2015 has been a standout year for women at the cinema, a fact made more obvious as we approach awards season: the men's categories are pretty locked, and, supporting actor aside, pretty insipid; the women's, however, are bulging, and it's hard to draw up a list of five outstanding characters without noticing an obvious admission. Awards races might not be the best barometer of achievement, but it remains that this is one of the strongest years for female characters in a while. From battle-hardened warriors to cancer-stricken students to artificially intelligent robots, 2015 has seen a gamut of interesting, diverse, rounded female characters, played impeccably by the women in charge of controlling them.
10. Sam (Emma Stone) - Birdman
It might feel like an age ago, but Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance), which was released in the UK way back in early-January, contains one of the very best female characters of the year (it contains quite a few, actually). Picking just one, though, it has to be Emma Stones Sam, far and away the actresses best role to date and the one which delivered the star her first Academy Award nomination (for Best Supporting Actress, which she lost out on to Patricia Arquette for Boyhood.) Starring as the eponymous Birdmans (Michael Keaton) rebellious daughter, Stone is electric as Sam, a character destined to be a tear-away and one who has had numerous issues with drugs as a consequence of her celebrity dads fame and fortune. Her finest moment is the blistering monologue she delivers to Birdman, aka Riggan Thompson, in which she ridicules and lambasts him for his supposed achievements; for trying to make a fresh start as an 'artist'. Theres a softer side to Sam, however, best displayed in her touching encounters with Ed Nortons Mike, an alcoholic actor with impotency issues. The closing shot of Sam looking up at Birdman in wonder, her aqueous blue eyes huge and in complete contrast with her ashen complexion, is one of the best on this list.