest that takes the concept of the fish out of water and runs with it. easily the year’s best film.