We take a major step closer to revealing the best film of 2015 today as we enter the top three. It has been a mixed bag in terms of science fiction this year, but Ex Machina is a movie that has been head and shoulders above the rest.
Ex Machina saw Alex Garland make the leap into the director's chair for the first time this year - he is best known for writing the script for Dredd, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine; all terrific film projects.
He may have made the move into directing, but Garland has not left the writing side of things behind, penning another fantastic screenplay. For me, Ex Machina was the best directorial debut of the year and I cannot wait to see what Garland does next with this filmmaking career.
Caleb, a 24-year-old coder at the world's largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.
We have been treated to some magnificent sci-fi directorial debuts over the years and Ex Machina really is up there as one of the best. Garland has crafted a movie that will have you on the edge of your seat and leaves with plenty of your own questions about artificial intelligence.
What is so wonderful is that Garland never underestimates the viewer, instead of watering down this complex story of man and machine, he explores some wonderful ideas and deep themes - leaving you to form your own conclusions when the credits roll.
Having said that, Garland has struck the perfect balance between asking questions and pushing the audiences to consider these ideas and with entertaining them as they watch.
Ex Machina has a swift run time of one hour and forty-eight minutes and yet, the deliberately slow pace of the beginning of the film really does fill you with dread. This dread really does hang over the entire film and you know that Garland is building up to something - that something really will knock the wind out of you.
The movie is driven by three central performances from Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander as the reclusive CEO, Nathan Batman, introverted programmer Caleb Smith and AI, Ava. Isaac is fantastic as Nathan, a man with a god complex who thinks he has power over everything that he creates.
Isaac has an interesting relationship with Gleeson, who takes on the role of the young programmer who is chosen by Nathan to come and take part in an experiment with the AI.at first, Caleb is in awe of Nathan and what he has achieved... until Caleb begins to question Nathan and a power struggle begins between the pair.
However, it is Alicia Vikander who truly shines as AI Ava... who has a plan all of her own. She banters well with Gleeson and the pair has a fantastic rapport from the moment that these two characters meet. Vikander also looks fantastic as robot Ava - the special effects in this movie are just terrific from start to finish.
Ex Machina is a character driven story that is full of deep and interesting ideas as well as being a wonderful visual spectacle. It is a film that will have you on the edge of your seat as human and robot and men and women go head to head in a battle of will. It truly is one of the best movies that I have had the privilege to sit down and watch in 2015 and I cannot wait to see what Garland does next.
Take a look at our Best Movies of 2015 countdown so far: