It's hard to be an optimist about the present state of Japanese cinema. One reason is the decline of the mid-budget film, previously the refuge of much quality work, with many talented directors going either fully commercial or extremely indie. Micro-budget films are not inferior per se but their subject matter tends to be limited. There are an awful lot of films now about slackers scraping by without partners or prospects. Some, with no apologies, are on my top 10 list for 2015.

10 Antonym (Rasen Ginga): In Natsuka Kusano's debut feature, two women who are complete opposites — a self-absorbed wannabe scriptwriter (Yuri Ishizaka) and her shy, admiring co-worker (Asami Shibuya) — unexpectedly click as the latter polishes the former's bad radio drama. Originally structured and sensitively directed, "Antonym" heralds the arrival of an important new talent.

9 Round Trip Heart (Romance): Yuki Tanada tells the story of an express train cart-pusher (Yuko Oshima) — who searches for her long-estranged mother accompanied by a dodgy movie producer (Koji Okura) — with wry humor, unforced warmth and a refreshing lack of respect for narrative conventions.